In Southern Ethiopia, a Hamer tribe woman picks her teeth with a twig of Neem while awaiting customers at the local market in Turmi. The Hamer are one of some 56 indigenous tribes that live in southern Ethiopia, in an area designated the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region. The Hamer (sometimes spelled Hamar) are one of the few tribes that do not plant crops. Instead, they exchange their cows, sheep, and goats for sorghum and maize to make porridge. Other than that, they eat only meat, milk, and blood from their animals.
However, there are some things that just can’t be purchased with livestock. When money is needed, they sell their animals or products from their animals at weekly markets held around the region. This Hamer tribe woman was squatting on the ground with a row of plastic liter bottles containing a pale yellow substance lined up in front of her. My guide explained that the bottles contained butter that she had churned from cow’s milk. The Hamer also supplement their meager incomes by charging five Ethiopian Birr (about 18 cents USD), for every closeup photo that a tourist snaps.