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Bodi tribe man, Omo Valley, Ethiopia | by Eric Lafforgue
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Bodi tribe man, Omo Valley, Ethiopia

The man on the picture is from Bodi tribe, in Hana Mursi. The place was totally tribal few years ago, but now, the gouvernement plans to send 300 000 people for plantations...End of a culture.


For few years, Ethiopian government is carrying out a major plan of modernization and industrial development in the Omo Valley; roads, Gibe dams, on the Omo River. Plantations are built and made possible by the land grabbing leaded by the Ethiopian Authority like in Hana Mursi or Koka villages; to achieve its goals, Ethiopian government planned to displace local population towards settlements areas in new villages; the Omo Valley houses multiple different tribes like Hamer, Mursi, Nyangatom, Bodi, Suri, Karo, Dassanech, Bana, Tsamay, Erbore, Menit with rich and primary lifestyle and practices; these tribes are threaten by the army into giving up the land where their ancestors lived and abandoned their traditional lifestyle; some tribes have surrounded and accepted to move in the settlement areas; others refuse to leave those fertile lands and drop their culture and traditions, they came into resistance with their limited means at their disposal,; the government allocates those lands to foreign companies (Malaysian, Saudis, Indians…) who all rent land at the paltry cost of one euro per hectare a year; this governmental practice is seen by the opponents as the result of a corruption system; the lifestyle of the local tribes are endangered, they depend on the crops and their cattle; without land to graze for their cows, in the settlement area, they will face the inherent problems of urban life (aids, disease, alcohol, loss of social reference); the situation is worrying as the increase in acts of intimidation (arbitrary imprisonment, threats) and murders in the area.

The Bodi (or Meen) ethnic group, live close to the Omo River in southern Ethiopia and have the Mursi tribe as south neighbor. They are pastoralists and agriculturalists, thus livestock plays a large role in the tribe. Along the banks of the river, they cultivate sorghum, maize and coffee.

For their new year in June, called Kael, Bodi men are overweight because they consume large amounts of honey, milk and blood. This is a tradition that measures the body fat of a contestant. Each family or clan is allowed to enter an unmarried contestant. The winner of this contest is awarded great fame by the tribe. Men also wear a headband with feathers attached to it during rituals. The women in the tribe wear goatskin skirts and have a plug inserted into their chin. Most of them are now christians.


© Eric Lafforgue

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Taken on July 7, 2012