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Meet the Mundari people of South Sudan who bathe in urine of cows to keep themselves clean

The Mundari tribe in South Sudan are known for their cows which represent their wealth, status and dowry.

A small ethnic group composed of cattle-herders and agriculturalists, the Mundari have come to be known for their unique way of looking after their cattle in South Sudan, the world’s youngest country.

The traditional Mundari tribal lands are “predominantly flat and marked by occasional isolated large hills.”

The soil, which is clay-based, causing drainage and water retention, is ideal for cattle production.

The cows mean so much to them that they use rifles to watch over their large-horned herds, as a single cow or bull can be worth $500.

“These animals are treated like members of the family.”

south sudan bath in cow urine

“When the cattle return back from the pasture they know exactly where their masters are and where their home is – they are like dogs in that way. ‘Families will sleep with their animals, wash them in ash and make sure the ground is soft and clean for them,” photographer Tariq Zaidi reports.

“When the cattle return back from the pasture they know exactly where their masters are and where their home is – they are like dogs in that way. ‘Families will sleep with their animals, wash them in ash and make sure the ground is soft and clean for them,” photographer Tariq Zaidi reports.

Their breed of cow has been a dowry, a source of medicine, wealth and even a friend. The Mundari “look like bodybuilders,” said Zaidi, “but their diet is pretty much milk and yoghurt. That’s it.”

To largely keep themselves clean, Mundari men will squat under streams of cow urine, which they see as a natural antiseptic to fight infection. The act will also tinge their hair orange.

Meanwhile, dung is piled high into heaps for burning. The herdsmen will subsequently smear the peach-coloured ash on their skin. This serves as an antiseptic and protects them from the scorching heat.

Their breed of cow has been a dowry, a source of medicine, wealth and even a friend. The Mundari “look like bodybuilders,” said Zaidi, “but their diet is pretty much milk and yoghurt. That’s it.”

To largely keep themselves clean, Mundari men will squat under streams of cow urine, which they see as a natural antiseptic to fight infection. The act will also tinge their hair orange.

Meanwhile, dung is piled high into heaps for burning. The herdsmen will subsequently smear the peach-coloured ash on their skin. This serves as an antiseptic and protects them from the scorching heat.

In 2016 when Zaidi visited, he reported that “The ongoing war in South Sudan has cut off the Mundari tribe from the rest of the world.”.

“They don’t venture into the town, they stay in the bush, and it’s why their unique way of life endures.”

The Mundari have no taste for war and “their guns are not to kill anyone but to protect their herd.”

All the Mundari want to do is take care of their livestock, Zaidi said, adding that they will protect them at all costs.

 

SOURCE: face2faceafrica

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