Latuka: The Wife-Kidnapping Ceremony Of A South Sudan Tribe

A man must first kidnap a girl, then the girl’s father shows acceptance to the union by beating him.


The Latuka are a small ethnic group in the Eastern part of the landlocked country of South Sudan in East Africa. They live in mountains and settlements and are mostly herders and cattle rearers. They also practice subsistence farming, growing crops like maize, sorghum, groundnuts, yam, and potato.


latuka spirituality

The Latuka people are mostly nature and ancestral worshippers. They have held their strong beliefs for years, defying any form of religious penetration, whether from Christian missionaries or Islam clerics.

One exciting thing about Latuka is their communal lifestyle. They share what they have with one another and do not have a leader, only a group of elders.

The Marriage of The Latuka

marriage of the latuka tribe south sudan

Besides their spiritual beliefs, which have stood firm over the years, their marriage tradition has not changed.

In the Western world, we are used to intending couples seeking their parents’ approval in their marriage. In the Yoruba culture of Nigeria, after an appropriate introduction and other necessary respects are paid, the father hands his daughter to a man. The new bride packs her belongings to her husband’s house, where she starts her new life.

However, for the Latuka tribe, things are quite the opposite. When a young man wants to marry a girl, he first kidnaps her. Once this is done, he returns to the girl’s father with his family elders to ask for blessings in marrying his daughter.

marriage of the latuka tribe south sudan

The father can either agree or disagree by saying a ‘yes’ or a ‘no.’ If he says yes, he blesses the marriage and beats his prospective son-in-law. The intensity of this beating is not entirely clear. But this action explains that the man is willing to be beaten for her. That he is ready to make sacrifices for the woman, he loves.

However, if he says ‘no,’ it matters little. The young man is still at liberty to either return the girl or marry her if he wants.

Kidnapping a woman this way is barbaric. It takes away her choice and right to make an input into the man she will be spending the rest of her life with.

Finally, I believe culture is not static. However, it should change when it is found to be kind of depressing.

What do you think of the Latuka’s marriage style? 






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