Get to know the Tenet people

The Tenet Tribe

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Demography and Geography

The Tenet are a Murle-Boya speaking people inhabiting the northern most part of Lopit range. They number a few thousand people.


Environment, Economy and Natural Resources

The Tenet live in hilly terrain. They are agro-pastoralists practicing traditional agriculture as well as livestock rearing mainly cattle, sheep and goats. They harvest forest products such as honey, wild fruits (shea nuts) and hunt on the mountain slopes and plains. The main crops are sorghum, bulrush, millet, pumpkin, groundnuts, simsim, and okra.


Mythology and History

The Tenet are obviously part of the Didinga – Boya – Murle ethnic group. Tradition has it that they separated and remained in their present location when the Murle moved northwards. They are said to have placed themselves under the Ngaboli King of the Lopit to offset the imbalance in numbers with the Pari.



The Tenet speak a language very close to the Didinga, Murle and Boya.


Society: Social Events, Attitudes, Customs and Traditions

Like the Langorim and Didinga, the Tenet are organised into agnatic exogamous clans and lineages. The main social events include:


Hunting, which they practice in the beginning of the dry season, brings the whole population of the Tenet into the Kidepo valley and the adjoining Tingle dry land in pursuit of game.


Marriage traditions and customs are similar to those of Didinga with some influence from the Lotuka and Lopit.


Socio-Political Organisation, Murle Traditional Authorities

The age-set system and the kinship-system are fundamental to the Murle social and political organisation. The outstanding feature of the political system is the position of the clan chiefs and elders who are treated with the greatest respect.


Spirituality, Beliefs and Customs

The Tenet, like their kins the Murle and the Didinga are extremely conscious of the spirits.


Culture: Arts, Music, Literature and Handicraft

The Tenet people have evolved a cultural regime of oral transmission from one generation to the other. It is centred round cattle and is expressed in songs, poetry, folklore and dance. They adorn their bodies with all kinds of markings and drawings of different animals and birds while wearing different types of beads.


Neighbours, Foreign Relations and Co-operation

The Tenet neighbour the Pari, the Lopit, Boya and Lotuka. The relationship with neighbours is by no means cordial due to their cattle raiding practices.


Latest Developments

The Tenet is a small community least affected by modernity because of deliberate neglect, marginalisation and political exclusion. The war affected their area and as such, many of their youth were recruited into SPLA.



Very few Tenet people have left home or travelled to East Africa and overseas.


Further Reading

Seligman, C. G., and Seligman, B. Z., ‘Pagan Tribes of the Nilotic Sudan.’ George Routledge & Sons Ltd., London, 1932.

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

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