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Omo valley tribes ceremony

Market and tribal ceremony

The itinerary for the Omo valley is highly flexible. Local markets are held on specific days. In order to attend the colourful markets, we will have to be there on those days. But there are no specific days for ceremonies or festivals. Lungo  local tour Ethiopia have contact in all of the Omo valley villages. If something Is to happen in one village, we will put our planned itinerary aside and drive to another village to be a part of the event. We suggest a walking tour to the market if you are interested in social life, living
conditions, problems, development projects, politics and the many an told stories of the tribal people. That would allow you time to visit
with families and observe their daily- life activities. It is good way to experience real life in Ethiopia.

Bull jumping

Witnessing a famous Hamer ritual – the Jumping Bull Ceremony – which marks a man’s transition from boyhood was an obvious. The ceremony began with his female relations being whipped to show their love for the boy and ended with the naked man jumping onto and then running across a line of oxen held in place by his male relatives. Even though there were quite a few other tourists at this event, it really was truly spectacular.

Evangadi Hamer dance ceremony

One of the biggest ceremony for hamar tribe is a bull jumping ceremony after it is evangadi dance ceremony.

Evangadi is a night time dance ceremony. Usually it happens after harvesting their crops which, represent their happiness. During night they can be able to see the full moon. This show’s peace, love and unity.

And also it is the time that all young men and women come together for relationship.

Fat contestant at a Ka`el ceremony of the Bodi tribe

Every year, they celebrate their new year, ‘Ka`el’ (Bodi New year Celebration) between June and July, depending on the full moon, the rains. This celebration is a bit different than a usual new year celebration’s as the tradition is to feed young men from every Bodi village. They are fed with only honey, cow blood and milk during 3-6 months (fattening process).

To celebrate their new year called the Kael, the Bodi tribe in south Ethiopia, Omo valley, kill a cow. They use a huge stone and bang the head….then they open the cow, read the intestines, and take the blood to drink it…

Kael ceremony in Bodi tribe – Ethiopia. Bodi men using their hand to fetch blood from the slaughtered cow`s belly to drink Mixing cow blood with Honey
The Keal ceremony is the New year of the Bodi tribe in south Ethiopia. To celebrate it, they dance, drink, sing…

The feeding on the blood mixed with honey and cow milk enables them to almost double their weight,which makes them ready for the competition. Contestants for this competition goes naked to make them eligible to participate.
On the competition day, the contestants and the village folks assembles at the Bode King village. Traditional bodi tribal warrior dances are performed to the delight of on-lookers. After the dance, the bodies of the contestants are measured by the elders who then decide who is the fattest winner.
The fattest person is then declared as the winner of the competition and is honored with a great fame in the bodi tribe.

When a member of Bodi tribe dies. The woman of the tribe shout to the spirits and chant of his/her death to bring the soul to peace. The Bodi men perform ceremonial death procession and will keep the body of the deceased safe for 3 days. After this, the tribe will gather together and eat as a sign of respect, and to ensure passing into the next world.

Dime ceremony of Dasench tribe.

The Dime, that is the blessing of the first-born daughter to be fertile, lasts no less than six weeks, during which 10 cattle and 30 sheep or goats are sacrificed, not surprisingly this ritual takes place in the dry season when the cattle does not produce much milk and grazing is limited, slaughtering livestock at this time of the year provides meat to the village when other food sources are scarce.

The Dassanech families with daughters of similar age, generally between 8 and 10 years, gather near the banks of the Omo River, during the dry season; each clan has its own special site where to celebrate the Dime and where temporary huts are built used only for the period of the ceremony.

During the celebration, men and women dress in animal fur cloaks to celebrate and dance, while elderly village chiefs bless the girls.

At the same time as the daughter’s blessing and her passage into adulthood, the father becomes a wise man or an elder in the village, a status that allows him to participate in the most important decisions concerning the life of the village and the clan, so the dimi becomes the most important ceremony in a man’s life.

Circumcision is practiced for both boys and girls, this is a fundamental requirement to be able to marry, the Dassanech girls are circumcised when young, around 10 or 12 years old.

Girls can be circumcised at their mother’s house or in another village, but always together with other girls of the same age who undergo the same ritual; the procedure is usually performed by an elderly woman, helped by the girl’s relatives.

A leather strap is tied around the ankles to limit the girl’s movement, this strap must be worn until the wounds have healed and the pain has subsided.

When the ritual has been completed, the girl is given to drink sour milk and given a necklace by her mother, from that moment on she will be allowed to wear a leather skirt to show that she is now considered an adult woman and that she is ready for marriage, that usually takes place soon after.

A man can marry all the women he wants but he must guarantee that he can support them, every wife must have her own hut where she lives with her unmarried children

Donga stick fight Mursi and Surma ceremony

The ‘Donga’, or stick fight, is practised by mursi and Suri tribesmen at the end of each harvest. It combines combat with ritual and sport and aims to get young men used to bloodshed – which leaders believe comes in handy if they clash with other tribes. Before a Donga, some Suri drink the fresh blood of their cattle. A warrior will make a small incision in the cow’s carotid artery with a special sharp arrow. The tribe believe it to be full of vitamins to give fighters strength.

The one-on-one battles take place between different Suri villages with around 20 to 30 fighters on each side. The fights can be furious and can result in death, but there are also rules in place enforced by a referee. The ‘Donga’, or stick fight, is practised by Suri tribesmen in southern Ethiopia at the end of each harvest. If they win the fight – which are furious and can often result in death – they are allowed to choose their pick of a girl from the tribe
The women can refuse a warrior but being chosen by a champion is considered a great honour. Men who triumph in brutal and bloody donga fights are considered heroes by the rest of the village and wider tribe

A tribeswoman with a lip plate wearing a skinned animal carcass on her head. While the lip plate and scaring on her shoulders might look bizarre to outsiders it is actually considered a sign of beauty among Ethiopian tribal societies

The Suri tribe inhabit the Omo Valley near Kibbish in southern Ethiopia. Children are known to decorate themselves with flowers, blossoms and green plants found around the Suri villages – although this tradition is not thought to be that old
A victorious warrior celebrates after winning a fight before choosing a potential wife. Warriors always fight naked to prove that they’re tough and don’t need armour – although it is strictly prohibited to hit a contestant when he is on the ground
The battles can be vicious and some warriors can be killed. If a fighter dies during battle his family will be compensated. However in accordance with tribal custom the men refuse to show pain – even while bearing deep flesh wounds


After completing the blood meal ritual, the warriors go and wash themselves in the river before decorating themselves with mud to enhance their beauty The Suri exist on the margins of the Ethiopian state and the capital regards them as trouble-makers. In 1994 the Ethiopian government passed laws banning stick fighting but the tradition nevertheless lives on A warrior drains a cow’s blood which will be downed by a fighter before battle. Tribesmen use a special arrow to make a small incision into the cow’s carotid artery in order to make it bleed They have to drink quickly before the blood coagulates

The cow will be drained of nearly two litres of blood from its carotid artery. The Suri believe the blood is full of useful vitamins which will help them fight better. Such is the importance of the rituals that cows are only killed on special occasions
The warriors then have to drink the blood quickly before it coagulates Often the drinker will end up throwing it back up A victorious fighter points his stick towards the woman of his choice. Throughout the day men are also drinking millet beer to give themselves some liquid courage. This means that fights have a tendency to get even more violent as the day goes on Fighters will arrive on the field along with others from their village. They carry their strongest warrior on their shoulders. Many arrive in huge groups singing and shouting: ‘I am the hero and who will fight me?’

A tribesman prepares for the fight ahead. Some Suri tribesmen also choose to wear colourful headresses and ceremonial straw arm cuffs (pictured on his leg) which offers them minimal protection during the fight Other fighters also choose to wear highly decorative necklaces to show off during the battle. Real fights can involve hundreds of warriors the Surma, and other local tribes, have been known to stage donga in groups of 10 for paying tourists
The fighting can leave many participants with scars Scarification is seen as a sign of beauty in Sumi culture

A young boy with flowers in his hair poses for the camera before watching the fights. There are concerns that as the southern Ethiopian area becomes more connected with the outside world tribes like the Suri will lose their cultural heritage
Besides being a courtship ritual the fights are designed to get young men used to bloodshed, which tribal elders believe could come in useful if there is a conflict

Throughout the day the men not fighting take the chance to drink millet beer and patch up their wounds. Here a fellow tribesmen shows off his rifle to another Battles usually take place between Suri villages, which can consist of between 40 and 2,500 people

Suri women are allowed to have sex before marriage but must remain faithful to their husbands afterwards. They go through elaborate beauty processes including intricate scarification and hair dying An Suri fighter with a homemade helmet. The fierce fighting is traditionally seen as a way of attracting women, and is a combination of martial art, ritual and sport. The south Omo valley has around 40 different tribes residing in it
A fighter can challenge anyone he wants and hit any part of his opponent’s body. If a fighter gets hurt he wil not be granted any form of compensation – if he gets killed his family will get around 20 cows or one girl

Lip discs are considered to be a sign of beauty, and the size can dictate the value of a dowry a father can command A man is knocked down during a fight while the referee looks on. It is strictly forbidden to hit a downed fighter

A tribesman cradles his AK-47 as her watches over the festivities. Shooting can break out in the donga if things get too rowdy Spectators gather to watch the battle between Suri villages. The fights are considered a key cultural event and take place after the end of harvest

A woman places her necklace over a champion’s stick. Donga fights attract the most beautiful girls in the area who hope to be chosen by the eventual champion. The point however is not to get married but to flirt

A tribesman helps a warrior armour up before a battle. The head and neck are the most vulnerable spots, and their minimum armour is designed to give them essential protection while not restricting movement

A young boy observes the battles from the crowd. The fights become increasingly violent thanks in large part to the tradition of stopping for regular libations to egg on the meeker men
Warriors march to the fight, dancing and singing in huge groups. In recent years the spread of guns has undermined some of the Suri’s oldest tradition