The Daasanach – Sept 19th

We started out before daybreak in order to visit the Daasanach tribe, located close to the Kenya border.  This involved going through several checkpoints and showing our passports even though we hadn’t left Ethiopia.

After driving along a dirt track and passing several makeshift looking shelters we arrived at the Daasanach tribe.  I quickly found out the makeshift shelters were their homes, very different from the thatched huts of the Hamer people.  The Daasanach are a nomadic people and they keep their housing simple as a result.  Their village was incredibly dusty, barren and hot, and it reminded me of Tattoine for those of you Star Wars fans.  It is a very inhospitable place!

That said, the people were incredibly welcoming and warm.  Today was a ceremony for the coming of age of some of the girls in the village.  Their fathers dressed in incredible outfits of leopard skins, feathers and other ornaments and each carried a long stick signifying they had a daughter coming of age.  It was obvious this is a very proud moment for the parents.  They paraded as a group around the village creating quite a spectacle as the dust swirled around them.

These girls (aged around fourteen) are available to be chosen over the next month by a husband.  When he choses a wife, he gives her family a goat, and when she bears children he gives cows for each child.  It is common for men to have multiple wives, as it is with the Hamer, and the larger the number of wives is a sign of increasing wealth.  Interestingly, this makes female children to be more prized than males.

Seeing the lifestyle and hardships of the Daasanach really makes me grateful for everything I take for granted at home.  These people must live an incredibly tough life!

3 thoughts

  1. Your photos blow me away, Andy! The intensity in the man’s eyes with the orange bead below his lip is astonishing! I love those group shots with the dust swirling. You have a gift for capturing movement in these still shots. So grateful for this window into your trip.

  2. Wally and I were looking at the pics again, and I wondered if these furs/skins were leopard as they appear. It must take them awhile to get ready!

    • Hey Gayle, I asked the same question of the tribes people as I didn’t think there is a large leopard population in the area. These are real skins and they do still hunt for leopards in surrounding areas. Most of these have been passed down from generation to generation.

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