HIGHLIGHTS Wed 17 Dec: Jinka, Ari & Mursi Tribes

Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Mago National Park, Ethiopia
South Omo Research Center, Jinka

Off to Jinka for our lunch stop some 157 kms away. I had expected the countryside to get more barren as we headed west but no, to my pleasant surprise the hills were still terraced with farming. As we dropped down into the Omo Valley, its landscape was sweeping far into the distance. Another surprise was how green it was.

South Omo Research Center (museum) with an excellent overview of the local tribes. Again emphasised that sorghum flour is their basic food.


Ari Tribe

Off to the Ari tribe encounter who wore western clothes. I won't reflect on the angry blacksmith nor on both the alcohol brewing process and injera making demonstration at the end of the village visit but it was how the locals with their cell phones wanted pictures of us!




Mursi Village Visit – NO CAMERAS

Next stop was off to Mursi tribe. We were told that it was OK to take photos but when we picked up the local scout to put away our cameras. The Mursi were known to be very aggressive.

Arriving at the campsite next to the Mursi village, we were greeted by these very tall dark skin Mursi men. How elegant they looked.

After we got out and greeted each of the males each with their long sticks. Some were barefooted and others had simple leather thongs. The men sat on a log with interest and watched us as we unloaded.

I suppose with some trepidation we went and greeted them in their village. Quickly my own little bit of uncertainty vanished. They were going about the day to day life. Once they saw we had no cameras it was fine. Saying "Achalie" or a greeting and shaking their hand throughout the encounter trying to communicate became interesting. Things like saying ones name then they would say theirs, or determining how many children they had involved a lot of finger gestures.

The ladies both young and old were kneeing and grinding their sorghum grain into the fine flour. Any signs of western influences in the village itself?

I don't know how they being so tall could enter into their round huts as the door was so low.

Besides the multi coloured Crocs not really, a few had western clothes (pants) on but most still wore a cloth.

Several of the children wore either green or orange or blue football outfits.

Later a few had torches.

Their hair were finely braided and many had intricate fine patterns. Many had their lower forearm or ankles lined with rows of silver or brass bracelets.

A simple beaded necklace adorned many of them.

Ear lobes with large rings in them and many of the ladies had lip plates. Babies were carried on their backs.

Like other villages we had been to, some of the children asked for a pencil or pen and several little children were asking for candy in their local language. We were advised not to give any to them.

The small fires were lit and in pots of the local tree vegetables were boiling away. Also the sorghum was being cooked into a porridge. They are really self-sufficient for all their food, milk and meat from the goats, grain and other crops. This tribes is no longer nomadic as with the clear flowing river as their water supply, their huts were well established.

A few dogs were around.

A school, clinic and mission were nearby.

One 16 year old boy we met later by the river told us that he had been learning English for 2 years now and was in grade 7 at the local school. His subjects were what I call the basic sciences: chemistry, biology, mathematics, 3 languages English, Amharic, and of course their local tongue. His spoken English was excellent for just 2 years. Another lady who had her baby on her back was carrying a bottle of antibiotics. By gesturing it was for her baby.

I have been fortunate to have experienced a few tribal encounters but this one certainly exceeded all of my previous experiences.

Dinner under a single low wattage bulb hooked up to the 4x4 battery was vegetable soup followed by spaghetti, cabbage and carrot cooked over 2 single gas burners. Banana and passion fruit followed. I saw fire flies for the first time as they flickered around.

The evening sounds reminded me of Botswana’s Okavango Delta - the frogs and crickets.
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