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Television documentaries

Some of the events of recent Mursi history have been recorded in six television documentaries, made by Leslie Woodhead and David Turton between 1974 and 2001.

  • The Mursi (‘Disappearing World’, Granada Television, Manchester, UK., 1974) follows a series of public meetings, held in northern Mursiland during July and August 1974, at which speakers debated the tactics and strategies to be adopted in a war then taking place between the Mursi and their northern neighbours, the Bodi.
  • The Kwegu (‘Disappearing World’, Granada Television, Manchester, UK. 1982) focuses on the patron-client relationship between the Mursi and a small group of hunters/cultivators, the Kwegu, who live along the banks of the Omo and provide hunting and ferrying services for their Mursi patrons. Filming took place mainly at Alaka, on the right bank of the Omo, in January 1982.
  • The Migrants (‘Disappearing World’, Granada Television, Manchester, UK. 1985) tells the story of the spontaneous, drought-induced migration that took place to the upper Mago Valley from northern Mursiland in 1981, and describes the challenges facing the migrants four years later.
  • The Land is Bad (‘Disappearing World’, Granada Television, Manchester, UK. 1991) follows the build-up to the formation of the first age set of adult men since 1961 and describes various events (notably a devastating attack by the Nyangatom in 1987 ) which helped to convince the elders of the urgency of creating a new set
  • Nitha (‘Disappearing World’, Granada Television, Manchester, UK. 1991) follows the age set ceremony (nitha), held by the Aroholi section at Kurum in southern Mursiland in January 1991, by which a new age-set of adult men was formed, and given the name ‘Geleba’. The main character in the film is the late Ulijeholi Garana, a senior elder of the Ariholi section who organised and presided over the ceremony.
  • Fire Will Eat Us (‘True Stories’, Granada T.V. for Channel 4 Television, UK., 2001) follows the final stages of a long drawn out but ultimately successful attempt by the government to persuade Mursi who had taken part in a raid against their highland neighbours, the Aari, to give themselves up to the police. The raid had taken place in January 1999, and was in retaliation for the killing of a Mursi woman by an Aari man, on her way back from an Aari market village.


More information

  • Leslie Woodhead, ‘Making “The Mursi”
  • Leslie Woodhead, ‘A Box Full of Spirits: Adventures of a Film-maker in Africa’, Heinemann, London, 1987.
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