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Hamer Man, Omo River region, Ethiopia


The most significant ceremony for young Hamer men is the "jumping of the bull" - the final test before passing into adulthood.
Image of Hamer Man, Omo River Region, Ethiopia.

Hamer Man, Omo River Region, Ethiopia

Charles Roffey
The Hamer are pastoralists and number about 30,000. They are known for their practice of body adornment and wearing a multitude of colorful beads. Women adorn their necks with heavy polished iron jewelry. Hamer society consists of a complex system of age groups. To pass from one age group to another involves complicated rituals. The most significant ceremony for young men is the "jumping of the bull" - the final test before passing into adulthood.

Several days before the ceremony, initiates pass out invitations in the form of dried knotted grass. The ceremony lasts three days. Late in the afternoon on the final day, ten to thirty bulls are lined up side by side. The naked initiate rushes towards the animal, vaults onto the first bull's back and then runs across the line of animals. At the end of the line he turns back to repeat the performance in the opposite direction. He must make this unstable journey without falling.

The Hamer men have a reputation of being less than adoring husbands. According to photographer JP Dutilleux "the women submit to the ritual floggings proudly and love to show the deep scars that are regarded as a proof of devotion to their husbands.

More information about the Hamer

Cultural Tours to the Omo River Region, Ethiopia

Many tour companies that specialize in Ethiopia offer tours to the Omo River Region. You can often add on a tour of some of Ethiopias famous religious and historical sights. Below is a sampling of itineraries which focus on the cultures of the Omo River Region.
  • Omo River Expeditions from Safari Experts. This is 14-day trip down the Omo River in Southern Ethiopia to Lake Turkana in Northern Kenya.

  • Intrepid Travel offers a 10 day cultural tour of the Omo River Region in Ethiopia.

  • Photo Safaris offers a 17 day cultural tour where photographing the various tribes in the Omo River region is the focus of the tour.

  • Remote River Expeditions offer a 13 day and a 24 day tour of the Omo River region. This is a white water rafting trip combined with stays in local villages and bird watching.

  • Green Land Tours offers several different itineraries to the Omo River region and will accommodate special requests to view important ceremonies.

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