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Clans (kabicho)

A clan (kabi) is a category of people who are presumed to be descended in the male line from different co-wives of the same man. There are around 18 in total but they vary greatly in size. The four largest are probably Komorte, Bumai, Juhai and Garakuli. There is a distinct concentration of members of certain clans in certain areas, but members of the same clan may be found scattered throughout the length and breadth of Mursiland. Although it is not possible for all members of the same clan to show how they are related, there is a strong taboo against marrying a fellow clan member. In the case of certain clans - Komorte and Juhai for example – even inter-clan marriage is prohibited.

The history behind different clan origins is ‘confusing’. The Gushumi, Changuli and Isai clans are very small.   Members of the Isai clan are sometimes called the ‘crocodile people’, and they are said to have once been hunters and gatherers, like the Kwegu.  When the Komorte, Bumai, Juhai, Garakuli and Kagisi crossed the Omo around two hundred years ago, they are said to have ‘found’ the Berneshe and Bongosi people on the east bank.  It is recognised that the Berneshe  were once Dassanetch.  The Chermani  originated from the Kwegu and their place is Shiri, on the Omo near Bulgis.  The Bongosi have a place at the Omo called Bongo, as do the Galnai.  The Bumai clan was one of the original five that crossed the Omo from the west. The same clan name is found amongst the Chai (Suri or Surma), although it is often said that the Buma originated from amongst the hunter-gathering Kwegu.  The Ngerriai and Magaiyai clans are said to have originated from Omotic speaking highland cultivators.  The Gongwi are related to the Buma.  The Kulgisai clan is said to have originated from amongst the Bodi and there is a Kagisi family group called Tumuri, which is the name the Mursi give to the Bodi. Finally, the Garakuli clan is said to have originated from amongst the Hamar.  Clearly the Mursi are a melting pot of many other peoples and traditions.

Mursi clans:

  • Berneshe
  • Bongosi
  • Bumai
  • Changuli
  • Chermani
  • Galnai
  • Garakuli
  • Gongwi
  • Gumnai
  • Gushumi
  • Isai
  • Juhai
  • Kagisi
  • Komorte
  • Kulgisai
  • Maiyaiyai
  • Mangwi
  • Ngeriai
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