Following the influx of 19th century British
missionaries, Christianity was predominate over
traditional Dinka religious practice.
The Dinka's religions, beliefs and lifestyle have
led to conflict with the government in Khartoum.
The Sudan People's Liberation Army, led by late
Dr. John Garang De Mabior, a Dinka, took arms
against the government in 1983.
During the subsequent 21-year civil war, many
thousands of Dinka, along with fellow non-Dinka
southerners, were massacred by government
The Dinka have also engaged in a separate war
with the Nuer for hundreds of years.
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.
The Nuer, also known as the Nei Ti Naath
(roughly meaning original people), are a
confederation of tribes located in South Sudan
and western Ethiopia.
Collectively, the Nuer form one of the largest
ethnic groups in East Africa.
They are a pastoral people who rely on cattle
products for almost every aspect of their daily
The Nuer border such tribes as the Dinka,
Anyuak, Shilluk and other minor tribes in both
Ethiopia and Sudan.
The Nuer receive facial markings as part of their
initiation into adulthood.
The pattern of Nuer scarification varies within
specific subgroups. The most common initiation
pattern among males consists of six parallel
horizontal lines which are cut across the forehead
with a razor, often with a dip in the lines above
the nose.
Dotted patterns are also common (especially
among the Bul Nuer and among females).