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27

Visiting the tribes in the Omo Valley

We fly to Arba Minch, a city south of Addis Ababa which is also called 'The Gate to the South'. According

to Ethiopians, Ethiopia pretty much ends at Arba Minch. Any further south is where only 'savages' live,

and economically it is meaningless too. The region is therefore not on the government's priority list,

which is clear from the pitiful state of the roads. Tezera, our friendly driver with impressive Rastafarian

dreadlocks, is the adventurous type and drives us with complete contempt of safety over the miserable

road filled with potholes and treacherous rocks. The goal of this death-defying race is the remote Omo

Valley, close to the border with South Sudan, where most tribes live. As we drive deeper into the Rift

Valley, a surprisingly beautiful landscape unfolds in front of our eyes, with vast savannahs and moun-

tains on the horizon. Here and there we see camels nibble on some acacia trees. A herd of thin cows

lazily make their way through the red dust, and on the fields farmers are ploughing the dry soil, aided

by oxen pulling primitive wooden equipment. It's like visiting Bokrijk, but then in Africa.