No one is brave enough to attack the Arbore people of Ethiopia, here’s why

Stephen Nartey January 10, 2023
An Arbore woman. Photo: Wiki/Flickr

What the Arbore tribe of Ethiopia is widely known for is not their reliance on traditional singing and dancing to draw out negative energy from their system. The popularity of the Arbore people lies in a local legend that has been passed on from generation to generation. Though there is no evidence to support this belief system, it is folklore that has been respected by the other tribes in the Omo Valley of Ethiopia for centuries.

In fact, it is because of this tale that every neighboring tribe co-exists peacefully with the Arbore people. Oral tradition has it that the devil once attacked the Arbore community but the tribesmen managed to overpower the evil and survived the assault, according to Atlas of Humanity.

This victory was attributed to the Arbore priests. Since then, the people and neighboring tribes have accorded them reverence and believe they wield special strength and power. If there is a misfortune in any other tribe and their priests are unable to solve it, the ethnic group’s elders come to consult Arbore priests with gifts for a solution.

Since the emergence of the Arbore tribe in the southern part of Ethiopia, no tribe has considered itself brave enough to attack the Arbore tribesmen or their livestock. They are believed to have originated from the Omotic language family and have ancestral ties with the Konso people. They have an estimated population of 7,000 and are divided into four villages. Arbore literally means “land of the bulls”.

The Arbore people are herders traditionally and reside in the low-lying areas of Omo valley. They place a lot of value on their cows, goats and sheep. They are separated from the other tribes by the Woyto River which is their main source of drinking water.

In times past, the Arbore people have played middlemen in trade between the neighboring ethnic groups. The advantage they enjoy is attributed to the several tribal boundaries they share with other groups. They have also strengthened their position by intermarriages with other ethnic groups, giving them a cosmopolitan setting. The Arbore customs permit their men to marry up to four women with the wives picking a new name after marriage.

This custom is said to have been inspired by the Arbore’s early association with the Islamic religion, even though they are highly traditional in their beliefs. They believe the Supreme Being is the creator and father of all men.

The Arbore women are lovers of colorful beads ranging from earrings, necklaces and bracelets. They believe it is fundamental to making them attractive. The beads also make them distinct from other tribes and over time have become a cultural identity of Arbore women. The Arbore also practice body painting, which is performed using natural colors made with earth and ground stones.

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