A long procession of Banna people marching towards Key Afar was the first indication that it was market day in this tiny village. As always women were almost crushed under incredible heavy loads of firewood, maize and other produce, while men gingerly walked their goats to be sold like a pet.
Actually there were two markets, one where only the animals were sold. This was a bit of a quiet affair – young Banna men were sitting under trees waiting for business. We watched a few of those sales, the goats are grouped all over, lifted, poked and the money is passed, then returned then passed again. What to us seemed a big healthy goat would sell for 240 Birr (12 Euro).
The real action was where cereal, jewelry, goatskin-skirts, calabashes and metal tools were sold. The place was packed with Banna shopping, bargaining, or simply hanging out. To us they looked very much like Hamer, except for the red hair. Banna men are extremely attractive, tall, long legged and have very fine facial features. This great natural disposition is enhanced by the jewelry and clothes they wear. The checked cloth wrapped around their slim hips looks very much like a mini skirt and a sleeveless T-shirt exposes muscular arms. A similar effect has jewelry worn around biceps, wrists and ankles. Their ear rings are most creative and so are the bandanas made from beads. These are worn around the head, neck and below the knee.
This was the place we enjoyed most, because the Banna simply ignored us and the other few tourists. This is what the Omo Valley must have been like a few years ago…