Omo valley Tribes

“Mosaic of Diverse Culture”


Throughout its long history, Ethiopia has become a melting pot of diverse customs and varied cultures, some of which are extremely ancient.

Currently Ethiopia has a population of over 87 million people. This makes the country the second most populous nation in Africa. There are four different linguistic families, speaking over 80 languages with 200 dialects, constituting 12 Semitic, 22 Cushitic, 18 Osmotic and 18 Nilo- Sahara languages. The Semitic languages of Ethiopia are related to both Hebrew and Arabic and derived from Ge’ez, the ecclesiastical language. The principle Semitic language spoken in western and central part of the country is Amharic, which is also the official language of the country.

As regards Ethiopian culture and tradition, Christianity, Muslim, Jewish and traditional believers have exerted much influence in the development of complex and diverse cultural traits.

Particularly, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has dominated religious life in the country since the fourth century. Its religious settings, celebrations and festivals play an important part in every ones daily life. Church ceremonies are a major feature of Ethiopian life. Such as Meskel “the finding of the true cross”, Genna “Ethiopian Christmas”, Timket “Ethiopian Epiphany”

The Omo valley is a popular ethnic treasure and a place where about 50% of the total Ethiopian ethnic groups reside. Many ethnic groups in the region still practices traditional beliefs which remain almost entirely intact Konso, Gelebe, the Bodi, the Mursi, the Surma, the Arbore, the Hamer, Tsemay, Ari, Dorze, Karo, Bena to name but a few.

Their lifestyles are as various as the tribes themselves. Lacking any material culture and artifacts common to more 'civilized' peoples, these tribes find unique ways in which to express their artistic impulses. Both the Surma and the Karo, for example, are experts at body painting, using clays and locally available vegetable pigments to trace fantastic patterns on each other's faces, chests, arms, and legs. These designs are created purely for fun and aesthetic effect.

Scarification, on the other hand, which is also popular amongst most of the peoples of the south, does contain a number of specific symbolic messages.


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