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The intrigues of South Sudan’s wife-stealing culture among Latuka tribe

Culture quest: Inside Latuka Tribe wife-stealing ceremony in South Sudan


The Eastern part of South Sudan is the native home of the Latuka people famously known for their rather unique cultural heritage – the wife stealing ceremony.

Latuka people also known as Otuho people are just a small tribe that has found habitat in the mountains of Eastern South Sudan. They are practice farming and keep large herds of cattle, sheep and goats. It is in this part of South Sudan where they religiously observe decades-old traditions with community lifestyle being a norm here and the ruler of the “kingdom” are powerful elders.

However, what stands out is their marriage norms. Here, it is just another world full of intrigues. When a young man is interested in a woman and would want to marry her, he makes a bold decision to walk into her father’s homestead, ‘kidnaps’ her and take her to his home.

South Sudanese. [ Photo by The Guardian]
Thereafter, he goes back to the girl’s father in the company of elders and a few male relatives to ask for her hand in marriage. The girl’s father is required to grant the young many blessings to go ahead and marry his daughter.

If the father says yes, the young man who is the son-in-law-to-be gets a thr=orogh beating from the girl’s father as a way of acceptance. Should he refuse his daughter to be married off to the man, he is required to take her back to her father’s homestead or go ahead and marry her.

The Latuka culture is different in the sense that in the African traditional setting, when a man gets to the age where he needs to start a family and identifies a suitor, he goes to the parents first in the company of elders and for the introduction, thereafter, dowry and then a white wedding is he so wishes.

By the normal African standards, dowry is the centrepiece of seeking for her hand in marriage.

Though the culture has been criticized to date by several quarters, the Latuka people remain unperturbed and stay true to their roots. To them, kidnapping a woman whom they love is as easy as eating candy. On the flip side, a woman has no say in who she would want to settle down with.

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