By CRYSTAL CHUNG @crystalkchung
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But beneath the surface, growing tourism is having a ‘negative impact' on these relatively untouched tribal communities and the 200,000 people that belong to them.
Over the past few years, traditional tribal life in the Omo Valley, Ethiopia, is claimed to have been threatened by modern developments.
This breathtaking series of images by photographer Massimo Rumi capture a traditional way of life during a time of change.
Italian-born Massimo said: “As any photographer I was drawn to the Omo Valley not by its landscape, but by the people who live in this area, the ochre-skinned Hamer, the lip-plated Mursi, the painted Karo, and the beautifully decorated Daasanach women.
“In a world that has become increasingly globalised I wanted to travel to this remote area of Africa before modernisation completely changed the life of these ancient tribes.”
The cultural heritage of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley has, until recently, been relatively untouched by globalisation however nowadays dressing up for visitors has become normalised.
Massimo said: “My biggest disappointment was to learn about the negative impact tourism is having on their behaviour, and considering that Ethiopia was recently nominated tourist destination of the year, this change can only get worse with time.
“Every time I was approaching a tribe village I had to negotiate a fee with the chief village for taking pictures or sometimes I had to pay the people that I wanted to photograph directly. I felt as if I was casting for a fashion shoot.
“In the pursuit of photo-money women were piling pots, horns and flowers on their heads. Children were posing like experienced models and were offering body paint and dancing acts. I had to pay for every single shot and very few were the opportunities for me to capture candid moments in their daily life.”
During Massimo’s time travelling around Ethiopia from October to November 2015, he captured images of Hammer, Daasanach, Karo and Mursi tribes. Other images show the fortunate moment Rumi was able to witness a ceremonial Bull Jumping event.
Massimo said: “When a man of the Hamar Tribe comes of age he has to leap over a line of cattle. This ceremony qualifies him to marry, own cattle and have children. The timing of the ceremony is decided by the man’s parents and usually happens after the harvest.”
“I felt incredibly lucky to come across this authentic ritual. Ethiopia is a safe country rich in history and well worth visiting before mass tourism will completely impact the authenticity of the place.
“They don’t dress in T-shirts and Nike shoes and get changed as soon as tourist arrive, it is not like that yet. The clothes they wear are authentic and the rituals and way of living is still authentic, but the tourist dollar is quickly becoming their way of life.”