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:
Troy is going to Kapoeta today to work with Kenyan missionaries Mark Keter and his team. He is going to do a week-long training on animal care for these missionaries working among the cattle-keeping Toposa people. Pray that this is a valuable and useful tool for this missionary team, and that God will use their concern for the Toposa’s most valued possession as a means of reaching the hearts of this people group. Pray the Toposa will desire Jesus more than they long for their cattle.
Praise God for the good training for Toposa disciples on sustainability as a long-term solution for supporting disciples. Pray for the upcoming 2- month- long full training for disciples in March and April. Pray for shelters for the training and accommodation that still need to be built. Pray for unity, wisdom and strength for both the team and disciple leaders to overcome various challenges.