People in Central Equatoria State
Major ethnic communities in the state include: The Bari people, Mundari, Pojulu, Kakwa, Keliko, Kuku, Lugwara, Avokaya, Baka, Nyangwara, Mukaraka and Lulubo. Other minority tribes include the Nyepo in Northern Kajo-keji County and Lokoya along Nimule Road.
The Mundari of Terekeka County North of the state, the Pojulu of Lowinyet, the Wonduruba and Tijor counties combined and the Bari are the largest ethnic communities. They are followed by the Kuku from Kajok- keji County, Nyangwara from Rokon area, the Kakwa from Yei County and Morobo, the Keliko from Morobo County, the Avokaya, Mundo and Baka from Tore payam of Yei County and the Pojulu Tijor who are found near Tali in that order. The eight ethnic communities speak one language but with slight differences (kutuk). The Mundari language has its own notion/ tone different from the Bari but they speak Bari because of the border that they share in the north of Juba. The only difference between them is some syllables.
Some of the ethnic groups like the Avokaya of Yei County, the Lugwara and the Keliko of Morobo speak one language but with slight differences. The Mundo and Baka however speak different languages but also have their special common language called “KOBURA”which the others don’t understand; it is a lingua franca that they only use in situations of danger. These ethnic communities belong to the same family tree but got separated because of land as their original habitat was not enough for all of them. They were initially pastoralists but some later diverted to farming.
Although they all have different traditional dances, the Mundari dance is called leri, the Bari dance is called kore while the Kuku dance is called kore and murye. The Mundari and the Bari have similar dressing; ladies put on what they call “Tondura” and some beads around their legs, hands and neck. The men put on “Jalobia” although sometimes they prefer to wear very minimal clothing while grazing livestock. They also put on sizeable and heavy rings around their legs. The men also shave their hair in a rounded style before applying red die that is made using the cow’s urine. The hair is then left to grow to a considerable length. According to them this indicates the number of cattle one has. They move around with sticks or spear for self-defense.
There is also the Direr or Nuba; these are a collection of ethnic communities whose religion is Islam. They settled together in two main places; Malakia in Juba and Bombo which is near Kampala in Uganda. They are united by their religion which they embraced in the 1940s. They now consider themselves as a new ethnic community in the state.
The agriculturalist out of all the ethnic communities are the Kuku, the Kakwa, Avokaya, Mundo, Pojulu, Lokoya, Lulubo, Nyangwara, Keliko and Nyepo. They grow a variety of crops including maize, cassava, sweet potatoes, “bolot” sorghum, groundnuts, and beans. These communities have two crops they harvest every year; the first in June or July and the second in November or December. They also keep cattle, goats and sheep in small scale.