Hamar Goat Currency: Campaign and Publication

Rural Life in Hamar, Ethiopia: Ecological and Cultural Challenges

Written by Bazo Morfa, Illustrated by Gele Hailu

Scroll down to learn about the Publication ↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓
Gallery (2 images)
2 goats on a dry earth
photo of A man holding a  book in hands and posing for camera

Donate for Gele's family

Direct link for transfer

Details for bank transfer:
Bank account: Stichting Myvillages
IBAN: NL24 INGB 0001 5460 59
With a note: For Gele Hailu

Updates about campaign here and on myvillages instagram

* campaign update 02/03/2023

Gele Hailu is a Hamar artist that now lives in Rotterdam. However, the rest of his family still lives as pastoral community in Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia. Due to climate change there has been no rain for the past 5 years that puts Hamar tribe in great danger of starvation. We were successful at raising enough money for writer Bazo Morfa's family. Now we want to make sure that Gele's family too has enough goats to withstand these trying times.

* campaign update 22/02/2023

In our Christmas Cow campaign we raised slightly over 1000,- Euros! Money was transferred to Bazo Morfa's family and it was used to buy goats. It turns out that because it has not rained in Hamar lands now for 5 years cows are a way too risky investment. These circumstances forces Hamar to turn their cattle-centred culture and economy more to goats as the main livestock & local currency.

Bazo writes
Around 14 goats were bought and the rest money has been kept in a Bank for slowly purchasing grains and emergencies like sickness and hunger in the family. Until now, drought has shaken my family and community.My family said these days food is paramount of importance than anything else. What they said is persuasive and I agreed with them so that they can use the remainder of the money for priority items.

Texts : Cow Currency: Christmas Campaign
We made an unexpected Hamar publication in 2022. There are only 4 Hamar people outside of Ethiopia. Wapke met Gele in Rotterdam. Gele introduced us to Bazo. Bazo wrote an autobiographical story about the Hamar people and Gele made drawings of his pastoral childhood memories. Lumbung Press at documenta fifteen was happy to print the unique material! And voilà! "Rural Life in Hamar, Ethiopia: Ecological and Cultural Challenges" - A publication about Hamar through their own perspective!
Scheme that shows how 5 people and Lumbung press collaborated to make a publication
The Hamar currency is cattle and all land is free to be used by anyone. The book is also a complicated story of a conflict between strict customs and demands for change. A drought caused by climate change, struggles for adaptation and women’s rights.

Hamar Cow Currency Campaign

Bazo’s family lost their animals due to discriminatory inheritance customs and drought, he writes: “People are hungry now. If my family owns five cows and ten goats, they will amazingly improve their lives. A Hamar family will not keep money in the Bank. They only believe in living things.

Exchange rate for 5 cows and 10 goats is around 2000,- euro. Please consider donating to help our colleague Bazo’s family overcome current struggles.

moving gif with emerging image of cows


Direct link for transfer ♡

♡ Details for bank transfer:

Bank account: Stichting Myvillages

IBAN: NL24 INGB 0001 5460 59


With a note: For Bazo Morfa

Updates about campaign: myvillages instagram

Learn More about the Publication ↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓

a man holding a pubication and posing for a photo
Gele Hailu showing his drawing of Bazo Morfa that is in the publication

Rural Life in Hamar, Ethiopia: Ecological and Cultural Challenges

Written by Bazo Morfa, Illustrated by Gele Hailu

On 11 September at Documenta fifteen we launched a book written and illustrated by authors from Hamar tribe. About Hamar by Hamar! Printed by Lumbung Press. (Design: Maarten van Maanen, edit: Indra Gleizde ; project initiated by Wapke Feenstra).
Gallery (12 images)
Blue cover of a book
About the book: Drought, climate change, war in the region and local conflicts between the traditional customs and demands for change: Bazo Morfa tells the story of the challenges that his family and the Hamar tribe face in Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia. He is one of the very few members of the tribe who didn’t follow the traditional path of pastoral life, and instead gained education. Bazo is the oldest son and a brother of a family that recently lost almost all of their livestock. We learn about land use practices, social structures and gender equality issues through his own autobiography. Bazo's friend Gele Hailu, a Hamar artist that currently lives in the Netherlands, made illustrations of daily local realities and cultural practices from his own memory.

Few excerpts from the book:

For centuries, the Hamar has not allowed either the government or themselves to own their land individually or communally as other developed communities. Instead, the land is free for any one. Having free farmland, free grazing land, free hunting land, free bare land, and arable land. The Hamar ever wish to live in their land freely. In relation to the rest of the world, they are not intact with other nations in the country let alone with the outside world, and they have long lived all alone in the corner of the country.
The major Hamar occupations are livestock herding, subsistence farming, and beehive keeping. They have remained as livestock keepers for many generations and centuries and their pastoral way of life is not conducive to the ownership rule. Another factor that does not allow the Hamar community to adapt land use and ownership is, the community’s strict and tight culture, which is change and education resistant in the country.
For now book is available at:
  • the bookshop at ruruHaus, Kassel;
  • PrintRoom, Kiosk and Brutus in Rotterdam;
  • or you can order it by writing to: wapke@myvillages.org;
  • when you buy a book directly from us, 50% of the price goes directly to the fundraiser. You can order it by writing to: wapke@myvillages.org
Background story Bazo was introduced to us via Gele Hailu. Gele works as an artist in Rotterdam in the Myvillages studio, that is run by Myvillages co-founder and artist Wapke Feenstra. Gele told us that his friend Bazo and his family is in a very difficult situation, and that because Bazo is stuck as a refugee in Kenya he is not able to help his family. Bazo wrote to Wapke in an email:
People are extremely hungry now. They are struggling to cope with the ongoing drought. The severe acute recurrent and ongoing drought requires advocacy all over the country and world, but they are dumped by the government.
Again, our Hamar people have no good English speakers outside so people are dying and suffering in the country. Maybe if Gele told you, only four Hamar people are outside home land and abroad. Hamar really needs voice internationally and support. I am actually good English speaker and writer compared to other Hamars.

This is how idea of making a project together with Bazo and Gele slowly started to take shape. In the publication Bazo goes in great detail explaining the situation in which Hamar and his family is in. More excerpts from the book:
The overwhelming number of the livestock (such as cattle and goats) died in the year 2017 and tens of hundreds of the Hamar people lost their domestic animals. Still now, the majority of the community are in a grave life and they have not yet recovered their animal economy in the region. As illiteracy is at a rampant stage, people are in a danger zone if the global climate change persists in this way or if they do not find outside intervention.
Uniquely, cattle are central to the Hamar economy. My mother and school brother are still tearfully pleading with me to raise more funds to purchase some female cattle such as calves, heirs and cows so that those young cows could breed more for my family in a few years. That sounds like a great idea, but I am financially broken these times as a refugee.
Recently, almost all cattle or cows died and the remaining few do not give milk to the family. Nevertheless, the remaining few cattle belong to our eldest stepbrother, who controlled all livestock and refused us our father’s inheritances. However, my mother, younger siblings, and I do not have cattle or cows because we have never inherited any property or asset from our father as he passed away suddenly.