THE KAKWA PEOPLE

Geographically, the Kakwa occupy a vast administrative area of Yei and Morobo in South Sudan. They also extend to parts of Congo and Uganda. In Uganda they are found in the extreme North of West Nile, Koboko district. In Koboko, Kakwa land consist mainly of flat open plateaus with stretches of land crossed by the main river (kaya) at the border of Koboko with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) drawing through Koboko district eastward to the River Nile. While on the side of Sudan, the area has some long ranges of hills with slightly bushy, thick tropical rain forests and fertile agricultural lands. Since the soil, people expect rain often with very reliable seasons.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Kakwa people hail from Yei Region of the present Central Equatoria State. The Kakwa are Bari-speaking as well. They live in the Yei area but also in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They were broken into these three countries by the colonial rulers interests. But they continue to co-exist because of cultural and traditional relationships. This coexistence is known as " Salia Musala" which means Tripartite relationship. 

There are two main traditions concerning the origin of the Kakwa. One tradition asserts that the ancestor of the Kakwa was Yeki who lived in the Karobe Hill in the area south of present Juba. Yeki is said to have produced 7 sons; one of whom was fond of biting his brothers. For this reason, Yeki is said to have nicknamed him ''Kakwan ji'' meaning bitter. The descendants of Yeki are said to have adapted the plural term and called themselves Kakwa.

The second tradition claims that the Kakwa were originally known as ''Kui''. The Kui are said to have been fierce fighters who inflicted heavy losses on their enemies. For this reason, the Kui are said to have nicknamed themselves Kakwa because their fierce attacks were like the bite of a tooth, probably the reason for teeth sharpening tradition.

KAKWA CULTURE

RELIGION

The Kakwa idea of a "supreme being" is what the people know or refer to as Ngun whom they used to worship in their own unique way until Christianity/Islam reached them. They see him as being the ultimate source of all power and morale order. They conceive of him as having two aspects, one transcendent and the other immanent evil, an inversion. He is responsible for all forms of death for death cannot be avoided. His will is immutable.  Their prayers to God involved the offering of animal sacrifices and food.

The overall concept of religion for the Kakwa is that the dead or ancestors can communicate with the living. Accordingly, if these ancestors "notice" anything going astray among their living kin, they have the obligation to react by bringing signs that warn of eminent disaster and even punish them and that something should be done to avoid further punishment. The spirits of the ancestors also act like angels that follow and guide a living person at all times and places. Therefore, such a spirit can and should rescue one from a potential or a real problem.

 Please click below to listen to excerpts of preaching in the Kakwa Language.

KAKWA TRADITIONS

In the Kakwa language, the exact word for culture is la’bi. The Kakwa people have a unique and diverse cultural heritage and rich customary values, which form the basis of the way life is organized, how marriages and funeral rites are conducted, and how community affairs are governed. For example;

There is no universal authority over the way individuals should conduct themselves in the Kakwa society. Kakwa tradition holds that open violence is wrong, due to the concept of wila na lemi, which dictates that violence or grudge should be left to the natural forces of the good and bad to exert punishment or prove innocence.  Women should respect their husbands and children their parents. Disputes over rights of land, women and livestock occasionally occur at all levels of the lineage but are settled  by the elders. Inter-clan sexual relations, adultery and fighting an elder person are considered incest, and often lead to wila (or curse). All these societal rules are contained in the general term kuga (or respect).

Of great significance is a Kakwa homestead, strategically located near a large evergreen tree, under which family members can enjoy tilimo or shade. In the evenings, family members spend their time around the communal open fire, known as pudo where the elders tell stories to the younger group and where the day's activities are discussed and future plans and specific assignments are made. 

KAKWA MARRIAGE

Kakwa customary marriage is an arranged marriage. It is the role of parents to find suitable marital partners for their children. The two families must not have blood relations. They should be from different Kakwa clans because the Kakwa do not marry relatives. Marriage in Kakwa is a lifelong and proceation-centered relationship between a man and a woman of marital age.

 

The kakwa marriage can be described as an extended marriage, because it does not only concern the husband and wife, but the two clans from which the couple originates. The marriage process moves in stages, from the initiation of friendship (moka na Tojuli), presentation of deposit (Rabu), bride price (Nyopa na yema), blessings feast (nyoi na lokore), to the very last day the girl is accompanied to her new home (nyomoji na amurugo).

For more details, please click the button below to be directed to a brief article or click the attached booklet.

KAKWA FOLKLORE STORIES

The famous Kakwa folk stories consist of same characters in different scenes. The main character is always Lotole (The Hare) with other associate in the person of Isu, his mother, Abi, his stupid friend, Joputo, his girlfriend, Lotome (elephant), Je’beju, the character with a wound on the leg, Kapaya, the doves etc.

 

There are many folk stories with different scenarios involving these and additional characters. These narratives are always depicting some events like hunting, harvesting, wedding ceremonies, living together in harmony. The main character, Mr. Lotole or Tole as it is known in Kakwa Koboko always creates chaotic situation by putting other secondary characters to ruse (deception).