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The Mursi People

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999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me

I arrange a mandatory guide who jumps in the Jeep, and together we head out of Jinka, which is perched in the mountains and has a very nice climate.
We drop a few thousand feet and the heat is immediately scorching as we start to see Mursi People on the side of the road.

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Village life

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A Mursi straw hut

We drive right into a little village – which is a collection of straw huts and immediately start to interact with the people of the Morsi. This tribe is famous as the one where the women put enormous clay plates into their bottom lips – sometimes well over five inches across.

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Lady demonstrating the clay plate she will put in her bottom lip

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With the clay plate in her lip

It’s the late afternoon, and the ladies are grinding corn for the evening meal while the men watch or play with the children running around. With the guide translating and explaining I’m able to understand enough of their lives – which are really very basic subsistence living with a very healthy dose of celebrations and parties at every excuse.

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Lady grinding flower

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Baby crawling through the village

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The bottom lip is stretched out

It’s clear tourists have been coming here for decades, and everything costs money from the mandatory guide and armed guard to taking photos of the individual people. My guide says the Morsi now rely on it to survive and that it’s good for them, though I wonder what they did for the other 299,900 years before tourists showed up to pay money and take photos.

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Kids are always curious

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This guy was intense, but very friendly

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A happy kid

As always I am left in awe of how tough these people are, scratching a living in such harsh conditions.

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I think they both wanted to be the star

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These two were full of character

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She has both her lip and ear lobe stretched out


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