Culture of South Sudan

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The culture of South Sudan encompasses the religions, languages, ethnic groups, foods, and traditions of peoples of Southern Sudan.


While Sudan to the north is influenced by Islam, South Sudan is influenced by Christianity and African traditional animist religions, though Islam is not altogether absent.[1]

National holidays[edit]

  • 1 January Independence Day (1956)
  • movable date in July–October - Eid al-Miraj (Rajab al-Adha), a Muslim festival in memory of the night journey of the Prophet from Mecca to Jerusalem and back
  • movable date in October and February - Muharram, the day of mourning for the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Imam Hussein
  • moving date between late December and early February - Eid al-Adha (Kurban Bairam)
  • movable date in March - August - Mawlid, the birthday of Prophet Muhammad
  • movable date in late October - early November - Eid al-Fitr (Eid al-Fitr), the feast of breaking the fast, the final Ramadan
  • 30 June Anniversary of the Revolution for National Salvation
  • 25 December Christmas Day off - Friday, in the southern regions, where the spread of Christianity, - Sunday

Ethnic groups[edit]

Ethnic groups present in South Sudan include the Nuer, Dinka, Kakwa, Bari, Lugbara and Keliko people, Azande, Muru, Baka, Madi, Mundu, Avokaya, Jur people, Shilluk, Kuku, Murle, Mandari, Didinga, Ndogo, Bviri, Lndi, Anuak, Bongo, Balanda, Ottuho (Latuka and Lokoya people), Topossa, Lango, Dungotona, and Acholi.[2]


Most South Sudanese kept the core of their culture even while in exile and diaspora. Traditional culture is highly upheld and a great focus is given to knowing one's origin and dialect. Although the common languages spoken are Arabi Juba and English, Kiswahili is being introduced to the population to improve the country's relations with its East African neighbors.


Emmanuel Jal at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York 2008.

Due to the many years of civil war, the culture is heavily influenced by the countries neighboring South Sudan. Many South Sudanese fled to Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda where they interacted with the nationals and learnt their languages and culture. For most of those who remained in the country, or went North to Sudan and Egypt, they greatly assimilated Arabic culture.

Many music artists from South Sudan use English, Kiswahili, Arabi Juba, their dialect or a mix of all. Popular artist Yaba Angelosi sings Afro-beat, R&B, and Zouk; Dynamiq is popular for his reggae releases; and Emmanuel Kembe sings Folk, Reggae and Afrobeat. Emmanuel Jal is one South Sudanese music artist who has broken through on an international level[3] with his unique form of Hip Hop and a positive message in his lyrics.[4] Jal, a former child soldier turned musician received good airplay and album reviews in the UK[5] and has also been sought out for the lecture circuit with major talks at popular talkfests like TED.[6]

There are few female artists that South Sudan has produced so far. Reflections BYG is a Zouk artist whose first single "Ng'ume" means Smile. She performs the popular Jazz as well as Afrobeat and Hip Hop. Other artists include De-vine singing R&B and Zouk; Nyaruach on the Afro-beat and pop; Queen Zee is known for her rap music.[citation needed]


Main article: Sports in South Sudan

See also[edit]