Tribe: Life On The Edge.. A Story of Beauty and Survival

Tribe. A Story of Beauty and Survival
Stephanie Hunt


Jun 10, 2022

Habari Productions was created by Stephanie Hunt and Benjamin Hogarth—two journalists/producers who took off a year to learn more about the world. They explored West Africa, Ethiopia, Sudan, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania and lived with some of the most isolated and endangered tribes on the planet.

Steph and Ben attended ceremonies, rites of passage, religious festivals and traditional dances. They photographed tribes living on the edge of civilisation. Humanity in all its beauty, horror, strength and weakness can be seen in their exhibition. Steph and Ben wanted to document the world’s most interesting and extreme tribes – before it was too late. They want to inspire people to care…and look outside their own worlds.

Whether you agree or disagree with what is happening- lip plates or scarification for example – whether you are moved or repulsed, it’s impossible not to feel some type of empathy or emotion.


Mursi Shadows – near Jinka, Ethiopia

The omo valley’s most legendary warrior tribe is the Mursi. They live in the barren environment outside of the regional capital, Jinka. Often embroiled in tribal warfare with the Hamer and Karo tribes, the Mursi is well-known for their aggression. The women, similar to the suri, wear elaborate headpieces and lip plates, and live harsher lives in comparison with other nearby tribes. The violent nature of the Mursi means their tribal numbers are declining more rapidly than their Omo valley counterparts.


Suri Ghost – Kibish, Ethiopia

The suri is a tribe like no other. They have no religion or organized power systems. They are proudly self-sufficient and enjoy a high level of isolation. It takes three days to reach their villages, nestled in one of the most remote regions of East Africa. Military guards are required to travel into the area. Cross border raids and incessant tribal warfare is a reality, but reaching the Suri, is an experience like no other. They are one of the great, remaining tribes of the world.


                           Suri Smile – Kibish, Ethiopia

It took three long days of driving on dirt roads to meet the Suri tribe. We had armed guards for sections of the trip. The community is nestled in one of the toughest and most remote places on earth – the Ethiopian/Sudanese border. Despite the harsh conditions, the Suri take great pride and joy in decorating their bodies. This young Suri boy is covered in yellow and red ochre from a creek bed near our camp.

Suri Flowers – Kibish, Ethiopia

In Suri culture, beauty is everything. Lip plates, scarification, facial paint and flowers are used to enhance a woman’s appearance. Younger girls grind down local rocks to create basic paint supplies and apply them in various designs. Flowers are used to complete the process. The paint is often applied using sticks, bottle tops and bullet cartridges. The Suri take great pride in decorating their bodies, and it’s not uncommon to see tribes-people carrying small mirrors. Vanity is a human trait.

Stephanie Hunt in Africa: Habari Productions
Stephanie Hunt in Africa: Habari Productions

Dassanech Crown – Omorate, Ethiopia

The Dassanech are desert dwellers. They exist in the barren wasteland that straddles the border between Ethiopia and Kenya. Closely related to the famous turkana people, they live basic semi-nomadic lives in a tough environment. The bottle-top headdress is the fashion accessory, which has made the Dassanech a photographer’s dream. The tribe trades goods for bottle-tops to make the ‘crown’. The tribe is also renowned for hunting crocodiles in Lake Turkana and the Omo river.

                        Suri Joy – Kibish, Ethiopia

The suri are located in one of Africa’s least accessible terrains. Their home is on the treacherous border between Ethiopia and South Sudan. It’s here the Suri lead a basic existence in a lawless environment. The harsh world around them means the Suri must be a warrior tribe. Indulging in violent local sports and ritual scarification, pain is a welcomed part of the social structure. Facial paints and scars are often ritualistic and are used to attract women and intimidate enemies in battle.

Benjamin Hogarth in Africa, Habari Productions
Benjamin Hogarth in Africa, Habari Productions

                          Arbore Stilts – Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia

Out of nowhere this boy and his mate stepped onto the road in stilts. They performed a special ‘welcome dance’ for us and laughed and joked the whole way through. It’s common for Omo Valley kids to do everything they can to grab the attention of the passing ‘faranji’ (foreigners). Around the next corner we passed a boy selling wooden ak-47s and another leading a baboon on a lead.


Maasai Warrior – Maasai Mara, Kenya

The Maasai is Africa’s most recognizable tribe, existing in the cradle of East Africa’s great rift valley. The most celebrated aspect of the Maasai culture is the warrior class. Maasai men are first and foremost warriors, they exist to protect their tribe, their cattle and their grazing lands. Warriors are known for their elaborate fashion, which aims to look both fierce and beautiful. Maasai boys usually tend to the livestock for eight years and undergo a traditional circumcision ceremony before becoming a warrior.

Wodaabe Wives – Labe, Guinea

This photo captures a collection of wives who share the same husband., The wives have similar tattoos on their faces, the youngest one is breast-feeding her small child. Wodaabe are traditionally nomadic cattle-herders and traders. The women (and men) are known for their beauty, elaborate attire and rich cultural ceremonies.


                          Mursi Fashion – near Jinka, Ethiopia

The Mursi is a warrior tribe, but they are also elaborate dressers. Warthog tusks, metal rings and rope are used in a variety of ways. This young girl uses beads to cover her head, a simple design employed by younger women to enhance colour. Women of the mursi also insert wooden and ceramic plates in their lips, similar to the suri tribe. The young face in this photo is still untouched by the tribal traditions she will undergo in the next few years.

Himba Paint – Kamanjab, Namibia

The Himba can be identified by their hairstyles. The chosen look indicates age and social status within the tribe. Female children usually have two braids, while a boy has just one. Once women in the tribe are married their hair becomes far more elaborate. extensions are used, usually made from donkey hair. The extensions are covered in butter fat and ochre, giving the himba a very definitive and reddish look.

Maasai Warrior Habari Productions

Hamer Beauty – near Turmi, Ethiopia

Like so many Omo Valley tribes, beauty is highly regarded by both men and women. This Hamer girl’s hair has been done in her tribe’s typical fashion. Cow fat/butter is mixed with ochre and then layered from the crown to the ends. women wear piles of thick anklets and bracelets. once a Hamer woman is married she wears a necklace made of straw and metal to indicating she is ‘taken’.

Hamer Bull Jumper – near Turmi, Ethiopia

The Hamer are the Omo valley’s largest tribe. They are a people of staunch tradition and long history. For young men, the bull-jump is their gateway into manhood. In this age-old ceremony, the boy is required to strip naked before running over the backs of six or more bulls four times. A successful attempt means the boy is given an ak-47 is now a man, can marry and raise a family. The ceremony also involves the females from the boy’s family being ritualistically whipped, which shows their devotion to the young man. The process can be quite confronting for outsiders.

Dassanech Crown Habari Productions

Suri Cowboys – Kibish, Ethiopia

These cowboys are around 12-years-old and are in charge of 200-head of cattle. the cowboys wear nothing but a string of beads around their waists. They cover their faces and bodies with snow-white ash from burnt cowpats to sterilize their skin against insects, parasites and the sun. The boys sleep in a small manger in the yards and live on cow’s milk, corn and porridge. they showed us how they bleed the animals – by harmlessly shooting an arrow into the jugular vein – and get just enough blood to feed the four boys. The boys don’t go to school. They will progress into cattle herders once they’ve completed their ‘cowboy’ years.


Suri Plates – Kibish, Ethiopia

Lip plates are an integral part of Suri culture. The ceramic discs are a mark of a woman’s beauty and social status. It indicates a woman’s worth to her family, especially at the time of marriage. The larger the plate, the more her father can expect as a dowry. Plates are usually inserted around the age of 16. the two front teeth are removed and a small incision is made in the bottom lip. disc sizes increase over time, as the woman ages.

Himba Pride – Kamanjab, Ethiopia

The Himba are one of the proudest tribes in Africa. It doesn’t take long before you are sucked into their way of life – a basic, slow-paced existence. Days are spent tending goats and looking after the village’s numerous children. The Himba have clung to their traditions, wearing very little clothing except for a loin cloth made from animal skin. The women of the tribe wear specific jewellery, which signifies their marital status. Photographing the Himba is one of Africa’s great experiences.

habari productions
Habari Productions

This photo was taken during a quick wash in a Suri village. They on the edges of civilization – in an area not located with a map or GPS. The boys were fascinated by Steph’s white, freckly skin.

Grab our book ‘Tribe: Life on the Edge. A Story of Beauty and Survival’ at

Your book can be posted anywhere in the world. We also have Habari Productions prints on offer.


By Stephanie Hunt


Stephanie is an international journalist, producer, news editor and writer who likes to make things happen. She has twenty years’ experience in the media industry and has worked at the top of the game for Al Jazeera English, BBC World News, HARDtalk, Sky News London, Seven Network Australia and Storyful social media news licensing and verification agency. She’s produced everything from interviews with the Dalai Lama and Black Eyed Peas to a Royal Wedding and the Winter Olympics. She's led newsroom coverage of major global news stories like the storming of the US Capitol, presidential elections, COVID-19 and the migrant crisis, and worked daily with the world’s major newsrooms, including the Washington Post, New York Times, NBC News and ABC. Her company Habari Productions was created by Stephanie and Benjamin Hogarth—two journalists/producers who took off 2012 to learn more about the world. They explored West Africa, Ethiopia, Sudan, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania and lived with some of the most isolated and endangered tribes on the planet.



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