Ethiopia (November-December 2013)

Monday Market of Bati: People and Camels

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Bati is definitively not a pretty town, but at an elevation of 1500m between the central highlands and the Rift Valley, its Monday market has been for several centuries an important meeting place for Afars, Oromos, and Amharas.


On Sundays Afar people start arriving, sometimes from far away, and proudly lead their camels into town. In fact, camels are a status symbol for Afars, very much like Mercedes and BMWs are for Americans, except that (1) camels are much more useful and (2) on a relative scale they are even more expensive. A good camel costs about 20,000 birrs, that is, about US$1,000, a huge amount of money for most people in Ethiopia. It made me proud to remember that in 1973 I had bought a camel to cross the Danakil desert.


Although market scenes are interesting, I think that the main two attractions at the Bati market are (1) the ethnically diverse people and (2) the camels.


First, the people.






Now the camels.







Here camels are for sale. People wishing to buy camels stay there for hours. They watch camels for large amounts of time, trying to detect not easily visible weaknesses. They also wait for the most favorable time to buy, for instance, when a vendor needs to leave and return back home.



Link to Market Scenes


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