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farmer/female head of household


Gala Dejen (highlands)


December 1996


In a situation of declining land productivity and rising population the narrator talks about trading as a more profitable occupation than farming. Since the village is fast growing into a town she would like to see a local market established and be able to open a shop. In general she demonstrates a more optimistic attitude than several of the other female narrators.

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Section 1  Changes in land production: “Now there is little of everything except the people – little grass, little crops, little fallowing of land.” Soil erosion – caused by land overuse. Availability of clean drinking water with the installation of a water pump.
Section 2  Selling of livestock to buy food. Change in sources of fuel – little cow dung available but forest also depleted: “if you have none of these means you either buy firewood or collect what you can get from the barren land.” Restrictions on land for grazing. Treatment of livestock disease – formerly traditional medicines, now by injections.
Section 3-4  Traditional and modern methods of pest control. Changes in market conditions. Hopes of a market being established locally and of being able to open a shop now that the village is growing into a town. Description of Mahber, Senbetie and Iqub (community associations).
Section 5  Marriage and divorce. What she would do if her husband took a lover: “I tell him that if he doesn’t abandon his lover, I will divorce him and marry someone who doesn’t keep a concubine.”
Section 6-7  Care of disabled or weak – custom of sharing responsibility still continues. Differences in appearance between rural and townspeople – working in the sun makes skin darker. Religious festivals and social institutions – if customs were to die out “that would be like the merger of the sky and the earth…it would be the end of everything.” Incidence of crime and treatment of criminals – murderers expected to leave the area.
Section 7  Meket people’s sense of identity: “Everyone identifies himself by the name given to his locality.” Living elsewhere: “I lead a good life here, I do not want to leave my village. But if your life is full of hardship and there is a chance for leading a better life elsewhere, you may want to take that chance.” Festivals celebrated.
Section 8  Changes in style of dress. Close association of traditional customs with religion – abandoning them would be to forsake religious practice.
Section 9-10  Illiteracy and education: “Illiteracy is the same as ignorance. At the time of the Derg we were urged to attend the literacy schools, but we didn’t like the idea of going to school then because we felt it might interfere with our work.” Traditional means of spreading important news – calling out from hilltop or sending a messenger. Benefit of the Chinese road.