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Who are the D’ache? And who are the Gamo? Confusions of ethnicity in Ethiopia’s southern Highlands

Freeman, Dena (2006) Who are the D’ache? And who are the Gamo? Confusions of ethnicity in Ethiopia’s southern Highlands. In: Uhlig, Siegbert, (ed.) Proceedings of the 15th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies. Otto Harrassowitz (Firm), Wiesbaden, Germany, pp. 85-91. ISBN 9783447047999

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The Gamo Highlands of southwest Ethiopia are home to a large number of related communities. Most well known are those in the northern parts of the highlands, such as Dorze, Doko and Ochollo, who are often taken as exemplars of a more general ‘Gamo’ culture and language. However, towards the south of the highlands both the culture and the language are very different. In communities such as Balta, Sorba and Zargulla, the majority of people speak a language that is not intelligible by northern ‘Gamo’ speakers and follow a cultural tradition that is significantly different from the northern halak’a initiations. Confusingly though, they refer to themselves and their language as Gamo. And they maintain that the northerners are not Gamo, but D’ache. This paper sets out new information about these southern communities based on fieldwork in Balta and the surrounding area. It presents new ethnography regarding the southern ‘Gamo’ culture and compares it to cultural forms in the northern areas. The paper then also attempts to explain the evolution of Gamo and D’ache cultures and identities from a historical perspective. In doing so it questions just who is ‘Gamo’ and considers quite what this term means.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2006 Otto Harrassowitz GmbH & Co. KG
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DT Africa
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2016 16:14
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 05:06

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