The Hamer is a tribal people in southwestern Ethiopia. They live in Hamer Bena woreda (or district), a fertile part of the Omo River valley, in the Debub Omo Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region (SNNPR). They are largely pastoralists, so their culture places a high value on cattle.
The Hammer people are semi nomadic pastoralists migrating every few months to find pastures for their goats and cattle. Huts are round and conical made from a dome frame of branches covered with grasses, mats and hide About 20 huts around a meeting place where dancing and feasting occurs, and a cattle and goat pen make a village. The Hammer often trade with their neighbors for sorghum and corn as they do not grow it themselves. Goats and Cattle offer milk and meat. Sorghum is made into a pancake or porridge and eaten with a stew. Men typically wear a checkered skirt of cloth while women wear a cow skin skirt.
Bull jumping: – is a rite of passage ceremony for men coming of age must be done before a man is permitted to marry. The man-to-be must “jump the cattle” four times to be successful and only castrated male cattle and cows may be used to jump over. This test is performed while naked (except for a few cords bound across the chest) as a symbol of the childhood he is about to leave behind him. On completion of this test, the young man joins the ranks of the maza – other men who have recently passed the same test and who spend the next few months of their lives supervising these events in villages throughout the Hamar territory. Unlike the Minoan bull-leaping, the cattle is held still by maza, so the physical risk is limited.
The ceremonies end with several days of feasting, including the typical jumping dances, accompanied by as much sorghum beer as the bull-jumper’s family can provide to the visitor.