Hamar Tribe Men in Ethiopia ‘What They Do to be Mature’

Hamar tribe

Maturity is an unique ritual that takes place in many countries around the world.

It is a spiritual, cultural milestone for every person when they are officially recognized by the community in which they live across the boundaries of a teenager into an adult.

In each country each culture has a different way of celebrating maturity. Some rituals are spiritual, some are cheerful, some are unique, some are unimaginable.

Hamar tribe

One of the most unique rituals in the world is the Hamar boys in Ethiopia.

According to the Ethiopian Statistical Office, the Hamar tribe has about 42,000 people, living in the southern part of the country.

Hamar people maintain a traditional lifestyle which is still not affected by external factors. They live mainly on animals, so their culture is more or less related to caring and respecting the herd.

The tribal youth’s traditional maturity ceremony is held after the harvest season, from July to the first half of September. Nowadays, due to the changing weather, there is heavy rainfall, so the ritual is preponed to March every year.

The ceremony lasted all day with many cultural rituals such as eating and singing, but the most impressive part of it was the ceremony of beating women and jumping over the cow’s back.

Hamar Tribe Men in Ethiopia 'What They Do to be Mature'

To be recognized by the community as “men,” all men of the tribe must attend the “Bull-Jumping” (Ukuli Bula) ritual.

If they jump over the cows row successfully, they are no longer considered as a “boy” and will be a true “gentleman” of the tribe. At the same time, they will be allowed to participate in large activities, can be allowed to marry her favorite girl and can be more important person too for the community.

If not overcome, they are still just a “boy” and must perform the ceremony next year to become a man.

All villagers can participate in this ceremony. The men put the cows in a row. The back of the cows a layer of animal fat was added to make it smooth, in order to increase the challenge for the jumper.

The young men without dresses, would take a few steps away, jump and run over the back of all the cows standing in a row. He needs to jump like that for 4 turns without falling.

In support of the young man, the family members also participate in a particularly painful rite. All sisters and girlfriends will wear cowhide skirts, stone jewelry, beads, snail shells and dance together by singing the blessing for their young family members.

Then, the girlfriend of the young man will come before Maza to get his own whip, to express the love for his boyfriend.

Hamar tribe

Maza is an important ritual, taking part in most of the ceremonies during the maturing of the Hamar. It was a single man who passed the ceremony.

He wears feathered jewelry, beads and holds a long stick on her back.

The girl suffered pain on her back with blood. The scars on the back of this Hamar woman are like the pride of love, the sacrifice for their man.

The ceremony was successful when the young man made four jumps over the cow without falling. He was led by Maza around the villagers with cheer.

After that ceremony, the young man is recognized as an adult and has the freedom to marry.

Typically, the maturation ceremony will take place in about 8 days. During those 8 days, many young men of the tribe joined in dancing.

Accordingly, the life of the Hamar tribe man will go through four stages.

Hamar tribe

The period from adolescence to adulthood is called the Ukuli, when it jumps over the cow’s back to become Cherkari for eight days.

After 8 days, he moved to the stage of a Maza, which means that adult men are single.

After marriage, he became a Danza and kept this status for the rest of his life.

The Hamar tribe’s maturity has a deep, indigenous culture that attracts the attention of so many people.

Every year in March, there are thousands of international visitors travel to Ethiopia to witness this unique ceremony.


About Dawn Richard

In addition to writing for NextColumn, Dawn Richard contributes to other publications including Sensiblereason and Natural News. He studied Computer Science and Journalism at Boston University, and also worked in BBC as well as in the public sectors.

View all posts by Dawn Richard →

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