During the Soviet-backed Derg regime under the government of Mengistu Haile Mariam (1975-1991), the Mursi had been told to abandon their practise of lip-plate because it was seen as a symbol of backwardness. Apparently, threats were issued by a regional government official that whoever continued to stretch their lips would have their lower lips cut off entirely, served as a lesson to others.
“As soon as we wound down the car windows to have a better look at them, we were attacked by a swarm of flies which seemed to have originated from the Mursi. There was a sudden waft of strong body odour which hit the both of us from all direction without any warning.” Two women’s journey of a lifetime continues.
Sure enough, we spotted a bald Mursi woman with her lower lip hanging loosely beneath her jaw, sitting at the front of the market enjoying her bottle of araki. It was the first time in our lives that we have ever seen a Mursi woman in person.