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Dassanech Tribe – Portraits

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The Dassanech (or Daasanach) meaning ‘People of the Delta’  are Ethiopia’s most southerly tribal group living on the lower reaches of the Omo River Valley. They are a Cushitic people; in neighbouring Kenya they are known as the Merille.

They have been displaced over a number of years resulting in them now living in

an inhospitable, harsh, dry and dusty landscape where they seem only able too eek out an existence raising their cattle and goats on the most meagre of grazing.  They also subsistence farm along the banks of the Omo River.

Unusually among the Omo Valley tribes the Dassanech  practice circumcision for both men and women. The preparation for female circumcision is celebrated in a major ceremony called the Dimi.

Women who are not circumcised are called ‘animals’ or ‘boys’ and cannot be married.

The women wear a pleated cowskin skirt and beaded necklaces and bracelets.

Women get married at around 17 years old. Men at 20.

These photographs are part of The End of Days – The Last of the Omo Valley Tribes series.