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Surma or Suri Tribe

Surma or Suri Tribe

Suri, also known as the Surma people live in the southwestern plains of Ethiopia.  They raise cattle and farm when the land is fertile.  Cattle are important to the Suri, giving them status.  The more cattle a tribesman has, the wealthier they are. In order for a man to marry a woman in the Suri tribe, he must own at least 60 cattle.  Cattle are given to the family of the woman in exchange for marriage.  Like the other tribes, the Suri will use the milk and blood from the cow.  During the dry season, the people will drink blood instead of milk.  Blood can be drained from a cow once a month.  This is done by making a small incision in it's neck.

The Suri are very much like the Muris tribe and practice the same traditions.  The women wear lip plates that are made out of clay.  The men in the tribe fight with sticks called Dongas.  Both the men and women scar their bodies.  If you see a Suri man with a scar, it usually means that he has killed a member of a rival tribe.

One of the main Surma / Suri customs is stick fighting. This ritual and sport is called Donga or Sagenai (Saginay). Donga is both the name of the sport and the stick, whereas sagenai is the name of the stick-fighting session. Stick fighting is central in Suri culture. In most cases, stick fighting is a way for warriors to find girlfriends; it can also be a way to settle conflicts. On this occasion men show their courage, their virility and their resistance to pain, to the young women. The fights are held between Suri villages, and begin with 20 to 30 people on each side, and can end up with hundreds of warriors involved. Suri are famous for stick fighting, but they are not the only ones to respect such a custom, as the neighbor tribe, the Mursi, also practice these traditional fights.  

 
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