Friday 4 April 2014

Konso Tribe of Ethiopia - Two peoples perspective

Diary writing in Ethiopia
' Ethiopia gets under your skin ...' I wrote in day 10 of my diary. Occy started his with 'Before leaving Jinka we had picked up two boxes of 50 pens...'. I found it completely fascinating to compare diaries for the same day amongst us and find quite different observations. Indi-pinds had kept her diary in point form with drawings; Monkeybuns had kept a video diary; Lionboy kept a photographic diary & the Goddess prefered to live in the moment.
Page from my diary Day 10 Ethiopia
'At first it's so like outback Australia it seems familiar with it's eucalypt scents. Then it becomes too hot in the arid Omo Vally to be bearable for more than short stretches of time. Next minute you're driving past the endless red and green landscape dotted with those incredible termite chimneys, acacia trees decorated with oblong beehives, majestic mountains sweeping over te rivers and plains below, reaching up to vast, intense blue of the cloudless Ethiopian sky.'
Beehives in the trees Ethiopia

Termite empire Ethiopia
Another day of driving over dusty rods with the inevitable flat tyre, past women carrying the ubiquitous yellow water containers in the goatsin backpacks or huge loads of wood or hay. India had bought a hundred pens, some for the Aari tribe children and some for the Konso village school children we were yet to visit. The Konso have managed to get their land listed with UNESCO as world heritage due to impressive stonework fortification in a terraced system dividing the village.'
Konso woman wearing a typical Konso skirt design and carrying a goatskin back packpack with yellow plastic water container

Pages from Occy's diary Ethiopia Day 10
'Back the way we came,' wrote Occy, 'Down and across the huge fertile valley where it was 5-7 degrees hotter (30-32 degrees). Passing many herds of goats and cattle. The standard yellow water bottles or bundles of sticks.Wherever we had been I had noticed there was electricity cables. In fact, all of their electricity comes from hydroelectricity generation and there is an excess, sold to neighbouring countries. Also ever present were mobile phone towers and although uptae was not high, there was signal almost everywhere we went.'
 'At the Konso village it was acomplete contrast to previous villages that we had seen. Built up over several generations it was an incredible ants nest of stone walls, pathways and thatched huts.'

Stone fortified pathway into the Konso village

Konso Village Huts
Konso Village steps to ceremonial meeting area with 'wagas' or  statues commemorating chiefs that have died as heros killing men or animals. The Konso had an interesting tradition of taking the tibia of the dead enemy, burning it to ashes and dancing around it.
Generation Ladder of the Konso Tribe
'Every 18 years they add a large log to the generation totem. There was a large stone also to be lifted and thrown over a males head three times when he had reached manhood.' Occy wrote.
Lionboy lifting the manhood stone

Occy about to throw the stone over his head
I had drawn a picture of the village with notes to remind myself that they grew sorghum, maize, moringa leaf, corn & sunflowers. I noted 'The initiation into manhood rock - pick it up and throw it over head behind you - very heavy - Occy was trembling and turning red with the effort.'
 I then went on to note that to be called 'a clitoris' is the ultimate insult because all respectable women have been circumcised.

by Dorit d'Scarlett

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