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Johan Gerrits | all galleries >> Tribal diversity of Southern Ethiopia >
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Surma stick fighting is a sport developed by the Surma or Suri people of southern Ethiopia. At the end of the harvest season, the Surma observe a period of courtship and ritual, spending days by the river in the their traditional territory. Once a week the Surma men from different villages gather for one of the fiercest competitions on the African continent.
In the plains of south-western Ethiopia where the Suri /Surma herd their highly-prized cattle, competition for land is always fierce and armed raids an everyday reality. The Suri have some extremely painful rituals, including lip plates, scarification and dangerous stickfighting. Some anthropologists see these as a kind of controlled violence to get young Suris used to feeling pain and seeing blood. These are, after all, people who live in a volatile, hostile world, under constant threat from their enemies around them.

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