The Dinka people are a Nilotic ethnic group in South Sudan, but they also have their people in diaspora. They mostly live along the Nile, from Mangalla to Renk, in regions of Bahr El Ghazal, Upper Nile and Abyei Area of Ngok Dinka in South Sudan.
The Dinka people mainly live on traditional agriculture and pastoralism. They rely on cattle husbandry as their cultural pride, not for commercial profits or meat, but for cultural demonstrations, rituals, marriage dowries and milk for feeding all ages. The Dinka people usually cultivate food crops and cash crops. Their food crops are grains, mainly sorghum and millet. Their cash crops include groundnuts, sesame and gum-arabic. Cattles are always around their riverside during the dry season, but they take their cows to the highgrounds in order to avoid flood and water during the rainy season.
They are about 4.5 million in number. According to the 2008 Sudan census, they are about 18% of the population of the entire country, and the largest tribe in South Sudan.
Dinka is sometimes the name that they use to refer to them because of their height. The Dinka people are believed to be the tallest people in Africa. Roberts and Bainbridge reported that average height of this people is 182.6cm (5ft 11.9 in). But the stature of their males has become lower in recent times, possibly due to undernutrition and conflicts. A new survey of Dinka men which was published in 1995, shows that the average height of their men has reduced to 176cm (5ft 9.4in).
Other studies of comparative historical height data and nutrition, has shown that the Dinka people are the tallest people in the world.
The name of their language is Dinka, it is one of the Nilotic languages of Eastern Sudanic language family. According to oral traditions, the Dinka people originated from Gezira which is known as the Sudan of nowadays. From the 13th century, the Dinka people started to migrate away from Gezira to escape slave raids and other military conflicts, and drought too. The religions, beliefs and lifestyle of the Dinka people has led to conflicts with their Arab Muslim government back in the days.
The Sudan People Liberation Army, which was led by the late Dr Garang Dr Mebior, who was from Dinka, took arms against their government in the year 1983. During this 21 years civil war, thousands of Dinka people, along with fellow non-Dinka southerners, lost their lives from the attacks by government forces. The Dinka people that’s led by Salva kiir Mayardit, has also engaged in a separate civil war with Nuer and other groups who they accuse of monopolizing power.
In the year 1983, due to the second civil war in Sudan, many young Dinka men were forced to flee from the cities where they worked, back to rural Dinka villages. Some of these men were Christians that had already covered to Christianity, they ran because of their Christian faith. Among these people, some got ordained as clergymen, who started preaching the gospel in villages. They used songs to teach biblical lessons.
Large number of Dinka people converts to Christianity in large numbers and have learnt to adapt and reject ancient religious practices.
The Christian conversion of Dinka people did not only happen in rural villages, but also among Dinka refugees that ran away from their country.
Age is an important factor in Dinka culture, they initiate their young men into adulthood by the marking of their forehead with a sharp object.