The Laarim of South Sudan
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:
Several weeks ago a group of young men gathered on our compound to watch the “Following Jesus” video which is a follow-up of the Jesus Film. Carlo was hanging out with his friends and stayed to watch. As the African actors were explaining to each other the way to breathe out your sins and breathe in the Holy Spirit, Carlo described a ‘shaking of my body” and an urge to know the Holy Spirit. As soon as the video ended, he shared this desire with the group. With a bit of instruction and guidance he prayed to accept Jesus into his heart and thus began his new life in Christ! Pray for God to renew Carlo’s mind and help him walk in newness of life.
The cattle raiding which had decreased a bit following prayer focus and the chiefs’ of our people group meeting with government leaders and the chiefs’ of the neighboring people group. However the young men are not at all involved in the peace efforts and they are off raiding with a vengeance…and dying! We had two deaths this last week in our village. This afternoon there has been a steady stream of young men with guns, knives,bows and arrows going past our compound to the river to prepare for a raid (they will gather and “seek the counsel” and “sacrifice” we’re told). Pray that the Lord will make Himself known to this group!