In South Sudan, employing deliberate means to become fat is illegal, at least for this year.
Some 17 men have been arrested, and accused of trying to make themselves fat for a banned fattest man competition, according to Radio Tamazuj.
"We captured [the] 17 and put them in prison in Liet Nhom,” said the local government. “They are going to be taken to court because they have violated the provisional order."
This year, the Gogrial state government has temporarily banned the professed fattening contests saying they promote laziness.
Fattening competitions are popular among people from the Dinka ethnic group.
The identified men leave their homes for several weeks with up to 15 milking cows. During this period, the men feed on milk only and do not engage in any form of work so as to become very fat.
At the end of the fattening season, the men return to the community to compete to determine who is the fattest.
Following the devastating drought in the country, the government of Gogrial state has been forced to cancel the event terming it as a way to encourage laziness in the society.
Abraham Gum, the state governor, condemned the practice and directed young people to follow the provisional order.
The state governor, said: "It is [a] problem of youth whom I have given a provisional order that there is no person to make any fattening this year because it is a year for hunger."
In Gogrial, the contest is usually for men. However, last May a 50- year old woman won in the ‘fattest man’ competition.
“It is a very big surprise to the entire community to see a woman beating men in the milk fattening competition in Kuajok,” Gogrial State Paramount Chief, Nyal Chan Nyal, told The Niles.
This was the first time ever, for women to take part in such an event.
To be crowned the fattest person, contestants go extreme lengths which sometimes can be fatal.
According to local reports, a man died last year because of becoming too fat. Although he lost his life, he was considered a winner among those he was competing with.
Before the colonial ear, the Dinka people were cattle herders and did not live in villages. Instead, they traveled in family groups living in temporary homesteads with their cattle as they searched for pasture and water for their animals.
Although this community heavily relied on heavy millet porridge, eaten with milk or with a vegetable and spice sauce as their main food, milk, in various forms also was part of the primary foods.
Like in other ethnic communities in South Sudan, the Dinka also practice head scarification ceremonies. This is whereby young boys receive facial markings as part of their initiation into adulthood. Different ethnic communities have different facial markings.
“Most groups consider the facial scarification as part of their culture, whilst up to today it is not yet clear if the facial scarification was part of the culture before the colonization period, or if the British colonizers introduced it to differentiate the different ethnic groups,” the Nile argued.
The ban will also be effected in all 13 counties, the traditional leaders of Apuk and Aguok communities of South Sudan agreed to prohibit fattening competition.
Image credit: www.theniles.org