Meet the Mursi- Ethiopia's Tribe Known for a Unique Culture

8380 Views Moroto, Uganda


Mursi is one of the most legendary tribes found in Omo valley, South West of Ethiopia. The Mursi speak the Nilo-Saharan language. Their women wear stylishly clay or wooden plates. The Mursi have suffered extreme cattle raids from their neighbors mostly, the Aari.

They have in the recent past suffered severe drought making pastoralism, their mainstay difficult among households.

One Komoro elder told Uganda Radio Network, that the Mursi still adhere to a strict tradition. He adds that these include wearing traditional dresses and decorations.  According to the elder, women begin wearing the accessories at 15 years of age, adding that a woman who has a big clay plate in his lip fetches substantial dowry for the family. 

Mohamed Sharif, a trader at the Ethiopia-Kenya border, says the clay plates were used to stop the capture of the women by slave traders who operated in Ethiopia and some parts of Sudan.  As part of their tradition, Mursi women only wear the plates for a short time because they are so uncomfortable. Mursi men use white paint for their bodies and faces. A man is given a stick to face an opponent before being considered in the tribe and getting married.


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About the author

Olandason Wanyama
Olandason Wanyama is the Karamoja region bureau chief. Amudat, Nakapiripirit, Moroto, Abim, Kotido and Kaabong districts fall under his docket. Wanyama has been a URN staff member since 2012.

The former teacher boasts of 20 years journalism experience. Wanyama started out as a freelance writer for the Daily Monitor newspaper in 1991 in Entebbe. Wanyama also wrote for the army publication Tarehe Sita, the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) magazine and The New Vision. While not on the beat, Wanyama taught child soldiers at Uganda Airforce School-Katabi.

Wanyama is very interested in conflict reporting, climate change, education, health and business reporting. He is also an avid photographic chronicler of vanishing tribal life in the East African region.