(The excerpt below is from the November issue of National Geographic magazine)
One day some years ago, before the latest civil war began in earnest, a Sudan 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.
See National Geographic's Photo Gallery on Sudan in the November 2010 issue.