French photographer Eric Lafforgue has captured some stunning photography during a trip to rural Ethiopia. While there, he spent time with indigenous tribespeople, catching a glimpse into their culture and way of life.
“I actually first visited Ethiopia in 1974, when I was a kid”, Eric tells Lonely Planet. “I was living in Djibouti, and Ethiopia was heaven for weather compared to Djibouti, which is so hot. It’s a really big country, with lots of interesting places to visit – I’ve since been back ten times, and still haven’t seen everything!”
For Eric, it’s the locals who make the country so fascinating. “The most interesting thing about Ethiopia is its people”, he says. “In the south, tribes like Nyangatom, Dassanech, Mursi, Hamer and Bodis still live a traditional way of life, with very beautiful ceremonies. In the north are the Afars who are nomads. I stayed in the Surma tribe in the deep south. The experience was incredible, as I got to see the Donga stick fighting: hundreds of warriors come to fight with giant sticks to show their strength and date the most beautiful girls! The fight is incredibly violent, and I was the only foreigner around. I gave polaroids of the fighters and became the talk of the village, as everybody wanted one!”
“As I’m fond of anthropology”, Eric continues, “I have so much to learn from these people and their traditions. The most surprising thing I saw was the way the tribes of the south recycle everything. You won’t see any trash in the villages, as everything is given a new use. For example, the Dassanech tribe girls collect cups in the bars around their villages and make metal wigs with them. Women of the Hamer tribe collect mobile phone scratch cards to make earrings. It’s a real lesson in creativity and ecology from people who live with nature to survive.”