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January 11, 2008

Guns

To answer Tom's question:

The people with the guns in the Ethiopia photos are just... people. The rifles are common in the Afar region--as far as I know you don't have to be anyone special to have one (thought the men with guns wearing fatigues are in the military). The area has a long history of tribal warfare--if not guns, it's long knives worn at the waist. Scarce resources and feuds between clans. The Afar region is know to be particularly brutal, both in living conditions and in violence. The Afar people have been often described as "fierce." The men with guns in my photos from March were our paid guards, but I don't think they had to go far to find the rifle to go with the job. Like, maybe to their home. There has been a separatist movement in Afar for some time, no less complicated by the fact that the people and their region span three countries with disputed borders (Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti), so I believe a number of the AK-47s have made it in for that reason as well.

This doesn't make me particularly nervous, especially when the guys with guns are on 'my side.' I wouldn't ever want one of those things aimed at me, though.

Posted by beth at January 11, 2008 12:18 PM

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Comments

Beth, Let me know if you need any helo help, I am unemployed and have a clean passport. As for the guns, in that part of the world, everyone has an AK lying about. It is part of the culture to have one or three, or basically one for every male in the household and an extra or two. Only be concerned if they have RPG's. Rocket Propelled Grenades. That is a sign that they are more than casually involved in events. Keep smiling and take care, Brian

Posted by: Brian at January 11, 2008 1:53 PM

Golly Damn!

I feel that now I am slightly more globally culturally literate, in that the defining line between serious firepower & just the average is RPG vs. AK.

And of course blue-tipped AP Teflon rounds or tracers are probably a giveaway that they mean business.

Kind of hyper Wild West. . .except that in the old days, contrary to what you might see on "Gunsmoke" or "Bonanza," it was quite rare for anybody to pack a sidearm. A rifle or a shotgun on the saddle, maybe, depending on how far out on the range you might go--but in reality if you wore a pistol in town, unless you also had a badge you were a man with a very limited life expectancy. Charles Goodnight (who was a foreman on the XIT or King Ranch) said that in all his days, he never once saw a cowboy with a pistol. Ever.

Just be careful.

Posted by: Tom Horn at January 14, 2008 11:26 PM

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