Also known as the Suri people inhabit the region spanning from the western edges of Omo National Park, over the headwaters of the Kibish River, and into the hills around Maji. The whole nation numbers around 40,000 and their language belongs to the East Sudanic branch of Nilo-Saharan language family. The Surma comprise three sub groups: the Chai, the Tirma and the Bale. The first two groups live in the lowlands around the Kibish River, and the latter inhabits the hills around Maji, extending to the Akobo River and into the Sudan. These three groups hunt in Omo National Park, dig for alluvial gold and build beehives to attract wild bees.
Surma women, like their Mursi counterparts, wear lip plates made of clay. Surma men are similar to the Mursi in their practice of stick fighting, referred to as “donga.” In preparation for these fierce battles, the men mix chalk and water into a full-body wash that gives them a frightening, ghostly white appearance designed to intimidate opponents. During the fight the men advance, retreat and battle using long staffs. The traditional enemies of the Surma are the Bumi to the south; fights between these neighbors still occur with some frequency.
Other Tribes Omo Valley
Relatively large, Arbore is far more rustic and unaffected than many similarly size towns in south Omo, in common with their linguistically and culturally affiliated Tsemai neighbors, the Arbore migrated to their present homeland from Konso perhaps two...read more
Ari women are famous for their pottery which they sell to support their families. The Ari inhabits the northern border of Mago National park in southwestern Ethiopia. Ari villages have neat compounds in fertile and scenic land with Coffee plantations. They...read more
This tribe is part of the Hamer - Bashada cultural unit. The Benna reside in the higher grounds east of the Mago National Park, and their population is estimated at around 35,000 people. They are primarily agriculturalists; however, Benna men also hunt for...read more
The Bodi are pastoralists living close the Omo River in southwestern Ethiopia. The Bodi are of Nilo-sahran stock and pastoral background. Although they do cultivate sorghum along the banks of the Omo River, their culture is very much cattle centered....read more
The Dasenech, alternatively known as the Galeb or Reshiat, range across a large territory following the western banks of the Omo River to Lake Turkana. Local oral tradition, reinforced by that of the Turkana, recounts that the Dasenech migrated to their...read more
The Karo, which number only about 3,000 people mainly live on the practice of flood retreat cultivation on the banks of the Omo River in southwestern Ethiopia. The Karo excel in face and body painting, practiced in preparation of their dances and ceremonies, they...read more
The Hamer people are primarily pastoralists who occupy the land southeast of the Mago National Park and beyond, stretching into the Murle Controlled Hunting Area. The Hammer territory also stretches from the lower Omo region in the west to Chew Bahir in...read more
This often death defying ceremonial practice exists within the Hamer culture. Considered a rite of passage, the jumping of the bulls is a task that a Hamer boy must fulfill in order to pass from childhood to early adulthood. Several days before the...read more
The Mursi people are primarily pastoralists. They reside in the western regions of the Mago National Park, and move between the lower Tama Steppe, where they spend the wet season, and the Mursi Hills sector of the Park, where they spend the dry season....read more
Also known as Bume, the Nyangatom live south of Omo National park and occasionally migrate in to the lower regions of the park when water or grazing is scarce. Numbering around 6,000-7,000 in population, the Bumi are agro pastoralists, relying on cattle...read more