The 5 local groups in and around the Omo National Park
Virtually the entire Omo National Park is either occupied or used
by local people. Suri (Surma), Dizi, Mursi, Me’en, and
Nyangatom use it for cultivation, cattle raising, bee-keeping,
gathering and occasional hunting.
(6-10,000) are agriculturalists and cattle
herders, who cultivate on both banks of the Omo river within the
boundary of the Omo park. Although, this is a relatively small land
it is the Mursis' most productive and stable agricultural land
and it is high in population density. It is responsible for a roughly
estimated 35% of the Mursi economy, and contains an estimated 35% of
villages. Their diverse economy of flood-retreat cultivation on
the riverbanks, rain-fed bushland cultivation and cattle grazing is
needed to survive the harsh, arid land they live in. If the Mursi were
denied access to the Omo river, they could only survive by becoming
permanently dependent on food aid.
The Mursi are culturally and linguistically similar to the
Suri. The Mursi say, they and the Suri “are one people”.
The Mursi lost grazing land that extended to the park headquarters at
Mui, when the Omo Park was established in 1966. The Mursi practice
a form of divination by reading cow entrails and are known for
their ceremonial dueling, or 'stick fighting' (thagine), using two-meter wooden poles (dongen).
The Song of the Monitor lizard: a Mursi myth
Mursi video clips
Notes on Mursi subsistence and public decision making David Turton, May and August 2005
A history of the Omo and Mago parks and the Ethiopian Government's view of conservation.
The Mursi and the Elephant Question David Turton
The uncomfortable relationship between the Mursi and tourists.
Lip-plates and the people who take photographs (password sesame) David Turton
A story of a Mursi conflict with the highland Aari. The Mursi realize
their past strategy of avoidance of the Ethiopian government no longer works, as their territory is hemmed in
on all sides.
The Politician, the Priest and the Anthropologist: living beyond conflict in Southwestern Ethiopia David Turton
Finding the Mursi 'place', for a people whose territory shifts
over time and the restrictions placed on this movement by encroaching
The Meaning of Place in a World of Movement David Turton
List of Publications by David Turton
List of Documentary Films on the Mursi
Nyangatom (15-20,000) are agriculturalists and cattle herders. Their
territory includes the southern area of Omo National Park, where they
graze cattle and cultivate
on the west side of the Omo River. They are
culturally and linguistically different to the other tribes occupying
the Omo National Park. They are similar
to the Turkana of northern Kenya.
Description of the Nyangatom
Map of Nyangatom territory and the Ilemi triangle
Picures of Nyangatom 1
Pictures of the Nyangatom 2
Pictures of Nyangatom 3
BBC site on the Nyangatom (rather good summary that talks about the park issue)
Suri, Dizi, Me'en:
The Dizi, the Suri and the Me'en are three relatively isolated
Ethiopian groups the of the Käfa Region, none of whom are
well-integrated into the political, administrative, social, or
religious life of the Ethiopian state. The Dizi (population about
25,000) are highland cultivators in the well-watered region around the
town of Maji (altitude about 2800 m). The Me'en (about 55,000) are
shifting cultivators and livestock breeders, who inhabit the lower
parts of the highlands and the savanna bushland. The Suri (about
28,000) are agropastoralists, who live in a hot lowland area (altitude
800-1000 m). The Me'en and Suri belong to the same language family, and
there are historical and cultural similarities between them. The Dizi
differ from them mainly in culture, language and mode of subsistence.
The Suri and the Me'en live in more isolated areas than the Dizi, the
Suri being the most isolated.
List of publication by Jon Abbink (mostly on the Suri)
BBC site on the Suri