Introduction / History The Burun live in the Fung region of the Blue Nile Province in eastern Sudan. They are a Nilotic tribe, which means that they are a people living in or around the Upper Nile Valley. Some Burun live on the rocky hills of the area, while others live further south in the forests and marshes of Dar Fung. Thus the Burun are divided into two groups: the northern Burun and the southern Burun (which includes the Meban and Jumjum peoples).
The Burun are closely related to the Dinka and the Nuer who live to their west and south. They also are geographically and linguistically related to the Meban and Jumjum tribes, and some scholars have included the three as a single group.
The Burun speak a Nilotic language. Although their skin is not as dark as some Nilotes, they share some other standard physical characteristics, which separate the Nilotes as a distinct group. They are quite tall, with slender legs, broad noses, thin lips, and frizzy hair.
What are their lives like? Most Burun are shepherds and farmers. They raise cattle, goats, and sheep, which are tended by the men and boys. Their crops include millet, sesame, and beans. Both men and women farm the land. The men also engage in some hunting and much fishing, and the women gather wild fruit and grain from the bush beyond their villages.
Burun villages are located on the hillsides, and each hill community is independent from the rest. Every village has its own headman who handles village affairs. The headman inherits his office and is considered "the Father of the Land". His crops are cultivated for him by the villagers who constantly bring him gifts of fish and meat. He keeps in his possession any important symbolic articles, such as the heirloom spears. He receives extreme respect and allegiance from the villagers. However, when his power becomes weak, causing him to lose that respect, the villagers will force him from office. The village "rain-maker" sometimes serves as the headman. He conducts certain rituals in order to bring much needed rain.
Most Burun settlements are large. The people live in round huts with thatched grass roofs. Most men have up to four wives. Each wife has her own hut, but the first wife is "chief" over the other wives. Children live with their mothers. Until young girls marry, they remain with their mothers, but boys move out when they are able to build their own homes.
Parents often arrange marriages, sometimes when their children are quite young. Before a marriage, the groom must perform a long period of bride-service (work done for the bride's family). The groom also must pay a small bride-price. After the marriage, the couple moves to the girl's village for three years to continue helping the girl's family.
Some Burun children are able to attend school. In certain schools, English is taught at the higher levels, while Arabic is taught at the lower levels. There are few medical facilities in the area. The people often look to their chiefs for the healing of simple illnesses.
What are their beliefs? Influenced by Muslims since the 1500s, the Burun adhere to the five essential duties of Islam: (1) Affirming that "there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet;" (2) praying five times a day while facing Mecca; (3) giving alms generously; (4) fasting during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year; and (5) trying to make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca in their lifetime.
The Burun still continue to follow some aspects of their traditional religion. For example, each village usually has its own god. If he becomes angry, the god may send a bad year with little rain or some other misfortune.
What are their needs? The Burun desperately need to experience Christ's saving power. A majority have never had the opportunity to hear a clear presentation of the Gospel. Prayer is greatly needed to bring these souls to Christ.
Prayer Points Ask God to raise prayer teams who will break up the soil through worship and intercession.
Pray that the Lord will raise many Christian laborers who have a burning desire to reach the Burun.
Pray that the Burun will sense their emptiness and begin to desire a personal relationship with God.
Pray that God will save key Burun leaders who will boldly share the love of Jesus with their own people.
Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Burun. * Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language.