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A reminder that the Society's next lecture takes place tomorrow, Wednesday 9 November:

Wednesday 9 November, 19:00-21:00 GMT - Online talk - The Eloquent Suri of Ethiopia: People, Art, Culture, Language by Anglo-Ethiopian Society

Mark Overgaard will introduce the Suri people, whose homeland is in a remote southwest corner of Ethiopia. Mark first visited the Suri during a photographic tour in late 2019 (with Henok Tsegaye as lead Ethiopian guide), just before the pandemic shutdown. He was immediately struck and inspired by their grace and beauty, including the artistic adornments based on local natural ingredients that they create for their bodies, particularly for special occasions. With Henok’s help from Ethiopia, Mark spent much of the pandemic back in California immersing himself remotely in Suri culture, art and language.

The names of Suri portrait collaborators, when translated to English, provide fascinating glimpses into the Suri language and culture and can show the written form of the language, which didn’t exist until the mid-2000s. The Suri Literacy Project (SLP) worked for 20 years to help define, refine and teach that written language to children and adults, but the project ended in 2021. The challenge now is how to ensure that key thrusts of that project continue, including mother tongue literacy initiatives for both children and adults.

Mark combined the portraits from his 2019 visit and the Suri names (with their English translations) of his portrait collaborators, plus drawings and stories selected (with permission) from Suri literacy primers, to produce a first generation of the Eloquent Suri of Ethiopia project. The project included an exhibit, a small book and an online presence at his website, and on Instagram

During a return visit to the Suri in late 2021, teamed with Shem Compion, Henok and Suri translator/guides, Mark interviewed and photographed new and previous Suri collaborators, leaving a copy of his book with each of them. With additional material from that visit, Mark is working on a second generation of his Eloquent Suri project and will preview the updated project in this presentation.

Mark Overgaard is a retired technology executive who was born in Thailand of missionary parents, spoke Thai before English, and attended fifteen schools in five countries before college. After those peripatetic early years, Mark settled in California for his professional career. With retirement, he has resumed traveling the world, aiming to experience and record cultural and natural beauty, finding reverence within and beyond, envisioning our shared humanity and fragile natural world. For more about Mark and his work (including coverage of the first generation of his Eloquent Suri project), visit
Ngaturɛ, 2021
© Mark Overgaard
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