HIV/AIDS and Wut Life: Tradition and Modernity in the Dinka Cattle Camp

Posted: May 2, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan


By Hon. Atong Kuol Manyang, Bor, Jonglei State

May 2, 2018 (PW) — May 1, 2018 Labor Day experience was different from the past ones because it was well spent with my cousin Kuol from wut . I couldn’t help but noticed that while he walked majestically to sit opposite me, he was undeniably handsome, confident, athletic, charming, with uncombed but neat short natural hair.

He seemed to be in his late teenage years or early twenties, standing at about 6’4 tall with an appealing personality. His smile was so genuine and tempting to watch that I had to finally stop typing on my laptop to give him all the attention that he deserved.

Moreover, it did not come to me as a surprise that his six lower teeth (4 incisors, 2 canines) and two upper canines had been removed as this is a common cultural practice by the Dinka tribe. His teeth were so white and perfectly implanted into his dark gum which almost made me question if charcoal was really that black.The more time flew by, the more I discovered that the discussion had touched on issues that ranged from their mode of dressing, communication, trade, marriage and diseases among others. From our conversation, I came to the realization that wut is more modernized than ever before but at the same time, there are many issues that most of wut residents are either uninformed or ignorant about.

For instance, I asked him how they control or reduce the spread of HIV/AIDs and other STDs due to monogamous marriage and wife inheritance among other traditions as well as other means of transmitting it/them. But his answer baffled me when He cut in, “there is no AIDs there” followed by his justification that, only those who live in the city have it.

Although he perfectly knew how AIDs is spread, he continuously supported his theory that those who are infected are known from their physical appearance as they appear frail and very thin; only those who go to lodges in the city/town have it; only infected married women pass it and not girls because they do not have it; and if one gets it, then God is the one that allowed.

Anyhow, I inquisitively wanted to know what he most liked about wut life. He told me that simplicity is its beauty because they live on milk, meat, butter and make use of other cows’ products such as dung, leather, tail, horn and leather.

Besides the above reasons, they have no farms and therefore use the money from sales or and that they are given by relatives to purchase beans, rice, onion, chicken, biscuit, sweet, perfumes, lotion to take to the camp for either personal consumption or trade purposes.

In my view, the only major concern to wut life is that there are no schools and this could be due to their nomadic way of life. Also, health awareness is urgently needed particularly in the cattle camps/wut, villages and other parts where most people are left out of this crucial information.

In conclusion, it was very clear that one can be happy wherever he or she calls home be it wut, rural or urban setting. However at the back of my mind “East or West home is best”.

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