South Sudan’s culture has been significantly impacted by its neighbors as a result of the many years of civil conflict. Many South Sudanese refugees went to Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda, where they mingled with locals and acquired their languages and cultures. Most of those who stayed in the nation or moved north to Sudan and Egypt were heavily influenced by Arab culture.
Even in exile and diaspora, most South Sudanese value understanding one’s ethnic background, traditional culture, and dialect. Although Juba Arabic and English are the most commonly spoken languages, Swahili is being taught to the people in order to enhance the country’s ties with its East African neighbors.
Many South Sudanese musicians utilize English, Swahili, Arabi Juba, their dialect, or a combination of all of these languages. Popular musicians include Yaba Angelosi, who performs Afro-beat, R&B, and Zouk; Dynamq, who is known for his reggae albums; and Emmanuel Kembe, who performs folk, reggae, and Afro-beat. Emmanuel Jal is a South Sudanese music musician who has achieved worldwide success with his distinct style of Hip Hop and uplifting message in his songs. Jal, a former child soldier turned singer, got positive radio and album reviews in the United Kingdom and has been sought out for the lecture circuit, giving significant speeches at renowned talkfests such as TED.