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Events and Cultural Celebrations

Bull Jumping

Tribal Markets

The different tribes in the country have a weekly market to buy and sell their produces. In every market are colorful events. The market places turn into lively places, attracting people from all around the region. The markets are exciting too and you may have the opportunity to buy some of the tribal regalia and artifacts.

The following are Special towns with their respective market days and with corresponding ethnic groups to be visited:

  • Bati Market on Monday- Afar people and camel caravan can be visited
  • Senbete Market on Sunday – Amhara, Oromo and Afar people can be seen.
  • Turmi Market on Monday and Saturday- The Hamer people can be visited.
  • Demeka Market on Tuesday and Saturday- The Hamer people can be visited.
  • Key Afar Market on Thursday - Benna, Tsemay, and Ari people can be seen.
  • Mursi Hana Market on Saturday – it is the market of the Body people


The Hamer, Tsemay, Banna and Besada people share traditions and rituals. One of the most important one from these traditions is the so-called 'jumping over the bull'. If a young man wants to marry the girl of his choice he will have to jump over bulls picked by the girl's family. They have to run over the backs of about ten cattles  standing side by side - four times, falling not allowed.
He is required to jump over them four times: two times in each direction. He is assisted by friends (called the 'maz'); those who have successfully performed the jumping in previous years. They (try to) hold the cattle to prevent the young candidate from falling. If the jumper fails, it is considered a bad sign and he will have another chance a year later. Not seldom will the people blame the wind in case of his failure, and will they allow the aspiring groom a second chance. If the groom-to-be succeeds, he may keep the girl in exchange for cattle given to her family. For two months the betrothed couple will share blood and milk (blood from the cow's neck is mixed with her milk and drunk). A wealthy, strong man may marry up to four women.

DONGA - stick fighting of the Surma people

Dongaa is a stick fighting festival of the Surma young man.
At a fight, each contestant is armed with a hardwood pole about six feet long with a weight of just under two pounds. In the attacking position, this pole is gripped at its base with both hands, the left above the right in order to give maximum swing and leverage. Each player beats his opponent with his stick as many times as possible with the intention of knocking him down, and eliminating him from the game. Players are usually unmarried men. The winner is carried away on a platform of poles to a group of girls waiting at the side of the arena who decide among themselves which of them will ask for his hand in marriage. Taking part in a stick fight is considered to be more important than winning it. The men paint their bodies with a mixture of chalk and water before the fight.

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