Sept 24th: Meetings with Dorze & Doko elders,
Masqala horse parade at Ezzo

In the morning in Dorze, the team met the Qeso (priest) Zuma Zula of Amara clan, the guardian of the sacred forest Ato Olqe Odiro, Chairman Ato Asrat Zeleke and other members the Dorze Cultural and Environmental Protection Association . (This association is assisted by CASE/CIQ organizations as in Woito.) After opening the meeting with an Orthodox Christian blessing, the Qeso emphasized that the young generation do not respect the elders and the old ways of life, the traditional practices were lost more than 34 years ago (The Derg regime time), as a consequence of which the whole community has suffered troubles and famine.

The Dorze association members stated that in the past, every kind of creature in the area, such as hyena, lion or locust traditionally had its own corresponding human chief (spiritual mediator). These chiefs gave annual sacrifices and kept their creatures at peace with the people. Now as a result of the cultural degradation, the young have become materialistic these beliefs and practices have been abandoned. They did not blame these changes on education. On response to an LCS question as to whether the elders take any actions against the changing values of the young. they responded that they attempt this within the community, they have their traditional village squares for annual gatherings where they communicate the old ways. Some respect the traditional life and are safe from troubles, others suffer the consequences of disrespect. Protestant influences were also cited as a source of problems.

After a question about storytelling and value transmission, the Dorze association members said that often now,the young consider themselves highly educated and don't listen to the elders at all. It's very rare now for the young to listen to the old stories. The elders thought that the LCS way of attracting the young through technology which carries the old stories was very good. In the old days, storytelling was used for everything, such as in debate, moral education and conflict resolution. They illustrated this point by telling the team two moral tales about fidelity, good heart and watching your tongue. Closing, the Qeso blessed the team and said "Help us teach the younger generation and get them to listen to us".

Three young men were also in the little cafe where we were talking. We asked them about their own feelings on cultural values and traditional practices. The young men responded that they respect their cultural values and traditional practices as long as they are not harmful (restrictive). "With the traditional weaving, people don't wear it (now), they sell it. The young need to know their culture so they can tell outsiders and tourists as guides. People come from all over the world to Dorze."

After the meeting at Dorze, the team traveled on muddy tracks, very difficult even for our 4x4, up to the small village of Doko where they met Halaqa Shagire Shano, Adde Indal, Maakko Shotte, Huduga Meresho and Halaqa Motche Morzha. Here the team repeated our explanation of the LCS mission and our activities to this new group of male community elders, the cultural importance we believe of re-telling old stories and the attraction of new technology for the young, asking what they thought. The group of Doko elders at Halaqa Shagire’s house expressed their support for the LCS goals and reinforced the view that their culture is in danger of degradation from cultural 'imperialism', especially because of newly-introduced religions.

Halaqa Motche told us: "Thank you and God bless you. This concern of yours has inspired great happiness in us. In former times we had sacred meeting squares where people used to gather about their issues. The elders were superior, the whole community would follow what they said. The young used to join in the practices, but not any more, the practices have fallen in the ground. The young despise the elders and are disrespectful of their knowledge, considering them ignorant. In our time we have seen many problems. We have been trying to accommodate the new events, but they brought our practices into danger. Now Dr. Tadesse has declared that the former sacred squares, places and forests should be respected and a significant population has followed him. It was painful to us before his happened. We established an association, and try to get our traditions respected through that, but still encounter many problems. It is better than before, but it is not like the way of life was in ancient times, when 2 or 3 elders would resolve disputes. We thank you for your concern for our traditions, everything had disappeared, so our condition now is rather like a baby starting to crawl. But we all speak with the same voice and pray to our God to re-establish the old ways." (Again in this meeting, the LCS team noted the elders raising the lack of dialogue between the generations.)

We subsequently recorded a long fable which Halaqa Shagire Shano told for us about a widower who remarried a wicked wife, of her persecution and castration of his son who eventually miraculously regained his abilities and married a princess. The message was one of truthfulness and honesty conquering even unbelievably bad events. Nicolas and Paul responded in turn by telling traditional stories- one from Peru and an amusing one from Mali about the time of the first arrival of the French colonials which we had heard. This cross-cultural story-exchange was most enjoyed by all. Traditional food and drink (Shaassha, Gurddo and Parsso) were hospitably offered us before we departed with thanks.

For our next stop, we traveled back to the place of appointment with the Prophet Kawo Essa’s grandson. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the man there and so went on to Dorbo sacred hill to attend the Kalo boys’ day celebration to which we had been specially invited. We were very pleased to meet Mallebo Mancha again there, other community elders and the Dorbo traditional chief himself.

The team had to wait sitting with the elders, some distance from the increasingly exuberant crowd until people and horses had gathered and the ceremonies had started.

Eventually, we enjoyed watching the sacred Kalo boys wearing lion skins keeping the crowd back from the central arena with long bamboo branches, the Ezzo horsemens' parade, their horse race and horse dances.

Our presence was causing some interest amoung the crowd of children, so to avoid disturbance we left after a while.

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