Friday, March 15, 2013

omo valley tribes

omo valley girl, photograph by hans silvester


surma boy, photograph by hans silvester


photograph by hans silvester


photograph by hans silvester


suri warrior in the omo valley, photograph by eric lafforgue


photograph by hans silvester


mursi tribe, portrait of nadogomi & bardomoye, photograph by joey lawrence


photograph by hans silvester


photograph by hans silvester


photograph by hans silvester


photograph by hans silvester


mursi child, omo valley, photograph by hans silvester


from people of the surman & mursi tribes of the omo valley, photograph by hans silvester



 a kalachnikov armed karo tribal warrier, omo valley,  karo tribe, ethiopia, photograph by ngaire lawson.
the wearing of a grey & ochre clad headdress indicates the killing of an enemy or dangerous animal


hamar woman, ethiopia, photograph by pascal mannaerts


photograph by hans silvester


arbore tribe, debub omo zone, photograph by joey lawrence


a friend posted the first image of the girl with flowers in her earlobes on my facebook page & i was instantly intrigued.  after hours of research i have discovered that she is from the omo valley in ethiopia. 

the lower omo river in south west ethiopia is home to eight different tribes whose population is around 200,000. 

the lower valley of the omo is unlike any other place on earth in that so many different types of people have inhabited such a small area of land over many millennia. it is believed that is was the crossroads of a wide assortment of cultures where early humans of many different ethnicities passed as they migrated to and from lands in every direction. as a result, the lower valley of the omo, which is a prehistoric site near lake turkana, is renowned the world over. 

the discovery of many fossils there, especially of homo gracilis, has been of fundamental importance in the study of human evolution. evidence of the oldest known humanoid technological activity has been found in this region, as well as stone objects attesting to an encampment of prehistroric human beings that is among the oldest known today.


although the omo valley tribes have lived there for centuries, the future of these tribes is up in the air.

access to the omo river is being blocked as the government continues to clear land & build roads to the sugar cane plantations, which are part of the state run kuraz sugar project. the sugar plantations are reported to be irrigated with water from the controversial gibe III hydro-electric dam project (funded in part by china's largest bank, the industrial & commercial bank of china).

the government is also leasing large tracts of tribal land to national & foreign investors. to the west of the omo national park, the suri are protesting against a malaysian company which is planting oil palm on some of their best cattle grazing land. hunger is being used against them-  by destroying their crops they are attempting to force them to move off their land into designated resettlement areas.

most tribes now carry rifles & ak47's to hunt & protect themselves.

the omo valley has been a popular tourist attraction although recently some tour companies have suspended their trips over concerns of exploitation. the area has been heavily visited with tourists lured in by the tribes body art & in particular their lip plates.  many tribal people see the tourists as a source of money & think the tourists should pay to take photographs. sadly, local culture has been degraded by the droves of visiting foreigners.  

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