The Tribe, TV review: Bidding a fond farewell to southern Ethiopia's Hamar tribe

Tonight was the final episode of Channel 4's fascinating documentary series

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The Tribe concluded on Channel 4 tonight. This warm, fascinating documentary series became a hit simply by offering a view into the daily life of one, ordinary family; albeit an ordinary family that's part of southern Ethiopia's traditional Hamar tribe.

Patriarch Ayke Muko's second son, Arrada, is the only family member to have any formal education and he'd like the same for his three sons. Unfortunately, as Arrada's cousin Berkee was discovering, adolescents in the tribe are expected to devote themselves to grazing cattle. When government officials arrived in the village on a school recruitment drive, all they got for their trouble was one of the irascible Ayke Muko's classic put-downs: "Stop talking so much! A donkey couldn't carry your words! Do you think you're better than us, because you're fat?" That told 'em.

Grumpy granddad did gradually soften his stance, perhaps influenced the trauma of baby Bodo's mystery illness. The first remedy that they tried involved slaughtering a goat and encouraging the child to inhale the gases from its intestine. Only when this failed was a trip to the local clinic deemed necessary. The Hamar treat modern innovations with suspicion, but as evidenced by that plastic WH Smith bag hanging off the mud hut wall, they aren't afraid to integrate the useful bits. Then it only remained to bid a fond farewell: "When you get home, we hope you remember us," said granny, Kerri Bodo. Oh, we most certainly will.

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