Experience Highlights

  • Duration: 8

If you are travelling to the Omo region from June to September, you may be very lucky to be able to attend one of these remarkable events, which are held by a family for a Hamar youth who has decided that he wants to make the transition from boyhood to manhood; gather a herd of cattle and get married. After breakfast at Buska Lodge near Turmi, your guide, your local Hamar guide and driver will meet you and you will set off in your 4-wheel drive to the location where the events of the day begin. The first location will usually be in woodland not far from a river bank, Here, the 'Maza' or men who have already been through the bull-jumping initiation ritual themselves, can be seen decorating each-other with paint. The women dress in colourful outfits with bells strapped around their ankles. They will have started drinking before dawn, because in the morning, by custom, their male relatives (the Maza) whip them. This is encouraged by the women, who taunt and even kick the Maza, in order to receive more whipping. To the Hamar women, the scars inflicted by the whipping are scars of honorification, because for the rest of their lives they will be able to approach their male relatives who had whipped them for help should the need ever arise. At a certain point, all the attendants walk across the river and continue in the bush to a clearing, where some cattle are lined up by Maza and held in a row. To make the transition to manhood, the initiate has to sprint up to the line of cattle, leap onto the first one, run across them, jump down and repeat the process another three times. All the while, women blow trumpets made of horn and the men chant while holding sticks up in the air. The atmosphere is electric! After the initiate has completed the jump, there are further rituals and he will be taken to shave his mohican or wild Afro. This will be followed by Evan Gadi dancing through the night. Tourists are welcomed by some families to these amazing events and in exchange, you will be required to pay a fixed sum in US dollars (cash) to the family upon arriving at the event. This means you are permitted to take as many photos as you wish during the event. As the afternoon draws to a close, you can either retun to Buska Lodge or, if you like, attend some of the evening festivities too. 

Derek Schuurman

Travel Specialist

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Turmi region - Hamar bull-jumping event

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