We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started
 / And know the place for the first time.

— T.S. Eliot, The Four Quartets

Ethiopia’s Omo Valley is thought of as the birthplace of humankind, and is home to a variety of indigenous tribes. Age-old customs are equally beautiful and brutal.  Beautification and scarification practices are encouraged as a way for individuals to establish their identity within the community.

More than merely surviving in this sun-baked landscape, each tribe has stamped a richly unique identity in it by holding on to their way of living: in tune to the rhythm of nature, treading lightly on Earth, leading their beloved animal herds to precious water sources and staying true to their traditions.

Yet the timeless past will soon meet the imminent future. The Ethiopian government is building a massive hydroelectric dam that will disrupt the floodplain agriculture that has been practiced here since the beginning of recorded history. Many tribes will be forced to move. The communities in the valley understand to varying degrees that their lives will be changing very soon; but it is not clear what will happen next.

What will be discarded and what will be treasured?  If we appreciate the mysteries of every realm, we may gain a deeper understanding of that which lies both behind and ahead of us.

© Terri Gold World Imagery