The Name | Demography and Geography | Environment, Economy and Natural Resources | Mythology and History | The Language | Society: Social Events, Attitudes, Customs and Traditions | Marriage | Birth | Naming | Divorce | Relationships | Death | Social and Political Organisation, Traditional Authority, etc. | Spirituality, Belief and Customs | Culture: Arts, Music, Literature, Handicraft | Neighbours and Relationships | Latest Developments |Diaspora
Lokoya is the name by which the people are known. It is a distortion of ''''''''Akokoya'''''''', a nickname the Bari gave them on account of their cattle rustling practices.
Demography and Geography
The Lokoya number about 30,000 people. They inhabit hilly terrain and valleys east of Juba in Torit district east bank Equatoria. They are counted as Lotuka sub-ethnic – ohoryok group. The main towns of the Lokoya are Liria and Ngangala.
Environment, Economy and Natural Resources
The Lokoya environment is hilly terrain dissected by valleys and season streams covered with thick vegetation of grass, trees and shrubs. The Lokoya are agro-pastoralists; they herd cattle, sheep and goats. They engage in subsistence agriculture.
The cultivation of sorghum, maize, simsim, telebun, groundnuts and millets is authorised by the chief priest of the soil (ohiribo) at the beginning of each rainy season. The Lokoya also engage in extensive hunting practices. Like cultivation, hunting is a socio-economic activity that must be authorised by the chief of the land and mountains (ohobu lahadule) at the beginning of the dry season.
Mythology and History
Tradition has it that the Lokoya came from East Africa along with the wave of migrations that brought in the Lotuka and the other ohoryok groups to their present respective lands.
The influence of the Lotuka language on the Lokoya is so great that they speak virtually a dialect of the Lotuka
Society, Social Events, Attitudes, Customs and Traditions
The Lokoya society is stratified along occupational lines. The main groups are:
Ohobusi (chief priests)
Ohobaruk (wealthy group)
Ohoinwanak (medicine practitioners)
Ohoidwongok (black smiths) and
Ohoiyak (handicraft workers)
The function of each of these groups manifests itself in the annual social and cultural activities of the Lokoya. The end of the harvest (ohilango), the beginning of the dry season with all its socio-cultural activities, is marked by lifting of silence (edwar) declared by the chief priests of the grain and the mountain. This enables the Lokoya to engage in hunting, dances, songs.
According to the Lokoya tradition, the institution of marriage and sex is a means for child bearing, which is a lifetime achievement. Much interest is attached to the development of the girls because of the bride-wealth that accrues from their marriage.
Marriage begins with courtship (etharama), which may begin on the road when the girl is going to fetch water or in their sleeping quarters. The boy expresses his love and interest to marry (amumo).
This could take a long time before the girl accepts. Lokoya tradition prohibits marriages to kins and other blood relations. Acceptance of marriage proposal (eruhon) kicks off the marriage process and the paying of bride-wealth, which is done in bits according to the stage. The bride-wealth is distributed or shared out to all the relatives (maternal and paternal). Extra- or pre-marital conception is deplored and the culprit is heavy fined.
Birth and Naming
Upon delivery (ethamarayo), the mother and child are confined until the umbilical cord detaches from the baby. She is then brought out by the traditional birth attendant (midwife) to sprinkle grains (osingo) as a sign of good delivery and thanksgiving to God.
Naming is done in a ceremony in which the paternal grand parents repeat the osingo calling the name that has been given to the infant. The first born is named ''''''''oke'''''''' (boy) or ''''''''ihye'''''''' (girl), the second boy or girl in that succession is named ''''''''bila'''''''' and ''''''''odicha'''''''' or ''''''''iteng'''''''', respectively. A boy born after several girls is named ''''''''okanyi''''''''. The occasion at birth could form the name for the child. For example ''''''''lama'''''''' (ama) boy (girl) born during an invasion of locusts.
Death and Burial
When death (aye) occurs, the corpse is placed facing the door way in the hut. A goat is killed and the content of its stomach (amoyaho) is sprinkled onto the people both inside and outside the hut. A 7 foot grave (ahilame) is dug and the corpse is placed in facing the mountain.
A relative throws in earth as a sign of farewell. 3 monyomiji sit next to the grave and push the earth into the grave according to the sex. At the end, a funeral dance is performed by the monyomiji.
Socio-Political Organisation, Traditional Authority
The Lokoya subscribe to a traditional governance system which combines spiritual, political and administrative authority. The monyomiji – ruling age set, wield power over a period of 25 years after which, the younger age-set takes over.
The other powerful elements in this traditional governance system are the 8 Chief Priests namely:
Ohobu Laboro (Soil)
Ohobu Lohuju (Rain)
Ohobu Lohimal (Grain)
Ohobu Lahadule (Wind and Fire control)
Ohobu Lodonge (the Mountains)
Ohobu Latang (Defence) and
Chief priest for pests and crop protection – a function usually performed by the chief priest of grain and wind.
The initiation of the monyomiji (abongoro) kicks off the formation of every new Lokoya traditional government. This government controls the affairs of the individual Lokoya village through an open parliament (monyomiji) with the chief priests making up for the executive ministers running the spiritual affairs.
During the so-called indirect rule of the colonial administration, the Lokoya were reluctant to accept government appointed chiefs. As a result, the British administration brought in chiefs from other parts of Equatoria such as Chief Lolik Lado - a Nyangwara - who ruled over the Lokoya until after independence in 1956.
The Lokoya justice system (angoco na arami), is the joint function of the monyomiji who enforce the decisions of the chief priests of soil, rain, mountain and grain. In fact, the chief priest of the soil acts as the Chief Justice. The monyomiji arrests (endefuna) the accused (ohodyahani) and if found guilty (adyahuna), is fined or will have his grain, groundnuts, goats confiscated by the monyomiji. Major cases are settled with the help of the village elders.
Spirituality, Beliefs and Customs
The Lokoya believe in one god (Ojok), the creator but to reach Ojok they pray through a medium or an intermediary (Ojok-Lamolo). There are regular sacrifices made to make peace with the departed ancestral spirits. A family altar (Omunu) is erected for such sacrifices especially in times of bad health. In Lokoya tradition curative medical practices are linked to spiritual beliefs.
Culture: Arts, Music, Literature and Handicraft
The Lokoya culture is expressed orally in songs, dance and folklore. They make friendship and relationships through generosity in which people eat and drink together in one and the same calabash. The Lokoya are very sensitive and mind the feelings of others. They decorate their bodies and carry spears and stick wherever they travel to.
Neighbours and Foreign Relations
The Lokoya neighbour and interact with:
Bari and Lulubo to the west
Acholi to the south
Lotuka and Lopit to the east
Pari to the north.
They share much in terms of culture and social values with the other ohoryok groups and the Lotuka. The influence of Christianity and Islam is very negligible among the Lokoya as they still practice their ancient ways. They resisted the colonial administrative system as a result, the British imposed on them chiefs from other ethnic communities. The glaring example is that of Chief Lolik who hailed from the Nyangwara.
The war was the most spectacular development that adversely affected the Lokoya society. There was massive burning of villages, displacement and movement into towns and refugee camps across international borders.
There is a small Lokoya Diaspora in USA and Canada.
Seligman, C. G., and Seligman, B. Z., ‘Pagan Tribes of the Nilotic Sudan.’ George Routledge & Sons Ltd., London, 1932.
Collins, Robert O., ‘Land beyond the Rivers, the Southern Sudan, 1898 – 1918.’ Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1971. P. Lomodong Lako, ‘Lokoya of Sudan: Culture and Ethnic Government.’ Act Print Ltd. Nairobi, 1995.
Simon Simonse, ‘Kings of Disaster: Dualism, Centralism and the Scapegoat King in the Southeastern Sudan.’ PhD Dissertation presented to Amsterdam University, 1990.