Majiek Gai Chan, 15 y.o., lies on the ground after being cut with the knife that will mark him as a man in Nuer society.    This ancient custom was once common throughout Southern Sudan, but has become increasingly rare as youth choose to keep their tribal identity more private and become socially accepted in the modern world.  The government has recently banned the this kind of scarification, but it persists in more traditional areas, such as this western portion of Nuer country in Unity State.  The boys are cut in birth order, and were all eager to follow the tradition of their culture.  The scarification into manhood used to be done when boys were older, but I was told it is now being done to younger boys as they want it done before the practice disappears.  One older man in the village told me:"If you make the mark, you are a strong man. You will not be afraid again."  Shortly after the cutting, one proud father sacrificed a cow to celebrate the manhood of his first son, and shared the meat with the village.

South Sudan

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This project documents the struggle of South Sudan for nationhood in the run up to the 2010 referendum on independence. George spent three months in the region, covering traditional life of the various ethnic groups, the major oilfields that are on the northern border of South Sudan, and efforts to modernize its terribly decayed infrastructure. He was also able to document the effects of the inter-tribal warfare that is being carried out by militias armed by the Khartoum government. George arrived in the small village of Duk Padiet the day after some 167 people were killed, and photographed South Sudanese soldiers burying their comrades in hastily-dug shallow graves.

 

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