Omo Valley Tribal Exploration & Safari.
The Omo Valley, home of Lucy, the oldest known Homo
sapiens, is home to over 500,000 indigenous, tribal people.
These indigenous tribes have been painting their bodies with
pulverized minerals for millennia’s. The paintings are used to
designate position, for ritual, to ward off illness, to attract the
opposite sex, to associate with family, a tribe or an animal, and
to impress tourists.
Along with body paintings, the Mursi tribe, also have a long
history of decorative scarring and piercing. Both men and
woman pierce their ears and lips with large discs. Mursi
woman used to commonly pierce and stretch their lower lip for
The Valley is located in southwestern Ethiopia, eastern South
Sudan and around Lake Turkana in north Kenya.
Also well known as the hamar or hammer, they are
one of the most known tribes in Soutern Ethiopia.
They inhabit the territory east of the Omo River and
have villages in Turmi and Dimeka. Tourists visit the
hamer hoping to see a traditional leaping ceremony
(the jumping of bulls).
They are cattle herders and practice agriculture.
Very colorful bracelets and beads are worn in their
hair and around their waists and arms. The practice
of body modification is used by cutting themselves
and packing the wound with ash and charcoal. Some
of the women wear circular wedge necklaces
indicating that they are married. Men paint
themselves with white chalk to prepare for a
ceremony. Hair ornaments worn by the men indicate
a previous kill of an enemy or animal.
The traditional bull jumping is a rite of passage for men coming of
age. The event last three days and involves only castrated cattle.
The man must jump over a line of 10 to 30 bulls four
times completey nude without falling. If this task is
complete, the man joins the ranks of the Maza. Maza
are other men that have successfully completed the
bull jumping event. During this ceremony, the women
of the tribe provoke the maza to whip them on their
bare backs. This is extrememly painful and causes
severe scaring on the women. The scars are a symbol
of devotion to the men and are encourged by the
tribe. Night dancing called evangadi is also a hamer
The Hammers have unique huts that are made up of
mud, wood and straw.
The Mursi live in the lower valley of the River Omo in southwestern
Ethiopia and number around 10,000. When we launched this
website in 2007, we said that its purpose was to correct the
exoticised view of the Mursi found in guide books and travel
articles. It would do this by providing accurate and reliable
information about Mursi history, culture and environment and about
the pressures and challenges facing them and their neighbours
today. We are confident that the website has indeed become a
much-used resource for those wishing to learn about Mursi life and
culture though we also recognise that much remains to be done to
increase the range and depth of the information provided. Recently
added sections, for example, include ‘Religion and Healing ’ and
‘Change and Development '.
Over the next few years, the lives of the Mursi and their neighbours
are going to be radically affected by the combined forces of state-
sponsored development and global capitalism.
The Karo or Kara is a small tribe with an estimated
population between 1,000 and 3,000. They are closely
related to the Kwegu tribe. They live along the east
banks of the Omo River in southern Ethiopia and
practice flood retreat cultivation. The crops that
are grown by them are sorghum, maize and beans.
Only small cattle are kept because of the tsetse flies.
These flies are large and consume the blood of
Like many of the tribes in the Omo, they paint their
bodies and faces with white chalk to prepare for a
ceremony. The chalk is mixed with yellow rock, red
iron ore and charoal to make its color. Face masks
are worn at times and they have clay hair buns with
feathers in them. Red clay mixed with butter is put
into their hair and clothing is made from animal skin. The women
scar their chest believing it makes them beautiful.
The men's scars represent an enemy or dangerous animal killed.
They also wear clay hair buns which symbol a kill. A man in the
tribe can have as many wives as he wants, but must be able to
afford them. Most men will only marry two or three.
The Surma people live in the remote southwest corner of Ethiopia. The Surma have a basic subsistence and barter economy. Their wealth is based on their cattle, and the main food source is the produce from their own crops. There is very little outside trade. The Surma are a highly monolingual and homogenous society, living beyond most of the influences of the modern world and its technology.
The girl pictured here shows some of the typical Surma characteristics for both men and women: large earplugs, decorative body painting, the hair shaved in patterns. Women wear a leather garment fastened at one shoulder which encircles the waist like a skirt. Men and children typically wear no clothing. Surma women are noted for the large clay lip plates worn in the lower lip.
They have very famous traditional game called Donga.
Donga : is a stick fighting festival of the Surma young men. At a fight, each challenger is armed with a hardwood stick. Each player beats his opponent with his stick as many times as possible with the intention of knocking him down, and eliminating him from the game. Players are usually unmarried men. The winner will be carried on a platform of poles to a group of girls waiting at the open field. The winner holds the privilege to ask among those girls for his own wife.
Also known as the Galeb or Geleb, this tribe lives just north of Kenya's Lake Turkana. Their neighboring tribe is the Turkana people. The Daasanech are pastoralists (cattle herders), but due to the harsh territory, they have moved south to grow crops and fish. Cattle are used by the tribesman for meat, milk and clothing. Often their cattle die from disease and drought. For the reason that they inhabit inhospitable environment the Daasanech are the poorest tribes in the Omo Valley.
Because the Daasanech people come from multiple ethnic groups, both men and women must agree to be circumcised. There are eight clans that make up the Daasanech tribe, each having its own name they are the Elele, Inkabelo, Inkoria, Koro, Naritch, Oro, Randal and the Ri'ele. Each clan is defined by its territory with the Inkabelo being the wealthiest.
During a ceremony, the Dassanech men dance with large sticks and the women hold wooden batons. A Daasanech man blesses his daughter's fertility and future marriage by celebrating the Dimi. During the Dimi 10 to 30 cattle are slaughtered. Both men and women wear fur capes while they feast and dance. A Dimi ceremony will most likely take place in the dry season.