Tribes of southern Ethiopia

There are 29,000 individuals and many of them reside in southern Ethiopia in villages between Arba Minch and Chancha. Their primary occupation is weaving. They are known for their elephant-shaped houses and polyphonic multi-part vocal music.

Elephant-shaped houses in a Dorze village
Elephant shaped houses in a Dorze village

Daasanech (also known as the Marille or Geleba)
Groups of Daasanech occur in southern Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan. There are around 50,000 Daasanech in Ethiopia. They fish and keep cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys and camels, in a semi-nomadic lifestyle. They grow sorghum, maize, pumpkins and beans on the banks of the Omo river after the floods recede.

The 350,000 members of the Konso tribe live in an area south of Lake Chamo. Their main town is Konso, also known as Bakuele.  

They are farmers, living in UNESCO protected fortified hilltop villages surrounded by their farming land. They grow sunflowers, fruits, cotton, sorghum and corn on stone walled terraces. They are also renowned bee-keepers.

They produce wooden anthropomorphic statues, erected in honour of important deceased people. In the Konso language they are called Waga.

The Hamar are largely pastoralists and value cattle highly. There are nearly 50,000 Hamar in southwest Ethiopia. They are known for their unique male initiation rite which culminates in the ‘leap over the cattle’ or ‘bull jumping’.

Hamar girls

aka Karo, are a small group (1,500) living on the east bank of Omo. They are linguistically close to the Hamar but their main crop is sorghum, grown on the river banks between floods. They are renowned for their elaborate body painting.

Mursi man

(or Mun as they call themselves) live in an isolated region close to the border with South Sudan, between the river Omo and its tributary Mago. There are around 10,000 Mursi. They are best known for their lip-plates, but they also have a rich tradition of body paint, scarification, body ornamentation and dress.

For further information about the Mursi and their neighbouring tribes, visit the informative website set up by the Refugee Studies Centre at the Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford –