The Oromo are a native African ethnic group found in Ethiopia and to a smaller extent in Kenya. They are the largest single ethnic group in Ethiopia, at 32.1% of the population according to the 1994 census, and today numbering around 40 million. The Oromo are one of the Cushitic speaking people living in Eastern and North Eastern Africa. Cushitic speakers have occupied parts of north-eastern and eastern Africa for as long as recorded history. Oromo people are found mainly in Ethiopia (99%), but are spread from as far as:• Northern Ethiopia (southern Tigray Region) • Kenya (mainly northern) • Even as far south as Lamu Island.The Oromo characterize one of largest of the Cushitic groups occupying the Horn of Africa. Their physical features, culture, language and other confirm clearly the fact that they are native to this part of Africa. Existing information indicates that the Oromo lived as a community of people for thousands of years in East Africa (Prouty at al, 1981). Bates (1979) asserts, “The Gallas (Oromo) were a very ancient race, the indigenous stock, possibly, on which most other peoples in this part of eastern Africa have been grafted”. It is possible that they have existed for a longer period of time side by side with their northern Semitic-speaking neighbors. During the 16th century, following the wars between the kingdom of Ethiopia and the neighboring Sultanate of Adal, which resulted in the exhaustion of both states, Oromos moved north into their territories. The Ethiopian monk Bahrey, writing in 1593, credited the Oromo achievement to the existence of too many non-fighting classes in the ruling Ethiopian hierarchy, as opposed to the Oromos, whom he illustrated as having a homogeneous warrior class. He also affirmed their spread (as result of their inhospitable homeland) into northwestern areas such as: • Arsi • Shewa • Welega • Gojjam • Hararghe • Wollo. Harold G. Marcus hints northwest Borena as the original homeland of the Oromo. Settled Oromo began to integrate with their Amharic-speaking neighbors at least from the 17th century on.
Several Oromo chieftains gained power in government of the monarchy. Particularly Emperor Iyoas I (1730-55), who was half Oromo, favored his mother’s Oromo kinsmen and allies, and in his era, the Oromo language was the language of the court in Gondar. By the late 18th century, the influence of the central government of Ethiopia had declined, and local governors and kings enjoyed greater autonomy. During the era of Zemene Mesafint (which lasted until 1855), the Oromo dynasty of chiefs of Yejju were the most important uninterrupted line of warlords to dominate the figurehead emperors of Ethiopia. They turn out to be sub-kings of Begemder, Regents of the empire, as well as imperial father-in-laws. Ras Ali I of Yejju attained this dominance in 1779, and it continued, although contested by other warlords, until the 1855 defeat of Ras Ali II of Yejju by the upstart Kassa Hailu (who became Emperor Tewodros II).
Due to the powerlessness of the Emperor of Ethiopia during the Zemene Mesafint, the Yejju Oromo were successfully the rulers of Ethiopia. Other tribes and chiefs of the Oromo people were also famous, such as: • Lady Menen of Wollo who became Empress in 1800s • Ras Mohammad of Wollo who became Ras Mikael, later Negus of Siyon and father of Emperor Iyasu V • Menen, of Ambassel, who became Empress Consort of Haile Selassie Feel free to forward your comment on the history of this prominent tribe in Ethiopia. As nature extravagantly endowed with diverse agro-ecological zone the Region has a dominant position the country’s Economy. Blessed with an abundance of cultural and natural assists Oromia is a great tourist destination in the country offering diverse tourist products for visitors. One has to make a spectacular journey to these majestic of natural beauties and wonders of land, the multifarious colorful culture and the history of the Oromo people, their wisdom and tolerance, range of endemic floras and faunas and make an unforgettable discovery of life time. It is the most widely spoken Cushitic languages of Ethiopia and a third widely spoken language on Africa. Although, this language is relatively well researched and widely spoken, it is deprived of development as a language in the recent past. However, since 1991 its development is being flourished in all its aspects of language use. The adopted Latin script named Qubee which nearly is phonetic helped the fast development scored in the past few years. Since then, various written books on oral literature, grammar, dictionary as well as journals were among the many published and distributed.
The Sidama people agricultural and semi-pastoral Kushitic people living in the southern part of the Ethiopia, in the Horn of Africa. The majority of the Sidama people live in the Southern part of Ethiopia with notable geographical features like lake Awassa in the North and lake Abaya in the South. Sidama region of Ethiopia is home of the Sidamo Coffee. The area is characterised by lush green countryside making it known as the Garden of Ethiopia. The Sidama along with Agew and Beja were the first settlers in the northern highlands of the present day Ethiopia before the arrival of Yemeni habeshas (Abyssineans). The Sidama people and their sub-tribes ( major Sidama group, Alaba, Tambaro, Qewena and Marakoare) are estimated to be around 8 million; constituting 4.01% of the Ethiopian population and are the fifth largest ethnic group in Ethiopia.
Beautiful Sidama tribe woman from Sidama region, Ethiopia
Like other comparable communities, the Sidama people who are one of the most populous and persecuted tribes in Ethiopia trace their origins to common ancestors. Oral tradition had it that Sidamas descended from two ancestral fathers: Bushee and Maldea. The Sidama people believe they belong to Sidamigobba, the Sidama country
Sidama cultural dancers, Ethiopia
The most notable peoples of the Kushitic origin to which the Sidama people belong include, the Saho in Eritrea, Oromo, Hadiya, Afar and Somalis in Ethiopia; the Somalis especially the Degodai tribe both in Somalia and Kenya; the Randle and Sakuye in Kenya and many others in Eastern and central Africa. That was why the present day Ethiopia was called the land of Kush. The Abyssinian historians such as Taddese Tamirat themselves accept this fact.
Sidama children from Ethiopia
The Sidama preserved their cultural heritage, including their traditional religion and language until the late 1880s during the conquest by Emperor Menelik II. Before this, the Sidama had their own well-established administrative systems that dated at least to the 9th century, though it was made up of a loose coalition of Sidama kingdoms. These kingdoms extended into the Gibe region.
Some people in Ethiopia and other historians refer to Sidama people as "Sidamo." There are no people in Ethiopia called "Sidamo". The misnomer was invented in 1891 by the invading Minelik’s generals and soldiers as part of a psychological war to degrade and dehumanise the newly occupied land of Sidama and other peoples living around the Sidama land. The term "Sidamo’ was first coined by Beshah Aboye and his soldiers in 1891 when Beshah arrived back in Addis Ababa, to report to emperor Minelik that he encountered some people called "Sidamo" who repulsed his army. The same dehumanising misnomer was used against the Wolayita people who were called "Wolamo". Oromos were called with another derogatory name called "Galla" which in fact preceded "Sidamo" and "Wolamo" misnomers.
Location and demography
They occupy the vast area of north eastern and eastern Africa extending from the Sudan throughout the Horn of Africa to Tanzania. The Sidama nation is situated in Southern Ethiopia or the Sidama Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region (SNNPR) of Ethiopia where there is deep contest and conflict over identity, including the population size. The Sidama population is estimated to be 8 million.
They do not call themselves Sidamo, a term which confuses their name and suppresses their identity. The conquest and the suppression of their identity went hand in hand with underestimation of the nation’s numerical strength. Sidamaland has shared borders with Oromia in the northeast, Wolayita in the west and Gedeo in the south. The northern border extends from Lake Hawassa to Dilla town in the South. Te eastern boundary starts at Mount Garamba and extends westward to Bilaatte River in the West.
Waterfall in Sidama land
Total area of the Sidama land including the lands of the sub groups is estimated to be about 50,000 km sq. The major Sidama land is an extremely densely populated are with about over 460 people per sq. km. The capital city of the Major Sidama land, Awassa, is located 275 kms south of Addis Ababa. Land features range from low lands of about 1500 m a.s.l in the Great East Africa Rift Valley that cuts through lakes Awassa and Abaya up to 3000 m a.s.l in the eastern Sidama high lands of Arbegona, Bansa and Arroressa districts. The Sidama land is one of the most ever green and fertile lands in Africa. As a result, for centuries, the Sidama people led one of the most stable and self sufficient lives as an independent nation state in the north eastern Africa until the nation was annexed to the present day Ethiopia by king Minelik II in 1891. Before the annexation, the Sidama people lived in indigenous egalitarian and democratic social, economic, political and cultural systems.
Sidama (Alaba) people in Alaba Tembaro region.
Sidama people speak Sidaamu-afoo. Sidaamu-afoo is an Afro-Asiatic language, belonging to the Cushitic branch, part of the Highland East Cushitic group. It is spoken in parts of southern Ethiopia. Sidaamu-afoo can alternatively be referred to as Sidaama, Sidaamu, Sidaminya, or Sidámo ’Afó. Sidaamu Afoo is the ethnic autonym for the language, while Sidaminya is its name in Amharic. Although it is not known to have any specific dialects, it shares over 50% lexical similarity with Alaba-K'abeena, Kambaata, and Hadiyya, all of which are other languages spoken in southwestern Ethiopia. The word order is typically SOV. Sidamo has over 100,000 L2 speakers. The literacy rate for L1 speakers is 1%-5%, while for L2 speakers it is 20%. In terms of its writing, Sidamo used an Ethiopic script up until 1993, from which point forward it has used a Latin script.
The term Sidamo has also been used by some authors to refer to larger groupings of East Cushitic and even Omotic languages. The languages within this Sidamo grouping contain similar, alternating phonological features. The results from a research study conducted in 1968-1969 concerning mutual intelligibility between different Sidamo languages suggests that Sidamo is more closely related to Derasa (also called Gedeo) than other Sidamo languages.
Sidamo vocabulary has been influenced by Ge'ez and Amharic, and has in turn influenced Oromo vocabulary.
Sidama women of Titra Coffee Union, Ethiopia
One of the ancient Kushites, the Sidama people live in the southern part of the present day Ethiopia, with notable geographical features such as lake Awassa in the North and lake Abaya in the South. The Great East African Rift Valley dissects the Sidama land into two: western lowlands and eastern highlands.
During the course of the great popular migration around the first century AD from North and East Africa to the South of the continent, some Sidamas were left behind and were later scattered into different parts of the sub region. According to the Sidama oral history, during this course of popular migration, the first group of Sidamas reached as far South as the Dawa river, in the present day Ethio-Kenyan boarder before returning back to their present land.
During this period, the Sidama people were separated into 5 sub groups. These are: the Major Sidama group, Alaba, Tambaro, Qewena and Marako. The latter four Sidama sub groups currently live in the western vicinity of the present day Sidama land, out side of the major Sidama province. The current estimated population of the major Sidama and its sub groups is about 8 million people.
Sidama women of Alaba sub-tribe origin, Ethiopia
The Sidama Economy
The Sidama economy is based primarily on subsistence agriculture characterized by archaic production techniques. However, a substantial area of the Sidama land produces coffee, which is the major cash crop in the region. Coffee has been the major source of income for the rural households in the coffee producing regions of the Sidama land.
Sidama farmers exhibiting their coffee
However, the recent plunge in international coffee price drew most of these households back into the subsistence production and absolute poverty (coffee prices fell dramatically even during the commodity price boom of 2001 to mid 2008). Sidama is one of the major coffee producing regions in Ethiopia. It supplies over 40% of washed coffee to the central market. Coffee is the single major export earner for the country. Export earnings from coffee ranges from 60-67% although the country's share in the world market is less than 3%.
The Sidama people have never faced major hunger and famine until very recently. Due to reliable rainfall and evergreen land area, they were always able to produce enough to ensure food security. The society has been characterized by what one may call a low level economic equilibrium. Even the 1984 great famine that hit all other parts of the country did not have a major impact on the Sidama land. However, a continued dependence on subsistence agriculture, which relies on archaic technology and vagaries of nature coupled with massive growth of rural population, and limited rural development, made the Sidama land prone to frequent hunger and famine since recently. Thus, it is not surprising to see that, today, about one-fourth of the total population in Sidama is directly or indirectly dependent on food aid from the international community.
Other major crops produced in Sidama include Enset (also called false banana or Weese in Sidaamuaffo, Sidama langauge), wheat, Oat, maize, barley, sorghum, millets, sugar cane, potatoes, and other cereal crops and vegetables. Enset is the main staple food in Sidama. Apart from being the main source of food, parts of the Enset tree can be used as inputs in other economic activities like construction of houses, production of containers such as sacks, and for handling food items during and after preparation of traditional food. The pattern of Enset and coffee production and consumption over the years has substantially shaped the nature of the Sidama culture and hence the name, the Enset culture.
The role of livestock was highly significant in medieval and early 20th century Sidama society. However, recently the size of live stock has been dwindling because of two factors. First, a rapid increase in population reduced the size of grazing land for large stocks, and second, a severe 'Tse-Tse' fly disease in low land areas had virtually wiped out most of the livestock population during the last quarter of the 20th century. However, livestock is still the most important source of livelihood for people living in the peripheral areas of the Sidama land.
Although agriculture is a key to the development of the country, successive regimes failed to successfully transform the traditional agriculture in Ethiopia. The transformation of traditional agriculture as an engine of growth and development was emphasized by a famous American economist, Theodore Schultz (1964), who states that all resources of the traditional type are efficiently allocated, and hence the rate of return to increased investment with the existing states of the art is too low to induce further saving and investment.
Access to markets is another essential component of transforming the traditional agriculture. When the poor manages to produce surplus in one bumper season, they will not be able to sell the produce due to lack of access to markets. Consequently, during the next season the farmers are bankrupt and unable to sustain the previous level of production. This perpetuates an endless cycle of poverty in the Sidama land.
The recent Ethiopian Commodity Exchange is expected to alleviate such problems. However, its effectiveness depends on the ability of the rural poor to tap into such markets which are based primarily in major cities.
Forestry and fishery are underdeveloped in the Sidama area. Fishing activities are limited to the most prominent lakes in Sidama: lake Awassa and lake Abaya. Although Sidama has several perennial rivers, they have never been exploited. Commercial forestry is underdeveloped in the area, but Sidama is well known for its traditional agro forestry system which saved the land from erosion and desertification for centuries. Every household in Sidama practices agroforestry. However, this tendency has also brought a negative impact in recent times. Farmers began to practice planting Eucalyptus trees alongside other crops. Because the later plant has a poisonous effect, it destroys other crops planted under it. Most farmers are aware of the problem. However, the economic benefits of the eucalyptus tree outweigh the cost of losing small crops near it for individual farmers. However, it is generally recognized at present that this trend is dangerous for the overall environmental sustainability of the Sidama land.
Sidama is characterized by a very low level of industrial development. There are very few manufacturing industries in the land. A very few factories available in the area are all located in Awassa town and its environs. The government owned textile and ceramic factories are the only notable manufacturing activities in Sidama. A chip wood factory built in recent years and a meat processing factory in Malga Wondo are the only major private manufacturing activities in the entire Sidama land. Small scale manufacturing activities are highly underdeveloped. Agro processing, a natural system of industrialization in an agrarian economy, is totally absent in Sidama land except for some coffee processing plants.
The conventional agriculture development led industrialization involves the building of agro processing industries that process the local agricultural inputs that can be sold in domestic or export markets thereby adding value to the primary products. This plays a crucial role in reducing rural poverty. The poverty reducing impact of such projects is twofold: first, the market for the agricultural products is readily available at the door step of the producers. Second, processed products fetch better price both in domestic and foreign markets than primary products.
Mining is virtually non existent. Although Sidama is said to have a good potential of mineral resources particularly in the Great East African Rift Valley and the eastern highlands of the Sidama land, these resources are not yet exploited. An absolute lack of industrial development in the area characterized by massive rural over population, perpetuates the current higher unemployment, lingering poverty and overall underdevelopment.
The development of both economic and social services is very low. Economic infrastructure is severely underdeveloped. The Supply of electricity, water and telephone services has recently improved. However, the over all social and economic infrastructure is still severely underdeveloped. All whether roads are not more than 400 kms. Asphalted roads are non existent except for the 90 kms stretch of the Cairo - Addis Ababa- Gaborone road that dissects the land. The private financial services are beginning to operate in the area but are still insignificant. Trade and transport services are severely underdeveloped and limited mainly to very few urban areas. Trade activities in rural Sidama heavily depend on purchase and sale of coffee. The coffee slum of the past 7 years has severely affected these activities.
Sidama people of Ethiopia holding goats and sheeps.
There is a great tourism potential in Sidama land. The rift valley lakes like Awassa and Abaya are already some major tourist attractions in the area. However, the access to lake Abaya through Sidama land has been opened only recently and is not well developed and not open for potential tourists. The agro forestry and the mountain ranges of eastern highlands are other potential tourist attractions in Sidama. However, they have not been exploited so far.
Unemployment and underemployment is rampant. Out of an estimated total population of 5 million in major Sidama area, an estimated 3 million people are in the active labour force of which 70% are estimated to be underemployed or unemployed. Employment in modern sector is very much limited. The total estimated number of the labour forces employed in modern sector in Sidama is less than 1%. If properly utilized huge supply of labour can make positive contribution to economic development. As early as the middle of 20th century, development economists such as William Arthur Lewis, the first economist of African origin to win Nobel Prize in economics, have emphasized the potential of economic development with unlimited supply of rural labour. Lewis's (1954) paper on 'Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labour', elaborates how the dual sector model can be successfully used in promoting economic development in poor countries with unlimited supply of labour.
The Sidama region is highly overpopulated. Land holdings have dwindled to less than 0.3 hectares per household due to population explosion. As a result extensive farming is not a viable option. To reduce the current massive rural underemployment,urban unemployment, and excruciating poverty, the region must implement a rapid and massive alternative income and employment generation schemes. This requires the formulation and implementation of a clear and comprehensive rural development as well as small and medium enterprise development strategy, changes in education and training policies, and an overhaul of the over all industrialization strategy in the region in particular and in the country at large.
The Sidama Indigenous Political System
The Sidama nation was administered by the Moote system. Moote is the system of administration where Mootichcha who is equivalent to a King, is nominated by the family and near relatives for the position. The nominated Moote (the King) is presented to a Fichche, the Sidama New Year ceremony, for Qeexala or popular demonstration. Qeexala serves both as approval and mass media to communicate the decision of the coronation to the general public. Then, the Mootichcha (the King) starts to carry out his duties and responsibilities. The Mootichcha is the head of political and administrative structure. The Mootichcha is assisted by Ga´ro, akin to king´s assistant, and hence next to the former in politico-administrative authority.
Fichche is the most celebrated Sidama cultural holiday which represents the Sidama New Year. The Fichche is based on the lunar system. Sidama elders (astrologists) observe the movement of the stars in the sky and decide the date for the New Year and the Fichche celebration. The Sidama New Year is therefore unique in that it does not have a fixed date. It rotates every year following the movements of the stars. Sidama has 13 months a year. And each of the months is divided equally into 28 days while the 13th month has 29 days. This is because the Sidama week has only 4 days and hence each month has 7 weeks instead of the conventional 4 weeks. The names of the 4 days in Sidama week are called: Dikko, Deela, Qawadoo and Qawalanka to be followed by Dikko completing the cycle of a 4-day week.
The Moote and Ga´ro rule in consultation with the council of people´s representatives known as the Songo. The Songo is similar to the modern day parliament. There was a great parliamentary democracy in the Songo. Agenda for discussion was forwarded by every member of the Songo and decisions were made by the members and forwarded to the Moote for approval. The Songo did not have written constitution. It was guided by the oral constitution which was handed over by generations and was learnt by all involved by heart. Moote was involved in over all political and administrative issues of the society including defence, provision of justice, and the like.
Sidama (Alaba) woman, Ethiopia
The defence side of the administration is handled by Gaadana or war leader. The Luwa system which involves both administrative and cultural aspects of the Sidama society was mainly responsible for the defence activities of the society. Luwa is administered by an age grade system where each grade rotates every 8 years. There are five rotating grades in the Luwa system: These are: Darara, Fullassa, Hirobora, Wawassa and Mogissa. The Malga clan in Awassa district adds Binancha as the sixth grade.
In the Luwa system, recruits stay outside of their homes for about 5 months. During this period, the recruits carry out military training and training on war songs like Geerarsha which is a counterpart of Geerarsa of the Oromo people, another Kushitic group. Luwa is ruled by a democratic principle and its leader is known as Gadaana (different from Gaadana-war leader). The deputy of Gadaana is known as Ja´lawa. Under Ja´lawa comes Murrichcha (division leader) who during wartime leads Murassa an equivalent of a military division. The Sidama indigenous defence system was therefore fairly well advanced. This was because of the threat of constant conflict with the neighbouring tribes for more cultivable and grazing lands.
The Sidama socio-economic culture
The cultural affairs of the Sidama society is handled by the Woma system. The Woma system has its own council known as the Womu Songo. Woma acts like a cultural and religious leader. He usually performs Kakalo (sacrifices) and other cultural and religious rituals including marriage and circumcision.
There were also other independent socio economic institutions which reflect a unique and egalitarian culture of the Sidama society. Among such institutions the most notable one is Seera. The Sidama Seera system is divided into two: the first refers to the broad concept of Seera as a social constitution which governs the Sidama social life based on the Sidama moral code of halale (the ultimate truth). John Hammer, an American anthropologist who studied the Sidama society extensively, stated that the Sidama moral code halale, provides the basis for distinguishing "good" and "evil" and in the broadest sense the term refers to ´the true way of life´ (Hammer 2002). If an individual in a community is involved in wrongdoing but refuses to admit it or pay the prescribed fine, this may result in ostracism (Seera) where the recalcitrant becomes non-person as people refuse to work, eat or associate with him (Hammer 2002). Although there were no written procedures and enforcement mechanisms for Seera, individuals abide by it because of the fear of breaking the halale and being referred to God, by the elders, as a consequence.
The second concept of Seera refers to the narrower sub constitution created to facilitate cooperation among the community members in construction of houses. This type of Seera is usually referred to as Minu Seera (constitution for house construction). This is similar to the modern day constitution of building society´s but is more powerful because it is linked to the broader concept of Seera that is linked to the societal moral code of halale.
Another related Sidama social sub constitution is called Jirte. Jirte refers to the mechanism of community cooperation during death and other ceremonies. In Sidama, community members living in near by villages form one Jirte system. The Jirte system is comprised of 4-6 villages and is usually formed based on lineages. If a person dies, community members share the burden of looking after mourners until the mourning ends. The mourning usually takes one week. However, non Christian community members could organize remourning ceremonies based on the social status of the deceased. If a community member does not obey the Jirte system, he can be fined based on the principles of the larger Seera system. Jirte is a typical example of the present day voluntary community based organizations (CBOs).
The Sidama society also had unique systems of economic cooperation. The most notable of these are: (a) Dee-rotating labour contribution for farming, (b) Kotta- producers´ cooperatives, and (c) Shufo-rotating butter credit exclusively for women.
Dee is a voluntary arrangement to contribute labour during the farming season instead of farming on one´s plot individually. The labour pooling system usually involves manual digging of plots but can include oxen farming if all of the members have oxen and are willing to cooperate to rotate the farming. The labour pooling system starts with the elders in the groups and goes down to the youngest member. However, if any one in the system needs an urgent assistance, the members will skip the age based system of rotation. Dee is unique Sidama economic cooperation for which modern counterpart cannot be found easily.
The Sidama society also had what one may call an early form of cooperative movement called Kotta. Kotta is a voluntary farmers´ (producers´) cooperative and hence common ownership of given crops on a given plot of land. The Kotta can be limited to one year or can continue for several years and is purely voluntary economic arrangement. The output of the crops is shared among the Kotta members according to their contributions. The Sidama society had, thereof, had a model cooperative system in Kotta that could serve as an example of successful voluntary producers´ cooperatives.
The Shufo, rotating butter credit for women, is different from other economic arrangements in that it involves (a) commodity credit and (b) it is carried out exclusively by women. In Sidama society women could not own any property except butter. Therefore, when they are in a financial problem or have social occasions for which they need larger amount of butter, the other women living in the village can bring certain amount of the commodity and hand over to the needy women after taking the measurement of the size of the butter contributed by each woman. Another interesting feature of Shufo is that, not all women know how to measure the butter and keep the size of the butter each woman contributed in their memories for so many rounds. It needs exceptional talent to keep the size of each measurement in memory because none of the women involved are literate and can read and right. This was how the Sidama women fought both poverty and economic marginalization by men.
During those days land in Sidama was mostly owned privately. Every household had access to land and was able to produce enough for its needs. Land outside of the private ownership was owned communally and was called the Danawa land. The Danawas were administered by the local Songos and were distributed to newly married men and new comers based on their needs. Communal lands in Sidama were properly conserved.
In that way the Sidama society was able to maintain sustainable socio-economic and socio-political system for centuries. After the annexing into the bigger Ethiopia in 1891 most of these systems were disrupted.
Religious Belief:- God, spirits, and ancestors are the foundational elements of faith for the Sidamas and are the constitutive part of their life.
Belief in God
Sidama has a staunch belief in a supreme being and a creator God named Magano. The word magano is a compound word of ma and gano. Ma means "what" and gano has three meanings: as a noun it means conspiracy; when used as a verb it means I beat and I say or call or name. The approximate meaning of the compound word Magano can be "What can I call?" or "What can I say?" It indicates a deep experience of incomprehensible and incomparable God. It could be that the original person, unable to express the experience, resolved by calling Magano, "What can I say or call?"
Magano is addressed by the Sidamas as father. Other attributes for Magano are Kalaqa (the Creator), Kaaliqa (the Almighty) and Halalancho (the True One). There exists one, supreme, and universal Magano. He alone created all that a person could see around: humankind, nature, animals, birds, heaven, sun, moon, stars, and so on. The Sidamas make a clear distinction between God and their common ancestors saying that the ancestors were created by Magano. They say that "Magano had created and taken them away". Even during their sacrificial offering to their common ancestors Magano comes first before the ancestors' names.
An elaborate story of creation is not what is typical of Sidamas. Some clans attribute a mythical element and special power to their common ancestors, such as claiming a descent from heaven or emergence from earth. Yet every Sidama, if asked about the one responsible for creation, he/she automatically replies that Magano is the one who created all.
The Sidamas generally agree that in the beginning God used to live with people. As the result of sin they committed, Magano departed far away into the sky. Even then Magano is perceived as being actively involved in human life for which reason people continue reconciling themselves with God through sacrificial offerings until today. Magano is called daily in different situations. For instance, people say Maganu wolqai... (In God's power...), Magano anna’ya kaa’li’e (God, my father, help me), Maganu kaa’lona (may God help), and so forth.
The Sidamas possess no statues or images of Magano. For them Magano, though active in their life, cannot be represented. Generally Magano’s name is feared or highly respected and is not called for wrong intentions (e.g. cheating, telling lies, stealing). But one can observe some mischievous people or thieves swearing in Magano’s name to hide themselves from being discovered when they are suspected of such acts. Theft itself is a recent experience for the Sidama people.
There is no special day (like Sunday for Christians) for worshiping Magano. Apart from daily invocation of Magano’s name individuals such as the family heads make burnt offering for thanksgiving without any obligation or time set by a special authority. Communal burnt and sacrificial offerings take place at a particular moment and are dependent on the situations provoking them. More than offerings Magano demands good behavior because one often hears people saying "Do not do that for it displeases Magano" or "Magano will get angry". It is only the act of responding to Magano either in thanksgiving or asking forgiveness that people make animal offerings. The Sidamas see their Magano as a true loving father, the one who really cares for his children. They also experience Him as merciful and believe that He forgives their trespasses when they ask for forgiveness. Sprinkling of the blood of the sacrificial lamb is a sign of reconciliation with Magano and with each other.
Belief in Spirits
The Sidamas believe that there exist good and bad spirits. The good spirit, dancha Ayyaana, is identified as God's spirit, as the spirit coming from God. This manifests how Magano is perceived as being present in the people's daily life. Maganu Ayyaana, God’s Spirit, is presented as real and playing the role of giving life and blessings. Without Magano’s name, the spirit is not mentioned. One can certainly think that the hierarchical structure that exists within the community (i.e. ancestors - clan elders and religious leaders - parents - children) reflects the degree of the presence of Maganu Ayyaana. Consequently, a common ancestor is conceived as having Maganu Ayyaana abundantly and is made like divine. He lives with Magano and plays the role of a mediator between Magano and his people. Tribal elders and religious leaders are also filled with Maganu Ayyaana.
The bad spirit, Busha Ayyaana, is also seen as real and is hated by the religious leaders and community elders. They curse it whenever they offer sacrifice to Magano. They command saying, Busha ayaana gobbatee ba’i (Bad spirit, go away from the world!) and Magano busha ayaana gobbatee huni (God destroy the bad spirit from the world". The term sheexaane is a borrowed name from the Christians to refer to the bad spirit and is widely used. The Sidama People also say that evil spirits can cause diseases but cannot cure them. Consequently, some Sidamas fear the evil spirits. The individuals called qaallo are seen as the medium of the bad spirits through which communication with them is enhanced. In order to avoid getting sickness some people give animals (male sheep or goats). These spirits have recognition only in a family setting and not in the community setting. There is no community acceptance of them.
There also exists a female spirit, belonging to mothers-in-law, prayed and honored by women alone. They make food offering to it, sing and dance (always at night and under a tree). They call it woxa. It is a cult of fertility. At child birth, mothers-in-law say: ane woxa tirtohe - let my spirit help you for safe delivery. Sometimes when a dream occurs telling of eventual dangers such as war or plague or drought, women also make an offering (always food) and pray to this invisible mother-in-law spirit. However, they never associate it with being Magano but see it as another existing reality. They are aware that Magano alone is the Supreme. At the same time they believe that this mother-in-law spirit can protect them from the evil spirits and help them during their delivery. The food offered is expected to be eaten by the hyenas in the absence of women. The significance of this requires further investigation.
Belief in Ancestors
The Sidamas believe that the ancestors live with Magano, who granted them special power to act. They play a mediating role. However, daily practice of praying to Magano directly or daily calling of Magano’s name and spirit renders the ancestors’ involvement superfluous and reveals Magano’s direct involvement in the life of the people. During the time of supplication Magano’s name takes precedence and that of an ancestor comes next.
Since the Sidama people are organized according to clans, the common ancestor of each clan receives special respect and is paid homage in terms of appreciation that the people came into existence through his instrumentality. The Sidamas, being a patriarchal society, attribute power and authority to men alone. Equal respect and homage is not given to women ancestors. Common ancestors are regarded as very much blessed and filled with Magano's spirit, living in a state of divine. A lot of animals are periodically offered to them as a sacrifice.
Apart from acting as mediators, the common ancestors are seen as blessing and protecting the people and their ethical and religious values. They communicate with their people through dreams and warn them against human abuses of the defenseless, animals, and nature. Whoever dreams a dream, if the dream touches a situation implicating a clan or the nation, spiritual leaders call their councils and examine the dream carefully. If they conclude that the dream truly touches the reality existing within the clan or the nation, they give directions to the people on what to do. They also make an offering to Magano asking for forgiveness and protection from the eventual dangers. The following example illustrates these points.
If an elder a from let say Holloo clan has a dream. The dream is carefully studied by the clan’s spiritual leaders called Gaana and Woma. These people are the consecrated ones. They offer sacrifices on behalf of their clans. Each one has his own council of elders (all men). They do not take any decision without the knowledge of their councils. In their councils' meeting they act as moderators. Gaana and Woma announce and execute the decisions of their respective council. They are very much respected and their words are taken seriously by their people. They live separately and each one has his own council. Yet they work harmoniously in such a way that whatever decision one takes, the other one does not oppose or act against it. There exists constant communication between them. Magano ask the common ancestor of Holloo clan, who is called Aabo, about the issue. The ancestor replied to Magano that he was going to ask his representatives, the Gaana and Woma.
The immediate dead parents also receive respect and veneration. A grand-father is also remembered. A person offers a bull for his dead father and to a certain degree he also remembers his dead mother. They are seen as being part of the family still living. They play a role of mediating, blessing, and protecting the family from misfortunes.
Thus far we have seen the elements of faith in Sidama Religion, we now proceed to the faith responses which the Sidamas make in their lives.
The Elements of Response in the Sidama Religion
Morality, prayer and sacrifice reflect the faith of the Sidama people. And this section explains what these elements are.
Morality and religion are identified in the Sidama culture so much so that outsiders may not recognize the existence of monotheistic religion in it. Consequently, they would easily regard the Sidamas as animists. Many of the missionaries have spoken and some have even written about the people as animists and today some still hold this idea with conviction. However, for a thorough observer and sensitive person, the opposite is true. For Sidamas, morality holds a holistic approach: relationship among individuals, with God, and vis-a-vis creation (land, animals, plants, trees, ...). The dictums, Gafo ikkanno and Maganu di-baxxanno (God does not like it), are the keys that regulate individual’s attitude towards the "other".
At all times a Sidama person would never fail to mention God's name. For example, Magano anna'ya ati afootto; Hai Magano anna'ya; Maganu lao; Maganu kaa'lo,... [in a respective order: God, my Father, You know it all; O God, my Father; May God see or witness; May God help,...].
One cannot find a commandment taught and imposed on the people saying that there is only one Magano to worship and everyone must worship Him. One does not receive or learn the values and practices of Sidama through formal teaching, but learns the ways of behaving and even beliefs and practices from elders through hearing comments about acts, following the elders, and also being reprimanded or physically punished if one acted in an unacceptable way. All passed through customary practices. In other words, the social structures contribute to the young ones to grow in conformity to the cultural values. Seeing, listening to, and following mark children's behavior. As they grow up they, consciously or unconsciously, assimilate and interiorize all the cultural values and practices. Grand-parents and mothers play a role in helping their children to grow in the socially accepted ways. Elder brothers and sisters also help their younger ones.
Elders are generally respected. There has existed a harmonious and supportive relationship between parents and children or the older generation and the younger one. However, today young people, due to different factors such as education, political ideologies, new fundamentalist churches and so forth are diluting the force of the relationship which previously existed between the two generations.
Killing a Sidama person by a Sidama is prohibited. Unfortunately, this value is changing because of the political motivations imposed from outside. For instance, if some people are seen as a threat to Ethiopian government, those who promote the interest of the government would seek to eliminate them.
Adultery and fornication have been also strictly forbidden. Virginity for a girl has been a value honored very much until today. It is considered a very shameful thing for the parents if their daughter is discovered to have lost her virginity. A virgin girl is considered as equal to a man. During marriage people talk of making a girl a woman as if she was never a woman. But if she is not a virgin, she loses her respect and pride, and under customarily setting, she often becomes a second wife and remains under the kindness of her husband. No dowry will be paid for the family. Today, however, because of education there is more relaxation and contact between boys and girls. The educated group does not put emphasis on virginity as a necessary condition for paying dowry and for marriage. As for adultery, Sidama people have lived according to family, sub-clan, and clan level. Those who belonged to one clan regarded themselves as brothers and sisters, and sleeping with the wife of one’s brother was unacceptable and a taboo.
Truth is highly regarded. The expression Halaale gorsitooti [don't abuse or diminish truth] carries with it a deep respect for truth. Maybe this is because truth is also associated with Magano. The people believe that a person who takes offence against truth will certainly suffer the consequence. This is manifested in the expression, Halaalu annasi di-hawao. The exact translation of the expression into English is difficult, but it implies that truth itself will take revenge against the offender and bring justice to the offended. It also means that the one who walks in the truth will win. This is a principal reason for respecting the property of others and refraining oneself from speaking false things. There exist, however, some dishonest people and thieves, who falter this value within the Sidama people.
The consecrated people practice three days fasting before the new year feast, Fichee. Customarily the Sidama people do not practice of fasting, and even the fasting of the consecrated people could be because of their being too busy reconciling and solving problems in the community before the new year.
A holy man is a man who avoids bad words and acts in a good (acceptable) way. He is respected and considered as being blessed and loved by Magano. Maganu maassi'no manchoti, Maganu battino manchoti, Maganu battino bettoti, Maganu maassi'no bettoti are the common expressions. The Sidamas consider Magano as fully involved in people's daily life. With this and other reasons which I have directly or indirectly mentioned, I conclude that for the Sidamas morality and religion are one. Fr. Markos Beyene, a Sidama priest, rightly observed and wrote in his unpublished article - 'A Christian Approach to Traditional Religion in Sidama Area"' - saying that 'the Sidama people see the direct action of God in creation more than the natural laws. Everything comes from God...the fulfillment and success in life is achieved only by the will of God (...). They believe that if people misbehave God goes away from them' [p.8].
Meaningful life is understood as doing good things and passing life (procreating). Every young man is expected to get married and beget children. This is very much valued.
Generally elders, the cimeeyye, try to live an exemplary life. Wherever hatred or quarreling exist the elders bring reconciliation. They solve problems; they take care of social affairs, look after the needs of the widows and the weak, and maintain justice and peace. Misbehaving results in disturbing a harmonious relationship that exists between God and the people, among the people themselves, and among them and their ancestors.
Apart from the consecrated ones (e.g., Ga'ro and Qqaddo) one has to be at least 50 years old and a circumcised in order to assume the position of a community elders. Ga'ro (Moote) plays the following roles: he organizes communal sacrifices if war or drought or plague occurs, commands the army during war, reconciles if two clans are at war or tension, takes decisions on issues concerning the whole clan, solves juridical problems which cannot be solved in sub-clan level, and announces the date of the new year feast, Fitchee, and makes prayer. Qqaddo is a collective name for Woma, Gaana, Gaadala, and Qqaarricha. Their roles are more or less the same but with some particularity to each one. Two of the Sidama clans do not have Woma. The Holloo clan has created a complicated organization. It has both Ga'ro and Qqaddo. Except Woma the rest of the Qqaddo are not found in any other clans except in the Holloo. Ga'ro and Qqaddo are the consecrated people who take care of the life of the whole Sidama people. Each of them have their own council of elders. These people are deeply religious as the elders too are notoriously religious.
Elder women (Qqarubba) are respected, too. But they do not practice authority over men. In the Sidama culture men do not associate with women. Consequently, women also have their own organization. The elder women practice authority over them. Women can change men's decision if it violates peace and harmony in the society. The eldest woman (Qqaro) can impose a punishment if a husband abuses his wife. The punishment cannot be reversed unless he fulfills the imposed obligation by the Qqaro.The good life a person lives determines his position or importance. One can be the eldest in the community but if his way of living is not appreciated he cannot play a role of an elder (cimeessa), who is a very much feared and respected. This is explained in the expression, "chimeesu chilo itisano" [The elder can make a person eat faeces].
Many other practices such as hospitality, respect to foreigners, ceremonies during birth, marriage, funerals, and festivals that exist in the Sidama culture are left for future study.
Prayer and Sacrifice
People pray to Magano individually or communally. Individual prayers can be done with or without sacrificial offerings. But communal prayers are always accompanied by sacrifices. During communal offerings the consecrated people act as the celebrants. If it is at the sub-clan level, unless there exists a consecrated person, a notable elder leads the community into prayer.
The Sidamas follow twenty seven important "moments", which are called ayyaana, in a month. They are followed through the position of the stars. Only some particular men called the ayyaanto (astrologists) know how to follow the stars and discover the types of ayyaana. Each ayana is used for a special function: ayyaana for marriage, for feast, for war, for success, and so forth. The ayyaana for offering sacrifice to Magano are either adula or gutcha. The ayyaanto and the consecrated people whose duty is to look after the issues of their people, direct most of their activities according to the ayyaana. Individuals consult these people to know, for example, when weddings should take place.
Two types of sacrifices exist within the Sidama religion: one is offered to Magano and the other is to the ancestors.
Sacrifice Offered to Magano
Burnt offering: As thanksgiving and asking for blessing the Sidamas offer this sacrifice to Magano. It is offered individually (e.g., a family head) and communally (e.g., at the sub-clan or clan level).
A male animal, a lamb or a bull, is killed and burnt. Before slaughtering, the person in charge starts with a prayer of blessing and mentions reasons for such gathering and offerings. For example, he mentions the good things (blessings) Magano has done for his country, his nation, and his clan. Then the animal is killed. The celebrant, while burning the animal, calls Magano’s name and says (the content is dependent on the intention):
Magano, itoommo, agoommo, duwoommo. Tini xinino, tini shilqqo, atera iilitohe ... Gobba'ya gowi, keere assi, ge'issi, gada'ya geedo'ya seeki, gobbate, saadate kaaya kaayoma qqoli. [God, I have eaten, I have drunk, I am satisfied. Let this burnt offering reach you.... Unite my country, bring peace and stability, bless my generation and the coming generation, and domestic animals].
At the family level, the family-head offers the sacrifice to thank Magano for all the blessings (e.g., children, wealth, good fortunes) he has received from Him. While burning the animal he says, "My Father, take this. Let it reach you. It is for you, and take it." He also prays for more blessings. Some individuals who prayed during their suffering, such as barrenness and serious sickness, offer the burnt offering sacrifice to Magano when their prayer is answered. These people had promised Magano an animal if He would respond to their prayers, if He would come to their help. Women and young men bring their promises to the spiritual leaders who would offer on their behalf.
Blood offering: This is done communally for the purpose of purification, reconciliation and protection from bad things such as enemies, drought, and plague. If something which is considered as grave offense against human beings, and indirectly against Magano, within a sub-clan or a clan by an individual or the individuals, the community offers this type of sacrifice. When those with the gift of foreseeing tell the eminent danger (e.g., war, plague, drought) or when a dream revealing the eminent danger occurs, the consecrated people organize the sacrifice. If the people are suffering because of plague or drought, the consecrated people make supplication through blood sacrifice.
The ritual of this type takes place in the following ways:
The consecrated people choose and announce the day of the sacrifice, the ayyaana, and the place where the sacrifice will take place. On the day of the sacrifice people gather together. The sacrificial animal is prepared. A consecrated person presides over the activity. The presider opens the ceremony by welcoming people and telling them the reason of the gathering. After this, everyone with grudges and quarrels comes foreword and presents his cases. They are listened to and the matters are solved. In other words, people are reconciled with one another. A prayer for the forgiveness of the sins of the people is offered to Magano. The presider prays concerning the needs of the community and slaughters the animal. The blood of the animal is collected and sprinkled to the sky, to the earth, and onto the people as the sign of reconciliation. While sprinkling the blood with a branch of a particular tree, the presider addresses to God and says:
Gatisi, xummisi, gobba gatis, Holloo, Hawela, Faqsa, Alata, Sawola Qwena gatis ... [Save us, purify us, save...(here he mentions each clan of the nation by name).]
With this act the people are reconciled with Magano and with the earth, which is regarded as mother, and with themselves. Thus, they are purified from their guilt. They also make their supplication to Magano. Then a small piece of meat is taken before removing the skin. The presider takes and raises the meat, tastes it, and passes it to the elders. After this the meat is cut, roasted and cooked, and everyone present in the gathering consumes it. Finally, the future issues of the community are discussed. The presider concludes and the people go to their home.
Sacrifice Offered to the Ancestors
The Sidama people show their gratitude to their ancestors through sacrificial offerings. At the communal, clan level, the offering is done to the common ancestors. At the family level, the husband fattens a bull and offers it for his father.
Bulls are slaughtered in several numbers periodically as a sacrifice of thanksgiving for the blessings received from the common ancestors and for their continuous presence among the people. At the same occasion, people also ask for their continuous blessings and presence. For instance, the people of Holloo clan offer their sacrifice to their common ancestor after every seven years.
During an interview with an eighty-eight years old elder from the Holloo clan concerning the sacrifice, he says that their common ancestor does not demand that the people must bring animals for sacrifice. But individuals who possess animals want to keep a bull among their cattle in gratitude for the blessings they have received from their common ancestor. Moreover, out of the sacrifice the ancestor wants the poor in the society to feast on meat, for they rarely get it. So it is a joyful moment for the poor to gather together with others and enjoy meat to the full. Both the poor and the rich alike celebrate together, and carry the remains back to their homes.
When the bulls are killed the blood is poured on the tomb of the ancestor. Those who received favours (e.g., children) they had asked from Magano or the ancestor also bring whatever they had promised . The lambs brought on this account are killed and burnt as a thanksgiving offering to Magano, and to the ancestor if he was asked to mediate. His name is mentioned after Magano’s name.
Each individual also remembers his immediate parents, specially his father. He fattens a bull and offers it at the time he wants. At different moments he prepares honey and milk and pours them on his father's tomb and then on his mother's tomb. The grand-parents are also remembered. While offering the sacrifice the person who offers says:
gedeno'ya seeki, geedo'ya seeki, galte'ya seeki, ooso'ya seeki. Ooso'yarana saada'yara gosa'yarano kaaya abbi [Make straight my future, my wife, my children, my cattle. Bring blessings to my children, cattle and to my nation].
picture of Sidama people
However, if an individual is poor, he is not obliged to do so. Responding to the question why an individual has to make an offering to his parents, an elder, Gujo No’ora, said that when a sacrificial offering is done here on earth a simultaneous gathering and celebration of the people living with Magano in heaven takes place. When one is remembered by his son, all his friends come to celebrate together. But if one is forgotten by his own, he will feel that he is like an abandoned beggar. So he communicates through a dream to his son. It is believed that if the son who possesses wealth refuses to respond to the dream, he will fall sick until he reconciles himself with his dead father. As we observe, the concern is more on a father than a mother.
An offence a father commits against somebody is perceived to affect not only himself but his children as well. If he dies without solving the problem, the case has to be solved before or after his burial by his relatives. This signifies that the familial and affective relationship continues between the living and the physically dead. The relatives organize reconciliation to heal the wound caused by their late member lest their children suffer the consequences. The dead parents are also beneficiaries of this reconciliation, for they too are perceived getting peace.
As we have already mentioned above, there are some people who offer sacrifice to the bad spirits because they fear getting sick. This is done not to honour or venerate these spirits; they are hated, but because the people believe in their existence, they would like to appease them from causing
harm. This is a family affair that does not involve the whole community.
Concerning the sacrifices offered to Magano on communal level, no fixed place is found. There exists neither a house nor a tent, not even an altar. All depends on the dreams specifying the place or on the indication of those who possess the gift of prophesying or on consensus. On the individual level, it is done at home not inside but outside the house of the one offering the sacrifice.
As for the ancestors, the sacrifice is offered where their tombs are found. There exist in different places the shrines called hara but only houses, without statues or images, where the elders and others come to pray. The elders also conduct their meetings there. Sometimes burnt offering to Magano at the sub-clan level takes place at these shrines.
The Sidamas are truly Monotheist and they do not see Magano as a tribal or exclusive entity. God does speak to people through their cultures and situations. To this communication or revelation each individual or group responds according to its understanding of God and culture.
God has been speaking to the Sidama people in their culture, revealing through dreams, prophets, and individuals' deep experience of the sacred. What I consider important is that be it a dream or a prophecy, but if it deals with avoiding evil, promoting human life, and bringing people closer to God it is good and a revelation. The Sidama religion is an example of God's universal salvific act. God truly acts and Christianity is not the only way for salvation. An honest dialogue and true respect to other religions are important not only for collaboration in promoting human life and to live in harmony with others, but also to discover more the mystery of God's work to bring humankind into Himself.
Sidama: the Luwa and the Anga Culture and their Social Implications
By Wolassa Kumo
In my previous articles, I mentioned the Sidama grand social constitution Seera, and various sub constitutions which derive from this grand constitution. We have also seen that all social constitutions or Seera in Sidama were based on the Sidama moral code of halale, the true way of life. In this socio-cultural and socio-political system, the role of the elders was very important. Elders were bestowed with the power of enforcing the Seera and referring the recalcitrant to Magano or God if he/she refuses to abide by the Seera.
The power of elders in the Sidama society was not based on a simple age count as is the case in most modern societies. The Sidama elder is more the product of various social processes through which he passes than the product of a simple aging. For a person to become a recognised elder with authority in Sidama, he has to become a Cimeessa (respected elder with authority) or Cimeeyye for many respected elders. There are three important socio-cultural processes that shape the Sidama elder who will have the required authority to enforce the Seera system in the society. These are: the Luwa cycle, Barcima (circumcision), and the Anga culture. In this brief article, we will revisit the cultures that shape the institution of Cimeessa in the Sidama society.
2. The Sidama Luwa Cycle
As I pointed out in my previous articles, the Luwa is administered by an age grade system where each grade rotates every 8 years. There are five rotating grades in the Luwa system. These are: Darara, Fullassa, Hirobora, Wawassa and Mogissa. The Malga clan in Awassa district adds Binancha as the sixth grade.
However, the recruitment to a given Luwa grade does not depend on the age of the individual. It depends on the grade of one's father. For instance, if we assume that Darara is the first cycle and Mogissa is the last cycle, and if the son of Darara becomes Mogissa, a son born to a person who is a member of the Darara cycle has to wait for 32-40 years to join the Mogissa grade. Therefore, in the Luwa cycle, it is possible that a child as well as a 40 years old adult can become members of the same Luwa cycle. Thus, age is not a sole criterion in the making of the Sidama Cimeessa (respected elder). A person who did not pass through the Luwa cycles cannot become a Cimeessa while a younger person can qualify for a position if he fulfils all other requirements.
The Luwa system has two important objectives. The first and the most important one is the recruitment and training of the able bodied men for the defence of the nation. The second objective is the development of potential elders who will have authorities to replace the current elders (Cimeeyye). Women are not allowed to participate in the Luwa system. Therefore, they are automatically excluded from the nation's defence forces as well as from becoming Cimeeyye or respected elders. However, the Sidama society has its own ways of showing respect for elderly women.
A fascinating aspect of the Sidama culture in this regard is that, younger people never call older people, men or women, by their names. They always use the name of their children, using as prefix, mother of ".." and father of ".". If they do not know the names of their children, they simply call them mother or father, even if they are not their real mothers and fathers. While many of the beautiful Sidama indigenous cultures have been lost due to the Abyssinian conquest, this particular way of life survived until today.
Sidama girl from Ethiopia
Avoiding the direct contact with the mother-in-laws is another aspect of unique respect the Sidama society offers to women in general. A person who is newly married to the daughter of a woman will not stand in her way if he sees her walking in the street. He has to run in to the bushes to give the mother way to proceed with her trip. Not only he is not allowed to mention her name, but he is also required to talk with a language of respect such as Ki'ne (equivalent to English "thou" - in Sidaamuaffo). The wife is required to reciprocate the respect to her husband's family. But she is required to reciprocate it to the father of her husband, as she is required to be in close contact with the mother of her husband. This aspect of the Sidama culture is being gradually eroded due to massive conversion into Christianity.
3. Barcima (Circumcision) and Its Social Implications
In Sidama society, male circumcision has been practiced since time immemorial. Circumcision is one of the processes of building respected elders (Cimeeyye) in Sidama society. After a person participates in the Luwa cycles he has to carry out circumcision before his sons' Luwa cycle arrives. If he fails to circumcise before that, his progression to the class of respected elders can be seriously undermined. A non circumcised old person cannot be regarded as Cimeessa in Sidama society.
The circumcision ceremony is one of the biggest social events in Sidama society. Depending on the level of wealth of the individual, such as the size of farm and farm land owned, the size of Enset or coffee plantation, and the number of cattle the person owns, he can organize a huge ceremony involving hundreds of elders and young men and women from the area and far apart for the ceremony. Everyone invited or present in the ceremony is provided with Buurisame (food made from Enset with a lot of butter in it) and Malawo (drinks made from pure honey) beginning with the oldest and going down to the youngest. This process is called Malawo Tuma (the Honey Ceremony).
For a person to prepare the Honey Ceremony during his circumcision he has to pass through one of the Luwa cycles with in the past 40 years but not beyond. Thus, during the ceremony every body praises not only the person who is going to be circumcised but also his Luwa grade, stating that the Honey Ceremony belongs to such a person and such a Luwa grade. At the beginning of the Honey Ceremony, the person to be circumcised declares that it is his time now to circumcise and that he makes his Luwa grade and the Sidama society proud by willing to defend the nation and become an elder to serve the society.
I participated in two of such beautiful ceremonies in his rural village when I was about 8-10 years old, and I still remember how beautiful those ceremonies were. Most of these types of ceremonies that survived the Abyssinian conquest have now been almost lost due mainly to conversion into Christianity. The next stage in the making of the Sidama Cimeessa institution is the Anga culture.
4. The Anga Culture
The Anga culture is the most complicated part of the Sidama culture. Anga, which literally means "hand", has a different meaning when it is used in the context of the development of Cimeessa or Cimeeyye, respected elders or elders with authority. An elder with the Anga authority must have already participated in the Luwa cycles, must have been circumcised and most notably organized the grand Honey Ceremony. An elder who did not pass through those stages cannot claim to have the Anga authority.
An elder or Cimeessa who has Anga has superior moral authorities to all other Cimeessa in the society. In other words, the Anga is the last stage in the making of the Sidama Cimeessa or an elder with full moral authority to enforce Seera (social constitution) in the Sidama society. In addition to passing though the Luwa cycles, circumcision and Honey Ceremonies, the elder who claims the Anga authority has to make Kakalo (sacrifices) to the ancestors to declare his position as a holder of the Anga Authority.
An elder with Anga authority does not participate in any ordinary activities in the society. He does not eat any meat unless the animal is slaughtered either by himself or some one who has similar Anga authority like him. One fascinating aspects of the Anga culture is that when the Cimeessa with the Anga authority is a in a house dining alone or with some one, every body must keep quite. This is because, if some one mentions some names which are considered to be impure while the Cimeessa with the Anga was eating, then he will automatically stop eating. These names include animal names such as pigs, dogs or sounds like shouting, whistling and so on. If the Cimeessa with Anga listens to those names and sounds while he is eating, he has to automatically stop eating and leave. If he does not do so, he loses his Anga authority and has to offer other sacrifices to reclaim the Anga.
As in the case of many other areas in the Sidama culture and civilization, in this area extensive future research is required.
The Anga culture is practiced by the Sidama clan called the Xummano or the Yemerechcho. However, the Luwa, Circumcision and Honey Ceremonies are practiced by any member of the Sidama society. At present, the Anga culture has almost disappeared because of massive conversion to Christianity and diminishing number of the members of the society who acknowledge the Authority of Anga. Likewise, the authority of Cimeessa has been weakened and highly undermined. Although the concept still survives in Sidama, its significance has been significantly reduced.
5. Systematic abuse of the Cimeessa institution by the current regime.
Another factor that undermined the Cimeessa institution in Sidama is political interference by the current regime. Because of the unpopularity of most of the measures the current regimes undertakes in Sidama, it has resorted to bribing the elders. The members of the ruling party personally contact well known Sidama elders through out the Sidama land and provide them with money and transport them to towns and cities whenever they convene unpopular meetings in Sidama. The elders are forced to comply to these pressures both for fear of political persecution and because of the economic benefit they obtain in participating in these processes. Even after the Loqqe massacre, the first people invited to a meeting in Awassa in 2002 to support the actions of the massacre were the elders. However, this time the elders did the opposite of what they were expected to do. They unanimously condemned the massacre.
Although the elders try to balance cultural values they uphold with the benefits and intimidation the current regime, the constant pressure under which the regime puts the Sidama Cimeessa institution and the continued participation of the elders in most unpopular decisions regarding the Sidama society has seriously undermined the creditability of this institution at present. The most resilient group that continually rejects unpopular measures of the regime has become the youth, particularly the young people below the age of 30. This is mainly due to relatively better education and exposure this group has regarding the basic human rights, democracy and freedom. Since this demographic group represents the future of Sidama, our nation has a great hope!!
THERE ARE NO PEOPLE CALLED "SIDAMO": STOP THE USE OF "SIDAMO" MISNOMER
By Side Goodo
Time and again the Sidama people have rejected the use of the derogatory term "Sidamo". The term was a deliberate fabrication by the invading Abyssinian soldiers of King Minelik as part of the campaign to humiliate, undermine and subjugate the newly conquered territories in the South of the country.
This article is motivated by the outrageous statements made by Eremias Woldemikael during his email conversations with Kambata Xola of Sidama National Liberation organization (SNLO) regarding the Abyssinian occupation, subjugation and exploitation of the Sidama land. Eremias writes:
Sidama tribe girl
"When I was referring to Sidama and Oromo relationship, I was using the term ‘Sidama’ in a historical sense. Historians use the term ‘Sidama’ to refer to peoples that lived South of and including some part of Shewa. The term "Sidamo" is used to one of the ethnic groups of those peoples. As you may know the region was conquered by the Oromo during their expansion in the 16th c. For further information on the distinction between Sidama and Sidamo, see J.S. Trirmingham's Islam in Ethiopia pp. 179-185 and Mordechai Abir's Ethiopia: The Era of the Princes pp.73. By making this distinction, I hope you do not feel like I am trying to lecture you about your culture or ethnicity. I am simply trying to explain the context of my discussion".
I am shocked to read the above statements in the 21st century. I agree with Eremias, on one point, however. Abyssinians do not know anything and do not want to now anything about non-Abyssinian peoples such as Sidama. They must be thought not only about democracy, respect to human dignity and the rule of law but also the fact that there are other proud nations in Ethiopia who have their own history, who know their history very well and who can articulate these at least as much as the Abyssinians do regarding their peoples. Who is Eremias to tell us who we are and who wrote what rubbish about us? We, the Sidama people very well know where we originated, when and where we first settled in Ethiopia and when and how we came to our present land. Quoting rubbish written on Sidama by foreign transcribers of Abyssinian rulers and telling us that the Oromos conquered us in the 16th century, which they did not, is as outrageous as it is a blatant distortion of our history.
An overview of the history of Sidama people.
The Sidama people live in the southern part of the present day Ethiopia, in the Horn of Africa. They belong to the people of Kushitic origin that occupy the vast area of north eastern and eastern Africa extending from the Sudan throughout the Horn of Africa to Tanzania. The most notable peoples of the Kushitic origin to which the Sidama people belong include, the Saho in Eritrea, Oromo, Hadiya, Afar and Somalis in Ethiopia; the Somalis especially the Degodai tribe both in Somalia and Kenya; the Randle and Sakuye in Kenya and many others in Eastern and central Africa. The Sidama along with Agew and Beja were the first settlers in the northern highlands of the present day Ethiopia before the arrival of Yemeni habeshas (Abyssineans). That was why the present day Ethiopia was called the land of Kush. The Abyssinian historians such as Taddese Tamirat themselves accept this fact.
At present the majority of the Sidama people live in the Southern part of Ethiopia with notable geographical features like lake Awassa in the North and lake Abaya in the South. The population of the Sidama land is about 5 million at present. However, during the course of great popular migration from North and East to the South of Africa, some Sidamas were left behind and were later scattered into different parts of the country and even beyond. One example of such groups of people related to Sidama includes those who live around river Dawa in South Eastern Ethiopia and North Eastern Kenya. The Dawa river was the turning point in the history of the migration of the Sidama people from North to the South. These people now speak Somali language and identify themselves as Digodai, the clans of which include several clans in Sidama. The most notable of these clans is Fardano whose name is maintained both in Sidama and Somali Digodai tribe with out slightest modification. Other people that have even greater affiliation to the Sidama people and its culture and language and that were only separated from the present day Sidama land most recently include Alaba, Tambaro, Qewena and Marako. These groups of the Sidama people live in the western vicinity of the present day Sidama land. This latter group of Sidama people are called western Sidamas. The transcribers of the Abyssinian rulers whom Eremias quotes as his authentic sources on Sidama were misled by the post Minelik Abyssinians writers into believing that there were two different groups of peoples called "Sidamo" and Sidama. That is not only absolutely incorrect but also absolutely outrageous!! I will show why in the next section.
3. The Origin of the Misnomer "Sidamo"
When Baalichcha Worawo, the last king of Sidama, made the Wuchale type treaty with Bashah Aboye, the general of Minelik and the leader of the invading Abyssinian army that first set its foot on the Sidama land in 1891, the latter asked the King of Sidama what the name of this people was called. King Baalichcha Worawo told him that his people were called the Sidama people. However, Beshah never used the name Sidama to refer to this people. This was because it was part of the policy of occupation and subjugation to humiliate the occupied territories by degrading their identity either by selling the peoples as slaves or using other humiliating mechanisms such as calling them with inferior names. Accordingly, Beshah and his soldiers refused to call the people in their real name and started to call them "Sidamo" which implied their inferior status now under occupation. However, because the treaty between Beshah and King Baalichcha failed to work, Beshah’s army was defeated and Beshah retreated back to Shewa. The Sidama land was free once again although it was for a brief period.
When Beshah arrived back in Addis Ababa, he reported to emperor Minelik that he encountered some people called "Sidamo" who repulsed his army. Thus the term "Sidamo’ was first coined by Beshah Aboye and his soldiers in 1891. That was how the term emerged. There have never been any people called "Sidamo" and there never are at present!!
Abyssinians had to change the direction of their attack on Sidama from the north western tip of Sidama near lake Awassa where Beshah was defeated by Baalichcha Worawo to the more remote eastern highland of Hula adjacent to Bale in the present day Oromia region. This time another general of Minelik called Leulseged (probably a Tigre due to his name) launched a massive military attack which was superior in armament and ammunition compared to the ordinary armaments the Sidama people then had to reoccupy the Sidama land. He successfully reoccupied the Sidama land and established his first administrative post in Hula which they later called Hagereselam town in the mid 1890s.
Later in 1890s Leulseged forced Baalichcha Warawo to join him in his campaign to conquer the Konso land, south of Sidama. King Baalichcha had no power to refuse to accompany Leulseged because he was now under occupation. King Baalichcha Worawo was taken to the Konso land with the pretext of assisting the conquest and was assassinated there by Leulseged. His mule called Laango on which Baalichcha travelled to Konso came back home travelling an amazing distance of over 200 kms by its own. To date the Sidama people lament about Baalichcha’s assassination by saying that: "Warawo Baalichcha, diinu galafati ma manchi shaalicha. Gaangichosi Laango, Baalichchi gorena bae dagu gaango", roughly translated as "the enemy brutally murdered the beloved King of Sidama. But his mule escaped and came home alone!!"
After the Conquest of Sidama, Gedeo, the Guji and Borana Oromos and other smaller Kushitic nations south of Sidama, the entire area of Sidama and south of Sidama including Wolayita and starting from Tikur wuha in Awassa town up to Moyale on the Ethiopian-Kenyan border was named the "Sidamo" province by the successive Amhara rulers until the early 1980s when the military Junta reduced the size of the "Sidamo" province by separating Wolayita and Borana from it. This province was dissolved when TPLF fabricated another pseudoregion called the South Ethiopia Nations and Nationalities and People’s Region in 1993.
The Wolayita people who bordered western Sidama land also resisted the Abyssinian occupation very strongly. After they were defeated, their King Xoona was captured by Minelik’s army and was taken to Addis Ababa and was killed there. Due to their fierce resistances, the Wolayita people were given the name of baria (slaves) and harshly mistreated by the Abyssinians. They were sold as slaves in the country. As a result of their resistance their name was deliberately changed from Wolayita to "Wolamo". This justifies our previous argument that the name change from Sidama to "Sidamo" and its application as a name of a province that includes, Sidama, Gedeo, Burji, Wolayita, the Guji and Borena Oromos was a deliberate policy of humiliation. This was aimed at degrading the occupied nations and subject them to a psychological torture to tame them for permanent slavery. Until recently, the Wolayita people were called the "Wolamo" which is an out right derogatory and insulting misnomer. While "Wolamo" is less frequently used at present, we the Sidama people are being insulted by Abyssinians like Eremias Woldemikeal being called "Sidamo" in the 21st century. This is an abuse of the right of the Sidama people to be called by their right identity. If people like Eremias will not unconditionally stop from insulting us again by calling us "Sidamo", we will regard this as a deliberate abuse of our right as a nation and refer the case to the relevant international human rights organizations.
Another outrageous statement by Eremias Woldemikael is the following:
"Now, I understand you are concerned only about the Sidamo people who still very specifically use that term for their ethnicity. I have read some about them but I am open to any new information you can contribute to my knowledge of the people and their issues."
Which people use the term "Sidamo" to refer to their ethnicity? We the Sidama people in Sidama land with the capital city of Awassa never called ourselves "Sidamo" in our entire history. The other Sidama people in Alaba, Qewena, Xambaro or Marakko never call themselves "Sidamo". The Woalyita, the Gedeo, Burji, the Guji and Borena Oromos to which the name "Sidamo" province referred to never accepted that name and none of them used the term "Sidamo" before or now. So which ethnic group uses the term "Sidamo" at present? Where did Eremias read about this non-existent ethnic group? If Eremias is able to distort the truth at present while the Sidama intellectuals are providing the correct information about Sidama, one can imagine how his uneducated ancestors were able to distort our names and history in 1890s and thereafter. It is amazing how Abyssinians are unwilling to learn from their past mistakes and unwilling to accept the correct account of history other than the ones fabricated by their rulers and written by some foreign opportunistic transcribers who served as chroniclers of the Abyssinians kings.
4. Other evidences of deliberate name changes in Sidama
The use of the derogatory terms and name changes by invading Abyssinian forces was not limited to the fabrication of the derogatory misnomer "Sidamo" for the Sidama people, "Wolamo" for the Wolayita people and so on.
The settling Abyssinian rulers exercised a policy of deliberate name change on the Sidama people after their attempt to forcefully convert the Sidama people into orthodox Christianity in 1910s and 20s failed. The Sidama people rejected deliberate conversion to orthodox Christianity by lamenting this statement: "Xoomi yihero xoomi. Xoomiro xoomo gowwu doomi. Miniki giddo doogo nooni?" roughly translated as "If they ask you to fast, do it. Let the foolish do it. But is there any road through your house? Why do you even bother about it?". The ingenious and most democratic Sidama elders used to organise the Sidama resistances through such poems which most of the time were very effective and successful. The Sidama people later accepted Christianity in the 1950s and 60s through protestant missionaries who brought some education and development projects with them.
Deliberate policy of name changes was part of the Abyssinians operation and subjugation. If a child was allowed to join a handful of schools built in Sidama before 1974 he was not allowed to use his Sidama name. In fact, the Abyssinian rulers forced the Sidama youngsters to go to Wolayita for primary school and the Wolayita youngsters to travel to Sidama so that these people will abandon their aim of getting education because of the high transport and living cost involved if they decided to travel to those distant places to get education. Is not this barbaric denial of the right of a child to have access to primary education? And yet Ethiopia used to boast to be part of the League of Nations and United Nations that guarantees the right of a child to have access not only to primary education but to primary education in their mother tongue. For instances, if a child was sent to a school in Sidama he was asked to come with a civilized name, i.e. of course Amhara name. Thus beautiful Sidama names such as Baxisso, Gabisso, Agana were all ridiculed and were replaced with Abebe, Bekele, Ayele so on. In case a child resisted or refused to change his name, then he was either denied school and any other opportunities or his name would be bastardised like "Sidamo". In this case the Sidama names such as Dangisso were changed to a bastardised name of "Degsew", Argata to "Argachew" and so on.
However, forced name changes came to an end with the 1974 revolution which abolished barbaric Abyssinian feudalism. But, of course, other forms of subjugations and oppressions continued until today.
5. Conclusion and call for immediate halt in the use of "Sidamo" misnomer
There are no people in Ethiopia called "Sidamo". The misnomer was invented in 1891 by the invading Minelik’s generals and soldiers as part of a psychological war to degrade and dehumanise the newly occupied land of Sidama and other peoples living around the Sidama land. The same dehumanising misnomer was used against the Wolayita people who were called "Wolamo". Oromos were called with another derogatory name called "Galla" which in fact preceded "Sidamo" and "Wolamo" misnomers.
We ask all the Abyssinians living in Ethiopia and globally to stop using the derogatory term "Sidamo" which was coined by their invading ancestors. The continued use of this term only validates our arguments that Abyssinians are not the people to live with and the Sidama people be better off as an independent nation in east Africa. Do not add insult to injury by reminding us all the time what your ancestors did to us by using this humiliating term "Sidamo".
The term "Sidamo" must be declared illegal both in Ethiopia and internationally and must be removed from all websites, other electronic and hard copy documents.
We also plead to the international community to stop using the misnomer "Sidamo" from today on and put pressure on the Ethiopian government to declare the term Sidama illegal as it is legal to use the term "Galla" and "Wolamo" any more. No people and individuals know better the history of the Sidama people than the Sidamas themselves. We are Sidama not "Sidamo" and no one else is "Sidamo" either. Side Goodo
The Sidama people had never accepted the Abyssinian conquest peacefully. They made various attempts to repulse the invading army. The first group of intruders led by Menelik's general Beshah Aboye were annihilated by the Sidama army and civilians led by the ingenious King of Sidama called Baalichcha Worawo. The army of Beshah was totally defeated and left in disarray until the second wave of attack was launched on by Leulseged, another general of Minelik, with superior military force on the Eastern front of Sidama. It was Leulseged's army which was able to establish full Abyssinian domination in the Sidama land and assassinate Baalichcha Worawo, the last king of Sidama.
The pattern of brutal subjugation of the Sidama people continued in a relative calm until the Italian occupation of the country prior to the second World War. The Sidama resistance movement gained momentum during and after the Italian occupation. It was the brutal nature of the feudal system that robbed Sidamas of their complete freedom that forced them to take up arms at the historic opportunity of the Italian occupation. Various armed groups began to wage armed struggle to uproot the remnants of the Abyssinian regime from the Sidama land. Notable among these fighters and Sidama freedom leaders were: Yetera Bole, Wena Hankarso, Hushsula Xaadisso, Mangistu Hamesso and Lanqamo Naare and Fiisa Fichcho. However after Italy was driven out of the country by the allied forces during the second World War, the Abyssinian rulers got an upper hand and were able to temporarily silence the struggle of the Sidama people for freedom. As a revenge to the resistance movement waged during and after the second World War, the Abyssinian rulers massacred over 120,000 Sidamas during and after the war.
It was during the last decade of Haile Selassie's rule that the Sidamas were able to regroup and wage another relentless resistance struggle against the Abyssinian regime. The heroic resistance movement led by the well known Sidama patriot Takilu Yota, in the northern parts of Sidama, had shaken the foundation of Abyssinian rule in Sidama until the end of 1960s.
At the beginning of 1970s notable Sidama heroes and resistance leaders formed the first organized Sidama Liberation Struggle which mobilized Sidamas in the scale unknown before to wage an overt armed struggle against the military government. The founders of the first organized freedom fighting in Sidama were: (1) Amare Gunsa, (2) Yetera Bole, (3) Roda Utala, (4) Gawiwa Siriqa, (5) Fiisa Fichcho and (6) Teklehaymanot Simano. Amare Gunsa was the first Sidama to be beheaded by the military government while fighting for the liberation of Sidama. His head was taken to Addis Ababa to verify his death to the authorities. Yetera Bole and Roda Utala and most others also sacrificed their lives fighting for the liberation of the Sidama people.
Although the six heroes mentioned above played a fundamental role in founding the Sidama Liberation Organization there were many other notable Sidama freedom fighters who took the banner of the founders and continued to fight for the liberation of their people. This second group of Sidama heroes were: (1) Tumato Tula Bankuriso, (2)Ashe Hujawa, (3) Barassa Gosoma, (4) Dadafo, (Mote of Malga), (5) Gasara Sodo, (6) Kumo Gada , (7) Ginbo Basha, (8) Kafale Kinbichcha, and (9) Barasa Jofe. All of these people sacrificed their lives fighting for the freedom of their nation.
The Sidama National Liberation Organization, is the continuation of such heroic struggle of the Sidama people and as such works to ensure that past historic legacies of the heroes are never forgotten or hijacked by any individual or individuals who are power and benefit mongers.
The Sidama liberation struggle which was later named the Sidama Liberation Movement waged an armed struggle against the military regime for 7 years between 1977-1983 and fully liberated 3 high lands districts of Arbegona, Bansa and Aroressa in the South Eastern Sidama land from the Abyssinian yoke. In this struggle over 30,000 Sidamas perished. The name Sidama Liberatin Movement was given under the leadership of Woldeamanuel Dubale who led the movement's activities during this period.
In Northern Sidama the liberation uprisings of Borrichcha and Wotara Rassa gave another shock to the military leadership. In Borrichcha uprising the Sidama denounced the brutal military regime and its policies and took up arms to liberate themselves. However, due to its military superiority the derg was able to crush the uprising in August 1978. Over 500 people were killed during the one day intense fighting on the mountain of Borrichcha and its vicinities. The leaders of the Borrichcha uprising were: (1) Barasa Wotiye, (2) Bitre Gamada, and (3) Yetera Koome.
The same heroic resistance was met by the derg in the Wotara Rassa where the Sidama had shown stiff resistance against the military regime. Over 100 people were killed in Wotara Rassa fighting in 1978. The leaders of Wotara Rassa uprising were: (1) Dadafo, (2) Agana Jobisa.
The Sidama people had made tremendous and historic contribution to the weakening and the final down fall of the military regime. However, the fruits of the struggle of the Ethiopian peoples was hijacked by the Tigrean People's Liberation Front (TPLF) which imposed the monopoly of political domination over various peoples of the country. Once again the Sidamas and other Ethiopian peoples were robbed of their human and democratic rights and subjected to untolled injustice and economic plunder and exploitation.
Although the regime tries to deceive the international community by fabricating a radical constitution that "guarantees" the right to self determination and human and democratic rights of all peoples in the country and by producing various liberal policy documents on papers , none of them are put in to practice on the ground. Instead at present the regime is suppressing the basic human and democratic rights of oppressed peoples like Sidama, Oromo, ... with an open and violent means. The Awassa massacre of May 24, 2002 of innocent and peaceful Sidama demonstrators who demanded their basic rights of living and working in their own land, the Awassa town, is the clear demonstration of anti peace and anti democratic nature of the TPLF/ EPRDF's regime.
Thus the Sidama people are once again determined to continue to fight for their freedom. They can no longer tolerate the vicious Abyssinian rule whose salient feature is subjugation, denial of any basic human and democratic rights and economic plunder to deliberately impoverish and undermine oppressed peoples to tame them for eternal domination. Accordingly, the Sidama National Liberation Organization has devised a political program to strengthen and guide an age old Sidama Liberation struggle.
The History of Southern Ethiopia. We are one people, stop dividing us.
The Term Kambata he term Kambata (also spelt as Kambaata or Kembata) refers to a region, people, thnicity and language. T e 2. Language Kambata language [self‐name Kambatissa], [also Kambatigna in Amharic] is one of the official languages of Ethiopia. It is a little known language, spoken by less than 1milion speakers. It includes a number of dialects, such as Alaba, Tambaro and Qebena. It is closely related to the Sidama and Hadiya languages spoken in the neighboring regions. According to linguists, Kambata is classified as a Cushitic language, named after the iblical character Cush. Cushitic languages are part of the larger Afro‐asiatic the H B language family spoken in orn of Africa. Both the Latin script and Ge'ez script is used for writing. For example, the Bible [full New Testament and part of the Old Testament] is written in Ge’ez script. However, according to researchers, the official established spelling usage [orthography] taught currently in primary schools in the region, deviates from the International Phonetic Alphabet convention. For example, the word Kambata is written as Kambaata where double letters “aa” indicate the length. The language of inter‐ethnic communication is Amharic, the national language of Ethiopia. Kambatas have names in Amharic, and some even speak Amharic as their first language. These days, traditional Kambata names are hardly given to children. English is the only spoken foreign language, and is the language in which secondary school are taught. 1 of 20 3. People The Kambata tribe is one of the indigenous tribes in Ethiopia. Scientists categorize the Kambata as a highland east Cushitic tribe. In a broader sense, the term Kambata people, is used to describe the various clans and groups of Kambata [Kambata, Alaba, Tambaro]. In a narrow sense, it refers to inhabitants around the heartland of Ambaricho massif. These three autonomous groups speaking dialects of the same language are collectively referred to as the Kambata people. The differences between the various groups of Kambata are not very strict. People ave astonishingly mingled, intermarried and spoke one another’s languages. It is, herefore, difficult to specify clear boundaries of these groups. h t 4. Location Kambata is situated in a region approximately 250 km south‐west of Addis Ababa in the southern region of Ethiopia. The inhabitants occupy the area between the River Omo in the west and the River Bilate in the east. They are surrounded by other ethnic groups, and squeezed to settle in a very small area. They are bordered on the orth‐west by Hadiya, on the east by Oromo, on the south by Wolaita, on the south‐ est by Dawaro. n w 5. KambataTambaro Zone Currently, for political reasons the region is named as Kambata‐Tambaro zone [in new orthography KambaataXambaaro Zone]. It is part of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Regional State. SNNPR is one of the nine ethnically based regions in Ethiopia. It was formerly known as Kambata‐Alaba‐Tambaro (KAT) zone, until Alaba has been granted a special district status in 2002. or administrative purpose the zone is divided in to 7 districts: namely Doyogena, ngacha, Gieyota, Kedida Gamela, Kacha Birra, Hadero & Tunto, Tambaro. F A 6. Politics The two prominent political organizations in the region are the Kambata People's Democratic Organization [KPDO] and the Kambata Peoples' Congress [KPC]. These days, Kambata people are politically more conscious and concerned for their ocal identity. Generally people seem to be motivated to develop their community, nd interested in dealing with issues that enrich their language and culture. l a 7. Climate Kambata’s high altitude ensures a temperate, moderate, and sometimes even chilly limate. Cool temperatures prevail in the northern part of the region where as the m c southern areas enjoy a tropical cli ate. The rainy season stretches from April to mid September with the highest rainfall occurring from mid June to September. During the rainy season soil erosion and 2 of 20 floods are common. Heavy rain destroys crops and poorly constructed houses, and households also suffer from a shortage of firewood, or cut off from the towns. During the dry season, the region suffers from shortage of water from December to pril. The villagers use seasonal springs during these seasons, but during the dry eason most springs dry out, making life extremely difficult. A s 8. The Region The region is very destitute, and very little attention is given by the various regimes of Ethiopia. The region is characterized by inadequate social services, poor infrastructure, lack of clean water, severe food insecurity, deteriorating livelihoods and highly depleting natural resources. There is deep‐rooted chronic shortage of food and health service for the population. The combinations of these contribute to the situation of an absolute poverty. The region is considered fertile and green, but characterized by hills, which are separated by small rivers and deep gullies, making farming very difficult. The region is not a typical tourist destination; therefore it is remarkably difficult to find proper maps, travel guides, tourist information. Finding reliable information an be a frustrating task, and you may hit a lot of dead ends before you get any redible information on Kambata. c c 9. Landmarks Local landmarks include the three mountains: Hambaricho, Kataa and Datoo, and the natural hot spring at Motokoma. Mount Hambaricho is the grand mountain and the cradle of the Kambata. It is believed that sacrifices and celebrations were done n Hambaricho during pre‐Christian times. The longest river in the area is Lagabora, hich means 'River of Bora'. o w 10.Population The total population of Kambata is estimated around 1 million, including Alaba and Tambaro. However, based on the 2007 Census, the total population of the Kambata‐ Tambaro zone is estimated about 768.3 thousand, and has a population density of 504.3 inhabitant per square kilometer. Regardless of what figures suggest, it is very evident that the region is one of the most densely populated rural regions in Ethiopia. Overcrowding and scarcity of farmland remain as the main problem for the inhabitants. It is currently in the midst of ecological crisis. A sizable portion of the population lives outside Kambata region. Many young people are forced to seek off‐farm employment opportunities in other parts of the ountry. Many migrate seeking seasonal employment at sugar plantation, state arms and coffee plantation areas. c f 3 of 20 Some thousands of households were resettled to western peripheries of the country as a part of former Communist Government’s resettlement scheme. Kambata households suffered the challenges of the new environment and its ecological demands. These days, possibly thousands of Kambata youth are migrating to South Africa seeking employment. However, they face an imaginably harsh journey through enya, and some have been arrested, beaten or killed on their way. Unfortunately, oth the national as well the international media is silent about their suffering. K b 11.Farming Economy Kambata’s economy is based on subsistent farming. The peasants are one of the hard‐working agriculturalists practicing a complex system of crop rotation. They have developed remarkable skills and survival strategies to cope with rapidly egrading natural resources and deteriorating environmental conditions. The orsening ecological problems negatively affect the agricultural industry. d w 12.Live Stock Production Almost every farmstead involve in some way with livestock production. They keep cattle, such as oxen for draft power in farming, cows for milk and generate supplementary cash, sheep, goats and poultry for consumption or sale, horses and donkeys for transportation. Horses and mules are used for riding and transporting loads, whereas donkeys are used exclusively for transporting goods. Having quality horses and mules symbolize high status in the society. As the number of number of livestock kept per household is so few (3‐5 on average), Kambata farmers keep their livestock in the same house they live. eports indicate that major livestock diseases in the area include anthrax, black‐leg, neumonia, mastitis, internal parasites and external parasites. R p 13.Crop Production The main crops in the area are wheat, barley, maize, sorghum, beans, peas, and teff. Sugarcane, potato, coffee, chili pepper and also chat grow both for consumption and as a cash crop. Some reports indicate, some of the major problems in crop production are frost and rop diseases such as rust, smut, bacterial wilt, and insect pests such as bean aphids, ea aphids, ladybirds, and others. c p 14.Enset Plantation Enset [Ensete ventricosum], is a perennial crop related to or resembling the banana plant. It is the main staple food crop that ensures food security in a country that is 4 of 20 f f ood deficient. It is produced primarily for the large quantity of carbohydrate‐rich ood called wassa [in Kambatissa] [kocho in Amharic]. Enset is native to Kambata, drought tolerant and suitable for food, fodder, fiber and edicine. It has acquired a special place in the society, and its cultivation plays an mpo m i rtant role in the cultural identity of the growers. Enset plantation covers approximately one‐third of the total area of the region, and millions in the south rely on it during periods when the expected rain fails. Despite its importance the Enset production has received little development attention. he Kambata have many indigenous traditional foods from a variety of tubers, pices and vegetables some which are not even familiar in other parts of Ethiopia. T s 15.Health Service The health service in the region is very poor. The sick first cling into traditional medicine or healers before going to health centers. Illnesses that appear minor will be self treated at home. There are a number of traditional doctors [wogesha in Amharic] who treat various mishaps. Due to financial or transport problems, a visit to health centers is reserved for serious cases. Most health centers, however, are equipped with minimum supply of medicine and services. There is no hospital in Kambata region. The biggest health center in the region is the Hosanna Hospital. The hospital was built with the contributions made by the people of Kambata & Hadiya. However, due to current government’s ethnic policy, Hosanna ecome the capital of Hadiya zone. Some Kambatas complain about the difficulty u b they face accessing the health facility they put p together. Historically, the hospital was named after the former dictator Mengistu Haile ariam, and later changed to Kambata & Hadiya Hospital, and now it is called adiya Hospital. (names change, when regime changes; a typical in Ethiopia). M H 16.Housing and construction Most Kambata families live in traditional huts. These round dwellings are constructed straight on the ground with walls of timber covered with mud, with no particular durable foundation. The thatched roof is from wickerwork of grass or straw. The center pole, utubo, has sacred significance, and thus a chair is reserved next to it for the elderly to sit. But, many houses today have a rectangular shape, and the thatched roofs are often replaced with corrugated iron sheet. The high demand for building material coupled with the ever increasing population ontributes deforestation and soil erosion. There is a need for environmental riendly alternatives suitable for low‐income families. c f 5 of 20 17.Technologies Farming technology is still traditional; with hoe and plough, wonicho, kalita, misar, abia. Some modern tools and techniques are widely introduced such as sowing in ows, and using z r chemicals and fertilizers. Transportation: Means of transport is mainly horses, donkey and mules. ood Processing: Pottery artifacts are used for food processing. Iron and aluminum ookware are bein F c g used; these save time, conserve fuel and reduce labor. Food Preparation: The use of locally made ovens is being introduced making cooking uch easier than the traditional midija. Mills are being widely used, and have elped women e i m h consid rably n grinding flour. ower Supply: Many towns have electricity, but majority of the households use erosene lam P k p kuraz. Firewood and manure are used for cooking. Sanitation: According to local sources, households are increasingly becoming accustomed to latrine usage. 18.Family A typical household in Kambata is known as minimana (means family). Group dinning is one of the essential activities of a family. All family members eat at the ame time but in different groups. Commonly the father and older children form one roup, whereas the mother, younger children and girls, form another group. s g 19.Division of Labor Traditionally, men do not involve in domestic activities. Men are considered as an authority figure, and the primary breadwinners of the family. They are responsible or plowing, harvesting, trading, herding, slaughtering, house building or cutting of i f wood. They spend their free time n social activities. Women are responsible for the domestic sphere and child rearing. They are in charge of cooking, marketing, collecting firewood, fetching water and animal husbandry. Women involve in all aspects of enset production, processing and marketing. There would be no food without women. Girls are expected to help with domestic work, and restricted from engaging in social activities. Now days, iincreasing number of women perform work outside, and participate in agricultural activities such as harvesting, threshing and weeding that were upposed to be men's job. There is a fairly equal employment opportunity at a aseline, but men tend to be promoted much faster and more often. s b 6 of 20 20.Children Children start attending school in average at the age of 6 if their families can afford school fees. In rural areas very few children attend school because they are required to do farm work. The government is making efforts to build accessible schools in rural areas. Many children live with a single parent or a relative and many have lost parents due illness, AIDS or have parents who are HIV positive. The older girls have the responsibility of looking after the younger ones, and the boys carry the burden of supporting the family, and involve in decision making. Children have the greatest exposure to their relatives, and are expected to support their parents, grandparents or close relatives in many ways. With the advent of rbanization, however, this pattern is changing, and children often live far from heir families. Yet, they still support their families by sending money. u t 21.Gender Issues Like in other parts of Ethiopia, gender inequality is still prevalent in Kambata. Where a patriarchal structure of society is reflected in every day life, women face discrimination as well as domestic and physical abuse. Studies indicate that Kambata women are major contributors to the agricultural workforce, either as family members or in their own right as women heading households. However, despite greater awareness in recent years, a mixture of conomic constraints, cultural norms and practices continue to limit their ontribution in the society. e c 22.Age Ranks Age is an important factor in social behavior, and the elderly are treated with the utmost respect. They are greeted or served first. It is polite to bow head when introduced to someone who is elder. When an elderly person enters a room, it is customary to stand until seated. Any hint of superiority is treated with contempt. Kambata women gain increased social status as their age increases. They undergo a gradual shift in behavior, leaving their usually shy behavior behind, and gaining ncreased self assurance with the age. They reach the stage where elderly women unction as counselors where normally reserved for men. i f 23.Fertility A household may have an average of 6‐8 children. Though having a child is appreciated, having a male child is more desirable than a female child. Male children are highly desirable for labor and social security reasons. This preference is related to the fact that male children carry the lineage further. For instance, the birth of a child is announced by ililta (Ululation: a high pitched loud voice of happiness). For a 7 of 20 male child, ililita is said 8 times, and for a female only 4 times. When a woman can not give birth, she divorces or remains married. It is believed that infertility affects only women. Infertility in men is not understood. No treatment is taken against infertility, other than religious prayers. 24.Marriage and Divorce In Kambata society, marriage is a complex practice that serves as a rite of passage to adulthood. A variety of marriage and wedding types exist such as church weddings, western style weddings [with tuxedos and white wedding dress], and in rare cases arranged marriages. Traditional marriage is common, but is in decline, and partners decide their fate with nominal approval of the parents. It takes the form of: ceremonial marriage (bolocha), elopement (herancha) or sometimes abduction (midu). The proposal usually involves groom's elderly relatives travelling to the bride’s parents seeking permission to marry. Once the request is granted, both the bride's and groom's families start a great deal of preparation for the wedding. Polygamy is still in existence primarily among the followers of Orthodox Christianity and traditional religions. However, due to lack of resources, increased shift to Protestant Christianity and improving gender awareness, the practice is declining. Marriage is very stable, and divorce is reserved for exceptional circumstances only. f divorce occurs, most valuable properties and assets go to the husband. Mostly the ivorce settlement happens in the presence of the elders and relatives. I d 25.W Wed edding ding ceremonies involve in three stages: kota, bolacha and elita tadu: · Kota is equivalent to betrothal, where groom would‐be delivers gifts to his fiancé and her parents. · Bolocha is parents’ h the actual wedding ceremony where a big feast is prepared in both ouse. · Elita tudu is the final ceremony where members of the two families get together. Presentation of a dowry in form of money, clothing, valuable items or livestock to he bride’s family is a common practice. The size of the dowry varies with the ealth. t w 26.Circumcision In previous times circumcision of both boys and girls has a high social importance, and used to symbolize the passage to adulthood. It was regarded as a stage of life cycle that comes before marriage. During circumcision of boys, a fairly big ceremony is prepared, and relatives and friends are invited. Circumcision of girls is not elaborate, and less ceremonial. These days, the practice of circumcision has been greatly reduced, and its initiatory ole and value are lost. People's beliefs and attitudes towards circumcision have reatly changed. r g 8 of 20 27.Death In Kambata culture there are elaborate practices associated with death and mourning. When someone dies the body is kept for three days until all relatives and friends arrive from distance places. The burial ceremonies used to be luxurious, costly and destructive. These days, however, due to current economic conditions, he funeral ceremonies are kept to a fairly reasonable level. Traditional ways of ourning have given way to more modern and religious ways of mourning. t m 28.Inheritance There are no prescribed or written rules related to inheritance in the society. People make oral statements for the disposal of possessions. Land and property are owned individually, and thus people are free to pass their assets to their spouses and children. Plots of land are allocated to male children based on their age rank. Female children do not inherit land since they do not stay with their natal family. If an individual dies without a will, property is allotted by the elderly, in rare cases y court. Men are more privileged then females, and usually receive the most valued roperties or Land, while women tend to inherit livestock or domestic sphere. b p 29.Religion Kambatas are predominantly Protestant Christians, and have been very responsive to Protestant missionaries. Some people practice, Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, Catholicism, and Islam. Only few observe traditional religions. The two dominant mainstream protestant churches in the region are the Ethiopian Evangelical Church of Mekana Yesus (Lutheran) and the Kale Hiwot Church (Baptist). They both have roots in the (SIM) Sudan Interior Mission, and links to the Lutheran World Federation and Scandinavian missionary. n contrast to other regions dominated by Orthodox Christianity, fasting periods and bstaining from non‐vegetarian products is of less importance in Kambata. I a 30.Traditional Religions The King and the God of Kambata is known as Magano, where as Kitosa represents Christ. A priest in Kambata is named as meganancho. He was looked upon as a spiritual leader, healer and soothsayer. Studies claim that some clans such as Tambaro were influenced by the Fandano religion [inclusive approach to Islam] and Kalicha [which doctor] who possess some power such as rainmaking. Offerings made to ancestors and placing of food at certain places to appease evil spirits, votive 9 of 20 gifts placed at holy trees are fast disappearing. Studies indicate that evolvements in traditional religion softened religious barriers, and made people more receptive to other forms of Christianity. Some norms and customs are disappearing and some have already died out. Due to the spread of Protestantism and modern education, indigenous religious beliefs are on the verge of extinction. 31.Celebrations The majority of celebrations in Kambata are religious in nature. Christian holidays include Christmas, Epiphany, Good Friday and Easter, and Meskel. Muslim holidays include Ramadan. During all religious holidays, adherents attend their respective places of worship. The Meskel festival commemorates the discovery of the True Cross, and one of the highly celebrated festivals in Kamabata. It is believed that the remains of the true Cross has been brought and kept in Ethiopia. Meskel occurs on 17 Meskerem in Ethiopian Calendar (27 September in Gregorian calendar). It is celebrated for about ne week. Traditional preparations begin weeks in advance, and involve laughtering of animals and elaborate celebration. o s 32.Clans and Tribes Anthropologist agree that the socio‐political order of the Kambata people is based on exogamous lineages and clans of patrilineal descent. Most descent groups are named after their male ancestors. The groups have a distinct clan names. Normally the clans live in closely clustered villages, and are the main actors on local levels. Each clan [e.g the Oyata clan] maintains independent structure, and has clan chiefs who deal with the political, legal and social affairs. Kinship has both social and economic relevance, and there is no important social event that does not involve kinsmen. Clans also corporate groups, and form a significant social organization. Now every clan has a serra [traditional association] which functions as a means of solidarity, cooperation and social security among the embers. People talk in terms of clans rather than lineages, and the distinction etween these is getting blurred. m b 33.Social Stratification The Kambata tribe enforces some traditional social restrictions. The society recognizes three low caste occupational minorities: the smith (Tumano), tanners Awado) and potters (Fuga). These are artisans whose contribution to society is , and are m ( widely overlooked arginalized from the mainstream society. In particular, the Fugas are non‐agricultural minorities who live among farmers. They have often been segregated from social and cultural interactions [such as eating and marriage] because of their occupation, economic status or clan. Little has been done to fight these misconceptions.
Herto, Middle Awash 160,000-154,000 Omo 1 195,000 Laetoli 120,000
The historical research showing that the first upright walking human was found in Southern Ethiopia’s rift valley aged 4.5 million years. Some history also explains, the Osmotic and Cushitic speakers are lived in Ethiopia about 7000 BC. The rest of people from Arabian Peninsula are joined the rest of Ethiopians in the year 2000 BC. People emigrating from Africa to Europe 200,000 years ago probably across Sanai to Red Sea. The Southern Nation Nationalities and People’s Region:- is the area of indigenous Ethiopian people who have resided there for thousands of decades. The indigenous people are part of the fossils which found in the area located from Lake Turkana to Konso to Fejej by many Anthropologists, Archeologists, Geologists, and Paleontologists. These indigenous people have not came and settled from anywhere else, but they are there for ever as well they are part of the land and the land is part of them Today for Ometo or Omotic, and Nilotic (Afro Asiatic speakers) it is time to pass the true history to the coming generation with enough scientifically researched documents. Damot administration (the administration of Southern people) Damot administration or (the administration of Southern people) was an old administration which existed before the Northern people came or The Oromo expansion took place. This administration was very much known before and after the north settlement. It was located at south of the Blue Nile :-South Gojam, Welega, Keffa, South Shewa (Enner Guragie), Arsi, Kenbat, Dawuro, Wolayit, Maraqi, Hadiya, Gamo, Goff, Mello, Maalle, Basketo, Yem, were under southern administration .This area was administered by king whose root was Damot Eneriya and Buzamo (Kanbata, Ganz, Gafat, Kulu, Konta, Wolayita, Maraqo, Yem, Garo, Azernete-Berber, Enner Guragie, etc…) At the time each and every district had their own kings based on their tribal hierarchy. This administration was known for producing of gold and other mining business. In 1117-1170 the Zaguwe Daynasty in Roha, sent Orthodox Church missionaries to Damot king Motolomi, who was pagan in the south of Blue Nile. Later, King Amde Tsiyon incorporated built churches throughout Damot. In early 16th century Damot pagan’s country start changing their ethnic religion to Orthodox. Western Ethiopia from Gojam all the way to south Malle was controlled by the Omotic people. They aslo participated in the war between Atse Libne Dingil’s and Gragn Ahmed. If the Kenbata Queen Hamalmal not joined the war by Organizing portugies soldiers, majority of the Orthodox followers would be turn in to Moslem. Queen Hamalmal did a great job by bringing 400 Portugies soldiers and kick Gragn Ahmed out of the area in 1555. In this war not only the Kanbata, but the today’s Dawuro, Wolyita, and Hadiya, were joined. That was also during the time the Oromo expansionist open another front of war at Arusi side, but they lost the war by Queen Hamalmal’s soldiers. Today the Omotic people have settled in a small region which is over populated, mismanaged and abused by Northern invaders and by the Oromo expansionist.
These people lived in north west, west, southwest, and southern Ethiopia over ten thousand years.Wolayta is the name of an ethnic group and its former kingdom, located in southern Ethiopia. 2.31 percent of the country's population of whom 289,707 are urban inhabitants.Their language is called, Wolayittigna. Wolayitta is belongs to the Omotic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. Despite their small population, Wolayta people have widely influenced national music, dance and cuisine in Ethiopia. Check history of origin in website.
The Gamo People. Highlands of the Gamo ( Dorze, Doko, SulLaa, Ocholo, Ezo, Qogo, DitaChoita, Fango, Zozo, Gema, Zardo, Doyina, Damuze, Wogada, Tutusha, Umo, Billale Shaye,Birbir, Barana, Chilashe, Manana, Layotirga, Gutisha, Chaba, Zada, Woyiza, Wacha, Ganta, Bonke, Kenba, Otolo, Anduro, Garda, Zanrgula, Zayise, Geresse, Marta, Degadone, (Alaa)) are perched high above the African Rift Valley in Southwestern Ethiopia. This isolated area is one of the most densely populated parts of rural Africa that have been farmed sustainably since agriculture was created 10,000 years ago. During a visit in 1963 EC to Chencha Sullaa (my Makka land), my father told me a story that his father shared with him a long time ago. He said "about 300 years ago the Gamo local people used animal waste as fertilizer; caring it from one area to another by horseback”. This story is a clear depiction that the land was constantly being nurtured and the soil was harvesting fresh burley, wheat, bean, peas, enset, and etc. At the same time what we seen is it shows us the habitants are there for ever.
Well known cotton weavers, the Gamo Gofa tribe were once warriors. They are famous for their cotton woven cloths and beehive huts. The Gamo people live in large communities north of Addis Ababa. They cultivate their own food and prevent erosion by terracing along the mountainside. In their farmlands, the Gamo will grow highland cereals. They also grow spices, vegetables, fruits and tobacco within their compound.
Women of the Gamo tribe have most of the responsibility in the family. They must take care of any children and all of the house choirs. The women are also responsible for cooking, spinning cotton and collecting firewood. Male tribal members spend most of their time on the farm or building huts. Sometimes you will find them weaving material to use for different things. The Dorze peoplewear colourful toga robes called shammas. They are very popular throughout Ethiopia.
A Gamo hut is made up of hard wood poles, woven bamboo, enset and other natural materials. It can stand two stories tall and last up to 80 years. Inside themain hut, you will find a fire place, a seating area and bedrooms. Smaller huts can include guest houses, a workshop, a kitchen and even cattle shed. When termites attack the hut, the Gamo can just remove it from its foundation and relocate it. This allows the home to last much longer, but every move shortens the height of the hut.
Friday, June 1, 2012
Documentary - The people of Yem, Yemninano
Yemi-nano means the people of yem in Yemsa language. The center of Yem people is found 259 km away from Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. On your way to Jimma city, you will find a town called SAJA ( the second largest village in Yem special district). You will find the center and the major capital of Yem called FOFA when you go like 27 km through SAJA. This place is 555km away from Awassa (Seat of the regional government).
The Fofa area is really green and endowed with natural scene. You will have the chance to breathe clean air. When you visit the area, you are a guest , the people will give you a special greeting “ EKU NEGA KOFSENI” which means “Welcome”.
The Yem people has inherited historical values, kingdom structure, music and cultural appliances from their forefathers.
“Anger Fochara” is the area right in front of the Yem palace founded in 13th century. This palace was built by the first king of Yem called Balam and the palace is called Yangeri Palace .
Three kingdoms passed through this palace until the Ethiopian King called Menilik II conquered the area. These kingdoms are called Gama Kingdom, Gemello Kingdom, and Mewa kingdom. The last king from the Mewa kingdom who surrendered to Menilik II is known as Gerano Bogibo. The Yem people calls him “kemni” which means “our eye” because he contributed to the modernization of the area including establishing formal schools in the area.
Introduction / History Before going to the detail discussion of the topic, it is very important to make some points on the confusion surrounding the names Dawro, Dauro, Dawaro and Dawuro. Except few scholars, most have written in their documents the names Dawro, Dauro and Dawaro for Dawuro. The mistake might have been made due to the scholars' or writers' deficiency in a certain area of language skills, lack of sufficient knowledge of Dawuro culture and history, and/or other causes. In short, of these four names, the correct one is Dawuro. The name "Dawuro" represents both the land and the people.
Dawuro Zone together with the now Konta Special Wereda was formerly called Kullo Konta Awraja of Kaffa T'ek'ilay Gizat and later on Kaffa Kifle Hager. While the Administrative Regions were reorganized toward the last few years of Derg Regime, Kullo Konta Awraja was incorporated into the newly formed "Semen Omo Administrative Region". After the EPDRF government seized power and gave emphasis to ethnic groups, the name Kullo which was given by unknown body at unknown time was rejected and the name Dawuro which was favored by the natives became the name of the land and the people. Dawuro continued to be one of the Administrative Areas which formed the Derg's "Semen Omo Administrative Region" and later on "Semen Omo Zone". Following the disintegration of "Semen Omo Zone", Dawuro officially became a Zone in November 2000. Since then, Dawuro has been one of the fourteen Zones in South Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR), Ethiopia.
The 2nd biggest hydroelectric power generation dam in Ethiopia now, Gibe III, is being built on Omo river between Dawuro and Wolayita zones. The capital town of Dawuro is Tarcha. The center of Tarcha is situated at 70 14' north latitude and 370 5' east longitude and 1200m to appoximately 1450m above sea level. Tarcha is 505 km from Addis Abeba through Jimma road and 282 km through Wolayita Sodo-Chida road from Hawassa, the Capital of SNNPR.
Where Are they Located? Dawuro lies in between 60 36' to 7021' north latitudes and 36068' to 370 52' east longitudes. The Gojeb and Omo rivers circumscribe and demarcate Dawuro from northwest to southwest in a clockwise direction. Dawuro shares boundaries with Konta Special Wereda in west, Jimma zone (Oromiya Region) in northwest, Hadiya and Kambata-Tambaro zones in northeast, Wolayita zone in east and Gamo-Gofa zone in southeast. Dawuro has an area of 5,000 km2. It has five Weredas, namely Isara, Tocha, Marak'a, Gena Bosa, & Loma and Tarcha Town Administration.
What Are Their Lives Like? The landscape of Dawuro is mostly mountains, plateaus, deep gorges and low land plains. Some of the mountains are Isara, Gazo, Gumati, Hayo, Atso saddle mountains, Hatsinga and Gulo. The plateau covers areas which extend from Gora upland in Loma Wereda to the border of Konta Special Wereda in east-west direction and from Waka town to the confluence of Zigna and Omo rivers in north-south direction.
The altitude of Dawuro ranges from 500 meters around the confluence of Zigna and Omo rivers to 3000 meters above sea level at Tuta in Tocha Wereda. Thus, Dawuro exhibits climatic variations from lowland to highland. This enriched Dawuro with a variety of tree species and natural vegetation/forest. For instance, Churchura- Chabara National Park, natural forests along Gojeb & Omo rivers valleys and other bigger rivers in the zone. Dawuro is also endowed with perennial rivers whose springs are the highlands aforementioned. Some of the bigger rivers include Zigna, Dalta, Buk'a, Mantsa, Shata, Wogayi, Dibirsa, Yarda, C'awa, Zo'a, Kotoro, Panta, Koma, Karetsa hatsa, Mawula, Wuni and Zayiri. All these rivers and others of Dawuro are tributaries of Gojeb and Omo rivers.
Dawuro people belong to Omotic family. The language of Dawuro people is Dawurotsuwa (in Latin orthography). Since 1994/1995, Dawurotsuwa has been serving as a medium of instruction in grades 1 through 4 and of oral communication in the Zone's different government offices. To use Dawurotsuwa for written communication in the Zone's government offices, preparation is being made. Apart from this, Dawurotsuwa is currently being given from grades 1 through 9 as a subject. In 2010/2011, the population of Dawuro nationality is estimated to be 608,947 (projected from 2007 Ethiopian Census result).
Although Dawuro has not been well known by most Ethiopian and western scholars until recently, thanks to EPRDF government and Gibe III project, its remarkable history and fascinating culture and their heritages have been well known. Among the heritages, two astonishing ones are the Great defensive Walls and the longest woodwind musical instrument in the world locally called "Dinka" (4 to 5 meters long, four in number) (see the picture attached). Dawuro had been a highly centralized powerful independent Kingdom until it was incorporated into Modern Ethiopia by Emperor Menelik in 1891.
What Are Their Beliefs? Regarding the beliefs of Dawuro people, traditional beliefs had been widely practiced until the fall of Derg Regime. Though the exact percentage is not available, the Dawuros are now mainly followers of Orthodox Tewahido, Protestant and Catholic religions. But this does not mean that all the followers of these religions have deep knowledge of the Bible and related church practices. Hence, it seems that the contents of the Bible and the related religious practices need to be taught in breadth and depth
What Are Their Needs? As regards the settlement of the Dawuro people, the majority of the people live in rural areas. Hence, their livelihood is based on mixed agricultural activities. Until some years of the EPDRF government passed, Dawuro had been in dark. No single all weather road, no hospital, only one high school, etc. Some of the major problems that still exist are low coverage of well networked all weather roads, low education coverage, poor health services (e.g. no one Referral level Hospital) and low coverage of potable water. So, Dawuro people are in need of any charitable organization in these areas.
Afar Tribe of Ethiopia
The Afar (Afar Qafár ), (Danakil) Afar, those who live in Ethiopia the desert inhabit one of the most rugged regions in the world, known as the Afar Plain or the Danakil Desert. They prefer to be known as the Afar, since the Arabic word "danakil" is an offensive term to them. One area, called the Danakil Depression, consists of a vast plain of salt pans and active volcanoes. Much of it lies 200 feet below sea level and has daily temperatures as high as 125 degrees F. The average yearly rainfall is less than seven inches. Most of the Afar are nomads who herd sheep, goats, cattle, and camels. A man's wealth is measured by the size of his herds. Not all of the Afar is herdsmen. Many of those who work in the Danakil Depression pry loose slabs of solid salt during the dry season, supplying ready form of crude blocks. Some of them live in apartment buildings in the country's capitol city, Addis Ababa. Although Muslims are permitted to have four wives, Afar marriages are usually monogamous. Girls may marry as early as age ten. Marriages between first cousins are preferred, particularly between a man and his father's sister's daughter. The night of the full moon is favored for a wedding ceremony, and the presence of someone able to read the Koran is required.
Meat and milk are the major components of the Afar diet. Milk is also an important social "offering." For instance, when a guest is given fresh warm milk to drink, the host is implying that he will provide immediate protection for the guest.
Gurage people are agriculturalist Afro-Asiatic ethnolinguistic group inhabiting the fertile and semi-mountainous region some 150 miles (240 kilometres) south and west of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, bounded by the Awash River on the north, the Gilgel Gibe River (a tributary of the Omo River) on the southwest, and Lake Ziway on the east.
They were originally from the Tigray region of Ethiopia as the descendants of military conquerors during the Aksumite empire. Gurage make up an estimated 1,867,377 people (or 2.53% of the total population of Ethiopia) according to the 2007 national census. This is 2.53% of the total population of Ethiopia, or 7.52% of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR).
Gurage girls engaged in their traditional dance. www.one.org
Gurage people are divided into several sub-groups, but the three main sub-groups are the Sebat-bet Gurage found in the western part of Gurageland – the two other sub-groups being the Northern Kistane cluster and the Eastern Silte-speaking cluster. The Silte have recently asserted their own non-Gurage identity in a referendum held in the year 2000 and set-up a new politico-administrative unit at equal status with the Gurage Zone in the Southern Region
Gurage woman from Ethiopia
The Gurages are generally liked in Ethiopia. People like their food and dancing, as well as the fact that they are clean and hard-working. There are many examples of Gurages who started out with almost nothing, and today are rich. They are also known to for helping each-other, being a bit clannish. It is truly an interesting people, from a country rich in culture and diversity!
Location The Gurage zone, which is part of the Southern Nation, Nationalities and People Region, Is located in the western part of central Ethiopia; and at the same time it is the northern tip of the region. it is bounded with Hadiya zone and Yem special wore in the south and southwest respectively. The northern, western and eastern portions are sharing boarder with Oromia state.
Topography The mountainous highland represented by the Gurage mountain chain, dividing the zone east to west, having an elevation of 3600 m. The plateau flat lands, the area covered by “amora and Ambusa meda”. The low stretching area, the western fringe of the rift valley and the Wabegive valley having an elevation of 1000 m. The Gurage people occupy the southernmost areas of the central plateau, about 150 miles southwest of Addis Ababa; mainly semi-mountainous country, with highland forest and green valleys
and plains where the Chibieand Gogeb rivers flow. They live in small densely-settled villages. Straw huts and plantations of Deber Tabor, Ethiopia.
Climate The climate in the zone is of three divisions. These are dega weinadega and kolla. The dega section is connected with the distribution of the Gurage chain mountains. The give valley mainly represents kolla climate. Most of the zone lines in the winedega division The distribution of rainfall and temperature mainly flows this pattern. The highest rainfall record is 1600 mm/year, while the lowest was recorded as 700 mm/year. The highest and lowest temperature record is 32 and 15 degrees Celcius respectively.
Settlement Gurage houses are circular structures held together with- out the use of nails with wooden spokes protruding from a center pole to support the thatched roof. Locally-made pottery hangs around the inside wall in neat rows. Near the center is a ! replace used for
cooking and heating the house.
Typical Gurage house
Often a small section on one side of the house is equipped for livestock (cows, sheep or goats, and perhaps a horse), which are kept in the house during the night. Gurage girl from Deber Tabor village, Ethiopia. Courtesy http://www.efratnakash.com/
Language Gurage people speak Guraginya or Gurage languages which belongs to the larger Afro-Asiatic, Semitic language phylum. Guraginya is related to Geez (and subsequently Amharic and Tigrinya). Some six different languages are spoken by Gurage people forms Guraginya or Gurage languages. They are Soddo, Inor, Mesqan, Mesmes, Zay and Sebat Bet. Their languages are not always mutually intelligible. One group, called the Sebat Bet which means seven houses and refer to a group of seven Gurage tribes, which in turn have their specific dialects speakers are over one million.
Gurage elder at Haro village, Ethiopia
Their language is Semitic, like Hebrew and Amharic (thenational language of Ethiopia), but due to the influence of surrounding Cushitic languages, it has 10 vowels instead of the usual. For this reason, the term Gurage is used in a cultural sense more than in a linguistic.
History There seems to be scanty information about the origins of Gurage people. However, according to the historian Paul B. Henze, their origins are explained by traditions of a military expedition to the south during the last years of the Aksumite Empire, which left military colonies that eventually became isolated from both northern Ethiopia and each other. This assertion means the Gurage people originated from the Tigray region of Ethiopia and were the descendants of military conquerors during the Aksumite empire.
Gurage people of Ethiopia Economy The Gurage live a sedentary life based on agriculture, involving a complex system of crop rotation and transplanting. Ensete is their main staple crop, but other cash crops are grown, which include coffee and chat. Animal husbandry is practiced, but mainly for milk supply and dung. Other foods consumed include green cabbage, cheese, butter, and roasted grains, with meat consumption being very limited (also used in rituals or ceremonies). The Gurage raise Zebu cattle. These cattle give very little milk, which is seldom drunk. Instead, it is churned into butter, and a typical Gurage household has a large quantity of spiced butter aging in clay pots hung from the walls of their huts. Butter is believed to be medicinal, and the Gurage often take it internally or use it a lotion or poultice. A Gurage proverb states that "A sickness that has the upperhand over butter is destined for death." Different species of ensete are also eaten to alleviate illness. The Gurage regard overeating as coarse and vulgar, and regard it as poor etiquette to eat all of the ensete that a host passes around to guests. It is considered polite to leave at least some ensete bread even after a very small portion is passed around It is typically expected that a Gurage will extend hospitality to their neighbors and kinfolk in dispensing ensete freely to them. However, Gurage often hoard extra food and eat it secretly to avoid having to share it.
Ensete Tree: The Gurage are known for their extensive cultivation of the ensete, or “fake” banana plant, known as asat, although this is a practice they share with other southern and southwestern Ethiopians. The plant plays a vital role in the economic and social life of the Gurage. they use it for a variety of domestic and medicinal purposes, but its role in ritual appraisal to be small. It is also used in other aspects of life. For example, they wrap a corpse after death with it, or after birth, the umbilical cord is tied off with an enset fiber. The tree has a very big stem that grows under the ground. Its intensive cultivation allows the concentration of large communities in compact and permanent villages. well-planned techniques of cultivation (in overlapping two-year cycles) and systematic storage of ensete food make it possible for the Gurage to live well above subsistence level. To this, they have added a variety of cash crops which are grown between ensete plants, without significantly changing the traditional pattern of gardening.
'Kocho" 'Kocho is made by shaping the Ensete paste to a thick circle and wrapping it in a thin layer of ensete leaves. Its baked in a small pit with coals. Sometimes the paste is just cooked over a griddle. In episode 8 in bizarre foods, Andrew Zimmern tasted the 'Kocho and said it tasted like nothing and it made his mouth dry.
Trade The Gurage, the writer Nega Mezlekia notes, "have earned a reputation as skilled traders". One example of an enterprising Gurage is one Tekke, whom Nathaniel T. Kenney described as "an Ethiopian Horatio Alger, Jr.": He began his career selling old bottles and tin cans; the Emperor [Haile Selassie] recently rewarded his achievement in creating his plantation by calling him to Addis Ababa and decorating him.
ጉራጌ ኮረዳ በኢትዮጲያ Guragie girl Ethiopia.
Throughout the Gurage cultural region a periodic marketing system operates, with most markets operating only on a unique day of the week. A few of the larger markets like the one in Emdeber operated in a limited fashion every day of the week but expanded greatly on the “market day.” There were few permanent stalls or shelters but each class of goods had its particular area of the market-place. Items traded included agricultural products, livestock, pottery, cloth, basketwork, cash crops such as coffee and chat, with a few exotic items from the outside world.
Family structure The basic family structure is much larger than the typical Western nuclear unit. The oldest male is usually the head of the household and is in charge of decision making. Men, usually having the primary income, control the family economically and distribute money. Women are in charge of domestic life and have significantly more contact with the children. The father is seen as an authority figure.
Gurage Woman with colorful headdress in the market of Hawariyat Wereda village, Ethiopia. johangerrits
Children are socially required to care for their parents, and so there are often three to four generations in a household. With the advent of urban living, however, this pattern is changing, and children often live far from their families and have a much harder time supporting them. Urbanites have a responsibility to send money to their families in rural areas and often try their best to relocate their families to the cities.
Gurage community elder of Deber Tabor village, Ethiopia. johangerrits
Traditional institutions The traditional institutions take organisational forms based mainly on councils of elders set up at different levels from neighbourhood/village to clan/tribal levels. Their role is to set and enforce norms and rules governing aspects of life ranging from simple socio-economic relations between individuals to wider community, local and regional. Furthermore, they are responsible for Settlement of disputes and management of conflict aimed at obtaining justice and social.
Children Children are raised by the extended family and community. It is the primary duty of the mother to care for the children as part of her domestic duties. If the mother is not available, the responsibility falls to the older female children as well as the grandmothers.
Gurage man and his daughter at Deber Tabor village, Ethiopia. johangerrits
During early childhood, children have the greatest exposure to their mothers and female relatives. At around the age of five, especially in urban areas, children start attending school if their families can afford the fees. In rural areas, schools are few and children do farm work. This means a very low percentage of rural youth attend school. The government is trying to alleviate this problem by building accessible schools in rural areas. The patriarchal structure of society is reflected in the stress on education for boys over girls. Women face discrimination problems as well as physical abuse in school. Also, the belief still exists that females are less competent then males and that education wasted on them.
Gurage children from Ethiopia
Religion The Gurage have belief in Supreme being and a Creator god called "Waq" (Sky God). They participate in traditional religious practices such as offerings to Waq,their supreme deity. They hang effigies of ancestral gods in their houses to ward off evil spirit. Earth shrines to Waq are common outside of villages. The Fuga people, a class of hunters and artisans, are considered to hold the key to traditional rituals. Their reputed power of magic and sorcery are greatly feared. The Fuga are barred from working the soil because they are believed. The Gurage sometimes experience spirit possession. William A. Shack postulated that spirit possession is caused by Gurange cultural attitudes about food and hunger, because while they have a plentiful food supply, cultural pressures that force the Gurange to either share it to meet social obligations, or hoard it and eat it secretly cause them anxiety. Distinctions are drawn between spirits that only possess men, spirits that only possess women, and spirits that possess victims of either sex. A ritual illness that only affects men believed to because by a spirit called awre. This affliction presents itself by loss of appetite, nausea, and attacks from severe stomach pains. If it persists the victim may enter a trancelike stupor, in which he sometimes regains consciousness long enough to take food and water. Breathing is often labored. Seizures and trembling overcome the patient, and in extreme cases, even parti paralysis of the extremities.
Gurage woman from Ethiopia. Courtesy photo by_morgana
If the victim does not recover naturally, a traditional healer, or sagwara, is summoned. Once the sagwara has determined the spirit's name through the use of divinitation, he prescribes a routine formula to exorcise the spirit. This is not a permanent cure, however, it is believed to allow the victim to form a relationship with the spirit. Nevertheless, the victim is subject to chronic repossession, which is treated by repeating the formula. This formula involves the preparation and consumption of a dish of ensente, butter, and red pepper. During this ritual, the victim's head is covered with a drape, and he eats the ensente ravenously while other ritual participants chant. The ritual ends when the possessing spirit announces that it is satisfied. Shack notes that the victims are overwhelmingly poor men, and that women are not as food-deprived as men are due to ritual activities that involve food redistribution and consumption. Shack postulates that the awre serves to bring the possessed man to the center of social attention, and to relieve his anxieties over his inability to gain prestige from redistributing food, which is the primary way in which Gurange men gain status in their society.
The burning of the Meskel large bonfire (Demera) on top of Mount Tabor, Ethiopia.
In recent times, the Gurage are mostly Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, but also practice Islam, Roman Catholicism and traditional religious beliefs. Both Christianity and Islam were outside religions imposed on the Gurage by Invasion. Over 50% claim allegiance to Christianity and another 40% to Islam.
Most Somalis live in Somalia, however over four million reside in Ethiopia. Clan groupings are a very important part of Somali society. The Somali Region (Somali: Gobolka Soomaalida) is the eastern-most of the nine ethnic divisions (kililoch) of Ethiopia. It is often called Soomaaliya Galbeed ("Western Somalia") on account of its geographical position within the Greater Somalia matrix.
The capital of the Somali State is Jijiga. Previously, it had been centered at Kebri Dahar (Qabridahare) until 1992, when it was moved to Gode/Godey. On April 1994, the capital was moved again to its present location on account of political considerations. Other major towns and cities include (Somali spelling in brackets): Degehabur (Dhagaxbuur), Kebri Dahar (Qabridahare), Shilavo (Shilaabo), Geladin (Geladi), Kelafo (Qalaafe), Werder (Wardheer) and Shinile (Shiniile). The province borders the Ethiopian regions of Oromia, Afar and Dire Dawa (Diridhawa) to the west, Djibouti to the north, Somalia to the north, east and south, and Kenya to the south-west. The Somali Region covers much of the traditional territory of Ogaden and it formed a large part of the pre-1995 province of Hararghe.
Published in Cultural and tribe attraction
Tigray tribe of Ethiopia
In Ethiopia, Tigrinya is the third most spoken language and the "Tigray" are the third largest ethnic group, after the Oromo and Amhara. Tigray-Tigrinya live in the northern highlands of Ethiopia Tigray state.
The name of the language is Tigrinya. Tigrinya is descended from an ancient Semitic language called Ge'ez. The Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches officially use the Ge'ez as a liturgical language today, as in the past. The Tigrinya language is the direct descendant of Ge'ez, unlike Amharic (thought to be descended from a specific dialect or cluster of dialects of Ge'ez) and other southern Ethiopian Semitic languages, though Tigre may share this distinction with Tigrinya (its status is uncertain). Tigrinya is closely related to the Tigre language, spoken by the Tigre people, as well as many Beja people.
Tigrinya and Tigre although close are not mutually intelligible, and while Tigrinya has traditionally been a written language which uses the same writing system called fidel (Ge'ez script) as Amharic, Tigre has not. Attempts by the Eritrean government to have Tigre written using the Ge'ez script has met with some resistance from the predominantly Muslim Tigre people who associate Ge'ez with the Orthodox Church and would prefer the Arabic or the more neutral Latin alphabet. It has also met with the linguistic difficulty of the Ge'ez script being a syllabic system which does not distinguish long vowels from short ones. While this works well for writing Tigrinya or Amharic, which don't rely on vowel length in words, it does complicate writing Tigre where vowel length sometimes distinguishes one word and its meaning from another. The Ge'ez script evolved from the Epigraphic South Arabian script, whose first inscriptions are from the 8th century BC in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Yemen. Published in Cultural and tribe attraction
As far as the information I do have till now is concerned, in the ancient and modern history of the Cushitic, it is almost becoming clear that the Oromo nation is the root and the stalk of all the other Cushites, including the Agaw. The Oromo being initially the Waaqeffataa nation, the Agaw started to have a new orientation towards Judaism, being influenced by the Jewish immigrants (the Falaashaa), who came to the Cush kingdom about 3000 years ago. Despite such small differences, not only the Agaw, but all the Cushitic nations in the Horn of Africa seem to be the further derivations from the Oromo and yet having certain conflicts in some areas. Here, it is enough to look at the common history and/or the conflict history of the Agaw and the Oromo nations because of the fact that Agaw-Midir is the north-western neighbour of Biyya-Oromo with the worse experience of being a victim in the Abyssinization process (which is sometimes seen as the method of being converted from the Waaqeffannaa of Oromo and the Judaism of Agaw to the Orthodox Christianity of Abyssinians). As it had been already well recorded, the Abyssinized parts of the Agaw have got a conflict for many years specially with the non-Abyssinized parts of the Oromo.
Even if the Agaw may not be the further differentiation from the Oromo, it is becoming a historical fact that the Agaw nation is a main priori identity of most Amhara and Tegaru in Abyssinia. Different versions of history, legend and story do tell us that Agaw people in the northeastern Africa have been influenced, both biologically and culturally, by the Jewish and by certain other immigrants from southern Arabia, particularly from Yemen. I think the cultural influence by these few Semites is stronger than their biological impact on the indigenous Agaw nation. That is why most of the Abyssinians do physically look like African Cushites, rather than being like those from the Middle East, despite the claim of their monarchs that they are from the Solomonic dynasty. Certain historians do describe this phenomenon as a cultural Semitization of the Cushites, and they do call the Abyssinian people as ‘the Semitic speaking Cushites.’ Some writers even assert that the Agaw people are the only indigenous inhabitants of most areas now occupied by the Amharinya and Tigrinya speakers.
One of the facts to verify this theory is the linguistic studies done by some specialists. These experts do narrate that Agawinya is a main substratum for the Ethio-Semitic languages. The assertion holds water because of the reality that the languages of Abyssinia have got the same grammatical structure to that of the Agaw, but enriched by different terms and vocabularies from the Hebrew, Arab and Yemenite Hebrew. This fact is the basic ground for the recent argument regarding, specially Amharinya, in clarifying the question whether it is a Cushitic or a Semitic language. The answer is already given by some linguists, who tried to designate Amharinya as a ‘Semitized Cushitic language.’ It was stated in literature that Amharinya was the creation of the Abyssinian ruling class around 1270. It seems that the monarchs in Ankober started to use this language just for the sake of distancing themselves from the common people they did rule (from the Agaw and the Oromo). It is similar to the truly historical process of creating a French language and its usage by the monarchs of the old Germans (e.g. by the Franken) just to have a privileged position vis-à-vis the common people, who used to speak Deutsch (German language). German monarchs used to speak French, which could be seen as parallel to the Oromo monarchs, who preferred Amharinya as their working language. That means Amharinya was equivalent to French (as a language of the ruling class), and Afaan Oromo was the same to Deutsch (as a language of the common citizens).
Amharinya getting this privileged position became the superstratum on the substratum of either Agawinya or Afaan Oromo. Amharinya significantly influenced both substrata to the extent that most Agawinya speakers lost their own Cushitic language, whereas the Oromo tried to defend their language against such influence. The main mechanism used to destroy the Agawinya was the discrimination and the stigmatization of its speakers so that they felt inferior to the Amharinya speakers. To be privileged as a ruling class, the common citizens had to give up their language of the common and strive to learn the language of the monarchs. Also in practice, those who assimilated themselves into the Amharinya-speaking community have gotten the expected privilege and profit, which the ruling class reserved for its own group. This same method was also applied to the Oromo, so that the assimilated Oromo always could be treated as part of the Abyssinian ruling class and got the powerful positions, even to the extent of being kings and presidents of the Ethiopian empire.
Despite such mechanism of assimilation, the Oromo people resisted and preserved our culture and language to some extent. Even though almost all Oromo nationals living in the north part of Oromia, as an immediate neighbors to the Abyssinianized Agaw, lost their priori language, they could save their Oromo culture from being extinct. This is what we have already observed among the Raayya-, Wallo- and Yejju-Oromo. For the sake of resisting the Abyssinianization process, which is mostly considered to be equivalent to the Christianization through the Orthodox church, these part of the Oromo people accepted Islam as their own religion and with that distanced themselves from the classical Abyssinians. Because of this step, they had to pay the sacrifice of being massacred by the Abyssinian warlord, Yohannes, and being discriminated by the other Abyssinian kings and rulers. This same process was applied in the whole Oromia after the invasion by the Abyssinian warlord, Minilk from Ankober, the town which was part and parcel of Oromia for it was the birth place of Obbo Guddisa, the grandfather of Haile-Sillasie.
It was such discrimination, Abyssinianization and stigmatization of the common citizens, which led to the start of the coordinated national liberation movement of the Oromo people. In fact, the Oromo people have been in liberation struggle since the beginning of the cultural and political influence by the immigrants from Yemen calling themselves Habashat. The 16th century Oromo “migration” being part of the liberation movement, the Oromo did fight against the Abyssinian invaders, especially since the end of the 19th century. The Oromo leaders, who declared Afaan Oromo be the working language of the monarchy in Gondar palace, were part of this Oromo national resistance against the Abyssinianization process. The movements, like that of Raayya, Bale, Macaa and Tullama, Afran Qallo, Me’ison, Ici’at, and the well formulated as well as organized liberation movement led, especially by the OLF, can also be given as an example of the resistance. These movements could help the Oromo to cope better than the Agaw people, who could not survive as such, but now need to revive their priori identity.
Interestingly, the politically conscious Agaw nationals have already started this revival movement. The sub-groups, like Bilen, Awi and Waag-Xamta, have already started to use their own language and to be proud of being part of the Agaw nation, despite all pressures and subjugation from their Abyssinianized neighbors. The Qemant/Kemant around Gondar are now demanding the same self-determination to develop and use their own language as well as to rule themselves, being free from the Abyssinian oppressors. Those who already lost their priori identity, like the Lasta-Lalibela of western Wallo, the Wayixo around Bahirdar, the Gafat of the whole eastern Gojjam and southern Gondar, the Kunfal of western Gojjam, the Bejjaa-Midir (Begemidir), the Quara and the Semien of the western and northern Gondar, the Axumites and the Abergele of western Tigrai, are now trying to come back to their true self and resurrect their lost language, instead of being seen as Amhara and Tegaru, which is actually their false self. They have now started to assert like the famous South African freedom fighter, Steve Biko, once said: “you can beat or jail or even kill me, but I am not going to be what you want me to be.” Here, he rejected the false self imposed on him and he was determined to keep and maintain his true self.
The question now to be asked should be: is such renaissance of the Agaw identity possible? The answer is in short, ‘yes,’ but to be successful, this traumatized nation is now in a desperate need of help from its brotherly Cushitic nations, like the Oromo, the Somali, the Sidama and the Afar. Speaking Amharinya and Tigrinya does not make these people other than being Agaw. Just like the Brazilians are not Portuguese by speaking the language of their colonizer, the Agaw people can not be non-Agaw for not speaking their priori language. If they want to revive their true identity, all the Agaw nationals first need to be politically conscious. I personally think and believe that people in Abyssinia are the Abyssinianized parts of the Cushitic Afar, Beja, Agaw, Saho and Oromo (ABASO), who denied their true self. To mention as further examples, the southern part of Tigrai (the Raayya) are Oromo, the eastern part are Afar, the north-eastern part are Saho and the rest are Agaw. Regarding Eritrea, the western part are mostly the Abyssinianized Bejjaa, the center as well as the southern part are the Abyssinianized Agaw and the eastern part are the Abyssinianized as well as the non-Abyssinianized Saho and Afar.
If, especially the Agaw nation, starts to resurrect and revive its true self, this is what we can call as part of the true Cushitic renaissance or in short Cush renaissance. Some Abyssinians mistakenly do talk about this renaissance by making it to be the same as a continuation and strengthening of the Abyssinianization process. Meles Zenawi’s rhetoric about the Ethiopian renaissance is such a classical misconception. If he really is serious, then he had to promote and support the Agaw people of Abyssinia come back to their true self. Such de-Abyssinianization (giving up the false self) or re-Cushitization (coming back to the true self) is what we can accept and respect as the genuine Cushitic renaissance. This phenomenon must be coupled with a revival of the Agaw cultural and national identity. Actually all Abyssinians, including the Abyssinianized Oromo, should have entertained this attempt of finding true self by putting their false self in question.
Here, I must stress that, not only the Abyssinianized Agaw, but also the Abyssinianized Oromo of the north Shoa in Amhara region, east Wallo, south Tigrai and south Gojjam, should try to resurrect their true identity. I know that most of them did not lose their Cushitic culture, but surely they had already lost their Afaan Oromo. Now, it is the right time for them to try to find their priori identity, and say ‘no’ to the ongoing entertainment of the false self. I am sure, if they count back seven generation of their ancestors, they all can find who they really are, instead of just looking at the language they do now speak and identify themselves as Amhara or Tegaru. Also, this lost part of the Oromo community need the necessary help of the politically conscious Oromo nationalists.
The movements of the Agaw and the Oromo people against the hitherto and the ongoing Abyssinianization process can synergize each other, if the two brotherly nations try to work together. It is a good sign that the Abyssinianized Agaw and the Abyssinianized Oromo nowadays started to call themselves as Amhara – instead of hiding behind the already contaminated identity called ‘Ethiopian.’ But now, they have to move further and ask: who is Abesha/Abyssinian in general, and who is Amhara in particular? Till now I read two authors writing on such question and topic regarding the Amhara. Both versions are diametrically opposite, yet the attempt of the authors to answer this question is good. I encourage every Amhara and Tegaru to ask her-/himself: ‘who is my true self’? Surely, the majority of them can find the reality of being a descendant of Agaw or Oromo, or that of the other Cushitic nations.
If this process of finding and getting one’s true self will continue, definitely in the future, both Agaw-Midir (which is wrongly designated as the Axum empire, Abyssinia, Ethiopia or Amhara-Tigrai) and Biyya-Oromo, can be a very good peaceful neighboring states under the common home – the African Union (the future African Federation). This can be a common vision for both the Agaw people and the Oromo nationals, if they want to struggle together and get rid of the currently ruling Abyssinian tormentors, who are still promoting the de-Agawianization and the de-Oromonization towards the false self of being an Ethiopian, the code name for the Abyssinianization process. I think both Agawinnet and Oromummaa, as the respective true self of the two brotherly nations and as an anti-dote against Abyssinianism, must be further developed and promoted in order to get rid of being Abyssinian (the false self of the Abyssinianized Cushites).
All the Cushitic nations of the region in general, and the Abyssinianized Agaw in particular, need to rally behind the common vision of a future good neighborhood. Only a sort of supra-national union of independent nations, like the free Agaw-Midir, Oromia, Afar-Saho, Somalia and Sidama, under certain common name, call it Cush Community, Ethiopian union, or Horn Confederation can be the lasting and optimal solution for the complicated political situation of the region. That is why Oromian independence is indispensable and even Agaw-Midir’s independence is possible. Oromo nationalists need to work on this process and project. All the Cushites, including the Agaw people, need to come back to their priori identity in order to galvanize the national liberation movement against the rule of the elites with such false self, who are the worst servants of alien forces as we do still see in case of the Woyane. If all the stakeholders in the region will agree in having a sort of independent nations’ union (Cush Community); surely, both Agaw-Midir and Biyya-Oromo will be the strongest pillars of the union, just as France and Germany are to the European Union.
By getting victory over these servants of the alien forces, who have already denied their true nature, all the brotherly Cushitic nations and all the members of Cush Community in the Horn, including the non-Cushitic minor nationalities in the region can live in the future with all the necessary harmony and peace. To this effect, what is important above all things is the renaissance of the lost good values, like the Gadaa democracy of the Oromo and the true national identity of the Agaw. This approach of helping Agaw’s identity resurrection is one way of tackling the dictatorial culture of the Abyssinian elites. That is why Oromo nationalists have to promote the national revival struggle of the Agaw people, because of the fact that Agaw’s renaissance in turn will be the best support for the Oromo national liberation movement. We just ought to start this virtuous cycle, which really can have a positive feedback for the Oromo struggle. May Rabbi/Waaqa help the Agaw nation resurrect its priori identity and revive its own national culture and language.
The Amhara, who are the second largest tribe in Ethiopia, generally live in the central highlands of the country. They dominate Ethiopia's economy and politics. The Amhara Tribe is the politically and culturally dominant ethnic group of Ethiopia. They are located primarily in the central highland plateau of Ethiopia and comprise the major population element in the provinces of Begemder and Gojjam and in parts of Shoa and Wallo. The Amhara (pronounced am-HAH-ruh) are mostly farmers who live in the north central highlands of Ethiopia. The Amhara display a mixed physiological heritage. They speak a Semitic language, and historical and linguistic factors, compared with their primary myths of origin, seem to indicate that their Semitic ancestors came from what is modern-day Yemen. Addis Abeba, the capital of Ethiopia and of the previous Amhara Abyssinian Empire, is home for many Amhara but actually an enclave within the land of the Oromo peoples.
According to their traditions they trace their roots to Menelik I, the child born of the queen of Sheba and King Solomon. Most scholars agree their traditions and legends are quite fanciful, though they seem to contain, as legends of origin commonly do, a core of historical information. Surely the people own oral traditions have to be considered in reconstructing their history. There are extensive sources reporting on their traditions. They are so well-known as to be considered common knowledge.
These oral traditions seem to reflect a historical link to the Sabaean (Sabean or Sheban) people, referred to in several ancient sources. It is thought that the Sabaean (Sheban) people began to settle on the west coast of the Red Sea, from their home in southern Arabia, about 1000 BC. Menelik I was the first of the Solomonic line of rulers of Ethiopia that ended only with the deposing of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974.
By about 400 BC their civilization became the Axum Empire, based on a mixture of the early Sabaean culture and the prior Cushitic culture. Axum ruled the region till in the 900s AD. Historian Basil Davidson includes this historical event in his Chronologue of African history:"Origins of Axumite culture in northeast Ethiopia by synthesis of local people and immigrants from southern Arabia."1
The ruins of the ancient city of Axum can still be seen in Tigray Province. Except for a few notable exceptions, the Amhara have been the dominant people group in Ethiopia history. The strength of their culture is shown in this influence though they number only 15 million of the estimated 53 million population of modern Ethiopia.
The Amhara appear to be descended from the same people group as the Tigray-Tigrinya people. Their Sabaean ancestors came to the highlands of what is now Eritrea and Ethiopia from the Arabian Peninsula. These Semitic migrants gradually mixed with the Cushitic peoples there. Successive waves of migrations across the Red Sea straits and around the Horn have enriched the mix of cultural and genetic heritage in the historical period.
Recent reconstruction of human prehistory from DNA studies indicates this narrow southern end of the Red Sea was the major point from which original humans moved from the African continent into Asia and on to the East and West. This area has continued to be the crossing point for migrations in both directions in recent millennia. (See the books by Stephen Oppenheimer and Spencer Wells on this reconstruction of human pre-history.)
The mix of Cushite and Semitic peoples were united over the centuries in the Amhara-Tigray empire, called Abyssinia. This word Abyssinia is a derivation from the name for a group of the Tigray people at that time, the Habash. The Amhara and Tigrinya-Tigray groups claim close ties with the Jews, having adopted many cultural values and religious beliefs from them.
The basic ancestry of the Amhara is Semitic, as is their language. But they became a unique people as they intermarried and absorbed some of the Cushitic peoples who preceded them in this area. There was a strong Oromo strain in the royal family and nobles. The Amhara features are similar to the southern Arabs, olive to brown skin, with Caucasian features and dark circles around the eyes. Most soruces say the name comes from the word amari, meaning "pleasing, agreeable, beautiful and gracious."
The national and ethnic identity of the Amhara has been strongly intertwined with a form of the Christian faith since about 350 CE, when Syrian (Nestorian) Christianity was introduced to the royal family by a young Syrian sailor. After the Royal Family accepted the new faith, they requested missionaries from Syria and later developed ties with the Egyptian Church, hence the inclusion of the term Coptic (Egyptian) in the name of the Ethiopian Coptic Orthodox Church since early times.
Omo Valley Tribes Ethiopia
Crossing remote areas, far away from civilization and from the comfort of the modern dwelling lies one of the most well-kept traditions you might expect to see on the African continent; In Southern Ethiopia in the Omo Valley , there is a cultural fest – over 45 languages are spoken, several tribes combine their traditions in an amazing display of color and culture that reminds one of earliest times; with diverse ecosystems including grasslands, volcanic outcrops, and one of the few remaining ‘pristine’ riverine forests in semi-arid Africa which supports a wide variety of wildlife.
The Arbore tribeis one of the many indigenous tribes’ lives in the southwest of the Omo Valley of Ethiopia near the Omo River. Arbore people are pastoralists (livestock farmers). They believe that their singing and dancing eliminates negative energy and with the negative energy gone, the tribe will prosper. They are measuring their wealth in terms of the amount of cattle they own.
The women of the Arbore tribe cover their heads with a black cloth and are known to wear very colorful necklaces and earrings.
Young children will wear a shell type hat that protects their heads from the sun. And body painting is done by the Arbore using natural colors made from solid and stone.
The Ari tribe inhabits the northern border of Mago National Park in southwestern Ethiopia. And have the largest territory of all the tribes in the area.They have fertile lands allowing them to have several types of plantations. An Ari's crop can consist of grains, coffee, fruits and honey. It's also common for them to have large herds of livestock.
The Tribe memberswear a lot of jeweler and have many piercings in their ears. They wrap beads and bracelets around their arms and waist for decoration.
The women wear skirts from the banana like tree, called Enset. Ari women are famous for their pottery which they sell to support their families.
The Ari are known to paint and scar their bodies as part of their culture.
Ari’s Men may marry as many women as they like, but only within their own tribe. A "bride price" of cattle and other goods is provided by the prospective husband and his near relatives. A typical household consists of a woman, her children, and a male protector. A man may be the protector of more than one household, depending on the number of wives he has. Also, men are sometimes assigned the responsibility of protecting a divorced woman, a widow, or the wife of an absent husband (usually his brother). Marriage celebrations include feasting and dancing. Young girls as well as boys are circumcised.
Bena and Hamar Tribe: they are the same people but their differences is their district.
The hamar or hammer, they are one of the most known tribes in Soutern Ethiopia. They inhabit the territory east of the Omo River and have villages in Turmi and Dimeka. The Hamers are pastoralists and number about 30,000. They are known for their practice of body adornment and wearing a multitude of colorful beads. Women adorn their necks with heavy polished iron jewelry .The Hamer men have a reputation of being less than adoring husbands. According to JP Dutilleux "the women submit to the ritual floggings proudly and love to show the deep scars that are regarded as a proof of devotion to their husbands.
Hamer society consists of a complex system of age groups. To pass from one age group to another involves complicated rituals. The most significant ceremony foryoung men is the "jumping of the bull" - the final test before passing into adulthood.
The practice of body modification is used by cutting themselves and packing the wound with ash and charcoal. Some of the women wear circular wedge necklaces indicating that they are married. Men paint themselves with white chalk to prepare for a ceremony. Hair ornaments worn by the men indicate a previous kill of an enemy or Animal.
Banna, Bana, and Benna are other spellings for the Bena people. They are neighbors with the Hamer tribe and it is believed that the Bena actually originated from them centuries ago. The markets in Key Afer and Jinka are often visited by them. Just like most of the indigenous tribes in the lower Omo Valley, the Bena practice ritual dancing and singing. The Bena look very similar to the Hamer and are often called the Hamer-Bena. Common rituals and traditions of other tribes are shared by the Bena. The boys in the tribe participate in bull jumping. When it is time for the boy to become a man, he must jump over a number of bulls naked without falling. If he is able to complete this task, he will become a man and be able to marry a woman.
The men often have their hair dressed up with a colorful clay cap that is decorated with feathers. Both the men and women wear long garments and paint their bodies with white chalk. Women of the tribe wear beads in their hair that is held together with butter.
The Hamer, Tsemay, Benna and Besada people share traditions and rituals. One of the most important is the 'Bull jumping'. If a young man wants to marry the girl of his choice he has to jump over about 10 bulls standing side by side, picked by the girl's family. It is more of a walking over the backs of the bulls rather then jumping and the young man has to walk four times, two times in each direction - falling not allowed. Friends (called the 'maz'), who have successfully performed the jumping are allowed to help by keeping the cattle in place. If the jumper fails people will often blame the wind for his failure and they allow the aspiring groom a second chance. If he still fails it is considered a bad sign and he will have another chance a year later.
If the groom-to-be succeeds, he may keep the girl in exchange for cattle he gives to her family. For two months the betrothed couple will share blood and milk. Blood from the cow's neck is mixed with her milk and drunk. A wealthy, strong man may marry up to four women.
Bodi / Me'en Tribe
The Bodi are pastorlists living close to the Omo River in south-western Ethiopia. They live with their cattle herds and livestock plays a large role in the tribe. Although they do cultivate sorghum along the banks of the Omo River, their culture is very much cattle centered. Similar to the Mursi, livestock plays an important role in marriage, divination, and name-giving rituals. The Bodi classification of cattle is complex, with over eighty words to denote different colors and patterns.
Men of the Bodi are typically overweight because they consume large amounts of honey. The men wear a strip of cotton around their waist or walk around naked. In June, the Bodi celebrate Ka'el. This is a tradition that measures the body fat of a contestant. Each family or clan is allowed to enter an unmarried contestant. The winner of this contest is awarded great fame by the tribe. Men also wear a headband with a feather attached to it during rituals. The women in the tribe wear goatskin skirts and have a plug inserted into their chin.
The Bumi Tribe
Bumi tribe, Omo river,Omerate 2010 Also known as the Nyangatom or the Bume, the Bumi live south of Omo National park and occasionally migrate in to the lower regions of the park when water or grazing is scarce. Numbering around 6,000-7,000 in population, the Bumi are agro pastoralists, relying on cattle herding and floor- retreat agriculture (consisting mainly of sorghum harvesting on the Omo and kibish Rivers). The Bumi tend to indulge in honey and frequently smoke out beehives in the park to get the honey inside the nests. The Bumi are known to be great warriors and quite frequently, active warmongers, they are often at war with the neighboring tribes including the Hamer, the Karo and the Surma. Small group of Bumi living along the Omo are specialized crocodile hunters using harpoons from a dugout canoe. The elders of both sexes wear a lower lip plug, the men’s being made from ivory and women’s made from copper filigree.
Dasanech / Dassanech Tribe
Dasanech (Galeb or Geleb ) tribe come from multiple ethnic groups. There are eight clans that make up the Dasanech tribe, each having its own name. They are the Elele, Inkabelo, Inkoria, Koro, Naritch, Oro, Randal and the Ri'ele. Each clan is defined by its territory with the Inkabelo being the wealthiest. This tribe lives just north of Kenya's Lake Turkana. Their neighboring tribe is the Turkana people. The Dasanech are pastralists (cattle herders), but due to the harsh territory, they have moved south to grow crops and fish. Cattle are used by the tribesman for meat, milk and clothing. A Daasanech man blesses his daughter's fertility and future marriage by celebrating the Dimi. During the Dimi 10 to 30 cattle are slaughtered. Both men and women wear fur capes while they feast and dance. A Dimi ceremony will most likely take place in the dry season.
THE Karo Tribe
The Karo or Kara is a small tribe with an estimated population between 1,000 and 3,000. They are closely related to the Kwegu tribe. They live along the east banks of the Omo River in southern Ethiopia and practice flood retreat cultivation. The crops that aregrown by them are sorghum, maize and beans. Only small cattle are kept because of the tsetse flies. These flies are large and consume the blood of vertebrate animals.
Women scarify their chests to beautify themselves in preparation of their dances and ceremonies Scars are cut with a knife and ash is rubbed in to produce a raised welt.
They pulverize locally found white chalk, yellow mineral rock, red iron ore and black charcoal to decorate their bodies, often imitating the spotted plumage of a guinea fowl. Feather plumes are inserted in their clay hair buns to complete the look. The clay hair bun can take up to three days to construct and is usually re-made every three to six months. Their painted facemasks are spectacular.
The men's scars representan enemy or dangerous animal killed. They also wear clay hair buns which symbol a kill. A man in the tribe can have as many wives as he wants, but must be able to afford them. Most men will only marry two or three.
The Konso live in an isolated region of the basalt hills. The area is made up of hard rocky slopes. A Konso village maybe fortified by a stone wall used as a defensive measure. Their village is located on hilltops and is split up into communities, with each community having a main hut. In order to enter a Konso village, you must pass through a gate and a series of alleys. These paths are part of it's security system, keeping the village difficult to access.
They are mixed agriculturists using their dry and infertile lands to grow crops. Animal dung is used to fertilize the grounds and their most important crop is the sorghum. Sorghum is used as a flour and to make local beer. Grains, beans, cotton, corn and coffee are also grown by the Konso people.
The erection of stones and poles is part of the Konso tradition. A generation pole is raised every 18 years, marking the start of a new generation. The age of a village can be determined by how many poles are standing. Carved wooden statues are also used to mark the grave of a famous Konso tribal member. The marker, called a Waga is placed above the grave and smaller statues are then placed around the larger one representing his wives and conquered enemies.
Although the Konso people have many customs dating back hundreds of years, it is not uncommon for them to be seen wearing western clothing. As newer generations grow, their traditional attire has gradually changed to modern societies. The Konso is a very interesting tribe to visit on your trip to the lower Omo Valley.
Kwegu or Kwego Tribe
The Kwegu or Muguji are one of the smallest tribes in Omo Valley, living in small villages along the Mago River. It is believed that the devasting affects from the Gibe III dam being built on the Omo Riverwill cause the tribe to go extinct.
Unlike the other tribes, the Kwegu do not have cattle. They are hunters and live off the land. Small game is trapped by the tribe for food, but they also eat fruits and honey if available. They are largley dependant on the Omo River for fish to eat. Close relatives to the Kwegu are the Karo people. It is often that you can find Kwegu and Karo people living together or even marrying each other.
One of the most unusual tribes of the world, the Mursi or Mursu people are the most popular in Ethiopia's Omo Valley. They are well known for their unique lip plates. They are settled around the Omo River and in the Mago National Park. Due to the climate, they move twice a year between the winter and summer months. They herd cattle and grow crops along the banks of the Omo River.
The men practice light scarification on their shoulders after killing an enemy, and shave geometric patterns on their head. During dances and ceremonies they adorn literally every part of their body with white chalk paint. Young unmarried men practice group stick fights. The winner is carried on top of poles to girls waiting beside the arena, who decide among themselves which of them will ask his hand in marriage.
When a young Mursi girl reaches the age of 15 or 16, her lower lip is pierced so she can wear a lip plate. The larger the lip plate she can tolerate, the more cattle her bride price will bring for her father.
Men of the Mursi also use white paint for their bodies and faces. Just like any other ethnic tribe in the lower valley, the men must pass a test before they can get married. A Mursi man is given a stick called a Donga and must face one opponent. The men then battle it out, beating each other with the sticks.
The first fighter to submit loses and the winner is taken by a group of women to determine who he will marry. Men of the tribe also practice scarification. Like other tribes, this is the marking of an enemy killed by him.
The unique “ornament” of the face which they use, is absolutely unusual, even for wild people. The matter is that the lower lip of this tribe’s girls is cut in an early age. They begin to put into the lip the billets of wood, every time with the bigger and bigger diameter.
Suri Tribe Suri, also known as the Surma people live in the southwestern plains of Ethiopia. They raise cattle and farm when the land is fertile. Cattle are important to the Suri, giving them status. The more cattle a tribe’s man has, the wealthier they are. In order for a man to marry women in the Suri tribe, he must own at least 60 cattle. Cattle are given to the family of the woman in exchange for marriage. Like the other tribes, the Suri will use the milk and blood from the cow. During the dry season, the people will drink blood instead of milk. Blood can be drained from a cow once a month. This is done by making a small incision in its neck.
The Suri are very much like the Muris tribe and practice the same traditions. The women wear lip plates that are made out of clay. The men in the tribe fight with sticks called Dongas. Both the men and women scar their bodies. If you see a Suri man with a scar, it usually means that he has killed a member of a rival tribe
Tsemay tribe is living in the semi-arid region of the Omo Valley.These people are agro-pastoralist anduse both livestock herding and agriculture to survive. Common crops grown by the tribe are sorghum, millet and sometimes cotton.
Like the Hamer tribe, the Tsemay boys have to successfully complete a bull jumping event. This is a ceremony where the boy runs acrossmultiple bulls. If the boy can make it across four times without falling, he becomes a man. To prove a boy has accomplished a bull jumping, he is outfitted with aband that has feathers on it. It is worn on his head and it shows that he is now looking for a wife.
Unlike any other tribe in Ethiopia, the Tsemay have arranged weddings. The parents of the woman pick who she will marry with or without her consent. Even if the marriage is arranged, the man must still be able to afford to pay for his future wife. Payment of cattle, honey, grain and coffee beans are accepted. Women of the tribe, who are not married, wear a short leather skirt with a v-shaped apron attached. Married women wear long leather dresses with an apron that have an apron covering their front and back side.
Tribal Markets and Events in Omo Valley Ethiopia
The different tribes and ethnic groups of Ethiopia have a weekly market where they buy and sell their products. Market places are colorful and lively places, attracting people from all around the region.
Bati Market: on Monday - Afar people, camel caravans
Senbete Market: on Sunday - Amhara, Oromo and Afar people
Turmi Market: on Monday and Saturday - Hamer people
Demeka Market on Tuesday and Saturday - Hamer people
Key Afar Market on Thursday - Benna, Tsemay and Ari people
Mursi Hana Market on Saturday - Body people
Donga is a stick fighting event of the Surma people. Players are usually young, unmarried men who paint their naked bodies with a mixture of chalk and water before the fight. Each contestant is armed with a hardwood pole about six feet long. The pole is gripped at its base with both hands, the left above the right in order to give maximum swing. Each player beats his opponent with his stick as many times as possible with the intention of knocking him down and eliminating him from the game. The winner is carried away on a platform of poles to a group of girls waiting at the side of the arena who decide among themselves which of thewill ask for his hand in marriage. Taking part in a stick fight is considered to be more important than winning it.