The Karo or Kara is a small, endangered omotic tribe with an estimated population between 1,000 and 3,000. They live along the east banks of the Omo River in southern Ethiopia and practice flood retreat cultivation. The crops that are grown by them are sorghum, maize and beans. Only small cattle are kept because of the tsetse flies. These flies are large and consume the blood of vertebrate animals.
Like many of the tribes in the Omo, they paint their bodies and faces with white chalk to prepare for a ceremony. The chalk is mixed with yellow rock, red iron ore and charoal to make its color. Face masks are worn at times and they have clay hair buns with feathers in them. Red clay mixed with butter is put into their hair and clothing is made from animal skin. The women scar their chest believing it makes them beautiful. The men's scars represent an enemy or dangerous animal killed. They also wear clay hair buns which symbol a kill. A man in the tribe can have as many wives as he wants, but must be able to afford them. Most men will only marry two or three.
Also known as the Galeb or Geleb, this tribe lives just north of Kenya's Lake Turkana. Their neighboring tribe is the Turkana people. The Daasanech are pastoralists (cattle herders), but due to the harsh territory, they have moved south to grow crops and fish. Cattle are used by the tribesman for meat, milk and clothing. Often their cattle die from disease and drought. For the reason that they inhabit inhospitable environment the Daasanech are the poorest tribes in the Omo Valley.
Because the Daasanech people come from multiple ethnic groups, both men and women must agree to be circumcised. There are eight clans that make up the Daasanech tribe, each having its own name they are the Elele, Inkabelo, Inkoria, Koro, Naritch, Oro, Randal and the Ri'ele. Each clan is defined by its territory with the Inkabelo being the wealthiest.
During a ceremony, the Dassanech men dance with large sticks and the women hold wooden batons. A Daasanech man blesses his daughter's fertility and future marriage by celebrating the Dimi. During the Dimi 10 to 30 cattle are slaughtered. Both men and women wear fur capes while they feast and dance. A Dimi ceremony will most likely take place in the dry season.
Also spelled Tsamai, they are found living in the semi-arid region of the Omo Valley. These people are agro-pastoralist and use both livestock herding and agriculture to survive. Common crops grown by the tribe are sorghum, millet and of course cotton plantation by irrigating the Weyto River.
Like the Hamer tribe, the Tsemay boys have to successfully complete a bull jumping event. This is a ceremony where the boy runs across multiple bulls. If the boy can make it across four times without falling, he becomes a man. To prove a boy has accomplished a bull jumping, he is outfitted with a band that has feathers on it. It is worn on his head and it shows that he is now looking for a wife. Unlike any other tribe in Ethiopia, the Tsemay have arranged weddings. The parents of the woman pick who she will marry with or without her consent. Even if the marriage is arranged, the man must still be able to afford to pay for his future wife. Payment of cattle, honey, grain and coffee beans are accepted. Women of the tribe, who are not married, wear a short leather skirt with a v-shaped apron attached. Married women wear long leather dresses with an apron that have an apron covering their front and back side. The men in the tribe are found carrying small wooden seats to sit with.
The Bumi or Bume people are also known as the Nyangatom. They live south of the Omo National Park, but occasionally move to the lower regions if food or water is scarce. Known to be fierce fighters, they are often at war with Hamer and Karo tribes. Different from other tribes, the Bumi tribesmen hunt crocodiles using harpoons and a canoe. Scarification is practiced by both men and women in the tribe. The women do it to beautify themselves and the men to signify a kill. Both sexes wear a lot of multi colored necklaces and May also have a lower lip plug.The tribe practices both agriculture and cattle herding. Flood waters must recede along the river's banks before they will plant their crops. Beehives are smoked out by the Bumi and they gorge themselves with the honey.
The Bodi, ethnic group are live close to the Omo River in southern Ethiopia. South of the Bodi are the Mursi tribe they are pastoralists (livestock farmers) and agriculturalists. Along the banks of the river, they will grow sorghum, maize and coffee. They live with their cattle herds and livestock plays a large role in the tribe.
Men of the Bodi are typically overweight because they consume large amounts of honey. The men wear a strip of cotton around their waist or walk around naked. In June, the Bodi celebrate Ka'el. This is a tradition that measures the body fat of a contestant. Each family or clan is allowed to enter an unmarried contestant. The winner of this contest is awarded great fame by the tribe. Men also wear a headband with a feather attached to it during rituals. The women in the tribe wear goatskin skirts and have a plug inserted into their chin.
Bena, and Benna are other spellings for the Bena people. They are neighbors with the Hamer tribe and it is believed that the Bena actually originated from them centuries ago. The markets in Key Afer and Jinka are often visited by them.
Just like most of the indigenous tribes in the lower Omo Valley, the Bena practice ritual dancing and singing. The men often have their hair dressed up with a colorful clay cap that is decorated with feathers. Both the men and women wear long garments and paint their bodies with white chalk. Women of the tribe wear beads in their hair that is held together with butter.
The Bena look very similar to the Hamer and are often called the Hamer-Bena. Common rituals and traditions of other tribes are shared by the Bena. The boys in the tribe participate in bull jumping. When it is time for the boy to become a man, he must jump over a number of bulls naked without falling. If he is able to complete this task, he will become a man and be able to marry a woman.
The Ari people inhabit the northern part of the Mago National Park in Ethiopia and have the largest territory of all the tribes in the area. They have fertile lands allowing them to have several types of plantations. An Ari's crop can consist of grains, coffee, fruits and honey. It's also common for them to have large herds of livestock.
Their women are known for selling pottery and wearing skirts made from banana trees called Enset. Tribe members wear a lot of jewellery and have many piercings in their ears. They wrap beads and bracelets around their arms and waist for decoration.
The Ari are known to paint and scar their bodies as part of their culture. You can find some of the Ari people visiting the market in Key Afer.
The Surma people live in the remote southwest corner of Ethiopia. The Surma have a basic subsistence and barter economy. Their wealth is based on their cattle, and the main food source is the produce from their own crops. There is very little outside trade. The Surma are a highly monolingual and homogenous society, living beyond most of the influences of the modern world and its technology.
The girl pictured here shows some of the typical Surma characteristics for both men and women: large earplugs, decorative body painting, the hair shaved in patterns. Women wear a leather garment fastened at one shoulder which encircles the waist like a skirt. Men and children typically wear no clothing. Surma women are noted for the large clay lip plates worn in the lower lip.
They have very famous traditional game called “Donga”
Donga : is a stick fighting festival of the Surma young men. At a fight, each challenger is armed with a hardwood stick. Each player beats his opponent with his stick as many times as possible with the intention of knocking him down, and eliminating him from the game. Players are usually unmarried men. The winner will be carried on a platform of poles to a group of girls waiting at the open field. The winner holds the privilege to ask among those girls for his own wife.
is a stick fighting festival of the Surma young men. At a fight, each challenger is armed with a hardwood stick. Each player beats his opponent with his stick as many times as possible with the intention of knocking him down, and eliminating him from the game. Players are usually unmarried men. The winner will be carried on a platform of poles to a group of girls waiting at the open field. The winner holds the privilege to ask among those girls for his own wife.
The people of Konso are well known for their intricately terraced hillsides, fine woven materials, carved totems made of wood, decorated graves (mainly the king & his wife), impressive village and etc. Explore The Konso King, totems, Konso villages, and Gesergiyo (New York)-magnificent rock formation.
From these beginnings their remarkable culture developed in virtual isolation. Surrounded by their neighbors, they continue to till their fields. With the exception of trading with the Borena for salt or cowrie shells, outside influence has virtually passed them by.
They have always fiercely defended their territory. This is evident in the fact that each village is walled. Much of their land is terraced and planted with trees, and the fertile fields are tended, irrigated and fertilized. There is a passionate love for work in the blood of these people.
The Hamar occupy a mountainous region in the eastern part of the lower Omo Valley. Their name is also spelled Hamer. The “Jumping the bull” ceremony is the most spectacular rite of passage in Southern Ethiopia. This ceremony marks the initiation of young men in to adult hood. The main players are the initiates, those who are going to jump the bulls and the maz, those recently initiated who have already undergone this rite.
The initiate boys are required to jump in to the backs of formidable obstacle jump down on to the other side and then repeat the entire procedure on the day after the “ jumping the bull” ceremony, women gather together, beautifully attired in their bedded skins and iron jeweler. Hammer women wear their hair in dense ringlets smeared with mud and clarified butter4 and topped off with a head featuring oblongs of gleaming aluminum courtship daces follow and continue for the following two days and night.
Their dance styles called “evangadi” and “ camp fire” ritual has attracted many scholars artists and visitors to their land from different parts of the globe.