Konso: Southern Treasure

Konso Landscape (Photo: The Reporter)

Konso is an ordinary ghost town, but an extraordinary landscape and historical significance found within the Southern Regional State. While it promotes itself as one recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for its “cultural landscape”, the town of Konso people is a missed opportunity of little infrastructures and youthful populations.

According to UNESCO, it’s a landscape that “is a 55 km2 arid properties of stone walled terraces and fortified settlements in the Konso highlands of Ethiopia that consist a spectacular example of a living culture tradition stretching back 21 generations (more than 400 years) adapted to its dry hostile environment”.

Welcome to Konso – known the gateway of the Omo River – a beautiful society, unique landscape, rich history and engineering but a place that remains underdeveloped and as Philip Briggs, the noted traveler once described, “a traffic circle of comically vast dimensions”.

There are few decent hotels here to welcome the tourists who would otherwise appreciate its uniqueness, with the exception of dotted decent lodges that do brisk business and ample bars selling cheap beers, it is no wonder, it remains an abandoned town with little activities. 

The local museum, constructed in recent years, the Konso Museum is off limits for many tourists unless one is given permission from the local administration of the city for a nominal fee and as a result, it remains empty most days and most simply avoids the museum and focus on local guides to show them around the city.

“You need to have permission from the authorities and you cannot take photos or remain in the premises, let alone enter the museum area,” the guard shouted, standing in front of a plaque commemorating trees planted by former Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn.

Read more at: The Reporter