Monday, March 15, 2010

Tsemay Man, Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia, February, 2010

He walks up to the scene as the session ends, with a toothpick in hand.

The last of the boys steps down and this man takes his place, with the outline of the moon above him.

He belongs to the Tsemay Tribe, which numbers about 10,000 according to most estimates and lives in the semi-arid region of the Weyto Valley of Ethiopia. They are both pastoralists and agriculturists, growing such crops as millet and sorghum.

The photography is calm. Almost everyone stands behind me and shows their support with words and gestures. Most of the time, the sitters respond with a smile or an expression. This man's village is a distance from the road, off the beaten track followed by tourists.

As a matter of fact, the men tell me that we are the first visitors to their village in a long time, certainly the first outsider that they have seen. As we are leaving, the men tell me to tell others about their tribe, about their lives.

They ask for nothing else.