The Mursi tribe of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley is one of the oldest and most easily identifiable tribal cultures of Africa.
Most Mursi children nurse past toddler-hood, and clothing for women commonly leaves breasts exposed.
The breast area for the Mursi tribe is viewed as nourishment for children and signals to men peak nubility of the woman, based on shape and texture.
The Mursi people are at risk for displacement.
From Mursi Online:
Since the 1960s, the extension of government control over the Lower Omo Valley has been marked by the ‘enclosure’ of large areas of communally held land. In the 1960s and 1970s twowere set up which, it was hoped, would in due course make the lower Omo into one of Africa’s most popular destinations. These hopes proved largely illusory, despite efforts to develop the parks with the help of EU funds in the 1990s and, more recently, through a public-private partnership agreement with a South African based conservation organisation. Today, spurred on by its ambitious aim to achieve middle-income country status within the next ten to fifteen years, the government’s plans for the lower Omo have shifted to large-scale commercial , including a huge project now being implemented by the state-owned Ethiopian Sugar Corporation. If these plans are realised, not only will the lower Omo become by far the largest irrigation complex in Ethiopia, but the resident population of agro-pastoralists is expected to be transformed into wage labourers and sedentary cultivators. This will involve a resettlement programme which, although described as ‘voluntary’, will be forced, in the sense that those affected will have no reasonable alternative but to comply.
There is overwhelming evidence, from Africa and around the world, that a scheme of this kind, however well intentioned, will not benefit the affected population unless it is accompanied by a comprehensive programme of compensation, benefit sharing and livelihood reconstruction. If such a programme is not put in place for the people of the lower Omo, the future looks grim for the Mursi and their neighbours.