Acts 2/Part 2: Invasion of the Baby Snatchers
Africans and myths quote
I saw Acts 2 in action during our time at Faith Baptist Church in Nimule, South Sudan.
Thousands of South Sudanese have fled through Nimule during the recent conflict. Many have continued on to the refugee camps of Uganda.
Others have stayed along the border in places like Nimule. Still in their country but close to the border should things get worse.
Most of the displaced/refugees in this area are from Jonglei state and the area of Bor. This is where the worst fighting occurred in December/January.
Bor State is populated most heavily with three tribes: The Dinka, Nuer, and Murle.
Much of the fighting centered on the first two tribes.
However, the Murle were often caught in this crossfire.
The Dinka and (especially) the Nuer have not had good relations over the years without the Murle.
They are disliked.
They are the subject of many myths and stories.
Over and over, they are described as the tribe “that steals babies.”
More on that later.
The tribes of South Sudan’s Equatoria states don’t mix well with their cousins to the north. This includes Nimule (with its Murle population). I’m sure most residents of the border town were more than happy to see the refugees continuing across the border into Uganda.
But that’s not what Faith Baptist did.
A contingent of over 150 Murle refugees showed up at a Faith Baptist member’s home. They were cousins of one of her cousins. Some distant link of kinship.
Her name is ___________.
She is Madi. She could’ve sent them on their way.
But she didn’t.
Her church could’ve said. “This is not our problem.
But they didn’t.
They opened their facilities and hearts to the Murle.
Many of the Murle moved onto the church grounds.
Others were farmed out to the homes of members.
It caught my attention that the pastor and several church leaders were sleeping on the floor in the church office. They’d opened their homes to the refugees.
The more we saw of this church[MU1] , the more we thought of the closing words of Acts chapter 2.
May the same be said of us.
Myths: The Murle as Baby Snatchers
In most South-Sudanese cattle cultures, the bride-wealth system, and illegal taxing by some unscrupulous local leaders stimulates young men to find excuses to steal cows from their own cousins. Local leaders then sometimes try to quell or prevent intra-tribal fighting, by directing that aggression outward, to other tribes. Also, Murle are feared and seen by surrounding larger tribes as having strong magical powers, and therefore they are often blamed for outbreak of diseases, theft and arson.
With the country still awash with machine guns from the north-south war, ‘cattle rustling’ quickly runs out of control, killing dozens or hundreds people in tit for tat escalations. Many Nuer reason that Murle are the grand children of immigrants with much less rights to use land and graze cattle. So Murle cattle, argue some Nuer, were raised on stolen grass, so most of their cattle actually belong to the Nuer. Many Murle elders argue that often if the Dinka and Nuer are facing hunger or drought, they sell their children to the Murle in exchange for cattle, then later report to the authorities that their children have been kidnapped by the Murle.