The Bai people is an ethnic group speaking the Bai language in South Sudan. The Bai language is a Niger–Congo language. Several thousand persons belong to this group. The Bai people mostly inhabit the Southern Sudanese state of Western Bahr el Ghazal.
Demography and Geography
The Bai are a very small ethnic community numbering a few thousand found inhabiting the area between Khor Ngoku and south of Kpango extending as far as Bussere.
Environment, Economy and Natural Resources
The physical environment in which they live and the socio-economic activities of the Bai undertake are very similar to those of the Ndogo and the Bviri who neighbour them.
Society: Social Events, Attitudes, Customs and Traditions
The Bai is a community on the decline and hence there is very little in print about their social organisation and norms, thus requiring further research.
The physical appearance, language and customs suggest that the Bai could be a cross-breed ethnicity between Ndogo and Bviri but not yet completely detached from either. Their declining numbers could be attributed to adverse circumstances linked to slave raids and foreign invasions. A certain Bai, Kali Abali took the lead to defend the tribe against the Azande invasion in 1867.
The language of the Bai is similar to the Ndogo and Sere.
The Bai have perpetually been under foreign domination. This must have prevented them from evolving a socio-political system represented by chiefs and other important persons.
Without a sound knowledge of the Bai's social organisation, it is difficult to discern the spirituality of the Bai. It can only be assumed that they practice traditional African religions and magic. The history of the Bai demonstrates that many have converted to Islam but this area needs further investigation and research.
The Bai neighbour the Ndogo and Bviri. They mix easily with Gollo around Deim Idris. Their relation with the Azande has been anything but cordial or peaceful. The Bai at a certain time went to Dinka land near Chakchak ostensibly for protection but that made them more vulnerable and had to leave.
The war must have contributed in a big to the decline of the Bai. Many have been forced into the towns.