South Sudan, also called Southern Sudan, country located in northeastern Africa. Its rich biodiversity includes lush savannas, swamplands, and rainforests that are home to many species of wildlife. Prior to 2011, South Sudan was part of sudan, its neighbour to the north. South Sudan’s population, predominantly African cultures who tend to adhere to Christian or animist beliefs, was long at odds with Sudan’s largely Muslim and Arab northern government. South Sudan’s capital is juba.
Christians, primarily Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Presbyterian, account for about three-fifths of South Sudan’s population. christianity is a result of European missionary efforts that began in the second half of the 19th century. The remainder of the population is a mix of Muslims and those who follow traditional animist religions, the latter outnumbering the former. Although the animists share some common elements of religious belief, each ethnicgroup has its own indigenous religion. Virtually all of South Sudan’s traditional African religions share the conception conception of a high spirit or divinity, usually a creator god. There exist two conceptions of the universe: the earthly and the heavenly, or the visible and the invisible. The heavenly world is seen as being populated by spiritual beings whose function is to serve as intermediaries or messengers of God; in the case of the Nilotic peoples, these spirits are identified with their ancestors. The supreme deity is the object of rituals using music and dance.
The manufacturing sector of the economy historically has been small, development being hindered by such factors as the long-running civil war as well as severe shortages of trained manpower and raw materials. With the signing of the CPA in 2005, the GoSS began to look toward development and expansion in this sector. There is some production of beer, soft drinks, sugar, and other food products. Because of the long lack of basic infrastructure in many key areas, the construction industry saw considerable growth as preparations were made for independence. Despite the lucrative oil fields in South Sudan, there are no working refineries in the country, and oil pumped from South Sudan must be refined in Sudan.
National dress of Sudan. Men prefer loose-fitting robes and women use wrap-around cloths
Sudan is a large African country with strong Islamic and Christian traditions. Religions and beliefs of local people have a great influence on the national clothing of Sudan. As climate conditions do. Those are the reasons for Sudanese people to wear loose-fitting long attires which cover most of the body. These dresses and robes are made of light natural fabrics. Sudanese people also cover their heads: women with scarves and men with turbans. Headgears serve both for religious purposes and for protection from the sun. Western-style dresses are also used in Sudan, but they’re rarer than traditional ones.
Men’s traditional attire. It consists of a long, loose-fitting white or pastel-colored robe (called “jalabiya”), a headdress (a skullcap or a turban), and shoes. Jalabiya is ankle-length collarless robe with long sleeves. Mostly it is light-colored, but sometimes it can be brown as well. Light colors help to reduce heat from the sun; long sleeves and hem protect skin from sun and sand; loose-fitting design helps skin to breath and reduces sweating.
oday men are allowed to wear Western-style costumes to work. But mostly they do so in big cities. They use traditional attires out of work.
Women’s traditional attire. The national costume of Sudanese women is called “toob” (“thobe”, “thawb”, “toub” etc.). It is a long wrap-around cloth worn on top of a shirt and skirt/trousers. It covers the body entirely. It can be made from cotton, satin, polyester, jersey, denim and other fabrics. A thawb can be of any color, can have various patterns on fabric. A thawb can be very colorful and beautiful. Though, elder women prefer white thawbs, and youth mostly wears multicolor toobs, often with accessories. Expensive thawbs often are embellished with embroidery, stitch-work, rhinestones and other decorative elements.
Traditional clothing is very important for Sudanese women. It shows the status, social class, belonging to a clan or tribe and gender. Girls wear their first thawb at the age of 12. A woman should have at least several toobs for different occasions: shopping, work, visiting friends, wedding etc.
Due to Islamic tradition, women cover their body with a thawb and other clothing. They leave only feet, palms (or sometimes arms to the elbow) and face uncovered. Undershirts and underskirts / underpants prevent the exposure of bare body if a thawb falls or is carelessly worn. It is rather hard to keep the wrap-around cloth always in place.
Clothes to Wear for Traveling in Sudan
It’s an adventurous traveler who embarks on a trip to Sudan. Although the U.S. State Department recommends avoiding unnecessary travel to many parts of the country, travel in the northeast region can be both peaceful and breathtaking. Expect a warm welcome and extreme kindness from interested locals, but be prepared to fit in with local dress and customs to gain this acceptance and friendship.
Conservative Dress in Khartoum
Although the Sudan operates under Islamic Sharia Law, foreign non-Muslims are not expected to follow all of the regulations of Sharia, including the exact forms of dress. However, in the interest of respect for local customs and safety, tourists are still advised to dress conservatively while visiting the capital. Khartoum does have some international resorts, though, inside of which foreigners can dress with a little more comfort and ease.
Clothes for Men
Conservative dress for men usually means wearing long trousers instead of shorts, even when faced with Africa’s extreme heat. Wearing a button-down shirt is customary; a local, flowing long-sleeved shirt is acceptable too. Non-Muslim men are not expected to cover their heads unless entering a mosque or religious site.
Clothes for Women
Women need to take care to cover themselves in long trousers or floor-length dresses. Exposed legs and shoulders are not acceptable. Wear several layers of loose, lightweight clothing for the most comfort. Although women need not cover their head or face in Khartoum, for travel outside the capital, they may want to buy some local clothing and dress exactly the way the locals do to avoid calling too much attention to themselves.
The local Sudanese men often wear Western business attire in the city or traditional robes and a length of cloth draped down under a skull cap in more rural areas. Women wear long dresses, similar to an Indian sari, along with an Islamic head covering. Some Muslim women are required by their families to wear a long, thick robe covering their more colorful lengths of cloth, a gown common in the Middle East, when they leave the house. Inside their own homes, though, women are more likely to dress in lighter-weight, long cotton dresses.
A TRADITION IN EXILE
South Sudanese refugees fled for their lives carrying only an embroidered sheet. Now, these stunning pieces of art could provide a lifeline for survival.
The Milaya Project is a non-profit working with female artists living in Bidibidi settlement in Uganda, the second largest refugee camp in the world.
LIFE IN BIDIBIDI REFUGEE CAMP
Irene Sonia wishes she could talk to her friends in South Sudan, but she doesn’t have a phone. “I really miss them,” the 17-year-old says. School doesn’t offer the subjects she needs to pursue her dream of becoming an accountant, and often 200 children are crammed into one classroom. Without an education, what future will they have after the war? What future will South Sudan have? In 2018, Irene’s mother decided to take her back to South Sudan.
In a tarp-covered courtyard next to her house, Rose Jaun commands a group of women sewing milaya. She arrived from South Sudan with six children and two bedsheets and launched a milaya-making collective. Her knack for business helps the 60-member group earn a small income. When her village held elections Rose won a seat representing women on the refugee council. A year later, she became the chairperson of a cluster of villages in Bidibidi.
Rebecca Ameri fought for South Sudanese independence alongside many other female soldiers. Since then, wars has taken the lives of her brother, her husband, and six of her 12 children. “The soldiers this time are different,” she says. At 75 years old Rebecca is a refugee again. She sells her food rations to pay for private education for her grandchildren, pictured here, after they were bullied in the camp’s school.
Beading South Sudan with the World
After decades of war, South Sudan became the world’s newest nation in 2011. The Roots Project employs more than 60 women from nearly twenty unique tribal groups that are known for their beaded jewelry and clothing. The colors. patterns, and styles of each piece are specific to the tribe of the maker. The organization markets and sells the beaded items through its website and its mission is to provide creative outlets and financial opportunities for South Sudanese women. The cycles of violence, poverty and insecurity can be broken by the empowerment of women who will provide the right conditions for children and their future.” says ROOTS founder, and human rights activist, Anyieth D’Awo. Since 2011, ROOTS has raised money to build facilities, teach jewelry-making skills, and to foster an onlihe presence for its artists with a straightforward vision: to share the outrageous beauty of traditional, beaded African accessories with the world. These are not simple baubles: ROOTS’s artisans spend hours creating rainbow-hued, painstakingly detailed jewelry and other items. A collar-style necklace, for instance. might have many strands of blue and white seed beads, with delicate sections of beaded tassels and other striking details.
By tradition, certain of their patrilineal clans provide priest-chiefs (“masters of the fishing spear”), whose position is validated by elaborate myths. Spiritual leadership and intervention are important to the Dinka, who are intensely religious and for whom God (Nhial) and many ancestral spirits play a central and intimate part in everyday life. Anything from a lie to a murder may be an occasion for sacrificial propitiation of the divine.
The Dinka ritualize the passage from boyhood to manhood through age-old ceremonies during which a number of boys of similar age undergo hardship together before abandoning forever the activity of milking cows, which had marked their status as children and servers of men. Cattle nonetheless retain a central position in daily life.
During the last two decades of the 20th century, when South Sudan was still part of Sudan, the Dinka’s traditional way of life was seriously threatened by the Khartoum-based government’s attempt to impose Islamic law on the non-Muslim south. The resulting civil war in Sudan pitted Arab militias against their customary rivals, particularly the Dinka. Conditions worsened as the Dinka and Nuer, both southern Sudanese, also turned against each other. In 1999, however, the Wunlit Dinka-Nuer Covenant was signed and a cease-fire instituted between the two southern ethnic groups. The larger civil war raged on until a Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed in 2005.
The Dinka, who live in the swamplands of the Sudd in southern Sudan, believe that their enormous herds of cattle are their link to the spirit world. The Dinkas pastoral lifestyle is reflected in their religious beliefs and practices. They have one God, Nhialic, who speaks through spirits that take temporary possession of individuals in order to speak through them. Age is an important factor in Dinka culture, with young men being inducted into adulthood through an initiation ordeal which includes marking the forehead with a sharp object initiation horn shapes. Both women and men are known for these special scars they use as body decoration on different parts of their body.
Dinka corsets are made up of thousands of tiny glass beads in various colours and are usually supported by strong wires at the spin. Beadwork is an expression of the creativity and is an important part of adornment traditions of the Dinka. The corsets are used as symbol of wealth and social status, therefore an indicator of gender, age, wealth, and ethnic affiliations. The colours of the beads indicate the age of the wearer; young Dinka between 15-25 years-old will wear a corset made of red and black beads. The use of pink and purple are appropriated to a man between 25-30 years old while yellow beads are worn by wearers of over 30 years old. The combination of colours including blue, green, white, black, and red is frequently used. This composition may appear purely aesthetic. Dinka corsets were used by both men and women. Women’ corsets Alual are different from those worn by men and often decorated with cowry shells. They are of a looser, bodice style and when worn, women’ corsets appear ample and hang from the neck like a large necklace. In some rare cases, young girls will wear a tight corset with an important projection in the back such as those of the men. This corset will remain on her and will be cut open only at her wedding. Corsets for men Malual are worn tight and are characterized by a high projection on the back usually seen as indicator of the wealth of the wearer’s family. Dinka young warrior would keep his corset on him and will change it only when he reaches another group age.
Because these garments are used to communicate characteristics such as gender, age, wealth, and ethnic affiliation, we can infer a significant amount of information about the past wearer of this object. In particular, the red-and-black patterning indicates that the corset was worn by a male between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five. The decoration of cowries, along with the extreme height of the back, marks the wearer as someone of considerable wealth. The addition of the fur skirt (possibly cattle hair) is significant. The Dinka, who have traditionally gained their livelihood from their herds, value their animals as a source of aesthetic inspiration and a link to the spiritual world.
As highly prized commodities, beads are a sign of wealth and status among the Dinka peoples. The polychrome glass beads that make up this garment are European, while the cowries and fur skirt are undoubtedly of local origin.
By Nidhi Singh