Ethiopia has a diverse population, with more than 80 distinct Ethnic and Linguistic groups and 200 different dialects, has seen human habitation for longer than anywhere else in the world. Omo valley is home to a fascinating mixture of tribal groups. These tribes are very known in their exceedingly rich culture, which have their own unique way of lifestyle like the way they dress, the way they construct their house, their hair dressing style, wedding ceremony, burial ceremony and so on.
The south omo zone is a spectacularly beautiful area with adverse attractions, ecosystems, cultures and linguistically diverse administrative zone, at least supporting 16 different ethnic groups who all loyally keep to their unique traditional attires, customs and beliefs. Often visited in conjunction with the Konso cultural landscape a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011, the small towns of south Omo are best visited on their specific market days, which usually attract a culturally diverse mix of colorfully-adorned villagers from miles around. Also set within South Omo, the undeveloped and little-visited Lower Omo UNESCO World Heritage Site protects a region that has yielded a number of important paleontological sites close to Lake Turkana.
Some of the tribes live alongside this river and depend on it for their livelihood. They depend on it to practice flood-retreat cultivation using the rich silt left along the river banks by the receding water. Some also practice rain fed shifting cultivation, growing sorghum, maize and tobacco and somr tribes like the Kwegu and the Kara practice hunting and fishing. Cattle, goats and sheep are vital to most tribes’ livelihood producing blood, milk, meat and hides. Cattle are highly valued and used in payment for ‘Bride Wealth’ (Dowry). They are also important defence against starvation when the rain and crops fail.
Two of the four main African Linguistic families are represented in this Area: Nilo-Saharan and Afro-Asiatic, with its Omotic and Cushitic branches. The major tribes can be split into their linguistic derivation. Tribes under the Nilo-Saharan language division are; the Mursi, Suri(surma),Nyangatom, Kwegu (Mugudji), and Bodi. Those under the Omotic division are; the Ari, Banna, Kara (Karo), Hamar and the Malle. Dassanech, Tsemay and Arbore are under the Cushetic branch.
These fascinating people live isolated and particularly harsh lives. However, they decorate themselves lavishly and their colorful dress and beautification customs give them an identity and highlights their uniqueness. It is usual to be adorned with jewelry, beads, clay face and body painting, feathers, ear and lip plates and bodily scarification. There are also special ritual ceremony’s like “Ukuli”( bull jumping) which is done by the Hamer and Banna marriage ceremony, “ keal” the Bodi’s fattest competition, “donga” the Mursi’s stick fight competition and “ Evan Gadi” night dances by the Hamer on a regular basis and associated with crop harvest peace and stability of their territory.The untainted attire and intrinsic majesty of the people living in an age-old traditional manner will touch the hearts of all who visit them.
Beside the cultural attraction of this area, the natural and historical beauties are unsurpassed. Mago and Omo national parks, Murille and Wulshet controlled hunting areas, Chilbi and Tama wildlife reserves, Lukulan and Maki hot springs, Buska natural forest.