The Festival of a Thousand Stars is a celebration of music and culture for Southern Ethiopia, home to more than 55 distinct Indigenous Peoples. It is held every December in Arba Minch, the centre of the Rift valley.
In the video below you will find footage from the 2005 festival which brought together 500 performers and some 40,000 visitors. According to Gughe Indigenous Art and Music Association, the festival organizers, last year’s festival “involved over 1000 performers representing more than 56 ethno-linguistic groups from all over the south of Ethiopia… Many came from very remote areas. The event attracted well over 60,000 visitors.”
Courtesy of 1000starsfest.com, here is an introduction to the People represented in the film. You can learn more about each culture there.
The Gamo: The Gamo live in mountain ranges and lowlands between Lakes Abaya and Chamo in the East and the River Omo in the West. They have beautiful mountain pastures with barley and wheat fields. They are famous for their home gardens that grow enset and other diverse crops, and for their weaving skills.
The Konso: The Konso are agricultural people who live in the middle of the Rift Valley in a landscape raised from the valley floor, south of Lake Chomo. The Konso are famous for their stone terraced sorghum fields and for their intensive agriculture
The Arbore: The Arbore are pasturalists living in the northern tip of Lake Chew/Lake Bau in the Southern Rift Valley. They supply their neighbours with small stocks of soghum and are highly regarded for their spiritual life and successful agriculture in the arid climate of the delta of River Limo.
The Wolyata: The Wolayta live in the territory south of Kambata and Hadia and North of Gamo. The Omo River and Lake Abaya are the limits of their lands. Wolaita, like all agricultural groups in the South, are known for their inset gardens, maize fields and beautiful meadows. They are renowned for their pottery which is considered to be a vital activity. It is thought to be a divine gift from a mythical ancestor that must be passed on to the succeeding generation. Potters are known as Ch’inasha and are mostly women. One saying goes that if you stop potting you die.
The Mursi: The Mursi are from the area between the Rivers Mago and Omo. They are an agro-pastoral community famous for sport, caring for their pastures and caring for their flood-inundated fields.
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