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People of Africa: The Hamer Tribe in Ethiopia


In Ethiopia

The Hamer tribe is an indigenous group of people in Africa. Their home is in the beautiful Omo valley, located in the south-western parts of Ethiopia. They are a semi-nomadic, pastoral people, numbering about 42 000.

The Hamer people are dependent on their cattle. They will stay for a few months wherever there is enough grass for grazing, putting up their round huts. When the grass is finished, they will move on to new pasture grounds. This is the way they have been living for generations. A lot of their culture has now become well-known to the outside world. It's a real privilege to get to know them.

Ethiopia in Africa

The Omo valley is indicated

Ethiopia is located in the Eastern part of Africa, north of Kenya. It is often referrred to as "The Horn of Africa".

Get your own map here



An interesting people

Omo Valley Ethiopia

A village is made up of about 20 huts put up around a meeting place. This central place is where dancing and feasting occurs. Add a few cattle and goat pens, and the village is ready.

The Hamar often trade with their neighbours for sorghum and corn, as they do not grow these themselves. From the goats and cattle they get milk and meat (they also drink the blood straight from a vein on the cow's neck!). Sorghum is made into a pancake or porridge and eaten with a stew. It is also prepared as a beer.

ethiopian woman

ethiopian woman

People of Ethiopia

the Hamer People

Men typically wear a checkered skirt of cloth, while women wear a cow skin skirt. The women do not cover their upper body with clothes, but adorn themselves with rows of necklaces. They also use skin from the kudu antelope for clothes.

By name most of them are Muslim, but in practice they are still animists. A number are now converting to Christianity, or at least a form of it, because of the influence of missionaries.

(Picture Credit)

Hamer Women Hair

Both men and women

The Hamer are known for putting great importance on the braiding of hair, and adorning it with feathers and beads. It is not unusual to see a man braiding another man's hair. To get the right colour and texture they put ochre and clay in their hair. Many women also use butter to condition and style their hair.


Becoming a Man- Cattle Jumping

A man pictures

Before a man can take a wife and get married, he has to be declared a man. For this he has to pass a test- run over the back of cattle four times without falling down.If he would fall down, he can get another chance, but this will usually be at another occasion. The young man will be naked, only a cord is tied around his chest. This is in symbol of his childhood.

After the man has passed the test, he is dressed and the party starts! They will feast for several days. Then, the young man joins the ranks of the maza - other men who have recently passed the same test and who spend the next few months of their lives supervising these events in villages throughout the Hamer territory.

Watch the video here: Bull Jumping Ceremony

Even though this is often referred to as a bull jumping ceremony, the Hamer people only use castrated male cattle or cows. Adding to this, the cattle is being held by other young men, so the risks are minimal.

Helping Their Brother Become a Man

People in Ethiopia

The sisters and cousins of the young man will aid him in being strong when facing this test. This they do by being whipped by the young men who have already passed the jumping. They will lash the girls on the back with rods, making deep, bleeding cuts which, eventually, become scars. For a woman to thus support her brother is an honor. It is also claimed to encourage family unit, and if she will face problems in later life she can turn to her brother for aid.

Click here to watch a video of this first part of the initiation ceremony, The Hamer Women

Hamer Dancers

Read more about Ethiopia and the Omo valley

Tribal Painting in Ethiopia

Helping the Hamar people help themselves

The Hamer people have been facing severe problems with drought and disease. To help them, without making them dependant on foreign aid, the Global Team for Local Initiatives (GTLI) have been teaching the Hamer people new skills when it comes to hygiene, farming, business and much more. Their aim is to " help them adapt to the changing world while maintaining their cultural values."

One aspect of this aid is in teaching the Hamer women how to sell their traditional craft, such as beaded necklaces and belts.

At their web-site:*Global Team for Local Initiatives*, you can read more, watch videos and buy bracelets and necklaces.

omo valley

omo valley

The Omo Valley

The Lower Omo Valley, near Lake Turkana, is a very important historical area. Many fossils have been found here, including remains of humans. It seems that this was a meeting point for travelers to different parts of Africa, as tribes migrated in every direction. Many prehistorians and palaeontologists have been doing research in this area. It is now on the list of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.

Tours in Ethiopia - Visit the Omo valley

Most tours take up to 15 days. You really need this time, because roads are not always good and travelling can take time. Plus the fact that you want to really enjoy the beautiful scenery and exciting people!

  • exodus
    From the UK, 15 days from GBP2,049 to GBP2,349 including flights!
  • Wildfrontier
    Trip Highlights -Slowly navigating the Omo river -Meeting tribes at a leisurely pace with our expert guides -Donga stick fighting -Rift Valley Lakes
  • Ethiopiantour.com
    Cultural Tour & Photo Safari to Omo Valley. Depending on time of year and whether it's double or single room, prices start with USD 130 per day.
  • viamigo
    6 days/5 nights USD 725. From 2 to 20 persons
  • African adventure tours
    Cultural trips to the Omo valley, with or without camping!

Eric Hester - The Omo River Valley

ethiopian food

ethiopian food


A very important ingredient in the diet of the Hamer people is sorghum. This is a small grain, glutenfree, which is eaten all over the world. The US is the world's largest producer of sorghum, exporting it to Mexico and Japan (among others). Sorghum has a good nutritional value and does not require much water to grow, making it a good crop for Africa.

Read more about SORGHUM here.

Many interesting narratives and pictures of the Omo Valley

Singing, dancing and more

Preparations for your trip to Ethiopia

For travelers to Ethiopia, there are a few vaccinations and precautions that are recommended:

-Hepatitis A and B/ Typhoid/ Yellow Fever/ Meningococcus/ Polio / MMR / Tetanus-Diptheria

- Malaria prophylaxis. Only if you are going outside of Addis, in the lower parts of the country. The northern parts of Ethiopia (including Addis Ababa) are at such a high altitude that malaria is not a problem.

- Traveler's diarrhea is quite common. All travelers should bring along an antibiotic and an anti-diarrhea drug to be started promptly if significant diarrhea occurs.

In general it is good to keep a good hygiene and avoid raw food in any form. When eating out, especially in the country side, stick to food that has been properly heated prior to eating. The local food, injera, is often handled by hand and stored for several days after preparation.

Ethiopia on amazon

Have you ever been to Ethiopia? - Have you visited the Omo valley?

Richard from Hampshire - England on July 12, 2014:

What a fascinating tribe. Tribes like this have such unique beliefs and cultures - it really make you realise how many worlds away we are in the "modern world". Beautiful lens and photos :)

alex55 on January 23, 2014:

Unfortunately you have a GREAT deal of mistakes - a big number of these picures have NOTHING to do with Hamer tribe, some of them are Bumi tribe and some are other tribes. This page has many errors.

VioletteRose LM on January 03, 2014:

Interesting and informative lens, enjoyed reading it!

marktplaatsshop on December 30, 2013:

This is a great lens and I enjoyed reading it, thanks for sharing

Max Globe on December 27, 2013:

Amazing lens, my friend, truly inspiring.

Guy E Wood from USA on December 12, 2013:

Truly enjoyed your lens! I taught at a program run through Addis Ababa University a few years ago and loved living in Ethiopia. I'm always on the lookout for opportunities to relive some of those moments by visiting images shared by others. Thank you!


sukkran trichy from Trichy/Tamil Nadu on May 19, 2013:

you have presented some great lenses about ethiopia. this is one of them.very interesting read.

Barbara Isbill from New Market Tn 37820 on March 22, 2013:

Fascinating! Enjoyable read!

Aunt-Mollie on March 06, 2013:

I always enjoy reading your articles about Ethiopia and its people. Your personal experiences there are fascinating!

Aunt-Mollie on March 06, 2013:

I always enjoy reading your articles about Ethiopia and its people. Your personal experiences there are fascinating!

kabbalah lm on February 24, 2013:

Fascinating country

Eleni Bat from Greece on February 20, 2013:

Such beautiful people. I would love to spent time with them. Who know?Maybe one day...

Gardener Don on February 10, 2013:

This is why I love Squidoo - you cruise around looking at random lenses then you land on a gem like this one. I really enjoyed it - well done.

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on February 01, 2013:

I have only seen Ethiopia through your eyes and you show the beauty of the Ethiopian people and their land. Your articles are amazing.

victoriahaneveer on January 21, 2013:

What a fascinating lens. Blessed.

victoriahaneveer on January 21, 2013:

What a fascinating lens. Blessed.

anonymous on January 16, 2013:

Totally Unique! TY

AlexBPearl on January 14, 2013:

Terrific lens!

HalloweenRecipes on January 06, 2013:

Very interesting lens you've written here. I enjoyed learning a bit about the Hamer people of Ethiopia.

cmadden on January 01, 2013:

Interesting and well-presented.

kimark421 on January 01, 2013:

Very interesting, and well done, lens. Thanks for the great read.

Amy Trumpeter from Oxford on December 18, 2012:

Great information, thanks so much for this. I would love to visit Ethiopia someday.

solarsistar on December 03, 2012:

I proudly share the same name as these glorious people who also adorn dreadlocks like i do and way before Jamaicans did.

Pat Goltz on December 02, 2012:

They are beautiful people! I wonder what language they speak. I will check that lens. Thank you for telling us about them. I imagine these are the people that we commonly call the Maasai. Different country, but same cuisine.

anonymous on November 20, 2012:

Great lens!!

Sheilamarie from British Columbia on November 14, 2012:

Very interesting lens. I've learned a lot by reading it.

Donnette Davis from South Africa on October 31, 2012:

Wonderful magnificent and spectacularly diverse Africa. Wonderful lens. Blessed by a Squid Angel x

sailor_man on October 13, 2012:

As an interesting read, I recommend it to my lenses.

marijahorvat lm on October 03, 2012:

Every day you learn something new... Thanx for the great lens.

anonymous on September 22, 2012:

Awesome lens:) Keep working ,great job!

rawwwwwws lm on September 20, 2012:

WOW, No I have not, but you have done such a good job in putting this lens together and sharing about the Hamer people of Ethiopia.

CoolFool83 on September 15, 2012:

Such a beautiful lense. Thank you for sharing.

anonymous on September 13, 2012:


JoshK47 on September 04, 2012:

Popping back in to sprinkle some angel dust on this lens!

maryLuu on September 01, 2012:

Fascinating lens! Fascinating culture!

cinefile on September 01, 2012:

Incredibly unique and fascinating lens. Keep these coming, please.

acregmed on July 26, 2012:

Great lens!

CruiseReady from East Central Florida on July 21, 2012:

Very interesting! Especially about the cow jumping. The women's beads will hopefully give them a way to provide for the continuance of their culture.

Bartukas on July 07, 2012:

Great lens thank you

anonymous on July 06, 2012:

Great lens=)

alex89 lm on June 29, 2012:

Great lens. I lived in Ethiopia for 3 years but I was in the city, and when I left I went to the Bale mountains and the ruins in the north of the country (Gondor, Lalibella, Axum ext.) so I don't know as much about this particular tribe. I do love the Ethiopian people though, whatever tribe they are from, they are friendly and generous in a way that you rarely see.

anonymous on June 18, 2012:

Was this lens ever published in the National Geographic magazine? Because it certainly should have been. Pinned this to my board called "Mother Africa". I think I'll pin some of your other lenses as well.

miaponzo on June 13, 2012:

Very interesting people! Blessed!

antoniow on June 07, 2012:

Another fantastic lens from you, well done!

wrapitup4me on May 26, 2012:

Fascinating lens. Thanks for this.

UKGhostwriter on May 23, 2012:

Fantastic lense - well done!!

SecondHandJoe LM on May 22, 2012:

Absolutely wonderful lens. Love learning about different cultures. I'm not sure about drinking blood but I'm definitely sure those headrests (pillows) just won't do! See you again soon!

VeseliDan on May 22, 2012:

I've never been to Ethiopia, but I would love to go there once. *blessed*

anonymous on May 15, 2012:

@Fcuk Hub: bravo peoples

ResearchAddict on May 14, 2012:

Wow! This is a very informative lens. Thanks for the great info.

futurerudi on May 14, 2012:

Great lens. Thanks for information about people of Africa. Blessed

nikitakapoor on May 08, 2012:

Great lens!

Do drop by my lens on Rajasthan (India) sometime and do let me know do you feel about them! :)


Fcuk Hub on April 26, 2012:

To the hammer people of Ethiopia I'm sending only the best wishes. What a great people :)

siobhanryan on April 12, 2012:

This was extremely interesting--I would skip drinking the blood.

Kay on April 09, 2012:

Amazing. The geographer in me LOVES learning about various peoples around the world. Great page!

anonymous on April 01, 2012:

Blessed by a Squidoo Angel

NatureLuver on March 26, 2012:

Thanks for teaching my about the Hamer Tribe.

Faye Rutledge from Concord VA on March 19, 2012:

Thanks for this interesting information.

sponias lm on March 17, 2012:

I like to learn about different cultures in different places of the world. This is a beautiful lens! It deserves to be blessed.

K Bechand from NY on March 12, 2012:

Blessed - I love a well written and informative lens - wish there were more !

anonymous on March 12, 2012:

Very interesting lens, thanks for so much work into this!

cajkovska lm on March 02, 2012:

I really enjoy your lens... Nice trip!

MelonyVaughan on February 24, 2012:

What a beautiful lens! You should send it to National Geographic!

anonymous on February 23, 2012:

Good Work!

PecjakJN on February 22, 2012:

Very nice lens and vey nice photos.

Laraine Sims from Lake Country, B.C. on February 22, 2012:

I enjoyed this lens so very much! It looks like a beautiful country with a different culture than most of us are used to. Thank you. Angel blessed.

RCGraphicsDesign on February 18, 2012:

I am just floored by this fantastic lens. It is so neat browsing through Squidoo and learning things you would have never encountered. Thank you so much.

dahlia369 on February 15, 2012:

Very much enjoyed my virtual visit to the Hamer people of Ethiopia through your wonderful lens, thank you!! :)

RebeccaE on February 12, 2012:

a very interesting lens, thanks for putting so much work into this!

Zut Moon on February 11, 2012:

Interesting lens.

Iudit Gherghiteanu from Ozun on February 08, 2012:

i did live in Africa few years and love any info about the fascinating African culture, your beautiful pictures and the nostalgia when i think about the most beautiful place on the Earth.

Pangionedevelopers on February 07, 2012:


here's 5 like's

Show me some" like"

want to be like partners?

wheresthekarma on February 05, 2012:

Amazing pictures, thank you for sharing them with us. I love your cultural lenses.

DJam1 on February 01, 2012:

Thanks so much for looking at my Lens and I think you are doing a great job with this Lens see ya around. Doug

DJam1 on February 01, 2012:

Thanks so much for looking at my Lens and I think you are doing a great job with this Lens see ya around. Doug

GreenMind Guides from USA on January 30, 2012:

Nice lens! Thanks for writing about this. I learned a lot here...

ViJuvenate on January 23, 2012:

Fascinating lens. I wish I had all the time in the world to travel and get to know each region.

myamya on January 21, 2012:

Great lens! Keep up the good work!

sheezie77 on January 21, 2012:

Great lens! Thank you for sharing!

Nathalie Roy from France (Canadian expat) on January 18, 2012:

Your love for Ethiopia shows in every lens you make about this country

domain19 on January 18, 2012:

amazing lens... thanks for share... i learn much from this article...

JoyfulPamela2 from Pennsylvania, USA on January 17, 2012:

The people are so fascinating! =D Thanks for visiting my Africa page - I think Africa is cool, too! If you write about your friend from Ghana's visit, let me know. I would enjoy reading it.

crstnblue on January 15, 2012:

Wonderful lens! Very informative - text and images.

Thanks for giving a chance to learn something new today!

kathysart on January 12, 2012:

This is such a wonderful and elegant lens.. wow.. so thoughtful. Angel blessed!

ForestBear LM on January 10, 2012:

Wonderful lens. Very interesting to learn about the Hamer tribe, your Ethiopia lenses are fantastic!

ernieplotter on January 07, 2012:

Very interesting lens!

E L Seaton from Virginia on January 04, 2012:

THanks for the fascinating look inside Hamer life!

TheGourmetCoffe on December 14, 2011:

Great lens. Ethiopia is a beautiful country with an amazing culture and great coffee too, by the way. Really enjoyed the way you covered the heritage of the Hamer tribe. Thank you for sharing your insights and great photos.

Anthony Altorenna from Connecticut on December 12, 2011:

In spite of the pressures of modern society, these amazing people manage to stay true to their heritage and retain their cultural identity. May they prosper for another millennium.

anonymous on December 06, 2011:

Thank you for educating me more about this fascinating part of the world! This lens is very well written and the pictures are fabulous!

iWriteaLot on November 26, 2011:

Oh I like this lens! Very interesting and well written. Not sure I like that tradition of beating their women but it does seem to have some spiritual meaning for them. But we hear such horror stories about people in Africa. It's nice to see something positive. Thanks for the real eye opener. Blessing

norma-holt on November 24, 2011:

Interesting to experience the culture of these people in this report. Nicely done tribute. Hugs

Northwestphotos on November 21, 2011:

Thanks for the cultural lens! It's important to acknowledge all peoples of the world.

fullofshoes on November 21, 2011:

Beautiful lens.

wiedruce on November 18, 2011:

wow..very interesting..great lens you have here!

Titia Geertman from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands on November 17, 2011:

Interesting and very nice lay out of the lens, really enjoyed my visit to the Hamer people in Ethiopia.

sherioz on November 17, 2011:

What a wonderful, informative page. Great photos. Makes me want to book a flight right now.

anonymous on November 16, 2011:

I enjoyed all the pics. Super nice culture. Super liked. Thanks for sharing.

MyDestination on November 16, 2011:

Great lens, enjoyed reading it and looking at the really cool pics

Odille Rault from Gloucester on November 15, 2011:

Wow, what a brilliant lens! I can't say I'd be very keen to get lashings in order to support my brother running over the backs of cattle... but it's a fascinating culture! And the photos here are exquisite! Good luck in the Tier 1 Challenge - I see you're neeeearly there already! Hopefully this little blessing will do something towards helping you over the edge. :)