Get to know the Ifoto people

The Ifoto Tribe

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Demography and Geography

The Ifoto, like the Lotuka, are a horiyok and domicile in western slopes of the Imatong Massif in Torit district of east bank Equatoria. They number a few thousand households and prefer to be identified as different from the kiths the Otuho.


Environment, Economy and Natural Resources

The Ifoto country is rugged low-lying hilly terrain dissected by deep valleys and gently sloping plains. The climate is mild with a relatively heavy annual rainfall that supports thick bushy mountain forests and tall grass. The economy is mainly subsistence, agriculture based supported by herding of few livestock, hunting and little barter and trade. The area has a huge potential in forestry and its products like timber; and minerals such as gold, chromite and others minor minerals.


Mythology and History

The Ifoto by virtue of linguistic and cultural affinity are definitely related to the Lotuka and other horiyok people and it is most probable that they arrived at their present location as a result of separation, feuds and migration away from the Lotuka.



The Ifoto speak a dialect of Lotuka language.


Society, Social Events, Attitudes, Customs and Traditions

The Ifoto, like the Lotuka, are organised into exogamous agnatic clans and families settled in homesteads grouped in villages. They practice age-set set system – monyomiji. Their most important social events include hunting, marriage celebrations, funeral rites and rain-making ceremonies.


Socio-Political Organisation, Traditional Authorities

Without clear political differentiation, the Ifoto rely on the Monyomiji to run the affairs of their respective villages. Other important persons that wield authority include the rain makers, fortune tellers and diviners.


Spirituality, Beliefs and Customs

The Ifoto are extremely conscious of the spirits. However, like their neighbouring horiyok groups, they do not completely distinguish between the religious and secular aspects of life. They believe in the existence of a supreme being (God) and are able to communicate with it through the spirits of the ancestors and the mediums.


Culture: Arts, Music, Literature, Handicraft

Like all the Lotuka speaking people, the Ifoto orally transmit their culture and beliefs through speech, songs, poems, music and other bodily decorations reflecting the highest values of the self and the community. They also have perfected the arts of warfare and hunting. They have drums, whistles made from the horns of games and other artefacts.


Neighbours and Foreign Relations, Co-operation

The Ifoto neighbour the Imatong, Lotuka to the north, Lango and Acholi to the south and Dongotono to the east.


Latest Developments

Wars have been the most spectacular development in the history of the Ifoto. They are isolated and have been completely excluded from the social, economic and political life of the Sudan.



There is no known Ifoto Diaspora.


Further Reading

Fritz. R. R. Somerset, ‘The Lotuka.’ Sudan Notes and Records, Vol. I, 1918 pp 161-168
Seligman, C. G., and Seligman, B. Z., ‘Pagan Tribes of the Nilotic Sudan.’ George Routledge & Sonsi Ltd., London, 1932 reissued 1965.

Simon Simonse, ‘Kings of Disaster: Dualism, Centralism and the Scapegoat King in the Southeastern Sudan.’ PhD Dissertation presented to Amsterdam University, 1990.

Andreas Grüb, ‘The Lotuho of the Southern Sudan: An Ethnological Monograph.’ Studien zur Kulturekunde, 102 Band, Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart, 1992.


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Chief Executive Officer of ECWA

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