Finally, after all this trouble getting our visa, we arrived in Ethiopia. As we crossed the border everything seemed to change. You go to a restaurant, you find a lot of food you do not really know – like doro wot, tibs and tegabino. All resembles a little bit Indian food, but accompanied by Injeera instead of Chapaties. Of course you may also find some so called Western Food. Nevertheless, you have to know what you want: Usually a simple Pepper Steak they call it Paper Stake, a pizza with Mozarella converts into one with Mossorela and simple cheese becomes Chies. Not too difficult to guess what it is, and usually it tastes better than it is named.
But not only food has changed; we also discovered dozens of very different tribes living in the Southern part of Ethiopia. Each with their very own culture and most of them having clear rules and signs to distinguish them from their neighbours. Among the most interesting the Mursi in Southern Omo Region. Their women are world famous for their clay plates in their lips. We had to see that – and as usual we also had to understand this tradition rather unusual to us. So we went to a Mursi village. We could clearly state that their women are not born with this plate in their lips – simply because little girls don’t have them. We were searching for explanations on the reasons for this. Nobody could really show us a real proof of the origin of this tradition. Nevertheless, there are some theories:
- The official one all odd guides like to tell the odd tourists to show them how badly the world behaved. Slave traders from Arabia entered Mursi territory and stole their women to have them as nannies in their households in Dubai and Kuweit. As that happened quite often, there were no longer enough girls for all these unmarried Mursi guys. Consequently they had 2 options: to allow their women to be polygamist or to stop slave trade. As they did not adhere too much to the first idea they opted to the 2nd. So they had to make their women so ugly that no slave trader would look at them any more. And that’s how they make tourists believe Mursi women got their clay plates in the lips.
- There is an explanation which seems to be much more probable, but which is never told to the tourists because it’s too evident and too logical. In the far South of Ethiopia there’s the tribe of the Mursi. They are famous for the very outstanding beauty of their women, but they are also known by the very fact that not a single problem has ever been solved. Several universities all over the world sent their best ethnologists to study this extraordinary phenomenon. After having spent some million of Dollars and a few 1000 pages being written just one explanation could remain valid: Neighbouring tribes strictly observed the traditional tasks of men and women: women make sure that everything goes well and men sit under the tree and solve the problems of the world. Simple like that. Very different in Mursi society: Of course women try to ensure that everything goes well. But men are absolutely not able to solve the problems of the world. Due to their women’s outstanding beauty they are constantly distracted from problem solving. As men think in a rational and logical manner, they were convinced that this situation had to change. So they introduced the clay plates in their women’s lips, making them considerably less beautiful – and again the problems found their solutions.
- There’s a 3rd theory, it seems to be the most probable, because it is purely based on the economic interest of the world and the Mursi women. And it all started very recently when Lady Gaga was producing here latest CD knowing that she had to promote it properly. To make the long story short: During Lady Gaga’s promotion campaign a great number of Mursi women accompanied her. As you have surely seen on TV spots or ads, all with the latest CD of Lady Gaga in their lips.
So far our possible explanations to unusual observations. Hopefully we’ll find some more issues difficult to understand on our way thru Ethiopia and further North towards Sudan and Egypt.
Monika and Martin