The Hamer Tribe
With the beautiful and friendly Hamer people we only spent a very short time, while on our way to the Dassanech and Nyangatom. Our experience with them was exactly opposite than the one we had when visiting the Dassanech.
The Hamer are another of many pastoral tribes in the Lower Omo Valley who try to keep their traditional life and culture, even today.
The Hamer are peaceful and friendly, and are therefore very popular among tourists. Their main village is Turmi, or rather a small town these days, with simple tourist hotels, restaurants and a famous tribal market. Turmi is also relatively easily accessible from Arba Minch or Jinka (the starting point for the Mursi) by dusty road which is - by Ethiopian standards - in pretty good shape.
Almost every tourist stops in Turmi on the way to or from the Mursi. The markets are held once a week and the Hamer from nearby villages come there to sell or trade their produce. That atracts many tourists who come to the markets to take pictures of the beautifully decorated Hamer. In high season it sometimes feels as if there were more tourists than the Hamer themselves. However, they seem to cope with the situation quite well, maintaining their peace and dignity. And also, some money for the photos are always welcome.
Also very famous are the so called ”Bull jumping ceremonies” - Hamer initiation rituals. Young Hamer men show their courage and strength by jumping over the backs of lined up bulls. As a part of the ceremony, young girls, related to the initiated man, are being whipped with the whips. This usually leaves huge scars on their backs which they are very proud off. They undergo this ritual voluntarily to prove they are strong and dedicated to their family, and to increase their prestige. Such event naturally attracts many tourists. Generally the Hamer welcome them and some extra income from tourism is always handy, but not every young men will appreciate to have a crowd of foreigners with flashing cameras at such a crucial moment of his life.
Despite the promises of Addis Ababa travel agents, only very few tourists are lucky enough to really witness the bull jumping ceremony.