High bride price contributes to economic and social crisis

By Theem Isaac Machar Akot

Among the sixty four tribes in South Sudan, Nilotic tribes more specially the Dinka and Nuer tribes pay a lot of dowries. 

 A beautiful illiterate girl ranges from 140-180 cattle while educated one ranges from 280-300 cattle. Those they perceive of average beauty cost 90-50 cattle, and the ones they call “ugly ones” cost 40-15 cattle. Marriages are conducted customarily that means paying cattle is compulsory.

In Dinka tribe where I belong, you can’t be given a girl of your choice if you don’t meet the above stated costs. Girls are perceived the source of income making them too one of the sources of crisis in one way or the other.  


It has caused social crisis among rural communities in two ways. In the village, able-bodied young men who want to marry beautiful girls of their choices find it very hard to get them since the parents of girls demand a lot on their daughters. For them to meet the expected demands, they have to go and raid cattle from the neighbourhood which at some points may cause one or many of them killed hence, the cause of revenge attacks.

The good example of this argument is the cattle-raiding related communal violence among communities in Lakes State, Warrap State, Unity State and Jonglei State where the activity claimed thousands of lives since the creation. Cattle raiding is a seasonal shared activity practiced by the above mentioned states within their territories and neighbouring territories.

 When a girl is eloped, the parents will have no other choice than declaring a fight against a clan the person hails. This has caused many lives lost and too much insecurity in most villages.

The economic factors are those caused by officials who embezzle funds channeled to fund community projects just to buy cattle for their marriages. It has caused wounds to the country’s economy because cattle are very expensive to buy nowadays. A heifer costs 250 000-300 000ssp based on the quality of the given cow. If one buys upto 100-200 cattle, how much money have the person embezzled? It is a lot more than enough. The intended developmental activities are left unfunded; officials tend to develop themselves rather than the rural poor. Investment is done in ways that suit individuality. The economy is slowing down because of this habit, I appeal to the government to check on this drastic practice.

There is a need for the national government to stabilize the prices for marriage. It should be labeled as low as 15 for cattle for everyone girl unless parents choose to take less than 15 cattle.

The writer is a first year student at the University of Juba, school of Education. He can be reached through email address: or +211922490756

Comments are closed.