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© 2011 Sabrina Swenson. All Rights Reserved.
South Sudan
November, 2023
The Mundari are a small, nomadic ethnic tribe in South Sudan. They are cattle herders. Their beloved cattle serve as a form of currency as well as a mark of status. Unbelievably, cows go for around $300 a head in South Sudan. When marrying, a man must pay the prospective wife’s family a dowry. Dowry’s can average 45-50 cows or more! The camp I visited had around 800 cattle and 80 people. It’s mostly the younger Mundari tending the cattle, whilst the older generation live in fixed structures. There are approximately 200,000 to 300,000 Mundari in South Sudan. I slept in a tent while visiting them. Even more startling than the 200 mosquito bites I had in the morning was the sight of many young Mundari men running for a urinating cow and proceeding to stick their heads under the flow! The uric acid in the urine turns their black hair to a red/orange. When I asked why they did this, the answer was simple: they think it’s beautiful! I guess we always want what we don’t have! 
They burn cow dung to try to keep the mosquitos away.
Spreading out the cow dung so it drys faster.
The Mundari are very tall, even the ladies!
Mundari think orange/red hair is beautiful. To obtain this, they stick their head under the morning urine flow of their beloved cows.The uric acid turns it to the desired shade in around 5-7 days!
Operation hair lightening in progress!
Morning milk straight from the source!
Fresh from the urine flow!