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:

Promising female discipler

Praise for Maria’s baptism and leadership in the community. Pray as we disciple her to disciple the other young women who also are ready for baptism! Pray for a real breakthrough among the female Laarim population—these youth and also the adult women and the “abuba” (grandmas)!

First church!

We praise the Lord for the beginnings of an indigenous church among the Laarim! Last month was the first ever Laarim- led worship service in the village of Yei. It was a service complete with Laarim gospel songs accompanied by a drum, and the telling of a Bible story by a Laarim youth. This is one of numerous little churches sprouting up in different villages throughout Kimatong. Pray for these churches to grow and spread throughout this people group.

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