Introduction / History
The Ma'di people live along both sides of the White Nile from Rhino Camp in Northern Uganda northward across the Sudan border to a point about half way to Juba. The great majority live in Uganda, many came from Sudan originally. They are now only a part of what used to be a large group stretching westward some distance across Zaire and northward on a parallel with Juba and Maridi. Several of the related groups, such as Kaliko and Lugbara, still recognize themselves as Ma'di and call their languages "Ma'di Ti", although they are now separated and their languages are no longer the same.
The Ma'do are primarily farmers and fishermen. They used to do more hunting and trapping, but there is very little game left in their area. They are industrious and even when the Ugandan Ma'di have been refugees in Sudan (during the 80s) or the Sudanese have been refugees in Uganda (during the 90s), they have done well in raising enough food. However, they have lacked many other things.
Many Ma'di have sought education and they are eager to progress. However, their remoteness and the displacements of wars have meant that they have had little opportunity for advancement, except leaving their communities. Some are found in Kampala, Nairobi, Juba and even Khartoum. Their language has been written 70 years, and the New Testament published in 1977; however, it is unreadable, except for those who already know what it says. The reason is that the language is so tonal that words can have as many as five different meanings, depending upon the tones; but tone, and other vowel qualities have been ignored in the orthography. A language committee has now decided to adopt tone marks into the orthography, and work on the new orthography is underway.
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