Family Life  
Food Security  
Social Institutions  
Social Relationships  
Spiritual Beliefs  

Click on arrows
to find more
these themes










Jirile (midlands)


January 1997


The narrator clearly feels life was better in “the old days”. He focuses mainly on farming, land use and declining land productivity. He frequently refers to not liking intermarriage with other groups and says he thinks that the spread of disease today is because of people travelling and mixing with outsiders. He believes that the future lies with educating people.

detailed breakdown

You will need a password from Panos to view the full transcript of the interview. To apply for a password, click here.

Once you have a password, click here to go to the beginning of the transcript. You can also click on any section of the breakdown of content below and go straight to the corresponding part of the transcript.


Section 1  Land use, economy and social structure “in the old days” – people had larger plots, land taxes (paid in honey and salt) were light and people knew their station in society. Land redistribution, cultivation of smaller plots and removal of soil bunds (embankments), causing soil erosion. Not enough food anymore but people are well dressed.
Section 2  Social occasions, e.g. weddings, in the past – people were generous with hospitality because the land produced a sufficiency. Nowadays, people have large families and the land cannot support them all. Relationship between Muslims and Christians, role of artisans, current problems of intermarriage different religious and social groups.
Section 3  Education – narrator too poor to give his children an education; says educated people can “protect the soil from erosion and the land from usurpers”. Foreign aid – says this would be appreciated. Communications – has not travelled outside his area; few people with radios.
Section 3-4  Diseases in the past – smallpox, pneumonia and malaria – and how people cured or guarded against these. Nowadays, spread of “unknown” diseases (to the towns) brought by sexual contact with other parts of the world: “even if our fathers were unfaithful, they did not have sexual relations with people in the towns”.
Section 4-5  Age of marriage – because of population increase and for the sake of young people’s health the narrator says he is coming to accept the Derg’s advice that girls should not marry before the age of 15 or men before 20.
Section 5  Food deficiency makes girls “weak” – when they eat regularly they are not so “easily seduced”. Wealth of fruit-bearing trees and livestock in the past. Famines over the years and how people coped. People now becoming dependent on food handouts from overseas.