Karo tribe, Ethiopia


After visiting the mountains of northern Ethiopia, and the amazing subterranean rock-cut churches of Lalibela, I wanted to travel to the south and meet African tribes. In a Land Cruiser with an Ethiopian driver, I left behind me the 2,370-meter Addis Ababa, and headed towards the savannah, which was scattered with straw huts and populated by naked people with Kalashnikovs over their shoulders! After three days on the road, the high wall made of tree trunks that surrounds the Ethiopian Rift Valley Safaris — a perfectly organized reserve– appeared.

Full of enthusiasm and curiosity to see the Karo tribe, I grabbed my camera and stepped out. The young Karo who had just opened the car door followed me timidly into the jungle. I took the path along the Omo River, hemmed by dense maize foliage, when suddenly we found ourselves facing a lovely scene: women wearing only a strip of leather around their waists, sitting hunched in a clearing on the river bank. They rubbed seeds of millet on large stones. Hanging from their necks were endless rows of beads, animal bones and teeth, and each had a nail passing through her lower lip. Their bellies were marked by large bumps and scars, while on their half-shaved heads elaborate hairstyles formed caps of curls. They waved me over to sit down with them. Charmed, I stayed silent to observe them preparing food, while their children, naked, were playing casually at a short distance.

The sun sunk over the horizon. Its purple color dyed the brown and loamy Omo River. For the last fifteen hundred years, the Karo have lived here, on its banks. Partly nomadic, they belong to the Nilotic tribes of the Omo river region, who have inhabited these areas on the border between Kenya, Sudan and Ethiopia, for centuries. Warlike breeders of cattle and goats, they were never enslaved, but their culture is too fragile to withstand external influences.

Julia Klimi

Translation Vicky Anastasiadou

The article about Karo tribe it was published at Marie Claire 


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