Omo Valley Part 6: Dorze Village Sep 2018

Our short visit to Omo Valley is quickly coming to an end.  On our last morning we visited the Dorze Tribe on our way to the airport in Arba Minch from where we will fly back to the capital Addis Ababa.  There are an estimated 30,000 Dorze people mostly living in villages near Chencha and Arba Minch.  The Dorze people were once feared warriors but nowadays they are well known cotton weavers and farmers.  They are also well known for their beehive huts which can stand 2 stories tall and last 80 years.  These huts are made with wooden poles, woven bamboo, and other natural materials and they can be moved from place to place.  When there is a termite infestation, the locals will cut the base of the hut and move it to a new location.  Over time the huts become lower and lower, sometimes becoming only half the original height.  The Dorze people sleep in the same huts with their cattle and goats mainly for warmth because of their location higher up in the mountains.  There is an open fire for cooking in the middle of the hut with low benches around it.  The sleeping areas are against the walls with a separate section for the animals.  Around all these beehive huts are Enset or false banana trees, so called because they look like banana trees but do not bear fruit.  The locals grind the stalk of these trees and make flat bread called Kotcho which is the staple of their diet.  We were shown the process of preparing this Kotcho flat bread and even got to taste some freshly prepared ones with honey and chilli paste.

DSCF0582This Dorze beehive hut we visited is about 8 meters high.  There are two small windows at the top for ventilation because they cook on an open fire inside the huts.

DSCF0592It takes about 60 people to move the hut to another location.

DSCF0586Inside the hut, you can see the open fire in the middle and sleeping areas against the wall.  There is also a separate cow shed inside this hut where sharing the space with the animals keeps the hut warmer at night.

DSCF0590DSCF0616

DSCF0600Around every Dorze hut, the locals grow these fake banana trees.

DSCF0603They cut pieces from the main stalk and then grind “the meat” from the stalk

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DSCF0608Removing the “meat” from the stalk

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DSCF0610They then bury the “meat” from the stalk underground for a few months before using it for making the flat bread.

DSCF0614They chop and knead the fermented pulp into a pancake before cooking it on the fire.

DSCF0619Cooking the flat bread on an open fire inside their hut.

DSCF0621The finished product, Kotcho, is eaten together with chilli sauce and honey and other vegetables 3 times a day.  I had a little taste and it is quite chewy and fibrous but not bad at all with chilli sauce!

DSCF0580Along the way you see beehives hanging from the trees.

In the blink of an eye, we have to head to the airport for our flight.  The wheels of the plane lifted and this primitive land fell away.  It is incredible that within an hour I was transported back to the creature comforts of the modern world.  Omo Valley is no doubt one of the most unique places in the world and the future of these villages and their colorful people lie in the balance.  With more and more of these tribal members exchanging traditional life for modern conveniences in towns, the days of scarification, lip plates, body painting, bull jumping, and other cultural traditions appear to be numbered.  I am eternally grateful for the opportunity and the experience to visit these amazing tribes while at the same time learning a lot more about myself.  It was an absolutely fascinating and memorable 5 days in the Omo Valley!

This concludes my six-part Omo Valley adventures.  Next post will be on Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.  Stay tuned!

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Anjar July 2018

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