Dinka - Sociopolitical Organization

In all areas of Dinka settlements live beng, or "chiefs of the fishing spear," and trace their common agnatic heredity to the first spear master, who figures prominently in Dinka origin myths. Spear masters have a spiritual and mystical ability to provide life and assure the health of humans, plants, and animals. Traditionally, spear masters provided the sacred sanction for the regulation of political life, although the Dinka also recognized political loyalties in reference to the shared economic interests that were created through marriage. With the advent of colonial rule in the southern Sudan, British officials imposed a political order of secular chiefs that was entirely foreign to Dinka custom. The creation of a secular legal system, coupled with formal education, has all but eradicated the traditional role and status of spear masters.

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