Photo: Brent Stirton
In 2007, photojournalist Brent Stirton went to the Omo River Valley in Ethiopia to document the life of people of remote tribal groups that continue to live as their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. Except that they have AK-47. Plenty of AK-47s:
In the sprawling, desolate Southern Omo River Valley region of Ethiopia are several tribes living as they have for centuries, in voluntary isolation from the modern world. Recently, however, the tribes -- Dassanech, Mursi, Hamar, Karo, Bume, Beshadar and others -- are under increasing pressure from the outside world. Most recent is the Omo River dam project to provide hydroelectric power to Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. This will reduce the river to one-fifth its size and eliminate the flood plain so valuable to Omo Valley tribal farmers. The geographically distant government in Addis Ababa appears to place little importance on the threat to these unique Omo Valley cultures, and the days of their existence as intact cultures are numbered. [...]
Outsiders are regarded as a source of money, AK47s are everywhere and people are aggressive in their pursuit of cash for photographs. It’s sad really, for the people of the region have a limited idea of what money can buy but already have a taste for it. As money acquires more value in their society, it will eat away all that makes their society unique.