Surma, also known as the Suri people live in the southwestern plains of Ethiopia near the Omo River and Omo National Park.   Cattle are important to the Suri, giving them status.  The more cattle a tribesman has, the wealthier they are. In order for a man to marry women in the Suri tribe, he must own at least 60 cattle.   The women wear lip plates that are made out of clay.  The men in the tribe fight with sticks called Dongas.  Both the men and women blemish their bodies.  If you see a Suri man with a scar, it usually means that he has killed a member of a rival tribe.

A sport and ritual the Suri take extremely seriously is stick fighting(Donga fighting). In most cases, stick fighting is done so young men can find wives. It is a way for young men to prove themselves to the young women. To the Suri, the ideal time to stick fight is just after it rains. The fights are held between Suri villages, and the fights begin with 20 to 30 people on each side. Of these 20 to 30 people, all get a chance to fight one on one against someone from the other side. During these fights there are referees present to make sure all rules are being followed. Many stick fights end within the first couple of hits.


Ethiopia is a land of contrast and diversity that hosts more than 80 nations and nationalities living together in unity and harmony. The Omo Valley Tribes are settled on the southern end of Ethiopia’s rift valley where intangible cultures characterize their identity and the basis of social life. Omo Valley is undoubtedly one of the most unique and fascinating places on earth because of its mosaic ethnic groups that inhabit it.

When you tour the valley, about 16 tribes come into contact with you, some of them are : Arbore’s, Ari, Atse, Bena, Biraile, Bodi’s characterized by annual fatting ceremony, Daasanech (Geleb), Hamar’s with their Cattle Jump and Evangadi Dance   , Karo’s Known by their body decoration, Kwegu, Maale, Mursi’s known with lip clay of women’s and Donga (stick) fighting for men’s, Tsemay, and Nyngatom.

These tribes have their own very distinct traditions and culture. These distinct traditions and cultural treasures include Oral traditions, Social practices, Ritual and Ceremonies, Knowledge and Practices concerning nature and the universe and Performing Arts.