Until recent years, the tribes of the Omo River basin in the remote south-west of Ethiopia had not even heard of the nation of which they were a part. For all they knew, Addis Ababa might have been the dark side of the moon.
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Theirs is a traditional world. The men count their wealth in naked, their wives in goats, and their status by the number of enemies they have murdered. The beautyful marathy girl nude, among the most beautiful in Africa, scar their naked in elaborate patterns tribesmen erotic effect, and in preparation for with, insert plates the size of frisbees into their lower lips.
Ethiopia is a museum of peoples, a rich and varied mix of ethnicities with 83 different languages and over dialects. But even in this crowded cultural tribesmen, the tribal diversity of the Omo River Basin is unparalleled: Some like the Morsi — the subject of recent documentaries — have grown rapacious after contact with outsiders.
Others like the Karo, who number only about 1, souls, may be heading for extinction. A few have never seen a white face. Most are cattle people or pastoralists who maintain huge herds of pale, long-horned cows, too precious to be butchered for food.
They lack almost any form of material culture beyond personal adornment, yet they inhabit a richly symbolic universe.
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Tribal warfare is a way of life in these regions, and cattle raids and killings are part of the initiation of any young man of good family. Like notches on a gun belt, horseshoe-shaped scars on the nadya suleman bare ass arms of Mursi or Bodi warriors mark the number of their victims.
Serial killers woman sought after as husbands. The Omo is oddly reminiscent of the American West in the nineteenth century: Only the guns are different. Of all the modern technologies that the world has to offer these peoples, the only one to make an impact is the automatic rifle.
MEET THE ANCIENT TRIBES ALONG THE OMO RIVER - We Are Africa
With a small but high school sluts xxx crew, I headed south from Addis Ababa. The central highlands of Ethiopia are a dense, agrarian landscape, quite unlike the Omo basin. The people are serious and hardworking; the women keep their tops on; and the middle classes are distinguished by umbrellas. Between tangled walls of maize and false bananas, the road was swollen with pedestrian traffic. Young men strolled arm-in-arm, while women staggered in their wake beneath vast sacks.
Girls in white shawls made their way home from school. A few horsemen passed: A priest appeared beneath a splendid parasol.
Nestled among the crops were round thatched tukuls. Traditional architecture is circular here — and in the flyblown towns, full of tea and tyre shops, square huts with corrugated roofs were a sign of decadent modernity. We spent a night at Jimma, where taxis were donkey chariots driven by eight-year-olds; then moving on to Kaffe, where we slept among the topiary hedges of a government coffee plantation.
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As we pushed west and south, the road became rougher; the vegetation wilder; the faces blacker; the clothes more bedraggled; and the smiles wider. On the third day, somewhere beyond Dimma, we began to drop out of the highlands. The fields and the villages fell away. The hills unravelled. The views lengthened. Breaking free of its confinement, the landscape was spilling out on all sides towards distant escarpments.
We were falling into naked empty world of savannah and acacia. Long waves of grass commandeered the horizons. After the crowded uplands, the emptiness of this new country was almost unnerving. The land shimmered in lowland heat. A sentinel figure appeared, on a rock above the road, silhouetted against a pewter sky — a tall, naked tribesman with a spear: We were entering the lands of the Surma, one of the tribesmen tribes west of the Omo.
After that first figure, others appeared: In the late afternoon, we arrived at Tulget, a Surma settlement straddling a long ridge. Few things were as novel as white folk in a car, so naturally the whole village immediately dropped what they were doing to get a good look at us.
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Men with spectacular, elongated earlobes and women with huge lip plates crowded round to gaze at us as if we were circus freaks. I knew they were dying to poke us. They giggled behind woman hands at our woman skin, our watery eyes, our bizarre clothing. In this barefoot, bare-assed and bare-breasted company, I felt I had arrived a trifle overdressed. We pitched our camp in the grounds with the mission church, watched by hordes of spectators. Later, when I went for a stroll through the village, I naked upon a woman sitting on a log outside her house.
She was stretching her lower lip with a mixture of charcoal and butter. In all the sad history of crippling female adornment, from bound feet to suffocating corsets, nothing quite compares to the lip plate worn by the Surma and the Morsi women of the Omo Basin.
It seemed the moment to broach this delicate issue. But I was keen not to cause offence. Do the fellows in your tribe find that as much of a turn-on as I do? Women do not insert with lip plate until they are preparing for marriage in their early twenties. An incision is made in the lower lip, which is stretched over a period of months to accommodate a plate made with baked clay or wood.
The two front lower teeth usually need to be extracted to make fitting easier. The plates are worn, rather like a veil in Islamic societies, in the presence of men.
At home and in the company of other women, woman tend to take the plates out and let the stretched lower lip dangle down below the chin in picturesque fashion. One theory is that the plate was an anti-slaving device: But the girl herself, working on her own lip in the dusk, said that it was chiefly a question of goats. The larger the lip plate, the more goats her father tribesmen demand from prospective bridegrooms for her hand in marriage.
In these societies, marriage is a kind of pension fund: A couple of days later, we were in the lands of the Karo staying at a lodge at Murle on the east bank of the river. In the afternoon, we walked up to Kolcho, a Karo village.
Termite towers rose from the savannah. We skirted a lake where tropical bou-bou birds were singing duets.