An anthropological study was conducted on the social organizations and traditional cultural institutions of the Afar pastoral society in northern Ethiopia. This paper describes the clan-based institutions that are central to Afar culture and cosmology. Gerontocracy (the rule of elders), well established economic and political support networks and a patriarchal authority at all levels feature in the Afar mode of life. Descent is traced through the male line and women, while substantially contributing to household income earning, occupy only a marginal place in the society. The Afar people are known for their efficient communication skills and institutions. They are well versed and articulate in expressing their views in a disciplined manner, often consolidating their arguments using carefully selected idiomatic expressions and proverbs.
Key words: Afar, culture, institutions, Ethiopia.
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