The Toposa of South Sudan
Pray for the Toposa of South Sudan. They are one of the largest groups in South Sudan, but are being marginalised by the government. They live in a dry rugged land and raise cattle. They are often in conflict with other groups and raid cattle from across the Kenyan and Ugandan borders. They are traditionally animists, praying and making sacrifices through a medium.
Population: 700,000-1 million
Location and Background: One of the largest tribal groups in S. Sudan, the Toposa live in organized villages in an arid, rugged, hilly land with vegetation of shrubs and grass, and seasonal streams.
History: The Toposa are part of the Ateker cluster, believing they moved away from the Losolia Mountains in Uganda due to drought. They believe that when the first people (Murle and Didinga) arrived they cheated the Toposa by taking the gazelle meat and leaving only soup for the Toposa. This precipitated the split. Successive governments in Khartoum and Juba have marginalized the Toposa. At some point they were armed by the north to fight the SPLA but later changed sides. They have regular disputes with other groups in their area, and also raid tribes in Kenya and Uganda.
Culture: A patrilineal society, cultural norms and values are passed to children early. Culture is transmitted orally through songs, dance, music, poems and folklore. Much has to do with the accumulation and keeping of large herds of cattle. The boys are put in age-sets and taught to herd. The girls look after the home, and care for the elderly and smaller siblings. Men wear a draped cloth, and women wear leather skirts embellished with colored beads. Both men and women scar their bodies. The young men are proud of the beauty of their hair. They abhor the practice of circumcision. Interestingly, they do not count people or animals. They share certain totems and body marks, and they come together for social occasions such as dances, marriages, funerals and cattle raids. Decisions are made by the men as a community. Respect for elders is mandatory.
Religion: The Toposa believe in the existence of a supreme being and the spirits of departed ones. They pray and make sacrifices, using a medium. Chiefs, sub-chiefs, medicine men, and witchdoctors all wield administrative and spiritual power. They believe chiefs are nearer to God by virtue of their wisdom.
Latest Prayer Updates:
The Toposa teams going to remote unreached areas have received intense physical persecution. We have been praying and also preparing the teams for how to respond.
We just received word that after the leaders visited the new commissioner to report the persecution and ask for help, the new commissioner, who is Muslim, told them he would intervene and that they should continue to freely share the word of God to the villagers and that he will be standing with them!
God is working and we are glad to be part of it. We are seeing groups and churches multiplying and all these we attribute to God himself as He is using the faithful.
Due to oppositions and persecution in the villages, we’re bringing our leaders together for three days this weekend. We plan to share with them how God used such difficult situations to spread His message. We will use stories from the book of Acts. It is our prayer that they will be able to share the gospel in a wise and humble way avoiding confrontations.
We pray that this will also be a time for these leaders to share testimonies of the great things God is doing in their lives and see how they can be of help to each other.