Nilo-Ethiopian Studies No.18 (2013)

Nilo-Ethiopian Studies No.18 (2013)


The drastic changes in Ethiopia during the twentieth century have altered the ways in which minority groups, including hunters and craft workers, earn their livelihood. Although the gap between the standards of living of minorities and majority groups has narrowed, minorities are still excluded from the mainstream of social life and are discriminated against by majority groups. Some minority groups have attempted to oppose this discrimination. Although the Constitution grants rights to ethnic groups, these minorities have not been regarded as ethnic groups and have become even more marginalized and deprived of access to economic and political resources. This article discusses the petitions sponsored by the Manjo in the Kafa and Sheka zones of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Regional State of Ethiopia. The
Manjo are former hunters who suffer discrimination at the hands of the Kafa. The petitions requested improvement in the social status of the Manjo in the form of official recognition as an ethnic group and an end to the discrimination perpetrated by the Kafa. This article examines how the Manjo developed these petitions, claiming a distinct ethnic identity, by describing the social and historical background of the Manjo.

Keywords: Kafa, Manjo, minority, social discrimination, petition


Cooperative labor is a common institutional practice found in agricultural societies around the world. This study focuses on cooperative labor among the Malo in southwestern Ethiopia, exploring its types and roles and discussing changes. The Malo are mountain farmers with a population of approximately 40,000-50,000. While they grow diverse crops in small home gardens using household labor, they cultivate cereals and pulses in large outlying fields often utilizing cooperative labor. Many agricultural tasks such as field preparation and weeding are performed during the rainy season from June to September and farmers have to cope with temporary labor scarcity during this time by holding cooperative labor parties. Three types of cooperative labor are known: dabo, kete, and zaje. Dabo is a type of festive labor in which prestigious host farmers would summon over 30 workers for help and reward them with lavish food and drinks. Prior to the Ethiopian revolution of 197 4-75, it played a major role in the redistribution of host farmers’ wealth as well as the enhancement of their prestige, but it has already disappeared. Kete is an intermediate type between festive labor and exchange labor. It flourished after the revolution but soon declined by the mid-1980s. Zaft is a type of exchange labor organized by a small number {less than 10} of neighboring farmers. A household opens a work party that rotates from household to household. Each household receives labor from other households and provides a modest lunch, after which the same amount of labor is later reciprocated. Although it was long unpopular due to it being the least enjoyable, this exchange labor has become dominant since around the mid-1980s. Thus, cooperative labor among the Malo has significantly changed from festive labor to exchange labor. Recently, however, even exchange labor is on the decline in the highlands where the population is becoming denser. In the neoliberal trend of economic differentiation since the 1990s, increasingly distressed farmers have asked newly wealthy farmers to employ them as wage laborers for farming. This type of wage labor, called abaale, is rapidly increasing and more or less eroding cooperative labor in the highlands. This gradual but fundamental change from cooperative to wage labor may be considered a sign of economic development. However, cooperative labor has various roles, such as fostering a sense of companionship and solidarity and the transmission of agricultural knowledge and skills from experienced farmers to young farmers by working together. Wage labor does not seem to take over these social roles, because it is only an economic contract. Although cooperative labor has been examined from economic viewpoints, it needs to be explored more from social perspectives.

Key words: cooperative labor, exchange labor, festive labor, reciprocity, wage labor

Research Report

Keywords: prophet, inter-communal conflict, war experience, South Sudan

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