Yulu is an ethnic group in Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and South Sudan. They speak Yulu, a Nilo-Saharan language. The population of this group is at several thousand.
The Yulu number a few thousand people. They inhabit the stretch of territory southwest of Kafia Kingi in western Bahr el Ghazal and extend into Central African Republic around Yulu hill.
The Yulu land, like most of western Bahr el Ghazal, is low-lying hilly terrain cut by perennial streams. The climate varies from tropical to rich savannah. The Yulu main sources of economy are agriculture, hunting, fishing and production of honey. The Yulu are a sedentary agrarian community practicing subsistence agriculture.
The Yulu are not autochthons of their present land. They are said to have migrated from the region of the Blue Nile, spending centuries on the way through Dar Fur. They settled briefly at Jebel Mara around the year 1795. They were badly harassed by the Fur and therefore migrated westward finally settling in the valley of the River Yata, under their leader Koko (Koom). They have been driven into Central African Republic by the razzias of the Arab slavers.
The Yulu speak a language of their own different from that of their neighbouring communities. They have adopted Arabic language as a result of contact with Arab slavers and others.
The Yulu have been severely disorganised due to feuds with their neighbours mainly the Azande and due to razzias by Zubier and other scavenging slave traders. The traditional social fabrics have been completely destroyed, socially uprooted, and have therefore adopted Islam and Muslim traditions in marriage celebrations, funerals and burials, etc.
Marriage in Yulu community is to bind a good relationship among themselves and other tribes or clans. It also helps Yulu tribe in solving their local conflicts among themselves since they have a background of intermarriage. The process of marriage in Yulu tribe was early made through nomination of which When a woman gives birth to a baby girl, somebody who has a son will book the girl to be his sons’ future wife and the boy will grow up while monitoring the girl till the girl reached the age of marriage.
The boy would start preparing himself with the dowry which range from one to two years while cultivating his garden and give all the garden products to his family in- laws. When the man is fully prepared, then his parent would send someone from their side to go and inform the girl’s relatives that their son is ready to marry their daughter.
The girl’s family would take a number of days to get themselves ready to welcome the guests and then comes the day when all the two parties would sit together and talk and if they reached the point of understanding, then the girl’s family would sit alone in a different meeting and decided if the boy can really take care of their daughter. If they agree then they can handover their daughter to her family in-law and the two sides would sit down and negotiated the dowry payment which started with gifts to both mother and father in-law.
The marriages in Yulu community before were made in terms of Knives, axes or anything you have, but today things have changed. You could pay an amount of 7000 to 8000 South Sudanese pounds for the whole marriage as dowries. The marriage is conducted at the both age of 20-22 years old, due to the long inquire of dowry by the man.
Child Naming in Yulu community takes place after seven (7) days for both girls and boys. The first born child is normally belonging to the girls’ family of which they took him/her when the child is about 7 years old. This is because your sisters’ child would always be there for you in any situation.
In Yulu community, burial usually doesn’t take place on the same time due to the passage of information to all the relatives who are at a far distances to come and see the dead body. If they all come, this is when the corpse is buried. Children are totally prevented from seeing the dead body. This is because the children may have bad dreams about the dead person if this person was their close relative.
The Yulu tribe practices wife inheritance like other South Sudanese communities. They said a wife is married within the family to be an asset of which she can’t be left anyhow to go. If the husband died at the earlier age, it may take one year for the funeral to be held. Later, the family of the late would sit down including the wife and all the relatives of the late and decided on who should take over. The young men would sit down and the elderly people would asked them on who should take over the wife of the late, then they will rise their hands then the elders will choose one of the responsible man to take over the wife.
The Yulu used to have well organised traditional authority. The different clans of the Yulu had heads under the overall leadership of their chief – Koom, who reigned in the forties. The dispersion of the Yulu in different parts of western Bahr el Ghazal and southern Dar Fur has weakened their social bonds and with it their traditional authority and leadership.
Most of the Yulu have converted to Islam. They therefore practice Sunni Islam, nevertheless besides African traditional beliefs and magic. They wear charms and other materials that connote their beliefs in spirits, which give rise to the need for mediums, diviners and other fortune tellers.
The Yulu culture is dominated by Islamic and Arabic culture.
The Yulu neighbour and are related to Kara, and Binga.
The Yulu have suffered more dispersions and social disintegration as a result of war and migration to the north.
The only apparent Yulu Diaspora are in northern Sudan, where many fled as a result of the war.