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Hamar Bulljump

The Hamar bulljump is a rite of passage where a young man (around his twenties) has to jump and run over a line of cattle. If he succeeds; he is considered to be a man.
During the night and early in the morning, the female relatives of the boy who has to jump the cattle (named Okuli) start drinking sorghum beer. Some say they do this to get in the right spirit; others say they do this to get a bit numb for what is to come. It is the tradition that the female relatives of the Okuli get whipped by the Maz (men who all recently jumped the cattle) to prove their strenght but also to prove their love and loyalty towards their male relative and family. Also, a woman without scars will most likely not be able to marry. Some people may think that the whipping of women is an act of inhumanity but do not forget that these Hamar women are not forced and ask/demand to get whipped. Pushing, hitting and calling the Maz names if they hesitate. The Maz initially do not want to hit the women. This demands a little bit more explanation about the Maz. After jumping the cattle; the boy will become a man and a Maza. The next couple of weeks/months he will spent with the other Maz; going from one bulljump to the other and not being able to go home to his family. This is actually a second passage rite they have to bring to a good end. At the bulljumps they have to prove to their father and future father-in-law that they can whip woman and gather cattle. This means that he is a “real” man that can take care of his family and his cattle. The whipping is the first part of the ceremony and always takes place on low ground. When this part is done; everybody moves to high ground for the actual bulljumping. First the Okuli will undergo a sacred and secret ceremony where rings will be placed over his penis. In the meanwhile the women surround the cattle, dancing, jumping and blowing horns. This offcourse makes the cattle restless. Then it is the job of the Maz to select and gather the right cattle and put them in line for the bulljump. The Okuli has to jump and run over the line of cattle 4 times before becoming a man. If an attempt is not well executed he will have to start over again untill he has done 4 succesfull runs. If he falls between thet catlle; it is possible he may die. If he survives; he will most likely be whipped himself by his female relatives. If they get whipped for him; he better not fall off.

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