Way of Life
The Malle tribe people lives in an area called Malle Awaki. They are the second largest ethnic group of the south Omo zone. They are predominantly agriculturalist but those living at lower altitude practice mixed agriculture and produce several crops for consumption and trade. Livestock have less value to the Malle than the lowland pastoralists. The Malle tribe also hunt antelopes, wild boar and other wildlife.
Their traditional leader is called Kati, who is also their spiritual leader. Malle society recognizes three inheritable noble ranks in the community: Kati, Goda and Geto. The Geto serves as the spokesperson for the community. It’s the job of the Kati and Goda to act as judges in the community and to pray in times of difficulty such as drought or war.
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The Malle have three types of marriage:
•kubsina – arranged marriage
•sora – consensual marriage
•ardetin – marriage by inheritance
Once the marriage has been agreed, the elders discuss the marriage payment and the wedding ceremony. The Malle tribe make these payments in the form of money and in kind. The dowry is given to the girl’s mother and aunts. The mother is also given a blanket to signify her suffring in bringing up the girl. Aunts receive marriage payments in cash or in kind (usually cattle).
The Malle tribe associate misfortune with what they call gome. Gome is caused by incest so when the Malle experience either an excess or shortage of rain, the people come together to identify those who have committed gome. After identifying those responsible, they cut some hair from their heads and genitals. They also cut nail samples from the culprit’s finger. Both the hair and nail are thrown into a river. Then a branch of a tree called qune is thrown over the heads of the accused. The families of the accused pray to cleanse them of their wrongdoing.
Harvest Ritual of Malle Tribe
The Malle people do not eat ripe fruit or grain before the harvest ritual is performed. The ritual is performed at the family level. A senior member of the family is responsible for carrying out the ritual. The Malle have a small plot of land called khashi-goshi, which is used for sowing crops before other fields are sown. Thus, the crop on khashi-goshi ripens ahead of the crops on other plots. When the khashi-goshi crops ripen, family members come together and perform a ritual involving roasting the grain. Then the ritual leader loudly calls the names of their dead ancestors and gives them some of the roasted grain (scattering it on the ground). He then distributes the remaining grain to the families attending the ritual. From then on, everyone is free to eat from the new harvest.
The Male tribe do not use modern firearms; they use archery using bow and arrows to protect themselves from their enemies as well as for hunting.