Way of Life of the Aari Tribe of Ethiopia
The Aari tribe boasts the largest population of any of the ethnolinguistic groups of the Omo Valley. Their influence extends from the northern border of Mago National Park into the highlands around Jinka and Key Afer, and even further north. They predominantly practice settled agriculture and live in the fertile vicinity of Jinka.
The Aari tribe are predominantly agriculturalists living in permanent villages. They produce the majority of the agricultural products in the Omo Valley. They grow various subsistence crops: cereals (wheat, barley, sorghum, maize, teff, and millet); pulses (broad bean, beans, and peas); and root crops (taro, Enset – a false banana, yam, cassava, and potato). They are also involved in the production of the two principal cash crops (coffee and cardamom) as well as fruits and vegetables. Animal husbandry is their second major devotion followed by craft activities, apiculture, and trade.
The Aari year is divided into four seasons and twelve named months based on the cycle of the moon. Each month begins on the day of the new moon.
Aari land is usually divided into nine independent territorial subdivisions, each with its own hereditary (political, economic, and religious) leader called Babi. Traditional power descends from the Babi (chief), his Godmi (ritual specialist), Zis (village leaders), Tsoiki (information agent), and Keisi (commoner).
The family is the basic unit of Aari society. Aari tribe culture allows a man to marry as many wives as he wishes as long as he can afford the bridewealth and other expenses of married life.
Aari Tribe Appearance
In urban centers, the Aari tribe mostly wears Western clothing. However, in more rural areas, you will still see Ari women draped in the traditional Gori / Koysh (a dress made with leaves from the Enset and Koysha plants) and decorated around the neck, waist, and arms with colorful beads and bracelets.
The Aari people do not use modern firearms; they use a spear to protect themselves from their enemies. The Aari tribe has been involved in several conflicts with their neighboring Mursi. When there is no peace between the two groups the Mursi suffers from the lack of access to the markets of Jinka and Barka towns which they once in a while go to attend the weekly markets. The Ari live in harmony with the rest of their neighbors.
The Aari tribe has three types of marriage:
• Kubsina – arranged marriage
• Sora – consensual marriage
• Ardetin – marriage by inheritance