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: 185

Article in Press

THE SOCIAL CHALLENGES OF THE POTTERS AND TANNERS AMONG THE YEM PEOPLE OF SOUTH–WEST ETHIOPIA

Yimer Nigusu Adem

  •  Received: 07 June 2018
  •  Accepted: 07 June 2018
This paper focuses on the social challenges of the potters and tanners among the Yem people of South –west Ethiopia. In order to reconstruct this article the author has examined both primary sources and secondary sources. The author has also visited Yem special district, which the fuga people inhabit, twice in 2013 and 2015. Therefore, in addition to primary and secondary sources author’s personal observation is also employed to reconstruct the article. The study tries to assess the dynamics of interaction and interdependence of the marginalized fuga community with the other Yem. The research also assesses those factors contributing for the marginalization of the Fuga community by the other Yem. Moreover, the paper assesses the social structure of the Yem people focusing on the marginalized group of the fuga potter and tanner community. In the historical dynamics of Ethiopia Yem was one of the kingdoms in southwestern part of Ethiopia until its incorporation in to the Menelik Empire in 1894. The Yem (Yemma) people inhabited the area between Gibe River and Omo River. They began to pay tribute in horse to emperor Yeshaq (r.1412-1427). The staple food of the area was enset (false banana). The Yem people preferred to call themselves Yem (Yemma); their land was called Yengar and their language Yemsa. In Yem marginalized occupational groups are not allowed to involve on the political, social and economic activity of their surroundings. Mostly they are expected to settle beside forests. This is mainly because the non-fuga community strongly believe that the settlement of the fuga tanner and potter on the farm land affect the fertility of the soil. In addition, in the area the fuga communities are expected to give labor service for the non-fuga community of that area and people of the area strongly believe that refusal of order causes death of relatives of the fuga. Because of this every fuga regardless of age expected to respect and accept the order of the non-fuga. In the past at school the sons and daughters of the fuga were not allowed to sit together with the non-fuga. The practice continues today though some minimal improvement is seen. These communities were marginalized / oppressed and their human rights violated by the people of their surroundings. In addition to their occupation, the main cause for their marginalization was that this group eats non-ritually slaughtered animals; they did not keep their sanitation. This causes psychological impact on their day to day communication with the other non-marginalized groups. But this marginalized group contributed a lot for the community by serving as a midwife, grave diggers, musicians, and circumcising boys. On the other hand, the paper tries to assess important points about those significant factors that lay the ground for the marginalization of the fuga potter and tanner by the non-fuga community of Yem. In addition, it tries to explain important development at different period. Moreover, the political, social and economic interaction and activity of the fuga community in relation with the non-fuga community of the area is explained in this research. This paper also will serve as a stepping stone for other researchers who are interested to conduct study on the same or related topics.

Keywords: tanner, fuga, potter, Ethiopia, Yem