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But if the real wrongdoer is found out by this process, the elders will proceed to redressing the claimant and consolidate the reconciliation process. Depending on the nature of the dispute, the wrongdoer would be made to pay compensation or do other things as found commensurate to the wrong done. Nicolas argues that the very procedure, including the setting and formalisation gives elders respect, provides efficacy and creates their ability to achieve rather than impose reconciliation over time.

The Qallu is a person who serves as a medium for the Ayyaanaa the spirit and is believed to have a capacity to communicate with Waaqa God. He is considered as the spiritual leader of the community. In most cases the Qallu inherits the position and capacity from his forefathers.

Cases may be taken to the Qallu if the elders are unable to solve the case or if it relates to ritual cases such as ritual appeasement or lifting of curses or serious matters, which may also be referred to him by the state legal system. Knutsson argues that the Qallu has sufficient authority to render his decisions effective and definitive.

The institution has the jurisdiction to pass judgement upon any kind of matter from simple theft to homicide Giday , Ibsa , H. Ofa-Sarba is the name of the male ayyaana spirit found in the District of Ginda Beret. The Qallu is considered to be the highest human judge who communicates with the ayyaana. The qaalluu is selected by the ayyaana based on the hereditary system and charisma of a given individual.

The appointment of the judges Shanee-Seeraa is approved by the ayyaana. According to Tesema, disputes on loans, land disputes, theft, inheritance disputes, marital disputes, defamation and injury which may arise between individuals, families, groups, clans, and tribes are subject to the jurisdiction of the qaalluu.

Parties dissatisfied with the decisions for example of the Jaarsaa Biyyaa may take their cases to the Qallu. The verdicts of the Qallu have a better chance of being obeyed by the losers since the Qallu is believed to have the spiritual power to cause misfortunes to the party disobeying his decisions.

A defiant opponent in a dispute is also more likely to be brought before this institution than to non-spiritual CDR systems. The Shanee-Seeraa may also order the litigants to produce guarantors or sureties to make sure that the parties accept the judgment rendered by the elders, without affecting their right to appeal.

Each session is opened with blessings and prayers so that the ayyaana helps the elders render justice impartially and conduct reconciliation peacefully. During the proceedings, the Shanee-Seeraa may hear each litigant separately and may require production of witnesses if needed. Finally, after discussing the case thoroughly, the presiding elder will ask the opinion of the other elders and the decision of the majority will be accepted.

If the litigants are not satisfied with the decision, they can appeal to the qaalluu. Under the Allo Arssi, the council of elders consist of notables, elders and clan chiefs. All these men are elected from the clan to take part in conflict resolution. In the Allo Arssi women have no role to play in the leadership. The disputes that are handled and resolved by the Allo Arssi include any type of individual disputes, inter-clan, and inter-ethnic conflicts. Like any other CDR system, it has a reconciliatory effect that is directed towards future cooperation that overrides the dispute resolution mechanisms in the formal state settings.

Procedurally, cases could be taken to the Allo Arsi either by the disputants or the leaders of their clans. This complex was able to develop due to a common tradition of reliance on elders in dispute settlement. Herbert Lewis suggests that this is part of a Cushitic emphasis on voluntary and achieved status. However, these institutions may also have developed in contexts of culture contact, exchange and urbanisation, and in reaction to the pervasive state and hierarchical religious system Pankhurst It is managed by the elders of the community and is involved in the settlement of interpersonal and other types of disputes arising in the community Assefa Cases are normally brought to the.

Qire by one of the parties in a conflict. The leader of the institution tells the disputants to select elders on each side, who would consider the case. The elders chosen to decide the case at hand and the conflicting parties participate in the process. After discussing among themselves the elders pass their decision, which is usually a compromise.

The elders advise and convince the parties in a dispute to accept the decision passed. Offenders in the dispute are made to pay compensation, which might involve serving the participants with food and drink. Dispute resolution mechanisms in interethnic contexts have also been developed resulting in cultural borrowings and merged systems. Renouncing traditional values leads to annoying Allah He who cannot wait [to listen to] words, cannot also wait [to use] the spear A bribe-influenced man, is just like a man taken away by the sword Somali proverb, Mohammed and Zewdie chapter on Somali.

According to the census estimate, the population of the State was about 3. The social organization of the Somali people is on the basis of clan and sub-clan structures with varying degrees of complexity. The Somali have maintained their autonomy and lived detached from the central Ethiopian state from early days to the present.

They have been predominantly governed by their own customary institutions including in relation to dispute settlement. Since the policy of devolution of powers was embarked upon under the federal arrangement beginning from in Ethiopia, the people of the Somali State have been brought closer to the modern state system.

They include relevant sections in the classical anthropological literature, notably the books by I. Lewis , , a law senior essay on customary resolution of homicide cases Jemal , and a social anthropology MA thesis on kinship marriage and dispute resolution with particular reference to the Sab minority Daniel All kinds of disputes, including those involving homicide, are settled through payment of compensation to the wronged clan or group by the clan or group to which the perpetrator belongs.

According to Jemal male adult Somalis within a community come to and speak at the Shir. The Xeer is protected from violations by imposing on the individuals different sanctions. Gezahegn and Yigzaw The chapter by Mohammed and Zewdie in this book concludes that the Odayaal is currently the dominant CDR system used by the various clans of the Somali people. They also claims that the Odayaal has now replaced the traditional court system for the settlement of disputes known as Xeerbeegti.

In fact both the Odayaal and Xeerbeegti are ad hoc councils of elders that are given the mandate to settle disputes between groups and members of a corporate group Jemal Then defendants take the stage to respond to the allegation. Every male community member has the right to hear the proceedings. The redress is usually made in the form of compensation. A third of the bloodwealth which is called Rafisi is paid instantly and the remaining portion, referred to as Mog-Dheer is paid within the period fixed by the assembly of both clans. This sanction is called Qisaas, which is a formalized retaliation particularly in the manner in which it is executed.

The Gaboye group, which consists of Madigo, Tumallo and Yibro, are the main marginalized groups in the Somali social system. There is a discriminatory enforcement of the Xeer depending on the social status of the victims or the perpetrators. It is possible for example that no compensation is paid for a person killed from among the Gaboye group by a member of Somali of higher social status. The system reflects the Somali clan structure and the homicide paying and receiving unit are crucial aspects of clan identity.

Let us forget our fighting, let our stomach become one Aike Berinas Baldambe quoted in Lydall and Strecker The region is inhabited by some fifty groups with distinct languages and traditions. The population was over 10 million in the Census with a projection of over 15 million in There were only three groups with over a million people in , the Sidama whose CDR is considered in the chapter in this book, the Gurage and the Wolayta, and a large number of small groups, particularly in the Omo valley.

There is also a discrepancy in the literature with a few groups having been studied fairly intensively and many groups with no specific CDR studies; most of the studies relate to the more hierarchical and centralised societies. This review is limited largely to publications and theses that have a specific intention to consider dispute resolution. There is not the scope within this introduction to review the vast anthropological literature on ethnic groups in the southern region, as well as historical studies, notably history MAs and senior essays 28 that discuss local institutions, some of which are involved in CDR.

CDR studies on Gurage include on the Sebat bet Gurage two articles by Shack , , an MA thesis in literature and folklore Yewondwossen , an MA in social anthropology on local institutions Mengistu , an MA in local and regional development studies on indigenous institutions Getinet , a senior essay in Law Bereda focusing on marriage, a chapter by Bahru on the Yejoka qicha and some references in the book by Gebreyesus Among the Kistane there is a MA thesis in social anthropology Walelign , and the chapter by Bahru on the Gordena sera. CDR studies on Kambata include two articles by Singer , , a senior essay in political science Seifu and a chapter by Yacob Sources on CDR among the Sidama include two articles by Hamer , , one by Stanley , and a senior essay in political science Melese Studies of CDR among other groups are much less common.

These include three MA theses, one in social anthropology on traditional institutions among the Gedeo Paulos and two MAs in literature and folkore, one on the Wolayta Yilma and the other on Gamo Temesgen , and a chapter on inter-ethnic peace-making in South Omo among the Arbore and their neighbours Pankhurst CDR institutions among the Gurage are based on notions of kinship and of territory.

At a higher level the yejoka general assembly used to settle inter-clan and inter-tribe disputes among the Sebat Bet Giday , Yewondwossen and the Gordena Sera among the Kistane Walelign , Bahru The Yejoka is located in a specific place in Chaha where elders used to gather under a Podocarpus tree whose branches yaj were burred in the ground, yoka, only to sprout again Gabreyesus , Bahru Among the Kistane in territorial terms there are village councils sabugnet , and at a higher level district councils Ye-Ager Shengo , as well as kinship-based councils of the patrilineal group ye-Abotold Sbengo dealing with cases within family and clan groups.

The plaintiff presents his case and litigants have a right to respond. Witnesses may be called, or disputants maybe asked to take oaths Bereda If disputes cannot be solved in the neighbourhood by the village headman and elders they can select their own elders as judges, whose verdict is often limited to an apology in minor cases with reconciliation ceremonies involving consumption of food and drink; there may also be fines in cash, though the emphasis is on compensation of the victim, and restoring peaceful relations. Disputants who are not satisfied can take their cases to the yejoka whose verdict is final.

Land disputes were dealt with by another judge known as Ye-Zhre Dane, who distributed land, controlled boundaries and solved problems Gabreyesus Among the Sebat-Bet there were legal experts known as Eqicha dana who would advise individuals. The assemblies termed shengo had standard procedures and a formal seating arrangement. Sessions dealt with all kinds of disputes notably marriage and divorce, homicide, arson and land use. Premeditated murder was differentiated terminologically from unpremeditated murder and inadvertent homicide Bahru Decision were arrived at by consensus after exhaustive discussion, though occasionally cases would be referred to a smaller groups known as amseya among the Sebat Bet who would discuss the matter in detail and present their recommendations to the assembly Bahru Sessions were opened and closed with blessings.

Homicide cases involve guda a reconciliation ritual after the payment of the blood money guma Walelign Shack suggests that the yejoka emerged in about the s with the attempt by the Chaha to dominate the other groups, through their control of the main Gurage cults. However, the yejoka continued to function and still has an important role. Gurage customary law is one of the very few to have been written and codified with the advice of legal experts resulting in the book translated as Kitcha: The Guraghe customary law GPSDO Some changes and additions were effected in the codification process notably addressing gender concerns, especially in the section on marriage providing for mutual consent, divorce rights for women and penalties for adultery and abduction.

Among the Kistane the basic principles were laid down in , and the more elaborate code approved in , with similar attempts to oppose harmful customs notably abduction, excessive wedding and funeral customs and ostentation Bahru Local territorial institutions include the heera at the lowest level, followed by the cotcho at an intermediate level and the kokota as the largest territorial unit. Kambata CDR was operative at two distinct levels Singer There was a legal structure tied to the political system and a second one that was part of the overall kinship structure.

However the two systems overlapped at both the lower village level and at the highest level of the king woma who was the ruler from the Oyeta dominant clan. Judges at the village level were referred to as woshebi dana elders.

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Cases that could not be resolved by them were taken to district judges gacho dana who were appointed by the woma. The Ilemi dana or Boki Dana who was the chief judge, deals with all inheritance matters. Disputants dissatisfied with the verdict of village judges could take their case to the Ilemi dana and finally to the woma. At neighbourhood Olla level disputes are considered at Songo councils to which disputants present their cases in front of the elders presided by a respected elder. The plaintiff presents his case, followed by the defendant. The elders then withdraw to consider the case and reach a consensual decision.

The wrongdoer is asked to confess, pay a fine and render compensation when necessary. If guilt is not evident elders may take the suspect aside and attempt to persuade him to tell the truth. If the suspect refuses elders declare that only the sky god Magino can judge what is right, which is tantamount to a curse. The legal sanction of the songo was termed sera and fines could be imposed; so long as the person did not pay he would remain a ritual outcast.

Litigants might be required to take an oath to testify that the information they give is based on truth. Witnesses might be called and also be asked to take an oath. At a higher level the ritual leader Godan was involved in stopping fighting and considered cases, along with Songo councils Stanley Wrongdoers ask forgiveness, or pay fines or blood price in homicide cases.

Those who did not comply could face cursing and ostracism. Among the Sidama voluntary associations mahabar also play a role in settling disputes; the committee of this recent institution which arose with the monetisation of the economy took on the customary term songo, and sought to mediate between individual and collective interests Hamer The fear of cursing and ostracism is a powerful force for compliance. Sanctions may include fines and cleansing rituals in the case of unintentional murder.

Disputes involving homicide are dealt with by the chucha-checha institution. When an oath is required the mechanism is referred to as chako. The Protestant church is involved in dispute resolution through its elders, referred to as wassa keta chima. Where disputes involve inter-clan conflicts notably over land, grazing and livestock theft, 12 elders are selected from each side. An elder from the side that is considered guilty will cover his face in soot, and a cow and sheep are slaughtered in a reconciliation ceremony when the litigants eat and drink together.

In homicide cases a day is set for a public reconciliation at which the offender appears with his face covered in soot and begs for forgiveness, and a cow and sheep are slaughtered. The offender and the father of the deceased will drink from the same cup to mark the end of the conflict. The korefinie is the senior man in a given clan responsible for administering the clan and settling internal disputes. The shalle are the elders of the area by this name who are considered to be particularly knowledgeable about dispute resolution. In homicide cases they go to the house of the deceased carrying a stone and plead for forgiveness and organise a reconciliation ritual.

If the relatives refuse they leave the stone at the gate and curse them. At the reconciliation the offender shaves his hair and covers his body with soot. They then both eat the liver of a cow starting from opposite directions and drink together. The Bollanne Donna is involved in homicide cases and is a hereditary role. The Giqqa Eeqa are hereditary positions involved in boundary and land disputes, with one person for each of the three areas within Doko. The Gesbo maaka is a clan involved in reconciling people who commit incest with the rest of the society, which requires a purification ritual by a river and the shaving of the heads of the offenders by the despised degala tanners to avoid ostracism.

The maro are ritual experts that can suggest the causes of conflicts and may suggest solutions. The Kare is a person responsible to protect people from other areas and resolve disputes with them. The Wogaa Era so are people knowledgeable about the traditional institutions of other areas of Gamo and are consulted when decisions made in Doko generate disagreements. The study by Freeman shows the importance of assembly places Dubusha in Doko where sacrifices are carried out to maintain or reassert the peace and fertility of the community dere, preceded by blessings.

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Often a wise and neutral third party, ganna, is involved in helping resolve conflicts. The assemblies allow all persons to speak, and continue till a consensus is reached, whereupon the wrongdoer gets down on his knees and asks for forgiveness; first the wronged person forgives him and then the rest of the assembly.

Inter-group conflict and warfare has been common in the southwest and particularly South Omo area. Starting with the book Warfare among East African herders edited by Fukui and Turton in , there has been considerable debate about the reasons for these conflicts and the relative importance of ecology, economic factors, the spread of automatic firearms, resource competition, cultural values, age-organisation, ritual, and human agency Strecker , Abbink , , , Tadesse Berisso, Turton , Taddesse Wolde Lydall and Strecker noted how Baldambe gave an outline of peacemaking between the Hamar and Nyangatom over half a century ago.

Abbink suggests that peace-making is constrained by insecurities, resource competition, relations between highland and lowland groups, among pastoralist groups, and with the state. A peace ceremony with the participation of several groups in the region was carried out in with the involvement of anthropologists, an NGO and government representatives. The ceremony involved cursing war by blunting, breaking and burying spears and blessing peace through the sacrifice of animals, the wearing of fatty strips and the exchange of staffs and agricultural tools symbolic of the different groups, as well as much debating about the causes of the conflict and ways to resolve it.


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At the event the discourse that sought to create convergence used mutual metaphors, allusions to shared kinship, reference to commensality, recalling economic links necessary for social and political reproduction, reference to similar and interrelated forms of leadership and institutions, and shared conceptions of spiritual agency along with blessing and cursing as archetypal cultural forms Pankhurst No one became wealthy from compensation and no one got drunk from milk water Irob saying, Shimelis and Taddesse chapter on Tigray in this book.

Tigrayan monarchical traditions continued to play a role in later stages of the imperial period. The current region of Tigray had a population of 3. The population is fairly homogenous composed of mainly Orthodox Christian Tegreni representing 95 percent, and small Kunama, Irob, Agew and Saho minorities. An MA thesis in social Anthropology by Assefa has a chapter dealing with inter-ethnic relations between Afar and Tigray which is discussed under the Afar section. The book by Giday also has a section on Tigray. Second, the church and its priests may be involved, either as members of the elders groups, or by directly putting pressure on disputants and in particular the wrongdoer to compromise using the sanction of the threat of excommunication.

Sometimes, an Orthodox Christian priest may also take part as one member of the elders. The Church itself may be involved in serious cases since the fear of ex-communication is a powerful incentive for compliance. The litigants are brought face to face and asked to give their respective accounts and then questioned. The elders ask the litigants if they agree to be bound by the decision to which they usually agree. After considering the case the elders pass their decision. Since any violation of the verdict can lead to monetary penalties payable to the wronged party, litigants are said to accept the decision which is considered binding Giday It was involved in tackling all kinds of problems particularly at times of crisis such as war or famine.

Disputes are resolved in the context of the demer, an assembly held at two levels. First at the amba level if the dispute is localised and minor, and second, if it is more widespread involving people from different villages, at a general assembly which all men were expected to attend on a Saturday. The demer would designate a chairman for the day and any man could participate.

At the end the chairman would summarize the consensus to ensure that there was no opposition. In serious cases the demer may appoint one representative from each amba to consider the matter and suggest a solution. Abrha notes that if the 20 men are unable to find a solution further members up to 80 are selected. Abrha suggests that people fear the curse of the debarte if they reject their suggestions. If relatives request arbitration, the women travel with elders and priests to the family of the deceased to request acceptance of an apology by the wrongdoer.

The gereb is also said to be effective in inter-ethnic homicides and conflicts over grazing, territory, and livestock theft involving homicide. The local government relies on the gereb to resolve such cases, but according to Abrha local administrators are not very appreciative of the role of CDR. During its struggle against the Derg the TPLF involved community members in dispute resolution through the siwa institution, composed of three elected members of the locality, and the fird Bayto, a semi-government court council that serves as a link between government and community institutions Giday This is not surprising in that most such institutions are built on cultural rules linked to local belief systems.

In some cases institutions are even limited to a small geographic area or community in which elders play a key role. However, some cultural concepts cross geographic boundaries of specific ethnic groups and may be used within culture areas. Sometimes in border areas and ethnically mixed areas joint institutions have developed. Certain institutions also facilitate trade, exchanges, intermarriage and peaceful coexistence within broader regions, between highlands and lowlands and between different ethnic groups.

Moreover, notions of reconciliation are ubiquitous and conceptions of right and wrong universal frameworks. The most common in this respect in the bond friendship which are important in the east, west and south and can cut across ethnic boundaries. In the Southwest the institution is known as bel and jala Tadesse , in the East qalla among the Afar, fuqur among the Tigrayans, and konissa among the Oromo Aramis n.

In the West the Oromo michu institution, literally meaning friendship, created bonds with the lowlanderGumuz, 30 but also with the Shinasha and Agaw, who also made use of the institution with the Gumuz. Inter-ethnic institutions may promote peace and prevent conflict and may be instituted after a conflict. Thus in the West the Gumuz mangima institution was involved in resolving disputes with highlanders, including the resettlers Wolde-Sellassie Though the ceremony takes place once, the friendship is considered binding and may pass on from one generation to the next and help maintain peace.

In the South Tadesse notes how bond friends may protect one another at times of conflict and remain latent at times of war to be reactivated as soon as peace resumes and suggests that the institution helps to sustain peace or at least limit the likelihood of endless war. Inter-ethnic conflicts over land and homicide between Afar and Tigrayans and the Wajirat were resolved through the gereb institution.

The elders who form the institution are known as abo gereb and are composed of elders from each side Assefa , Kelemework , Tarekegn The gereb is particularly concerned with resolving homicide cases usually through the payment of compensation blood money as the cases discussed by Tarekegn show. The adopted son would be placed on a stool and the fictitious father would carry him on his back while songs were sung. The ceremony was concluded by blessings by elders who also outlined the rights and obligations.


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  8. The bond entitled the Amhara to land, and to entrust herding of his cattle. He was also responsible to contribute to blood payments for his adoptive group. In some cases the sedqo institution developed such that whole communities were involved rather than just individuals. However the policies of the British and Italians undermined the institution and sowed the seeds of greater discord in the post war era.

    These included setting slaves free, luba basu, group or individual adoption or fostering, mogassa or gudifacha, patronage, harma hodha, 33 and bond-friendships, michu, which remains an important element of establishing and maintaining peaceful interethnic relations Bartels , Baxter b, Blackhurst , Mohammed , Wolde Sellassie , Tsega In parts of Shewa where Oromo and Amhara lived intermingled in close proximity there developed a shared institution of dispute resolution Nicolas This shared complex was able to develop due to a common tradition of reliance on elders in dispute settlement.

    In Ethiopia societies with more centralised political systems had customary legal systems that involved courts, with several levels of jurisdiction, concentration of power and the use of coercive punishments. This is clearest in the case of the central state of the emperors and kings, and in some of the monarchies and chiefdoms in the south and west. First, there is a continuum from centralised to egalitarian social formations rather than a dichotomy with a range of intermediary forms. Second, many customary systems have institutionalised measures that rely on spiritual sanction backed by the threat of cursing or social exclusion which can be effective and coercive.

    Fourth, many of the more egalitarian systems are very complex, elaborate and sophisticated and some have functional specialisation relating to dispute resolution roles. Fifth, some egalitarian systems have specialists for different types of disputes. Fifth, and most importantly, in enabling reconciliation, often through elaborate restorative rituals involving commensality. As such they are often more effective than court systems relying on punishment and imprisonment, which render the offenders unproductive, impose hardships on their families and can foster resentment, bitterness and continued feuding.

    The legal structures of CDR systems often reflect principles of social organisation and key judicial concepts that may be related to specific cultures or culture. In considering the diversity of CDR systems and institutions in Ethiopia they can be considered to rely on three principles and combinations thereof: 1 territory, 2 kinship, and 3 spiritual authority.

    Throughout Ethiopia groups of elders are called upon to mediate and settle disputes. This is particularly the case in disputes within and between families and households. The elders are people known to the litigants and living in the same village or area. Such gatherings may be located at specific places.

    In some societies there are ritual spaces for assemblies that consider among other things disputes. The most famous such cases of distinct fora for assemblies are the Konso mora and Gamo dubusha Tadesse Dispute resolution sessions are often held under trees appreciated for their shade during lengthy sessions. Among the Afar the mablo dispute resolution session was held in a circle called maro, often under a kusra or Zizyphus tree Aramis, n.

    Among the Gurage the yejoka institution met under a famous Podocarpus tree whose branches were said to have bent so low that they become buried in the ground and sprouted again Bahru In a few cases there may be a location that serves for meetings of larger groupings that go beyond specific communities bringing together several clans or sub-ethnic groups.

    Among the Cheha Gurage and neighbouring Sebat-Bet Gurage the yejoka tree is used for dispute resolution going well beyond the immediate locality. Elders may choose a convenient intermediary or neutral place and a convenient time. There are however, days that are considered propitious or not for dispute settlement among various groups. Reconciliation sessions especially after homicide cases in many societies are protracted and a considerable time, often of a year of more, should elapse before the final rituals are held.

    Even where we do not find clan systems, mediators are often selected among kin of the disputants. In many Ethiopian societies the kinship system is highly involved in dispute settlement. Thus clan heads are often involved in adjudication for instance among the Afar. There may also be individuals selected by the clan to fulfil general or specific dispute resolution roles as among the Gamo, or there may be specific clans with a reputation as mediators such as among the Nuer.

    Lewis , Even where there are no strong corporate clans or lineages such as in Amhara, blood feuds and vendettas involving reprisals can be an important aspect of disputes and their settlement. In a number of societies the different levels of the kinship system have their own mediators going up to the highest levels, for instance among the Kambata. In many societies kinship and territory are involved as complementary principles.

    For instance among the Gurage, Kambata and Borana separate assemblies are formed on the basis of clanship and of locality in villages or settlements. Herbert Lewis has argued that among the Oromo and Cushitic people in general the role of kinship has been exaggerated in the literature and that territory, voluntary associations, achievement and universalism are more important.

    However, Helland shows that among the Borana at least kinship plays a key role along with territorial organisation. Even where spiritual authority is not a principal component of the CDR system, three elements of spiritual authority are often present: blessing, cursing and oath taking, and are common at key moments in the judicial process.

    This relates to the balanced opposition of blessings which is a customary poetical mode of expression among the Borana Baxter In societies that are of have become Muslim or Orthodox Christian blessings may be carried out by a sheikh or priest who may accompany elders, for instance in trying to persuade parties to be reconciled. Among Christians priests may likewise conduct final blessings, and may carry the tabot or Ark of the Covenant to the reconciliation session as noted by Melaku and Wubishet in this book.

    In a peace ceremony in Arbore, blessings were carried out in three contexts. First, in unison by elders following the spiritual leaders raising and lowering their ritual sticks. Second, the most senior woman anointed the heads of the spiritual leaders and their ritual sticks with butter uttering blessings. Third, final blessings were performed by representatives of different groups in their respective languages and cultural and personal styles with the audience echoing the last word of each blessing in chorus, thus creating a sense of unison, assent and convergence Pankhurst In the Arbore peace ceremony they were linked through the sun since the rising sun was associated with blessing and the setting sun with cursing evil.

    They were also linked through the two ends of the woko stick, with the hooked end serving to pull blessing towards one, and the forked one to send evil away Pankhurst Cursing is thus intimately connected to blessing as a negative formulation, and may also be used in the event that litigants do not comply with decisions or swear falsely.

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    It is considered potentially more powerful and inherently dangerous, but its force relies in the threat, and in practice it is used parsimoniously lest it value depreciates and since its power lies in its deterrence effect Pankhurst b. Whereas blessings are used liberally in daily life Strecker as well as in special rituals and dispute settlement, cursing is performed very rarely and primarily in the context of dispute settlement.

    Blessing and cursing is often the prerogative of spiritual leaders. The words and the phrase exist in most Nilotic languages including Anywaa. Gurtong is mainly used in settling disputes between two ethnic groups. Dereje in this book, Sommer , Among the Oromo the bringing of a gun and spear to rituals of reconciliation after homicide and swearing and promising not to disturb the peace symbolise the idea that the person who did so would be killed Nicolas The curse of certain groups, or clans may be greatly feared.

    It may take place in different contexts and phases and involve various actors or combinations in the CDR process, including 1 the accused if there is no proof, 2 witnesses, that they will tell the truth, 3 elders that they will be fair, 4 both disputants that they will abide by the decision, and 5 all the members that in turn that they are not guilty. The elders themselves may be required to take an oath.

    Thus among the Oromo the jaarsa biyyaa may be expected to take a public oath, to promise to be fair and faithful to both parties, as noted by Areba and Berhanu in this book. An oath may also be taken when there is not enough evidence ruga. It may be expected that not just the suspected criminal but his close relatives including his father, mother, elder brother, and wife also take the oath.

    The oath may be taken in the name of Waqa God or in the name of the whip which is the symbol of status of the mediators representing the seera and used in gaada assemblies where laws are proclaimed as well as in dispute resolution cases Nicolas Thus among the Somali, if the plaintiff does not have witnesses, the defendant may be required to take an oath denying the allegation as noted by Mohammed and Zewdie in this book.

    Among the Nuer when there is uncertainly in a dispute brought to the Kuaar Muon, the Leopard-skin Chief, oaths, which are in the nature of ordeals, such as swearing statements on the leopard skin, may be employed as noted by Dereje in this book. Among the Sidama before giving their account, the witnesses have to swear in front of the Moticha by touching his forehead with their palm, and again by touching the surface of the Gudumaalee the ground only to tell the truth, what they have seen and heard as mentioned by Ayke and Mekonnen in this book.

    Another context where swearing may be required is in reconciliation, notably of homicide, where litigants may be required to take an oath that they will not resume the conflict as noted among the Oromo Nicolas Among the Gumuz a ritual of oath taking is resorted to resolve a deadlock Berihun Among the Wolayta when an oath is required this is refered to as chako Yilma In some Christian traditions the party against whom a witness testified had the right to request a court to require a witness to tender an oath, usually done during mass, when the holy communion was offered.

    The witness would close the door of the church or hold the holy bible Aberra However, in many societies ritual leaders have a crucial role in dispute settlement and may be the final appeal as in the case of the Shinasha Qolla discussed in this book by Ayke and Mekonnen. How central religion is as a basis for authority is a complex issue. Ioan Lewis distinguishes between central and peripheral cults in his book Ecstatic Religion He argues that among the Kaffa possession cults are central whereas among the Macha Oromo they are peripheral.

    However, among the Macha the role of the Qallu ritual leaders in dispute settlement, as Knutsson demonstrates, is important. The Qallu are involved in dispute settlement, enter trances and are possessed by spirits that provide guidance about guilt and how to resolve conflicts. They also play a central role in cases requiring ritual appeasement including homicide and lifting curses. The Qallu has sufficient authority to render his decisions definitive and effective Knutsson Lewis , with a clear dispute resolution component and may be considered to be part of a cultural complex. Spirit-medium-based dispute resolution plays a crucial role in Kaffa Orent , is important among the Macha Oromo Knutsson , the Tulama Oromo Morton , and among the Amhara in Northern Shewa Aspen and the case study in this book.

    Though it is a feature of the central Oromo it is absent among the Oromo in the south and east. In many cases this form of dispute resolution is used when matters cannot be solved by local elders, or where there is no conclusive proof but just suspicion on the part of the victim. The aggrieved person will then approach the spirit medium who will summon the accused. The process often involves the tying of a thread on a tree or building of the ritual shrine and failure to appear before the medium is said to result in misfortune, illness or death. When both parties are present they may be questioned and the medium will enter a trance to elicit the verdict of the spirit.

    The final settlement may, however, involve elders who finalise the agreement and reconciliation. For instance among the Gamo as Bureau points out the saga elders through their spiritual authority provide justice on demand whereas cases that they cannot resolve are taken to the dulata assemblies, with a more secular authority based on territory backed by the sanction of ostracism hilo.

    Qallu spiritual leaders Knutsson The spiritual authority may thus be reserved for more serious cases or cases that involve moral transgressions. In some cases the secular and spiritual authorities are merged in traditional leaders whose power may be in part be related to or legitimised by spiritual authority which may often be inherited. Notions such as custom, peace, justice, reconciliation, and moral conceptions of right, wrong, truth and falsehood may be considered universal. However, certain concepts are given more salience and may have wider ranges or specific connotations and resonances within specific cultures and wider culture areas.

    More recent regional comparison in structural, historical and agency-oriented approaches point to important trans-group connections and the development of shared customs, kinship patterns, religious ideas, and rituals Abbink a. The term has been used for customary institutions in southern Ethiopia notably among the Oromo, Kambata, Sidama and Gurage 38 Bahru , Aadland , Yacob Among the Borana the seeraa is used for laws and considered inseparable from the customs aadaa. It may be seen as an unwritten law but it constitutes at the same time the morality and conscience of the individual and the community.

    It provides the community with a procedure of decision making through consensus. In their chapter in this book Ayke and Mekonnen suggest a more restricted use for the term among the Sidama suggesting that it is a social sanction which practically alienates the defendant who refused to accept the decisions passed against him by the council. The sera is announced at a public gathering, and will affect any person that cooperates with the offender and lasts until the offender requests an official excuse from the Gudumaalee Council.

    Aadaa is often used alongside or contrasted with seera, the customary laws Leus and Salvadori Aadaa is used among various Oromo groups Gragg and more widely among Cushitic groups in the south. This contrast between general custom and specific laws is also found among Omotic groups where the concept of woga is similar to aada referring to tradition, norms and laws and sera is used for laws passed by the assemblies Bureau Among the Wolayta, Altaye describes Gomya it as a mechanism of social control, which occurs when rules are violated.

    He mentions three stages: in the first called kangetta the party that is offended will curse the offender; then in the second phase named hambalashuwa the two sides are in a negative and potentially dangerous relationship unless forgiveness is begged for. In the third phase called gomya wursuwa the person who has been cursed or whose request for forgiveness has not been headed calls a council of elders to decide on the case.

    After the guilt is decided the offended pronounces formulas of forgiveness which members of the council all recite. Finally by way of forgiveness the offended sprays spit in the direction of the guilty party followed by the elders doing likewise as a blessing. As Schaeffer points out acts of clemency by Emperors such as Tewodros, Yohannes and Menelik were not uncommon, the tabot was sometimes brought out to signify a truce, and clemency was often shown after battles in return for ritualised acts of submission.

    The priests then become involved and plead in the name of the Ark that the aggrieved either forgive the offender or abandon his spite and agree to negotiate for reconciliation Solomon Reconciliation and forgiveness often go hand in hand particularly in cases that do not require compensation.

    In some cases punishments that are declared by the elders may not in fact be carried out and they may be symbolic sanctions that are pronounced and accepted by the litigants but need not be implemented since the aim is reconciliation Pankhurst b , or the guilty party may have to ask for forgiveness in a manner that involves ridicule as amon the Borana Bassi For instance in Gamo the wrongdoer get down on his knees and asks for forgiveness, in turn first to the wronged person and then the rest of the assembly Freeman In serious cases, notably homicide, the ceremony is more elaborate, and there may be special terms for the reconciliation such as the guda among the Gurage.

    Rituals may involve stages as noted by Wolde Sellassie among the Gumuz with initial rituals in neutral territory to avoid reprisals, at which cattle are slaughtered and both parties are expected to swear that they would refrain from reprisals. The final rituals were performed up to two years later through rituals at both villages and by a river.

    Among the Oromo, his hair is shaved using an obsidian stone as noted by Areba and Berhanu in this book. Among the Nuer, as noted by Dereje, the murderer has one or two vertical incisions on his arm made by a downward stroke of a fishing spear by the Knaar Muon, with whom he seeks refuge. Among the Gamo the relatives of the murderer appear at the reconciliation rituals covering their faces in soot. Both sides are expected to drink from the same cup symbolising reconciliation. The murderer or his relatives go to the relatives of the deceased to plead for forgiveness and organise a reconciliation ceremony.

    The murderer shows his guilt by shaving his hair and covering his face with soot and falls at the feet of the relatives of the deceased kissing their knees begging forgiveness. The relative is expected to embrace him. In rituals of animal sacrifice parts of the animal including the blood, intestines, liver or lung are shared or eaten together.

    Among the Oromo, the parties may wash their hands in blood, pass between a sheep cut in two Bartels or pass through the intestines stretched in a circle signifying passage from hostility to peace or if related shake hands through the liver, symbolising that they are not enemies but relatives who share common flesh and blood as mentioned by Areba and Berhanu in this book. Among the Afar an ox is sacrificed and the conflicting parties who have lost a member shake hands through the pierced skin and swear to abstain from reprisals or further violence Aramis n.

    In the Gondaro ritual in Wolayta members of each of the feuding parties are tied with the intestines of a slaughtered bull, and a blood and milk mixture is poured over their heads Tsehai Among the Gurage, in the ceremony called guda, the murderer and relative of the deceased eat the liver of a cow starting from opposite ends and drink together from the same cup Walelign Among the Amhara, as noted by Melaku and Wubishet, they must step over a gun and shut the church gate to symbolically erase any grudges.

    This is referred to with different terms in various languages, and even with regional variations. Among the Gamo, the term hilo refers to the ostracism imposed by dulata assemblies Bureau The murderer may also be sent into exile, known as sher-damea among the Shinasha as recorded by Bayisa and Lamesa in this book.

    Among the Shinasha the roof of the house in which the person lives may be uncovered to penalise the offender, and the wife and children will not be allowed to socialise with neighbours and others as recorded by Bayisa and Lemessa in this book. In extreme cases in Orthodox Christian societies the offender may be excommunicated from the Orthodox church as was noted in the Tigray case by Shimelis and Taddese. Among the Shinasha, he will hold a gourd filled with blood with which he shakes the hands of those from whom he begs. A person who has been subjected to the tsala ostracism in Shinasha is expected to hold a bone in his mouth like a dog to ask forgiveness as recorded by Bayisa and Lemessa in this book.

    Litigants, their kin or neighbours usually select mediating elders, who meet to resolve the specific case at hand. In serious cases notably homicide the perpetrator may need to flee to another area or seek refuge with persons or institutions such as the Church, 40 spiritual leader or chief, who can protect him, until an initial agreement to avoid reprisals has been brokered. Among the Oromo he may be imprisoned in a cave or empty house by the Abba boku whose protection he seeks and he may be kept under the custody of the waata as recorded by Areba and Berhanu in their chapter on CDR in Oromia.

    The murderer may also be sent into exile, as mentioned in several case studies in this book. There are also societies where customary experts, sometimes different ones depending on the subject, are involved. Among the Gamo the giqqa eeqa are hereditary positions involved in boundary and land disputes, the gesho maaka is a clan involved in reconciling people who have been involved in incest, and the bollanne donna are involved in homicide cases Temesgen In most societies serious cases, notably homicide might involve representatives of the state, who in the past sometimes organised sessions for finding the guilty party, such as the afersata.

    Often mediating elders will ask supplementary questions. Once the position of the litigants has become clear elders may call upon witnesses, who might be required to take an oath. Often once the facts seem to have been established the elders may ask the litigants to leave and then confer about the case and what strategies to adopt to convince the parties to be reconciled.

    An important principle is that of compromise. Often, the elders will then approach each party separately, with suggestions for compromise. They may even hint that if they do not compromise the outcome might end up going against them. These delaying tactics may also allow for kin to put pressure on litigants to reach an amicable resolution. The threat of curses or ostracism may be invoked in a veiled fashion but, as we have seen, the symbolic power of such sanctions rests on their not being depreciated by being used.

    Where spiritual leaders are involved, notably in spirit-medium based institutions, the medium may enter a trance and consult with the spirit. Nevertheless, for Derrida, a kind of purity remains as a value. It does not inspire any judgment in me. It simply exposes me to suffering when someone, who can be myself, happens to fall short of it. Anything but a purism. The idioms of a language are what make the language singular.


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    An idiom is so pure that we seem unable to translate it out of that language. This idiom seems to belong alone to French; it seems as though it cannot be shared; so far, there is no babble of several languages in the one sole French language. And yet, even within one language, an idiom can be shared. In other words, the taste for purity in Derrida is a taste for impropriety and therefore impurity. The value of purity in Derrida means that anyone who conceives language in terms of proper or pure meanings must be criticized. Machine-like repeatability and irreplaceable singularity, for Derrida, are like two forces that attract one another across a limit that is indeterminate and divisible.

    These conditions would function as a foundation for all experience. Following Kant but also Husserl and Heidegger , Derrida then is always interested in necessary and foundational conditions of experience. So, let us start with the simplest argument that we can formulate. If we reflect on experience in general, what we cannot deny is that experience is conditioned by time.

    Every experience, necessarily, takes place in the present. In the present experience, there is the kernel or point of the now. What is happening right now is a kind of event, different from every other now I have ever experienced. Yet, also in the present, I remember the recent past and I anticipate what is about to happen. The memory and the anticipation consist in repeatability.

    Because what I experience now can be immediately recalled, it is repeatable and that repeatability therefore motivates me to anticipate the same thing happening again. Therefore, what is happening right now is also not different from every other now I have ever experienced. At the same time , the present experience is an event and it is not an event because it is repeatable.

    The conclusion is that we can have no experience that does not essentially and inseparably contain these two agencies of event and repeatability. This basic argument contains four important implications. First , experience as the experience of the present is never a simple experience of something present over and against me, right before my eyes as in an intuition; there is always another agency there. Repeatability contains what has passed away and is no longer present and what is about to come and is not yet present. The present therefore is always complicated by non-presence. Second , the argument has disturbed the traditional structure of transcendental philosophy, which consists in a linear relation between foundational conditions and founded experience.

    In traditional transcendental philosophy as in Kant for example , an empirical event such as what is happening right now is supposed to be derivative from or founded upon conditions which are not empirical. Or, in traditional transcendental philosophy, the empirical event is supposed to be an accident that overcomes an essential structure. We can describe this second implication in still another way. In traditional philosophy we always speak of a kind of first principle or origin and that origin is always conceived as self-identical again something like a Garden of Eden principle.

    Third , if the origin is always heterogeneous, then nothing is ever given as such in certainty. Whatever is given is given as other than itself, as already past or as still to come. Faith, perjury, and language are already there in the origin. Fourth , if something like a fall has always already taken place, has taken place essentially or necessarily, then every experience contains an aspect of lateness.

    It seems as though I am always late for the origin since it seems to have always already disappeared. So far, we can say that the argument is quite simple although it has wide-ranging implications. As we said above, Derrida will frequently write about autobiography as a form of auto-affection or self-relation. Always, Derrida tries to show that auto-affection is hetero-affection; the experience of the same I am thinking about myself is the experience of the other insofar as I think about myself I am thinking of someone or something else at the same time.

    Here, Derrida argues that, when Husserl describes lived-experience Erlebnis , even absolute subjectivity, he is speaking of an interior monologue, auto-affection as hearing-oneself-speak. It is unique because there seems to be no external detour from the hearing to the speaking; in hearing-oneself-speak there is self-proximity. It seems therefore that I hear myself speak immediately in the very moment that I am speaking. As is well known, Derrida focuses on the status of retention in Voice and Phenomenon.

    Retention in Husserl has a strange status since Husserl wants to include it in the present as a kind of perception and at the same time he recognizes that it is different from the present as a kind of non-perception. In other words, in the very moment, when silently I speak to myself, it must be the case that there is a miniscule hiatus differentiating me into the speaker and into the hearer.

    There must be a hiatus that differentiates me from myself, a hiatus or gap without which I would not be a hearer as well as a speaker. This hiatus also defines the trace, a minimal repeatability. And this hiatus, this fold of repetition, is found in the very moment of hearing-myself-speak. I must be distanced from myself so that I am able to be both seer and seen. The space between, however, remains obstinately invisible. Remaining invisible, the space gouges out the eye, blinds it. I see myself over there in the mirror and yet, that self over there is other than me; so, I am not able to see myself as such.

    In short, and this is what Derrida is most interested in, psychoanalysis has isolated a negation which is in fact an affirmation. The fundamental question then for negative theology, but also for psychoanalysis, and for Derrida is how to deny and yet also not deny. This duality between not telling and telling is why Derrida takes up the idea of the secret. The secret as such , as secret, separates and already institutes a negativity; it is a negation that denies itself. Here Derrida speaks of a secret as such. Here we can see the relation of hearing-oneself-speak that we just saw in Voice and Phenomenon.

    Keeping a secret includes necessarily auto-affection: I must speak to myself of the secret. We might however say more, we might even say that I am too weak for this speaking of the secret to myself not to happen. I must have a conceptual grasp of it; I have to frame a representation of the secret. With the idea of a re-presentation I must present the secret to myself again in order to possess it really , we also see retention, repetition, and the trace or a name.

    A trace of the secret must be formed, in which case, the secret is in principle shareable. If the secret must be necessarily shareable, it is always already shared. In other words, in order to frame the representation of the secret, I must negate the first negation, in which I promised not to tell the secret: I must tell the secret to myself as if I were someone else.

    In order to keep the secret or the promise , I must necessarily not keep the secret I must violate the promise. So, I possess the secret and do not possess it. This structure has the consequence of there being no secret as such. A secret is necessarily shared. There Derrida is discussing the United Nations, which he says combines the two principles of Western political thought: sovereignty and democracy. Democracy and sovereignty contradict one another in the following way.

    On the one hand, in order to be sovereign, one must wield power oneself, take responsibility for its use by oneself, which means that the use of power, if it is to be sovereign, must be silent; the sovereign does not have to give reasons; the sovereign must exercise power in secret. In other words, sovereignty attempts to possess power indivisibly, it tries not to share, and not sharing means contracting power into an instant—the instant of action, of an event, of a singularity.

    On the other hand, democracy calls for the sovereign to share power, to give reasons, to universalize. In democracy the use of power therefore is always an abuse of power see Haddad , pp. Derrida can also say that sovereignty and democracy are inseparable from one another the contradiction makes them heterogeneous to one another because democracy even though it calls for universalization giving reasons in an assembly also requires force, freedom, a decision, sovereign power.

    For Derrida, in democracy, a decision the use of power is always urgent; and yet here is the contradiction , democracy takes time, democracy makes one wait so that the use of power can be discussed. There must be sovereignty, and yet, there can be no use of power without the sharing of it through repetition. It can only tend toward imperial hegemony. Throughout his career, Derrida elaborates on the basic argumentation in many ways. On the other hand, it means that there is a lot more of one, only one, the most one. And, it is not only a repetition; this self-divergence is also violence, a rending of oneself, an incision.

    It is this complete exclusion or this extermination of the most — there is no limit to this violence—that makes this violence the worst violence. The worst is a relation that makes of more than one simply one, that makes, out of a division, an indivisible sovereignty. But the structure, for Derrida, can always happen as an event.

    Agencies such as the International Criminal Court, the demand for universal human rights encroach on nation-state sovereignty. This violence no longer has to do with world war or even with war , even less with some right to wage war. To be more suicidal is to kill oneself more. The Politics of Friendship , p. This innumerable rejection resembles a genocide or what is worse an absolute threat. The absolute threat can no longer be contained when it comes neither from an already constituted state nor even from a potential state that might be treated as a rogue state Rogues , p.

    What Derrida is saying here is that the worst is possible, here and now, more possible than ever. As I said, Derrida always uses the basic argumentation that we have laid out against the idea of the worst; today the tendency towards the worst is greater than ever. The purpose in the application — this purpose defines deconstruction—is to move us towards, not the worst violence, not the most violence, but the least violence Writing and Difference , p.

    How does the application of the argumentation against the worst work? We can see in this etymology the inseparable dualities we examined above: singular event and machine-like repeatability; auto-affection as hetero-affection. What we can see in this attempt to conceive the link as it is prior to its determination in terms of man and God is an attempt to make the link be as open as possible. Throughout his career, Derrida is always interested in the status of animality since it determines the limit between man and others.

    Here despite the immense influence they have had on his thought, Derrida breaks with both Heidegger and Levinas both of whom did not open the link this wide see Points , p. All are to be treated not as enemies who must be expelled or exterminated, but as friends. Nevertheless, as Derrida constantly stresses, we cannot really identify the friend as such. Unconditional hospitality is dangerous. This danger explains why unconditional openness of the borders is not the best as opposed to what we were calling the worst above ; it is only the less bad or less evil, the less violence.

    Indeed, it looks as though the unconditional opening is not possible. There always seems to be factual conditions. Among all the others we must decide, we must assign them papers, which means that there is always, still, necessarily violence at the borders. At once, in hospitality, there is the force that moves towards to the other to welcome and the force to remain unscathed and pulled back from the other, trying to keep the door closed. We must make one more point. The impossibility of unconditional hospitality means that any attempt to open the globe completely is insufficient.

    But this deconstruction would be a deconstruction that recognizes its own insufficiency. Deconstruction, to which we now turn, never therefore results in good conscience, in the good conscience that comes with thinking we have done enough to render justice. There Descartes says that for a long time he has been making mistakes. Derrida has provided many definitions of deconstruction. But three definitions are classical. Simply, deconstruction is a criticism of Platonism, which is defined by the belief that existence is structured in terms of oppositions separate substances or forms and that the oppositions are hierarchical, with one side of the opposition being more valuable than the other.

    Nietzsche had also criticized this opposition but it is clearly central to phenomenological thinking as well. So, in Platonism, essence is more valuable than appearance. In deconstruction however, we reverse this, making appearance more valuable than essence. Here we could resort to empiricist arguments in Hume for example that show that all knowledge of what we call essence depends on the experience of what appears. But then, this argumentation would imply that essence and appearance are not related to one another as separate oppositional poles.

    The argumentation in other words would show us that essence can be reduced down to a variation of appearances involving the roles of memory and anticipation. Now, we can back track a bit in the history of Western metaphysics. On the basis of the reversal of the essence-appearance hierarchy and on the basis of the reduction to immanence, we can see that something like a decision a perhaps impossible decision must have been made at the beginning of the metaphysical tradition, a decision that instituted the hierarchy of essence-appearance and separated essence from appearance. How would this re-inscription or redefinition of appearance work?

    Here we would have to return to the idea that every appearance or every experience is temporal. In the experience of the present, there is always a small difference between the moment of now-ness and the past and the future.

    Les animaux ont-ils le sens de la justice ? - ZAPPING SAUVAGE

    It is perhaps possible that Hume had already discovered this small difference when, in the Treatise , he speaks of the idea of relation. Insofar as the difference is undecidable, it destabilizes the original decision that instituted the hierarchy.