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SURMA STICK FIGHTING

06/02/2012

ETHOPIA |

The men decorate themselves by sliding the fingers full of clay on the warrior’s bodies…

This dressing up and decoration is meant to show their beauty and virility and thus catch the women’s attention.

(*Warning: NSFW!)

Donga fights attract the most beautiful women in the area, hoping to be chosen by the champions. The purpose is not to get married but to flirt. Scarifications are considered an important sign of beauty in Surma culture.

Before a Donga, some Surma drink the fresh blood of their cattle during the Blood Meal Ritual. The warrior has got to drink the entire content in one as blood coagulates quickly. Surma believe the cow’s blood is full of vitamins that enable warriors to be fit.

Fighters arrive on the Donga field altogether, carrying the strongest man, dancing and singing: I am the Hero, who’s gonna fight me?!?

Most of the warriors use no protection at all and fight completely naked in order to show their bravery. The neck and head are the most vulnerable parts of the body.

A fighter can challenge whoever he wants (to a duel) and hit any part of the opponent’s body. There is only one rule which forbids to hit a man when he’s down.

Some breaks interrupt the fight so the warriors can get drunk, and by doing so take courage. As the time progresses, fight become more violent and the tension gets high.

If a fighter gets hurt, he will not be granted any compensation. If he get killed, which happens from time to time, his family must get compensation. Usually 20 cows, or a girl will do.

No one shows his pain, but on the contrary shows his blood bleeding or his flesh wounds.

When a fighter is down – it means he has been knocked down or he gives up because of the violence of his opponent’s hits.

The winners have a right to choose girls. Girls are allowed to refuse, but being chosen is considered an honour. By giving a necklace, they are to share moments with the warrior.

Before marriage, girls can have sexual relationships with anyone they want but once they are married, it is strictly forbidden and they have to be faithful to their husbands.

Groupies gather on a small hill to watch the fights in safety. At their feet, litres of beer called “Gesso“. Young women wear necklaces around the neck that they give to the winners.

At the end of the fights, the champions point their phallic sticks in the direction of the girls they want a date with.

If the girl puts a necklace around the stick, it means she is willing to date him.

What is Surma‘s future going to be??… Cellphones recently reached their villages, roads are beign built by the Chinese companies, and the young people go studying in Addis Ababa, and abandon the Donga tradition…

Donga is over, and fighters go back in their villages to narrate their feats.

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Source:Eric Lafforgue

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