Photographer, tribesman offer special look at Africa

ENCINITAS — In the continuing series of “Great Conversations,” the Grauer School will feature a joint presentation at 6:30 p.m. May 7 in the Great Hall on campus, by photographer John Rowe and Lale Labuko, a native of the Kara Tribe in the Omo Valley of Southwest Ethiopia.
The pair will tell the story of the tribal people and ancient culture of this remote region and of Lale’s struggle to rescue children from certain death based on the customs known as “Mingi,” the state of being impure or “ritually polluted.” A child, who is considered Mingi, is killed by forced permanent separation from the tribe, being left alone in the jungle or by drowning in the river. Reasons for being declared impure include birth out of wedlock, the birth of twins, the eruption of teeth in the upper jaw before the lower jaw and chipping a tooth in childhood.
Rowe is a world-renowned photographer who has been working for the past six years in the Omo Valley. Labuko is the founder of an organization that provides care and shelter for rescued children. Labuko is the first member of his tribe to speak English and the only person to fly in an airplane or visit America.
Labuko is making a new life for children who would otherwise have no chance of survival. Rowe will be showing some of his photographs from the tribes of the Omo Valley and will discuss the techniques and challenges of photography in such a difficult environment.
Labuko will also share his own story of courage and determination growing up in Ethiopia. As a 9-year-old boy, he walked great distances in the desert to be the first from the Kara Tribe to attend school. Labuko then returned to his village to educate his people and save lives in a place National Geographic magazine, March 2010 called “The Last Frontier” in Africa. His story describes the reality of tribal conflict, primitive beliefs and two men’s desire to help the children of the region survive and become leaders of tomorrow.
To learn more about the “Great Conversation” series, visit or call (760) 944-6777. A $10 donation will be accepted at the door.


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