Along with visiting Papua New Guinea and its plethora of tribes, we at YPT would argue that there isn’t many adventures as photogenic as visiting the tribes of South Sudan. During our last trip to South Sudan, we visited one of the 64 tribes of the country and probably the one that is increasingly the most popular: the Mundari Tribe.
The Mundari are cattle herders as well as fierce warriors. They live in symbiosis with their cattle and nothing is more important for them than their cows. As our local guide put it, offer money to a Mundari and he will tell you “take your money, go back and buy and bring me a cow instead”.
In the Mundari cattle camps, kids are doing most of the daily work. Kids collect the fresh cow dung and put it into piles which are then set on fire. Those fire are useful as they repel the (extremely) numerous and voracious flies and mosquitoes of the South Sudanese countryside. The Mundari also use the ash created by these fires to rub on themselves and their cattle, creating a protection against mosquitoes.
The cattle are sent off for grazing all day long and come back to the camp before day fall when they are cleaned and tied to poles. The young kids will sleep with the cows as well as guardians, which are often armed with AK-47s.
Mundari men have to go through a rite of initiation where all the initiates live together and spend three months with a village elder, away from the community. During that time, they must live in nature and stay naked. Once their initiation is finished, they can kill a cow and call themselves men.
Mundari take up wrestling as a serious hobby from a very young age. Everyday, young mundari will organise wrestling competitions and the best ones keep going at it until they are too old for it, with some clans having some countrywide heroes.
Time spent with the Mundari is such a special time that you won’t find anywhere else!