Sunday, May 4, 2014

Mehri Interview


   I am still looking for someone that is a part of the Mehri culture that is willing to do an interview with me. I have reached out to many people on the web but I have not gotten any responses. By interviewing someone from the Mehri culture I could get a better understanding of their beliefs, values, ways of life,etc. By publishing these blogs regarding the Mehri culture, the world could get a glimpse of a wonderful culture that many of them have never even heard of. There is little information about the Mehri culture out there, and many people would love to learn all about this culture. If there is anyone out there that could help me find someone of the Mehri culture to interview, please comment on this blog post. I would love to get in contact with this person to broaden my understanding of their culture and share it with the world.

Mehri Cultural Survival


        Cultures that are small and secluded from the rest of a country tend to die off after a period of time. Sometimes they are influenced by neighboring countries to change their ways. Often times they are forced out of their own country. Many times they are forced to adapt to the ways of life of the people of the country the reside in. All of these possible outcomes could make a culture go extinct. So how does the Mehri culture still thrive and hold on to it's cultural beliefs, values and traditions? They may be influenced by their neighbors in a small way, but they still remain close to their old traditions, beliefs and values.
        Mehri people live in small tribes in the Arabian Peninsula. According to an Oxford University study Mehri people want independence and wish the Mehri people could have an independent state. Although they feel this way, they do not do much to bother the citizens of the countries they reside in. They also share some of the same religious beliefs as the countries that they live, so there is little conflict between them and the rest of the country. They seclude themselves into small tribes but they are however a part of the same culture.

        Although they are parts of different tribes they practice the same cultural traditions which bind them together. Mehri's used to practice arranged marriages by using the dowry method, but that way of life is slowly diminishing. Now, more Mehri people are choosing their own spouse. Although they are beginning to chose their own spouses, they only marry people from the same tribe as them. This practice is called endogamy.

          Men are favored in the Mehri culture. Boys inherit land and animals from the elder males in their family, whereas girls don't inherit anything usually. The Mehri's social life is very important to them. The men have meals together as a tribe. Since there is not a supply of wood where they live to make tables, they have always sat on the floor when they eat. Eating on the floor has now become an important tradition to them.

       Although they are influenced slightly by learning to speak Arabic, as a majority they have stuck to their cultural beliefs, values, traditions and ways of life. They still practice endogamy, pass down inheritances to boys in their tribe, share meal time as a tribe, and also practice many other cultural traditions as they always have. The Mehri culture is a strong culture and is one that will hopefully survive in the future.

Mehri Migration and Diaspora

      The Mehri are the largest tribe in Yemen. The Mehri originated in Yemen but began to move to different areas once the different Mehri tribes began to separate. They also began to move to different countries because they did not feel that they had the rights they deserved in Yemen. Now, Mehri people could be found in different countries in the Arabian Peninsula. Oman, Kuwait, and Somalia are some countries that Mehri could be found in.

      It is estimated that 71,000 Mehri's reside in Yemen. 51,000 Mehri's reside in Oman. 14,000 Mehri's live in Kuwait. The rest of the Mehri's are scattered throughout the middle east. Mehri's are semi-nomadic and travel when the seasons change. There is a small amount of resources that allow them to survive, so often times they move to different regions and countries in search of the resources they need.

       In the Mehri culture, land is passed down from older males in the family to younger boys. Once they are grown up it is not uncommon for the boy who inherited land to move his family to that part of land. This is also a part of the reason why Mehri's move around a lot. Although Mehri people migrate often, they usually always move together as a tribe. It would be very rare for one Mehri peron to move alone to a completely different area. They move to different areas and regions out of strategy, not because they are forced.

Mehri and their Neighbors

       In 2013 Oxford University surveyed people of Mehri. They interviewed around 2,000 Mehris men and women, even ones living in tents and caves. The results of almost every Mehri person surveyed were the same. The evidence of the study showed that a little over 70% of Mehri people want independence from Yemen and want their own independent state. They do not believe that their rights are being defended. Also, 90% of Mehri people want the different Mehri tribes to unite. There are many different Mehri tribes that are all lead by a sheik. They are all seperate and do not bother each other. Mehri for the most part do not interact with their neighbors, or even Mehri people from other tribes for that matter. The Oxford University study showed that Mehri wanted to unite with eachother to form a stronger Mehri, but they were unaware how to. A delegate from Oxford University went in front of some Mehri people to speak to them about their findings and some steps towards helping them unite. Hopefully the Mehri people could work together in the future to form a stronger group and also make Yemen aware that they are unhappy.

      The Mehri population is 99.9% Muslim. This means that they are not easily influenced by missionaries that come to their tribe and try to convert them to a different religion such as Christian or Evangelical. Their language however is predicted to become extinct in the future due to their neighbors speaking Arabic. Around 70% of Mehri people speak Mehri as their first language but many now speak Arabic to better understand those around them. They do however only marry within their own tribal group, so hopefully they will still use the Mehri language with eachother and teach it to their children so that It never has a chance to go extinct.


Birds of Mehri

       Mehri people live in the Arabian Peninsula. There are many different birds live in the Mehri people's homeland. Since Yemen is a country that Asia, Africa and Europe come together at, the diversity of birds thrive. There are about 400 different species of birds found in Yemen. The list of birds in this area continues to grow annually.

        Grebes are popular birds that could be found in this area. They are fresh-water diving birds that are medium in size. They are very good at swimming and diving but their feet make it hard for them to travel on land.

         Shear-water and Petrels are also found in Mehri's homeland. Five different species of these birds are found in this area. Storm petrels are the smallest sea-birds who feed on small fish. Other birds that could be found are Tropicbirds, Pelicans,

Boobies, Gannets, Cormorants, and Storks. Boobies are one of the birds that I found most interesting while undergoing my research of types of birds in this region. Their name is unique, but that isn't the only thing that separates them from most birds out there. They dive from tall heights and hunt fish by pushing them far into the water. Boobies also have blue feet, which is also very unique and awesome.


Mehri's Cosmos


    Most Mehri people are Muslim. They believe in the teachings of Mohammed and strictly follow their holy book, the Koran. They follow the five pillars of Islam as well. They strongly believe that their religion is the only righteous one and the best religion. 

       They are aware that there are other religions in the world and few have converted to the religion of Christianity. Most Mehri people stay in their villages or only travel to graze their animals, so they do not get much of an opportunity to travel and see the world. However, many Mehri people make a trip to Mecca at least once in their life so they do get to see another part of the world that attracts many different people. Christian missionaries have also reached out to some Mehri people so they do have a sense that the world contains ideas and people different from what they are used.

       Oxford University did a study on the Mehri people and got to ask them questions about their beliefs and ways of life. I think it was really important for them to know that other people around the world care about them, and want to know more about their culture. Hopefully the Mehri people believe that the rest of the world is eager to learn about them.


World of the Mehri


         Most Mehri are a part of tribes. There is a sheik who is the ruler of the tribe. The sheik is wise, is looked up to, has much knowledge of the outside world and Islam. The sheik protects the tribe, governs the tribe and provides land and territory for the tribe members to graze and heard their animals. 

         The Mehri are divided into two groups that both revolve around their animals. The semi-nomads are one of the groups. This group lives in the desert. Winter is when the semi-nomads graze their animals. Once it begins to get dry and summer hits, the semi-nomads move back into their villages. The settled Mehri are the second group that Mehri's could be divided into. These tribe members live in villages where they raise their camels and goats. They also keep farm animals to make eggs and milk. They work to provide themselves what they need to survive.