From Turmi, we drove for about 3 hours north to reach Konso where we stayed at the Kanta Lodge. The Konso Tribe is known for their fortified settlements and their Waka totem poles and is one of the nine Unesco World Heritage sites in Ethiopia. These wakas or totem poles are carvings created in memory of a deceased member who has killed an enemy or a dangerous animal. They are often arranged in groups with the statues representing the man, his wives, and his adversaries. The Konso people are mainly farmers known for growing their crops on stonewalled terraces to prevent soil erosion in this harsh arid environment. They built stone walls of up to 5 meters high around the fields in order to collect and keep water for cultivation. In Konso community, there are nine clans headed by nine chiefs. These clans are patrilineal and exogamous meaning individuals are required to marry outside of one’s own clan. It was very interesting to walk through the well organized village with our local guide Choo Choo and to see the six different layers of defensive stone walls as the village grew larger over time.
Terraced farmland of the Konso people
Photographing the rock formations near the Konso village which the locals call New York. It reminds me very much of Bryce Canyon in the U.S.
Legend has it that these rock formations were made by God’s hands digging in the ground in search of a stolen sacred drum.
Like everywhere else in Ethiopia, there are many kids waiting at popular tourists spots asking for money or selling you handicrafts. Our guide told us not to give them any money because that would encourage them to not want to go to school. Our guide decided to play some music to distract them and all the kids started doing the jiggy dance.
Buying some school supplies for the local kids.
Notice the brand of the pens I got for the local school children
Entering the first layer of defensive stone wall which is also the most recently built since it is located on the outermost rim of the village.
Each family has their own compound and on the right you can see part of the reservoir.
Moras are central to Konso village life. They are large communal huts built in the central enclosures where the village comes to discuss and solve its problems. It is also where children come to play during the day, where old people come to play board games and keep watch of the village while the adults are tending to the crops, and where the young men as well as guests come to sleep at night.
Inside the mora
Underneath the mora
Typical pathway within the Konso village
Any issues within the community will be discussed here
Notice the large ceramic pot on the roof, it is there to hold the straw together.
Villagers playing a game of Gebeta at one of the several moras in the village. I watched them play this traditional game for a while and the guide tried to explain the rules to me but I still don’t have a clue how to play! Apparently it is one of the oldest games in the world, first played in Egypt.
Inside the Konso village is a Generation Pole where with every new generation (every 18 years), a new trunk is added to the pole. By counting how many trunks are tied together, one can tell the age of the village. There are around 21 or so trunks here which means this village is about 400 years old.
Kids chilling out under one of the moras
This round rock weighs about 60kg and it is a rite of passage for the young males to be able to lift it over their heads and throw it behind them. I tried and couldn’t even move it off the ground a millimeter!
This Konso woman is wearing a traditional skirt where the upper layer of ruffles shows the woman’s age. The older you are, the longer the top layer of ruffles.
Konso Tribe is known for their Waka totems. These carvings are created in memory of a deceased member who has killed an enemy or a dangerous animal. Here this Waka commemorates a man who had killed a leopard. He stands in the middle with his 2 wives and children on his sides. And that lizard looking like carving with the spots is apparently their depiction of the leopard
Next stop will be on the Dorze people which is the last stop of my Omo Valley adventures. Stayed tuned!
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