In this first of our three-part
series on Ethiopia, photographer
Rudi Geyser explores Tigray

South African photographer Rudi Geyser travelled to Ethiopia to document its people, art and culture for Nataal. One region that stole his imagination is Tigray, the most northern part of the country bordering Eritrea. Leaving Addis Ababa, he flew into Mekelle and then trekked into the mountains in search of its ancient monolithic churches and shot this visual diary along the way. 

“Ethiopia is like no other country I’ve been and has changed my perceptions. The people are so beautiful and welcoming,” he says. “Tigray is predominantly inhabited by subsistent farmers growing teff, a tiny seed most commonly made into pancakes. Their arable land forms a busy patchwork across the entire landscape. Tigray is also a cultural homeland where people go on pilgrimages. It took hours of treacherous hiking to reach churches carved into rocks and perched on ledges with sheer drops. On one occasion we offered our hand to a lady in her 80s with a hunched back and carrying a walking stick but she refused because she was determined to make the climb on her own. That gave us strength too and it was worth it. A priest always welcomed us at the door and inside they were filled with Byzantine paintings.” 

Photography Rudi Geyser
Production 10-4 Africa