The Laarim of South Sudan

Population: 7,000-10,000

Location and Background: Also known as the Boya or Narim, the Laarim are a Nilotic people living in the Boya Hills. It’s a rugged and hilly terrain with rich savanna, high grasslands and scrub bushes. They live in small settlements, with the main town being Kimatong.

History: The Laarim are close relatives of the Didinga, Murle and Tenet. They believe they came from Ethiopia in the 18th c as part of a group that separated from others because of a dispute over gazelle soup. Cattle-rustling continues to fuel hostilities with the Toposa, and efforts for peace and reconciliation have borne no fruit, though they continue to look for ways to end the long-standing conflict.

Culture: Social and cultural life is centered around cattle, with livestock being their only known natural resource. They breed them, eat their meat, use them as dowry to get a bride, drink their blood and milk, and sleep on their hides. Raiding and stealing of cattle is a question of honor and valor. The do also grow some food, and also hunt and fish. Hereditary chiefs are highly respected. The Laarim share the same rainmaker as the Didinga and perform rain-making rituals in common. The culture is patrilineal, with strong ties of community solidarity.  Initiation rituals are followed for passing into adulthood, and dowries are paid for brides.

Religion: The Laarim practice Africa Traditional Religion with some Catholic influence. They are highly aware of spiritual forces,  and believe in a supreme being who controls all of life, including the health of their cattle. They believe spirits of their departed ones roam the earth and they can communicate with them through prayers and offerings which they perform collectively in designated ritual places.

Latest Prayer Updates:

Jesus answered my prayer!

Mary, now a six month-old new believer, meets for prayers with some ladies whom she has led to the Lord. The DBS story this week was Jesus raising Jarius’s daughter. When the group was asked what they learned from the story, they spoke of the life-bringing power of Jesus in a hopeless situation. Laguwe shared that her 3 year old had gotten very sick, and “since you were not here, I decided not to go to the witchdoctor, but to do what I had seen and heard you do. I prayed like you do to Jesus to heal…and HE DID IT, even for me!” Praise God for maturing faith in new believers!

Cholera update

When we helped to open the Cholera Treatment Ward at Kimatong Health Center last Sunday, I anticipated it being flooded with up to 50 or 60 cholera victims. However, our maximum number of cholera patients in the ward this week was six. One severely afflicted patient arrived during the night in our absence and it was so gratifying to hear the nurse exclaim with joy the next morning, “We followed the protocol and we saved him!” Indeed he and several other lives were saved by the implementation of the treatment ward. AIM is getting more credit in the community than we deserve for the ebbing of the cholera epidemic. We try to turn the credit back to God and indeed the prayers of many have had an unseen impact. Pray God’s mercy would be recognized by the Laarim.

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