A Stone-Age Kalashnikov - Part 1Culture|2012|25:54|M CSV
The Surma (also known as Suri) live in the Omo Valley, a region in Southern Ethiopia bordering Sudan. Public authorities wield no control over those territories. Tourists are seldom seen there, as no one can ensure safety and security. In order to catch their tribesmen's eye, both men and women carve their skin by razors and acacia thorns into geometric patterns. Though the procedure is a painful one, the Surma have enough courage to pass through it with only a wince. These skin patterns will often help you read their owner's life like a book: say, a scar on a man's forearm refers to a murder he committed. The Surma women have a weird idea of beauty. Up to these days, they continue to follow the ancient tradition of cutting the bottom lip, inserting a clay plate, gradually increasing its diameter and stretching the skin. The bigger the plate, the more cows the bride's family will get as a bride price. Almost every Surma man has a Kalashnikov machine-gun of his own, one he never parts with. The AK-47s have become one usual attribute of the Surma men - quite like the two-meter Donga sticks. These are used once a year in a savage joust involving several villages. Donga stick fighting is recognised as one of the bloodiest sports in Africa and therefore officially banned by the Ethiopian parliament. But the Surma ignore state authorities. They will rather choose to take part in the Donga rather than abide by national laws. Winning the Donga is what most Surma men desire, for victory yields everyone's respect and admiration and, most importantly, graces of the tribe's beauty queen.