Several destinations in Southern Ethiopia were included in the schedule to meet communities and cultural organizations as per the original proposal of Dr. Wolde Gossa Tadesse, Program Officer of The Christensen Fund (TCF) for the African Rift Valley (see http://www.christensenfund.org/frame_about.html ). Ethiopia, especially the Southwest is a a hotspot of cultural diversity- see for example the map of language groups, http://gughe.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=21&Itemid=57
We started with a meeting at Shiromeda near Addis with the Gamo weaver cooperative.Our journey then from Addis in a rented 4x4 took us South along the main tarmac arterial road, past fertile green plains near the Rift Valley lakes, with an excursion to the university of Awasa, then SW from the junction at Sheshamanee in a loop W of large lakes, along rather variable roads via Sodo to the lovely southern 'mosquito capital' of Arba Minch, some 220 miles S. of Addis. With Arba Minch as our base, we continued S to see communities around the crossroad town of Konso, then W along a surprisingly good new road under construction to Woito. From Woito we made a short visit to meet herder communities in dry hot Aerbore in the Stephanie Wildlife Reserve near the Kenya border.
Returning Arba Minch, we made several trips N on difficult roads, even for a 4x4, into the highland cultures in the chilly and sometimes very rainy mountains around Chen'cha before returning to Addis Ababa. At the end of the trip we were fortunate to be able to witness some of the Mesqala festivities that are an important and colourful celebration in Ethiopia at the end of September. (Mesqala, or Meskel meaning cross, is a huge feast celebrating the legendary finding of the True Cross on which Christ is said to have been crucified. It was reputedly first celebrated in AD 326.)
During the visit, opportunities were taken to make audio recordings of some sample stories from storytellers and take their photos, after explaining the reason and getting their permission of course. These story samples can be helpful to explain the possibilities for LCS work in Ethiopia, but also to show a model of how LCS tries to work respectfully with young and old alike.
This blog records our daily experiences. Much of the text has been written by our friend, Darout Gum'a. Some conclusions are drawn at the end.
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