Contributor's Opinion

The Appearance of an Illicit Marriage in Jieng Community


By Deng Akok Muoradid,

Juba South Sudan.

Members of Dinka community celebrating a wedding ceremony of couple from Dinka community(Photo: file)
Members of Dinka community celebrating a wedding ceremony of couple from Dinka community(Photo: file)

Feb 3, 2018(Nyamilepedia) —- The indigenous people of Jieng Community define the word “marriage” as a relationship between the two clans of the couples, which totally contradicts with the white man’s definition. The Jieng’s definition of the word “marriage” has been in implementation since BC till the signing of CPA in 2005 that marked the introduction of salaries inform of currency and the use of luxurious vehicles and buildings.

In Dinka perspective, to marry a woman does not mean separating her from her relatives but it means creating a permanent relationship between the two clans and this explains why a man always cooperates with his in-laws throughout his life. Even in case of an emergency death of the man, the responsibility of looking after the family is taken over by his in-laws and same thing is applied by the man in case of any emergency death of his father in-law. The marriage in Jieng community is very unique from any marriage in any community. It is also more systematic and understandable than the modern marriage. The view of the woman, her elder uncle and the senior clan elder are first considered before both sides sit down in kraal (luak) to agree on the number of cows to be paid as a bride price. The existence of the following in either of the clans usually compels the elders to cancel the marriage preparations immediately. 

1. Whenever the clan of either the sides is notorious. For example, whenever the members of either the clans are known for criminal activities, selfishness, gossip and other immoral behaviors.

2. Whenever some of the inheritance diseases such as leprosy are common in either of the clans. The elders of both the partners first make sure that the two clans are freed from any inheritance disease before they agree on the dowry because they fear that such inheritance diseases would be inherited to the offspring of the couple.

3. Whenever some members of either the clans are known for witchcraft. The rationale behind the observation of the 3rd point is that such witchcraft activities can be inherited to the offspring of the spouse.

4. Whenever a bridegroom’s father is or was a monogamist. In Jieng culture, the parents cannot allow their daughter to be married by the monogamist’s son because he is lacking a co-brother who can defend him in case of any attack and this is in accordance with the Jieng proverb which says “A poor man who has a big family is better than a lonely rich man”.

The existences of the above characteristics in either of the clans may result in to immediate cancellation of the marriage. However the strong desire for man’s made materials such as money, concrete buildings, cars etc have forced our people to abandon the moral marriage fabrics and adapted the immoral marriage system which have spoiled the God’s image and our cultural identity.

Nowadays, what is considered is wealth but not the characters and background of the bridegroom. Even a well-known criminal can be given a woman provided that he is rich regardless of how he acquired his wealth. A girl of 16 years is forced to marry a man of 65 or 80 years against her will simply because of the resources such as money, luxurious vehicles, etc that have been given to her parents.

Our people don’t know that a forced marriage constitute a crime according to the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan under the article 15 which states “Every person of marriageable age have the right to marry a person of the opposite sex and to found a family according to their respective family laws, and no marriage shall be entered in to without the free and full consent of the man and woman intending to marry”. I myself have witnessed the above illicit marriage activities in many occasions and it never happened in Jieng Community for a bridegroom to bribe his in-laws as if he is seeking a government contract. Whom does he want to marry either the girl or the parents?

A woman is a permanent partner who stays with a man for the rest of her life and for this reason, it is advisable for a man to use his words to convince her rather than using the temporary resources to convince her parents. A marriage of convenience has become common in Jieng Community since the underage girls are on daily basis forced to marry men of over 60 years against their will. For instance if I and my girl friend agreed to marry, than her parents can disrupt and cancel our marriage plan because I am lacking dollars and properties even thou I can afford to pay dowry. The parents and the elders should know that wealth is usually acquired at the age of 45 years after getting married and they should not compare us with the old men of 60 years.

Those old men were very poor when they were at our age. In Jieng Society, the bride price is paid inform of cattle and its payment is done by the parents of the bridegroom. The only requirement that is required from the bridegroom is the ability and capacity to fend for his family. I would take this opportunity to advise all the parents and elders of Jieng community and South Sudan in general, to mine about the future of their daughters and they should also see things that are far ahead of them. This man’s made resources are temporary things that can be finished within short period of time. As a God fearing citizen, I will continue to campaign against this adapted foreign marriage system through any means because I am one of its primary targets.

The author is a South Sudanese Student at the University of Juba and reachable via Email: dengakokmuoradid@gmail.com or mob:+211954764508                    

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