Erbore: A very colorful people

Erbore: A very colorful people

Erbore are a very exciting people. Their happy way of life is rooted in their deep belief that their singing and dancing eliminates negative energy and with the negative energy gone, the tribe will prosper.

Although relatively large, Erbore is far more rustic and unaffected than many similarly sized towns in South Omo. The Erbore build their huts slightly oval in shape. The Erbore have a bodily mutilation of raised dots on the chest and abdomen. The Erbore believe in a Supreme Being creator and father of men whom they call Waq.

The women of the tribe cover their heads with a black cloth and are known to wear very colorful necklaces and earrings. Young children will wear a shell type hat that protects their heads from the sun. Body painting is done by the Erbore using locally made colors. Traditional dancing is practiced by the tribe and wealth is measured by the number of cattle a tribesman owns.

In common with their linguistically and culturally affiliated Tsemai neighbors, the Erbore migrated to their present homeland from Konso perhaps two centuries ago.

The town of Erbore lies in an area where several tribal boundaries converge, and they are a very mixed community because the Erbore people routinely intermarry with other ethnic groups like the Guji and Borena Oromo, the Hammer and the Tsemai. It is also inhabited by a substantial number of Hammer and even Borena women – adding a cosmopolitan feel to the worthwhile Saturday market.

In the space of a few square miles, there are four large Erbore villages, Jellifa, Egudi, Gula’ma and Gondara’ba, the last being their main center and the residence of their paramount chief.

Together with the Burji, and the Konso, the Erbore speak Cushitic language. The Erbore are very active traders and spread into distant areas. In fact, in the past, they used to possess the monopoly of the ivory trade.

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