South Sudanese Culture

Naming

  • Some Sudanese in Australia may appear to have different surnames than their family members. This is because Sudanese family names are not usually spoken verbally and during their immigration their middle name was recorded as their last name instead.
  • Many Sudanese are named after past family members, such as their grandfather or uncle.
  • Sudanese names may also be chosen to reflect the circumstances of their birth. For example, the Dinka, Nuer and Shilluk (Chollo) call children Tong (male) or Atong (female) to reflect that they were born during a time of war.
  • Common Bari names include Keji, Kenyi, Worro and Loro.
  • Many Sudanese have British first names, such as John, Philip or Richard.
  • Children are often addressed by their relationship to their parents. For example, a girl whose father was called Deng would be addressed as “Nyan Deng”, literally meaning “Daughter (of) Deng” in Dinka.
  • Adults are also commonly referred to by their relationship to their firstborn. For example, a woman with an eldest son called John may be called “Mama John”. 
  • Those who are in a higher age bracket than one’s self are often addressed as “Aunty” or “Uncle” regardless of any blood relation.
  • Close friends and relatives may address each other with nicknames.

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