The Konso

Philip Briggs writes about the Konso communities in Ethiopia.

Written by Philip Briggs


© Eric LafforgueIn Konso communities every village is divided into several subcommunities, each centred upon a tall mora (communal house), where men, boys and girls (but not grown women)-can relax and make important communal decisions. Konso society is structured around generation sets, inducted every 18 years when a new Olahita (generationpole) is erected in the ceremonial square (you can tell roughly how old any given village is by counting the number of poles).

The Konso are also famous for the carved wooden statues, known as waga, that are erected at the graves of important men, and come complete with enlarged teeth made from animal bones – the latter creating a rather leery expression reinforced by the impressively proportioned penis the deceased typically clasps firmly in his hand.

(Photo: Konso generation pole © Eric Lafforgue)

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