Sept 20th: Aerbore visit, meeting elders of herding community

The team traveled south through the hot dry landscape of the Stephanie Wildlife Reserve on the Kenyan border to the township of Aerbore, where other pastural ethnic groups live in this culturally diverse region.

There we met Gelane Oolle, the Aerbore Culture and Natural Resources Protection Association manager. We visited the korkoro, the Aerbore traditional house, constructed in the Aerbore School compound. The korkoro was built with CASE's assistance with the aim of keeping cultural articles like utensils, clothes, working implements and the like in order to regularly exhibit them to school children to keep them in touch with their traditions.



We met with a group of school children and recorded a long and very amusing old fable which was expertly narrated by one youth about a sheep and goat who frightened all the other animals.

A lively traditional song, accompanied by clapping was sung for the visitors. You can hear a sample by activating the play button below. (You will need the Adobe Flash Player installed, see )

It was again clear that the LCS methods could increase the impact of the cultural revival work around storytelling in the school. For example, the school korkoro could be a place for multimedia story exhibitions or explanations and stories relating to the objects and traditional practices. Leaving the school, we went to meet 20 Aerbore male community elders in the shade under a special meeting tree.

The gathering and the visitors were blessed in the traditional way to open the meeting by Orgi Galcha, the “Qawot” (traditional leader of the community) before the discussion. The Qawot had a “simirte”, a long ceremonial staff with the upper end tapering to a point. (No other community member is allowed to hold the simirte.)

The elders were briefed about the mission and activities of LCS and asked for their opinions. They expressed that they were very happy to hear of the LCS aims and activities. They commented that the introduction of the LCS approach in their area will be very useful as the young generation is losing their culture. The youth are following the tourists and begging for plastic water containers ('highland') and money. Some tourists have also been committing 'adultery' with girls from the community. So, the community is planning to establish a lodge where tourists could rest and be entertained, but also be contained and constrained from causing interference. Currently the community is looking for financial assistance to establish this lodge.

The elders also stated that with the help of CASE and their local association, they are now aware of the importance of wildlife. Thus, the community have started protecting the local environment and have observed some wild animals returning to the bush .

This community also shares the same animal health problems that the Tsamako and Birrale communities are experiencing. The Aerbore community elders presented their problems as follows: 'Previously we didn’t wait for the modern medicine from the government. We would make our traditional medicines for various types of animal disease from a kind of soil locally called Haya. This soil is found in our territory bordering the Borena Oromo. But now, there is a conflict between our neighbors (the Hammar and the Borena Oromo). Because of this conflict, it isn’t easy to carry out any activity in the area where one can find Haya. Now our inability to make traditional animal medicine, coupled with the serious shortage of animal health technicians in the area is creating serious problems for us.'

The elders were proud to have their photos taken after our meeting to mark our respectful exchange, and we also had the chance to watch the animated playing of a traditional stones game before returning to Woito for the night.

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