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Nilotes: The World’s Tallest people

The Nilotes constitute the majority of the population in South Sudan, an area that is believed to be their original point of dispersal. After the Bantu peoples, they constitute the second-most numerous group of peoples inhabiting the African Great Lakes region around the East African Rift. They make up a notable part of the population of southwestern Ethiopia as well. Nilotic peoples numbered 7 million in the late 20th century. Some Nilotic peoples, such as the Masai, are dedicated to their traditional life and have resisted intrusions by European culture.

Regions around the Nile River are home to the indigenous Nilotic people. For thousands of years, they have migrated along the Nile’s tributaries, populating the landscape. Nilotic Peoples delves into the cultures, traditions, and practices of many of these tribal groups, and how they are viewed in our world today. Before the Nilotes moved to western Kenya, they lived in southwestern area of Ethiopia. The Nilotes occupied portions of what is now Kenya while another group, the Tatoga settled in northern Tanzania. Another group of Nilotes occupied parts of northwest Kenya.

They pursue a mixed economy of pastoralism and hoe cultivation, supplemented by fishing, hunting, and a little food gathering. Although Nilotes may cultivate out of necessity, all except the Anywa of South Sudan are pastoralists with a great love of cattle. Milk, milk products, and grain are staple foods. Cattle are not slaughtered indiscriminately for meat; they are paid in compensation and bridewealth, and their ownership determines status and wealth. Nilotic peoples have a rich cattle vocabulary; they spend much time caring for the herds and erecting large stables, or kraals, for their protection. A man commonly trains his favourite ox and decorates its horns, and in many cases he is addressed by the animal’s name. Cattle assume ritual importance, being dedicated and sacrificed to ancestors or spirits.

Read Also: Gembu: A historical Bantu Homeland in Nigeria

Nilotic people practised a mixed economy of cattle pastoralism, fishing, and seed cultivation. Some of the earliest archaeological findings on record, that describe a similar culture to this from the same region, are found at Kadero, 48 m north of Khartoum in Sudan and date to 3000 BC. Kadero contains the remains of a cattle pastoralist culture and a cemetery with skeletal remains featuring sub-Saharan African phenotypes. It also contains evidence of other animal domestication, artistry, long-distance trade, seed cultivation, and fish consumption.

The Nilotic communities have a cultural history of cattle-rearing. The extreme weather conditions of the Nile Valley savannas meant the Nilotes had to keep on the move. From severe droughts to harsh floods, the Nilotes had to constantly adapt to their surroundings. During the wet season, this meant creating settlements above ground-level where they could continue to herd cattle. In the dry season, they moved closer to water supplies and pastures.

Extreme weather did not just influence the lives of the Nilotes; it also gave them some unique physical attributes. On average, Nilotes are said to be the, tallest, thinnest and have the darkest skin tone of all Africans. This is down to the heat of central-eastern Africa. Their skin colour allows more UV light to be absorbed, and long limbs and a slender frame allow for heat to be expelled quicker. On average, men are 6ft 4 inches tall whilst women are 6ft 2 inches.

The Nilotes are noted for their tall stature. The tall height and agile abilities of Nilotic people have allowed them great success across the world, most notably in sports and modelling. Kenya and Uganda have produced countless world-class athletes, from basketball players like Manute Bol to long-distance runners such as Lornah Kiplagat. Nilotes excel in sport. Their long legs, slender frames and beautiful skin have also seen Nilotes flourish in the modelling world. For in-demand model and activist Nykhor Paul, modelling has provided an important platform to inspire everyone back home to know that they can achieve their own success and to promote unity over conflict.

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