Kakwa people

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Kakwa people
Regions with significant populations
Flag of Uganda.svg  Uganda
Flag of South Sudan.svg  South Sudan
Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg  DR Congo
Kakwa language
African Traditional religions, Christianity and Islam
The geographic distribution of the Kakwa people (approx.). Kakwa people Uganda DRC South Sudan.png
The geographic distribution of the Kakwa people (approx.).

The Kakwa people are a Nilotic ethnic group and part of the Karo people found in north-western Uganda, south-western South Sudan, and north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, particularly to the west of the White Nile river. [1]



The Kakwa people are a small minority but a part of the larger Karo people, an intermarried group that also includes the Bari, Pojulu, Mundari, Kuku, Nyepo, and Nyangwara. Their language, Kutuk na Kakwa, is an Eastern Nilotic language. [2]

The major cities of the Kakwa people are the city of Yei and Morobo County (South Sudan), Koboko District (Uganda), and Imgbokolo and Aba (Democratic Republic of the Congo). The Kakwa people sometimes refer to themselves as "Kakwa Saliya Musala", translated directly as "kakwa three cooking stones" a phrase they commonly use to denote their 'oneness' in spite of being politically dispersed among three countries. [3]


According to the Kakwa oral tradition, they migrated out of East Africa (Nubian region) from the city of Kawa in between the third and fourth cataracts of the Nile. First into South Sudan, and from there southwards into Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. [1] Some of the Kakwa who bordered Uganda, converted to Islam, accepting the Maliki school of Sunni theology in the medieval era. They were annexed into the Equatoria region claimed by the Egyptian Islamic ruler Khedive Ismail (Isma'il Pasha) by his descendant Tewfik Pasha in 1889. As the British colonial empire expanded into East Africa and Egypt, the region with Kakwa people became a part of the Uganda Protectorate. [1]

General Idi Amin was born in Kakwa ethnic group. Idi Amin -Archives New Zealand AAWV 23583, KIRK1, 5(B), R23930288.jpg
General Idi Amin was born in Kakwa ethnic group.

The Kakwa people rose to international prominence when General Idi Amin, of Kakwa ancestry, assumed the power in Uganda through a military coup. [4] He filled important military and civil positions in his administration with his ethnic group, [4] [5] [ self-published source ] [6] [3] and Nubians. [7] He arrested and killed officials from other ethnic groups such as the Acholi and Lango people, whom he doubted. [1] Idi Amin also supplied arms and financed the Sudanese Kakwa people in the first civil war of Sudan. [8] The Kakwa officials in Idi Amin regime were later accused of many humanitarian crimes. After Amin was deposed in 1979, many Kakwa people were killed in revenge killings, causing others to leave the area and fled to Sudan. [1] However, they have now returned to their native areas in the West Nile region of northern Uganda. [9]

Ethnic violence

For most of the South Sudanese Civil War, the fighting was focused in the Greater Upper Nile region. After the clashes in Juba in 2016, the fighting largely shifted to the previously safe haven of Equatoria, where the bulk of SPLM-IO forces went for shelter. [10] Accounts point to both sides targeting civilians on ethnic lines between the Dinka and the dozens of ethnic groups among the Equatorians who are historically in conflict with the Dinka, such as the Karo, who include the Bari. [11] Witnesses report Dinka soldiers threatening villagers that they will kill all Kakwa people for their alleged support to Machar and killing Pojulu people while sparing those who they find can speak Dinka. [12] A UN investigation said rape was being used a tool of ethnic cleansing [13] and Adama Dieng, the U.N.'s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, warned of genocide after visiting areas of fighting in Yei. [14]


The traditional Kakwa livelihood has been based on cultivating corn, millet, cassava, fishing and cattle. The traditional villages of Kakwa are linked by their lineage, with males forming councils of elders. Polygyny is accepted and practised, while Christian and Islamic traditions form part of the Kakwa people’s [cultural value systems and living style]. [1]

Countries where Kakwa are located

Cultural food consumed by the Kakwa people

See also

Related Research Articles

The Nilotic peoples are people indigenous to the Nile Valley who speak Nilotic languages. They inhabit South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda,Burundi and Tanzania. Among these are the Burun-speaking peoples, Karo peoples, Luo peoples, Ateker peoples, Kalenjin peoples, Datooga, Dinka, Nuer, Atwot, Lotuko, and the Maa-speaking peoples.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Equatoria</span> Region in South Sudan

Equatoria is a region of southern South Sudan, along the upper reaches of the White Nile. Originally a province of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, it also contained most of northern parts of present-day Uganda, including Lake Albert and West Nile. It was an idealistic effort to create a model state in the interior of Africa that never consisted of more than a handful of adventurers and soldiers in isolated outposts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Central Equatoria</span> State of South Sudan

Central Equatoria is a state in South Sudan. With an area of 43,033 square kilometres (16,615 sq mi), it is the smallest of the original South Sudanese states. Its previous name was Bahr al-Jabal, named after a tributary of the White Nile that flows through the state. It was renamed Central Equatoria in the first Interim Legislative Assembly on 1 April 2005 under the government of Southern Sudan. Central Equatoria seceded from Sudan as part of the Republic of South Sudan on 9 July 2011. The state's capital, Juba, is also the national capital of South Sudan. On October 2, 2015, the state was split into three states: Jubek, Terekeka, and Yei River. The state of Central Equatoria was re-established by a peace agreement signed on 22 February 2020.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mundari people</span>

The Mundari are a small ethnic group of South Sudan. They are a part of the Karo people, one of the Nilotic peoples.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">First Sudanese Civil War</span> Military conflict in Sudan (1955–1972)

The First Sudanese Civil War was a conflict from 1955 to 1972 between the northern part of Sudan and the southern Sudan region that demanded representation and more regional autonomy. Half a million people died over the 17 years and the war was divided into four major stages: initial guerrilla warfare, the creation of the Anyanya insurgency, political strife within the government and establishment of the South Sudan Liberation Movement.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yei, South Sudan</span> City in Central Equatoria, South Sudan

Yei is a medium-sized city in South Sudan's southwest. It lies close to the borders of two of the country's trading partners, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is a business hub, attracting traders and customers from all three countries. Ivory Bank, Eden Commercial Bank, and Bank of South Sudan maintain branches in the city. Yei is served by Yei Airstrip, and a marram road connecting yei to Juba, Uganda through the Morobo, Kaya border and DRC through the Lasu border

Kaya is a city in Central Equatoria, South Sudan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anyanya</span> South Sudanese separatist rebel army

The Anyanya were a southern Sudanese separatist rebel army formed during the First Sudanese Civil War (1955–1972). A separate movement that rose during the Second Sudanese Civil War were, in turn, called Anyanya II. Anyanya means "snake venom" in the Madi language.

Yambio is a City in South Sudan.

Bari is the Nilotic language of the Karo people, spoken over large areas of Central Equatoria state in South Sudan, across the northwest corner of Uganda, and into the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Aringa are a Central Sudanic ethnic group in the northwestern corner of Uganda. The majority live in the rural areas of Yumbe District just south of the Sudanese border, and to a lesser extent in other areas of the West Nile sub-region. They are considered the indigenous people of their lands, which was later settled by so-called "Nubians". They speak Aringa language, a Central Sudanic language.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pojulu people</span> Tribe of the White Nile Valley

The Pojulu tribe is of the savanna lands in the White Nile Valley, in the Equatoria region of South Sudan. They are Nilotic people and part of the Karo people — which also includes Bari, Mundari, Kakwa, Kuku, and Nyangwara.

Karo is a group of Nilotic tribes that straddles the Nile in the Republic of South Sudan and is predominately found in Central Equatoria State, and as far South as Uganda and South-West as Democratic Republic of the Congo. Karo comprises Yangwara, Bari, Pojulu, Kuku, Mundari and Kakwa. They have been erroneously called Bari-speakers by C. G. Seligman, a British ethnologist, whose first contact with Karo was likely with the Bari during British colonial rule in Sudan. Seligman categorised the six ethnic groups as "Bari Speakers" for research purposes as he so for "Dinka Speakers, Nuer Speakers, Lou Speakers, Moru Speakers and the Azande Speakers". These other groups however, have not adopted the categorization coined by G. Seligman for ethnic identification. It is only the "Bari Speakers" who are erroneously defined as speakers of Bari language.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">South Sudan</span> Country in Central Africa

South Sudan, officially the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country in East Africa. It is bordered by Ethiopia, Sudan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Kenya. Its population was estimated as 12,778,250 in 2019. Juba is the capital and largest city.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Demographics of South Sudan</span>

South Sudan is home to around 60 indigenous ethnic groups and 80 linguistic partitions among a 2021 population of around 11 million. Historically, most ethnic groups were lacking in formal Western political institutions, with land held by the community and elders acting as problem solvers and adjudicators. Today, most ethnic groups still embrace a cattle culture in which livestock is the main measure of wealth and used for bride wealth.

The history of South Sudan comprises the history of the territory of present-day South Sudan and the peoples inhabiting the region.

Ethnic violence in South Sudan has a long history among South Sudan's varied ethnic groups. South Sudan has 64 tribes with the largest being the Dinkas, who constitute about 35% of the population and predominate in government. The second largest are the Nuers. Conflict is often aggravated among nomadic groups over the issue of cattle and grazing land and is part of the wider Sudanese nomadic conflicts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yei River State</span> State in Yei, South Sudan

Yei River State was a state in South Sudan that existed between 2 October 2015 and 22 February 2020.

Operation Thunderbolt was the codename for a military offensive by the South Sudanese SPLA rebel group and its allies during the Second Sudanese Civil War. The operation aimed at conquering several towns in Western and Central Equatoria, most importantly Yei, which served as strongholds for the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and helped the Sudanese government to supply its allies, the Ugandan insurgents of the WNBF and UNRF (II) based in Zaire. These pro-Sudanese forces were defeated and driven from Zaire by the SPLA and its allies, namely Uganda and the AFDL, in course of the First Congo War, thus allowing the SPLA launch Operation Thunderbolt from the Zairian side of the border. Covertly supported by expeditionary forces from Uganda, Ethiopia, and Eritrea, the SPLA's offensive was a major success, with several SAF garrison towns falling to the South Sudanese rebels in a matter of days. Yei was encircled and put under siege on 11 March 1997. At the same time, a large group of WNBF fighters as well as SAF, FAZ, and ex-Rwandan Armed Forces soldiers was trying to escape from Zaire to Yei. The column was ambushed and destroyed by the SPLA, allowing it to capture Yei shortly afterward. Following this victory, the South Sudanese rebels continued their offensive until late April, capturing several other towns in Equatoria and preparing further anti-government campaigns.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Emmanuel Adil Anthony</span>

Emmanuel Adil Anthony is a South Sudanese politician and the governor of Central Equatoria State since June 29th, 2020.


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  3. 1 2 "Idi Amin's home developing through cross-border trade". Daily Monitor. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
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  9. The Republic of Uganda, Encyclopædia Britannica
  10. "Who can stop the threat of genocide in South Sudan?". irinnews.org. 14 November 2016.
  11. "South Sudanese flee as country edges closer to 'genocide'". reuters. 1 December 2016.
  12. "US seeks sanctions on South Sudan rebel leader, army chief". washington post. 19 November 2016. Archived from the original on 20 November 2016.
  13. "UN:Rape used as a tool of ethnic cleansing in South Sudan". CBS news. 2 December 2016.
  14. "Hatred spills beyond South Sudan along with refugees". Reuters. 15 December 2016.