African Journal of
History and Culture

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Hist. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6672
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJHC
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 187


Mahebär: Dynamics of a social self-help association

Abraha Weldu
  • Abraha Weldu
  • Department of History and Cultural Studies of Mekelle University, Ethiopia
  • Google Scholar

  •  Accepted: 08 April 2016
  •  Published: 30 April 2017


The paper examines the dynamics of a socio-religious self-help association by looking at the celebration of Mahebär, a religious-oriented association, in Adi Ei’rä, Ethiopia. Mahebär is an indigenous socio-religious organization of individuals who pledge as members to treat one another as equals. It is dedicated to honor a particular sacred religious figure. Like Equb and Edir, Mahebär is by far the most important social organization that has partly eased the social, gender and ethnic polarities   in the community. The finding shows that Mahebär is not only a source of fraternity and sorority in the community, but also takes into account the notion of development and gender equality. Mahebär allows both men and women to form separate organization in order to find support, affirmation, and enjoyment in the comfort of persons of their own gender. Under the umbrella of the socio-religious association, women managed to express themselves freely in a way that they could not display in public. They also pledged to help each other in time of need. Since members are expected to raise funds that will be utilized for the monthly festivity. In the process, Mahebär incubates the concept of saving and mutual assistance in the community. It plays a key role in generating specific self-help associations and fosters a high degree of generalized reciprocity between members. Mahebär is a lasting and germane socio-economic organization that contributes to socio-political dynamics in the society.


Key words: Mahebär, reciprocity, feast, Socio-Religious Association.