In the Ethiopian Hamer tribe, young boys are made to prove their manhood by running, jumping and landing on the back of a bull, before then attempting to run across the backs of several bulls and this is usually done in the nude.
Interesting to note is that before this ritual takes place, female friends of the boy to undergo the test cover their whole body, head and hair with red ochre mix with fats.
They then have to dance and get whipped by elders until they have scars and wounds on their body. This is to show their loyalty to their friend.The Hamar make their living as successful cattle herders and farmers. Once they hunted, but the wild pigs and small antelope have almost disappeared from the lands in which they live; and until 20 years ago, all ploughing was done by hand with digging sticks.
The land isn’t owned by individuals; it’s free for cultivation and grazing, just as fruit and berries are free for whoever collects them. The Hamar move on when the land is exhausted or overwhelmed by weeds.
Often families will pool their livestock and labour to herd their cattle together. In the dry season, whole families go to live in grazing camps with their herds, where they survive on milk and blood from the cattle. Just as for the other tribes in the valley, cattle and goats are at the heart of Hamar life. They provide the cornerstone of a household’s livelihood; it’s only with cattle and goats to pay as ‘bride wealth’ that a man can marry.