Images that capture the moment members of the Suri tribe from southern Ethiopia taking part in a fighting ritual have emerged on the internet.

Warriors are seen taking part in the ‘Donga’, or stick fight, which has traditionally been a way men impress women and find a wife. They fight with little or no clothing, and the violent clashes sometimes result in death.

Battles usually take place between Suri villages, which can consist of between 40 and 2,500 people.
They are usually held after the rains, and there are often 20 to 30 fighters on each side, with 
tribesmen taking it in turns to fight one-on-one.

Referees enforce a code of conduct – it is against the rules to hit someone while they are on the floor.

Stick fighting is a combination of martial art, ritual and sport. As well as providing an opportunity to attract a partner, the fights aim to get young men used to bloodshed – which leaders believe comes in handy if they clash with other tribes.


The Ethiopian government – in 1994 passed laws to ban stick fighting, but the tradition lives on.

Female members of the tribe, whom the men are fighting over, have distinctive clay discs inserted into holes in their bottom lip, which are considered signs of beauty. To have the discs inserted, their bottom two teeth are removed before the hole is cut.

The larger the plate, the more cows the girl’s father can demand in dowry when his daughter marries. 







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