The Migrants

52 minutes / Colour / 1985
Directed by
Leslie Woodhead David Wason

Anthropologist David Turton

Country of production United Kingdom

Series In Search of Cool Ground: The Mursi Trilogy

Series Disappearing World Series

The Migrants is the third film in the trilogy 'In Search of Cool Ground' for Granada Television's Disappearing World series. It is about a drought-induced migration of Mursi from their traditional territory in the Omo valley to the Mago valley, about fifty miles away. This migration has brought them, for the first time, into contact with the market economy of the Ethiopian Highlands. David Turton notes that, when he first met the Mursi, men were seldom, and women never, seen at the highland markets. Now the Mago migrants, and especially women, are familiar figures in the weekly market at Berka, just four hours walk from their new settlements. With their foothold in the pastoral economy weakening (tsetse flies make the Mago area quite unsuitable for cattle herding) and their dependence on market exchange growing, the migrants are in the process of becoming settled agriculturalists, like their highland neighbours, the Ari. By tracing the present and likely impact of this move on the lives of the migrants, the film shows how they are beginning to carve out a new ethnic identity for themselves, as well as a new home.

D. Turton, 1988. 'Looking for a Cool Place: The Mursi, 1890s-1980s'. In D. Johnson and D. Anderson (eds.) The Ecology of Survival: Case Studies from Northeast African History, pp. 201–82. Lester Crook Academic Publishing and Westview Press, Boulder and London.

D. Turton and P. Turton, 1984. 'Spontaneous Resettlement after Drought: An Ethiopian Example'. Disasters, Vol. 8, No. 3, pp. 178–89.

L. Woodhead, 1987. A Box Full of Spirits: Adventures of a Film-maker in Africa. Heinemann, London.

Language and subtitles English with English Subtitles

Region North and Northeast Africa

Country Ethiopia

Keywords Social Change Collective / Community identity Refugees / Displaced populations