Jiëëng Foundation

discovering our past,
defining our present,
designing our future.

Jiëëng Foundation is an independent community-based social enterprise committed to the research, development, promotion and celebration of Jiëëng cultural heritage.

The Dinka know themselves collectively as Jiëëng or Muonyjang (singular) or Muonyjang (plural). The origin of the name Dinka is unknown, though it has become the name by which they are known worldwide.

Since their southern neighbors know them as ‘Jenge’, a clear corruption of their real name, Jiëëng, the name Dinka is thought to have come from the north. 

It has been speculated that a visitor from that direction met a man who either introduced himself as ‘Deng Gak’ or a person under a chief called ‘Deng Gak’; either way, the name ‘Deng Gak’ evolved into the name Dinka. We may never know the origin of the name for sure. In this article, both Jiëëng and Dinka can be taken to refer to the same people.

The Jiëëng/Dinka are a Nilotic people and the largest single ethnic community in South Sudan. They are generally very tall, lanky in appearance and have very dark skin. Their numbers have been estimated at between 2.5 and 3 million.