A Personal Life
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This monograph on the history and culture of the Anyuak is the result of more than five years of fieldwork (1976–1983). It is a well-documented, detailed and passionate description of an African people’s spiritual and material world, their culture and history. Myths, oral traditions, stories, maps, genealogies, records and a great number of photographs invite the reader to join in the journey through the universe of the Anyuak in order to make own discoveries or simply enjoy the spiritual adventure.

The Anyuak live on both sides of the border between South Sudan and Southwestern Ethiopia. They are relatives of the better known Shilluk, Dinka and Nuer, but have turned from cattle owners into fervent agriculturalists. The Anyuak are a highly intellectual, strong-minded, well-organised people who have created, in the middle of so-called wilderness, a centre of humanity. If their socio-political system is of a particular interest, their philosophy is equally fascinating: it centres on the human person and governs his or her relationship not only within human society but also with animals, earthly matters and spiritual forces. Thanks to their stubborn, almost desperate belief in the essential goodness of existence and the positive forces of life, the Anyuak have – in spite of all pressures from outside – up to now succeeded in preserving their cultural identity and have maintained their pride of being “pure human beings”.

While the first two volumes of the monograph describe the strained relationship between the humans and the spiritual forces residing in the sphere of the above – the sky (Volume I) or the below – the earth (Volume II), the next two volumes focus on the Human Person who has an extremely difficult stand between the two spheres of existence and can only survive because of his or her self-consciousness of being neither a purely spiritual being nor an animal. The Human Being is first described as an anonymous entity which worries about its human identity and takes great care of its physical appearance (Volume III), and then (in Volume IV) as an individual person who passes through all the different stages of human existence “from birth to death up to eternal life”. As music and songs are of an existential significance during an Anyuak’s entire lifetime, it is important to allow the reader to witness the physical sensations and spiritual forces which protect and carry an Anyuak on his or her journey from childhood up to old age and death. The recordings included here in Volume IV come in support of the reader’s desire not only to learn about the Anyuak but to feel their presence in a physical, sensual and poetic manner. 

Bevorstehende Veranstaltungen

Bibliographische Angaben

Reihe The Anyuak - Living on Earth in the Sky
Seitenanzahl 359 arabisch
Abbildungen 161 s/w
Format 21.5 x 30 cm
Bindung Buch, Gebunden
ISBN 978-3-7965-2227-7
Erscheinungsdatum 01.07.2011


Conradin Perner is a Swiss scholar with professional experiences in the fields of literature, ethnography, peace-building and humanitarian work. He lectured at a number of African and European universities and worked as a delegate, consultant and advisor in Africa and Asia for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Unicef, Unesco and the Swiss Foreign Department. Since January 2000, C. Perner took an important part in the peace-making processes in the Sudan, first as a Commander of the Joint Military Commission in Kauda in the Nuba Mountains and subsequently as a special senior advisor to the Swiss Government.

For his fight for the respect and the dignity of the people of South Sudan during the long years of Civil War, for the crucial role he played in the dramatic rescue operation of the so-called “lost boys” and, last but not least, for his significant role in the promotion of peaceful co-existence amongst the various ethnic communities in the Sudan, his personal engagement in the restoration of cultural values and the enhancement of human rights, C. Perner has earned the respect of all Sudanese, as an experienced scholar, a courageous humanist as well as a trusted friend. The most prominent project initiated by him is the website www.gurtong.net which provides unbiased information on the peoples and cultures of South Sudan.