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. Traditional cattle jumping ceremony. A Hamar man comes of age by leaping over a line of cattle. The bull jumping ceremony is one of the most important in man's life and once completed allows him to marry, own cattle and have children. The ceremony is about hierarchy and tribe's membership. The young man who is to leap has his head parially shaved and he's rubbed with sand to wash away his sins. He's then smeared with dung to give him strength while strips of tree bark are strapped around his naked body in a cross as a form of spiritual protection. The elders line up between six, like in the picture, and up to twenty cows and castrated male cattle (depending on family's wealth). The young man underwent a number of rituals before he leaps onto and runs rapidly over a series of cattle held by other men. To come of age, the man must leap across the line a minimum of four times. Only when, without falling, he has been through his initiation rite can he marry the wife chosen for him by his family, and start to build up his own herd. 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 Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region (often abbreviated as SNNPR) which is one of the nine ethnic divisions of Ethiopia. 9.11.15 © 2015 Didier Ruef