Way of Life of the Ari Tribe
The Ari tribe boast the largest population of any of the ethno-linguistic 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 Ari 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 Ari 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.
Ari 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 Ari society. Ari culture allows a man to marry as many wives as he wishes as long as he can afford the bride-wealth and other expenses of married life.
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Diet of the Ari Tribe
The Ari tribe consume a more varied diet than the rest of the ethnic peoples of the region, due to the fact that they are permanent agriculturalists and produce various crops, vegetables and fruits.
In urban centers the Ari tribe mostly wear 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 Ari tribe have three types of marriage:
• kubsina – arranged marriage
• sora – consensual marriage
• ardetin – marriage by inheritance
Conflicts / Disputes
The Ari people do not use modern firearms; they use a spear to protect themselves from their enemies. The Ari tribe have been involved in several conflicts with their neighboring Mursi. When there is no peace between the two groups the Mursi suffers from the luck 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.