Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

Categories: Africa | Nations

More is better. This is what the Bodi people, or Me'en, believe.

The tribe, which lives in the remote Omo Valley region of Ethiopia, practices an unusual ritual in which young people drink milk with cow's blood to get as fat as possible. They live in isolation for six months, and then they come out of their huts to proudly display their bloated belly and compete with others for the right to be called the fattest resident of the village. The winner will be considered a hero for the rest of his life.

French photographer Eric Lafforgue decided to tell the rest of the world about this ritual.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

Southern Ethiopia. Omo River Valley. A UNESCO World Heritage Site. The territory, which until recently was untouched by civilization, is now crossed by roads. Warriors of indigenous tribes come out with sticks instead of machine guns to defend the right to live on the land of their fathers. "Leave us and our cows alone," they say.

It all started a few years ago with the construction of a cascade of dams on the Omo River. One of the hydroelectric power plants under construction — Gibe III — should become the largest in Africa, double the energy potential of Ethiopia, and also bring considerable income to the state treasury. Part of the fields that have belonged to local tribes for centuries — Bodi, Mursi, Suri, Dasanech, Hamer, Karo and others-will be flooded, while the other part will dry up. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee, human rights and environmental organizations around the world oppose the launch of the power plant, which threatens to destroy the ecosystem in the lower reaches of the Omo River, lead to climate change and the way of life of 200,000 indigenous people. 

They are different from ordinary Ethiopians. The city considers them savages, because the members of the tribes still disfigure their skin with scars, smear their bodies with clay, insert discs in the lip, removing the front teeth. They maintain the tradition of blood feuds, their boys become real men only after killing the enemy. Their men, naked, fight with rare cruelty on long poles. They buy their wives for 25 cows and a Kalashnikov assault rifle…

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

As they prepare to celebrate the New Year in June, the Bodi men drink a lot of cow's blood and milk to get fat.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

Each family can submit one unmarried candidate to the traditional competition. The most well-fed becomes the winner and wins the recognition of the tribe for a year.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

The competition for the fattest resident of the tribe begins six months before the ceremony.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

Each family can imagine an unmarried man who, after selection, returns to his hut and must not leave it or have sex for six months.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

The women from the village regularly bring the competitors a mixture of cow's milk and cow's blood — this is their food.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

Cows are sacred to the Bodi tribe, so they are not usually killed.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

Blood from cows is taken through a small hole in the vein, which is made with a spear or axe, and then covered with clay.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

Because of the searing heat, men should drink a 2-liter bowl of blood with milk as quickly as possible before the blood clots. But this, as you know, not everyone can do.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

Men drink blood with milk all day.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

The first bowl is drunk at dawn.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

Flies fly everywhere.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

Not all participants can swallow blood-laced milk so quickly. Many people are sick.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

On the day of the contest, the men smear themselves with clay and ashes, then leave the huts and go to the place where the ceremony will take place.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

Because of the weight gain and the immobile lifestyle, it is almost impossible for many to overcome such a short distance.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

Many people simply can't walk.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

One of them even asked the photographer to take him by car, and in the van continued to drink blood with milk.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

The ceremony itself consists of fat people walking around the sacred tree for hours. The other men watch them intently, while the women give them alcohol and wipe their sweat.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

Once the fattest man is chosen, the ceremony ends with the killing of the cow with a huge sacred stone.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

The village elders then examine her stomach and blood to determine if there will be a bright future or not.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

After the ceremony, the men's lives return to normal. Most of them soon lose their bellies.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

But within a few weeks, the next generation of "contestants" is selected to participate in the new ritual.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

To become the fattest in the village is the dream of every child from the Bodi tribe.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

A few weeks after the ceremony, the winner returns to normal, but remains a hero for the rest of his life.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

Women look at this ritual as an opportunity to choose a potential husband.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

In the Bodi tribe, fat means beautiful.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

But today, the traditions and customs of the Bodi tribe are in danger.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

A Bodi woman from the remote village of Hana Morsi.

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

For women, the ceremony of choosing the fattest resident of the village is not only an occasion to find a potential groom…

Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the village

...but also a reason to show off in their best outfits.

Keywords: Africa | Competition | Peoples | Ethiopia | Tribe | Milk | Traditions | Omo | Photographer | Blood | Ritual | Valley | 18+ | Tin

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