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:

Cattle raiding

Cattle raiding has also been on the increase. Last month several tribes (including the Laarim) joined together to make raids on Toposa cattle. This has resulted in many deaths, possibly up to two hundred. Pray for an end to the cycle of revenge among these tribes! Pray that these cattle-keeping people would come to a knowledge of the Truth, and trust in Jesus for salvation, that they “may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:2-4), for “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 4:6) – far greater than all the cattle in the world!

Needing healing

We prayed for Maria (from Kimatong) a couple of months ago after she had received injuries to her head when she tried to break up a fight. There seems to be lingering effects from the blow to her head, and she has been experiencing bad headaches and problems with her vision. The team was able to send her to Juba where she is staying with a Laarim family while she gets checked by a doctor. Please pray for wisdom and good, effective treatment, and a quick return to her home in Kimatong.

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