The Dinka people are a Nilotic ethnic group presently native to South Sudan with a large diaspora population abroad. The Dinka live along the Nile, from Jonglei to Renk, in Bahr el Ghazal, Upper Nile Abyei Region of the Ngok Dinka in South Sudan.
The Dinka principally practice pastoralism and traditional agriculture, relying on cattle farming as a matter of cultural pride, not as a source of economic profit or meat, but as a means to offer cultural demonstrations, rituals, and milk feedings for everyone. With the Tutsi of Rwanda, they are considered to be the tallest people in the world.
History – Dinka People
Origin and Migration
According to Ancient Oral Traditions, the Dinka tribes emerged from the Gezira in what is present-day Sudan. In medieval days, this region was governed by the kingdom of Alodia, a Christian, multi-ethnic empire controlled by Nubians. Living on its southern border and interacting with the Nubian Tribes, the Dinka people absorbed a sizable Nubian vocabulary. From the 13th century CE, with the Alodia disintegration, the Dinka started to move out of the Gezira, fleeing slave raids and other armed conflicts as well as droughts.
The Dinka’s beliefs, religions, and lifestyle have led to fighting with the Arab Muslim regime in Khartoum. The Early-Modern Sudan People’s Liberation Army, headed by late Dr. John Garang De Mabior, a Dinka, took arms against the regime in 1983. During the following 21-year civil war, many thousands of Dinka and fellow non-Dinka Southerners were exterminated by Islamic forces. Since South Sudan’s freedom, the Dinka, led by Salva Kiir Mayardit, has also engaged in a civil war with the Nuer and other tribes, who blame them for constantly monopolizing power.
In 1983 CE, due to Sudan’s Deadly Second Civil war, many educated Dinka men were forced to escape the major towns where they were working, back to pastoral Dinka villages. Some of these men were Christians who the Anglican Church Missionary Society had converted, and they took their faith with them when they escaped. Among these men were ordained clergy members who began preaching in the villages. They used songs and singing to teach the primarily illiterate Dinka about the faith and Biblical lessons. A large number of Dinka tribes have converted to Christianity and are learning how to reject or adapt ancient rituals and practices to match Christian teachings. However, another set of Dinka people are working hard to preserve their history and culture and are revolving against the Christianisation of the region.
On November 15, 1991 CE, the event known as the “Dinkas Massacre” began in South Sudan. Armies led by the faction of Riek Machar deliberately annihilated an estimated 3,000 civilians in Dinkas of Hol, Twic, Nyarweng, Bor, and others in villages and wounded MANY thousand more over two months. It is estimated that 100,000 people fled the region after the attack.