Published: November 2010

Sudan's Shaky Peace

Sudan Scarification

A Shaky Peace

The scars and hopes of a boy named Logocho mirror his land.

By Matthew Teague
Photograph by George Steinmetz

One day some years ago, before the latest civil war began in earnest, a Sudanese boy named Logocho peeked into the entry of his family's grass hut. His father sprang out and grabbed him, and then, with an older boy, pinned him in the dirt.

A strange boy, Logocho. Above him, his father's shoulders and chest rippled with welted tribal scars. A Morse code of dots and dashes crossed the father's face and forehead, signaling to any potential cattle raiders—the Dinka, the Nuer—that he, as a Murle, would defend his stock with spear, knife, fists, and teeth.

But his son showed no interest in the old ways. When other children, including his own brother, underwent an early Murle rite of passage, he ran and hid in the grass. Now his body, smooth as a calf's, trembled and arched in the dust. Nothing marked him as Murle.

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