ሲዳማ ክልል Sidaamu Qoqqowo

Ethiopian Peacemaking Database

In Sidama, we showcase Ararsha, Afini, Arara, and Sera.

© Jens Klinzing

Ethnic Group: Sidama people

Name of Reconciliation: Afini

Themes: Elderly; Conflict; Community; Council; Compensation

Location of Reconciliation Process: Sidama Region, Ethiopia

About Afini:

Afni is a traditional reconciliation system that is widely practiced by indigenous Sidama People, located in Southern part of Ethiopia Sidama Region. It is a conflict resolution system. “Afini” means “have you heard”. Until a community lives together and respects each other, on the contrary, from home to public, from small to large there may be misunderstanding and conflict. It can range from hate speech to murder. The reconciliation procedures will solve various types of conflicts. The types of conflict are divided into levels, and they show respect and hate speech. They range from simple issues such as speech or speech failure to life taking actions.

Reconciliation Process

On the Day of Reconciliation all the Shengos (council of elderly) are gathered under the Warka (Sycamore tree) in front yard  of a great elder. Affini serves the whole audience in every aspect of the shengo. To make sure that both the conflicting parties understand and have an opportunity to speak to the audience the leaders of shengo are needed. Leaders of shengo play a vital role in order to collect, support and monitor the damage and generate support for the victim. It follows the continuous process of solving the problem by supporting the competence, identifying the fault and compensating the victim.

Click here to read the full research paper (Amharic/አማርኛ)

Paper by Biniam Mussie

Ethnic Group: Sidama people

Name of Reconciliation: Arara

Themes: Elderly; Family; Women; Guilty; Accused; Compensation

Location of Reconciliation Process: Sidama Region, Ethiopia

About Arara:

Arara is traditional reconciliation system practiced by Sidama people. Different kinds of conflicts are resolved by arara process. Light cases such as family affairs are resolved by the leadership of “Gercho” (family eldership). Cases that are beyond “Gercho” such as clan conflicts and marriage cases are resolved by leadership of “Chimesa” meaning eldership. The elders are elected according to certain preconditions. During the reign of queen Fura women played a vital role as elders. Those women should be old enough, accepted by the community and the quern herself and free from any kinds of criminal records. Now a days there is participation of both women and men.

Reconciliation Process:

The reconciliation process starts with the victim complaining about the case. After listening the complaint, the Chimesa discusses the case with other chimesa’s. Then the opposite group expresses their side. After that the chimesa discuss the case in the absence of both parties and make the decision. However, the chimesa doesn’t tell which one is guilty, the chance is given for the accused to believe his deeds. People are sent to the accused to accept his guilt by saying “halale fashi” meaning “tell the truth”. After believing his guilt the accused party gives compensation to the victim called “muro“. If the victim takes the “muro” it is believed that he forgave and peace sustains between them.

Click here to read the full research paper (Amharic/አማርኛ)

Paper by Rediet Kasaye

Ethnic Group: Sidama People

Name of Reconciliation: Ararsha

Themes: Elderly; Council; Judicial system; Field; River; Decision; Ritual

Location of Reconciliation Process: Sidama Region

About Ararsha:

Ararsha is a traditional reconciliation system that is widely practiced by indigenous Sidama People. All processes are led by Songo leaders. Songo is a traditional judicial procedure. Songo leaders are elected according to their longevity, fairness, free from politics and ability to see cases in different angles. Their age plays a vital role too, they have to be old enough to have seen a lot of things in their life.

There are different types of songo systems that take place in ararsha namely:

Olu Songo, (First level judicial system), the council is formed by family members and neighbors and used to solve conflicts between relatives and neighbors.

Aydu Songo, (Second level judicial system), is one step ahead from Olu Songo and members of council are from different villages, and used to solve conflicts between different villagers.

Boste Songo, (Third level judicial system), is higher level judicial system and the members are leaders of the Aydu Songo second level judicial system), who are called Chimesa. Garett Songo is used to solve cases that Boste Songo (second level judicial system) is unable to solve because of the complexity.

Gareti Songo (fourth level judicial system), is the highest-level judicial system, and the council has regular meeting in a special field named Gudumale. Gareti Songo is the most respected judicial system in the society, and is used to solve complex and sensitive cases like murder.

Reconciliation Process:

The process of reconciliation takes place around a river. On the Day of Reconciliation, the leaders of Songo sit in front of two conflicting parties. The first chance to express their side is given to the victim. After listening to the victim’s side, the accused is given chance to defend themselves. Then the leaders of Songo discuss the case among them and make the decision. After the decision the guilty party is obliged to provide a compensation. To stop reoccurrence of the case there will be slaughtering of cattle. After that the blood is spilled on the river and the blood is taken away that shows their conflict is gone like that.

Click here to read the full research paper (Amharic/አማርኛ)

Paper by Yetimneway Bekele

Ethnic Group: Sidama people

Name of Reconciliation: Sera

Location of Reconciliation Process: Sidama Region, Ethiopia

About Sera: 

Sera is an organized traditional administrative system practiced by indigenous Sidama People. The system has its own rules and regulations with hierarchical administrative bodies named Shengo. One of the most critical purposes of Sera is reconciliation. There are lots of shengos that proceed reconciliation processes. All of them are different starting from their nomenclature to their purpose and structure. These shengos have prosperity purpose beside their peace restoring activity. In addition to their deference, they have similarities, all the shengos are based on the principle of democracy and justice.

Reconciliation Process:

When there is conflict in Sidama, it is seen starting from the lower reconciliation structures according to the weight of the case. The case is not taken to the last shengo called “mote” if it is not so essential and beyond the capacity of other lower shengos. When we start from the lower shengo called “chinacho”, it solves conflicts between family members and among neighbors. If there is an appeal from the victim or accused side about the judgement it is taken to “ola”. Ola is a collection of multiple “chinacho”. Ola takes the appeal from the lower structure and solves the case.

All the chinacho elderlies meet under big Warka (Sycamore tree) in the yard of respected elder in the community. After accepting the appeal, the elderlies start to see the case from the beginning. If the accused is found guilty, according to the culture the elderlies punish the accused to pay compensation in form of cash or cattle. If the found guilty side is not corrected from their actions the punishment continues and may reach to complete isolation from the society. After settling peace, the elderly call both parties to a river and tell them to stand in opposite side of the river, then the elderly splash water on each of them by standing in the middle of the river, and order them to wash each other to reflect that the hate between each other is washed away. This ritual is called “Fichato”.

Click here to read the full research paper (Amharic/አማርኛ)

Paper by Yordanos Adane