5 Stunning Facts About Ethiopia’s Culture

Ethiopia’s bull-jumping rite of passage the separates Hamer boys from men
Written by See Africa Today

Ethiopia has a special history in the African setting due to its unique culture and way of doing things.

This East African country is so unique that it is one of those that follow centuries-old traditions.

Besides, it has a lot of interesting things to read and experience. For example, did you know that it is among the world’s best coffee producers? Did you also know that there are locals who feed hyenas in Ethiopia?

There is so much to learn about Ethiopia. Here is what you should know.

Feeding Harar In Ethiopia’s Harar Region

The ancient city of Harar in the Eastern part of Ethiopia has an intriguing story behind its fame across the world. It is the one place in the 21st century you find the walled city with packs of fierce hyenas fed by the locals christened the “hyena men”.

Feeding the Hyenas of Harar, Ethiopia

The man who lives with hyenas in Harar, Ethiopia [Photo by National Geographic]

The “hyena men” have a strong bond with animals – each hyena has a name given by hyena men. The hyenas understand the “hyena dialect” used by the hyena men who are used Ethiopia’s native Oromo language. They also use a little bit of English. When they call, the howling animals respond immediately.

Ethiopia’s Nuer People Unique Milking Technique

The Nuer tribe in Ethiopia has an intriguing cow milking technique that continues to make headlines across the world.

For the Nuer tribe, a cow has no luxury of hoarding milk as they do at times. The community has a unique but distasteful way of forcing the cow to produce milk. Usually, the air is blown into the cow from the vulva. In short, it means sticking the mouth around the vulva and blowing air into the cow.

Scientifically, this process is known as “insufflating” but it is done with a specialized air-blowing gadget and not the mouth. An exception is that the use of a gadget is only used in modern science and in developed economies.

Feasting On Raw Meat

While many do not comprehend how this is possible, eating raw meat in Ethiopia is a thing. Mutton, beef makes up the popular dish.

It is part of their national heritage embraced and loved beyond human comprehension. Interestingly, there is a history behind it all, coupled with their innate friendly nature.

Interestingly, raw meat-eating in Ethiopia dates back to 3000 years back. History has it that Ethiopians started eating raw meat to evade colonization by Italians who invaded their land thousands of centuries ago.

They couldn’t cook the meat because lighting fire to prepare it could blow their cover against their enemies – Italians. Thus, they took it raw.

Saturday and Sunday are the peak days for raw meat-eating in Ethiopia. Wednesday and Friday are fasting days; no one eats raw meat.

Ethiopia’s Ka’el Ceremony For Fattening Bodi Men

This traditional ceremony known as Bodi year of Ka’el ceremony is honored by the Bodi or Me’en tribe in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley. Here, the fatter a man is, the more the prestige! But it is no mean feat to get these statuses as young unmarried men are put on an obese-triggering diet.

Six months to the ceremony usually held in June or July, families nominate their Bodi men for the ceremony. Once nominated, the young men are isolated in huts and subjected to a mixture of milk and a cow’s blood daily to fatten them for six months.

Ethiopia’s Ka’el ceremony where fat Bodi men are celebrated like kings

Ethiopia Bodi man. [Photo by Eric Lafforgue]

They are then presented for the pageant which honors the fattest man with a crown which he lives off for the rest of his life.

Women in the village feed them daily with a two-liter bowl of milk mixed with a cow’s blood.

Bull Jumping Ceremony

In the Southwestern part of Ethiopia in the Omo Valley, the Hamar/Hamer tribe treasures bull jumping.

A Hamer boy gets this rare opportunity to prove to the community that he is a responsible man. Tradition dictates that the eldest child in every family goes through bull-jumping to set a precedent for his siblings.

However, bull-jumping is not a small thing though even for the bravest of Hamer boys. They jump over the backs of 10 castrated bulls smeared with dung four times.

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About the author

See Africa Today

Pharis Kinyua is the editor of See Africa Today. With over seven years of experience in digital media, he has a soft spot for African tours and travel. His drive is to tell the rest of the world what Africa offers, the best accommodation facilities, national parks, culture, shopping malls and best airline deals to travel to Africa

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