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.
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.
From Turmi, we head north towards Konso and Arba Minch. Next post will be on our visit to a Konso village. Stayed tuned!
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