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Marriage is obligatory among the Dinka. Every male is expected to raise a family and can marry as many wives as possible. Relatives marry to the ghost of a male who died in infancy �many �ghost fathers� exist among the Dinka.
The bride price differs from one Dinka section to the other. It ranges from some tens (Upper Nile) to a few hundreds (Bahr el Ghazal). In the same way the bride price is raised by the groom�s family � contribution, it is distributed accordingly (uncle to uncle, brother to brother, etc.) in the Bride�s clan.
Chief�s daughters fetch more cattle in the same way chief�s son is expected to pay more cattle for his wife. University graduates fetch more bride prices; a factor that is likely to positively affect enrolment of girls in schools. Like other Nilotics, sex among the Dinka is only for social reproduction. Thus, fornication is prohibited; adulterers are despised and heavily fined, sometimes this may be source of conflict and clan fighting. Incest is usually unimaginable and indeed abhorred.
Initiation into Adulthood
Initiation into adulthood takes different styles and ceremonies. They invariably remove the 4 lower canines as a sign of maturity. A girl�s physiological evolution and attainment of puberty is marked by celebration (usually by women) to demonstrate readiness for marriage. Some Dinka sections scarify the face to mark graduation into adulthood and age-group. In some, women of particular status have their faces scarified.
Dinka Perform the Dowry Dance
In the African nation of Sudan, Dinka tribesmen celebrate an engagement with a party. During the dowry dance, men try to impress the family of the bride by jumping as high as possible.
Traditionally, the family of the groom has offered cattle, often as many as 100 animals, to the family of the bride. Families of men competing for the affection of one young woman would try to outdo each other by offering more cattle than their rivals. However, the brutal civil war that has been raging in the Sudan for the past 40 years has so disrupted agriculture that cattle are rarely given. Instead, families pledge to give cattle once the war is over and they are again able to do so.
September 16th, 2012
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