Journey into Ethiopia's Omo Valley: Visiting the Mursi and Hamar tribes

by Eduard Schaepman

  • Mail
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

As Founder and CEO of Tribes, my mission has always been to learn from the indigenous nomadic tribes around the world and to share their wisdom and beauty through our inspiring workplaces. Seeking inspiration from these diverse cultures and communities is at the heart of what we do, and so in late June I set off on another trip, this time to Ethiopia to visit the Hamar and Mursi tribes. I was accompanied on this amazing adventure by Alice Thornton, winner of our 2021 Tribebuilders broker campaign.

Hamar Bull Jumping Ceremony

Our adventure began in the Omo Valley, where we had the privilege of spending a night with the Hamar tribe and bearing witness to their exhilarating Bull Jumping Ceremony. This is a significant rite of passage for young men that symbolises their transition from adolescence to manhood, emphasising the importance of strength, bravery and community. It was a truly remarkable experience - something that I will never forget. The energy and anticipation in the air were palpable as we watched these brave individuals leap over a line of bulls, and the celebrations afterwards were electric. For me, the ceremony served as a powerful reminder that growth often requires courage and determination.

Immersing ourselves into the tribal way of life, we also explored the bustling tribal market. The vibrant colours and the fascinating array of goods on display were a feast for the senses. The Hamars' genuine warmth and openness were a testament to the power of human connection, and we could not have felt more welcomed by their community.

Mursi Culture at the Maki River

Continuing our journey, we ventured to the enchanting Maki River, home to the Mursi tribe. Renowned for their distinctive lip plates and intricate body decorations, the Mursi tribe welcomed us with open arms, offering us an extraordinary opportunity to delve into their daily lives and witness their customs and traditions up close.

The first order of business was for our faces to be painted in their traditional decorative way, using clay and the natural red ochre from the river. As we settled in for the night, we experienced an unexpected surprise when fireflies emerged from the darkness, casting a mesmerising glow over the village. The sight was nothing short of magical, reminding us of the inherent beauty that surrounds us in the natural world.

Tribal inspiration

As I look back on this journey, I am grateful for this unforgettable experience of meeting the people of the Omo Valley, which affirmed the amazing power of human connection beyond language barriers. I was humbled by their warmth, their resilience, their sense of community, and their deep connection to their land and traditions. In a world that often seems fast-paced and disconnected, the tribes of the Omo Valley offered us a lesson in what truly matters: human connection, a shared sense of purpose, and deep respect for our environment.

Photography by Julie Lee

  • Recent
  • Topics
  • Archive
Member Spotlights

Member in the Spotlight: Alex Peña of Maurits Hypotheken

September 26, 2023
More info
Tribes News

Steps for a Greener Future on World Environmental Health Day

September 25, 2023
More info