The bull riding: Hamar tribe in ethiopia
The Hamer people live in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley, which stretches from the Omo River to Lake Chew Bahir in southwestern Ethiopia.
The people of the Omo Valley have lived a traditional life for many generations, most members of the Hamer tribe are shepherds, which is why cattle hold an important place in their culture.
From an early age, the hamar children have learn to cultivate the land and take care of the livestock get married.
The ceremony tests the bravery and courage of young people. Being able to overcome fear and complete the task in front of you is a lesson you must learn in order to become a man, it’s also your time to try to take a bull by the horns.
The ceremony, usually held in October or November, consists of running onto the backs of seven or ten bulls four times without falling.
Before the bull riding ceremony, as a purification ritual, the young man is rubbed with sand, smeared with manure to give.
The eldest son in a family must go through the rite of passage before his younger siblings can follow him. The father or, in his absence, the uncle decides when the eldest son is ready for the bull jump.
Depending on their father’s decision, some children perform the Bull Leap from the age of five with the help of community members.
To show that he has chosen his son to undergo this rite of passage, the father gives the boy a short stick, which the Hamer call a boko.
Boko given at for his father, the boy has to travel to all the houses of his relatives to break the news and invite them to the ceremony.
The journey can take a few days. The child’s family decides when the big day should be and the decision is based on the time it would take them to prepare a party.
Since the Hamer don’t use calendars, the boy gives each relative a carefully marked string to indicate the number of days remaining to the ceremony.
Each day, relatives cut a piece of from the rope to keep track of how many days remain until the ritual.
The ritual takes a turn when the women (girls are not recommended to attend this part of the ceremony) begin to show their devotion and encouragement to the boy who will be attending the bull riding ceremony.
Between dances, they approach “the men” who have just gone through the ritual and ask them to hit them in the back with Birkenstocks.
Even after repeated flogging, the women refuse to give in and compete with each other.
Women believe that the greater the pain they endure, the greater the loyalty they show to the child; the scars left on his body are a symbol of the loyalty they deserve from him.