If we take on the impossible task of documenting the cultures and traditions across the world, we will be left astounded with what mankind has to offer. While a large part of the population is arguing and debating over rights, some are fighting for a meal; while some are fighting over land ownership, some are so beyond civilisation of any kind that borders mean nothing to them.
But some of this is also a choice of life. Like the Hamar tribe of Ethiopia. As Eric Lafforgue, who captured the colourful but brutal culture of the Hamars said “They are all really into Chelsea, Arsenal, like many other Ethiopians, who are just crazy about English football”.
It is not to say that they can’t be football fans. It is to say that that they are tuned in with the most happening stuff in the world and still practice a culture where women proudly take a beating which is a symbol of the legacy of an initiation rite.
Lafforgue travelled all over Ethiopia and in an attempt to document one of the rapidly vanishing tribes, captured some incredible photographs. As Daily Mail reports, there is hardly anything more precious for the tribesmen than cattle. They have something called a cattle jumping ceremony where young men are required to leap across fifteen cows. If they fail the task, they cannot get married and are beaten up by the women.
Daily Mail mentions “At the same ceremony, his female relatives are beaten to create a blood debt between the man and his sisters who show off their scars with pride.” Cermonial beatings are delivered by a group of men called Maza. Screaming is not permitted. In fact, the women do not flee the ceremony, they beg the men to do it over and over again.
It is not only during that ceremony, women are subject to such beatings anytime till at least two children are born. According to the rules of the tribe, a man does not have to explain why he is delivering a beating, he can do so as and when he thinks is appropriate.
All the Hamar women have deeply scarred backs that they proudly show off. These scar patterns that men and women so proudly bear are considered to be beautiful. Not only that, as Daily Mail reports “Totally committed to their initiated sons, the mothers are whipped to blood, in order to prove their courage and accompany their sons during the test”.
In the Hamar tribe, women are expected to be tough like the men and are required to help in protecting the family and cattle. Along with that, the women are responsible for all of their domestic chores, childcare and of sowing crops. Hamar men can also marry more than one woman; the women who are not first wives are more like slaves.
As Laffourgue said, “I always take photographs for two reasons,’ he explains. ‘First, providing a testimony as many tribes are starting to disappear but also to show the world how other people live, even if some of the time they have shocking practices.”