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Ethiopia and Sudan 2001 : Part 4 - Surma tribe

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A small mountain ridge between Tum airport and Maji village. This is the area of Dizi people.

Dizi people walking to Maji market to sell their products. Dizi people are quite a mild tribe. They do not have such "hot blood" as Surmas.

Dizi boy

In Kibish - probably the most "civilized" village of Surma tribe. Surmas can be seen with their famous sticks, used occasionally for fighting. The donga stick fight is fought with long, straight poles of about eight foot long made of very hard wood, and the Surma men perform these fights to prove their masculinity, to settle personal vendettas but most importantly to win wives.

Some flora

Some fauna

Surma boy carrying something...

Surmas in their hilly territory

A cool young Surma with body painted with white clay - typical for Surmas.

A more "dangerous" Surma. Guns can be frequently seen here. Southern Sudan is just about 50km from here so there is no problem to get them. And Surmas have lots of enemy tribes around - especially Bume tribe.

Surma boy with small wooden block in his ear to continuously enlarge them for taking larger ear plates. Men carry only ear plates (it they carry them at all), women usually carry both ear and lip plates.

Plastic containers have not reached Surmas yet. This woman is having her lip cut off. This is usually done when a husband dies .

It is not completely clear why Surmas started carrying these lip and ear plates . Some say that the plates prevented Surma women from being taken into slavery. Plates are usually round but other shapes can be occasionally seen as well.

The greater the lip plate is, the more precious the woman is . Size is proportional e.g. to the number of cows a man has to pay for the a woman to marry her. This size is quite large and could be worth of approx. 50 cows I guess for marriage (but I"m not an expert....)

Without the lip plate....

Ornaments burnt into the skin (I think it is burnt) are common among women as well. It must have been very painful...

There are many tribes in Omo valley area but water pipes (made from dry hollow fruit) can only be seen among Surmas. Anuak and Nuer people from Gambella region are more famous for water pipes.

Surmas are mainly pastoralists. They breed mainly cows. Sorghum (with some kind of cabbage) is their main diet. They drink milk and blood from cows as well. I've seen bananas there as well.

And this is their "bread" made of sorghum (it is just crashed and boiled till it is soft, the result is a bit sticky)


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„Muži nedovedou ocenit vlastní ženy. To přenechávají druhým.“ Oscar Wilde