surma mursiA book “Omo Valley and Design” is one of the best resources that I found on lower Omo valley tribes and their local culture. Few excerpts I would like to refer here for readers.

The Munn (Mursi and Suri)
The Mursi and the Suri who call collectively themselves the Munn, say that they come from the region that is now inhabited by the Borena.

Five clans jointly migrated northwards from that place on the boarder region between Ethiopia and Kenya.

The group migrated in a circular movement, counter-clockwise, to the Omo River, which was crossed to the north of their current territory of the Bodi.

Once they arrived there, about two centuries ago, the Suri migration ended and they split into two groups, the Chai and the Tirma. The Suri occupied areas that were previously inhibited by the Dizi.

In due course a small Tirma group split off and migrated further to the west where they maintained close contacts with a section of the Sudanese Murle  that has since settled there.

Due to the close bonds between the two groups the language of the Tirma group concerned, now called Baale, is today more closely related to that of the Murle than to the Tirma themselves. Another group moved further south and crossed the Omo river again, this time to the east in the middle of the 19th century.   This group later become known as the Mursi.

The persistent gradual deterioration of the ecological conditions in the Mursi region resulted in a group of about 1000 Mursi, a fifth of the total Mursi population, leaving the territory in 1979 and building a large village in the Mago valley. This was chosen because it was a higher altitude and was covered by an almost untouched forest, which was considered an asset for farming.

The Nyangatom
The Nyangatom migrated from the Karamoja region in the north east Uganda. In the first half of the 18th century, the dispersal process of a group living in the region of the Koten and Magos mountains in Karamojan started.

All linguistically and culturally related peoples descending from the area are today grouped under the term Karamojong cluster. From the Koten-Magos area the Toposa and Nyangatom together moved to an area north of the Karamoja region, where the group split into two.

One group migrated further to the north-west, where as the other, after moving north eat, continued Eastwards. During this migration the final group again split into two. One moved north wards and joined the group that had split off previously; together they formed the Toposa.

The other group which first called itself Nyameton (‘elephant  eater’) and later Nyangatom (‘yellow guns’), arrived in the Omo valley in the first half of the nineteenth century.

The Dassanech
The people who call itself the Daasanetch consists of a confederation of subgroups of diverse origin with different languages andguy omo valley customs, who became allies in recent years to protect themselves and their herds, grasslands and fields from intruders.

The Dassanetch people as they now emerged at the beginning of the 19th century from a pastoral people called Siger (Shir) and who claimed to descend from the legendary Nyupe.

These days the Dassanech are subdivided into eight sections each has its own name and history. According to the Dassenech, the Riele were the original inhabitants of the region.

The Elele were supposedly  the first migrants. The last to join the Dassenech are the Randal and the Kuoro. The recent history of the dassenech is often associated with guns and violent attacks on neighboring peoples.

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