The passage from boyhood to adulthood is considered a very important event in a lot of modern or traditional societies. For the Hamer tribe in Omo valley, South Ethiopia, this ancient ceremony is taken to another level.
Men paint themselves with white chalk to prepare for the ceremony. Hair ornaments worn by the men indicate a previous kill of an enemy or animal.Women are covered in butter and wear little bells in their waist and ankles. The Ceremony of the Bull Jumping is about to start!
People are hasting to the site of the ceremony located inside the bush. As we were running not to miss the start, we heard first the jiggling sound of bells and the horns. Women were dancing in circle while blowing through horns to celebrate the event. In the other side the bulls that will take part in the ceremony just sit there not knowing that in a while they will be chased after by the Maza, the group of already initiated to manhood, to put them in line for the ritual. Foreigners and locals are chatting and watching with anxiousness..What will happen?
While the women are still dancing we notice that they have deep bloody marks on their backs.
Someone explains to us that women are asking to be whipped in order to show devotion for their husbands and is something that women are proud of even though it looks extremely painful.
In another corner the Maza are preparing the candidate for the jump while putting together sticks. After a while the man completely naked and focused stands among the bulls.This is it. Now he should walk on the otherside crossing the backs of the bulls and do it not only once, but 4 times. Should he fail the task public ridicule awaits him as the women will make fun of him and whip him.
As he prepares for the first jump, there is tension in everybody’s face. The women at the back are holding their sticks horizontally, wishing him in this way good luck….and he makes it!! After 4 successful jumps the tall young man is happily surrounded by friends and family. At this point this part of the celebrations is finished and everybody walks away. The same night there will be a party at the village called “evagandi”.Sadly, visitors cannot attend that one because safety is not guaranteed. And the celebrations will continue for the next 3 days…
That was it! One more amazing subject for our #AfriQuest documentary :)
P.S the fee to attend the ceremony from the village of Turmi is 400 Ethiopian Birr (~$20 pp).