The Dassanech community is located about 28km from the Kenya border at the very south of Ethiopia.
Once we’d arrived at the check point, Dave instructed me to hand him my passport, to which I replied “Passport? I didn’t know I needed a passport? Why are we going through immigration? Are we crossing the Kenya border?”. Dave explained that this is a heavily guarded area and that although we weren’t crossing into Kenya, I still needed a passport to visit the Dassanech community.
This is Africa after all, I was sure there was something I could do..
I walked into the dingy office, smiled and batted my eye lids at the officer. I told him that I had unfortunately left my passport back at the camp site earlier that morning and that I was sincerely sorry. At first the officer said that I couldn’t cross into the Omorate region without this particular ID. I proceeded to plead with the officer telling him that I had come all this way for the Dassanech community and would be incredibly upset if I couldn’t visit. The officer held up his hand in front of his face and rubbed his thumb against his forefingers to signal for payment. I reached into my wallet and pulled out a couple of hundred Birr notes ($10), before sliding them across the table. He stamped my entry pass and gestured that I proceed through the gates. Ahh Africa..
Women here are married off at the age of 12 and pregnant by the age of 14 latest. As long as the men can afford to feed and home each of the women and their children, they can marry as many women within the community as they wish.
Like many tribes in Africa the women are sold by the their families to the men in exchange for an agreed number of goats, cows and kg of honey depending on the woman’s attractiveness. Once the man and the woman’s family have agreed on a payment, the woman is handed over and taken by her groom.
This woman bellow is wearing the skin of a Colobus monkey.
The men of the Dassanech community are all armed with guns for protection against wild animals such as lions, hyenas & boars. They have been known to cross the boarder into Ethiopia from Kenya and prey on members of the Dassanech community in the recent years.
I taught the boys a little bit about AFL. How to hand ball, kick and how to bounce . They were extremely confused and couldn’t even begin to understand the purpose of its awkward oval shape. They started using it as a volley ball over a tree branch eventually. I gave up teaching after a while and joined in the volley-AFL-action.
The women work incredibly hard on their daily attire. Most of the beads come from Kenya and they use materials such as wire, brass, fur, plastic & shells to create unique designs.
This child took a while to get used to me. Many children ball their eyes out on site of a ‘farenji’ (white person). Scared to death as if they have seen an evil clown. A few lollies later he wiped his tears and we became the best of friends.