Among both the Surma and the Mursi a single combat sport of physical skill, known as Donga(stick fighting), has evolved into something of an art form that allows young men to take part in competitions of strength and masculinity, earn honor among their peoples and win the hands of girls in marriage without serious risk of death.
After the harvest season youngsters are well fed with blood and milk and prepare themselves for the stick fight competition. On the fixed day and place, the Mursi get together from all directions to celebrate the annual ceremony. On the occasion youngster’s fight with wooden sticks in teams representing different localities.

Surrounded by cheering spectators, the duelists swathed in protective clothing – measures up to each other in specially prepared clearings. Each contestant is armed with a hardwood pole, carved into a phallus shape at the tip, about six feet in length and weighting just under two pounds. In the attacking position, this pole is gripping at its base with both hands, the left above the right, to give maximum swing and leverage.

Face painting and fierce looks are intended to intimidate the opponent; the lethal iron wrist knife is an important weapon for the Surma and is used in cattle raids and territorial disputes.

However, the carved wooden Donga stick, with its distinctive phallic tip, is the only weapon used for stick fighting.

The most vulnerable parts of each fighter are meticulously bound in protective cotton wadding. Small hand and elbow shields made of tightly woven grass are also essential forms of protection.

The stick fights are wild and fierce, for this is the time for men to prove their bravery in front of women.

Each player lands as many blows as possible upon his adversary, the object of the exercise being to knock him down and completely eliminate him from the game severe injuries are often inflicted, but the referee usually intervenes before a fatal blow is delivered. If a fighter kills his opponent, he and his family are banished from the village, his property is confiscated and if he or his families have a daughter she may be given to the victims relatives as compensation.

Selected from the two warrior age grades, players are generally unmarried men between sixteen and thirty two years old and represent local “teams”. Often as many as fifty people will complete, and all of them get the chance to fight at least once. At the end of every bout, however, the loser must accept his defeat gracefully and withdraw while the winner goes on to face another winner. In this way the field eventually narrows down to just two surviving contestants, one of whom will emerge not only as the victor of this last bout but also of the contest as a whole. The winner is borne away on a plat form of poles to a group of girls waiting at the side of the arena who decide among themselves which of them will ask for his hand in marriage.

Amongst the Mursi and the Surma, taking part in the donga stick fight is considered to be mere important than winning it. Thus, even if he was knocked out early in the contest, a brave and determined duelist will still be heaped with honor. He will merry in the usual way – that is by choosing his own wife to be and offering her father the required bride price for her hand.

The significance of this annual ceremony is the Mursi get together from different directions, so it strengths the social relations. In addition, it contributes for the physical fitness of the male members of the society.

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