About Nuba People

  • About Nuba People
    Nuba is a collective term used here for the peoples who inhabit the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan state
  • Donate
    Help to educate the children of the Nuba Mountains
  • Conflict in the Nuba Mountains
    After some earlier incursions by the SPLA, the Second Sudanese Civil War started full scale in the Nuba Mountains when the Volcano Battalion of the SPLA under the command of the Nuba Yousif Kuwa Mekki and Abdel Aziz Adam al-Hillu entered the Nuba Mountains

Nuba is a collective term used here for the peoples who inhabit the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan state, in southern Sudan. Africa. Although the term is used to describe them as if they composed a single group, the Nuba are multiple distinct peoples and speak different languages. Estimates of the Nuba population vary widely; the Sudanese government estimated that they numbered 1.07 million in 2003.

A Nuba village in the Nuba Mountains.

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Languages

Main: Index: Kordofanian languages

Most of the Nuba peoples speak one of the many languages in the geographic Kordofanian languages group of the Nuba Mountains. This language group is in the major Niger–Congo languages family. Several Nuba languages are in the Nilo-Saharan languagesfamily.

Over one hundred languages are spoken in the area and are considered Nuba languages, although many of the Nuba also speakSudanese Arabic, the official language of Sudan.

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Culture

The Nuba people are primarily farmers, as well as herders who keep cattle, goats, chickens, and other domestic animals. They often maintain three different farms: a garden near their house where vegetables needing constant attention, such as onions, peppers and beans, are grown; fields further up the hills where quick growing crops such as red millet can be cultivated without irrigation; and farms farther away, where white millet and other crops are planted. A distinctive characteristic of the Nubas is their passion for athletic competition, particularly traditional wrestling. The strongest young men of a community compete with athletes from other villages for the chance to promote their personal and their village’s pride and strength. In some villages, older men participate in club- or spear-fighting contests. The Nubas’ passion for physical excellence is also displayed through the young men’s vanity—they often spend hours painting their bodies with complex patterns and decorations. This vanity reflects the basic Nuba belief in the power and importance of strength and beauty.

Religions

The primary religion of many Nuba peoples is Islam, with some Christians, and traditional shamanistic beliefs also prevailing. Men wear a sarong and occasionally a skull cap. Young men remained naked, while children, including girls, wear only a string of beads. Older women and young women wore beads and wrap a sarong over their legs and sometimes a cloak tie on the shoulder. Both sexes practice scarification and circumcision. Men shave their heads, older men wear beards, women and girls braid their hair in strands and string it with beads.

The majority of the Nuba living in the east, west and northern parts of the mountains are Muslims, while those living to the south are either Christians or practice traditional animistic religions. In those areas of the Nuba mountains where Islam has not deeply penetrated, ritual specialists and priests hold as much control as the clan elders, for it is they who are responsible for rain control, keeping the peace, and rituals to insure successful crops. Many are guardians of the shrines where items are kept to insure positive outcomes of the rituals (such as rain stones for the rain magic), and some also undergo spiritual possession.

The Nuba Mountains Geography

The Nuba people reside in one of the most remote and inaccessible places in all of Sudan, the foothills of the Nuba Mountains in central Sudan. At one time the area was considered a place of refuge, bringing together people of many different tongues and backgrounds who were fleeing oppressive governments and slave traders.

The Nuba Mountains mark the southern border of the sands of the desert and the northern limit of good soils washed down by the Nile River. Many Nubas, however, have migrated to the Sudanese capital of Khartoum to escape persecution and the effects of Sudan’s civil war. Most of the rest of the 1,000,000 Nuba people live in villages of between 1,000 and 50,000 inhabitants in areas in and surrounding the Nuba mountains. Nuba villages are often built where valleys run from the hills out on to the surrounding plains, because water is easier to find at such points and wells can be used all year long. There is no political unity among the various Nuba groups who live on the hills. Often the villages do not have chiefs but are instead organized into clans or extended family groups with village authority left in the hands of clan elders.

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