Hamer Bull Jumping Ceremony
The Hamer people living in lower Omo valley have a long tradition for performing certain rituals including whipping of the women and the men jumping over bulls to prove their manhood. Apparantly the women of the Hamer tribe approve of the whipping as it is a way for them to show their stamina and love and devotion towards their husband. In order to prepare themselves for the whipping, Hamer women cheer, sing and dance for hours.
An impressive display of courage, skill, and athleticism, the bull jumping ceremony is a centuries-old rite of passage for young men in Hamer tradition. On the day of the ceremony, there is plenty of celebrating. Women dance in traditional dress – playing horns with their legs draped in bells – drinking home-brewed sorghum beer. Depending on the social status of the family, somewhere between 100 and 300 people are likely to attend.
Love and affection - the Hamer way
Before the ceremony, the female relatives of the young man go to meet the Maza, men who have just passed the bull-jumping ceremony and who temporarily live apart from the rest of the tribe. They demand to be whipped by these men as a way of showing their dedication and loyalty towards their male relatives. The idea here is to create a strong bond – an obligation – between them.
As they have undergone such pain so stoically on his behalf, he should feel a debt to protect them going into the future. This also signals their attractiveness as a future wife, and it becomes a kind of competition, with women refusing to back down and vowing to each endure the most pain. This may be difficult for outsiders to comprehend and accept but that is the culture of the Hamer people.