Dorze Village: Where Tourists do Ethiopian Cultural Dance

September 30, 2017

It was my first visit to Ethiopia, the land of origin, known for its premier in lots of historical achievement. Ethiopia has some of the amazing tourists’ attractions in Africa that is found only in the country.


So, I was excited to receive an invitation from the Ethiopian Tourism Organisation to tour some tourists’ attractions in the country. The flight from Lagos to the East African country aboard Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s leading airline took approximately four hours to Addis Ababa, the hub of the airline.


The atmosphere was frosty and a bit cloudy, it had rained a little before we arrived. After about 30 minutes of trying to locate my host without any effort, I reluctantly stepped out of the terminal building hoping that someone from the agency would be on the lookout for me. As I made my to the car park, a dark Ethiopian man of about 5” tall walked up to me, with a warm smile on his face he asked, are you from Nigeria? I answered in the affirmative. With a sigh of relief, we exchanged pleasantries after he had introduced himself as Wondmagegn Girma from the agency.


We left the airport to our hotel where other guests from US, Canada, France, Italy, and Indonesia also invited to tour the country were lodged. With high expectations I had looked forward to seeing such amazing sites like the Simien Mountain the fourth highest mountain in Africa, the ancient castles of Gondar, the famous rock hewn churches of Lalibela, the Axsum Oblisk, Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile and so many other attractions that is exclusive to Ethiopia.


The Ethiopian villages with their rich historical cultures were among the many places to be visited by the group which also include the Dorze tribe. After over ten days of touring some breath taking tourists’ attractions in the country, we made our way to Dorze Village. The drive to Dorze took about twenty minutes from Paradise hotel where we logded. The Dorze people live in the Guge Mountains about 2500m above sea level near Arba Minch, in a cold and misty climate. Our buses did a snake like movement up the rocky mountain, swathed with green vegetation with startling views below as we slowly move up the mountain.


With each turn you get lovely views of Lake Chamo and the surrounding area which is beautiful. Our arrival resonated in Dorze, attracting both old and young. To the villagers it was an occasion to showcase the rich culture and hospitality and also an avenue to sell their beautiful waived wares. First we were briefed by our local tour guide, Mekannen on the history of the Dorzes. We were shown local delicacies and how they are processed and prepared. Kocho (False Banana Bread) is one of the staple foods in Dorze.



The fibers from the false banana tree are also used for making threads to make clothes. After eating Kocho with my colleagues, we were entertained with the Dorze traditional dance.

They harvest the inside on the “false banana tree” (it looks like a banana tree but doesn’t give banana) and ferment it in a dug hole for two years before it is fried and served with hot spices and honey with strong alcoholic drink. Although the False Banana Bread takes two years before it is prepared, the Dorze people are not lacking in the supply of the food.


It was thrilling to see the skillful display of the dancers in their colourful traditional attire. Suddenly, one of the dancers conscripted me into the park, soon other tourists joined in the dance, singing, clapping and doing the Dorze traditional war dance. The village is not in anyway lacking in the supply of tourists, as other groups from Asia and America soon joined in the dance. Over the years the Dorze tribe serves as one of the places for tourism to tourists coming to Ethiopia. Unlike other tribes in Ethiopia, Dorze dance is concentrated on the waste and the dancers dance with symmetric twist to every rhythmic sound emanating from the drum beat.


The Dorze people are best known for their cotton weaving and tall bee-hive shaped dwellings which are some of the most distinctive in Africa. Every Dorze compound is self-sufficient, surrounded by a small holding of crops and inside each compound is their remarkable domed dwellings made from false banana leaves and bamboo tree.

These can measure up to 10 metres high ensuring they last lifetimes despite termites constantly eating away at the base. As they do so their houses shrink in height yet stay habitable for many years. Strong and sturdy, yet easily transported, they really have an ingenious use for the false banana tree. The Dorze people have the reputation of being the finest weavers in Ethiopia. In fact, much of what is sold in handicrafts shops in other parts of the country are produced by the Dorze.



We had the opportunity of visiting the Bessa Dorze Hayzo Weavers Cooperative. We were to note that all the weavers were men, very talented and skilled men at that! Working with very crudely constructed spinners and looms, they skilfully produce very beautiful pieces of cloth some of which incorporated very intricate design work.


This report was originally published on and reproduced here with permission.

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