Beautiful Discoveries: Omo Valley, Ethiopia. The Tribal Epitome of Exquisite Fashion

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“Pure, intense emotions. It’s not about design. It’s about feelings.”

— Alber Elbaz

Ralph Lauren once said that fashion is something that comes from deep within you. I find a wide truth in this words, at times, style is so mighty that it manifests who you are without words spoken. All my life I've believed in this refined yet grand power of apparel to compose us through colors, textures, fabrics, pigments and shapes into who we are inside.

There's a side of feminism which states that make up and glamour are oppressive. I gravely disagree; the first time I maked up was when I was nine years old, I never stopped. I've colored my face every single day with the same excitement and nervousness of the painter who's facing a white canvas because I believe that not spending any time for oneself and not taking any care of our appearance is also hiding. Neglecting our bodies, our faces, our skins and our hairs is wasting something beautiful, unique and unrepeatable.

Perhaps the Surma and the Mursi people from Omo Valley, southern Ethiopia, are the sharpest and most excelling example of this.

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The ethnic groups that live in the lower Omo Valley are considered to be one the most mesmerizing, unique and exceptional tribes, not only in the continent of Africa but around the world.

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The secluded land where this people live tells the enthralling story of humanity's birth; the lower Omo Valley and Lake Turkana are home for some of the earliest remains of Homo Sapiens fossil fragments, fossils which span four million years of human evolution. Due to this discoveries, the area has been declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

  Omo Valley, place of rest for some of the earliest human fossils and home for the Surma and Mursi tribes.

Omo Valley, place of rest for some of the earliest human fossils and home for the Surma and Mursi tribes.

In the Mursi tribe, decisions are taken by the Jalaba, a council consisting of the longest-lived men of the community. One of their main activities is beekeeping for honey production, and their language (Mursi) is one of the most difficult lingos in the continent. However, what aces them beyond the hoi polloi is their precious sense of style which they achieve by the dauntless use of flowers, feathers, shells, leafs, fruits and several colorful pigments derived from nature. 

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Lamentably the vivid and peaceful lives of this people are being perturbed by the construction of an immense dam, being built by the Italian company Salini Costruttori, edification which began in 2006 with a budget of 1.4 billion euros and is forcing the displacement and the rapid fracturing of this sole Omo Valley societies along with the drying of the area's ancestral river.

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Perhaps this will this be the end of a stunning culture and it's long rooted traditions. Or, perhaps, the strong spirit of the Surma and the Mursi will outlast devastation.

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If you want to help you can Write a letter to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia urging him to reconsider the project, or Donate to Survival’s campaign for the Omo Valley Tribes.

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Ava L.