The Jiye are an ethnic group living in the Kathangor Hills in Eastern Equatoria state, South Sudan. They speak a Central Nilotic language, a dialect of the Toposa language.
They live in southern Sudan near the Uganda border. The Jiyes pursue a pastoral lifestyle, with the women and children living in permanent villages and the men leaving home seasonally to take the cattle to pastures. The cattle provide the Jiyes with milk, blood, and hides. Jiye women work agricultural plots and raise millet, maize, cow peas, and some tobáceo. Because of the droughts that hit the región in the 1980s and early 1990s, the Jiyes have faced what can be called at best a very marginal living. Their traditional religión and culture revolve around cattle.
The Jiye are an agro-pastoral community inhabiting the area around Kathangor hills in the borders between Upper Nile and Equatoria. They number a few thousand households and are now being counted as one of the ethnic groups in Pibor County.
The Jiye land lies in the plains at the foot of Boma Plateau. The climate is arid with heavy rain downpour between April and October. The Jiye herd in a traditional mode of cattle, sheep and goats. They engage in subsistence cultivation of sorghum and tobacco. They also practice transhumance, in search of water and pastures for their herds.
The Jiye are related to the Toposa and other Ateker groups (Turkana, Karamojong). This means that they share a common origin and could have broken away as a result of clan feuds. In fact before the war, the Jiye used to be counted as part of Equatoria. The conflict with Toposa due to extensive cattle rustling and competition over water and pastures has pushed the Jiye more to Upper Nile and have now become the 4th ethnic community in Pibor County along side the Murle, Suri and the Anyuak.
The Jiye speak the same language as the Toposa with slight variation due to conflicts and separate development.
The social organisation and practice of the Jiye are identical to the Toposa. The society is organised into exogamous agnatic lineages. The most important social events that bring the Jiye together in celebrations include marriage, hunting, cattle raids, and warfare. The Jiye share certain totems and body marks. The male adults attend meetings, gatherings and functions in which important decisions concerning the clan or whole community are made. Respect for the elders among the Jiye is mandatory for the younger generations.
The Jiye like the Toposa have no clear political organisation and functions. The chiefs, sub-chiefs, elders, fortune-tellers, medicine men, witch-doctors wield administrative and spiritual powers.
The Jiye do not have an elaborate religious belief. They, however, believe in the existence of a supreme being and the spirits of the departed ancestors. They pray and make sacrifices for these spirits as they communicate with them through a medium (fortune teller or medicine person) usually during times of serious disaster, for example, droughts, epizootics affecting their animals, etc.
The Jiye culture is orally transmitted through songs, dance, music, poems and folklore. Being pastoralist, they have perfected their art of war and cattle raiding. They are able to spy and gather with precision information about the enemy, water, pastures, etc. The young men take great care and beauty of their hair.
The Jiye neighbour their kins, the Toposa to the south, Murle and Kachipo to the north, and east. Cattle rustling and competition over the scarce resources of water and pasture has determined the relations between the Jiye and the Murle.
The conflict between the Jiye and the Toposa has pushed the Jiye northwards into Upper Nile region. They have now become fully incorporated into the Pibor County. Jiye children have now been enrolled in the schools in Boma and many of them have converted to Christianity.
The Jiye have remained excluded for a long time from the social ad political life of the country. There is no information about a Jiye Diaspora.