Awesome and super dark-skin ethnic Murle girls from South Sudan in their traditional dress and wearing beads at in Gumuruk market. The Murle people are agro-pastoralist and a Nilo-Saharan-speaking ethnic group residing in Pibor County and Boma area, Jonglei State, in southeastern part of South Sudan, as well as in Ethiopia.The Murle are proud people who are very proud of their language and customs. They also regard themselves as distinct from the people that live around them. At various times in history they have been at war with all of the surrounding ethnic so they present a united front against what they regard as hostile neighbors. The people call themselves Murle and all other peoples are referred to as 'moden." The literal translation of this word is “enemy,” although it can also be translated as “strangers.”
Even when the Murle are at peace with a given group of neighbors, they still refer to them as moden.
The neighboring ethnic groups also return the favor by referring to the Murle as the “enemy.” The Dinka people refer to the Murle as the Beir and the Anuak call them the Ajiba. These were the terms originally used in the early literature to refer to the Murle people. Only after direct contact by the British did their self-name become known and the term Murle is now generally accepted.
The Murle are a relatively new ethnic group in Sudan, having immigrated into the region from Ethiopia. The language they speak is from the Surmic language family - languages spoken primarily in southwest Ethiopia. There are three other Surmic speaking people groups presently living in the Sudan: the Didinga, the Longarim and the Tenet.
Murle has been portrayed as aggressors and formentors of trouble in Sudan by mostly Dinka and Nuer ethnic group that run affairs of the Sudan government but that is not true. "Local and national political discourses portray the Murle group as the main aggressors and the source of much of the instability affecting the state. Such Murle stereotypes are partially driven by concrete experiences, but are also largely manipulated to serve political purposes. Government control over the Murle community is reasserted and legitimised through a perpetrator narrative, which is a discourse sustained by prominent senior government officials, NGOs, media agencies and the general population“despite the reality of a politically and economically marginalised Murle” (Laudati, 2011: 21).
emography and Geography
The Murle number about 300,000 to 400,000 and inhabit Pibor County in southeastern Upper Nile (Jonglei). The Murle neighbours are Nuer and Dinka, whom they call collectively (jong koth); the Anyuak, whom they call (Nyoro) and the Toposa, and Jie they call (kum). The relationship with their neighbours is by no means cordial due to their cattle raiding practices.
The History of Murle Migrations
Tradition claims that the tribe was created at a place called ''''''''Jen'''''''', somewhere beyond Maji in Ethiopia. The Murle elders always point to the east and say they originated in a place called Jen. The term Jen has symbolic meanings because it is one of the cardinal directions meaning “east.” It also refers to the location of the rising sun, bringer of warmth and light. The rains also come from the east, bringing vital water for pastures and gardens. The Murle elders also described their original area of Jen as being a place of mountainous terrain.
The Murle elders went on to describe their migrations to their present location as being a series of moves by a bounded set - a powerful group of Murle moving from location to location, attacking and pushing out the former inhabitants. They started their migration by moving south along the Omo River until they eventually reached Lake Turkana.
Here they turned west, moving to the area of southern Sudan around Kapoeta. In this semi-desert they found pasture for their cattle and water in the sand rivers. Their population grew in numbers and eventually some of them broke away and moved into the Didinga Hills, where they eventually became known as the Didinga people. Other smaller groups also separated, with the Longarim moving west into the Boya Hills and the smallest group, the Tenet, moving farther west into the Lafit Hills. Then the main group of Murle went through a hard time. Their numbers were decimated by smallpox and many of their cattle contracted pleuro-pneumonia. The combination of diseases weakened the tribe and they were soon attacked by the Toposa, a war-like people moving north out of Uganda.
There was fighting between the two groups and the Murle ended up moving north,looking for new land. They eventually reached the small Maruwa Hills and here the tribe split. The Murle people without cattle moved east on to the Boma Plateau where they still live at the present time. The larger portion of the Murle, who still had cattle, moved northwest, heading for the Pibor River system. At that time the region was inhabited by the Dinka and the Nuer. Battles took place and eventually the Murle took over – pushing the Dinka toward the Nile River and pushing the Nuer to the north.