The Hamer Ritual Of Jumping Castrated Bulls to Get Married

Stephen Nartey September 18, 2022
A Hamer tribe woman observing the bull jumping ceremony/Photo Credit:

Eligible bachelors of the Hamer tribe of Ethiopia must excel at an age-old tradition of running over castrated bulls to get a bride. The bull jumping ceremony is marked from late September till after crop harvest in October each year. 

A successful candidate is seen as being capable of providing for the home and owning cattle, and it is required by custom that the eldest child in the Hamer community undertakes this ritual before any of his other siblings. 

The initiation begins when a boy’s father gives him a piece of wood called Boko, according to Aman Ethiopia. 

The young boy must find a girl who is supposed to kiss the Boko three times as a way of invoking blessings on him. 

The next assignment is for the young boy to pass by the house of relatives to invite them as spectators of his performance. Strips of bark are given to invited guests to countdown to the day of the ceremony. 

Among the cheering crowds on the day are young women who dress in traditional clothes, and adorn their hair with a special pomade made of butter and clay. The young boy’s hair is shaved and his body smeared with a kind of sand to cleanse him of his sins. The bulls are also smeared with substances to make them slippery.

Guests at the passage ceremony are served locally brewed alcoholic beverages made from sorghum. A bride price of 36 goats and 20 cows are paid by the young boy to appease the girl he selects as his prospective wife. 

Should the boy jump all the bulls successfully, he will be presented to the elders and unmarried young men of both his family, and those of the bride’s family. Each of the unmarried men gives him a ring as a token of his acceptance into their family and to avow their loyalty to him.

To cap it all, the fair of wild animal is placed around the neck of the boy to signify his newly attained manhood status.

Last Edited by:Sedem Ofori Updated: September 18, 2022


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