Tribes of Africa
The Daasanach or Dassanech tribe is one of the ancient tribes of Africa. These pastoralists live in three different East African countries, Kenya, the Sudan, and Ethiopia. They number some thirty-thousand and the center of their population is near Lake Turkana in the Debub Omo Zone of the Lower Omo Valley of Ethiopia. The neighboring Turkana tribe calls the Daasanach people the "Merille" tribe. Recently, many Daasanach have been converted to agriculturalists as have many tribes of Africa. This is primarily a result of their losing access to their traditional territories in Kenya and the Sudan Unfortunately, their new way of life as agriculturalists has forced them to live near permanent water sources on the Omo River where diseases such as sleeping sickness transmitted by the tsetse fly has been taking its toll on this and other native tribes of Africa. The Daasanach tribe speaks a Cushitic language in the Afro-Asiatic linguistic family unlike many of their neighbors such as the Surma (Suri), Mursi and Nyangatom tribes which speak languages in the Nilo-Saharan family. "Shangilla" is a derogatory term that some of the neighboring African tribes use for the Daasanach tribe. Similar to many tribes of Africa, the Daasanach have various clans which are inherited by patrilineal descent. In addition, their society recognizes various age sets which determines ones position in many of the traditional tribes of Africa.
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