African Politics and Policy

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Ethiopia: beauty that should be saved

Most of the tourists comes to Ethiopia for the country’s history inseparably connected with religion: Timket Festival (http://www.africanpoliticsandpolicy.com/?p=1273), the ancient underground Orthodox churches of the city of Lalibela, as ones of the examples of Orthodox Christianity, but at the same time there are the Negash village in the Tigray Region where the first Ethiopian Muslim community settled, and the city of Harar, “the fourth holy city of Islam” with 82 mosques, three of which date from the 10th century (UNESCO). And of course, Ethiopia is very loved by tourists because of its splendid breath-taking landscapes. Let’s just name few of them: the Semien National Park and the Danakli Depression desert which provides “a gate to hell” through one of the oldest still active Erta Ale volcano in northern Ethiopia.

Maybe, that is why last year Ethiopia was awarded as “World Best Tourist Destination for 2015” by the European Council on Tourism and Trade (http://www.ethiosports.com/2015/07/07/ethiopia-is-elected-as-world-best-tourist-destination-for-2015/).

However, Ethiopia is not only the country with its unique history, culture and nature; it is also a country that can provide its own standards of beauty. The recently published post http://epicureandculture.com/mursi-women-redefine-beauty/ shares a fascinating Sarine Arslanian’s account of her journey to the Mogo National Park, the Omo Valley, Southern Ethiopia, to know the Mursi women. This tribe is very famous for their own measurement of beauty: the women have been wearing clay plates in their lower lips since they are 15 years.  Not only the clay plate is used for seduction by women, but also pierced ear lobes, different colorful face and body paints, horns, scarification, and the more beauty symbols woman has the more attractive she is for eligible bachelor. The people of the Omo Valley, the Suri tribe, are featured by their amazing sense of harmonious coexistence with nature. Look at the photos taken by Hans Slvester (http://www.inspirationgreen.com/tribes-of-the-omo-valley.html) and you will be amazed how these indigenous people use leaves, branches, berries and fruits to make such a spectacular composition for their body adornments and headdresses. As noted by the photograph, “Body painting, as practiced here in East Africa, the cradle of humanity, seems to me to represent a way of life that dates from prehistory and once enabled humankind to overcome the hostility of nature. Art was then a means of survival”.

That is why, as we noted earlier in our posts (http://www.africanpoliticsandpolicy.com/?p=1096) is very critical to prevent “the environmental tragedy” of the lake Turkana, which is rapidly shrinking because of the climate change and moreover because of unsustainable development projects  in order to save these people whose life inseparably connected with the lake and Omo river: “If the lake dies, our way of life will die along with it too” (http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/OpEd/comment/Climate-change-Ethiopia-Lake-Turkana/-/434750/2917420/-/aj7c6x/-/index.html).

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