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Ethiopia - the Tree Where Man was born
  
 
thebiker
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Ethiopia - the Tree Where Man was born


Congratulations to thebiker for winning Feature Thread of the Week with 14 votes - View Previous Winners


To the unknowing, Ethiopia is synonymous with drought, famine and war, but to those blessed to have savoured its wonders, Ethiopia is nothing less than "Denkenesh" (you are wonderful), the Ethiopian Amharic name given to Lucy, the four and a half million years oldest, most complete hominid skeleton ever found in the world. The discovery of the remains of Lucy in the Awash valley, makes Ethiopia the region from where the earliest upright walking hominids originated from. Ethiopia is therefore the tree where Man was born. Maybe Darwin was onto something ...







And the more recent discovery of the remains of the Kibbish Man who lived about 150,000 years ago in Ethiopia's mid-west, contributed strong evidence that he was the immediate ancestor of anatomically modern humans, with DNA similar to us. Therefore, this tribal lady from deep within the south western belly of Ethiopia, may well be the distant cousin of you and I, a hundred and fifty thousand years removed:







And this man, an Ethiopian orthodox Christian pilgrim, standing by a window in his mud house in Lalibela, may well be your distant cousin too. For the information of newbies, directional window light like this, is the best light for indoor portraits.







Rich in history, wildlife, and cultural traditions, the relative obscurity of Ethiopia surprises those who are brave enough to travel in this country. Every place you go rewards you with a sense of adventure and discovery. The landscape in the north is littered with rock hewn churches, mighty castles, and isolated monasteries. Lalibela was built to be a replica of Jerusalem.

This is the Church of St Georges in Lalibela, Ethiopia. Hewn out of solid rock in the shape of a cross, this church is 30 meters high and 25m by 25 m wide. According to Ethiopian history, Bete Giyorgis or the Church of St Georges was built by King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela of the Zagwe dynasty, who claimed Saint George and God gave him instructions to build it. It is the most well known and last built of the eleven monolithic rock hewn churches in the Lalibela area. It is claimed by Ethiopians to be the Eighth Wonder of the World, and it is a magnificent building. King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela had been to Jerusalem in his youth. When old Jerusalem was captured by Muslims under Saladin in 1187, it was said that King Lalibela attempted to build a likeness of Jerusalem at Roha, his capital in Ethiopia. The town was later renamed Lalibela. As such the layout and names of the major buildings in Lalibela are widely accepted, especially by the local clergy, to be a symbolic representation of Jerusalem. Many of the town's features have Biblical names - even the town's river is known as the River Jordan.







There are deserts and desolate volcanic regions where the inhospitable landscape is almost Martian like. Yet the Afars live here, mining salt, and sending the salt out on camel caravans of hundreds of camels at a time, and they've been doing this for hundreds of years. How any human being can make the Danakil Depression their home is beyond me. BBC did a documentary of the Danakil Depression, and the call it the Cruelest place on earth.

This is Mt Erta Ale, the most active volcano in Africa, It has a fascinating permanently boiling, gurgling lake of molten lava in its crater. Located in the cruel Danakil Depression, the lowest point in Africa at 120 meters below the level of the Red Sea, you can hike up this volcano in about 6 hours or less if you are strong and brave enough to withstand the 45°Celsius prevailing temperatures in the Danakil Depression ... at night. In the daytime, the highest temperature I recorded when I was there, was 53°C







In the Bale Mountains, the last sanctuary of upto 500 almost extinct Abyssinian wolves who live there hunting rodents, one might think one is in Europe, with its vast rolling landscape of farmland cultivated with grain. It certainly isn't a region of famine and poverty as many might imagine.

And in the Kaffe region, there are huge tracts of land covered with coffee plants. Ethiopia is the only place in the world where coffee grows wild, and where all the the world's coffee plants initially came from. And if you venture further south into Ethiopia's South western belley, you will encounter more than 80 different tribes who are still living life much like their ancestors did hundreds of years ago, herding cattle, and engaging in tribal customs which will shock you. They occasionally steal each other's cattle, and this ends in skirmishes in which people are killed. But then, the Suri's often kill each other in a violent sport they call Donga Stick fighting, which the government has banned, and which no foreigner are no longer allowed to see. Although Donga stick fighting is banned, it still goes on. And you can tell there's a donga fight when you hear gunshots in the distance, as you travel through Suri lands.







Other interesting facts - Suri men walk around stark naked. Their women cover their bottom half and they don't believe in washing between their navel and their knees. Women wear plates in their lower lips while men wear them in their ear lobes.







Both men and women scar their bodies, as scarification is regarded as beautiful. Hamer women allow themselves to be whipped till they bleed, in order to prove their love and loyalty to their men. And their men jump naked over cows in a coming of age ritual. Fresh cow dung are often rubbed over the body and face as a beauty aid. And hands are often washed in fresh cow urine before milking. They regularly drink the blood of their cows, often mixing the fresh blood with milk. And you wouldn't believe what they do to stimulate cows to produce more milk. Wait till I post photos of the process.

It was fascinating watching the process of bleeding a cow, collecting the blood, mixing it with milk, and drinking it. A major blood vessel of the cow is first punctured with an arrow fired from a small bow.







The blood is then collected in a bowl made from the dried skin of a pumpkin. BTW, almost all Suri young men and boys walk around stark naked. Suri Women usually cover that part between the navel and their knees.







The wound on the cow’s neck is closed by rubbing something on it, and the blood is either mixed with milk, or consumed directly from the bowl. In a gesture of friendship I was offered a gulp, but I politely said no, thank you.







And then there is one tribe that often rob graves to eat the corpses ..... and there are a lot more that will fascinate you ...

Travel in Ethiopia can be tough but it will be enormously satisfying .... and you wont have to worry about hordes of tourists, yet ..

Edited on Jul 02, 2014 at 10:32 PM · View previous versions



May 24, 2014 at 05:24 PM
Medowlark
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Ethiopia - the Tree Where Man was born


Excellent! Thanks so much for posting this.. The first portrait is just stunning. I look forward to your next installment.


May 24, 2014 at 06:30 PM
thebiker
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Ethiopia - the Tree Where Man was born


Thanks Medowlark. Glad you like it. Will certainly post more stories and photos.



Edited on May 25, 2014 at 01:48 PM · View previous versions



May 24, 2014 at 06:32 PM
qwyjibo
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Ethiopia - the Tree Where Man was born


Fascinating series, thanks for the education.


May 24, 2014 at 07:05 PM
MazeRunner
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Ethiopia - the Tree Where Man was born


Wow!

How do the women wear those plates? That looks crazy! Any back-story on why they wear the plates?!



May 25, 2014 at 05:59 AM
thebiker
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Ethiopia - the Tree Where Man was born


Mazerunner, lots of theories and speculation abound about how the lip plate practice came about. One of the most likely is probably they wanted to "deface" or devalue themselves so they would not be picked-up or kidnapped by slave traders. If I am from the deep south of the US of A, and I am in the market for a few slaves, I certainly would't pay big bucks for slave-women with plates in their lower lips, or even for slave-men with plates in their ear-lobes.

During the scramble for Africa when Europe and the west carved up Africa for themselves, untold misery was wreaked upon Africa and Africans. Ethiopia was the only African state that no country from the west had ever colonized. Italy tried and failed. Ethiopia is placed high in the esteem of fellow African states, which is why the headquarters of the African Union is located in Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia.

The supreme genocidal tyrant of modern times isn't Hitler, but King Leopold of Belgium. He and his agents massacred nearly three times the number of humans than Hitler murdered.

Watch this video BLACK DEATH IN THE CONGO about King Leopold being posthumously put on trial for the worst ever crime against humanity.



May 25, 2014 at 06:18 AM
philber
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Ethiopia - the Tree Where Man was born


Well, I don't pretend to know Ethiopia well at all, but didn't it have its own share of genocidal tyrants, like Mengistu?


May 25, 2014 at 07:12 AM
thebiker
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Ethiopia - the Tree Where Man was born


Philber, yes. Mengistu led the communist Dergs during the period the communists were in power in Ethiopia after Emperor Haile Selassie was overthrown. It is said he and the Dergs were responsible for the genocide of hundreds of thousands of intellectuals, students and supporters of the EPRDF. When the Soviet Union broke up under Gorbachev, communist support for Mengistu's Dergs dried up and the EPRDF managed to seize political power. Mengistu fled to Zimbabwe and was tried for genocide in absentia and was found guilty, but his good friend Mugabe has refused to allow him to be extradited. The Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has been in power in Ethiopia since 1991 and over the last 20 years, Ethiopia has been at peace, and economic development has been rapid. Ethiopia now has one of the best road systems in East Africa. The streets of Addis Ababa , and most major cities are very safe and although most tribes people are armed with Kalashnikovs, personally I did not feel threatened at all while in Ethiopia, even while driving around in Gambella near the volatile south Sudan Border area, in Harar near Djibouti and Somalian border, and even in ErtaAle and the Danakil Depression near the border with Eritrea. Go and visit Ethiopia. I consider it the unpolished jewel of Africa.



May 25, 2014 at 09:14 AM
kablargh
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Ethiopia - the Tree Where Man was born


What's that white powder they have on their bodies in the last picture?


May 25, 2014 at 10:14 AM
4meNex7
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Ethiopia - the Tree Where Man was born


Thank you for this wonderful series. Very well done and informative. As in the past, we continue to cast a blind eye on mans inhumanity to man. What is it inside us that allows us to think one human is better than another?
Ed



May 25, 2014 at 10:53 AM
 



markperez
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Ethiopia - the Tree Where Man was born


"the four and a half million years oldest" but the picture says 3.2 million


May 25, 2014 at 11:42 AM
thebiker
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Ethiopia - the Tree Where Man was born


You are right markperez. My apologies. Dont know where I heard of the 4.5 million years instead of the 3.2 in the poster. My mistake I think.



May 25, 2014 at 11:56 AM
Steady Hand
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Ethiopia - the Tree Where Man was born


Howdy Yusuf!

I enjoyed seeing these very nice photos and the informative and interesting captions!

Thank you for sharing them here.

The captions were well written and good additions to help us understand a place and things few will see in person.

I hope to see more of your work, images or travels.

And, from your profile, it appears you are very well traveled!

I am voting for this to be a "Featured Thread" as I hope to see more of this kind of travel photography here on FM.




May 25, 2014 at 11:58 AM
thebiker
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Ethiopia - the Tree Where Man was born


Thank You Steady Hand. Glad you like my photos. Am going to post one more photo documentary series about the Hyena Men of Harar.


May 25, 2014 at 01:51 PM
thebiker
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Ethiopia - the Tree Where Man was born


kablargh wrote:
What's that white powder they have on their bodies in the last picture?


Ash



May 25, 2014 at 06:07 PM
ViewFinder35
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Ethiopia - the Tree Where Man was born


Great images! Thank you!


May 25, 2014 at 10:50 PM
Claude
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Ethiopia - the Tree Where Man was born


Impressive images and story!
Claude



May 26, 2014 at 06:31 AM
scorpio1
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Ethiopia - the Tree Where Man was born


These photos are excellent. Great series and I enjoyed every single one of them!


May 26, 2014 at 05:24 PM
MazeRunner
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Ethiopia - the Tree Where Man was born


thebiker wrote:
Mazerunner, lots of theories and speculation abound about how the lip plate practice came about. One of the most likely is probably they wanted to "deface" or devalue themselves so they would not be picked-up or kidnapped by slave traders. If I am from the deep south of the US of A, and I am in the market for a few slaves, I certainly would't pay big bucks for slave-women with plates in their lower lips, or even for slave-men with plates in their ear-lobes.

During the scramble for Africa when Europe and the west carved up Africa for themselves,
...Show more

The de-facing/valuing of oneself to deter enslavement is a sensible explanation. But are there still slavers in that area now? Quite horrible.

Also reminds me how history is skewed towards the perception of the "victors"... anyone hear of Andrew Jackson and his atrocities against the Native Americans? And any truth to the claims his army scalped ears and disemboweled pregnant women?



May 26, 2014 at 11:06 PM
thebiker
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Ethiopia - the Tree Where Man was born


Mazerunner, Slavers are not only armed marauders who kidnap black people to work in cotton fields in another continent. I believe you cant get away with that in these modern times. But I read that in Nigeria recently, some armed terrorists, kidnapped 200 young ladies to (reportedly) force them into prostitution. What would you call that act? And what would you call the act of governments who initiate regime change in other countries, causing untold misery to the local populace, ostensibly in the cause of righteousness ... Africa has had a sad history. When you travel in Africa, you will realize that in spite of the colour of their skins, and the strange culture and customs they practice, they have the same DNA as us, their blood is the same colour as ours, they have feelings, and they want the same things we want. When we travel into Africa, WE are the strange ones to them ...



May 27, 2014 at 05:17 PM
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