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:
Multiple villages are facing persecution after turning to Christ. In one village, young warriors are angry at the lack of alcohol, that girls are worshiping God instead of dancing with them, and that their witch doctor has come to faith. Pray for these disciples and their leaders to stand firm in their faith.
Update: God is at work! We just ended church service and it was wonderful. The Lord has done great things after the persecution several weeks ago. The church has grown- we had more than 300 people including youths, who asked for peace!
Witch doctors are the order of the day among the Toposa. Since the gospel has entered many villages, most of them have gotten saved! Some are church leaders now. At one baptism of 60 people, most of them were witch doctors! Praise God for what he is doing and pray for these leaders to be used by God to bring many to Him.