The Nuer

The Nuer, like the Annuak, are Nilotic people who live in the Gambela region. They number about 65,000 individuals on the whole and inhabit the low laying plains which stretch to the border with the Sudan. In these plains close to the banks of river Baro and its tributaries, the different families of the Nuer traditionally preferred and enjoyed living together in large settlements rather than in isolated family-based dwellings. In the villages of the Nuer communities, many Nuer huts come under one fence.

The roof of Nuer huts are usually covered by layers of grass or straw. 
The great majority of the Nuer depend on livestock raring and it forms the core of their culture. During the day, the livestock is taken to chosen pasturelands and at night, the animals are tied in side a large hut that is exclusively built for them. For the wel-being of the cattle, fire smoke is used as an aversive agent against flies. Goats and sheep are kept in a separate, open hut.
However, despite the Nuer's deep affection for cattle breeding, recently they have also started fishing and farming to supplement their diet. This is because they live in one of the most Tsetse fly and mosquito infested corners of Ethiopia. 
The Nuer, like the Annuak, believe that their ancestors have come from the rivers. Among the Nuer conjugal union between clans of common ancestors is strictly forbidden. Spiritually, they are animistic and this is imbued with a cult of clan ancestors.
During an initiation ritual 'Gar' that is celebrated at around the age of fourteen, Nuer children receive the typical six linear scars on their foreheads. Moreover, the Nuer practice circumcision and the removal of the four incisor teeth from lower jaw which does not include the canines.
Both men and women Nuer take great interesting not only in smoking tobacco but also in sniffing the powder of its fermented leaves. Smoking is usually carried out using one of the two types of the Nuer pipe: 'doge' or short pipe and 'tong' or the long pipe. 
The Nure people practice cicatrization as a means of beautification. Thus, they scarify their faces, chest and stomach in a certain fashion that exposes raised dot like structures on their skin. Nuer women love wearing necklaces of bright beads, heavy bangles of ivory or bone, and ivory or brass piercings of the lower lip.

More in this category: « The Annuak Jimma »

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