Seeing a scarification ceremony in the Surma tribe from the Omo valley in Ethiopia is a tough time. Not for the girl who is going to be scarified but for the foreigner who needs to see blood running, flies going into the wounds, under a hard sun. The girl, who was 12, did NOT say any word during the ten minutes ceremony, and did NOT show any pain. Her mother used a spine to pull the skin and a razor blade to cut the skin.
At the end, i asked her if it was not too hard to have her skin cut with a razor blade, and she answered that she was close to collapse! It was incredible as she did not show any sign of pain on her face. It would be a shame for the family she confessed. A girl's eagerness to tolerate pain is also an indication of her emotional maturity and willingness to bear children.
The kid chooses to do it, nobody obliged her. Scarifications are a beauty sign in the tribes. This is the tradition in Surma tribe.
But for years now, the kids who go to school or who convert to christian, are told not to do it anymore. The men say the lack of scars on the skins make them looking ugly.
The skin of the tribes in this area has a special reaction to cutting: the cicatrisation creates raising scars. Ash and certain organic saps might be added to a wound to make the scarring more prominent and or embellished.
Not far from the Surma area, the Bodi women also make scars, some even have coil scarifications on the shoulders. It is very painful as they use some metal to do this, like when they do it to their cows to mark them on the fur and the skin! Pain seems unknown in the area.
I met Ana who lives in the small village of Hana Mursi. She now hides her scarifications she had at 12, as she has gone to Arba Minch town to study at the Police school. People wearing scarifications are seen as « primitives » by many urban ethiopians and they suffer from this. She is proud to introduce me to her best friend, a bodi teenager who has made a heart on her a