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Sole Brothers

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PHOTOGRAPH BY JOHN STANMEYER-VII

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PHOTOGRAPH BY JOHN STANMEYER-VII
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January 31, 2013

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by

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Paul Salopek

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Rift Valley, Ethiopia, 11°2'39''N, 40°21'28''E
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Footwear is a hallmark of modern identity. How best to glimpse an individual’s core values at the start of the 21st century? Look down at their feet—not into their eyes.

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Oct 6
Zion Dawson (Oct 06 2014 9:12AM) : Footwear is a hallmark of modern identity more

there no money in that country so they have less thing

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Nov 5
KYANA CHISHOLM (Nov 05 2014 11:23AM) : it's true! more

i agree in africa there are some part that is not as wealthy as other parts.

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Oct 6
Jubelys Bernabe (Oct 06 2014 1:39PM) : That they look at the feet not their eyes. more

That they don’t look at people eyes they look at their feet

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Oct 6
Danny Garcia (Oct 06 2014 2:15PM) : they have no money or shoes more

the people over there have no money to buy any shoes.

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Oct 9
Yelitza Sanchez (Oct 09 2014 1:46PM) : they sell the shoes for like 2 dollars more

why are his feet so nasty looking is really bad do they they have shoes

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Oct 9
Yelitza Sanchez (Oct 09 2014 1:50PM) : they were a week late and they are wering green lime plastic sandles more

whay are with him why were they so late

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Oct 9
Yelitza Sanchez (Oct 09 2014 1:51PM) : they were wearing each plasti cmodeled shoes more

they dont have alot of money so they are very poor

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Oct 9
Yelitza Sanchez (Oct 09 2014 1:52PM) : about them slefs more

they dont look at pepole eye they looka at there feet

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im only here to write poems so who ever doesnt like it, too b… (more)

Oct 22
lizmarie gonzalez

im only here to write poems so who ever doesnt like it, too b… (more)

(Oct 22 2014 9:08AM) : Look down at their feet—not into their eyes. more

This just goes to show that there are places that need help and aren’t getting it. We are supposed to be the country that helps, why are we not helping? im sorry if im too sympathetic, but its just that we dont help others but ourselves.

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Oct 28
Malaysia Hairston (Oct 28 2014 1:51PM) : its saying don't judge
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Nov 5
KYANA CHISHOLM (Nov 05 2014 11:19AM) : respect? more

atm , in this typical “generation” looking into the eyes of the person you are talking to is a form of respect.. i guessing over there its somewhat different

In the affluent global north, where fashion caters to every whim and vanity, shoes announce their wearer’s class, hipness, career choice, sexual availability, even politics (the clog versus the cowboy boot). It is disorienting, then, to be walking through a place where human beings—millions upon millions of women, men, and children—slip on identical-style footwear every morning: the cheap, democratic, versatile, plastic sandal of Ethiopia. Poverty drives demand. The only brand is necessity.

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Oct 6
Devonte Brown (Oct 06 2014 9:16AM) : I feel bad more

I feel bad for this guy because he has no shoes to protect his feet

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Oct 7
Destiny D. Henson (Oct 07 2014 2:18PM) : I know right
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Oct 6
Destiny D. Henson (Oct 06 2014 2:23PM) : It must be hard living like this with no one to be there for you and to be there to take care of you more

In Africa, it’s hard to survive when there’s no food and it’s hard to find water to drink when being thirsty for several days.

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What meager protection plastic sandals offer seems superfluous on feet like these of Mohamed Haota, the cameleer. Photograph by Paul Salopek

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Oct 6
Jubelys Bernabe (Oct 06 2014 1:40PM) : That meager protection plastic sandals. more

Their feet doesn’t look good,it look nasty

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Oct 7
Destiny D. Henson (Oct 07 2014 2:22PM) : It's a shame how adults and kids have to walk around on dirt, rocks, and other things. more

If I had the ability to help any country I would help Africa right there and then and help make the kids and adults feel better and good about them selves

Available in a limited palette of chemical hues—black, red, brown, green, blue, purple—the humble, rubbery shoes are a triumph of local inventiveness. They cost a pittance to manufacture. Any pair can be had for the equivalent of day’s field labor. (Perhaps two dollars.) They are cool—permitting the air to circulate about the feet on the Afar Triangle’s blistering desert surface. And home repair is universal: Owners melt and mend the molded-plastic straps over wood fires. The ubiquitous sandals of rural Ethiopia weigh nothing. They are recyclable. Finally, modest as they are—the footwear of Africa’s poorest—few other shoes can claim their own war monument. (Soldiers on both sides of long and tragic conflicts between Ethiopia and Eritrea wore them to their deaths in battle.)

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Oct 6
Jubelys Bernabe (Oct 06 2014 1:41PM) : They don't have alot of money more

They don’t have alot of money to be buying things.That some people are home less.

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Oct 6
Danny Garcia (Oct 06 2014 2:21PM) : they don't have money more

they don’t have money to buy shoes or
to build stores for shoes.

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Oct 22
Moses Ortiz (Oct 22 2014 11:21AM) : what is wrong with their feet
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Oct 3
Destiny D. Henson (Oct 03 2014 2:45PM) : Africa is one of the most poorest place in the world. more

if there was no wars no country’s would be destroyed or poor

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Nov 5
KYANA CHISHOLM (Nov 05 2014 11:38AM) : ehh more

not really , there are different parts in Africa that are wealthy like Ghana and Libya and such.

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Oct 6
Danny Garcia (Oct 06 2014 2:18PM) : where they walk more

they walk on a ruff surface so that surface messes up there feet

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Oct 6
Jessica Hill (Oct 06 2014 1:57PM) : you can see that this sentence was saying that they have long and tragic nonfiction between Ethiopia and WORE THEM TO THEIR DEATHS IN BATHELS

Photograph by John Stanmeyer-VII

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Oct 7
Destiny D. Henson (Oct 07 2014 2:29PM) : Having plastic sandals are a good way of starting off a good thing in Africa. more

Having donation box’s on the corners of NY is part of helping out Africa with things that they really need and things that parents, adults, and especially kids really want in there life’s.

Our binary camel caravan—A’urta, or “Traded for a Cow,” and Suma’atuli, “Branded on the Ear”—has been joined at last by its two long-lost cameleers, Mohamed Aidahis and Kader Yarri. These men caught up with us from our departure point at Herto Bouri, crossing gravel pans and rumpled badlands after days of quickstep walking. In the manner of life here, no explanation was asked or given regarding the nature of their weeklong delay. They were late. Now they were with us. Each wore matching lime-green plastic sandals.

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Oct 22
Moses Ortiz (Oct 22 2014 11:28AM) : they have no money to be clothes
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Oct 6
Destiny D. Henson (Oct 06 2014 2:50PM) : Everything that other counrties have Africa does'nt. more

In Africa there are kids who die from being starved and kids feet gets ruined by walking barefooted

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Oct 22
Moses Ortiz (Oct 22 2014 11:29AM) : they have no money to buy clothes
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Oct 20
Deanna Alvarado (Oct 20 2014 11:26AM) : Now they were with us more

My thoughts was they meant that they people that came to their village and wore the same plastic sandals those people was one of the other people.

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Oct 20
Deanna Alvarado (Oct 20 2014 11:19AM) : Each person wore lime-green plastic sandals more

I thought this was interesting because the color lime-green means something to them and lime-green is a bright color.

Guide Ahmed Alema Hessan (left) wears the “American walking shoes” he requested for the trip. But cameleers Mohamed Aidahis (center) and Kader Yarri eat up miles the way most rural Ethiopians do— wearing an ounce of molded plastic on each foot. Photograph by Paul Salopek

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Oct 6
Jubelys Bernabe (Oct 06 2014 1:44PM) : They wear some type of shoe to walk around more

They wear American walking shoes

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Oct 28
Moses Ortiz (Oct 28 2014 11:05AM) : Guide Ahmed Alema Hessan (left) wears the “American walking shoes” he requested for the trip.
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Nov 5
KYANA CHISHOLM (Nov 05 2014 11:31AM) : considerate. more

some people over there would have they’re family members / relatives send them some shoes and clothing from America but some of the people there , would like to keep their everyday life ritual.

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Oct 7
Destiny D. Henson (Oct 07 2014 2:31PM) : People in Africa are very peaceful. more

people like them in the picture is an example for peaceful people.

The surface of the Rift Valley is a palimpsest of footprints stamped in the dust by millions of cross-thatched soles of injected plastic. Yet if Ethiopia’s popular sandals are mass-produced, their wearers are not. They drag their left heel. They mar the right shoe’s molding by stepping on an ember.

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Oct 20
Deanna Alvarado (Oct 20 2014 10:34AM) : footprints more

There’s a lot of footprints on the sand from different people

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Oct 20
Deanna Alvarado (Oct 20 2014 10:36AM) : Drag their left foot more

The plastic shoes may be hurting there feet so much that they can’t walk properly

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Imprinted on every footstep: One thing not made in China. Photograph by Paul Salopek

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Oct 6
Danny Garcia (Oct 06 2014 2:27PM) : ruff surface more

the surface that they walk on is ruff and they have no cars so they have to walk on hard rocks with plastic uncomfortable shoes for along distance of time.

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Oct 28
Moses Ortiz (Oct 28 2014 11:07AM) : Imprinted on every footstep: One thing not made in China. Photograph by Paul Salopek
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Oct 6
Jubelys Bernabe (Oct 06 2014 1:46PM) : This photo showing me that it wasn't made by China more

Weird cause everything was made in China

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Oct 6
Danny Garcia (Oct 06 2014 2:23PM) : shoes more

no most of shoes in america are not made in china Alot of them are made here.

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Ahmed Alema Hessan, our guide north through the Rift Valley of Ethiopia, knelt the other day on the trail, examining the shoes’ endless impressions.

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“La’ad Howeni will be waiting for us in Dalifagi,” Alema said. He pointed to a single sandal track. La’ad was waiting in Dalifagi.

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DMU Timestamp: September 22, 2014 20:44

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Oct 6
Zion Dawson (Oct 06 2014 9:15AM) : In the affluent global north, where fashion caters to every whim and vanity, shoes announce their wearer’s class, hipness, career choice, sexual availability, even politics (the clog versus the cowboy boot). It is disorienting, then, to be walking through more
wow that crazy
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