Model Jeneil Williams is center stage with Grace Mahary weighing in for ‘Africa Motherland’, styled by Melaney Oldenhof. Jeneil and Grace are channeling the Omo Valley people — a bedrock inspiration for Anne of Carversville and GlamTribal due to their 1) beauty and affinity to nature and 2) their location in southern Ethiopia, bordering the northern border of Lake Turkana.
This precious land is believed to be the foundation of humanity: ALL PEOPLE. Except for a few white nationalists, the 1970 theories about separate lines of human development happening independently of each other have not withstood scientific scrutiny. All humans first migrated out of Africa and 98% of scientists agree.
Brooklyn-based, French-Senegalese photographer Delphine Diallo is behind the lens for ‘Africa Motherland’ in Vogue Portugal’s entire April 2019 issue devoted to Africa.
The human migration out of Africa came from more than more location on the Continent. While East Africa is the central location, we know that an earlier migration happened from South Africa into East Africa. There’s currently debate about the place on the human evolutionary chart of beings whose remains have been located in the area of today’s Morocco and Libya.
This research continues to place the Omo Valley people in the bullseye of human migration out of Africa, with clear evidence dating back 2.5 million years. The publication of Hans’ Silvester’s magnificent book ‘Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa’’ has brought more tourists to the Omo Valley, where people now pose for the them. There’s no doubt that a degree of authenticity is now lost, as two tribes in particular — the Suri (aka Surma) and Mursi tribes — have gone Hollywood, with lavish and extravagant natural decorations that make Sylvester’s, breathtaking original images look simple — Jeneil and Grace simple.
Western interest in the Omo Valley is further inspired by Oscar-winner Ruth Carter’s costumes for ‘Black Panther’, resulting in what many people of color regard as “imperialist voyeurism” I recently researched Hans Silvester’s original trips into the Omo Valley — and AOC commissioned its own research in 2012 — and do not believe that Silvester’s images are deceptive.
Frankly, the only photographers and anthropologists qualified to discuss the Omo Valley people are those who can speak to the changes from near total isolation in 2005-2008 (Silvester’s years} or those of Matilda Temperly, who wrote in 2016 for The Guardian about the changes she has witnessed.
In 2016 Temperly estimated that no more than 1000 tourists a year visit the Suri tribe. I read recently that 5000 people are coming each year into the entire region where travel is ardulous. The World Heritage site is under assault over the new GIBE III damn that may destroy what is believed to be the beginnings of human civilization forever.
Very few writers — especially people of color writing about “imperialist voyeurism” — have done their research on the Omo Valley people and their meaning to all of humanity and human civilization. This fact does not excuse the few ignorant tourists snapping pictures and haggling over pennies — offering gum instead. But this entire topic is one in which the lack of scholarship and research by outraged people of color is unimpressive.
The Omo Valley Valley is sacred land to me, and there is every possibility that the Omo Valley people, their customs and traditions, and the very vessel of humanity will be destroyed in the next decade. This is the true outrage of what’s happening in the Omo Valley — not “imperialist voyeurism”.
Ethiopia has a very impressive to prime minister Abiy Ahmed and also a woman president Sahle-Work Zewde . There’s no doubt in my mind that they understand the importance of the Omo Valley and will do everything possible to protect it. Alas, the dam is built — which many argue had to be done. Life is rarely as simple as some people like to make it. ~ Anne