Today's offerings are about the Gamo, and some of the challenges they are currently facing.
"Rising above East Africa’s Rift Valley, the verdant hills of the Gamo people abound with sacred sites—a testament to the long presence and enduring traditions of the Gamo community. Despite a long presence of both Orthodox Christianity and Islam, traditional animist beliefs have endured among the ethnic groups of southern Ethiopia, including the Gamo. In recent years, the growth of fundamentalist Christianity has led to clashes with Gamo traditional leaders, including violent riots that have taken place when shrines have been threatened or destroyed and churches built on traditional sacred ground such as hilltops and forests. Fortunately, Ethiopia and the international conservation community have recognized that the area is rich in biodiversity and that the spiritual reverence that communities like the Gamo have long held for the land is essential if the health of the environment is to be maintained. Hereditary leader Makko Wareo, the Father of Mailo Mountain, described his community’s relationship with the land: Good milk means the cows thrive. Honey is the bees. We know the good that derives from these highlands, which those who lived long before us established and maintained symbiotic relation with the mountains. We look after the mountain and our children who herd the cattle face no harm on the mountains. They are looked after. It is a mutual respect that has sustained us this far."
Ashley Tindall, Sacred Land Film Project, 2009
A Thousand Suns
A Thousand Suns tells the story of the Gamo Highlands of the African Rift Valley and the unique worldview held by the people of the region. This isolated area has remained remarkably intact both biologically and culturally. It is one of the most densely populated rural regions of Africa yet its people have been farming sustainably for 10,000 years. Shot in Ethiopia, New York and Kenya, the film explores the modern world's untenable sense of separation from and superiority over nature and how the interconnected worldview of the Gamo people is fundamental in achieving long-term sustainability, both in the region and beyond.
English and Gamo with English subtitles, 28 mins
Ethiopia Clash - Standing on Sacred Ground
"One of the most dramatic scenes in Fire and Ice, episode 3 of the Standing on Sacred Ground film project, unfolded during a new year ceremony that escalated to a dangerous conflict right before my eyes – and my lens."
Director Toby McLeod
Behind the Scenes—In the Gamo Highlands of Ethiopia with Director Toby McLeod
Behind the Scenes:
"This short film clip is a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like filming at the Dorbo Meadow sacred site that day and provides more context for the conflict—context I wish I'd had in the moment. In any event, we captured an important scene as evangelical Christians interrupted a traditional ceremony. We edited this backstory account to go with the DVD of the film."
Director Toby McLeod.
Covid-19, Cholera, Floods Gamo appeal
Wolde Tadesse, a Gamo elder who was born in Chencha, but now resides in Oxford, is currently trying to raise funds to support the Gamo community:
"Over the past two years several disasters have affected my homeland. First, unrest and violence, including several murders in Addis Abeba forced Gamo weaving families to flee the city and return to their rural farmsteads to rebuild shattered lives. Recent floods and landslides have caused massive devastation with 20 people losing their lives and 6,617 families (14,605 individuals) currently left without the means of survival. An outbreak of cholera which spread through the region has also caused many deaths and severe illness. This situation has been further exacerbated by the infestation of swarms of locusts which are ravaging crops all across the land. Now this very vulnerable population, weakened by these developments and loss of livelihoods is facing the consequences of COVID-19 threatening a region with poor health facilities and access to medical supplies."
More information can be found on his GoFundMe appeal page.
Covid-19, Cholera, Floods Gamo appeal update
And here's an appeal update which shows photographs of some of the flood and landslide damage.