Photographers have been flocking to the Omo Valley for decades, determined to capture the charm and distinguished character of its people. Gabriela Vivacqua is no different. A year after moving to Khartoum, the Brazilian photographer embarked on a coveted photography expedition to the banks of the Omo River in Southern Ethiopia – home to the earliest known remains of homo sapiens and arguably the most photogenic people on the planet.
“It was the perfect place for me to capture cultural resistance, one that has survived since the beginning of time. But now the Omo people are starting to lose themselves in the face of modernity,” says Gabriela. This ‘modernity’ manifests in many forms – the construction of the Gibe III dam, trans-African roadworks and even contact with the continuous flood of tourists that mindlessly pass them hand-me-downs and leave behind piles of litter.
Despite these daily struggles and the constant threat of cultural dilution, their distinct beauty endures. From the red ochre-dyed hair and beaded bodices of the Hamar people to the lip-plated Mursi tribe and decorative body paint of the Karo.
These photos are Gabriela’s love letter to the people of the Omo Valley. A plea for them to continue to pass on their character and colourful customs to the coming generations. To remain as they always were – icons of the untainted.