Mundari in Terekeka

A Mundari cattle herder in Terekeka County
A Mundari cattle herder in Terekeka County

“There has been a lot of violent raiding here,” Modi John says as we enter a Mundari cattle camp in conflicted Terekeka county. “It is because this is the last Mundari community before it becomes Dinka land.” The last raid took place in March and cost the lives of four. It was the most recent in a string of tit-for-tat raids with the neighboring Dinka and Bari tribes. Since then, many residents of this windswept and vulnerable village have taken refuge elsewhere. Several grass-thatch huts are vacant.

A Mundari woman in Terekeka country recalls a recent cattle raid during which several people were killed. Since then, the men of this village have fled.
A Mundari woman in Terekeka county recalls a recent cattle raid during which several people were killed. Since then, the men of this village have fled.

Women move slowly under a midday sun. They peel hard, dry fruits in the shade of a tree. With severely delayed rains and a largely pastoralist culture, these tough fruits are the only available food.

The men have moved to Muni, a neighboring village away from the tribal border. In late 2009, the southern Sudanese government conducted harsh disarmament campaigns in Terekeka, leaving this population largely without weapons. While disarmament is necessary, the southern government has been unwilling or unable to disarm communities concurrently. In Terekeka, the Mundari were disarmed but their Dinka neighbors were not. In the cycle of raids and revenge killings, the Mundari now feel extremely vulnerable.

Some charge that Dinka communities are rarely disarmed due to Dinka domination of the southern government and military. Tribal allegiances run deep and with so much intertribal conflict, many suspect the southern government of creating strategic advantage for their Dinka kinsmen. The issue of tribal tension and access to weapons is significant as southern Sudan moves towards its independence referendum. If non-majority tribes feel marginalized and vulnerable, the prospect of violent conflict becomes more likely.

The Mundari, like most cattle-keeping communities in the south, are disproportionately illiterate. Their native county of Terekeka has been largely without international assistance for decades. Access to education, clean water and health facilities is extremely limited.

A Mundari herder burns dung to keep flies away from young calves.
A Mundari herder burns dung to keep flies away from young calves.

E72S8644

Published by

Pete

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by stories. Through much of my life, I satisfied this interest with the study of history. The topics of war, uprising, social movements and sexuality defined my course of historical study and generated a deep curiosity in the modern aspects of these issues. While the past enthralls me, my interest in creating modern primary documents ultimately won out. Since 2005, I have worked to document the individual consequences of war, poverty and social unrest. Through a combination of photography, text, and audio recordings, I hope to illustrate broader issues through individual stories. I aim to create images and material that demand consideration for the lives of those depicted. I believe that intimate, sensitive photographs leave indelible marks on the conscience and actively oppose the sterilization of human suffering.

One thought on “Mundari in Terekeka”

  1. Hi, Pete, I am trying to see if I can help the Mundari boy featured (eating leaves & grass) in today’s (9 July 2010) Al-jazeera report on cattle rustling in Terekeka county. I believe the woman in your picture above was in the same group in the report. Do you happen to know the name of the village? Was it something like ‘Tonbek’? It has been hard to eat today thinking of that child. I want to find out who might be best placed to help so if you have any ideas, that would be welcome too. I have sent an email to Tearfund but I am sure there must be others.

    Great pictures, by the way. Best wishes. Jo Wealleans

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *