Bongo people (South Sudan)
The Bongo are an ethnic group living in South Sudan, mostly in the Tonj District. They speak the Bongo language, one of the Bongo-Baka languages. Unlike the Dinka and other Nilotic groups, the Bongo are not a cattle herding people and do not use cows for bride price. Subsistence farming is the primary source of food, though money is obtained by working in forestry, building, selling honey, and other various means.
Georg August Schweinfurth, who lived two years among them, declared that before the advent of the slave-raiders, c. 1850, they numbered at least 300,000. Slave-raiders, and later the dervishes, greatly reduced their numbers, and it was not until the establishment of effective control by the Sudan government (1904–1906) that recuperation was possible.
Before the twentieth century, Bongo men formerly wore only a loin-cloth, and many dozen iron rings on the arms (arranged to form a sort of armour), while the women had simply a girdle, to which was attached a tuft of grass. Both sexes now largely use cotton cloths as dresses. The tribal ornaments consist of nails or plugs which are passed through the lower lip. The women often wear a disk several inches in diameter in this fashion, together with a ring or a bit of straw in the upper lip, straws in the alae of the nostrils, and a ring in the septum. The Bongo, unlike other people of the upper Nile, are not great cattle-breeders, but employ their time in agriculture. The crops mostly cultivated were sorghum, tobacco, sesame and durra.
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