TONI ESPADAS | Who was Toni Espadas, the Catalan photographer and tour guide murdered in Ethiopia

TONI ESPADAS | Who was Toni Espadas, the Catalan photographer and tour guide murdered in Ethiopia
TONI ESPADAS | Who was Toni Espadas, the Catalan photographer and tour guide murdered in Ethiopia

The Catalan photographer Toni Espadas (Barcelona, ​​1969) was murdered in Ethiopia last Monday when he was attacked in a “incident complex” which is still under investigation. Founder and director of the travel agency Rift Valleybased in Sabadell, Espadas was filming a special about the Mursi tribe for ‘Partners around the world’a cultural program on Channel 13, during the attack, the Chilean television network itself reported.

According to said channel, two armed young men “they crossed in front of the truck” and shot at it, thus killing Espadas, 55 years. However, the communications office assured AFP that the tribe was not involved in the incidentbut that the attack “was recorded once they were leaving the area, after having finished the day, in the way back“. As for the other members of the team of the program made by the production company MkZetaamong whom were the Chilean journalist Francisco “Pancho” Saavedra and the actor, also Chilean, Jorge Zabaletathese turned out unharmed and the authorities are already managing their return to Chili.

Promoter of responsible tourism

As specified on his website, where he also shared his journalistic work through photographic reports, Espadas began “very young” with two of his great passions: trips and the Photography. Both led him to embark on his first African adventure, to Maliwhich would awaken an interest in other cultures that years later would translate into a second visit, this time to Ethiopia.

The country located in the Horn of Africa would forever mark the life of this photographer, who years later would found the agency in 2015. Rift Valley Expeditions. Before, it had already launched other projects that promoted responsable tourismbut after this step his work extended to Uganda, Tanzania, Gabon or the countries of the Gulf of Guinea.

However, Espadas’ work would focus on the Elm Valleyan area in Ethiopian territory where he managed to establish “very deep personal relationships”especially with ethnicity Hamer. This link, in turn, allowed to photograph and get to know the lifestyle of this group up close.

Philanthropic work

He himself stated in an interview with El Mundo in 2023 that he was fascinated by natural wealth, ethnographic or landscape that encompassed the great African continent. Furthermore, he emphasized that there were many places to discover beyond Kenya either TanzaniaHe also proposed routes through his travel agency. Angola, Nigeria, Benin either Cameroondestinations that are not usually “in the list of countries to travel to“but they still offer a unmatched experience.

The work philanthropic of the Catalan guide also led him to collaborate with several organizations throughout his life. Without going any further, in his last Instagram post Espadas celebrated the supply of drinking water for the hello, a minority ethnic group from Benin. “On the last prospecting trip to the country, we saw ‘in situ’ the solidarity initiative promoted by Across Africa NGO, operating in the village of Gbagri (Onigbolo) at full capacity,” he shared with his more than 15,000 followers a few days before his death.

‘Fixer’ of ‘Planeta Calleja’ and ‘Desafío Extremo’

For a few years, the tourist guide’s activity had focused on acting as a ‘fixer’ for the production of reports, documentaries and television programs whose objective was to study and get to know these African peoples and cultures. In this way, Espadas was in charge of advising journalists and production companies, which also led him to work with MkZeta on the filming of ‘Partners around the world’.

Likewise, Espadas repeatedly collaborated with the television programs of ‘Planet Calleja’ and ‘Extreme challenge’both presented by the Leonese mountaineer Jesus Calleja.

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