The Ndogo are an ethnic group from the South Sudan, part of the Fertit.
They have an estimated population of 40,000, scattered around Wau, Raga and Deim Zubier.
Demography and Geography
The Ndogo form a small yet dominant group of the Fertit groups, according to several accounts. They are kindred to the Kresh numbering about 40,000 and are found scattered around Wau, Raga, Deim Zubier.
Their traditional settlements are Buvalo, Ngotongo, Abushakka, Dumbe, Yomo, Fei, Bisellio and Mboro.
The Ndogo migrated from what is today the Central Africa Republic around the 10th century AD. As they migrated, they came into conflict with the Azande who forced the Ndogo further north into their present homeland in south Sudan, west of Wau. The Ndogo culture and way of life is now threatened since the civil war in 1986 caused the migration of many of them into towns like Wau, Juba and Khartoum. The urban population has risen from 20-25% (before 1986) to around 70%. It is estimated that 30% have left their farmlands for the forests since the civil war.
The Ndogo were originally agriculturalists. They are hard workers and value self-sufficiency. Apart from farming they value skilled labor tasks such as carpentry and blacksmithing.
The land of the Ndogo is low-lying plains punctuated by isolated rocky outcrops (hills) drained by a host of perennial streams of which, the most prominent are: Gete, Pongo (Kpango) and Bussere.
The climate is tropical and the vegetation is thick forest with tall grasses. The annual rainfall is sufficient to support extensive agricultural practices. The Ndogo economy is essentially agrarian and subsistence. However, they keep goats, sheep and fowl, which they use for social and religious purposes. The area has a huge potential in forest products.
Mboro-Waye (born 1800, died 1888) is said to have been the founder of the family. Before him, nobody is known. The Ndogo ancestors are said to have originated at the head of the Kpango River. They grew their crops along its headstreams but mainly to the south. Their first move northwards, according to the constant tradition of the elders, was caused by a big famine but further migration in the same direction was due in part to Azande pressure and slave raids.
The Ndogo speak a language very close to that of Sere, Bai and Bviri thereby, suggestive of a common origin. This is re-enforced by common physical characteristics, customs and beliefs of the four ethnic communities.
The Ndogo are predominantly agrarian organised into agnatic clans and families. Their most important social events and customs include marriage celebrations which have been recorded as impressive; their funeral rituals; magic and charms rituals that link with their traditional beliefs.
Tradition has it that the Ndogo had powerful traditional leaders like Mboro Kpogede ( died in 1943). Apart from records, there is nothing indicative of their social organisation. Thus, there is yet much research to be done about this ethnic community.
Like their kindred ethnic communities mentioned above, the Ndogo believe and practice traditional African religion, magic and charms. They recognise the existence of a supreme being (Dungbali) and the spirits of the departed ancestors with whom they communicate with through prayers, offerings and others mediated by mediums, fortune-tellers, or medicine men or women.
The Ndogo culture - renowned to be the richest among the Fertit groups - is orally reflected in songs, dance, music, folklore and body marks. There much of the community’s history and experiences embedded in their songs and dance.
The relations with Azande and the Arabs have been always bad.
The numbers of the Ndogo and other kindred groups have been declining and was accelerated by the just ended long running civil war, disease and migration to towns especially to northern Sudan.
Little is known about organised Ndogo Diaspora although there could be individual immigrants in different parts of the world. The largest Ndogo community outside their land are to be found in Khartoum.