Olubo people

Olubo / Lulubo

Olubo / Lulubo / Olu'bo

Olubo is an ethnic group of Equatoria in South Sudan. They speak Olu'bo, a Nilo-Saharan language. The population of this group may exceed 10,000. Most persons in this minority are not Muslims, although some are.


The Name

The people call themselves Olu’bo but they are recognised by their cousins neighbours the Madi as Lulubo which translates in English as ''people who are far.'' (lulu means far; and ‘ba means people).


Geography and Demography

Lulubo land, now known as Lomega Payam of Juba County, is located south east of Juba town. The Lulubo number about 30,000 to 40,000, according to 1983 census.


Environment, Economy and Natural Resources

The Lulubo territory is hilly for which Lulubo hills derives its name. The vegetation consists mainly of huge trees intercalated with shrubs and tall grass (savannah). It is extremely wet during the rainy season and hot during the dry spell.
The Lulubo economy is agrarian based and they cultivate crops like sorghum, simsim, sweet potatoes, groundnuts, millet, cassava and maize. The area is infested with tsetse fly and that has rendered cattle herding impossible.
However, they keep large herds of goats, sheep and fowl. The Lulubo engage in honey collection and extract edible oil from the shea nuts of which they trade with their neighbours. The Lulubo engage in hunting game like elephants, buffaloes, wild pigs, bush rats. The Lulubo area has a huge potential in mahogany trees, bamboos etc. The following minerals: gold, chromites and lead-zinc have been discovered in the area.


Mythology and History

According to the Lulubo oral tradition Lulubo, Moru, Avukaya, Madi, Lugbwara, Logo and Keliko nationalities were one and the same people lived in the same region. However, they had perpetual feuds with the Azande. The Azande King Gbudwe pushed them on to the top of the mountain. From there they rolled down big stones onto the Azande army killing thousands. Then the Azande decided to set ablaze the mountain forcing these people to flee to safety.
The first group to run away were the Moro who later settled around Maridi and Amadi. The Avukaya settled around Tore while he Lulubo managed to cross Nile River.
The tradition notes that this happened before the Bari and the Lotuka had arrived to their present respective territories. The Madi went ahead and settled where they are found today while the Lugbwara crossed to north-west Uganda. The other splitter nationalities were the Logo who went to Congo and the Keliko who to date have settled in the border of Sudan and Congo.



The Lulubo speak Olu’bo thi, with ‘thi’ connoting ‘mouth’. ‘Olu’bo thi’ literally means the mouth of Olu’bo. This language is very close to the Moro, Avukaya, Lugbwara, Madi and Keliko and belongs to what the anthropologists called central Sudanic linguistic group.


Society, Social Events, Customs and Traditions

The Lulubo society although completely distinct from their neighbours the Bari and Lotuka is organised and has been influenced heavily by these neighbouring communities. Some of their social and cultural practices are similar to those of Lotuka. The Lulubo engage in hunting, which is considered both a cultural practice as well as an economic activity.


Socio-Political Organisation and Traditional Authority

The Lulubo still maintain a centralised socio-political set up although the age-set system has become an important factor in socio-political management of the Lulubo society but unlike the Lotuka, the elders retain their power as the main decision-makers on community concerns.


Spirituality, Beliefs and Customs

The Lulubo accept the existence of a supreme being – God - however, this God is believed to be residing on the mountain tops, which is considered sacred. The community has an aspect of ancestor adoration and believes in life after death. Sacrifices are from time to time made to appease the metaphysical worldview and there is a belief that ancestors can play and intermediary role to the supreme being.


Culture: Arts, Music, Literature

A distinct aspect of the Lulubo socio – cultural practice is the drum dance; a distinct harp, a special guitar and a trumpet made from animal horn. Drawing is an important art among the Olu’bo whose skills in handicraft include making necklaces, rings, bangles and making cloth out of skins.


The Lulubo neighbour

The inter-ethnic conflicts were usually triggered by competition over hunting grounds and cattle raids. The Lulubo have had cordial relations with the Bari.


Later Developments

Like many other communities, the Lulubo have been affected by modernity with all its negative aspects like the erosion of social and cultural values. A christianised elite has emerged among the Lulubo whose interests are definitely tied up with the total change and being part of wider south Sudan society. The long running war transformed the Lulubo society that it is not same.



The war displaced many Lulubo people most of who are now residing as refugees in northern Uganda.