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Bodi, Ethiopian tribe where men with biggest bellies are most desired, honored till eternity

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Bodi, Ethiopian tribe where men with biggest bellies are most desired, honored till eternity

The Bodi (or Me’en) people are one of the groups living in the Omo-Turkana Basin, in the lowlands east of the Omo river. Bodi is the name that the government and foreigners use for them, but the Bodi people call themselves the Me’en. Me’en is an encompassing tribe of multiple groups, two of which make up the Bodi. Their population is about 10,000.

Among the Me’en people, the Bodi are considered the closest followers to their ancestry through their practice of pastoralism. The cattle that these people raise are vital to their social and economic livelihood. The Bodi use cattle sacrifices in many of their cultural ceremonies. Cattle provide the dowries for brides; in addition, cattle provide food security for the families who own them.

Bodi men compete to be the fattest in the village by drinking a gruesome mixture of blood and milk while living in isolation for SIX months.

Men from the Bodi tribe compete to become the fattest during the new year or Ka’el ceremony.

They spend six months guzzling a mixture of blood and milk in a bid to fatten up as fast as they can.

The winning fat man doesn’t get a prize but is feted as a hero for life by the rest of the tribe.

In the Bodi Tribe (Ethiopia), the men with the biggest belly are most desired. The greater the abdominal volume, the more attractive they will be. But the preparation for the contest where the fattest is chosen is rather gruesome.

They drink fresh cow blood and fresh cow milk for 3-6 months in a bid to quickly become fat and be crowned the fattest man. During the Kael ceremony, the winner of the contest is measured and receives great fame from the tribe.

Women and girls bring them milk every morning in their quest for big gut glory.

The only prize for the winner is fame and the adulation of his fellow tribesmen. The women take care of the fat men: they give them alcohol, remove the sweat, and sing for them to keep them awake.

Bodi wants to retain their traditions but they are threatened by government resettlement plans.

Sadly, the Ka’el ritual and the Bodi’s traditional way of life are under threat from the Ethiopian government which plans to resettle 300,000 people from all over the country on their lands.


For now, the tribe continues as they always have and still celebrates Ka’el in traditional style each June.

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