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:
Kenyan missionary, John Wanyoni, tells this story: “I remember when I was sent to South Sudan about 14 years ago, I tried to reach the Toposa, whom I believed God had sent me to evangelize, but I couldn’t. I knew God’s Word, but this was a totally different culture. They needed God’s Word, but my approach was wrong…We have learned simple reproducible tools that have helped the ministry here grow. As the days go, we are seeing the Gospel spread even faster in all three counties of Toposaland. I was so encouraged when Abraham Namono from Kamee shared with me how he is reaching Morunyan villages and how they had sent Isaiah, a twelve-year-old, to survey a new village and found a group of believers already there. The group had been started by one girl!” Pray for God’s Word to be firmly established all over Toposaland, and to keep growing.
Mark Keter, a Kenyan missionary working among the Toposa, reported last month that churches are under attack in Naliel (Toposaland). He said the Nabois church was burned down by some youth, and other churches threatened with the same. Please pray for the Toposa believers to remain firm in their faith, resisting the attacks of the evil one. Pray against this evil spirit among the youth, that their hearts of violence would be transformed by the gospel, and they would become zealous for the works of God.