SOUTH NATIONS
የደቡብ ብሔሮች ብሔረሰቦችና ሕዝቦች ክልል

Ethiopian Peacemaking Database

In The Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR), we showcase 14 practices.

© ILRI\Zerihun Sewunet

Ethnic Group: Burji People

Name of Reconciliation: Abomate

Themes: Elderlies; Family; Clan; Ritual

Location of Reconciliation Process: Burji Special District, South Ethiopia Region

About Ambomate:

Ambomate is traditional reconciliation system of Burji people. Ther are different kinds of conflicts; conflict between individuals, spouse conflict, conflict between clans and the consequence differs depending of the weight of the conflict. It may result in possession damage, cattle and human wounding up to death and respective decision is given.

The Reconciliation Process:

Elders have a vital role in solving the disputes. Elderlies have a responsibility of restoring peace. Different conflicts need different elderly participation; family disputes are solved by the father or the grandfather of the house and if the dispute is between clans it is taken to clan leaders “dayna and masha“.

Slaughtering ritual takes place to solve a conflict. In this process both the murderer family and the family of the murdered participate; the family of the murdered brings “arasho” a female sheep whereas the murderer family brings a bull.

Click here to read the full research paper (Amharic)

Ethnic Group: Dasenech

Name of Reconciliation: Ara

Themes: Belief; Appeal; Compensation

Location of Reconciliation Process: Dasenech District, South Omo Zone, South Ethiopia Region

About Ara:

Ara is traditional reconciliation system of Dasenech people. In Dasenech those people who are called “ara” are assumed to have high almighty and earthly power and to have power over human fertility and animal reproduction; they are much respected and frightened.

Reconciliation Process:

The first step in the process is listening to the appeal of the victim and it is decided depending on the weight of the problem that is caused by the conflict and when the accused believes he/she committed the crime.  The victim brings coffee, tobacco or salty soil to the “araba‘” meaning l am faulted and let this be solved by ara. A case has to be followed attentively regardless of the victim’s personality.

The decision making differs according to the weight of the case. Mostly the conflicts are related with possession like robbery, slaughtering other people cattle against their will and extra; natural resource related cases like water usage and grazing land. The last one is related with girls; rapping, impregnating girls, kidnapping and having an affair with married women. The punishment for rapping a girl is giving 8 cattle to the family or marrying her. The accused can reject the decision and apply an appeal despite the fact that they don’t take it.

Click here to read the full research paper (Amharic)

Ethnic Group: Konso

Name of Reconciliation: Arrarra Konso

Themes: Morra; Blood Payment; Curse; Chakha; Traditional Drink; Waqqa; Blessing; Expulsion; Oaths

Location of Reconciliation Process: Konso Zone

About Konso:

The Konso people live in the Great Rift Valley. Each clan has a leader called Poqqola Tuma who is responsible for the cultural and spiritual ceremonies. The Konso people are famous for their agriculture. They have a distinct form that involves building stone terraces and fertilizing fields with natural manure. Each household owns many African Moringa, or cabbage trees.

Reconciliation Process:

The process is dependent upon the type of conflict being addressed. The general cycle involves accepting disputes, setting preconditions, conducting discussions, addressing the root cause, making a decision, and conducting a reconciliation ceremony. The case can be brought forward by the conflicting parties, community members, or the police.

If it involves marriage, and the incident is at night, the husband is forced to leave his home and sleep at morra. In the morning, they will discuss and three elders from their lineage will facilitate. The first to hear it is the aforementioned Poqqala Mugula. If unresolved, it is referenced up to the head of the lineage, in front of his home. Until the offender submits to the assembly, he and his family will not engage in social activities, and the villagers will not take responsibility for carrying them to a doctor, helping them with injury, or burying their dead.

Resolution of the conflict is through open discussions between the two parties, always finalized with ceremony. Women are not part of the elder system, and cannot give judgement, although they can offer recommendations during the public stage.

If there is no witness to the crime, the elaborate system of affarsa is employed. Here, every child above 7 must attend. The public is then requested to confess to the truth. Various probing questions are offered, offering information to the clan leaders.

The final process involves blessings, prayers, shaking hands, drinking chakha, eating dama and shaifara, animal scarifies, and making offerings to divinities (waqqa). Rituals take place at a household or at a morra.

Click here to read the full research paper (English)

Ethnic Group: Oyda people

Name of Reconciliation: Bucha Woga

Themes: Oath; Land; Elders; Fire; Grass

Location of Reconciliation Process: Gamo Gofa Zone; Oyda Woreda; Administrative seat is in Shefite

Bucha Woga Process: 

A bucha is a wide open place, such as the overhang of a tree, where people meet to settle their differences with peaceful means. Each village has its own bucha, where truths are spoken and differences settled. There are three hierarchical powers, or courts, within the institution (dalcha bucha, bagara bucha, baltsa), where people can begin their resolution depending on the seriousness of the conflict.

  1. Both parties must agree to come to mediation, after initial reporting has been made, before any process can begin.
  2. A messenger spreads information and calls the parties to the bucha.
  3. Each side gives their account of the conflict, after an opening speech by the bucha leader.
  4. Elders raise important questions to clarify the issues
  5. Judgement is given, and compensation declared. Oaths are offered by the disputants

A stone, ash, sword, spear, bone (among) others are chosen as symbolic representation, depending on the type of conflict. The sworn oaths can include, “If I do wrong, if I lie to the bucha, if I breach this agreement…let I be a stone that cannot speak, let the spear pierce me, let the sword slash and kill me, let I, my family, and my assets be ash, let I be like a bone that has lost its flesh.”

There is a sense that integration of this mechanism with the modern court system would empower the community to enforce their decisions on conflict.

Click here to read the full research paper (English)

Ethnic Group: Gofa

Name of Reconciliation: Chimateta

Themes: Elders; Community; Disputes, Justice

Location of Reconciliation Process: Gofa Zone, South Ethiopia Region

About Chimateta: 

Chimateta is the process of the reconciliation system in Gofa. The general name is called siho. Chimateta means eldership process or passing by through elders for solution. This process has been solving disputes and misunderstandings in the community of Gofa. The process takes place by the elderly people who are mass accepted and respected throughout the society.

Reconciliation Process:

First the victim presents his case to the elderlies and the elderlies listen to it and make an appointment date. Depending on the weight of the case the appointment date may vary. Even they may sit and start the chimateta process if the case is urgent. In the process of reconciliation, the elderlies sit horizontally on the right and left, milk and green grass on other side, soil will be on the other side and the disputing parties will stand on the opposite side and wait for the elderlies to allow them to talk.

During the process the priority to talk first is given for the victim. Then the accused party is given a chance to defend themselves. Then the elderlies listen to them and decide whether the accused is guilty or not. Before passing the decision the elderlies by themselves discuss on the case and let the disputing parties and the society know.

Click here to read the full research paper (Oromo)

Ethnic Group: Hamer

Name of Reconciliation: Danzamo

Themes: Elder; Cattle; Ritual; Prayers

Location of Reconciliation Process: Hamer District, South Omo Zone, South Ethiopia Region

About Danzamo: 

Danzamo is traditional reconciliation system in Hamer. “Dnza” means elder in English and when “mo” is added it becomes “dnzamo” meaning eldership. In Hamer the elders have the right to administer the people, judge the unjust, answer the questions and taking them to higher level. Danzamo is a system of solving internal disputes and when conflict between Hamer and neighboring regions.

In Hamer cattle is given a vital place. The people rather feed their cattle, drink their cattle than themselves. Thinking Hamer people without their cattle is impossible. This thing is the main cause of conflict that happen with in hammer and between hammer and the neighboring region.

Reconciliation Process:

Neighboring region and hammer conflict; as soon as the conflict takes place the elders from both parties bring the case to the law. The responsibility of forgiving and solving the dispute lies on the shoulder of the elders “dnzana”.  Conflict between “peka and peka” or internal conflict; first the accused peka elders sends a mediator to the victim peka. Then the victim peka accepts the mediation and decide the reconciliation day. In the reconciliation day there will be slaughtering of ox. This slaughtering is for ritual purpose and for dinning later that day. The accused peka has the responsibility of providing it. Finally, the elders pray for their god and forgiveness sustains.

Click here to read the full research paper (Amharic)

Ethnic Group: Derashe

Name of Reconciliation: Deha

Themes: Elderly; Big Tree; Money; Compensation

Location of Reconciliation Process: Derashe Special Woreda, South Ethiopia Region

About Deha: 

Deha is well known reconciliation system in Derashe people. Deha means eldership in English; it is the way to sustain justice where the accused is punished and the victim gains justice. Deha leaders are known as “kadaya” and they are selected by the people. There are three classes to the leaders and they have equal power in decision making. Something that differs this process from government is that deha is the distribution of the power and it is available in every province.

Reconciliation Process:

The reconciliation process takes place in chosen place known as “mora“; the place has a big tree casting a shadow and rocks to sit. To settle their dispute in “mora” the accuser and the accused have to follow some processes. First the victim appeals to the deha leaders. In this process the victim brings some money called “hora” to start the process. The second process is telling the accused the date of deha; the call reaches the accused through a messenger; the messenger brings one other person as evidence. The last process is the deha day; it takes place on the presence of the victim, the accused and some other people around “mora”. The process starts with the kadaya speech and the victim tells the case and the accused party defends themselves. If the accused believes his crime, it will be solved through compensation.

Click here to read the full research paper (Amharic)

Ethnic Group: Gamo people

Name of Reconciliation: Dubusha

Themes: Tree shade; Green grass; Begging

Location of Reconciliation Process: Gamo Zone, South Ethiopia Region

About Dubusha: 

Dubusha is Gamo people traditional reconciliation system practiced widely in Gamo Zone South Ethiopia Region. Dubusha is the name of reconciliation place, the place is full of tree shade, and it is not agricultural land. The place is considered as justice institution in Gamo provinces. Starting from conflicts between individuals to nationality and religion-based conflicts are solved in dubusha.

The Reconciliation Process:

Mostly cases that are reported to be solved in dubusha are territory conflicts, pasture land conflicts and possessions like domestic animals related conflicts. Gamo and wet green grass have deep interaction; in Gamo wet grass shows greenness, hope, prosperity, and rain. In Gamo begging with wet grass has immediate success in solving conflicts because rejecting wet grass is “gome” meaning big sin. Women have tangible participation in the process, from forwarding their opinion to womanly professions.

Click here to read the full research paper (Amharic)

Ethnic Group: Gedeo

Name of Reconciliation: Gafe

Themes: Constitution; Society

Location of Reconciliation Process: Gedeo Zone, South Ethiopia Region

About Gafe: 

Gafe is the well-known traditional reconciliation system widely practiced by Gedeo people, located in Gedeo Zone, South Ethiopia Region. Gedeo People have their own traditional administrative system called Sera, which is led by council of elderly called Songo, and the leaders of Songo are ultimately respected and heard individuals named Aba Geda. In this system anyone who trust passes the constitution will be punished accordingly, so every member is responsible for everything that happens in the territory.

Reconciliation Process:

Gafe system takes place where every member of the society present when it is social case however it is different for personal cases like marriage. Even if gafe is widely accepted reconciliation system in Gedeo society when the weight of the case gets heavier it is taken to gondoro system. It has 3 grouping scales such as “baxe, olla’a, fira“. When the cases are out of this scale they will be seen in other systems.

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Click here to read the full research paper (Oromo)

Ethnic Group: Koore

Name of Reconciliation: Nako

Themes: Royal; Clan; Spiritual Reconciliation; Elderly

Location of Reconciliation Process: Amaro Special District, South Ethiopia Region

About Nako: 

Reconciliation means a road of rebuilding the damaged common life as a result of heavy conflict that resulted in accident, frighten and hatred. Nako is that reconciliation system in Koore people. Like other people Koore people have their own reconciliation process and it takes place by vitally accepted and chosen elderlies.

Reconciliation Process:

Nako is built by different structures and groups. The structures are: “yekate” royal reconciliation system, “yeoma” clan reconciliation system and “yegezhete” spiritual reconciliation system.”Yekate” takes place when the conflict is to big to be solved by the lower structures. When things are out of control the king interferes and solves the situation. “yeoma” takes place when there is conflict in the clan. Every dispute is taken to the clan leader to be solved. If the conflict is heavy and beyond their capacity it is taken to “yakate“. In the spiritual reconciliation system “yegezhete” it is believed that their religion has a power to purify every one and to differentiate the right from the wrong and the truth from the lie.

Click here to read the full research paper (Oromo)

Ethnic Group: Wolaita

Name of Reconciliation: Siheta (Cuucaa Chaacaa)

Themes: Elderly; Tree Shade; Disagreement and Conflict; Tribe; Family; Rituals; Oath; Forgiveness

Location of Reconciliation Process: Wolaita Zone, South Ethiopia Region

About Siheta:

Siheta is traditional reconciliation process widely practiced in Wolaita. Wolayta is one of indigenous society located in Southern part of Ethiopia. The traditional practice of reconciliation system to resolve different types of conflicts and disagreements in a society is widely applied for longer period of time.  “Siheta” means “sewing up the thorn”. The reconciliation process is led by elderly (cima) and religious leaders, who are experienced in arbitration, respected and wise. The place where Siheta takes place is known as “kuha” meaning shade.  The chairs used for Siheta are different from ordinary chairs called “shidda” which is made from the leaflets of Uutaa or Enset (false banana). The chairs represent the thought “the problem happened between should be solved by us”, and the decisions made by individuals sitting on shidda should be respected. Women also participate in decision making behind the Curtin at home by giving ideas.

The Reconciliation Process:

The main problems addressed by Siheta are Marital disagreements, Boundary conflicts, Denial of borrowed money, Murder, Racial based abuse, Inheritance problems and Insult. Conflicts involving murder cases are solved with more attention and have three distinct procedures depending on the conflicting party’s relation.

When murder is committed between individuals from different tribes, Siheta (sewing up) reconciliation process used is called “cuucaa chachchaa.” When such kind of condition happens in the society, the case is solved by giving critical attention before it leads to tribal conflict. First 7 elderlies are selected out of the two tribes. Then they make the killer hide from the surrounding until the victim’s families are calm. Then the selected elderlies (arbitrators) start begging the victim family members to accept the reconciliation and stop thinking about revenge. This process is known as “awaasiyaa” (arbitration). After several convincing the victim family members agree as there is nowhere to go from the society. Then the family members of the guilty with the guilt individual come near to victim family house and ask for forgiveness by sliding on the ground, crying and kneeling. In this situation no one is allowed to walk. Finally, the victim family tells them to stand and a day is selected to finish the reconciliation where many individuals from the surrounding and from the family gather together and slaughter cattle prepared by the guilt family and share it together.

    Click here to read the full research paper (English)

    Ethnic Group: Wolaita

    Name of Reconciliation: Siheta (Gondooro)

    Themes: Elderly; Tree Shade; Disagreement and Conflict; Tribe; Family; Rituals; Oath; Forgiveness

    Location of Reconciliation Process: Wolaita Zone, South Ethiopia Region

    About Siheta:

    Siheta is traditional reconciliation process widely practiced in Wolaita. Wolayta is one of indigenous society located in Southern part of Ethiopia. The traditional practice of reconciliation system to resolve different types of conflicts and disagreements in a society is widely applied for longer period of time.  “Siheta” means “sewing up the thorn”. The reconciliation process is led by elderly (cima) and religious leaders, who are experienced in arbitration, respected and wise. The place where Siheta takes place is known as “kuha” meaning shade.  The chairs used for Siheta are different from ordinary chairs called “shidda” which is made from the leaflets of Uutaa or Enset (false banana). The chairs represent the thought “the problem happened between should be solved by us”, and the decisions made by individuals sitting on shidda should be respected. Women also participate in decision making behind the Curtin at home by giving ideas.

    The Reconciliation Process:

    The main problems addressed by Siheta are Marital disagreements, Boundary conflicts, Denial of borrowed money, Murder, Racial based abuse, Inheritance problems and Insult. Conflicts involving murder cases are solved with more attention and have three distinct procedures depending on the conflicting party’s relation.

    The reconciliation process for murder case that happened between two distinct tribes is called Gondoro.  First elderlies and religious leaders are selected away from both tribes and start to discuss about the problem and the solution. Then they convince both families to prepare for settling peace. Then after selecting day for reconciliation, every male family member from both sides brings spears known as “muramurua”, and then they put spears in zigzag pattern and cross it saying “Gondooro” to show “we are no longer enemy”.  Women who are above fertility age are invited to show that “our problems are no longer active” and these women represent the ladies in both families. And then an infertile cow is slaughtered; they ink the blood on foreheads of each other to show “the blood shed between us is dried and no longer active.”

    Click here to read the full research paper (English)

    Ethnic Group: Wolaita

    Name of Reconciliation: Siheta (Gumaa)

    Themes: Elderly; Tree Shade; Disagreement and Conflict; Tribe; Family; Rituals; Oath; Forgiveness

    Location of Reconciliation Process: Wolaita Zone, South Ethiopia Region

    About Siheta:

    Siheta is traditional reconciliation process widely practiced in Wolaita. Wolayta is one of indigenous society located in Southern part of Ethiopia. The traditional practice of reconciliation system to resolve different types of conflicts and disagreements in a society is widely applied for longer period of time.  “Siheta” means “sewing up the thorn”. The reconciliation process is led by elderly (cima) and religious leaders, who are experienced in arbitration, respected and wise. The place where Siheta takes place is known as “kuha” meaning shade.  The chairs used for Siheta are different from ordinary chairs called “shidda” which is made from the leaflets of Uutaa or Enset (false banana). The chairs represent the thought “the problem happened between should be solved by us”, and the decisions made by individuals sitting on shidda should be respected. Women also participate in decision making behind the Curtin at home by giving ideas.

    The Reconciliation Process:

    The main problems addressed by Siheta are Marital disagreements, Boundary conflicts, Denial of borrowed money, Murder, Racial based abuse, Inheritance problems and Insult. Conflicts involving murder cases are solved with more attention and have three distinct procedures depending on the conflicting party’s relation.

      This process is used to reconcile murder case in between closer family members (similar tribes) and or between individuals related by marriage, the killer pays compensation for the victim’s family. The direct meaning of “gumaa” is compensation for the murder which is unacceptable deed. The payment is known as “marcuwaa” which means money. The amount is decided by “cimaa” or the elderlies who were following the case. If the man who is found to be guilty is unable to pay his/her family members are obliged to pay. First elderly selected from both sides discuss without any interference from external body. Their main goal is to settle the case so when they agree to finish the case by compensation, the elderly from the victims side gather the family of the victim and convince them to take the compensation. If the family are willing to accept, the elderlies immediately select day and time by taking in to consideration both sides of the family. Then they come together in the sycamore tree, and the reconciliation process begins with prayers and blessings of religious fathers. Then the elderlies from both sides describe about the belief of both sides, to forgive and to beg for it, and to pay and to accept compensation, in order to correct the wrong deed. Arguing is not allowed in gumaa process. The amount of the money most often decided is an overlap of coins known as “marcua” with equal height to the guilty, to show that money cant replace the lost soul and to teach it should not happen again. At the end of the gumaa process, they share table together by cattle beef with cultural coffee ceremony, known as “oysa tukee” (coffee with butter) to show they no longer hate each other.

      Click here to read the full research paper (English)

      Ethnic Group: Mursi

      Name of Reconciliation: Yaiye

      Themes: Dueling; Land; Patrilineal Mediators; Clan ties; Mago Valley; Confession; Territory Ceremony

      Location of Reconciliation Process: South Omo Zone, in Omo National Park

      Yaiye Process: 

      The “public settlement” of a dispute is termed by the Mursi to be a yaiye, and it may be divided, for purposes of exposition, into two parts. In the fi­rst part, the two principals, supported by their close patrilineal relatives and fully dressed in tumoga, ­get each other with duelling poles, either at some neutral spot, such as a recognized gul, or at the defendants’ homestead. Long before the yaiye takes place, it will have become common knowledge in the community that the principals intend to bring their disagreement onto the public stage in this way. A large gathering of onlookers is further ensured by the din created by the cattle bells.

      The second part of the yaiye begins when the dueling has been brought to an end. The two principals, seated within a small circle formed by the crowd of onlookers, put their cases in turn, the plaintiff speaking fi­rst, and witnesses, being called if available, one or more neutral individuals, who took the lead in getting the talking started, sit with the principals, as prospective mediators, within the circle. Offering of cattle and daughters for inter-marriage are possible threads for resolving conflict.

      The ultimate emphasis in this reconciliation process is upon the maintenance of harmonious relations, rather than upon the provision of compensation for a wrong received.

      Click here to read the full research paper (English)