The Shilluk (Shilluk: Chollo) are an important agro-pastoralist and Nilotic-speaking people that forms of part of the larger Luo  ethnic group. They live on both banks of the river Nile, in the vicinity of the city of Malakal in South Sudan. The Shilluk people which total population is estimated to be over 500,000 are the third largest minority ethnic group of Southern Sudan, after the Dinka and their neighbors the Nuer.

                                   Shilluk people from South Sudan

Their language as Dhøg Cøllø or Dhø Cølø, dhøg being the Shilluk word for language and mouth. Before the second Sudanese civil war the Shilluk also lived in a number of settlements on the northern bank of the Sobat River, close to where the Sobat joins the Nile, with Doleib Hill as an important mission station.

   Shilluk native and political activist Simon-Deng with his Shilluk tribe wife Monica (left) and a friend

Demography and Geography
Shilluk country is flat lying plains that surround the River Nile. It has a moderate rainfall regime and its vegetation is made up of thick tall grass and few trees and shrubs. The Shilluk number about 500,000 and live on the west bank of River Nile between Lake No in the south and Kosti in the north. Some Shilluk settlements are found on the east bank of the Nile and extend as far as Anakdier in the east.

                             Shilluk people

The capital of the Shilluk kingdom is Pachodo. Other important Shilluk historical sites are in Papwojo, Nyilwal, Didigo, Wau and Akurwa. The major towns are Malakal (Makal), Kodhok (Kal Doro), Tonga (Tungu) and Wad Akon. The Shilluk kingdom is divided into north (gar) and south (lwak).

                                       Shilluk (Collo) woman, South Sudan
Shilluk people speak Shilluk language (or dhok-Chollo). Shilluk belongs to the Luo  branch of the Western Nilotic subgroup of Nilo Saharan language family.
• Relatively well-studied (e.g. Westermann 1970, Gilley 1992, Miller & Gilley 2001), but nonetheless tone and length are not yet well understood.

                        Shilluk (Chollo) man

• Tone and length in Shilluk can only be understood in the context of Shilluk morphology. And vice versa.
• Here are the main results of our investigations into the phonetics, phonology, and morphophonology of tone and length in Shilluk.  Read further here:shilluk.pdf

                                         Shilluk people
Mythology and History
The Shilluk are a part of the Luo nation. Tradition has it that sometime in the 15th century, Nyikango, the founder of the Chollo nation, quarrelled with and separated from Dimo and the other Luo groups in wic pac, somewhere in Bahr el Ghazal.

The leader and founder of the Collo nation was Nyikang the son of Okwa, Okwa was the son of Mol, Mol was the son of Kolo, Kolo was the son of Omaro, and Omaro was the son of Odhiang (Nyadhiang Aduk). One source (Angelo Othow) takes the genealogy further. He contends that Odhiang was the son of Diwad, Diwad was the son of Oyel, Oyel was the son of Cacre, Cacre was the son of Lwor. Nyikang’s mother was Nyikayonya Kiir (literally, the daughter of the river). Nyikang and the small group of relatives and followers that went with him to the present Collo land were from the Lwoo family.
This name could easily pass as the pronunciation of Lwor. For Collo, the last letter (R) is not pronounced in a number of names such as Oyor (pronounced, Oyo).The land of Nyikang’s nativity and the cradle of the Lwoo community (wij pac) is believed to be in the Bahr el Ghazal region around the area of Rumbek town. It is referred to by the Collo as Kar and also as the land of Diwaad. The Lwoo family witnessed the most extensive migrations. Nyikang and his group moved northwards around the first half of the sixteenth century. Other Lwoo groups moved southwards following the course of the Nile to Uganda (such as the Alur and Lango tribes) and yet the rest proceeded up to Lake Nyanza (the present Lwoo tribe in Kenya). Those who remained behind are: the present Lwoo tribe (erroneously termed Jur-Col, an identification given them by the Jieng to distinguish them from the light-coloured tribes in the area), the Chat, the Thuroand the Balanda-Bwor, all in Bahr el Ghazal region. Members of the last group are the descendants of Bwor wa Okwa.

                   President of South Sudan, Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit is from Shilluk (Collo) tribe

As they migrated, the Lwoo absorbed or influenced other groups they came into contact with (for example, the Jopadholo in Uganda). In the case of Nyikang, he totally absorbed the people he found in the present Collo land forming a new tribe (Collo) speaking a Lwoo language (dho Collo). Of course, the language is affected by the environment and surrounding tribes, hence the present variations in the languages of the Lwoo tribes.

                                   Shilluk people. Circa 1967

The Collo are politically the most highly organized of the Nilotes with the rädh as the local and temporal leader. The rädh is believed to be possessed by the spirit of Nyikang and is his incarnation. Most of the present Collo country (north of the present Panyidwai) was formerly belonging to the Apuny (the Funj tribe of Southern Blue Nile). The Apuny put up stiff resistance before they were dislodged from their traditional homeland by Nyikang and his group.

                                                        Shilluk youth, South Sudan
The Routes follwed by Nyankang
Nyikang left his homeland because of a quarrel between him and his half-brother, Diwaad. The list of his followers included his sons Bwor, Cal, Anongo and Dak; his brother Ojwok; his half-brothers Gilo and Milo (also called, Ujul) and associates such as Obogo. As he travelled, he stopped for some time in the land of Thuro, home of the mother of his son Dak, Akec. It is believed that Dak, who had proclivity for mischief,
caused a dispute with his maternal relatives at Thuro forcing Nyikang and his group to start off again on their wanderings.

According to Collo oral tradition, Nyikang and his group moved along Kiir Palugo (Bahr el Ghazal river). When they reached the crossing point, they found it blocked by the sudd. Obogo took the sickle of Nyikang and got into the blocked river cutting the grass with it as he waded through. The river was deep. In the process of cutting the grass the sickle injured his body just below the armpit and blood was seen flowing on the surface. But he managed to make an opening through which the whole group crossed north of Bahr el Ghazal river. This episode is reported by some writers that Obogo was sacrificed for the sudd to open. In fact, Obogo arrived with the group of Nyikang to the present Collo land. Another related mix-up is that the present shrine of Obogo in Wuobo village is reported to belong to this Obogo, the associate of Nyikang. In fact, the shrine belongs to Obogo the son of Nyikang.

                                   Shilluk men,Circa 1967

The group camped in a place known as Pa-Nyikang in the extreme end of Papwojo area which traces are still evident today. They met nobody there. From there the group moved slowly and tactically until they arrived to Kiir (Bahr el Jebel river). Here, still in Papwojo area, Dak was to discover that somebody used to go fishing in the river and then return inland afterwards. They laid an ambush on him one day, got hold of him and he led them to the village where they were evidently welcome. There is a famous shrine (kengo) of
Nyikang in Papwojo today.
Afterwards, the party continued its movement northwards to Nyilwal and then Dedigo. Here the group must have decided ton stay and it appears they had grown in number to hundreds if not thousands. Up to this point, no battles of any significance with the original inhabitants of the land are mentioned.
Native girl of the Shilluk tribe wearing decorative beaded head gearin the Sudd Region of the Upper Nile, Sudan. Location: Sudan Date taken: September 1947. Photographer: Eliot Elisofon 

Bwor Wa Nyankang Returns
It appears that some problems developed within Nyikang’s family which saw his son Bwor return to Bahr el Ghazal. There he settled in Morro in the Aweil area. It is also reported that Gilo left the group here and crossed the White Nile moving eastwards along the Sobat river. His descendants – the Anywaks- were living in villages along the Sobat (such as Adong, Gelachiel, Ulang, etc.) up to Ethiopia before they were
displaced by the later waves of Nuer and Dinka migrations in the nineteenth century. The Lwoo tribes of Pari (Lokoro) and the Acoli are offshoots of the Anywak tribe.

Imperial Airways Handley Page H.P.42 in Malakal, Sudan with members of the Shilluk people in front of the aircraft - circa 1936

Dak also moved from Dedigo and built himself a homestead at the present Palo-Parädh some several hundred metres from Dedigo. Dak’s decision was taken with the approval of Ojwok while Nyikang was briefly out on an errand. When he received the news on coming back that evening, he blamed Ojwok, his brother, for what he did but did not reverse his decision. This action by Ojwok, the Collo maintain, is what denied him and his descendants the right to become rädh.

                                        Shilluk people,Sudan. Circa 1947
The Battle with Apuny
From Panyidwai, Nyikang and his group moved northwards in battle formations. They faced stiff resistance from the Apuny in Wau and Padiit. According to the most credible story tellers, the group had divided into two columns: the column under Nyikang moved along th river while the other, under Dak, moved parallel to it to the west. Nyikang’s party had successfully fought its way up to Wau. At Wau itself, the Apuny fought fiercely but they were overcome. By this time Dak and his force had reached Padiit. While Dak was in Padiit, the Apuny had reorganized and mounted a counterattack on Nyikang at Wau succeeding to dislodge him from there. Dak moved his force to reinforce his father and they finally defeated the Apuny who ran in disarray northwards. Dak was following them in hot pursuit. This explains why there is no shrine for Dak in Wau. He did not stay there.
Shilluk tribesman warrior w. decorative row of stud-like scarring across his forehead as he wields 2 spears & a heavy club during his fearsome wardance w. others of his tribe at Malakal, on the Upper Nile. Location: Sudan Date taken: 1947. Photographer: Eliot Elisofon 

The battles in Wau and Padiit appear to be the decisive ones in the fight against Apuny. The rest were just skirmishes.Nyikang and Dak moved northwards with relative ease. Some of the maternal relatives of Dak , Thuro, who came with Nyikang established a homestead which grew into a village bearing their name up to today. The rest of the party moved to Akurwa where Nyikang is believed to have disappeared in thin air.
It is believed that Nyikang did not go beyond the present Kaak (Kaka) but Dak is said to have been making reconnaissance deeper northwards into the present Manyo ( the Collo equivalent of reconnaissance).
The most notable shrines of Nyikang in Collo land are found in Papwojo, Nyilwal, Dedigo, Wau, OcØro, Otiigo-Panyikang, Akurwa and Morro (Mwomo).

                                            Collo Chollo man, upper Nile 1888

Clans of collo Communities
The Collo, like the other tribes of the Nilotes, have no claim to common origin. As he advanced, Nyikang and his group absorbed members of other tribes adopting his language and way of life. Today, the Collo are divided into more than seventy different clans and lineages.
Girl of the Shilluk tribe. Location: Sudan Date taken: June 1947 Photographer: Eliot Elisofon 

Those who trace their origin to Nyikang are either Nyirädh (son or daughter of a rädh), Nyanyirädh ( son or daughter of a Nyiradh) or Kwanyirädh. The rest are named after their ancestors ( e.g., Kwajwok, Kwawang, Kwajulu, after Ojwok, Awang and Ujul, respectively) or their original tribe ( such as Kwajango, Kwamuoyo), or some activity, function or action associated with their ancestors. The Ororo (or Nyiroro) are a special clan of people who although they trace their origin to Nyikang (more specifically, Ocollo Dak), were declared through a royal proclamation in the past to be termed so. They are also known as Kwa-Mool (or Kwa-Nyimol) originating from rädh Diwaad wa Ocollo’s instruction that “let the orphan-children report to me every morning”, in Collo language, “kopi Nywoli Wothonho Nyimool gen ya.”
Nyikang had developed a system where each clan in Collo land has a specific role to play in the community, especially in the installation of the rädh and the maintenance of the system. This ensured the unity of the Collo nation. Also the radh marries from all the clans except those descending from Nyikang. Thus, everybody has a stake in the rädhship.

The Radhship
The Collo nation has a well organized system of government dating back to the time of Nyikang. At the top of the hierarchy is the rädh. He is assisted by chiefs and elders who are in charge, respectively, of the villages and homesteads all over the land. The chiefs are appointed by the rädh and are accountable to him.
The rädh himself is elected by the council of chiefs (Jaagi Pa-Diwaad) from among the Nyirädhs. It is a condition that the father of the candidate must have been rädh installed according to the tradition. Previously, it was not uncommon that a powerful Nyirädh would occupy Fashoda or eliminate the reigning rädh and assume rädhship, thus circumventing the election process. Presently, the rädhship rotates in turn between the
three remaining families (of rädhs: Papiti wa Yor, Aney wa Kur and Dak wa Padyed).Thus, the competition is between Nyirädhs of the same family at any one time.
The first rädh was Nyikang himself who ruled ca. 1527 to 1557 AD. The present rädh (Kwongo Dak Padyed) is the thirty-fourth in line (see the attached list of ror {radhs}). All rädhs have been male except for rädh Abudhok nya Bwoc. She assumed rädhship because her brother Dhokoth was a minor. When he became of age rädh Abudhok abdicated in his favour.
Fashoda was built by rädh Tugo wa Dhokoth, the tenth rädh, as the capital of the Collo nation. Henceforth, installation of the rädh is concluded here and it is where the items connected with that tradition are kept. Although each rädh continued to choose a village where he reigned as was the case in the past, Fashoda assumed a central role in consolidating the rädhship. The important annual rituals, such as the incantations for
rains, are done here under the leadership of the rädh himself.

                             Collo women

Friction with the Outside World
Following the victory of Nyikang forces over the Apuny, the Collo land witnessed a period of relative calm and stability. It was not till the time of rädh Ocollo wa Dak, the fifth rädh, that battles with external forces were reported. It is reported that war broke out east of the White Nile with the Abeel. It would appear that radh Ocollo wanted to extendhis dominion to that side of the White Nile. Although some Collo maintain that the Abeel are Anywaks, it is difficult to accept that the Anywaks went that far northwards at that time (ca 1597- 1617).
English: Shilluk warrior
English: Shilluk warrior (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Furthermore, the Collo know the Anywaks and would have called them by their name. A more plausible interpretation would be that the Abeel are the inhabitants of the southern extremities of the Funj kingdom which by that time was still powerful. In this war, the Collo suffered a series of defeats at the hands of the Abeel with heavy casualties including all the Nyirädhs save for Diwaad wa Ocollo (paak Diwaad is dØng, meaning remaining or left, probably because of that fact). As a result, the plans to expand east of the White Nile were abandoned for good.
The decline of the Funj kingdom in the latter part of the eighteenth century resulted in the Dinka expansion in the area north of the Sobat and east of the White Nile. Hence, the Abialang pushed north displacing the former Funj subjects. In 1821, the army of Mohammed Ali Pasha, the viceroy of Egypt which had invaded north Sudan the previous year, engaged the Abialang Dinka at Renk and subsequently at the upper reaches of Khor Rau (Gleichen: 129). Thus, the Abialang were there in or before 1821.
It would seem that the expansion of the Collo northwards west of the White Nile had continued without interruption. For instance, rädh Tugo’s son, Aba, owned the present island opposite Kosti bearing his name (muj Aba , meaning Aba island. In the latter part of the eighteenth century, the Collo worriors controlled the White Nile up to Khartoum and perhaps beyond. In fact, the word itself could be Collo’s (Kier a tum), literally, rivers met, denoting the confluence of the Blue and White Niles. It is also established that the Collo had a strong presence at Alith (a Collo’s word), the present Kawa in the White Nile State. Kaaw, which could have been easily corrupted to Kawa, is the Collo’s word for paddles of canoes; quite relevant in view of the importance of Alith those days for caravan crossing west of the White Nile to Kordofan. The reign of rädh Tugo (ca 1672 –1692) coincided with the period of the decline of the Funj kingdom.
Shilluk tribesman. Location: Sudan Date taken: November 1950 Photographer: Eliot Elisofon 

The subsequent retreat of the Collo’s northern frontier to the present borders was only made possible by the use of firearms which were far more superior to their spears and other items of war. The Collo resisted forces of the Turco-Egyptian rule, the Mahdiya and, to a lesser extent, the Condominium. In these wars, the Collo lost hundreds of thousands of its people including four rädhs (Kwadhker wa Akwod, Ajang wa Nyidhok, Kwikon wa Kwadhker and Yor wa Akoc). Under pressure from the Governor of Fashoda at that time, rädh Kwadhker retreated to Lwak (the southern part of Collo land) in 1869. Ajang wa Nyidhok was appointed rädh by the Governor after having cabled Khartoum and Cairo that rädh Kwadhker had died. When Samuel Baker was passing through the area in 1870 on his way to Equatoria, he met rädh Kwadhker to his utter disbelief. He then arranged a surprise encounter between the two antagonists at Tawfiqiyah, the
capital of the province. The encounter was a great embarrassment to the Governor and turned out to be bitter and acrimonious between the two. After Samuel Baker left, the Governor made it a point to hunt Kwadhker down. Indeed, he succeeded to kill him that year (Baker 1875).

Kur wa Nyidhok was deposed in 1903 by the Administrator of Fashoda province, Mr. G.E. Matthews, the first action of its kind and he was the second and last rädh after rädh Abudhok nya Bwoc and radh Kwadhker wa Akwod to have been alive when the successor was chosen. In his exile in northern Sudan (Halfa), Kur was reported to have expressed satisfaction when he heard that it was Padyed wa Kwadhker who was chosen by the Council of Chiefs to succeed him as rädh. Kur wa Nyidhok, it will be recalled, was
the rädh who welcomed the French expedition under Major Marchand to Kal Dor(the present Kodok town, then erroneously termed Fashoda) in 1898 and signed a compact with the French. His action was motivated by his desire to counterpoise the Mahdist incursions into Collo land, which had devastated the country and led to the beheading of his predecessor, rädh Yor wa Akoc. He, however, like all Collo at the time remained suspicious of Bwonyo (white or brown).
Shilluk tribesman dancing. Location: Sudan Date taken: June 1949 Photographer: Eliot Elisofon 

Collo oral tradition contends that the Jikany Nuer passed through their territory in the course of their movements to the upper Sobat and link these Jikany movements to the early years of radh Awin’s reign. Thus, the most plausible time range for the Jikany migration would be between 1827 and 1828 (see later). A number of authors (Stigand, Bacon, Jackson, Johnson) agree on the route followed. Kelly (1985: 24) summarizes it as follows:
"The Jikany first proceeded north to Jebel el-liri on the edge of the Nuba territory and
thence along the border area between the Nuba and the Shilluk. They then cut across
Shilluk territory in the vicinity of Melut and crossed the Nile into Northern Dinka…After
fighting the Dinka and reportedly capturing many of their cattle; the Jikany turned south
and proceeded to the lower Sobat River, settling temporarily in the area between Abwong
and the border of Shilluk territory near the Nile. From here they pushed upstream along
both sides of the Sobat to the vicinity of their present territory.”

This account - at least the route up to Melut area- is confirmed by Collo’s history
especially the evidence in the area west of Abuman village of Abeinyayo chieftaincy
where traces of the then sparse villages devastated by the Jikany Nuer, e.g., Pa-Gaaw, are
extant. The Collo add that it is they who dislodged the Jikany from the lower Sobat
forcing them to move upstream. In general, the Jikany, who moved together with their
women, children and cattle, sought to avoid conflict in their migration as evidenced by
taking a roundabout route which is three times the direct route to their destination.
Collo history also maintains that not long after the commencement of the Jikany
migration, another group of Nuer attempted to enter Collo territory from the southwest
(i.e., Tonga area). They were met with stiff resistance from the Collo of Tonga forcing
them to cross the Bahr el-Jebel and move eastward.
This group must be the Lou and Gawaar referred to by Kelly (1985: 30). Again, these events took place at the reign of radh Awin wa Yor. Collo folklore records these events vividly as the following verses of a popular song testify:
"Ya ka pac Langjok,
Awin nya Yor.
Ororo yi ka keny?
Nuar a tØng pac."
                Which translates as:
"I am going to Langjok,
Oh Awin the son of Yor.
Where are you going, Oh Ororo?
The Nuer have come to our land."
The Ororo clan provides the paramount chief of Tungo (i.e., Tonga), one of the two important chiefs of Collo extremities (Jaagi wathi tuung). The other is the chief of  Mwomo in the north of Collo country. The song records a symbolic conversation between the chief of Tonga with rädh Awin. The first was reporting the incursion of Nuer into his territory and wanting to go back immediately. In fact, from that time rädh Awin is reported to have decreed that the people of Tonga be exempt from any role in the buildingof Fashoda (which is done by all the Collo clans) so that they may pay full attention to the defence of Collo’s southwestern border. This decree still holds up to today. Fashoda is more than a hundred kilometers away from Tonga; a distance that will take many days to cover by walking. Langjok is not a particular place but a way of reporting the death of Ororo clan. The Collo report death euphemistically: it is “aketh log naam –gone across the river” for the radh, “apadh – fallen” for Nyiradhs and Kwanyiradhs, etc.
Native girl of the Shilluk tribe wearing decorative beaded head gearin the Sudd Region of the Upper Nile, Sudan. Location: Sudan Date taken: September 1947. Photographer: Eliot Elisofon 

Internal friction among Nyiradhs
The competition between Nyirädhs for the rädhship is the norm but this had been pushed to bloody heights in some episodes in Collo history. For instance, rädh Dekwor (well known as Nyadwai, after the name of his mother, Adwai) wa Tugo, the twelfth rädh, made it a point to eliminate all the Nyirädhs he could lay hands on except his sons. Thus, three of his sons (Muko, Waak and Dyelguth (Nyatho) in that order) became rädhs immediately in succession after him. When Kudit wa Okon who managed to escape Dekwor’s vendetta came to power, he was already advanced in age.
 It is reported that he had decreed that Dekwor’s family will no longer be entitled to become rädh. Indeed, there has never since been a rädh from that family. However, it is also possible that the right of that family to the throne might have just been eliminated by sheer human age as Yor(well known as Nyakwaci) wa Kudit who became rädh after his father ruled for about forty years. By the end of his reign there simply were no sons of Muko, Waak or Nyatho still alive to vie for the position of rädh.

Another case in point is that of rädh Aney wa Yor who also made attempts to deny his half-brothers the chance of becoming rädh by removing their teeth.
Although he succeeded with Alipo, his other half-brothers Akwod and Awin resisted him until they finally killed him. Akwod took over. It is to be noted that Akwod and Awin were close friends. Their mothers were from the Jieng (Dinka) tribe; from the Nyiel and Dingjol sections, respectively.
One more serious feud which brought the two sections of Collo (Garr and Lwak) to war happened at the time of Akoc wa Akwod in relation to his differences with his halfbrothers and cousins in Ogod.
Reth Ayang Anei Kor Nyedhok

The list of Collo Radhs revisited
It will be noted that the attached list of the Collo rädhs carries dates different from those which have been published so far. The difference is in relation to the reigns of rädhs: Nyidhok wa Yor, Akoc wa Akwod and Awin wa Yor. As a result of the revision of dates connected with the three, the dates of earlier rädhs have been adjusted accordingly. The revision is dictated by the information available from other sources, especially in relation to Nuer migration. An explanation is necessary.

Nyidhok wa Yor was the rädh at the time of Salim Qapudan’s Nile voyage on behalf of the viceroy of Egypt (Collins: 21). He passed away in 1859. He was preceded by rädh Akoc wa Akwod, who is believed to have ruled for five years. Akoc took over from rädh Awin wa Yor who was in power for somewhat less than five years. The period of reign ofthe three rädhs can thus be established by working backward from the time of rädh Nyidhok’s succession to the office of rädh which must be before 1839. The memoirs of a Collo soldier in the Egyptian Army, published in 1896, state that Nyidhok “was reth in 1836, and that he ruled for forty years”. (Johnson: 686). The forty-year reign is improbable as it is not supported by Collo’s oral history. In fact, Fr Crazzolara (1951: 137) who describes his reign as “long and prosperous” gives him only a duration of eighteen years. The date 1836 is more likely to be reliable as the time of ascension of
Nyidhok wa Yor to rädhship. It follows, therefore, that Nyidhok reigned from 1836 to 1859, Akoc held the position from about 1831 to 1836 and Awin was rädh from 1827 to 1831.
                                   Shilluk Tribal King Anei Kur. by Eliot Elisofon

S/No. Name of Rädh Village Area Period
1. Nyikango Okwä Nyilwal Panyikango 1537 – 1567 = 30
2. Caal Nyikango Dinyo Tungo 1567 – 1582 = 15
3. Daag Nyikango Palo Panyidwäy 1582 – 1597 = 15
4. Nyidörø Nyikango Nyilyej Adhidhwøy 1597 - 1607 = 10
5. Ocøllø Daag Ditäng Obwä 1607 - 162 7 = 20
6. Diwääd Ocøllo Obudhyang Makaal 1627 – 1642 = 15
7. Bwøj Diwääd Pa-Örro Abyenyayo 1642 – 1652 = 10
8. Abudhög Bwøj Pa-Örro Thwøro 1652 – 1662 = 10
9. Dhøködh Bwøj Dhøkøngo Wadajwøk 1662 – 1682 = 20
10. Tugø Dhøködh Nyiwäjø Nyigiir 1682 – 1702 = 20
11. Okon Tugo Palääbo Pabur 1702 – 1707 = 5
12. Dikwör Tugo (Nyadwai) Dibwör Ködhøg 1707 – 1737 = 30
13. Mugø Dikwör Paabo Ködhøg 1737 – 1742 = 5
14. Waag Dikwör Pakïrro Burkyënyyï 1742 – 1752 = 10
15. Dyelgudh Dikwör Panyathø Waadmän 1752 – 1762 = 10
16. Kudïd Okon Paläbo Lul 1762 – 1772 = 10
17. Yör Kudïd Agwöj Lul 1772 – 1812 = 40
18. Anëy Yör Pandwøng Nyiwudo 1812 – 1817 = 5
19. Akwød Yör Dibaalo Ogød 1817 – 1827 = 10
20. Awin Yör Okwänpï Nyigiir 1827 – 1831 = 4
21. Aköj Akwød Anyiägo Ogød 1831 – 1836 = 5
22. Nydhög Yör Padwöl Waadmän 1836 – 1859 = 23
23. Kwadhkër Akwød Opädhiwän Ogød 1859 – 1870 = 11
24. Ajäng Nyidhög Räädileeb Waadmän 1869 - 1875 = 6
25. Kujkon Kwadhkër Apödho Ogød 1975 – 1881 = 6
26. Yör Aköc Bapi Ködhøg 1882 – 1892 = 10
27. Kur Nyidhög Akwajakwan Gøølo 1892 – 1903 = 11
28. Padyëd Kwadhkër Omøli Waw 1903 – 1917 = 14
29. Papïti Yör Aköj Abwögathø Golbänyo 1917 – 1944 = 27
30. Anëy Kur Nyidhög Gänawad Golbänyo 1944 – 1945 = 1
31. Daag Padyëd Kujo Panyidwäy 1945 – 1951 = 6
32. Kur Papiti Ywödo Ködhøg 1951 – 1974 = 23
33. Ayäng Anëy Kur Owiykyel Waadmän 1974 – 1992 = 18
34. Kwöngo Daag Alãgi Panyidwäy 1992 -

The distribution of Shilluk communities has been likened to beads on a string, spread out on the banks of the White Nile, the one separated from the next by a distance of from 180 meters to 1.5 kilometers. Settlements range in size from hamlets made up of the mud and thatched-roof huts of a few families to villages of some one hundred families. At roughly the center of Shilluk country is the village of Pachoda, the residence of each succeeding Shilluk "king" (see "Sociopolitical Organization"). Population densities in Shilluk country exceed all others among the Nilotic-speaking peoples of the southern Sudan. Each hamlet is formed around a cluster of patrilineal kin who claim membership in a common clan. Individual clans are dispersed widely throughout Shilluk country. Postmarital residence is patrilocal, and each homestead within a hamlet consists of a hut for each adult man as well as a separate dwelling for each of his wives.

The Shilluk keep small herds of cattle, in addition to larger flocks of sheep and goats. Cattle are normally used for food only in the context of ritual and ceremonial occasions. In the evening, the cattle are tethered around dung fires in an effort to lessen the adverse effects of biting flies and insects. Shilluk aggressively and successfully exploit the rich resources of the White Nile and regularly catch many species of fish with fishing nets and spears. They also hunt hippopotamuses. Less frequently, small hunting parties are organized to pursue antelope, buffalo, and giraffes. Hamlets are surrounded by gardens of millet, maize, and sesame, as well as other species introduced during the twentieth century. The Shilluk also cultivate tobacco for personal use and for sale. Herding, hunting, and spearfishing are primarily male activities; women traditionally have manufactured cooking utensils, cultivated gardens, and prepared food.
The Shilluk are adroit fishermen and exploit with ease the fish resources of the Nile and its numerous tributaries and distributaries. Recent ecological changes in the Sudan have made the Shilluk kingdom an important producer of gum arabica. Petroleum is produced not very far from the Shilluk kingdom and there could be oil reserves below its sub-soil.

Shilluk Society, Social Events, Attitudes, Customs and Traditions
The Chollo nation comprises of about 100 different ethnic communities and clans: the indigenous people and the Luo conquerors , who double up as the most politically and socially dominant. The other important clans include kwa-Jullo kwa-Jwok (descendants of Ojwok - Nyikango’s cousin), kwa- Oboogo (Oboogo is said to have volunteered to be sacrificed in order to open up the weeds at the confluence of Nile and Bahr el Ghazal to enable the entourage proceed with their journey).
Shilluk woman,South Sudan

The descendents of the assimilated Otango Dirim include: kwa-nyidwai, kwa-dway, kwa-nyidhiang, kwa-mal, kwa-man, kwa-nyudho, kwa-mang , etc. Latter additions to the kingdom are kwa-mwoy , kwa-jango . These serve as social identity as well as special functions at Pachodo. The clans intermarried among each other without distinction.

                                    Shilluk people

However, tradition prohibits the Rath from taking as wife, a girl from among the kwa-Räth or kwa-Jullo. Each clan reproduces its own self and there is no chance for one clan changing to the other in spite of the extensive mixing resulting from marriages. However, a recalcitrant kwa-Räth clan could have its royalty removed in a special raid overseen by the reigning sovereign. They then become ordinary Shilluk .

The Shilluk ascribe to an elaborate traditional system, orally transmitted from generation to the next, in which each and every Shilluk clan, except the royals, has a defined role to play in the kingdom. They participate in the building and repairs of shrines ; the installation of the Räth. Some Shilluk traditions and customs have lost their values or originality. Most archaic traditions have been dropped, while some have lingered on although are transforming under the pressure of modernity.

                                       Shilluk father and son
The sex of the new born can be easily determined by the site of the bathing shade and where the umbilical cord had been buried; right or left of the doorway for male and female respectively. The mother eats special foods to assist in a quick and easy recuperation. A woman who has recently given birth carries stock of sorghum when she goes out of the house; wears a cross marked with ash on her forehead.

A women still in early pregnancy (1-2 months), her husband or somebody who had just buried a relative are believed to be ceremonially polluted (rigen da biy). They are not allowed to within 10 metres of the compound of the newly delivered baby. There is no myth about twins but some elaborate rites are performed which continue until they are grown up and marry. However, giving birth to triplets is considered abnormal and this fact is reported to Pachodo without delay. The Räth blesses them and offers each a milking cow.

Every Shilluk new born is given milk name the meaning of which may relate to the experience or circumstance the parents or close relative. The prefix ''''nya '''' connotes usually a female but is sometimes shared by male. Okach or Nyakach refers to famine; Oyoo or Nyayoo having been born on the road; Acwanyo refers to coinciding with the arrival of an important person or relative; Ronyo or Aban coinciding with death of somebody.

A child could be named after some important person including a departed Räth. In this case the child is taken and offerings made on the on that person’s grave or shrine of Räth. A grown up person could adopt a dance name or may be given nick name by others. The Shilluk by tradition don’t name a child after a living person.

Initiation into Adulthood
There is no elaborate ceremony to mark a girl’s initiation into adulthood. As soon as physiological transformation shows, she goes through elaborate cushioning by the mother as to protect herself from boys and men in general, in readiness for marriage .

The dance ceremony for initiating boys into adulthood doubles up as the formation of age-set is marked by wearing for the first time dance regalia consisting of a leopard skin , wild-cat skin ; beads made from shells of ostrich eggs and a necklace made from tail of giraffe . The boy graduant moves to literally bachelors quarters ; prepares for own sorghum field and prepares to marry.

                          Shilluk people,South Sudan
Marriage is the ultimate goal of every adult male and female. Courtship and intimacy can last for up to a year or more. Once marriage has been decided on, the girl informs her mother who then informs the father or paternal uncle in case the father is deceased. A shy young man may inform his father through a friend, uncle or somebody he trusts.
Beautiful Shilluk bride at Juba, South Sudan

Marriage to blood relatives or in-laws is not permitted. Once the suitor has been accepted and announced, the initial bride price is paid. The Shilluk dowry is a minimum of 10 cows and 30 sheep and goats. The marriage relationship does not expire or rust.
Shilluk bride and groom

It tightly binds the two families making divorce difficult if not impossible unless there are spectacular reasons. In case of divorce, the dowry is returned. The Shilluk practice pawn-marriage even before the girl has been born. This is accepted in times of extreme stress and difficulties.

Shilluk Political Organisation, Traditional Authority
The Chollo kingdom is made up of two principal political divisions : the north (Gar) and the south (Lwak). It is divided into 15 provinces each under the administration of a paramount chief directly responsible to the Räth, believed to be the incarnation of Nyikango and is sovereign combining political, administrative, judicial and spiritual power. The chiefs of Tungu (south) and Mwomo (north) are the most senior positions as they considered the fronts’ guards. The paramount chief has under his authority village or clan chiefs (jagi myer or, jagi-nyiräth).

There are chiefs of special functions e.g. the chiefs of the hippo called kwa-wang situated in Tungu and Mwomo ; the chief of Nile called lechwe (jangi gyek) in Panyikango. In each province, a military commander - bany - emerges by virtue of military prowess and valour but has no administrative functions or authority.

Coronation of the Räth
The Chollo system does not tolerate a prolonged power vacuum (wangi-yomo) following the passing of the sovereign. He is the law and order and therefore must be immediately replaced. The process of installation of the new Rath begins immediately once the council of chiefs (jagiwipadiwad) have met and decided on a choice.

To be chosen, the prince should have been born during the reign of his late father; should not have scars whatsoever on his body; should not be known to be a coward as he grew up under the supervision of the chief of the village in which he was brought up. The Räth elect - ororo - prepares for wowo (last funeral rites) of the late Räth and embarks on his own installation process. Once all the ritual items (Jami kwer) have been procured and Nyikango has accented to the choice of jagiwipadiwad, then the final stages of coronation (kwer rony) begin in earnest. It could take up to three months until the last day of the ceremony when all the chiefs pay their allegiance to the new Räth, assures the Shilluk nation, and then begin his reign throughout the Chollo Kingdom.

The royal regalia include: throne (kwom), skin of Nile lechwe , giraffe mane (yar wir), 2 silver bracelets (ateg), ostrich feathers (okwon wudo), royal spears, royal stick, beads made from ostrich shells (rek), and many others some of which remain in the special room (kaano). Räth Kwongo Dak Padiet is the reigning sovereign. He was installed as 34th Shilluk Rath in 1992.

The Räth reigns for life from Pachodo - established in about 1690 – 1710 as the kingdom’s headquarters and site for coronation of kings by Tugo wad Dhakodh. However, the reigning sovereign is expected to found his own village; and comes to Pachodo only when major decisions affecting the kingdom have to be taken. There was only one woman Räth in Shilluk history – Abudhok nya Bwoch who reigned from Thworo village. She is said to have decreed that no woman should ever be installed Räth since women did not respect her court.

The Installation of Shilluk Chiefs
The Shilluk chiefs derive their authority (lawo) from Pachodo. They are responsible and must report to Räth on all royal animal and birds, pertaining to their respective territories: human being if murdered (dhanho), Nile lechwe (gyek), crocodile (nyang), hippo (paar), giraffe (wir), elephant (liech), (yiel) leopard (kwach), ostrich (wudo), and red mouth stock (owango). Chiefs can be removed from office, as the position is elective and thereby open to competition. Once the Rath realises there is stiff competition, he orders elections with only male adults of that village or province (podho) allowed to cast their votes - lothigen. As a rule one can become a chief only after the death of one’s father.

                                     Shilluk man, South Sudan
Shilluk religious concepts are drawn into relief by an emphasis on the creator-god or divinity/Supreme Being known as Juok (jwok ayimo), with his home somewhere in the sky (pa-jwok) where people don’t do evil. There is veneration of Nyikang through the persons who become kings, and the recognition of the ways in which the spirits of the deceased can affect those who survive them. Juok is a ubiquitous spirit, a phenomenon manifest in all places and at all times. Juok can be addressed through sacrifice of cattle, goats, and sheep. Juok is also strongly associated in Shilluk thought with the river spirit that first gave birth to Nyikang.

Most Western depictions of Shilluk religion have been colored by nineteenth-century visions of "primitive religion." The Shilluk figured prominently in evolutionary schemes put forward to depict the course of religious evolution. Ironically, although the Shilluk have become well known in the anthropological literature, no prolonged research has been carried out by a trained observer in their settlements.

Most Shilluk have converted to Christianity, while some still follow the traditional religion or a mixture of the two; small numbers have converted to Islam. The Shilluk pride them selves in being one of the first Nilotic groups to accept Christianity. Such is the teaching of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan which dates the event to the late 19th Century when the Church Mission Society first began to send missionaries. Numerous colonial policies and missionary movements have divided Shilluk into between the Catholic and Protestant denominations.

The Catholic Church was historically assigned the western bank of the Nile and ran missions stations at Lul, Detwoc, Tonga and Yoynyang, while the American Inland Mission ran a mission station at Doleib Hill, located to the south of Malakal on the eastern side of the Nile, but situated on the Sobat river. The Shilluk were a minority in the SPLM faction for most of the Second Sudanese Civil War, their number peaking in the late 1980s and the pre-ceasefire fighting in 2004.

Shilluk Culture: Arts, Music, Literature and Handicraft
The Shilluk society has evolved a material and political culture expressed in the institutions of the kingdom and the daily life activities, notwithstanding its oral nature. The kingdom rests on an elaborate system of traditions and practices that go back more than 500years. The royalty are addressed in a separate vocabulary.

The Shilluk are very particular about body cleanliness; the hair is constructed into two structures that give the impression of plates of hair on the head. They wear beads, and other decoration which include cutting dots on forehead and tattooing on the body. The Shilluk have developed music instruments: a kind of guitar (thom), flute made fom the horns of kudu (kang), (adalo), and drum (bul).
The Shilluk control and defence of the Nile channel promoted the evolution of a navy that used dug out canoes. They imported iron from the Nuba Mountains and Funj Kingdom for making spears (tong), axes (doro), knives (paalo) and hoes (kwer). The Shilluk have developed several and different types of dance: bul, thom, amagak, aya, etc., to mark different occasions. Their folklore is rich with fairy tales for children, quizzes, riddles, etc. Neighbours and Foreign Relations and Cooperation The Räth has had a moderating influence on the Shilluk and the cordial relations and mutual respect they have evolved with their neighbours: Salem Arabs in the north, Nuba in the west, Nuer in the south and Dinka and Funj in the east.

As the ultimate end of every living mortal, the Shilluk accept and respect death. It is celebrated when it is for an elderly person or an important person passing. The head is shaved and the body is dressed according to status in society. A child or uninitiated male is buried without much ceremony.

An adult male is dressed in war regalia and the burial is accompanied by war dance and wailing by women, usually with mock war against the ‘jwok’ that is assumed to have ‘killed’ him. The chief is buried in a hut. The Räth is buried with much more paraphernalia. All in all, the body is lowered, lying on the right side with the head pointing to the east facing the open side of the grave, into a grove dug on the right side of the grave.

The burial ceremony is followed after a few weeks by a ritual which literally signifies removal of the name from among the living. Three months later a funeral rite is performed followed years later, depending on the economic situation of the family, by the last funeral rites after which the person is considered to have joined the ancestors. The funeral ceremony of the Räth is managed, performed and led within a few months by the anointed and succeeding Räth-elect.

Latest Developments
The location of the kingdom on the Nile has exposed the Shilluk to every danger that came with European and Arab incursions and aggression down the Nile: slavery and slave trade and the so-called modernity - Christianisation and Islamisation. Many have converted to Christianity (south) and Islam (north). Nevertheless, their allegiance remains with Pachodo. The war has displaced many Shilluk to north Sudan. This poses a serious threat to Shilluk traditions.

                                             Shilluk people
Small Shilluk communities have sprung up in USA, Canada, Britain and Australia as a result of displacement by war. Many are still in contact with their families back home.


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