Monday, April 9, 2012
the road to Yabello
From the South Omo Valley we drove back to Weyto and to Konso, and then on to Yabello. The road first crosses the Buska Mountains, as far as I can see the western escarpment from yet another section of the rift valley, before descending in the Weyto desert, a flat expanse of land that looks conspicuously like a rift valley floor.
(1, 2) River valley in the Buska Mountains, ultimately arriving at the rift valley floor, formed by the Weyto Desert
(3) some of the boys go to school, others tend the cattle and goats
This is where the Erbore people live – generating another disappointing visit to a village; the first word uttered when we arrived was “pen?”, and even before we could get out of the car we were surrounded by photo-beggars. We did have a local guide here, part of the mandatory package, who wandered with us in between the flimsy round huts, the tukuls. The other good thing he did was admitting that the boys that had painted their face did this for special ceremonies, a few times a year, but since there was no ceremony now, they mostly did it for the tourists, instead - something I had already suspected in earlier villages.
(4, 5, two more tribal people, Erbore people in this case, and that is it, no more!
Strikingly, it turned out that there is in fact a much larger village 500 meters down the road, which one would normally not see – but our driver had to come here to get our receipt from the entry payments. Here people live in normal houses, ie. square huts with corrugated iron roofs, and here people wear Western cloths; would they do shifts, Monday, Wednesday, Friday one half of the village goes and entertains the tourists in traditional garb, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday it is the other half’s turn? Anyhow, further undermining the authenticity of the whole thing, that’s for sure.
Perhaps the most astonishing thing from the valley floor here is the habit to employ human scare crows: in the sorghum fields small platforms have been raised, every 100-200 meters or so, where young men and boys sit with long branches, and a few pebbles, to chase the birds off the crops. Just imagine the opportunity costs, having all these able young men, well, throwing stones at birds the whole day. There must be a more efficient way!
(6, 7) human scare crows in action
Closer to Weyto there are extensive cotton fields, just before we climb back into the mountains, on the other side of the rift. Past Karat – Konso country, remember?, extensively terraced; in retrospect probably our best tribal experience, almost a week ago – we enter Borena territory, another semi-nomadic pastoralist tribe, who cover large parts of the central southern part of the country. Once again into the village, once again without guide, and without means of communication, yet with all the same recognizable features of a tribal village; this was another totally useless exercise, and we left within five minutes.
We enjoyed the country side, instead, all the way up to Yabello.
(8, 9) cotton, and cotton harvest in the Weyto area
(10) and a tree in a dry river bed, hoping for some rain