Impressions on Market Day
Eighty-two percent of Ethiopia population is rural – 68 million. On the outskirts of the urban centers of Bahir Dar and Gondar on a busy Saturday in the rainy season, most of these are headed to market on muddy dirt roads. Some are lucky enough to have wheels of some sort (carts, bicycles) or pack animals. Most are on foot and carry their loads on their backs. Many many more live in rural areas where there are no roads or public transportation. This photo essay provides a small glimpse into the lives of the more accessible…
Feet Keep Life Moving
The people of the country must rely on their feet, and if they are lucky, a donkey. Rubber boots and gel shoes are a valued commodity during the rainy planting season with a monthly average of 11 inches of rain.
Head and Shoulders Above Average
They carry the weight of their world on their backs with impossible loads that need perfect balance.
Faces with Many Stories
People in the country are open and joyous with some mysterious resiliency. Always ready with a wave and a smile…even if it means putting their load a little off balance. Where does this gentle and generous spirit for life and the stranger come from?
The majority of Ethiopia’s commerce is generated through agriculture. But it is primarily subsistence, with each family growing just enough to survive. I saw no signs of communes, much less technology, to improve efficiencies. Sadly, I am told that Pakistan is now buying up many of these agricultural leases to send food back there. Then what will these people do?
The biggest concentration of homes are along the main roads approaching town from the outlying areas…where you can see signs of electricity and involvement in local village commerce. From hilltops and plane windows I see endless hills and valleys containing isolated villages and homesteads accessible only by the “animal way” …. or footpath.
Fruits of Labor: to Market
Everywhere in the country people are streaming towards villages and towns for Saturday market…by boat, bus, bicycle, cart, and foot. Sometimes the road is so crowded one cannot drive a car through the people and animals; for others the way is lonely and isolated.
Young and Old At Play
Even as all throughout the countryside labor to bring goods to market, a lucky few can take time out to play.