African Oral Narratives
Military Intelligence in Apartheid-era South Africa


This Ethiopian collection offers a photographic and personal perspective on landscape, agriculture, and the livelihood practices of small-scale farmers in the contemporary period. Participants come from Ethiopia’s Lake Region, the area located between the capital Addis Ababa and the southern city of Awasa. All the pictures and the interviews were taken in the summer months of 2009 and 2010.

The photographs reveal the scenic beauty of Ethiopia’s Lake Region, its water resources, its farm fields, and its mountains. In Ethiopia, the summer months correspond with the major rainy season. This is also the time when most crops mature in the field. Because of those reasons the region’s landscape turns green between June and September.

The audio and video recordings were meant for capturing the local farmers’ testimonies on a wide range of subjects. They reveal the various methods and strategies that the farmers’ use to cultivate the land, to grow crops, and to overcome the numerous challenges that their small-scale agriculture constantly faced. Specifically, these interviews discussed when, for example, certain cultivars arrived in one or another part of the Lake Region; where they came from; why they came; and what the local farmers made of them. Furthermore, some of these recordings also shed light on the growing significance of modern inputs, such as chemical fertilizers and improved seed varieties in that region’s agriculture. Historically, Ethiopian agriculture had been the exclusive prerogative of small-scale farmers. Likewise, the crops they produced were organic. The modern inputs seem to have changed that equation to one degree or another. In addition, the last decade has created the opportunity for the rise of large-scale farms in different parts of the country. The “white-house” structures shown in several of the photographs belong to this category of farms. They are meant for the production of roses, which are exported to the European market.