Hamar Tribe, Omo Valley Tours, Omo Valley Tour and Travel

Way of Life of the Hamar Tribe in Ethiopia

The Hamar tribe of Ethiopia are principally pastoralists, breeding cattle, goats, and sheep. They have a similar veneration for cattle as their close neighbors. The women and girls grow crops, with the staple being sorghum, but they also grow beans, maize, and pumpkin. The women are also responsible for collecting water, cooking, and looking after the household and children – who start helping the family by herding the goats from around the age of eight. The young men of the village work the crops and defend the herds, while adult men herd the cattle, plow with the oxen and raise beehives in acacia trees.

As with the majority of tribes in the area, the land is not owned by individuals; it is free for use by any member of the family group. The Hamar tribe moves on when they’ve exhausted the land. A dry porridge of either sorghum or maize is consumed with milk or boiled coffee husk (shoforo). Balasha, dry bread made mainly from sorghum, is sometimes eaten with butter and honey.

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Hamar Tribe Ethiopia, Appearance

The Hamar tribe is amongst the most readily identifiable of all the peoples of South Omo. Women wear an elaborately decorated goatskin, often colored with beads and cowries. Beaded necklaces, bracelets, and waistbands adorn their bodies, which, for the Hamar, tend to be made with black and red beads. (The Banna, their close neighbors, mostly use blue and black beads). Women wear thick copper necklaces announcing their marital status. They wear a lather long-tipped necklace and two copper necklaces if they’re the first wife and only two copper necklaces if they’re second, third, or fourth wife to one man.

One striking characteristic of the Hamar men and women is that they indulge in elaborate hair-dressing. Men wear a clay cap that is painted and decorated with feathers and other ornaments. They also paint themselves with white chalk paste during ceremonial events. The women decorate their hair with clay and butter twisted into a striking long plait. Ethnic men are often seen carrying a small stool or pillow in the Omo region in general.

Hamar Tribe Marriage

The Hamar have five types of marriage:
• An arranged marriage
• kindle kays – consensual marriage
• Yedot – marriage through abduction
• Ishmena – marriage by inheritance
• Merima – replacement marriage

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Evangadi Dancing Ceremony

The Hamar tribe practice night dances that take place on a regular basis and are usually associated with crop harvests, the full moon, peace, and stability. They are also where unmarried women and young men come together to meet, dance, and enjoy relations.

The traditional enemies of the Hamar tribe are the Dassanech and the Nyangatom, and there have been several recent conflicts between the tribes. Their closest neighbors and allies, the Banna and the Karo intermarry and share similar cultures and rituals.