Ethiopia – Peoples Of The Omo Valley
The South Omo region is one of the few places left on this planet where tribes live in their little micro cosmos (almost) free from external influences from the outside world. Not that the Ethiopian government has not tried to change some of the tribes’ customs such as ritual whipping of women (Hamar) and cutting of the lower lip for lip plates (Mursi), but the region is remote enough that these attempt have been relatively unfruitful so far. The government has tried to establish a measure of authority over a region that until recently didn’t know Ethiopia existed, by setting up police stations. The police were politely asked to “get out” by groups of men with automatic weapons knocking at the police station. They took the hint and left.
Most tribes are semi nomadic or nomadic, lifestock providing the necessities of life. Such a lifestyle and dwindling resources make conflicts inevitable. Tribal and inter-tribal wars usually erupt over grazing and cattle disputes. These mini wars are fought with automatic weapons and many fatalities can occur. Living in an area bordering an enemy tribe can be very dangerous for the male fighting population.
What’s fascinating about this region is that each tribe is like a small nation with completely different customs, laws, looks and origin. The map below may shed some light on the different ethnic groups and their locations.
slideshow in the portfolio section…