The Dorze are a small ethnic group of omotic language family in the Gamo highlands of the Southern region of Ethiopia, living mainly in the villages near the towns of Chencha and Arba Minch, their territory extends from the banks of the Omo river to the highlands that dominate the Abaya lake. In the past the Dorze were feared warriors, but now they are mainly devoted to agriculture and hand weaving.
According to the Dorze oral tradition, the society consisted of 25 clans, these clans all came from different areas but managed to give life to a united group settling on the highlands.In addition to the creator god, the Dorze believed in the spirits and manifestations of nature. Today the Dorze are Orthodox Christians and are fervent practitioners.
The Dorze are famous for their huge huts, up to 12 meters high, that resemble a giant beehive; these huts are built with a very resistant bamboo structure and covered with an insulating layer made by weaving grass, false banana leaves and bamboo stem. Although these huts appear fragile, they can last up to 80 years with proper maintenance and replacing areas of the roof that get most damaged by atmospheric agents. If the termites attack the hut, the Dorze can simply remove it from its foundation and transfer it, thanks to its special structure; this allows the house to last much longer. The houses are built very high because, each time the house is attacked by termites and ants, the affected area is removed and the structure is lowered; however, this also creates a problem with the entrance door that is likely to become too low.
The Dorze women of the Dorze tribe have most of the responsibilities within the family, they take care of children and homes, are responsible for preparing food, spinning cotton, collecting firewood and especially processing the enset that represents the main food source. But the men spend most of their time in the fields, they also build huts and weave; the Dorze society is indeed famous for the hand-weaving industry, locally-woven cotton products are known as shama and are very beautiful and colorful.
The Ethiopian Rift Valley lakes are mostly self-contained and do not have an outlet, instead existing as small pockets of water in the land which the local people have come to live off. These local communities provide a real insight into traditional Ethiopian life. Arbaminch, located near the shores of Lake Chamo and Lake Abaya (the longest rift valley lake in Ethiopia), is the biggest town in the region and just outside Nech Sar National Park. The town is attractive, as is the surrounding geography. Lake Abaya is divided from Lake Chamo by a hill known as “the bridge of heaven”, due to the wonderful views from the top.
Around the rivers and lakes, you will find the Ganjulle and Gujji tribes, who live primarily from the resources these lakes provide. Crocodile populations are high and the crocodile market at the mouth of the Kulfo River is an incredible sight to visit, as is the crocodile farm on the shores of LakeAbaya.
Nech Sar National Park is ideal for game drives, while Lake Abaya emphasises boat safaris. There are a number of possible hiking routes in the region, though they attract few walkers.This area is popular with birders, as it has a great abundance of birdlife, including a multitude of savannah and water bird species, reflecting the different habitats within Nech Sar. Due to the volcanic origin of the region you also find natural hot springs and spas in the area of Arbaminch.
OMO VALLEY TRIBES
Ethiopia is a land of contrast and diversity that hosts more than 80 nations and nationalities living together in unity with harmony. They are settled on the southern end of Ethiopia’s rift valley where intangible cultures characterize their identity and the basis of social life. Omo Valley is undoubtedly one of the most unique and fascinating places on earth because its mosaic ethnic groups that inhabits it.
Tribes of Omo
The valley is mostly a dry savanna expanse fed by the Omo River –one of their most important resources. Along the river and throughout the valley region, hundreds of small tribal villages pepper the landscape, each of them with their unique customs and even their own language.
These tribes have lived here for centuries, and since the discovery of human remains dating back nearly 2.5 million years, the Lower Valley region has been declared a Unesco World Heritage site.It is possible to visit the Lower Omo Valley and several of its tribes.
There are dozens of tribes you can choose from but here are some of the most recognizable tribes (with alternate spellings in parenthesis). Also, the bold names are considered to be among the most popular or most accessible ones:
- Ari (Aari)
- Banna (Bana, Bena)
- Dassanetch (Daasanach)
- Hamar (Hamer) – famous for their ochre hair
- Karo (Kara) – famous for their body paintings
- Kwegu (Muguji)
- Nyangatom (Bume)
- Mursi – famous for their lip plates
- Meen (Bodi)
- Surma (Suri)
Each tribe has a different dress and tradition. Some even follow a religion, including Islam and Christianism while others are animist. Some tribes are settled agro-pastoralists, while others are nomadic or semi-nomadic cattle herders.