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The Tigrigna and Amharic speaking people of the north are mainly agriculturalists, tilling the soil with ox-drawn plows and growing teff(a local millet). The most southerly of the Semitic speakers, the Gurage, are also farmers and herders, but many are also crafts men.

The Gurage grows, “false banana” whose root, stem and leaf stocks provide a carbohydrate, which after length preparation, can be made into porridge of unleavened bread. The Cushitic Oromo formerly nomadic pastoralists are now mainly engaged in agriculture and in the more arid areas, cattle breeding. The Somali, also pastoral nomads, forced to live in hot and arid bush country, while the Afar, semi-nomadic pastoralists & fishermen, are the only people who can survive in the hostile environment of the Danakil Depression. The people of the Omo are mainly nomads.

Hamer, Mursi, Karo, Nyangatom, Benna, Dasenech and others are nomadic pastoralists. They wander through their surrounding lands with knowing eyes and hands, carrying their few possessions spear, knive.

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