Age sets 15

Another system that organizes and unifies the Pari is based on age. All villagers born within a period of three to four years are members of the same age set, which they follow through life.

The boys in the middle of a new age set are the first to form an age group in a village. They are called ‘kaare’. Boys who behave maturely may be asked to join the age group ahead, and become ‘taare’, the youngest of that group, and the more immature boys can be told to wait a few years to be ‘wie’, the elders of the next age group that will be formed after a few years. ‘Taare’ is always the largest in number of an age group as boys are eager to be old enough to join a ‘lange’.

The head of the ‘lange’ will be the person with the closest relation to the head of the village. He can be ‘wie’, ‘kaare’ of ’taare’. If he is not fit for the job, another boy of the royal lineage may get the job. No power is related to the position--the job of the head of the ‘lange’ is to sum up and conclude discussion within the group. Other titles in a group can be decided based on competition, such as the best runner for getting information or sending messages to and from the group, or the best horn blower to call the group for meetings or collective work.

When they reach the ages of 12 to 15, the group is constituted in such a way that they look for their own ‘bali’, either to build a new, or to buy from an older group, which has been initiated and moved their ‘bali’ to the center of the village.

Members of one lineage segment are thus members of different age sets, and members of one age set are members of different lineages. The members of one age set are the same age in all the villages, but those living in the same village organize themselves in age groups, ‘lange’, which over the years become strong units of decisive importance in the Pari society.

Okot aims at becoming the ‘horn blower’ of his age group in the village Kor.

When reaching puberty, his agemates have their own meeting place, ‘bali’ where they can build a platform for sleeping and rest – exclusive for their age group.

Children start dancing in a group when they are around six, then their parents will determine who is too young, or too old, for the upcoming age group.

Forming an age set – ‘lange’ – is a process that develops over years. During this period the boys work as shepherds and spend months without their parents at the dry season livestock stables, where agemates from all of the villages come together in the same area and get to know each other well.