There are many different ethnic groups in South Sudan, each with a long history of customs and traditions.
While Sudan to the north is influenced by Islam, South Sudan is influenced by Christianity and African traditional religions.
The most common form of marriage in South Sudan is the practice in which a man can have more than one wife at the same time. Marriage is considered a union beyond the two individuals, a bond involving the two families.
Wrestling is a traditional sport in South Sudan. Wrestling matches were often a component that marked the end of the agricultural season and included spectator involvement in the form of singing and dancing in support of one of the competitors. Basketball is also played. Football (soccer) is very popular in Sudan.
Grains are popular sources and are supplemented by the variety of fresh fruits, and vegetables, grown in the country, when available. Fish is a common source of protein among the riverine communities, whereas other groups rely more on meat and milk products from their livestock. A paste made from peanuts may accompany meats and vegetables. Examples of some foods and dishes enjoyed in the country include kisra, a wide flat bread that accompanies many meals
Asida, a porridge is often served with meat or vegetables, and Ful, a dish with a basis of mashed beans and spices that may have various other foods added to it.
Music is an important part of the cultural traditions of South Sudan’s ethnic groups, as many ritual ceremonies are accompanied by singing and the playing of musical instruments. A variety of musical styles are enjoyed as entertainment in South Sudan. There is a traditional style of music, in which singers perform without musical accompaniment or with only a limited drumbeat. Western music styles, such as hip-hop and reggae, are popular.
Western-style clothing is common, especially in cities and towns. Traditional dress varies throughout the country and among ethnic groups. Because of the hot climate, clothing tends to be loose-fitting and of light material.
- Independence Day on January 1 (marking Sudan’s independence from Great Britain and Egypt in 1956)
- Peace Agreement Day on January 9 (the signing of the 2005 CPA)
- SPLA Day on May 16 (marking the day in 1983 that the southern troops revolted, leading to a resumption in the fight for independence)
- Martyrs’ Day on July 30 (the anniversary of the death of rebel leader John Garang de Mabior, used to commemorate the deaths of all those who died during the long-running civil war).
- The country’s large Christian population celebrates Easter, and Christmas Day is a public holiday in South Sudan.
Radio is the most popular form of mass communication. There are several government or private radio stations operating throughout parts of the country that provide news, educational instruction, and entertainment in several languages. The government also owns a television broadcasting station in Juba. Newspapers are common in the cities.