of over 46,532 people. Omo Valley is a fertile part of the vast Southern
Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region of south-west Ethiopia, which is
bordered by Kenya and South Sudan. Most still live in traditional villages,
although growing numbers are migrating to the region’s cities and towns as well
as the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. These pastoral and polygamous people are
popular for their traditional ‘jumping of bulls’. This ceremony often attracts
neighbours and people foreign to their culture to witness it.
circumcision and a leap over the bulls. This determines whether the young Hamar
male is ready to make the social jump from youth to adulthood.
now allowed to marry. As the name implies, Hamar men are made to jump over 15
to 30 bulls naked as a rite into becoming a Maza. Mazas are men who have
successfully passed through this rite and allowed to marry. The Ukuli the young initiated man, once he jumped the bulls,
he become Cherkari (a social stage that he stays only for eight days).
After eight days he transfer to the stage of Maza, and stay at this status
until he marries and become Danza, the name for married Hamar men.
during which they are flogged to show the sacrifices they make for their men. The tradition is known as Ukuli Bula and is done as part of a Rite of Passage
ceremony for boys.
It is his prerogative to mete out as he sees fit
dedicated to the men. The newly initiated Maza relatives are not left out. The
number of scars on the back also shows the new Maza who loves him best. They
take in the beating on the condition that he remembers them when they face difficulties.
Some whipping appears to be tender,
others more aggressive. But once whipped, the girls proudly show off their
scars – as proof of their courage and integrity. Women entice the Maza to use whips and canes on their backs by
forcing them to beat them, sometimes against their wish. No screaming or pity
is permitted by the men wielding the canes but the women don’t care. Instead of
fleeing, they beg the men to do it again and again until blood flows, dripping
into the gritty red dust of the Omo River Valley. Members of the Hamar tribe in
Ethiopia believe the elaborate scars demonstrate a woman’s capacity for love,
and if they fall on hard times later in life it allows them to call on those
who whipped them for help. The women trumpet and sing, extolling the virtues of
the young man at the heart of the ceremony, declaring their love for him and
for their desire to be marked by the whip
call on help from those who marked them if ever they are in need of help. Young
Hamar women sometimes coat their bodies with butter to lessen the effect of the
(night dancing) before the families of the new Maza announce his first wife.
also adorn their bodies by cutting their skin and adding ash and charcoal to
the cuts. Hamar women are some of the most elaborately dressed of the region –
with goatskin skirts decorated with glass beads, whilst their hair is covered
with a mixture of grease and red ochre. Elaborate scarification of the body is
also the custom of the Hamar. Hamar women are some of the most elaborately
dressed of the region – with goatskin skirts decorated with glass beads, whilst
their hair is covered with a mixture of grease and red ochre. Elaborate
scarification of the body is also the custom of the Hamar
taking care of their cattle. These cattle are used to define their wealth
status and are used to also used to pay the woman’s bride price.
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