Nilo-Ethiopian Studies No.19 (2014)

Nilo-Ethiopian Studies No.19 (2014)


Although several aspects of female circumcision (FC), a well-known type of female genital surgery, have been discussed by scholars in various fields of study, several anthropologists have argued that FC has not been sufficienty examined (Shell-Duncan & Hernlund 2000). FC, which carries different labels in different contexts, including female genital mutilation (FGM), female genital cutting (FGC), and FC, became an international concern in the early 1920s and 1930s, when Western campaigns against this practice focused on infibulations and its consequences for childbirth. By the 1970s, emphasis had shifted to clitoridectomy and its consequences for sexual fulfilment (Hernlund & Shell-Duncan 2007). Since the 1970s, international organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), have condemned FGM/FGC/FC because it violates human (children’s) rights and negatively affects women’s reproductive health/rights. Despite these international movements and changes in associated rituals and procedures, this practice remains culturally significant in certain areas, including the Sudan, according to Boddy (2007) and other researchers. This paper does not aim to contribute to these types of discussions about FGMIFGCIFC; instead, as Shell-Duncan suggested (2000), it examines a specific case. Specifically, I describe the case of the Gusii people living in the western part of Kenya, the area with the highest prevalence of FC in this country.

Keywords: Female circumcision (FC), Gusii, rite of passage, seclusion, life stage, medicalization


Arsii Oromo men in Ethiopia traditionally dominate decision-making regarding major resources such as land and livestock, whereas the role of women has been limited primarily to domestic affairs. However, women have begun to challenge this custom-based dominance of men. Women now openly speak of this power imbalance and of their desire for it to change. Indeed, such change is emerging in the context of newly evolving laws and policies at national, regional, and local levels. Drawing primarily on the results of diachronic qualitative studies in the Kokossa and Kofale Districts of the Arsii Oromo highlands, this article examines areas of continuity and change in women’s rights to property and in local discourse on the power relations between the genders in the context oflegal and institutional pluralism. The results suggest relative improvement in women’s rights in general and in their right to participate in decisions regarding land and livestock transfer in particular. We also found that men and women were generally very aware of the laws and policies regarding gender equality, which serve as the context in which these changes are evolving. Yet, the extent of the improvement in women’s rights did not seem to match the degree to which participants were aware of gender equality. At the local level, traditional norms, values, and elements of the social structure appear to have constrained the application of laws and state administrative provisions designed to promote gender equality.

Keywords: Change and Continuity, Gender relations, Land and livestock, Legal pluralism, Ethiopia


Wolaytta is an Omotic language of the Mroasiatic family (or phylum) spoken in southwestern Ethiopia. The aim of this paper was to create a grammatical sketch of the language. After offering basic background information on Wolaytta, I report that the language has 29 consonant phonemes and 5 vowel phonemes, the latter of which can be combined to form a long vowel or diphthong. I also briefly describe the notation employed by natives and an accentual system of Wolaytta. Most words in Wolaytta consist of a lexical stem and a grammatical ending. This paper lists the endings of each word class and mentions their uses. Suffixes that are used in word formation are also discussed. As for syntax, Wolaytta is a typical OV language, although its appositive construction may obscure the fact that modifiers precede their modified heads. The agreement between the subject and the predicate verb is generally determined by the form, not by the meaning, although there are some exceptions. Wolaytta prefers quotations in which direct and indirect speech is mixed. A nominalizer can be the head of a relative clause in which the substituted noun occurs. Finally, this paper touches on honorifics, rhymes, and oral literature in Wolaytta.

Keywords: Wolaytta language, phonology, morphology, syntax, rhyme

Reviewer, Nobuko Nishizaki
Ethnoecology of the Coffee Forest: Human- Nature Relationships in the Montane Forest of Southwestern Ethiopia (Kohi no Mori no Minzokushi: Ethiopia Nanseibu Kochi Sinriniki ni okeru Hito to Shizen no Kankei). Yoshimasa Ito, Kyoto: The Center for African Area Studies, Kyoto University, 2012, pp. 129 (in Japanese).

Reviewer, Naoaki Izumi
Nomads of Siberia and Africa: Livelihoods with Domestic Animals in the Arctic and Desert (Shiheria trJ Afurilul no Yubokumin: Kjokuhoku trJ Sabaku de Kachiku trJ Tomoni Kurasu). Hiroki Takakura and Toru Soga, Sendai: Tohoku University Press, 2011, pp. 205+xv (in Japanese).

Reviewer, Itsuhiro Hazama
Anus of Feces: Social Change and Illness among the Turkana in Kenya (Kusokomon: Kenia Turukana no Syakaihendo to Byoki). Shinsuke Sakumichi, Tokyo: Kouseisha-kouseikaku, 2012, pp. 230+x (in Japanese).

Reviewer, Hiroaki Ishikawa
The Fascist War: Italian Invasion to Ethiopia in the Context ofWorld Politics (Fashisuto no Sensa: Sekaishiteki Bunmyaku de Yomu Echiopia Sensa). Ken Ishida, Tokyo: Chikura Shobo, 2011, pp. 270 (in Japanese).