Central Sudanic Language Groups
Central Sudanic languages are spoken by about 6 percent of Ugandans, most of whom live in the northwest. The Lugbara (roughly 3.8 percent of the total) and the Madi (roughly 1.2 percent) are the largest of these groups, representing the southeastern corner of a wide belt of Central Sudanic language speakers stretching from Chad to Sudan. The Lugbara live in the highlands, on an almost treeless plateau that marks the watershed between the Zaire River and the Nile. The Madi live in the lowlands to the east.
Lugbara and Madi speak closely related languages and bear strong cultural similarities. Both groups raise millet, cassava, sorghum, legumes, and a variety of root crops. Chickens, goats, and, at higher elevations, cattle are also important. Corn is grown for brewing beer, and tobacco is an important cash crop.
This region is densely populated, dotted with small settlements separated from one another by streams or patches of bush. Each settlement consists of a family cluster, with a core of patrilineal relatives and their polygynous families living under the authority of a lineage elder. Membership in a settlement is flexible; however, people leave and rejoin a village on the basis of interpersonal relationships.
The clan leaders adjudicate most disputes. They can order a man to pay compensation for assault or property damage; murder is often avenged by killing. The entire clan shares responsibility in most matters, but the clan segment, or lineage, shares more immediate responsibility for avoiding conflict.
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