Many primitive cultures do not survive intact after coming into contact with western civilization. The Mursi people of Ethiopia are no exception. Drought and famine in Ethiopia have driven the Mursi to migrate to a new homeland. While this new home promised relief from drought and hunger, it has changed their traditional lifestyle and culture. The Mursi people are struggling with adaptation and against cultural extinction.
The Mursi's migration has brought them into regular contact with the western world. This exposure is having a profound effect on their way of life. They are now for the first time aware of Ethiopia through their closeness to the Berka market. The Mursi are relying less on themselves and cattle herding, and more and more on the market for their necessities.
The market is also helping facilitate economic and social changes. The Mursi are using currency and are moving from herding, to buying and selling at market.
Gender roles are reversing, and women are taking an active role in earning income. In addition, women are challenging the old traditions such as lip cutting. Men are struggling to find a new position in their society.
The increased dependence on western amenities has brought the Mursi people under the economic and legal constraints of modern Ethiopia. The government has long worked against Mursi culture, seeking to settle them and integrate them into the mainstream, giving up their "oppressive" customs. Their own old homeland is no longer sacred; it is now a tourist attraction and government wildlife preserve.
In addition, the Mursi's traditional dependence on cattle is under attack. Cattle and the Mursi have long shared a mutual bond. They are linked together in many ways. Cattle provide sustenance and survival for the Mursi and are part of many cultural rituals. The migration has put both...