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Dimeka’s hidden secrets

Dimeka Market, Hamer People, near Jinka, Lower Omo Valley, South Ethiopia

Dimeka Market, Hamer People, near Jinka, Lower Omo Valley, South Ethiopia

There are not that many villages along the circular road that runs through the lower Omo Valley. Each of them, no matter how small, is exciting in its own way. Also Dimeka did not let us down.

Hama women were squatting along the dusty road selling fire wood, watching every move we made. Such attention tempted Heidi. She wanted to return this interest and tried to pick up a bundle of wood, since we had often guessed how heavy these were. Women marching for hours with such a huge load on their back are an omnipresent sight in Africa. Often their upper body is almost squeezed into a horizontal position. Well, Heidi could not lift them off the ground, not an inch.

A little stroll brought us to a longish one-story building with a tin roof and lots of windows, a typical school building in rural Africa. But this one was different in one aspect. A sad, rusty sign dangling from the barb wired that enclosed the yard promoted “Dimeka’s Montessori Kindergarten”. It caters to those families who can dish out the 80 Birr per month, although we were not sure if the high-school student who gave us this information was correct.

Especially, after watching some guys paying 60 Birr for four bundles of chat. These bright green leaves are the preferred drug in Ethiopia, Somalia, Yemen and other countries in this region. Chewing the leaves has a stimulating effect, similar to alcohol. Unfortunately, growing the increasing quantities needed by addicted consumers uses up a lot of agricultural land. Not talking about the financial impact this habit has on the user and his family. We never watched a women buying or chewing chat.

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