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Mursi woman in Omo Valley Ethiopia | by Eric Lafforgue
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Mursi woman in Omo Valley Ethiopia

Back from a 2 weeks trip in Omo Valley, in Ethiopia. 2500 km in the mud, sand, and bush to see the tribes, and to avoid the too touristic ones. on this first picture, a Mursi woman, the most agressive tribe i met.

Agressive in the way that when you come to see them (after hours of 4x4 on a very bad track), they only think about the money they can get from you! The craziest thing is that they ask for a fee to park the car (20 euros!) at the entrance of the village!!

They use those wild pigs tusks as a decoration. the main problem is that they tend to use more and more things to attract photographers!

You may have seen or read books about this area by great photographers those last years, and many of the people inside are just "disguised"...


But at the end, those tribes really live like in the primitives times, whitout anything around apart their catle, and still fighting with other tribes to catch cows and women...

This is a daily reality in this area of the world!


7 000 tourists visit the mursis every year. It makes an average of 20 by day in a very big area, so it's very few.But as 70% are from Spain and pay a low fee to the tour operator, some tribes start to settle close to "hotels" or campings to get money from the photographers.

I had the chance to go in Omo valley with a guide who avoid those touristic spots.


Mursi woman with her giant lip plate, a sign of beauty in Mursi tribe, like in Surma one. When they are ready to marry, they start to make a hole in the lip with a wood stick.

It will be kept for one night , and is removed to put a bigger one. This is very painful at this time... Few months after, the lip plate has its full size, and the girl is seen as beautiful by the men.

The lip plate made of wood or terracotta, and they have to remove the lower incisors to let some space for the disc. it's amazing to see them speak without any trouble, put it and remove it as a classic jewel.

Sometimes the lip is broken by the pressure of the lip plate. This is a very big problem for the girl cos men will consider her as ugly, she won't be able to marry anyone in the tribe apart the old men or the sick people...

The women are shaved, like the men, cos they hate hairiness!


© Eric Lafforgue

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Taken on October 25, 2008