Get to know the Acholi people

The Acholi Tribe

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Acholi is the name these people call themselves and by which their neighbouring nationalities know them.


Demography and Geography

The Acholi in South Sudan number about 30,000 – 50,000 people inhabiting what is now Magwe County, originally part of Torit District east bank Equatoria. The nationality has been fragmented by the international border with Uganda with part of the Acholi found in northern Uganda.


Environment, Economy and Natural Resources

The Acholi land lies on the western slopes of Imatong Mountains and Acholi hills that rim the southern borders of South Sudan. This environment has influenced Acholi lifestyle and economy. They practice a form of mixed farming in which they keep cattle, goats, sheep and fowls in addition to subsistence agriculture; by growing sorghum, millet, simsim, beans, tobacco and sweet potatoes.


In recent times, just before the war, commercial farming of Irish potatoes, tea and rice had been introduced. A timber saw mill powered by a small hydro-electrical power plant was operational until 1992 in Katire. There is potential in minerals like gold and chromite in Kit River area.


Mythology and History

Different accounts attest that the Acholi group was formed from different people who inhabited the area as the result of Luo migration and therefore assert that the Acholi are a product of intermarriages between the Luo and the Madi; being Luo in language and custom and therefore closely related in history to the Alur of West Nile, the Jopadhola of eastern Uganda and the Joluo of Kenya, the Shilluk, Anyuak and other Luo groups in the Sudan.


Another legend asserts that Luo was the first man. He had no human parents. He is said to have sprung from the ground. It is taken that his father was Jok (God) and that his mother was Earth. The legend adds that Luo’s son Jipiti, whose mother is unknown, had a daughter called Kilak. Kilak is believed to have conceived a son, Lubongo, whose father was said to be the devil, Lubanga. Lubongo was the first in the line of Rwot – the chiefs of Payera, the dominant Acholi clan.

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