photo by @randyolson | story by @neilshea13 Fo…

Dublin Core


photo by @randyolson | story by @neilshea13 Fo…


Neil Shea







POINT (-13676655.2960654, 5704487.82152337)

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photo by @randyolson | story by @neilshea13 For nearly every need there is a tree. The toothbrush tree, the gum tree. A tree whose roots clear sediment from river water. One for carving plows, one that makes fine charcoal. When it is time to whip the women, there is also a tree for that. They are common in the field-seams. You cut slender young branches, strip them down. You want them thick as a thumb knuckle and tapering up to a pencil point. It's best to assemble a quiver, for the whipping will go on a while and the whips won't last against the shoulders and backs of strong Hamar women. They can really take a lot. It's why tourists come, to stare like deer as the women sing and taunt the young men, calling, Are you not strong enough? Can you not strike harder? Come, my brother, I dare you. It doesn't happen often, of course. Nothing joyous can be too regular. Each gender endures its own trials and seasons and this one belongs to women who will wear the thick scars proudly. Display them like tattoos. They feel good under the hands of a lover. You want good grip, the Hamar say, a story read with fingertips. A too-smooth man or woman is still a child. Almost better than watching the whipping is watching those who have never seen it before, those who might protest if only they had not paid so much to be here. On this wide bright afternoon a many-striped woman saw my jaw fall and said Why do you fear pain? Why do you deny it? Life leaves many scars. These, on the outside, are easiest of all to bear.

For the last six years, Randy Olson and I have been documenting culture, change, and conflict in the watershed that connects southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya. In the August issue of @natgeo magazine we'll publish the latest in our series, #NGwatershedstories, And you can also find this flashback series archived here: #omoriver2009. Join us at @randyolson and @neilshea13 as we follow water through the desert.

#2009 #africa #ethiopia #omoriver #hamar #women #tradition #ceremony #rivers #conservation @geneticislands #documentary #instajournalism #instaessay #takenotes #natgeo @thephotosociety @natgeocreative




Neil Shea, “photo by @randyolson | story by @neilshea13 Fo…,” The InstaEssay Archive, accessed August 6, 2020,