Modest in their dwellings and habitats of living, the Halaba people, also known as Alaba, are an ethnic group that inhabit the central highlands of Ethiopia. As the birds fly in perfect harmony, so the people of this group exist with a sense of calm and Happiness.
The smiles that light up their darker complexions are bright, warm and welcoming. Quaint round huts of wood and mud with wide conical thatched roofs are homes to these people. With no ceilings and packed-mud floors, these huts lie spread out over a beautiful scenery of wide plains and large stretches of calm waters.
Cacti grow in short crops at intervals alongside tall grasses and shady trees. Interestingly this group of people grow the cacti as fences. A perfect solution for a natural fence that will prick or scrape an intruder. The land, mostly flat and dry with savannah vegetation affords access, just southwest of Addis Ababa by the asphalt Shashemane-Sodo Road. This group leads a quiet life with almost no electricity, cooking on fires lit by firewood and tree leaves, and utilizing the ponds and river waters for their cooking and drinking water. The lands are abundant with Maize, Teff and Red Pepper; the main crops in this region.
Teff, is native to Ethiopia as the staple food crop to millions of people. The Halaba people have one very distinct propensity - to paint all the walls of their houses with a very unique and unmistakable style. The painting and decorating of their homes, on the inside and out, is a well-established tradition. These paintings often describe the tastes of the owner, depicting their life, religion, dreams and desires.
Over time the Halaba people have been influenced by other cultural practices, customs and lifestyles and today portray a variety of mixed traditional behaviour, yet, unity and team spirit prevail. When selling river fish, travelling in wooden carts drawn by not one but three donkeys or horses and farming crops, the Halaba people’s sense of unity and freedom is plain to see. The untouched communities live in satisfying calm. The way of life here is unrushed and peaceful. Children play together and help their elders farm, fish and hunt. Aimless days on lake Awasa and walks on the open plains are a way of life for the Halaba people.
Ethiopians are a proud people. They have every reason to be. Their beautiful and magical country of various land formations and world-famous landmarks belongs to them alone. For they, alone amongst African nations, were never colonised. This fact separates Ethiopia from other places in Africa. They also run on their calendar and on their own time.