Explore and Understand Africa Through Her Food and Culture

He who wants to plant corn must make peace with the crows. -African Proverb

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Hamar Tribe Beauty and Cattle Leaping

The Hamar tribe of the Omo Valley in southern Ethiopia is an ancient tribe with an unique cattle leaping ritual. 


 Cattle and other livestock are at the heart of Hamar life. 


The Hamar tribe use red-ochre clay and animal fat to pleat and color their hair.
Young Hamar Girl

Hamar men come of age by leaping over a line of about 15 cows and castrated bull. In order to come of age, the man must leap across the line four times. At the end of the leap, he is blessed and sent off with the Maza who shave his head and make him one of their alumni. It is an important ritual that qualifies him to marry, own cattle and have children.

There is usually several days of nonstop dancing, eating grilled meats and drinking beer. Hamar tribe women and men want to look beautiful so they use red-ochre clay and animal fat to braid and color their hair. On the afternoon of the leap, fellow pledgees’ female relatives make loud plea’s to be whipped as part of the ceremony cattle leaping ceremony to show physical and emotional support.

One outcome of the cattle jumping ritual is whipping creates responsibility between the pledgee and his female relatives. If they face hard times in the future, he will remember them because of the pain they went through at his initiation. Her scars are a mark of how she suffered for her male relative.


Hamar people are no different from many ancient African cultures; they are moving to urban areas, attending formal schools, mingling with tourists and are disregarding traditions and are losing knowledge of ancient rituals.

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The eye never forgets what the heart has seen - African Proverb