Ethiopia

Daasanach Tribe

The People of the Delta
These are my encounters with the Dassanech people, also known as Geleb, Merile, and Gabarich. They live on the northern shore of Lake Turkana and further north along the Omo River in Ethiopia and Kenya.

I was raised to believe that strangers are dangerous, that we can't trust them, and that they could hurt us. This could be true, but most of them aren't. So here I am, a long way from home, spending my time with lost tribes and communities and being a part of their lives and theirs in mine.

The Daasanach are proud but beautiful people who believe that afterlife, the souls continue to live after one death. When in danger, a person's soul can be kept hidden, and the owner will survive regardless of what happens to their physical body. After the threat is gone, the soul can be restored to the body, and the person will be hale again.

They have developed a distinct tradition and culture and are willing to accept other immigrants eager to adhere to Daasanach customs and values. We knew very little about the Daasanach, also known as the Merille until the turn of the century. Many African countries established formal borders at the time, and the Daasanach found their traditional lands divided between Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya. These semi-nomadic people have moved since then.

Dassanech welcomes people of all ethnicities to join them; however, they must be circumcised. In this African tribe, both boys and girls are circumcised. This tribe practise female genital mutilation (FGM). Girls are usually circumcised before they reach the age of adolescence by having their clitoris removed. They are unable to marry until they have been cut.

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Ethiopia