Social organization and cultural institutions of the Afar of Northern Ethiopia

Abstract


Kelemework Tafere Reda

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

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