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

Way of Life

The Kwegu Tribe live at the confluence of the Mago and Omo rivers but they also mingle with the Mursi and the Karo. They are specialists at beekeeping and fishing. The Kwegu people are predominantly pastoralist, but those living at lower altitude practice mixed farming. They have a tradition of bee-keeping. Hives (known as Wera) are constructed by men from brushwood, creeping plants and barks, and covered with grasses. Each man owns 15-20 hives which are hung from forest trees along the riverbank. The Kwegu tribe live on the honey as well as trading it in the local markets.

The traditional leaders of the Kwegu tribe are the imunkapen and the pankagudel. The Kwegu build boats, known as gaggi, which are their only means of transport along this stretch of the Omo. The boats are made by hollowing out a large tree, such as the fig (Ficus sp.). The young Kwegu men then build the craft using local handmade tools, with the construction process overseen by the more experienced men. These large boats can carry 8-10 men and are propelled with a long Y-shaped pole.

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Diet
The main diet of the Kwegu tribe is either dry porridge or a kind of bread made from sorghum and maize, with boiled coffee or milk. The honey they produce constitutes a large part of their diet.

Appearance
Kwegu women shave their hair clean with a razor blade. They also wear a lower lip plug and adorn themselves with beads and jewelry. Women wear dresses made from lather which is designed in their traditional style with unique decoration made from nails. The tribesmen are visibly less adorned than men from neighboring tribes.

Marriage
The Kwegu value consensual marriage, abductions are considered taboo.

Ceremonial Events

Hunting (adema)
Hunting is practiced individually as well as in groups. The hunters are blessed before they leave to bestow success upon them. During the blessing, which is performed by a senior member of the village, the hunters disclose any grievance they may have with another member of the hunting party.

Rain-making ritual (werkagutu qebento)
A member of the village is designated as the rainmaker and during times of shortage a ritual is undertaken in order to produce rain (to aid cultivation). The rain-maker is taken to the Omo River where he is dipped into the water, after which he is served milk and honey. The group then shares borde (a locally produced beer made from sorghum). The rain-maker also performs rituals to ease excess rainfall. During this ceremony the rain-maker takes a sample of mud and places it inside his house.

Circumcision (qorin)
Kwegu boys are circumcised between the age of seven and eight. Each village will build a temporary hut outside their permanent residence where the boys will remain secluded for some time. During this time the boys are provided with everything they need by their families. The circumcision is undertaken by a member of the clan. Once circumcised the boys walk home one by one with their parents.

Conflicts / Disputes
The Kwegu have a good relationship with their neighboring tribes: The tribes of Nyangatom, Karo, and Mursi. They often intermarry with the Karo and Mursi.

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