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The Photo Story: Ethiopia: Back to the beginning

A group of women from the Hamer tribe perform a ritual dance near Turmi, in the Omo Valley. About 45,000 Hamer people live in wood-and-straw huts in the valley, near Ethiopia’s border with Kenya. They are semi-nomadic, following a route marked out by their ancestors, with many stops along the way
Photographer: Pascal Mannaerts


Ethiopia is truly a world apart, a country I had read about in my teenage years and that had been on my bucket list a very long time. I will always remember the night I landed in Addis Ababa, a few years ago, with one of my best friends. It was like a dream come true. All that we had imagined for years was coming to life around us, even in just the capital city.
 We first headed to the south of the country, exploring the storied Omo Valley. There, we found a sublime and powerful way of life, timeless nature in all its majesty, and sacred and mysterious rituals that have remained unchanged since the dawn of time. We travelled by jeep and met the Hamer, Mursi, Karo and Bodi tribes, each more fascinating than the other.

We continued our trip to the north of the country, to Bahir Dar, Lake Tana, Gonder and Lalibela, discovering some of the world’s most astounding sacred sites.

Wherever you decide to go in the country, a visit to Ethiopia will remain with you for a lifetime.


During their longer stops at different locations, if the season allows it, the Hamer practise agriculture, especially the cultivation of sorghum. They are largely pastoralists, so their culture places a high value on cattle. The bigger the herd, the greater the social status of the owner
Photographer: Pascal Mannaerts
A Hamer man near Turmi. Hamer individuals do not own land; often, a group of families will cultivate a plot together on their journey, and move on when the fertility of the soil is exhausted. Anyone who collects fruit and berries may consume them freely
Photographer: Pascal Mannaerts