Hans Silvester - Photos Ethiopia

Hans discovered these peoples divided into several ethnic groups on the outskirts of Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan in the early 2000s. Thanks to his meeting with a fantastic guide, Moulou, he goes in search of the places where were found the bones of our ancestor "Lucy" in the "Rift Valley" where the river Omo shelters remote ethnic groups, the Hamer, the Karo, the Surma, the Mursi, the Bume...

Who are the People of the Omo?

On the outskirts of Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan, the Lower Omo Valley is still a lost world... Far from any capital, climate-challenging because it is close to Ecuador and situated in the Rift Depression, this region remains one of the wildest in Africa. Rare trails cross the region... Fifteen or so nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes share a territory as large as twice Belgium, an area not negligible when we know that all travel is on foot.
These ethnic groups, the largest of which reach as many as 70,000 and the most modest of which do not exceed 1,000, have so far had little to do with civilization, except in a brutal way: With the civil war in nearby Sudan and its arms trade, these tribes experienced the Kalashnikovs practically before they saw the first whites. Neither slavery nor colonization have in fact reached this part of the continent ...

How could Hans Silvester approach these people, gain their trust, get permission to photograph them?

As is often the case in Africa, power is the prerogative of the elders. They are the ones who make the decisions about the tribe. So it was with them that I had to ask for permission to photograph in hamlets and villages - an indispensable request if one does not want to get into serious trouble. It is to these same elders that one must pay a kind of photographic royalty, a recent custom to which no one can escape.

It was funny, there or two, or even three translators failed because communication is so difficult, my white hair sometimes helped me: whoever had the power to say yes or no having also the white hair, could refuse me nothing in view of our respective ages!
Hans Silvester

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