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:
Pray for Lokolong, one of Jacob’s disciples. He has asked prayer for protection for himself and for others. Because of his age, this is the first year Lokolong has been given a gun and the responsibility to defend himself, others, and the cattle against potential enemies when they take the cattle out each day for grazing. He said this added responsibility has made him anxious. As cattle raiding (and subsequent shootings, death, and retaliation) are endemic in these cattle-keeping communities, pray for Lokolong’s safety, but also pray that as a Christian, he would “set an example by doing what is good” (Titus 2:7).
Dan, Joel and Noblesse have completed their term of service and are now on their way back to their home countries. We are thankful for the faithful service of these three young men. They have spent two years in the remote villages of the Laarim; they have endured sickness, loneliness, heat. They have learned language and shared the gospel. Pray that the seeds of Truth they planted among the Laarim will continue to take root and grow and bear much fruit. Pray for the believers to “stand firm and hold fast to the teachings…passed on to [them]” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).