social institutions
social relationships
spiritual beliefs

family life
food security
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introducing the area

culture and customs

 quotes about culture and customs
 key testimonies featuring culture and customs

Many traditions are associated with religion. One narrator, for example, mentions that when the Holy Tablet is carried out of the church the custom is to "escort it dressed in our best clothes and [to] celebrate the occasion with horse races" (Ethiopia 1). Two Muslim narrators (Ethiopia 9 and 10) refer to Eid el Fitr, the feast at the end of Ramadan, when "we all go to the same place and drink our coffee and have breakfast together". Some narrators sing traditional songs in the course of their testimonies and mention that new songs are composed to reflect changing circumstances. The custom of spontaneously composing funeral dirges is in decline, however; as elsewhere, it seems that musicians and singers now perform commercially rather than providing their services free.

quotes about culture and customs

"When the Holy Tablet comes out, there are traditional war songs [sung] even by elderly men. Guns are fired to herald the event and also at the funeral of a man to honour him as a hero. But now the authorities punish or detain people for firing their guns when the Holy Tablet is carried out of the Church. People fire their guns also because they have made vows to do so if they reach the next celebration in good health. Now all that fanfare and jubilation has been reduced by these restrictions."
Ayichesh, F/28, head of household, Ethiopia 1

"In August the young men from one village have a match of endurance with their other counterparts by flogging each other. I think this practice is unlikely to continue for long because I even seen young men losing their sight in such matches and some running into other person's homes and breaking household goods or pushing old persons into the ravines in their attempt to flee their assailants. There are also horse-riding competitions on holidays and ghenna (game like hockey played at Christmas). These are not common in the lowlands."
Mario, M/40, farmer, Ethiopia 21

"In the old days the funeral dirges were saddening. One of them goes:
         Oh! Oh! May God give strength to my sisters
         May God give strength to my brothers
         Now the hyena of daylight will devour my children.
Now professional funeral dirge singers have to be hired for 40 or 50 birr, but they are not skilled enough. In the old days the relatives spontaneously composed the dirges and money was not paid."

Lemlem, F/67, farmer/nun, Ethiopia 3

key testimonies featuring culture and customs

  No.   Name   Sex/Age   Occupation   Location  
Summary Transcript   1   Ayichesh   female/28   head of household   Gala Dejen (highlands)  
Summary Transcript   10   Hamza   male/28   farmer   Gumar  
Summary Transcript   21   Mario   male/40   farmer   Filaqit town (midlands)  
Summary Transcript   3   Lemlem   female/67   farmer/ nun   Woina Dega (midlands)