Burials and Bonding: cycles of rhetoric and action in abolishing clan-based cemeteries in Zargulla (Ethiopia)
Azeb Amha (Leiden University)
Paper short abstract:
I discuss religious-activism in Zargulla(Ethiopia) used to delegitimize the core cultural practice of clan-based burial. I analyze reflections of two members of the Evangelical-Christian church and processes of inclusion and exclusion around burial
Paper long abstract:
I discuss the consequences of religious activism in Zargulla (Ethiopia) used to delegitimize the core cultural practice of clan-based burial in this society. I analyze 3 video-clips with reflections of two members of the Evangelical-Christian church regarding their protest actions which resulted in two major changes in the community: the first involved the decision of Evangelical-Christians (in the 1980s) to not adhere to the tradition of clan-based burial. I.e., all Christians irrespective of clan could in principle be buried in the same cemetery. However, in practice, this change was not extended to the Christian Mana (the occupation-based caste group comprising potters, tanners and blacksmiths), since non-Mana Christians vehemently refused to have a Christian Mana buried close to the tombs of their loved ones. The second change took place about ten years ago, and was initiated by agitation by young Evangelical-Christians, backed by some local government officials, against the exclusion of Christian Mana from burial grounds designated for Christians. Using various tricks as well as violence against their own families (including physical fights and imprisonment) they then managed to bury the first Christian Mana in a cemetery where other Christians were buried. Consequently, inclusion of Mana meant alienation of elderly and less-educated Zargulla. This paper discusses the discursive battles involved in these processes or change.
Religious activism and disrupted social relations: exploring religion and alienation in Africa