Mudhut life for Lana enough to drive her away from drink

LANA Inglis was prepared to go to great lengths to escape her nightmare of alcoholism – even flying 4000 miles to join an African tribe.

The 28-year-old, former air hostess from Edinburgh, left behind the modern trappings that were driving her to drink in exchange for a simpler life of hard work and honest living.

Her story with the Ethiopian Afar tribe is tonight going to be told as part of BBC2's Tribal Wives series.

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She said: "I don't know what I expected but I went there to 'find myself' and to leave the old drunken Lana behind.

"At my lowest point I used to have a large whisky in the morning with my coffee, a quarter-bottle of vodka with juice, two large glasses of wine at lunch, and in the evening I'd pick up a box of wine from the supermarket and drink that."

She decided to go to desperate measures to shake off her alcoholism, but the enormous culture shock often reduced her to tears.

Among the women of the tribe, female circumcision is common and their strict Muslim culture forbids alcohol. Anyone found drinking would immediately be beaten and ostracised.

The life of women in the tribe is hard, starting at dawn when they have to collect water from a crocodile-infested river. They gather firewood and carry it a mile back to the village on their backs.

While the men spend their days tending the cattle, the women work hard from dawn to dusk for little appreciation.

However, for Lana the toil has been cathartic and given her a new perspective on life.

She has a new boyfriend, a Dutch pilot called Jan, and is looking forward to moving on with her life and not returning to her old ways.

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She said: "When I introduce myself to people I end up apologising for the awful person I used to be.

"Now I just can't wait to meet the person I'm going to become in a month's time.

"I don't know who she is but I'm sure she's an awful lot different and stronger."

Lana added: "I keep thinking to myself that I've been through worse with my drink problem, which could have killed me if I'd let it.

"Now I just appreciate everything that I've got so much."

In the documentary, the tribeswomen accept Lana straight away, and dress her in traditional clothes and braid her hair.

She sleeps in a mud hut with 12 others aged between three and 30.

Her arrival sparks celebration in the village and is marked by the ritual slaughtering of a goat in her honour.

Lana said: "It's a shock but that's the way it is. I'm not a vegetarian but I just wish I didn't have to see that."

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The next morning she plunges head first into her new life but diving into the crocodile infested water to freshen up, while collecting water.

However, while Lana embarked on a journey of discovery, many of the tribe's ways and customs horrified her.

One tribesman said: "When she first came here the men weren't interested in her. Now she dresses like us, everyone's interested.

"If she wanted to get married, I'd marry her. But if she didn't do what I told her we'd fight and I'd beat her. If she answered back, I'd beat her."

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