Men of an Ethiopian tribe drink blood with milk to get the title of the fattest resident of the villageBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/men-of-an-ethiopian-tribe-drink-blood-with-milk-to-get-the-title-of-the-fattest-resident-of-the-village
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.
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…
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.
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.
The competition for the fattest resident of the tribe begins six months before the ceremony.
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.
The women from the village regularly bring the competitors a mixture of cow's milk and cow's blood — this is their food.
Cows are sacred to the Bodi tribe, so they are not usually killed.
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.
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 drink blood with milk all day.
The first bowl is drunk at dawn.
Flies fly everywhere.
Not all participants can swallow blood-laced milk so quickly. Many people are sick.
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.
Because of the weight gain and the immobile lifestyle, it is almost impossible for many to overcome such a short distance.
Many people simply can't walk.
One of them even asked the photographer to take him by car, and in the van continued to drink blood with milk.
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.
Once the fattest man is chosen, the ceremony ends with the killing of the cow with a huge sacred stone.
The village elders then examine her stomach and blood to determine if there will be a bright future or not.
After the ceremony, the men's lives return to normal. Most of them soon lose their bellies.
But within a few weeks, the next generation of "contestants" is selected to participate in the new ritual.
To become the fattest in the village is the dream of every child from the Bodi tribe.
A few weeks after the ceremony, the winner returns to normal, but remains a hero for the rest of his life.
Women look at this ritual as an opportunity to choose a potential husband.
In the Bodi tribe, fat means beautiful.
But today, the traditions and customs of the Bodi tribe are in danger.
A Bodi woman from the remote village of Hana Morsi.
For women, the ceremony of choosing the fattest resident of the village is not only an occasion to find a potential groom…
...but also a reason to show off in their best outfits.