The Tribe


In a television first, Channel 4 was granted access by a rural Ethiopian tribe to capture their life as never seen before by using fixed-rig cameras in this brand new series.

Part of the 20,000-strong Hamar tribe living in the Omo region of Southern Ethiopia, one family, known to their friends and neighbours as the Ayke Muko’s, have allowed Channel 4 to film their day-to-day life. Cameras placed in and around the family’s huts capture the intricacies of their relationships, their social bonds and attitudes towards parenting and the community. It also charts how they are embracing the encroachment of the modern world while holding onto their traditional way of life.

Filmed for the most part with small unobtrusive cameras, the series presents an intimate and uniquely authentic portrayal of tribal family life. The series follows them as they fall in love, fall out and come together as a family and through it all we discover there may be more that unites than divides our two worlds.

The Ayke Mukos


AYKE MUKO - Grandad
Charismatic and cantankerous, Ayke Muko is the head of the family and one of the most revered elders in the entire Hamar Tribe. He has two wives, nine children and is grandfather to sixteen. Despite his failing health, he's still a formidable force when it comes to challenging government officials or settling disputes among quarrelling villagers.


KERRI BODO - Grandma and Ayke Muko’s first wife

First wife of Ayke Muko and a respected elder in her own right, Kerri Bodo is the heart and soul of the family. As the most senior woman in the homestead she’s responsible for delegating all the domestic duties and has no qualms when it comes to telling off her grown-up kids if they step out of line.

Brimming with warmth and wisdom, Kerri Bodo teaches every new bride who joins the family how to be a good Hamar wife and has a particularly close relationship with all of her daughters-in-laws.


KERRI SUMA - Ayke Muko's second wife
Kerri Suma joined the family six years ago when she became Ayke Muko's second wife. Calm, unassuming and loved by everyone, Kerri Suma is the first port of call for any family member in search of a sympathetic ear. She helps Kerri Bodo manage the household chores and displays endless reserves of patience in the face of Ayke Muko’s constant complaining about her cooking.

Kerri Suma and Kerri Bodo get along well and can often be caught chatting and laughing together as they affectionately make fun of their belligerent husband.


ZUBO - Eldest son

As eldest son, Zubo is in line to succeed his father as head of the family and has already begun to assume some important responsibilities. He’s in charge of the family’s livestock and loves to share stories about the times he’s defended their prized herd against raids from other tribes. Diplomacy, however, is not Zubo’s strong point and his quick temper has been known to land him in trouble. He has two wives; Oito and Cilo and is a father of three.


MUKO - Fourth son and Groom

Cheeky and charming but with a very stubborn streak, identical twin Muko is the fourth son in the family and the next to be getting married. In a culture where arranged marriages are the norm, Muko actually broke with tradition and chose his future bride himself.

He set his heart on Dami years ago when she came to visit her cousin in the village and quickly persuaded his older brothers to organize the match. Ever since, he’s been eagerly awaiting the day that she’ll join him as his wife.


ARRADA - Second son

Arrada is the only educated member of the family and he can read, write and speak Amharic. With his progressive views, Arrada was the natural choice when a, ‘Community Development Officer’ was needed to be appointed in the village and he’s keen to see his three young sons follow in his footsteps and attend the local school. A sharp dresser and lover of modern technology, Arrada claims he was the first person in Hamar to get a mobile phone.


DAMI - Bride

Bride-to-be Dami comes from a small village called Tune, five hours walk from the family’s homestead in Wenarki. Her father has been best friends with Ayke Muko since they were both young boys and upcoming marriage will strengthen bonds between the two families – providing they can get successfully navigate the notoriously tricky ‘bride wealth’ negotiations.

While her future husband Muko is excited about their union, Dami is anxious about leaving behind her friends, her parents and the freedoms of her teenage years to join a new family and take on the responsibilities of a Hamar wife.

Episode 1 - Bride Price

In this first episode of four we meet Elders Ayke Muko and his wife Kerri Bodo. Engaged since a young age they are now parents to nine children and grandparents to sixteen. Married for more than 50 years they constantly joke and bicker with one another – asked what they originally found attractive about their spouse, Ayke Muko responds: “What type of question is that? I liked her body, that’s why I wanted her – what else can I say?” Whilst Kerri Bodo recalls how handsome he was: “He had big eyes and a beautiful face…He looks like a baboon now.”

Ayke Muko and Kerri Bodo are in charge of every aspect of family life but as they grow ever older they are slowly delegating some duties to their children. Ayke Muko has made two of their sons, Arrada and Zubo, responsible for securing a marriage for their younger brother. Another Hamar family have long promised a teenage girl Dami, to middle son Muko but so far no date has been fixed for Dami to join the family.

This episode follows Arrada and Zubo as they make the five-hour trek to the bride’s village. Armed with guns to impress their future in-laws, the brothers have been tasked with finalising the frequently fraught negotiations over the crucial goat-dowry they must provide give throughout the bride’s entire lifetime to compensate her family for the loss of their daughter. Securing a Hamar bride can take months and even years of negotiations and talks between the families have not been easy.

Smitten groom Muko is longing for Dami’s arrival whilst Dami appears to reserve judgement, having not spoken with him for years. She says: “It doesn’t matter if he’s good or bad. I’m promised to him, I have to live with him, even if I don’t like him.”

For the men of the Hamar it’s normal to have more than one wife. Six years ago, Ayke Muko took a second younger wife, Kerri Suma. Far from feeling put out, Kerri Bodo explains how Kerri Suma helps her with the housework and childcare whilst Kerri Suma describes Kerri Bodo as, “An older sister. She is very kind to me.” Ayke Muko, an irascible man with a short fuse who routinely swears at his grandkids, has been calmer since he lived with Kerri Suma.

Several times a year, Ayke Muko calls together hundreds of elders from other Hamar villages to discuss tribal matters – and have a barbeque. Like his father before him, Ayke Muko is an elected Hamar spokesman – his job is to chair these meetings and lead rituals and blessings. This episode captures the extraordinary meeting as they call for rain and cast diseases away but with his advancing years, Ayke Muko’s failing health is making it harder for him to carry out his duties.

“If I was a machine they would take me to be repaired,” he says. “But if I quit who would do my work?” Ayke Muko’s family urge him to slow down and take their duty of care to him seriously. Zubo says: “If we could we would make him young again. We worry about him all the time.”

Ayke Muko has little time for what he hears of British culture and attitudes to the elderly. “Are they given to the hyenas and vultures to be eaten? You can stick with your culture.”

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07 Aug 2015, 00:55
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