The Hamer is a tribal people in southwestern Ethiopia. They live in Hamer Bena woreda (or district), a fertile part of the Omo River valley, in the Debub Omo Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region (SNNPR). They are largely pastoralists, so their culture places a high value on cattle. The Hammer people are semi nomadic pastoralists migrating every few months to find pastures for their goats and cattle. Huts are round and conical made from a dome frame of branches covered with grasses, mats and hide About 20 huts around a meeting place where dancing and feasting occurs, and a cattle and goat pen make a village. The Hammer often trade with their neighbors for sorghum and corn as they do not grow it themselves. Goats and Cattle offer milk and meat. Sorghum is made into a pancake or porridge and eaten with a stew. Men typically wear a checkered skirt of cloth while women wear a cow skin skirt.
Bull jumping: – is a rite of passage ceremony for men coming of age must be done before a man is permitted to marry. The man-to-be must “jump the cattle” four times to be successful and only castrated male cattle and cows may be used to jump over. This test is performed while naked (except for a few cords bound across the chest) as a symbol of the childhood he is about to leave behind him. On completion of this test, the young man joins the ranks of the maza – other men who have recently passed the same test and who spend the next few months of their lives supervising these events in villages throughout the Hamar territory. Unlike the Minoan bull-leaping, the cattle is held still by maza, so the physical risk is limited.
The Mursi are a nomadic cattle herder ethnic group located in the Debub Omo Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region in Ethiopia, close to the Sudanese border. According to the 2007 national census, there number is estimated 7,500. The Mursi people are the most popular in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley. They are well known for their unique lip plates. They are settled around the Omo River and in the Mago National Park. Due to the climate, they move twice a year between the winter and summer months. They herd cattle and grow crops along the banks of the Omo River.
The Mursi women paint their bodies and face in white. They also are the ones who wear the lip plates. Women of the Mursi tribe may have their lips cut at the age of 15 or 16. A small clay plate is then inserted into the lip. Through the years, larger plates are inserted into the lip causing it to stretch. The larger the clay plate, the more the woman is worth before she gets married. It is said that the clay plates were originally used to prevent capture by slave traders. Although very unique and part of their tradition, the Mursi women only wear the plates for a short time because they are so heavy and uncomfortable. Men of the Mursi also use white paint for their bodies and faces. Just like any other ethnic tribe in the lower valley, the men must pass a test before they can get married
Konso, named after the Konso people, is known for its religious traditions, waga sculptures, and nearby fossil beds (the latter an archaeological site of early hominids). The site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List on September 30, 1997 and registered on 2011 due to its purported universal cultural significance of terracing agricultural practice. The Konso live in an isolated region of the basalt hills. The area is made up of hard rocky slopes. A Konso village maybe fortified by a stone wall used as a defensive measure, their village is located on hilltops and is split up into communities, with each community having a main hut. In order to enter a Konso village, you must pass through a gate and a series of alleys. These paths are part of its security system, keeping the village difficult to access. Although the Konso people have many customs dating back hundreds of years, it is not uncommon for them to be seen wearing western clothing. As newer generations grow, their traditional attire has gradually changed to modern societies. The Konso is a very interesting tribe to visit on your trip to the lower Omo Valley.
The Arbore Tribe
The Arbore tribe is a small tribe that lives in the southwest region of the Omo Valley. They have ancestral and cultural associations with Borenna and Konso peoples and perform many ritual dances while singing. The Tsemay people are their neighboring tribe. Arbore people are pastoralists (livestock farmers). They believe that their singing and dancing eliminates negative energy and with the negative energy gone, the tribe will prosper. The women of the tribe cover their heads with a black cloth and are known to wear very colorful necklaces and earrings. Young children will wear a shell type hat that protects their heads from the sun. Body painting is done by the Arbore using natural colors made from soil and stone. Traditional dancing is practiced by the tribe and wealth is measured by the number of cattle a tribesman owns.