Photographer's Note

Surma Stick Fighting - Ethiopia

Surmas live in southern Ethiopia, on the west bank of the Omo River. Surma is a panethnicity residing in South Sudan and southwestern Ethiopia. Since time immemorial, they have had to fight to protect their land and cattle, especially against their ennemies, the Nyangatoms. Civil War in Sudan flooded the area with AK 47 (kalashnikov). In this context of continuous insecurity, Surmas have more than ever to display their courage, their virility and their strength, and Donga (stick fighting) is a unique occasion to perpetuate their legend. 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 resistance to pain, to the young women. The fights are held between Suri villages, gathering hundreds of warriors. Since stick fighting draws a large audience, it becomes a threat of danger. Shooting can easily break out and this seems to be the new trend for young Suri men; using guns (AK 47) instead of sticks.

This picture is about a young Surma during a Donga (stick fighting) ceremony.

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Additional Photos by Michel Detay (mdetay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 487 W: 1 N: 1045] (4929)
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