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:
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!
More Laarim are being added nearly daily to the Lamb’s Book of Life. Loboyi and Angelo (young believers discipled by Jacob previously) have been key players in this. Among these have been a couple of other young men, another woman (influence of new believer Mary Marko), one of the compound guards (drunkard and problematic in the past, now supportive and eager to grow and no drunkenness since his commitment over a week ago), an old chief dying in his village hut, and others! The lady who prayed to receive Jesus on her deathbed just before we evacuated, went to her Heavenly home just a few days later. Unfortunately the lady who was dying on a neighboring compound here when we returned did not have that opportunity; I failed to share the good news with her on my daily visits thinking I had more time.