The Hamar are a people who reside in the Omo Valley, in the Southern Omo Zone, close to the Kenyan border. Another way to spell their name is Hamer. The southern region of the Omo Valley is referred to as the “poisoned paradise” because, despite its picturesque terrain, it has an unfavorable climate that is simply too hot and dry for extended life. People over 45 are uncommon in this area, which is not surprising. There are roughly 50,000 members of this rural, semi-nomadic group.
With nearby populations like the Tsamai, Aari, Banna, and Bashada, the Hamar share customs and ceremonies. One of these customs is known as “jumping over the bull.” A young man must clear hurdles selected by the girl’s family in order to marry the girl of his choosing. He must leap over them twice in each direction, four times total. His friends—the “maz”—those who have completed the feat successfully in the past lend a hand.
The young candidate is kept from falling as they (attempt to) hold the cow. If the jumper doesn’t succeed, it’s viewed as a terrible omen, and he’ll get another opportunity a year from now. In the event of his failure, the populace frequently accuses the wind, and they frequently give the would-be groom a second try. If the prospective groom is successful, he might be able to keep the bride in exchange for giving her family animals. The engaged couple will exchange blood and milk for two months (the milk is made by mixing the cow’s blood with it). A powerful, affluent man is allowed to wed up to four women.