Konso life revolves around the seasons and the harvest – and the inevitable feast which follows! These events – and others - are celebrated at key times of the year through lively and symbolic dances, and now the people of Gersale invite visitors to their village to learn about Konso life through these colorful performances.
Visitors gather at a traditional meeting place at the entrance of the Gersale village. Rustic logs under shady trees offer a cool and exiting place to view the dances. At special times of the year visitors will be invited to experience the dances in the shade of the scared village mora - a large, thatched pavilion which acts as a special meeting place for the people of the village.
The talented performers from the Gersale Cultural Dance Group showcase their community’s rich traditions. Women wear pretty layered skirts, and men have handwoven shorts and cotton tops. They may wear crowns of leaves and use other props including handcrafted instruments, huge spears and shields!
The half-hour performances vary depending on the time of year – dances reflect the seasons and village events, and Konso tradition dictates which dances may be performed in which month. Those lucky enough to arrive for the Gersale New Year in January may see the hora – the date is selected by watching the stars.
The springtime agayatay dance aims to summon a beautiful local bird whose tail feathers are worn in the hair. Summer’s lututa and kehita dances showcase the community’s musical skills, as the women play wooden flutes and the men play stringed instruments. Kilaba signals the end of the September harvest and visitors may be lucky enough to get an invitation to the indulgent village feast!
The gorgeous scenery provides a dramatic backdrop for the performances. Don’t forget to bring your camera!
The Gersale Cultural Dance Group is a community-owned enterprise and up to 50% of the tour price goes to directly benefit the community through their community and conservation development fund.
Advanced booking required - 2 day minimum.
For assistance arranging a full tour including lodging and transportation contact one of the participating tour operators.
Dances (click to view more )
Hora: The hora celebrates the coming of the new year and villagers take the time to repair and maintain their houses and the mora. It is also a time to travel to other villages and visit with extended family all in the hopes of a prosperous new year. Although the date changes each year, villagers watch the stars to set the joyous day 3 weeks in advance.
Ololota: The ololota dance celebrates the communal work that villagers do throughout the year. Villages visit each household to collect donations for the celebration and host a feast with a celebratory dance. The dance can be performed throughout the month with or without the accompanying feast.
Agayatay: During the spring Konso is visited by a very special bird, the agayatay. If caught the bird is given to the clan chief’s wife and the hunter is rewarded with a goat. The agayatay dance is performed in hopes that the bird will visit their village.
Koda: The koda dance was created to help farmers pass the time while weeding their fields. Usually performed in the farmland, dancers can also demonstrate for tourists.
Lututa and Kehita: The lututa and kehita musical performances done after the fields have been planted. During the lututa, women play enchanting songs on traditional flutes and during the kehita, men play ancient stringed instruments. The songs are meant to be relaxing but also help chase away the birds in the fields.
Leota: The leota is one of Konso’s most iconic dances. Performed after the harvest, the dance celebrates the fertility of the earth.
Hopa: The hopa is another of Konso’s musical performances where a lone warrior will sign about his braveness, family, and heroism.
Ucho: The ucho celebrates the time of year when Gersale villagers come together to celebrate marriage. A celebratory dance rejoices in the union of a man and woman in their new journey together.
Kilaba: The kilaba is a once-in-a-year celebration of a good harvest. The festival takes villagers from one household to another to rejoice in each family’s harvest. With crops and funds donated from each family, the entire village celebrates its communal harvest. Kilaba is celebrated annually on Meskal.
- Sit under the shade of local moringa tress or the huge, thatched mora – a traditional meeting place and site of cultural significance for the people of Gersale.
- Enjoy the energetic dance performances, with colorful costumes, crowns of leaves and beetle shells, and handmade spears and shields.
- Learn about the local traditions and farming calendar through the narrative dances.
Dances can be performed at any time of day, with prior booking.
- Meet guide at Konso Tourism Information Center in the town center
- Arrive at the Gersale village to be welcomed by the dancers
- Performance of a seasonal dance lasting half an hour – refreshments may be purchased locally at the village entrance but not at the mora
What to Bring
- Shoes for walking up the hill
- Sunglasses, sunscreen, and hat
- Bottled water
- Gratuities for performers