The Bashagi Goldmines, Suri Tribe, Ethiopia
The Bashagi goldmines are located near Kibish. After a 40km drive on an unpaved small field road from Kibish to the south there is a small police station where it is possible to stay overnight. Basically the 'police station' consists of two small houses and a ranger with a Kalashnikov in the middle of nowhere. The goldmines are very popular amongst young Suri teenagers between 12 and 17 years. They go in groups of a about 9 or 10 people, and after a 1,5 or 2 days hike from Kibish they finally reach the police station where they sleep and eat.
Usually they stay up to 10 days at the goldmines, and they work every day very hard. If they are lucky they can earn around 400 Birr in 8 or 10 days, which is something like 20 USD. The money is very important for them. Either it is used for the family to buy seed. Especially the young men also save the money for a new cow, which is important for later when they marry, because they have to pay for the bride, and the family of the bride only accepts cattle for the payment.
Staying at the goldmines and digging for gold is a great adventure for the Suri people. There are also a few grown-ups digging for gold, but most of them are Suri teens, and even a few children of about 10 or 12 years. In the morning after the breakfast they go together carrying their huge wooden gold pans to the mines, which is a 20 or 30 minute walk from the police station. They stay there all day, most of them digging and panning for gold. A small group prepares the food for lunch, mostly corn porridge with some cabbage. They often sing and laugh at work and they usually have a great time. In the evening they return, get some more porridge, and sometimes they sing and dance the whole evening.