photo by @randyolson | words by @neilshea13 Bo…

Dublin Core


photo by @randyolson | words by @neilshea13 Bo…


Neil Shea







POINT (-13676637.4557812, 5704498.41605905)

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photo by @randyolson | words by @neilshea13 Boys, it won't be long. The fields are full, the cattle grown fat. Rain has come and gone. In the village old women are singing. Stamping their feet. You can hear the drums and whistles. Songs of bulls and hunting. There is nothing better in the world than to live here, in Duss, where your grandfathers and mothers are buried in the floors of the houses, kept close so they might protect you. A big ceremony is coming. You don't know exactly what it means but still it is very exciting. All the young men will become warriors of the Kara tribe. They will jump over the backs of great bulls. Their heads will be shaved and their ears cut, the lobes notched with small half-moons. A bit of blood to mark the passage. After that, days of dancing. Feasting. Everyone will get drunk on sorghum beer. The young men will be transformed into elders and allowed at last to sit in the meeting house above the Omo. They will marry, have children of their own, gather herds of their own. They will be ready to speak and listen. It may take months before this is finished. If war interrupts, or drought or raids, it may take years. A lifetime. The river slipping past. Floods rising, falling. Your fathers tell you not to worry. The rules of manhood are complicated and no one knows them all. For now the desert is an enormous room and anyone who can must run and laugh and learn his own way through. Not far away you can hear the old women singing. One day they will sing for you.

For the last six years, Randy Olson and I have been documenting change, conflict, and culture in the watershed that connects southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya. This week, we'll publish in @natgeo magazine 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 #kara #manhood #tradition #ceremony #rivers #conservation #geneticislands #documentary #instajournalism #instaessay #takenotes #natgeo @thephotosociety




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