Ethiopia is a rich mosaic of nations, nationality and peoples. It is an ancient famous land of diverse cultures, traditions, religions and values. Ethiopia has a diverse population, with more than 80 distinct ethnic and linguistic groups with different culture, religion and life style. Some of this people cultures are far from being influenced by the so-called modernity. Ethiopia is the only African land with its own alphabet, chronology and Calendar. In the north the Tigray, the Amhara and Oromo as well as the Afar people with their distinctive way of dressing, Festivals and markets and Southern Ethiopia is rich with multi nationalities culture, way of dressing, hair styles, like the Hamer, the Karo, the Mursi with their different ornaments.
The name Amhara means “pleasing, agreeable, beautiful, and gracious,” and these beautiful people have truly impacted Ethiopia for centuries. The majority of the Amhara people lives in north central Ethiopia, namely Gojjam, Gondar and Wello .They trace their lineage all the way to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Their national clothes are basically white, whether the shawls and light blankets worn over the shoulders by the men or the white dresses and wraps worn by the ladies.
The Tigray people live in the northern highlands of Ethiopia´s Tigray regional state. The term Tigray is used in Ethiopia for both the people and their region. The area where they live in the mountains was the center of the ancient Cushitic empire of Axum. Traditional Tigray clothing is white with little adornment. Men wear ankle-length pants that are tight from the knee to the ankle and baggy in the upper legs and hips. A fitted, long-sleeved shirt covers the upper body. The shirt extends to just above the knee. Both men and women wear a gabbi (shawl or toga) draped around the shoulders.
The various Oromo people groups are the largest, most widely dispersed groups in Ethiopia especially in the southern region and around Addis Ababa, Capital city. Composed of approximately a dozen tribal clusters. Nearly all of these peoples speak mutually intelligible dialects of a language called “Oromo, Borana-Arsi-Guji”. Although they retain similarities in their descent system, they differ considerably in religion, lifestyle. Oromo have a reputation for being easygoing and sociable. They value hospitality and almsgiving, especially to relatives and friends.
You have to drive 37 km before you reach Arbaminch to be in naturally and culturally reach village of Dorze people. Dorze Chencha Village Perched on the Guge hills at an altitude of 2900 m the small highland town of Chencha is famous for its moist climate and elephant eyes style house. Farming and skillful weaving are their system of livelihood. False Banana, Enset, is a common crop which you can notify in every compound of the Dorze people. They are super in weaving cotton cloths and they have a colorful cotton cloth unique to their culture.
The beehive- shaped house is also the identity of the Dorze people of Ethiopia. It is made by using organic materials like the bamboo sticks, leaves, grass and the false banana and it is very graceful. The chencha house has only one door with no windows which makes it unique as compared to the large size and doom that it boasts. The height of this astonishing dome measures up to 6m tall and it is the same stick which stretches as a dome from the ground. At the entrance it has a reception like area but the house is only one vast room with the firing place at the middle and some covered partitions for livestock and other purposes. The beehive-shaped house of chencha is a lifelong house which can stay more than 60 years without any problem and it is an easy mobile house in case of any infestation by the termites. In every compound of the chencha village you will see the graceful chencha house at the center surrounded by the false banana and other simple crops. The Dorze area is also naturally ever green and gifted with a waterfall named as ‘Toro-waterfall’ by the locals. The height of this beautiful impressive waterfall is 30 m and it is encircled with the forests. You will have a chance to appreciate the cultural clothes and items of the Dorze people at their local market day which is on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Apart from the other ethnic in Ethiopia, the Meskel celebration (the finding of the true cross) is very unique and fabulous in Dorze people. Every member of the society will exchange their joy and cheer by wearing colorful cloths and singing traditionally.
To appreciate the weaving culture in Ethiopia, to see unique but graceful house and to get yourself refreshing by nature the Dorze people of Ethiopia is a welcoming village always..
Omo Valley and Its Tribe
South Omo valley is an abode of around 24 ethnics, each having their own unique culture, variety of language, worshiping and stunning life style. But the number of people in each ethnic group varies from very few to a large number. All of the ethnic differs in their way of decoration and life style. The red soil and the white chalks in the area is the key for decorating their body in unusual and exciting style. Scarification of their body and wearing jewelry of nickel or light metal is very common way of magnifying their natural prettiness.
Even if the meaning and the type of the jewelry differs according to the ethnic, both men and women like adornment. Decoration and wearing different jewelry is not only the way of transmitting message but it is also the means of explaining the social level of the men and women. The type of the cloth, which they use some times to cover some parts of their body, they wear differs according to the gender and it is made of animal skin. Slitting lips and ear and inserting a plate is among the extraordinary beauties of decorated women in south Omo valley. The livelihood system in south Omo is agro-pastoralism and there are some who move from place to place according to the season.
Like the other, the Hamer-bena people, the Mursi and the Karu people are still contributing to the living cultural museum of south Omo. The Evangadi dance with its attractive body movement and group song will allow you to be part of the friendly Hamer people. Their ritual passage ceremony of bull jumping, were the young man is expected to jump over 10-30 lined bulls, is also relaxing and sportive. Near to the Omo River the warrior Mursi people astonish you for their lip plates of the women and for their fierce stick fighting named Dunga. In Mursi the women have to slit her lower lip so as to insert the clay plate which stretches in return and it is a good-looking in their culture. The Mursi man decorated with the white chalk in scary style is expected to participate in stick fighting so as to get his girl. The Karu peoples are also the other ethnic that are living near the Omo River. They are known for their decoration that both the men and the women use white chalk so as to beautify themselves. The men wear clay hair buns which symbolize his hero of killing an animal and fighting.
In order to visit this diverse and colorful cultural museum the Market day of the ethnics is another option which familiarize you both with the culture as well as the traditional market of the south Omo tribes. The Thursday market at Key Afer is a good spot to see the Ari, Bena, Tsemay and Hamer people who will gather for a colorful market. The biggest and most famous market of the region is the Turmi Market of Monday where you can see the clothing style, cultural and the attractive body and hair decoration style of Hamer and other peoples. The Saturday market at Erbore and Dimeka are also a good opportunity to see the South Omo tribes. Driving more than 805 km from Addis Ababa through the evergreen and cultural land of southern Ethiopia is fascinating and rewarding for the living museum of south Omo tribes. Crossing Jinka is the other option in order to visit the Mursi tribe, which settled in Mago national park, and other tribes especially during market day. It has also important ethnographic museum which gives you a good high light about the Omo valley tribes.
The Local legends of konso states that, it was before 500-1000 years that the Konso people settled in the current highland area of southern Ethiopia. The fact that they are surrounded by the semi desert borena lowland in the east and harsh lower Omo valley in the west doesn’t prohibit them from surviving. Rather they cultivate the basaltic and infertile hill using their special skill of terracing.
The konso people are mixed agriculturalists and sorghum, bean, maize and coffee are their principal crop. Their hard working habit can be best observed by watching their terraced hilly and rocky land. They live in community style where every community has its own tall Mora or communal house which is used by the leaders to make a decision and to safeguard the village. The Kata induction ceremony reflect the system of their social organization in which every village is expected to initiate a new generation of a boys at the age between eight and twenty five. In this festival they erect a number of generation poles and each pole indicates 18 years. The circular stone hut and there elevated granary together with the terraced hilly landscape is impressive in that it makes you to feel their ancient life style and their living cultural feature. The carved wooden grave marker surrounded with smaller statue, Wagas, is to indicate the konso’s important man or warrior who defeated the invader and the smaller statues are for his wives.
Among the community of Konso Dekatu is the largest and self-standing traditional community where you can get best Waga maker. The 400 years old Mecheke village, settled on tall hill, is very commonly visited and it has four groups of Waga statues. Konso is not only an abode of wondering culture its Gesergio village has sky scrapper sculpted sand which resemble the New york sky buildings. Even if some says that this sculpted pinnacle of sand is the result of erosion, the local traditions believe that it is the supernatural force that made it while it looks for the stolen ceremonial drums of the chief. The traditional Konso Landscape is among the world heritage site registered by UNESCO. Driving 600km from Addis Ababa through the green route of southern Ethiopia, the welcoming community of Konso and the Lodges make your visit full of comfort and happiness.