Demography and Geography
Numbering about 25,000 to 30,000 people, the Lango inhabit the slopes of the Dongotono range of the Imatong massif, east bank Equatoria. Their important towns are Isoke, Agoro, Logire, and Ikotos in addition to small settlements occupied by each of 13 or more clans that make up the Lango nationality.
Environment, Economy and Natural Resources
The Lango territory is mountainous with gentle slopes and valleys along which settlements are constructed. The area receives sufficient annual rainfall and the soil is fertile. The Lango are agro-pastoralists keeping cattle as well as engaging in extensive cultivation of millet, melons, sweet potatoes, beans, bananas, tobacco.
Mythology and History
The Lango are a Nilo-Hamite people. Tradition has it that the Lango are an horiyok and like other Lotuka speaking people of the east bank Equatoria, they must come to their present location sometime in the middle of the 18th century during the great migration from the east.
The Lango speak Lotuka language although some local variation may be found.
Society, Social Events, Attitudes, Customs and Traditions
The Lango resemble the Lotuka in many aspects of social organisation. The society is organised into exogamous agnatic clans, some of who relate to animals, lightening and become so upon death.
The Lango have age-classes but do not perform the ‘new fire’ ceremony like the Lotuka. The initiates are secluded in the forest feeding on forest food for 5 days at the end which, they return to a feast on slaughtered but un-skinned roasted goats meat, marked by serving as servants of the senior age-class.
The importance of age-class lies in warfare, cattle raids and other social events. It is also linked to certain traits and etiquette. No Lango can make advances on wives of his age-class. Such an adulterous act can be punished by death. Women and youth before initiation are not allowed to milk cows.
No woman may access or sit in the club-house (nabali) except after a month after the birth of a boy when the mother brings the child and rubs oil on the logs on which the men sit and on the child’s feet and chest. He then grows up as a member of the club-house.
Marriage traditions and/or regulations and transfer of bride-wealth are similar to Lotuka customs. It is accompanied by festivities.
Death and Burial
The Lango bury their dead outside the hut but they have a practice of exhuming the corpse or the bones of the dead in anticipation of one’s transformation into the clan animal or in some healing rituals. When a man becomes sick for instance, his father’s grave is opened up and he is made to squat in it, a sheep is killed so that blood and stomach contents are spill over his body and on the skull.
Socio-Political Organisation, Traditional Authority
The Lango never had a political authority as in the Lotuka kobu, although their clan organisation resembles so. Before the government introduced the administration chiefs, a ””laboloni”” used to head a group of Lango villages.
Spirituality, Beliefs and Traditions
The Lango believe in the existence of a spiritual agency (naijok) for whom every household must build a miniature stone shrine (natifini). The people give offerings to the natifini at the beginning of planting and hunting seasons The Lango also believe in the power of the fortune tellers and medicine-man (ibwoni) and the rain-makers
Culture: Arts, Music, Literature and Handicraft
Lango culture and social practices are very similar to the Lotuka. It is oral and expresses identity, social stature, valour in warfare, cattle raids, and wealth in cattle and agricultural produce.
It is expressed in song, music, folklore, eating habits, age-class system, and body marks. Not every Lango clan possesses drums.
Neighbours and Foreign Relations and Co-operation
The Lango neighbour the Dongotono, the Imurok, Ifoto and the Imatong, Lotuka and the Acholi. Their relation with the Lotuka is not very cordial due to cattle raiding practices and occasional feuds.
The long running war and the extensive trafficking in small arms and light weapons has had devastating effect on the Lango and the neighbouring communities causing massive displacement and destruction of communities.
Small communities of Lango Diaspora may be found in the refugee camps in Kenya and Uganda.
Fitz. R. R. Somerset, ‘The Lotuka.’ Sudan Notes and Records, Vol. I, 1918 pp 161-168
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.
Seligman C. G. & B Z Seligman, ‘Pagan Tribes of the Nilotic Sudan.’ Routledge & kegan Paul Ltd. London, 1932