Traditional Way of Life
Narrated by Chame Kwer
Years ago, people – men and women – lived together in a family. Men lived outside the homestead and women lived in the homestead. Women would cook and take the food to the men. When they approached the men, they used to walk on their knees for a short distance before putting down the food. After putting down the food, they went and the men started eating. After eating, sometimes the women came back to fetch the dishes or boy children, living with the men, brought them back. This was the traditional way of living.
In a village people were related when they played and danced. Girls and boys, men and women went together to a play place near the village, where the chiefs had a wide, open place. (Usually it’s not possible to go because of respect for chiefs.)
They would carry weapons to protect themselves in case of attack. Previously, this was the culture where husband and wife don’t eat together, but now this is not the same. Wife and husband share one dish and men and women sit and eat together.
Anuak tradition is to respect – not only do women kneel down, even a girl who brings something to male relatives, she must approach on her knees. This was done years ago – but not now. New generations should know this. [The speaker condemns modern manners.] Respect is good because a man can get what he needs. Now children don’t respect parents as before. If a boy and girl are called, he comes and stands where the father is without kneeling down. If a child is called first, when he or she comes, they should say “Yes, sir.” But now they ignore their father without answering. Traditional grades of respect have been lost. The previous custom is not good to be forgotten.
Years ago, our forefathers wore animal skins. Later, some came to wear clothes. This is not good. People used to live in a village and protected each other from enemies. They had no iron weapons but a weapon called adiang, made of sharpened wood. During the fighting they used a shield (aweng), made of hippopotamus hide and the spear couldn’t pass through. But now with the introduction of iron weapons and guns, people no longer fight because they’re too frightened to kill each other. Before, one or two only were killed or wounded. But now, so many can be killed.
There were revenge feuds. The killer was caught and killed, but now since the downfall of His Majesty, this has totally stopped. An innocent person might also be caught, though not killed, and taken hostage until compensation was paid for the dead man. This was in fact a bad practice. When this became the way of revenge, it multiplied everything. Anyone from the village might be taken hostage. When someone was killed it was simplified.
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