Konso

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According to Hallpike (1972), Konso family traditions indicate that they are a composite people, both physically and culturally, with members originally hailing from all the surrounding areas.

In terms of physical appearance, the Konso tend to be small and wiry, with high cheekbones and pointed chins. Skin color ranges from reddish brown to almost black, but is dark brown on average. Some individuals more closely resemble the Oromo, possessing thin lips and greater stature; others have a distinctly more ‘africoid’ phenotype and are much shorter. According to Hallpike (1972), the latter somatic characteristics are more marked amongst Konso women. George Murdock (1959) attributes the pronounced ‘negroid’ influence on the Konso in general to early inter-mixture with the agricultural pre-Nilotes, who entered the Ethiopian highlands about 5000 years ago.

The Konso speak the Konso language (also known as affa xonso) as a mother tongue. It belongs to the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family.

Konso is divided into four dialects: Kholme, Duuro, Fasha and Karatti. It shares a close lexical similarity with Dirasha, and is today transcribed using the Ethiopic script.

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