Tuesday, April 11, 2006


On one of my first days in Lui, I noticed that a toothbrush was stuck in the grass thatch just above the tukal entrance. And while I was inside one of the tukals, I noticed another toothbrush stuck in the grass roof above me. I asked Peter, the man who cared for us in the compound, what that was about. If I understand correctly, here’s what he said.

The Moru of Lui don’t much have access to "toothbrushes" per se. Instead, they would grab a small twig in the morning and work it around their teeth during the day -- working it or sucking on it as the inclination led. When they were finished with this twig, they would just stick it into the thatch as they returned to their tukal.

Then they got access [I’m not sure how – probably from visitors like us] to toothbrushes. But they would keep the same habit: work it around during the day, then stick it in the tukal roof when they were finished with it.

And thus I saw these tukals – which look like structures from the middle ages – with an OralB toothbrush stuck in the thatch roof here and there. Truly, delightfully anachronistic!

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