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 Ethiopian Cultural Attractions


Situated on the banks of the seasonal Segen River, the town of Karat-Konso, has roughly 3,000-4,000 inhabitants. It is perched at an elevation of 1,650m and is far from Arba Minch by 90km. Although, it is undeniably the case that the town boasts little to distinguish it from a hundred other comparable tiny Ethiopian settlements, equally true, however, that the Konso people of the surrounding hills adhere to a unique and complex culture every bit as fascinating as that of the more popular lowland peoples of the Omo region. It is a place of old walled or fortified villages, complex and fascinating cultures all of its own.

Konso region is full of rugged land which is predominantly composed of many hills. Through time the people have devised their own mechanism of retaining their fertile soil by developing complex and yet entirely their own, terracing system. Extensive and intricate, this system preserves the fertility of the friable top soils and prevents them from being washed down in to the valleys below. The people are so hard working that one can hardly see untraced hill.

They grow sorghum, wheat, barley, maize, peas, beans, bananas, and cotton, tobacco, coffee and root plants. In addition to wood (which is used for building huts, meeting houses and fences) ,stone are also used for grinding grains, sharpening knives and spears, making anvils, lining wells and constructing dams. However, have found studies of modern populations producing and using stone tools invaluable, The Konso are the only remaining stone tool-using culture, where women predominantly make and use stone-tools.

The Konso love music and make use of a wide range of instruments for spiritual and ritual purposes and for amusement. Young children play bullroarers, while a lot of woman and boys of Konso people are skilled flute players. The Kirar, (is related to the lyre and is used in different forms in all parts of Ethiopia), is popular among males, as is the five string dita (which somewhat resembles a guitar)

When a hero or important man dies, waka figures are carved in his honor. They are placed in and around the fields where the man has been buried. The dead is usually represented in the center of the waka group and flanked by his wives. On the surroundings stand any enemies he may have killed, carved in an abstract and phallic fashion. Fierce animals he has slain, such as a leopard, a lion, or crocodile, will also be depicted and placed at his feet. Usually on the forehead of the wooden waka a phallic symbol is carved. This is similar to the one made of iron or aluminum and worn on the foreheads of elders during ceremonies.

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