Before They - Photography Project by Jimmy Nelson

Banna

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Banna
The Omo Valley, situated in Africa’s Great Rift Valley, southwest Ethiopia, is home to an estimated 200,000 indigenous peoples who have lived there for millennia. The Banna, approximately 45,000 in number, are a mainly agricultural people who inhabit the highlands east of the Omo River. 
“A close friend can become a close enemy” 
Like other indigenous groups, the Banna practise ritual dancing and singing. To prepare for a ceremony, they paint themselves with white chalk mixed with yellow rock, red iron ore and charcoal. The biggest ceremony in a man’s life is called Dimi, to celebrate his daughter for fertility and marriage.

Highland East of the Omo River

July 2011

The Banna are a mainly agricultural people who inhabit the highlands east of the Omo River. Cattle and goats provide milk and meat, as well as hides for clothing, shelter and sleeping mats. They also display wealth and prestige: without them, a man is considered poor, and in most indigenous cultures cannot get married because he has nothing to offer as a bridal gift.

Bori Village, Southern Omo

July 2011

Bana people (also spelled Banna or Benna) are an indigenous people of around 45 000 people, of the lower Omo Valley in Ethiopia.

The Banna are a friendly people and they look fantastic; women wear many decorations and men wear the clay or braided hair style they get when they honour the slain of an enemy or of a wild animal.


Artprint available

- Jimmy Nelson

Bori Village

July 2011

The Banna like the Hamar have very unique rituals such as a bull-leaping ceremony, that a young men has to succeed in order to get married.
The cow jumping is an initiation rite of passage for boys coming of age. Cows are lined up in a row. The initiate, naked, has to leap on the back of the first cow, then from one to another, until he finally reaches the end of the row. He must not fall and must repeat successfully four times to earn the right to become a husband. Totally committed to their initiated sons, the mothers and sisters are whipped to blood, in order to prove their courage and accompany the boy during the test. 

Banna Warriors

July 2011

In order for young indigenous men to qualify for marriage, own cattle and have children, they must face up to a unique dare, known as the bull-leaping
ceremony. It’s also a rite of passage to mark the boys’ coming of age. Cows are lined up in a row. Each boy, naked, has to make four clean runs over the backs the cows, without falling. Success gains him the right to marry. During this impressive display, the young man is accompanied by women of his tribe. They dance and sing, encouraging him.

Artprint available

- Jimmy Nelson

Wild honey

July 2011

The Banna are a pastoral indigenous people whose culture revolves around cattle. Their harsh environment forces them to be semi-nomadic. During the dry season, the men walk long distances with their herds looking for water and grass, and to harvest wild honey.



Banna

July 2011

Banna people are good beekeepers. They have more honey than they can consume themselves, so they sell it at markets or around the roads. It’s their fundamental source of money to buy tools can't develop on their own.

Artprint available

- Jimmy Nelson

Bori Village, Omo Valley


July 2011

The Banna have been isolated from the rest of Ethiopia by choice as well as by their remote location in southern Ethiopia and the Kenyan
border. They are closely related to their neighbors, the Hamar, in both language and culture.