Many of the tribes of the remote Omo Valley in Southwest Ethiopia live a peaceful and pastoral lifestyle. However, fear and superstition still exist in the valley. Some of the tribes believe evil spirits or a “curse” will bring ill fortune (drought, famine, disease and death) to their villages if Mingi children are not killed.
Because tribal elders believe Mingi children’s presence on the land curses the tribe, they have mandated the killing of all Mingi children. The practice was recently ended in the Kara tribe, due in large part to the efforts of Lale Labuko and OMO CHILD. Unfortunately, Mingi is still practiced by the Hamer tribe.
A child can be declared Mingi for the following reasons — Teeth Mingi, Girl Mingi, Woman Mingi and Twin Mingi. Being declared Mingi almost always means death of the child. The tribe will leave the child alone in the bush without food and water or will drown the child in the river.
One of our goals at Omo Child is to stop the tribal practice of Mingi. We believe that we can achieve this by providing education and humanitarian support to the rescued children and their tribes.
TYPES OF MINGI
Babies born out of wedlock are labeled Mingi by tribal elders. Expensive dowries are required to marry which leaves many couples unable to afford marriage. Once their babies are born, they may be declared Mingi.
When couples are married but do not have their marriage or pregnancy approved, their babies could be declared Mingi.
Children that get their top teeth before their bottom teeth, or if they have chipped a baby tooth, may be declared Mingi by tribal elders.
The birth of twins is perceived as a curse and both babies may be declared Mingi.