Dilla stelae and South Omo markets

John Grinling writes:

Dilla & surrounds
The 84 km road between Awassa and Dilla is now in a terrible
condition. Supposedly under repair since several years, this major
thoroughfare to Moyale, Kenya and the sea port of Mombasa is in such a
appalling state that it takes close to 3h and 30 minutes – each
direction – of a dusty and bumpy drive on a crowded motorway to reach
Dilla from Awassa.

The Tutu Fela and Tututi stelae can be found quite easily by private
car and no guide is actually required, especially during weekends when the
guide’s office in Dilla is anyway closed. Tutu Fela can be reached by
car turning left – and not right as indicated p. 493 in the 7th
edition of the Bradt guide – 18 km away from Dilla and then following
the sign posted dirt track on the left, repeat left, for about 3 km.
Then you need to walk 700 m. slightly up hill on your left. The local
people will be happy to show you where. To have a close look, you
might be asked to pay an entrance fee on the spot.
The more interesting Tututi Stelae can also be reached easily by
following the Yabello road for 6,5 km after the junction for Tutu
Fela, turning then right at the village of Chelba, and following the
dirt track for about 5 km to reach the main cluster or these
spectacular phallic stelae. If you are without a guide, the local
population will be happy to give directions when required. No entrance
fee was asked the day I visited the place.

Visiting markets in Southern Omo
I do not share the view expressed on several pages of the seventh
edition (eg p. 545 or 558) that a mandatory guide is required to visit
market places in Southern Omo. To visit an isolated village or
community, it is advisable to come with someone who can introduce you
and help your around.
But to visit a market in places like Jinka, Key Afer, Dimeka, Turmi or
Omorate, I do not see who may have authority to impose a guided visit.
It is certainly very useful to benefit from the knowledge of a guide
or a friend to discover the multiple aspects of any market, but a
market is by definition a public area and calling upon the services of
a guide must remain optional.

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