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Dassanech Tribe

This is the most southerly of the tribes who live in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley only 28km from the Kenya border. They live in small huts made from sticks, corrugated iron & animal hide. The men and a few of the women carry around guns for protection against hyenas at night.

Dassanech girls are circumcised quite young, at the age of 10 or 12. They must go through this process, which is normally administered by their mother or another older woman, in order to marry and for their father to receive his payment. Payment for a bride is made to her father in kilograms of honey, cows, coffee, goat & chicken. Until they are circumcised, the young girls are considered ‘wild animals’ or ‘men’ to tease them. The reason for this is that their clitoris has to be removed before they act like women.

The most significant ceremony in a man’s life is called Dimi. Its carried out and celebrated to signify his daughter for fertility and future marriage. Once a man has gone through Dimi celebration he is them considered an elder of importance. About 10 cattle and 25 goat are slaughtered and other livestock traded for coffee. Men and women dress in animal fur capes to feast and dance, and the elders of the village bless the daughter, who will soon bare more children of the tribe.

Cattle are of great importance to the Dassanech people. They are a symbol of wealth, strength and power in the region. Not to mention a vital source of milk, food, clothing & blood - which is used to drink during serious seasonal drought.

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