konso The Konso people are located 600 kilometres south of Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. Its’ cultural landscape is eventually in 2011 registered by UNESCO as World Heritage site of Ethiopia. This region is known as “Konso special woreda,” which has an area of 2354 Km2 and is bordered by various regions; the Darashe to the north, Amaro to the northeast, Burji to the east, the Oromia Regional State to the south and Debub Omo to the west. According to verbally transmitted traditions, the Konso originally came from two different regions, one of which is the east (Liben and the Burji area) and the other from the west (the mountains of Dirashe, Mashile, Gewada and Tsemay area’s).

 Lifestyle

In Ethiopia, particularly in the south, one may find many different tribes, all unique in their own manner, ranging between aspects such as culture, lifestyle and language. However, despite differences, all of these national identities, understand and respect each other mutually.

The Konso have developed a particular way of building their towns; their villages are characterized as being located at the top of hills, fortified by stone walls about 3 to 4 meters high, protecting the village and leaving the fields outside the wall. Typically, these villages have only one entry, or exceptionally two or three, nonetheless – always ensuring safety and defence if necessary. The interior of the village consists of narrow streets and paths, structured in a labyrinth-looking manner. This unique structure was designed, long ago, as a defence mechanism (remaining intact over the years), to protect the villagers and members from rival tribes or towns as well as wild animals.

Landscape and Environment

landThe Konso people were among the first in Africa, to adopt a particular agricultural system which allowed them maximum efficiency and performance from the harsh environmental conditions – this system used on cultivation terraces, is known as the Terrace system.

Such terraces have become the most visible and prominent feature of the Konso landscape. These structures in the form of terraces, allow for the protection of farmland from erosion and help retain the water in the earth – they are also placed around the hills and may reach up to 8 meters in height. The structures are built with large stone blocks at the base, leaving between 4 and 8 meters of fertile land and earth to be productively cultivated. However, such a system requires constant care for its proper functioning and preservation of efficacy. It is particularly throughout the rainy season when farmers take extremely cautious care of their terraces, to prevent them from deteriorating and possibly causing disastrous consequences for their families. The great Konsos terrace towers eventuallyin 2011 registered as world heritage site of Ethiopia by UNESCO.

Market

The Konso market takes place every Monday and Thursday of the week on an area of land which stretches over 2 kilometres from the city, located on the side of the road which leads to Jinka. Due to the unique demographic placement of the Konso, people travelling through or towards the south of Ethiopia, will pass through this market (as it is the only passage) which is possibly one of the busiest and most commercially active markets in the area.

People from the different villages of the community, regularly come into the market to trade food, goods and materials as well as stock up on the products needed for their families – despite the fact that historically, the Konso consider trade as a harmful practice to society as well as conflict-generating.