November 19, 2016

2873 ETHIOPIA - Holqa Sof Omar: Natural and Cultural Heritage (UNESCO WHS - Tentative List)

With a 16km length, Sof Omar Caves is one of the most spectacular and extensive underground caverns in the world. It is situated to the east of Robe, in the Bale Zone, through which the Weyib River (Gestro River) flows. Here the river vanishes into this giant underground world with its arched portals, high eroded ceilings, and deep, vaulted echoing chambers. The approach to the caves is made through the tiny village of Sof Omar, perched on the cliffs above the Weib River.

These caves, now an important Islamic shrine named after the saintly Sheik Sof Omar Ahmed, who took refuge here many centuries ago (around early 11th century AD), have a religious history that predates the arrival of the Muslims in Bale, being sacred also for the local Oromo traditional religion. Even today, in this Sof Omar cave system and catacombs there are so many signs of the persistence of such African traditional beliefs and practices.

The cave is formed along a network of joints: one set runs approximately north to south and the other east to west. This zig-zag of passages runs in an approximately southeasterly direction. Sof Omar has 42 entrances, but generally only four are useful for gaining entrance. The Chamber of Columns is a unique feature in the world of caves. It looks like a wide passage leaving the Web before sweeping back to the river about 100 m downstream. The passage circumnavigates a cluster of thick columns densely packed in the centre of chamber.

About the stamps
The stamp, depicting Menelik's Bushbuck (Tragelaphus Scriptus Menelik), is part of a definitive series, about which I wrote here.

Sof Omar Caves - Wikipedia

Sender: Adam Wole (direct swap)
Sent from Addis Ababa (Addis Ababa / Ethiopia), on 21.10.2016

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