sharing a drink
Lonely Planet says the lower Omo Valley is almost unique in the world
in that so many different people inhabit such a tiny area. Historians
believe that the south served for a millennia as a kind of cultural
crossroads where quite different ethnic people met as they migrated
from the north, south, east, and west. The peoples of the lower Omo
Valley are considered among the most fascinating on the African continent.
Ethiopia had the best mud and thatch homes that I'd seen anywhere
in Africa. Along the way, most homes were round with wood or mud plastered
sides or completely dome shaped with thatch. Although practical, hardly
any ugly tin roofs were seen. We left paved roads to head up a mountain
gravel path to the village of Chencha. And, as luck would have it,
it was the local market day. The Dorze people were so colorful. It
was a delight to walk through the marketplace. The people at the market
were certainly in a loosened up mood. It appeared clearly that a lot
of different kinds of alcohol flowed freely throughout the day. I
took a photo of two women sharing a gourd, a sign of good friendship.
Dorze homes were the biggest of any African huts I'd ever seen. The
beehive shaped dwellings were made from woven bamboo and thatch from
bamboo leaves. Although electricity and windows would have been a
plus, they were clean and spacious. I visited one at least 15 yards
tall. The interior was divided into master bedroom, kids' room, kitchen,
and - yes - a stable. Maybe that was why they made them so airy?
town of Konso was at the entrance to the Omo Valley. It wasn't at
all what I expected. On one hand, it was small and underdeveloped.
But, on the other hand, it was way more developed than I expected
as the entrance to the Omo Valley. Twenty years ago people wore animal
skins. No more. Konso men didn't wear anything traditional as far
as I could tell. As so often happened around the world, the women
maintained the traditional ways. Konso women wore skirts that looked
double layered. One ruffled skirt stopped at the hips. The second
layer went to mid-calf. Favorite style was white cloth with a multi-colored
trim. How the Konso women wore their blouses depended on the amount
of work to be done, and the Konso people were hard workers! Many of
the mountains in the region had been terraced. If the women weren't
working too hard, they wore their blouses the regular way. But, it
they worked up a sweat carrying enormous loads on their backs, they
frequently just pulled the blouse over their heads letting them (and
anything else) hang down the front.
were several tribes in the valley. I tried to take lots of portraits
from each. However, my favorites had to be the
Hamar and the Mursi people.
I'll focus on them, but I do have to throw in a few other portraits.