Who We Are

Agge kano Suri – እኛ ሱሪያ ነን

We are Suri – Мы Сури – 我们是苏力 – Nous sommes Suri

Sisi ni Suri – SinoSuri – SinguSuri – Awa ni Suri – Mu Suri ne – Isu tiri Suri – Wir sind Suri – Siamo Suri – Somos Suri – Nós somos Suri – אנחנו סורי – 我們是蘇力 – 私たちはスーリ族です – 우리는 수리 사람들입니다 – हम सूरी हैं – نحن سوري



We, Suri also known as the “Surma” live in the southwestern plains of Ethiopia, our Suri brothers live in Republic of South Sudan also call as “Kachipo”. We raise cattle and farm when the land is fertile. Cattle are important to the Suri giving them status. The more cattle a tribesmen has the wealthier they are, in order for a man to marry a woman in Suri tribe he must own artless 60 cattles few year ago, but now a day it depend on your capability, cattle are giving to the family of the woman in Exchanging for marriage like the other tribe in East Africa. We will use milk and blood from the cow, during the dry season the Suri people will drinking blood instead of milk. Blood can be drained from a cow once a month, this is done by making a small incision in it’s Neck. We are very much similar like the Mursi tribe and practice the same traditions. The women lip plates that are made of the clay. The men in the tribe fight with stick fighting called “Dongga / Donga” which in Suri language beings call “Sagena / Sagine” and body scarification, the scar of Suri men usually means that has killed a members of the a rival tribe in the past.



MAP#1: Peoples of South-western Ethiopia and surrounding country (NOTE: The Kibish on this map is in Ilemi Triangle which is claimed by South Sudan and Kenya, please note that is NOT the Suri’s Kibish in SNNPR of Ethiopia which is about 200 km away in the north. The location of Suri’s Kibish shown on MAP#2)

Suri-land is still quite untouched, and there are plenty of opportunities to see and experience the traditional life of us. We love to sing and dance, especially in full moon nights. If you are lucky you can see scarification, blood drinking ceremonies and other traditional rituals of the Suri people. All in all a wonderful experience.

Kibish is the main town of the Suri-land. Basically Kibish is a big road with a cell tower (although most of the time no signal), a clinic, a school, the tourist office, a police station, some restaurants and little shops that Include the shop of exchanging Gold. Right next to the big road there are some small Suri villages, for instance Anjo village, only a 5 minutes walk from the main road. The next bigger village is Regge, a 15 minutes drive from Kibish away.

Kibish SNNPR

MAP#2: Kibish Aerial view Map @HERE 2018

The countryside in October after the raining season is lush and green, and more diversified than the more commonly travelled South Omo. In four weeks you will met a handful of tourists, they area around Kibish, Tulgit and Koka is still quite untouched, and there are plenty of opportunities to see and experience the traditional life of the Suri tribe. When you visit the Suri-land you probably follow the road from Dimma to Maja/Koka and Tulgit and then finally Kibish. Most of the tourists are going directly to Kibish, which is the biggest settlement in the area with a police station, a tourist office, many small restaurants, some shops, and, if you are very lucky, a cold beer. Around Koka, and Kibish there are many small Suri villages and cattle Camps which can be reached easily by foot or may be by Cars.

In Tulgit and Kibish you find many children by the riverbank waiting for photos in the afternoon. The usage of flowers for decoration is a wonderful habit of the children. The kids decorate themselves with flowers, blossoms and green plants they can find everywhere around the villages. However, as nice as it looks, the decoration with the flowers is not an old tradition, you cannot see this kind of decoration in remote Suri villages. The kids, also the boys, are doing it for photos and for getting a little money. But anyway: it is beautiful and funny. Especially the boys are very creative, they climb any tree they find and make bizarre faces or funny poses just to attract the tourists for a photo.



Ataye Eligidagne, Suri, Ethiopia 2014

Ataye Eligidagne’s Lip plate, Suri, Ethiopia 2014  –  “The largest lip plate” of Guinness World Record

Piercing and lip plates are a strong part of the Suri culture. At the point of puberty most women have their bottom teeth removed in order to get their lower lip pierced. Once the lip is pierced, it is then stretched and a lip plate is then placed in the hole of the piercing. Having a lip plate is a sign of beauty; a common academic thought is that the bigger the plate, the more cattle the woman is worth for her bride price, though this is negated by some. It is still unknown why and how lip plates came to be used. One theory says lips plates were used to discourage slave owners from taking the women who had them. In recent years, some young women are refusing to have their lips pierced.


Wooden lip plate made by Ngarjon Chamba

The Suri pride themselves on their scars and how many they carry. Women perform scarification by slicing their skin with a razor blade after lifting it with a thorn. After the skin is sliced the piece of skin left over is left to eventually scar. On the other hand, the men scar their bodies after they kill someone from an enemy tribe. These rituals, which are extremely painful, are said by some anthropologists are a type of controlled violence; a way of getting the younger tribe members used to seeing blood and feeling pain. It is also a way of adapting these young children to their violent environment.

We have a sky god named “Tumu”, they believe this after the missionary reach the place take reside around Tulgit also called “Yasu” after congregation taking place in that place. We also believe in spirits and use medicine men to undertake sacrifices or prayers and directly send them to “Tumu”. Another belief of the Suri is their rainmaker and different believe. This position in the tribe is passed down through heredity and is only given to one male in the tribe. When the tribe feels his services are needed, the men collect chips from a specific tree. These chips are then masticated and the remaining juice is then mixed with clay. This combination is poured and smeared over the man’s body. After this process, rain is expected to fall.


Suri material culture is simple and unspectacular. The one expressive art which they excel is body painting for both males and females, they create intricate multicolored patterns, covering the entire body. This decoration have no symbolic or ritual value but are simply done for aesthetic reason and on creation occasions. We are the people who take great pride in beautiful physique ( especially that of adolescents ) No other “art” forms are well developed. Decorative talents also come into play ib beadwork, geometric designs on women’s leathers frocks, earrings, bracelets of carved copper, and clay ear and lip plates. Men make decorative iron and leather neck -or headbands for their favorite cattle.


“Dongga”Stick fighting

Donga_Bakaman Geleway@facebook 36669910_1783489261759170_6833373962429267968_o

Dongga stick fighting in Kibish on 06 July, 2018  ©Barkaman Geleway

A sport and ritual the Suri take extremely seriously is stick fighting. In most cases, stick fighting is done so young men can prove themselves to whole tribe. 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. Stick fighting has proven to be dangerous because people have died from being hit in the stomach. Since stick fighting draws a large audience, it becomes a threat of danger. Shooting can easily break out and this seems to be the new trend for young Suri men: using guns instead of sticks.


“Kachipo donga fighter, Boma mountains, South Sudan”  © Una banda de dos photography  Miguel Sandra

Ways of life

Each household in the Suri village is run by a woman. These women also own their own fields and are allowed to use their profits however they wish. Every age group has a certain role. Young men (Tɛgɛn) are not yet considered warriors, begin helping with cattle when they reach age eight. Junior elders (Rɔra) are a hard age-set to be initiated into. It takes 20 to 30 years to get to this new age-set. During this initiation the young men are sometimes starved or even whipped until they bleed. Decisions of the village are made by the men in an assembly. Women are not allowed to voice their opinions during these debates but are allowed to before the debates take place. These debates are led by the tribe’s ritual chief also known as the “Komoru”.


We have our own elaborate herbal medicine. Dozens of plants yield treatment for affliction ranging from Headaches to skin infections. Some treatment( e.g ,the remedy for wounds )are known to all; experts are consulted for others maladies,(e.g snakebite poisoning ) they also have their own native “surgeons”, who operate on people wounded in the raids or during stick duels. For serious intestinal and stomach infection and for malaria, no effective treatment are known. No modern medical facilities exist in Suri-land, occasionally the Suri visit the primary health care center in Kibish, the main town.

What to see
-Meeting with some Suri elder in order to finds the real story how come for Suri tribe to use such traditional medicine
-Making the Research around the suri village
Gold mining
Gold mining apart from gold, livestock, and pottery, the suri only occasionally sell surplus sorghum or maize to highlander
What to see
01, Trekking from Kibish main town of Suri to Magoloni spring water and prossed to ganging gold mining area.
02, driving to Bacshagi gold maning and making Trekking around all the gold washing camp and see how suri tribe are manning.