Storytelling is an essential part of South Sudanese culture. Stories are dynamic, where the meaning and interpretation can vary between tellings based on the community the storyteller is from. In spite of these differences, the common foundations of these tales remind us of what we have in common and help to connect our diverse communities. Through traditional folk stories, the history and accumulated wisdom of our people can be passed from generation to generation, keeping us connected with the past and providing a roadmap for our future. 

Below you can read and listen to a few of our stories. These were compiled by the Likikiri Collective as part of their South Sudanese Folktales initiative.

The banyop & babul Saga

 Storyteller: Adaptation from well-known folktale
 Language: Dinka and Nuer
 Story Researcher: Tekajwok Stephen
 Place: Adaptation from well-known folktale
 Date: 2016

In a rural area in South Sudan, there lived two communities who lived side-by-side in two different villages. The two communities shared a lot of similarities in terms of herding, farming, fishing and even hunting. However, there were also a few differences distinguishing how each community would go about certain things.

One day, two friends who hailed from the two villages decided to go hunting. After a long day of hunting, the friends managed to kill a gazelle. They decided to eat some meat from the gazelle to gain energy before they returned to their villages. They cut a small piece of meat from the gazelle to eat, and the rest of the meat was packed to be taken home for their families.


They decided they wanted to roast the small piece of meat they had cut, but discovered they had two different ways of calling the word ‘roast’ in their languages. One man said that in his language, the meat should be “banyop,” which in his friend’s language meant a rough way of preparing meat. The friend refused and said the meat should be “babul,” which in his language was the proper way of roasting the meat. The two friends disagreed over the method of how to roast the small piece of meat they wanted to eat before going home.

They continued arguing which resulted in a fight, with each person claiming his method was the best. Another hunter who was from a far village passed by and saw the two men fighting each other next to a nice catch of meat. He stopped by and asked the two to explain the cause of their problem. The two friends explained how they disagreed over the method of roasting a small piece of meat they wanted to eat before going home. The passerby advised them to divide the meat into two, each person roasting his meat in his own preferred method, either “banyop” or “babul.” The two agreed with the idea of the passerby and divided their meat into two. They prepared the small meat and took the rest of the catch back home to their families to also enjoy with them.


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