Esam Hassanyeh, Hamer Tribe, Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia
Portrait of Aykay Ambolay.
Aykay will perform a traditional Hamer bull jumping ceremony soon. To announce this, Hamer boys tie small knots in a piece of rope and hand it out as an invitation to the ceremony. Each knot represents the number of days remaining until the ceremony.
I was lucky enough to attend one such ceremony.
The day is filled with singing, dancing and other Hamer traditions, including the whipping of woman about to be married. During the actual bull jumping ceremony, a young male will jump naked over a number of bulls lined up several times. After he has jumped the bulls he will then shave his head. He is now considered a man and able to marry.
In this portrait, Aykay wears a Boko (stick) tucked into his robe to show he will soon jump bulls and is looking for a wife. However, it may be a long time (a few years) between the actually bull jumping ceremony and the wedding as the Hamer male will need to pay a dowry (usually around 8-10 goats) for his wife and also build a house to live in.