Day 19 -Kara Village, Hamer Bull Jumping

This morning we visited a Karo Village. On the way we saw many termite mounds, some as much as 8 feet tall.

The Karo are known for their body painting.


Some of the men are even more colorful than the women.wpid-Photo-20150205183045847

I liked the rusty bottle cap fringe decorating one of the women’s skirt.wpid-Photo-20150205183046476

In the afternoon we were surprised with the news that we were going to visit a Hamer bull jumping event. These events are held by families when their boys reach the age of marriage. The boy must jump over the backs of several bulls lined in a row four times to be initiated into manhood and eligible for marriage. These events are not held on a regular schedule, and we just got very lucky to catch one.
First the women in the boy’s family danced for hours in preparation for the event.
Prior to the bull jumping, the women in the boys family urge the men to beat them with whips to show the strength of their love for the boy. The men paint and decorate their bodies prior to the ceremony.
The whipping is brutal and real, not pretend. The women show absolutely no signs of pain. They don’t cringe a bit and actually beg the men to beat them. They wear their scars as badges of honor.
Finally the bulls are lined up on an escarpment overlooking the Omo River. The boy takes a running start and runs over the bulls four times.

The event took all afternoon with lots of waiting around. I made acquaintance with a group of young Hamer because I wanted to sit in the shade under their tree. They had great fun inspecting my teeth, my jewelry and the veins in my hand.

One of the boy’s female family members had some of the metal bracelets on her arm removed to pay for the bulls. The bulls were lined up with considerable difficulty, and the bull jumping began. The boy was naked, his hair in a sort of Mohawk Afro standing upright above his bald head and long lean body,

We left after the boy’s successful jumping while the sun set over the Omo River escarpment.


Tomorrow the Hamer will celebrate with dancing, singing, and a barbecue of many goats.

And we will drive further north back to the Paradise Lodge near Lake Chamo.


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