In Omo Valley, there are market days several times a week where tribespeople from the region congregate to buy and sell products as well as exchange news. Our trip coincided with two of the larger markets in the area: the Thursday Key Afer Market near Jinka and the Saturday Dimeka Market near Turmi. Key Afer is about an hour and half from Jinka and their weekly market day occurs on Thursdays. The tribes who come here to trade are mostly the Ari, Bena, and Tsemay tribes. The Bena look very similar to the Hamar and is believed to have originated from them centuries ago. Like the Hamar, the Bena boys participate in bull jumping and wear colorful clay caps decorated with beads and feathers. The Tsemay are agro-pastoralists who mainly grow sorghum and millet along the Weyto River and rear livestock. They also have the bull jumping rite of passage ceremony like the Hamars and when a boy successfully completes the task, he is awarded with a band of feathers to wear on his head to show that he is now ready for marriage.
Moringa is a very common produce at the market
These little stools in front are carried by Hamar and Bena men. They sit on them or use them as pillows to rest their heads.
Typical Bena clothing
Many of the tribespeople congregate at the markets not only to buy and sell things, but also to gossip and get drunk.
Along the way, there are many industrious youngsters who will pose for tourists and charge Birr 5 or US$0.18 for each person in each photo.
The local children are usually the ones responsible for bringing the cattle to pasture.
The zebu is the main kind of cattle in Omo Valley. It is the weirdest kind of cows I’ve seen with a wobbly lump behind the neck. The lump is made of stored fat to be used by the animal when food is scarce, like a camel.
Our trip also coincided with the Saturday market in Dimeka which is the biggest town in Hamar territory. It is one of the liveliest and most colorful markets in the area. It is a great place to photograph the Hamar people and other tribes selling their handicrafts, jewellery, pottery, and woodcrafts. Hamar women wear their hair in tiny dreadlocks covered in ochre and butterfat. For married Hamar women, they wear 2 metal hoops around their necks and for the unmarried ones, they wear a beaded collar. Their traditional dress is embroidered goat skin but nowadays they wear a combination of goat skin skirts with western t-shirts and tank tops. I find this market larger and more interesting than the Key Afer one.
Most of the stalls at the market actually have very little to sell which makes me wonder how they make a living, especially given these markets only meet once or twice a week.
Rice is a staple for the locals.
Tobacco seller at Dimeka market
Hamar ladies selling pots of alcohol and honey
Like the Himba women, Hamar women like to cover their hair with ochre powder mixed with butterfat
From Turmi, we head north towards Konso and Arba Minch. Next post will be on our visit to a Konso village. Stayed tuned!
Thanks for stopping by!
Click the “Follow” button to signup for email subscription or keep checking back for more blog posts to come.
Alternatively, get connected through
my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/beatricetravelsblog or follow me on Instagram @beatricetravels.