31.07.2017 Letter from Yirol

By John Ryle  •  Rift Valley Institute  •  31 July 2017  •  1,298 words

Last month in Yirol I bought a heifer—a brindled two-year old, not yet in calf. In the Dinka cattle-naming system a cow like this is called nyang, the crocodile, a reference to the colour-pattern of her hide. I bought my nyang at the livestock auction on the edge of Yirol town, the administrative centre of Eastern Lakes state, in South Sudan’s pastoral heartland. The cattle for sale were tethered to pegs in a fenced enclosure; the handsomest animals were on parade outside. There were several fine heifers with their calves, and oxen with the black-and-white colour-patterns that Dinka livestock owners value beyond all else. There was majak, the pelican, makuei, the fish eagle, and makuac the leopard. And black machar and red malual and white mabior. The first three were muoor cien, song-oxen, pampered and groomed, their massive horns cut to grow asymmetricallly, magnificent animals celebrated in song—and coveted by … more»