The Bodi Tribe of Ethiopia Where Men Drink Cow’s Blood and Milk

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Have you ever heard of the Bodi Tribe of Ethiopia? If you haven’t, today is the day to learn more about this peculiar African tribe. And if you have, good for you! Feel free to add to your wealth of knowledge about the Bodi Tribe. The Bodi comes in two groups; The Highland Tishena and the Lowland Bodi.

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The Bodi people, also known as the Me’en people, are an ethnic group that lives in the Omo Valley in southwestern Ethiopia. They are semi-nomadic people who raise cattle herds, livestock farmers, and other livestock which play a large role. Their staple food is maize and sorghum. They believe to have originated from the Omo River, a remote corner of Ethiopia.

While their way of life may be unfamiliar to many of us, one aspect of their culture that has captured the attention of outsiders is their practice of drinking cow’s blood and milk by their young men. 

The future of this ritual is blurred as the Ethiopian government has resettlement plans for more than 300,000 peoples. Similarly, it has leased land to foreign companies to grow cash crops

In this article, you will discover the uniqueness of the Bodi tribe of Ethiopia and learn about their Ka’el Festival, where men drink cow’s blood and milk.

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The Bodi Tribe of Ethiopia

Bodi Tribe of Ethiopia
Source: Mirror

The Bodi Tribe of Ethiopia is one of the African tribes that has maintained its culture, traditions, and customs in the face of Western civilization. Over the years, the Bodi people have continued to survive as agriculturalists and pastoralists. And surprisingly, they still operate through the trade and barter system. 

One event that makes the tradition of the Brodi Tribe outstanding is the Ka’el Festival also called the “festival of fat men.” Although being “slim” may be the norm for other people in the majority of the world, this is not the case for them.

Because of the new year or Ka’el ceremony, the Bodi Tribe has earned the nickname “the tribe where fat is beautiful.”

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Here’s Everything You Need to Know About the Ka’el Festival of the Bodi Tribe of Ethiopia

Ka’el Festival

The Ka’el festival is an annual celebration among the Bodi people of Ethiopia, held at the start of every year to mark the end of the rainy season and the beginning of the dry season. It corresponds to June in the Gregorian calendar

During the Ka’el festival, the Bodi people engage in several traditional activities, including singing, dancing, and feasting. One of the most significant parts of the festival is the diet of cow’s blood and milk mixture, which they believe gives the Bodi men strength and vitality.

They come with enormous bellies. Several Bodi bachelors compete to see who can consume the most cow’s blood and milk mixture, with the winner crowned the “blood champion.”

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Bodi Tribe of Ethiopia
Source: Mirror

The First Stage of the Competiton

The aim of every competitor is to be crowned “fat man of the year” and probably get a wife, as many young Bodi girls or brides use the opportunity to find suitable husbands among the contestants. The fatter the Ethiopia’s Bodi man, the more desirable he is. 

For the competition, each of the 14 clans nominates a bachelor they consider fit for the task. These men are required to prepare for six months, during which they must abstain from sexual relationships and must remain inside their hut.

Also, during this period, the men are fed special meals, honey, and concoctions brought by the women, after which they show up for the competition fattened.

On the day of the competition, the contestants cover themselves in ashes and display their acrobatic skills. In addition, they draw the blood for the mixture from sacred cows by cutting a hole in a vein with an axe or spear, after which they close the vein with clay.

At sunrise, the men start the Ka’el festival day by drinking the first two-liter of the blood and milk mixture before it coagulates. Most men get disqualified at this point after vomiting the mixture of blood and milk mixture because they cannot handle drinking so much so quickly. Those who make it through this stage have little to no trouble dealing with the remaining blood and milk mixture for the rest of the day.

Bodi Tribe of Ethiopia
Source: Mirror

The Second Round

The next round of the competition is almost as demanding as the first. In this stage, the contestants walk in a circle for long hours around the village’s sacred tree under the scrutiny of the judges. This part is challenging because these men have been inactive for six months.

Sometimes, some men cannot even walk to the ceremony ground because of the weight they put on after being dormant for such a long time. During the competition, Bodi women assist the men by giving them alcohol, cleaning their sweat, and singing to keep them motivated. 

The winner is the man deemed the fattest, and the prize is the admiration of the Bodi people for life. To end the festival, they sacrifice through slaughter of a cow with a huge sacred stone. He’s a hero his entire life.

Teaching The Next Generations

The Ka’el festival is a tradition passed down from generation to generation, and it is a vital part of the Bodi cultural identity. After a few months, the village elders are ready to choose the next generation of competitively fat Bodi men for another cycle.

The dream of every young Bodi boy is to be the “fattest man.”

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Shalom Ngbala-Okpabi
Shalom Ngbala-Okpabi
We learned to read and write in school, and I took mine to another level.

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