The Toposas are one of the biggest tribal groups living in the south eastern border area of South Sudan.
The Toposa people live in well organised villages, with different houses for dry and rainy season, granaries, where they not only keep their supllies but also their personal items.
The houses are big and shaped like a beehive with a square area in front of the house that serve as an entrance.
Their homes are called a tukel and they are built from many strands of straw, reeds, palm leaves, or a similar material bound together with twine. The structure is then raised on stilts.
The Toposa economy and social life revolves around herding livestock, including cattle, camels, donkeys, goats and sheep, from which they obtain milk, blood, meat and leather. During the wet season the animals graze near the villages. When the rains end, the men take the herds to dry season pasturage then slowly bring them back, grazing along the way, to arrive in the village when the next rainy season starts.
The women engage in limited agriculture in the river valleys. The main crop is sorghum, grown on fertile clay soils.
A patrilineal society, cultural norms and values are passed to children early. Culture is transmitted orally through songs, dance, music, poems and folklore. Much has to do with the accumulation and keeping of large herds of cattle. The boys are put in age-sets and taught to herd. The girls look after the home, and care for the elderly and smaller siblings.
Traditionally, the men only wear a piece of cloth draped over the body, while the women have different types of leather skirts, depending on their age and marital status. These skirts are also different if the women are working or for festive occasions. They are embellished with different coloured beads. Both men and women adorn their bodies with similar scarifications and they abhor the practice of circumcision.
The Toposa believe in a supreme being and in ancestral spirits, who may assist in overcoming problems such as drought or epidemics of disease among their herds.
They believe that men originally lived with “Nakwuge” in the sky, but many slid down a rope to earth. The rope then broke, separating them from heaven. As of 2000, perhaps 5% of the population could read. The Toposa culture is orally transmitted through songs, dance, music, poems and folklore. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Torit has been actively proselytizing among the Toposa, with some success.
Toposa lady rebuilding the roof of her house, in preparation for the rainy season