The South Sudanese communities generally live in semi-independent farms and establish their villages in which usually live close and extended relatives. Their societies in septs or clans are led by a king or chief, depending on the structure of each ethnic community. Southern Sudan has Christianity, Islam and indigenous religions. Some communities also believe in the power of spirits. Consequently, soothsayers, rainmakers or spear-masters are revered in these communities. The South Sudanese traditionally eat together, albeit separated by gender, age and social status. For daily diet includes a variety of sometimes imported food. Some of their staple foods are milk, beef, honey, fish, lamb, and traditional herbs and vegetables, peanuts, beans, venison, sesame and finger millet.

Traditional South Sudanese Dancers

Traditional South Sudanese Dancers

Traditionally, there is a clear division of labor by gender, age and social status. Men are usually responsible for fighting invaders and defending the family, while women work in the household and take care of the children. All of the communities practice some form of initiation rites well into adulthood, such as the removal of the lower teeth, facial markings, wearing special beads or pearls, or male circumcision (particularly among the Bantu groups).Weddings are one of the most important milestones in the lives of the South Sudanese, often attended by all members of the immediate and extended family, especially including maternal relatives. Yet, young people often have no say in the choice of a future spouse: parents arrange the marriage of their children instead. Several communities have also developed various nuptial rites. For example, the exchange of gifts between the families is common. Similarly, the bride-price (dowry) forms an important element of marriage to this day.

A marriage usually produces a deep bond between the families involved, which makes it nearly impossible to divorce except in a very serious case. In the event of divorce, the entire dowry (or a great portion of it) is returned to the man and his family. The birth of a child is celebrated by certain rites, each depending on the community and the sex of the child. Children are usually named according to the season, for special events or relatives. Due to the high status of cattle in most communities, children are even named after the color of the cattle. Boys often take the name of the color of bulls, while girls are named after the color of cows.