Bull jumping ceremony crosses language and cultural barriers

It’s almost dark when he jumps the first bull. Around him, the entire village swirls in a frenzy, dancing and singing and celebrating his passage.

Completely naked but wearing a look of dogged determination, he strides forward, the expectations of family and tribe and future bride weighing on his back. In a moment that will define the rest of his life, he leaps — the din behind him unchanged, a cacophony of cries and overall clamour, of homemade horns and time-honoured chants and bells worn on ankles that are in constant motion.

In a matter of seconds, it is done, his first traverse across the backs of 15 bulls, greeted by a small, celebratory cheer from the crowd gathered all around. And while the rest of his life lays ahead, he turns and again sets his face, making it clear to all of us that he isn’t finished — not just yet.

I’m in the southern reaches of Ethiopia with a small group of fellow travellers, literally well off the beaten track, spending the day with the Hamer people. On this trip with Australia-based Peregrine Adventures, we’ve made our way to one of the remotest spots in Africa, all part of a two-week itinerary that features some of the most fascinating people on earth… [read more]