THE PEOPLE OF THE NILE
The Nuer people are a Nilotic ethnic group primarily inhabiting the Nile Valley. They are concentrated in South Sudan, with some also found in southwestern Ethiopia. They speak the Nuer language, which belongs to the Nilo-Saharan family. The Nuer are related to the Dinka people of South Sudan with whom they share customs, languages, myths, and culture. Despite the many conflicts, the Dinka and the Nuer have intertwined their lineages and community since their origin. As one of the largest ethnic groups in southern Sudan, the Nuer people are pastoralist who herd cattle for a living. The cattle of the Nuer people serve as companions and a lifestyle. However, they refer to themselves as "Nath". The Nuer people have historically been under counted as a result semi-nomadic lifestyle the community engage, as well as lack of proper national statistic about the community
The Nuer also known as the Nei Ti Naath roughly meaning original people are a confederation of tribes located in South Sudan and western Ethiopia. Collectively, the Nuer form one of the largest ethnic groups in East Africa. They are a pastoral people who rely on cattle products for almost every aspect of their daily lives. The Nuer border such tribes as the Dinka, Anyuak, Shilluk and other minor tribes in both Ethiopia and Sudan.
The Nuer receive facial markings (called gaar) as part of their initiation into adulthood. The pattern of Nuer scarification varies within specific subgroups. The most common initiation pattern among males consists of six parallel horizontal lines which are cut across the forehead with a razor, often with a dip in the lines above the nose. Dotted patterns are also common (especially among the Bul Nuer and among females).
They used to make scars across their main foreheads. The marks are of six lines.Ustaz Paul Chuol Puoch who narrated that, the scar marks are made in the forehead of the man to make him be known to the people that he is a Nuer by tribe. He says that these marks represent some informal constitutional articles. "They are in form of law, plus traditional rules and customs as well as law of kinship," he explained. He said the following article interprets the meaning of the scar-marks. "The first mark denotes that you should not bother yourself with the small children. You must know that you have reached the age of manhood. The second scar mark signifies that you must not be afraid of anybody. You must know that you are an adolescent and not dependent on your parents.
The third scar mark advocates that you should not steal or make any mistakes, that means you must avoid scandalous things. You must participate in the defense of the public and you must handle the family or deal well with the household. The fourth scar mark advocates that you should not just eat in any place and you must be an honorable young man. The fifth scar mark signifies that you should not be greedy or gluttonous or covetous The last and sixth scar mark advocates that you should not make or commit adultery with the wife of another man or with girls who are related to you especially the ones that have some blood relations. It is incest taboo and causes death or disgrace to the defaulters. All these laws are introduced to the boys who have received their head scar marks after the initiation. After they are initiated, the old man comes up to address them.
Before the boys receive the scar marks, some oxen or bulls are slaughtered for sacrifice to God. During the slaughter of the oxen, an old man and another elderly man make a very big ceremony as wedding praying to God that nothing should happen to the boys who are going to receive the marks. In fact many prayers are conducted because sometimes death may occur during the marking event. Sometimes the markings can cause much bleeding leading to the death of the boy being initiated. If it happens to one boy suddenly there is no charge, no condemnation. It is just like an operation in the hospital, somebody who does the operation is regarded a doctor who is making an operation on the patient. If a patient happens to die, the doctor is not charged to pay compensation because he was trying to save the patient's life. The man who marks is well trained about this experience. If anything occurs, nobody can charge him to pay compensation. But it is very rare to happen. It is put into Nuer law and blessed. The people pray much to God. They believe that the Almighty God gives them these marks