After the sessions in Addis Ababa (Oct. 21-23), study tours were held on following contents. By actually visiting the fields of area studies in Ethiopia, these tours enhance the mutual understanding among the researchers and deepen the discussion taken during the sessions.
1. Mago National Park
Mago National Park is located at the Omo valley which forms the part of the Great Lift Valley. Its area expands to 2,162 square km on the lands of 450m altitudes. Even if poaching decreased numbers of elephants or buffalos, sight of the park is rich and you will be able to see various kinds of birds.
The excursion takes you to the villages and markets to introduce livelihood and culture of Hamer, Banna, Mursi people who live in and around the park.
2. Azmari Music and Gondar
Ancient capital Gondar is known as center of Medieval Ethiopian culture. Stone castle affected by Portuguese style of architecture and historical church buildings still remain and at a corner of the city, minstrel called Azmari live. Azmari, the group of people whose livelihood is playing music, have been holding special position in Abyssinia highlands society since mediaeval time.
In this excursion, you will experience the music rooted in Azmari life and explore livelihood of people engraved in the history and cultures of highlands .
3. Ensete and Pottery
Southern Ethiopia and Southwestern Ethiopia are only place in the world where plants for foods, ensete is cultivated. Ensete has leaves and stems similar to banana and starchy substances collected from stems are mainly consumed as foods.
The excursion leads you to village in southern states and you will experience harvest and process of ensete. In addition, you will observe the pottery making process (collection of clay and shaping and baking of pottery) by crafts-people in the tour.
Arsii (with population of about 3 million) are a branch of Oromo ethinc group. Arsii predominantly inhabit three regions called Southern Shewa, Bale and Arsii. Arsii land has two contrasting ecological settings: (1) relatively hot lowland the cover the central section of the Great Rift Valley in Southern Shewa region, and (2) cool highlands that rise to a height of over 4000metres in Arsii and Bale regions. Our first plan is to drive south form Addis to the heart of the Ethiopian section of the Great Rift Valley. The Rift Valley section of Arsii land is dominated by acacia woodland doted by beautiful lakes, which makes it a perfect place for ecological tours. We will also observe, livelihood strategies of the people inhabiting this region. At this point you may rush to confirm the image of Africa you might have collected from TVs and documentaries: as hot, scarce vegetation, acacia woodlands, maize cultivation, livestock and land degradation and the like! But just wait and see since as we go further south you may come across some contrasts.
We will continue our tour southwards and visit the town of Awassa (about 300kms from Addis) just across Arsii-Sidama border on the shore of lake Awassa-still in the Great Rift Valley. In the vicinity of Awassa we will observe agricultural activities of the Sidama people: mainly coffee and enset (ensete ventricosum) cultivation. If we have enough time we will divert our course to a cool Arsii-Bale region, which is a true contrast to the Rift Valley region. Here it is COLD. As you approach Wabe River (that demarcates Arsii and Bale regions) and across it, you come across vast and continuous wheat and Barley (a cool weather crops) farms, for which the region is known. We may climb one of the mountains in Bale to observe different species of highland vegetations and will also have a chance to watch some of the endemic animals of Ethiopia. In most parts of Arsiilands, you will see cattle in multitude.