Konso, named after the Konso people, is known for its religious traditions, waga sculptures, and nearby fossil beds (the latter an archaeological site of early hominids). The site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List on September 30, 1997 due to its purported universal cultural significance of terracing agricultural practice.
The Konso live in an isolated region of the basalt hills. The area is made up of hard rocky slopes. A Konso village maybe fortified by a stone wall used as a defensive measure, their village is located on hilltops and is split up into communities, with each community having a main hut. In order to enter a Konso village, you must pass through a gate and a series of alleys. These paths are part of its security system, keeping the village difficult to access.
They are mixed agriculturists using their dry and infertile lands to grow crops. Animal dung is used to fertilize the grounds and their most important crop is the sorghum. Sorghum is used as flour and to make local beer. Grains, beans, cotton, corn and coffee are also grown by the Konso people.
The erection of stones and poles is part of the Konso tradition. A generation pole is raised every 18 years, marking the start of a new generation. The age of a village can be determined by how many poles are standing. Carved wooden statues are also used to mark the grave of a famous Konso tribal member. The marker, called a Waga is placed above the grave and smaller statues are then placed around the larger one representing his wives and conquered enemies.
Although the Konso people have many customs dating back hundreds of years, it is not uncommon for them to be seen wearing western clothing. As newer generations grow, their traditional attire has gradually changed to modern societies. The Konso is a very interesting tribe to visit on your trip to the lower Omo Valley.