Introduction / History There are almost 200,000 Konso confined to a homeland of considerably less than 1000 square kilometers. The Konso have no memory of where their ancestors originated. They assume they have always lived in the tiny hilly territory in the far southwest of Ethiopia. Their African ancestors, however, probably arrived there around 5,000 years ago, bringing with them the prevalent stone age culture and agricultural techniques that are still evident today.
From these beginnings their remarkable culture developed in virtual isolation. Surrounded by their neighbors, they continue to till their fields. With the exception of trading with the Borena for salt or cowrie shells, outside influence has virtually passed them by. They have always fiercely defended their territory. This is evident in the fact that each village is walled. Much of their land is terraced and planted with trees, and the fertile fields are tended, irrigated and fertilized.
There is a passionate love for work in the blood of these people. Children marry around the age of fifteen. Though the Konso are not a proud people they do not look favorably on intermarriage. Non-Christians can have three or four wives. They do not live together with extended families, and inheritance is passed down to men only.