Ethiopia 2015. The Caravan of Love. Marc Vella.

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Ethiopia. Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region. Omo Valley. Turmi. Hamar tribe (also spelled Hamer). Pastoralist group. Hamar women wear an elaborately decorated goatskin, often colored with beads and cowries. Beaded necklaces, bracelets and waistbands adorn their bodies. They also wear thick copper necklaces announcing their marital status; a lather long tipped necklace and two copper necklaces if they are the first wife and only two copper necklaces if they are second, third, fourth wife to one man. Hamer women indulge in elaborate hairdressing by decorating their hair with clay and butter twisted into a striking long plait. A group of women is dancing before a ceremony in which a Hamar man comes of age by leaping over a line of cattle. On the afternoon of the leap, as guests gather, the man's female relatives demand to be whipped as part of the ceremony. The men, who have already jumped the cattle and are known as Maza, use long thin sticks and strike girls and women on their backs. No screaming 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. This is a consensual act, with girls and women begging and singing to the men, so that they continue whipping them. It is not only a show of strength from girls and women, who proudly show off their scars, but it also symbolises their affiliation and loyalty towards their kin. The scars are a mark on how they suffered for their brothers and relatives. It also a legacy of an initiation rite that sees them beaten bloody. The Omo Valley, situated in Africa’s Great Rift Valley, is home to an estimated 200,000 indigenous peoples who have lived there for millennia. Amongst them are 60'000 to 70'000 Hamar, an Omotic community inhabiting southwestern Ethiopia. They live in Hamer woreda (or district), a fertile part of the Omo River valley, in the Debub Omo Zone of the Southern Nat