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:

Needless death

The team in Kimatong feel the pain and burden of the senseless loss that seems so much a part of life among the Laarim. There is the death of young men in cattle raids, fights that break out at dances that lead to one boy dead and two girls shot in the leg, death from preventable and treatable diseases…sometimes it’s overwhelmingly hard to live in such darkness. Pray for the day when the Laarim “…will delight in the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:3) and “they will neither harm nor destroy…for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (11:9). And please pray God’s special grace over this team as they minister in this place.

Hunger season

We received an urgent request for help from Jacinta, a Kenyan missionary working among the Laarim in the village of Fara Sika. She is recently returned from a break in Kenya and has found the situation in the area dire due to food shortages. We were able to send her some food, but there will be more needs as dry season (often referred to as “hunger season” here in South Sudan) is upon us. Pray for Jacinta’s faith to grow as she trusts her daily needs to the Lord, and He faithfully provides everything she needs. Pray for mercy for the people she lives among.

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