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Ganchire Gebriel


September 1997


The narrator, now an old man, came to the area as a student. His answers are brief and one gets the impression that he is weary of life and somewhat bitter, and perhaps does not see much point in talking about a world he may soon leave. Some personal information is given, including the facts that he has to beg for alms and that he has problems with his eyesight.

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Section 1-2  Changes in the land, drought, population increase, decrease in land productivity. Plentiful harvests, numbers of livestock and easy lifestyle in the past: “Now people are gripped by hardship.” Crops grown. Problems with irrigation because water sources have dried up
Section 3  Pests. Confiscation and redistribution of the land after Haile Sellassie was removed from power.
Section 4  Government food aid. Social institutions – associations such as Senbetie “have no use now”. Migration of priests owing to hardship. Divorce and division of property – formerly called “lemon into two” since both partners got fair shares. Dowry.
Section 5  Increase in number of single women: “Nowadays, half the women are unattached.” Men keeping concubines – according to narrator, this did not happen in the past but is now a common practice.
Section 6  Muslims and Christians (lowlanders and highlanders). Weavers from lowlands – come to make clothes, are accommodated in highlanders’ homes: “we have no relationship with them” (but no quarrels either). Superstitions about artisans: “I don’t believe that human beings eat other human beings. It is empty talk.” Relations between men and women – says there was equality in the past: “now …the women are riding us”.
Section 7-8  Quarrels – quickly settled in the past; nowadays different: “You can’t expect peace when people have nothing to eat.” Care of the disabled and poor. Own dependence on begging – thinks that if he went to the town he might be given a pension and live a better life: “Here it is a life of misery.”
Section 9  Importance of education: “An uneducated man is like a deaf man or a disabled person”; “If you are educated you can help others.” Details of own family and quarrel with one of his daughters.
Section 10  Communications, benefits from new roads and radio. Health care - told the health officer he had a stomach ache and asked for an injection: “He burst into laughter…[and said] that my sickness was hunger and nothing else.”
Section 11-13  Disappearance of most diseases except AIDS. Loose morals of young people. Population growth: “Now we have multiplied like eucalyptus trees without worrying what to feed them.” Drought and food aid; conditions worse now than in 1985. Migration of some priests. Hunting of wild animals in the past, disappearance of animals with the vegetation. Food consumption, past and present.