Formerly nomadic Pastoralists. The surma now largely depend on the subsistence cultivation of sorghum and Maze. The surma have a fearsome reputation as warriors, in part inspired by their continual search for grazing lands. Fights agins the Bumi, their sworn enemies, still occur.

It is belived that the surma once dominated the area, but their territory has been reduced to the western edges of Omo national park.The population of 45,000 is split into three subgroups: the chai, Tirma and Bale.

The surma are also known for their white , almost ghostlike body painting. white chalk is mixed with water to create a kind of wash. The painting is much less ornamental than that found in other tribes

and is intended to intimidate enemies in the battle.


Market Day in the Omo Valley.

 Twon Day Tribe
Arbore  Friday Arbore&Tsemay
Dimeka Tue&sat Arbore,Hamer&Karo
Jinka Tue&sat Ari,Banna&Mursi
keyafar Thu Banna&Tsemay
Turmi Mon Hamer
Weyto sun Tsemay
Yabelo sat Borena


The 8000 or so Mursi are mainly pastoralists who move according to the seasion between the lower Tama plains and the Mursi hills in Mago National Park.

The  most famous Mursi traditions include the fierce stick-fighting between the men, and the lip-plates worn by the women. Made of clay and up to 15cm in diameter, the plates are insreted into a slit separating their lower lip and jaw.

With a population of about 1500 people, the Karo are thought to be the omo valley’s most endangered group.inhabiting the omo’s eastern bank, many of these traditional pastoralists have now turned to agriculture after disease wiped out their cattle.

The Karo are considered master of body painting, particularly when preparing for a dance, feast or celebration.

The Hamer , who number around 50,000,are subsistence agropatoralists.They cultivate sorghum, vegetable, millet, tobacco and cotton, as well as rear cattle and goats. wild honey is an impotant part of their diet.

The people are particularly known for their remarkable hairstyle. The women mix together ochre, water and a blinding resin before rubbing it into their hair.

They are also considerd master of body decoration. Every adorment has an imporatant symblic significantce: earring, for example,denote the number of wives a man has.

The women wear iron coils around arms and bead necklaces, and decorate their skin with cowrie shells,The ensente(iron torques) worn around the necks of married and engaged women indicate the wealth and prestige of their husband.unmarried girls wear a metal plate in their hair that looks a bit like a platypus bill.

Inhabiting around 8000 Bumi.They are agropastoralists, growing sorghum as well as fishing and rearing cattle.

The Bumi use scarification for cosmotic purpose. tribal identification and as indications of prowess in battle.Both men and women use little pointilles(dots) to highlight their eyes and cheekbones.

Numbering around 45,000, the Banna inhabit the higher ground east of Mago National Parkt .Most practise agriculture, though their diet is supplemented by hunting. After killing a buffalo, they decorate themselve with clay for a special celebration and feast for the  whole village.

Almost 120,00 Ari inhabit the northern border of Mago National Park.They keep large numbers of livestock and produce large amount of honey, often used for trade. The women wear skirts made from the enset tree.