Bume or Nyangatom

The Bume are Nilotee (Nilo-Saharan) people who occupy the land which is found immediately south of the Omo National Park. Their present day territory is boarderd by the kwegu and the Mursi in the North, the Karo & the Hamar in the east, the Dassanetch in the South, and the Topossa of the Sudan in the west.


Numbering about 8,000 individuals the Bume inhabit the eastern part of what is referred to as the Lower Omo Valley and the Kibish River Basin. The Bume are categorized as the Nilo-Saharan language speakers. The ancestors of the Nyangatom along with the Topossa are believed to have originated from the present day Northeast Uganda. These people have maintained strong ties to this day.
Being in one of the most tsetse fly infected region the majority of the Nyangatom are now mainly Agro-pastoralists who cultivate sorghum and maize along the western bank of the Omo River and the Kibish. Cattle rearing and fishing are also practiced among these people. Some Nyangatom are also expert forest honey collectors and hunters.
The Nyangatom are the sworn enemies of the Surma against whom they go cattle raiding. The counter raiding relation to the Karo, the Hamar, and the Dassanetch & the Mursi is also full of tension and confrontation.
However in time of peace, they have bond-relationships with particularly the Karo.

 

Decoration & Ornamentation of the Bume
Among the Nyagantom physical appearance is enhanced by making use of scarification, ornamentation and various hairstyles. Unlike the Karo, the Surma and most other people of the Omo valley, the Nyangatom do not practice body painting.
To attract their men Nyangatom women use ornamental scarification on different parts of their body. These ornamental scarifications are mainly displayed on the cheekbones, arms, abdomens, backs and torsos of the women. Scarification could take the form of tiny dots, curves, and various geometrical designs. This is executed by using razor blades and sharp local materials. The wound created in this way is then rubbed with herbs and ashes to prevent infections.
To decorate themselves, Nyangatom women use (Hang) enormous loose bead necklaces around their necks. The colour, composition and number of the worn necklaces have immense significance in the assertion of the wearer's social status. Nyanagatom women are also famous in their labial piercing in to which they plug decorative wooden, metallic or ivory structures. Young Nyanagatom girls tie colorful bands of beads round their head. The hair style they favor is one in which they shave round their scalp and leave a central friezed tuft of hair on to which a generous amount of red ochre is applied.
Apart from the scars which survived Nyangatom warriors receive from their confrontations with their traditional enemies, they undertake a voluntary scarification ceremony in which they receive medal of scars as a proof of their courage and bravery. Such scars are usually displayed on their arms, shoulders, chest and backs. The tiny patterned dot like scarification that the Nyangatom exhibit on their cheekbones and faces are meant to establish tribal identity and create physical attraction. Like their female, the men also insert different decorative object in the piercing of their lower lip. Moreover they wear elaborate & colored clay hair buns in to which ostrich feathers could be fixed as a sign of bravery. The colors they apply in their hair style are obtained from soft stones of different colour charcoal, chalk and other natural pigments. Some Nyangatom men wear unique disc- shaped bracelets on their arms. This bracelet is in fact a deadly defensive weapon with a filed edge.

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