Balanda people



The Balanda Boor (or Boor) are an ethnic group numbering 40,000 to 50,000 people living in the South Sudanese states of Western Equatoria and Western Bahr el Ghazal. They speak the Belanda Bor language, however most are bilingual in Belanda Viri.

Numbering about 40,000 to 50,000, the Boor inhabit the stretch of territory lying southwest of Wau and northeast of Tambura. Their main settlements include Mbili, Raffili, and others. The Boor are divided into two major sections: the river people (Jo Kunam) closely knit as believed to have formed the vanguard of the Boor migration; and the hill people (Jo Ugot) whose relations is loose and distinguish themselves into three independent clans: Fugaya, Afaranga and the Mbene.

Balanda people map

Environment, Economy and Natural Resources

The land of the Boor is low-lying plain dotted with isolated hills and dissected by valleys and perennial streams mainly Sue (Jur) and Bo rivers. The climate is essentially tropical. The annual rainfall is enough to support a vegetation of thick woodland with tall grasses. The Boor people are predominantly agrarian engaging in subsistence agriculture but keep goats, sheep and fowl. Their main crops are maize, sorghum, beans, sweet potatoes, cassava, simsim; they also engage in honey collection and hunting of game.


Mythology and History

Their hero – Bwor - the eldest son of Nyikango the founder of the Shilluk nation, with a Bviri woman, founded the Boor. Shilluk tradition has it that Bwor did not relate well with his cousin Dak. He sought and was granted his father’s permission to remain behind with his uncles when Nyikango and his entourage decided to migrate northwards. The Boor lived closely with the Bviri until the Azande invasion and rule in the 18th century.



The Boor people speak a dialect of the Luo language very close to the Shilluk but differ only in pronunciation.


Society, Social Events, Attitudes, Customs and Traditions

The Boor society is organised into agnatic lineages and clans. They subscribe to social norms and customs but have been greatly influenced by their close association with the Bviri and the Azande domination.


Socio-Political Organisation, Traditional Authority

The Azande invasion and domination in the 1860s until the Anglo-Egyptian re-conquest in 1898 distorted the Boor socio-political organisation. However, a form of traditional authority in form of clan chiefs and elder still exist along side the government appointed chiefs.


Spirituality, Beliefs and Customs

The Boor people have no elaborate religious belief. However, they recognise the existence of a supreme being (Juok) and the spirits of the departed ancestors. They communicate with the spirits through fortunetellers, mediums and medicine men and women. Many Boor people have converted to Christianity and few to Islam.


Culture: Arts, Music, Literature and Handicraft

Being predominantly agrarian and attached to land, the Boor people have evolved a culture that reflects this mode of life. Much of this cultural heritage is transmitted orally in songs, music, dance, facial and body marks.


Neighbours and Foreigners, Relations and Co-operation

The Boor neighbour and mingle with the Bviri with whom they have evolved strong social and cultural ties over the years. They also neighbour the Azande, who invaded, enslaved and dominated them in the 19th century, to the south. The Bongo neighbour them to the east while the Ndogo to the west and north.


Latest Developments

The long running war affected the Boor and their neighbours resulting in massive displacements to the Azande land rekindling some of the old enmity and prejudices. For the first time in their history, the Boor have one of their numbers in the political leadership of South Sudan