Tuesday, August 20, 2013

DIZI PEOPLE: ETHIOPIA`S OMOTIC HIGHLAND CULTIVATORS

The Dizi are highland cultivators and Omotic-speaking people residing in southwestern Ethiopia, west of the Omo Valley River. The town of Maji, which is near the center of the Dizi area, is about 100 kilometers (62 miles) directly south of the town of Mizan Teferi. Driving from Mizan Teferi to Maji on the road through Dima is about a 170 kilometer (106 mile) journey.

                                      Dzi tribe girl, Tum Market. Omo, Ethiopia. Eric Lafforgue

 The Dizi's closest neighbors are the Me'en people to the north, and those who have often been called the Surma, to the south and west. Their languages are both part of the Surmic branch of Nilo-Saharan, unlike Dizin, which is Omotic.

                                    Dizi market in Maji, Ethiopia

Before their forced incorporation into the Ethiopian Empire in the 1890s, based on their own statements and the evidence of numerous abandoned terraced hillsides, the Dizi are estimated to have numbered between 50,000 and 100,000. However, as Haberland observes, the imposition of an outside authority and its misrule led to a massive depopulation due to the abuses of the gebbar system, slave-raiding, "famine, disease and a growing sense of hopelessness and resignation, engendered by a total absence of justice. These things not only caused the number of Dizi to shrink (in 1974 there were probably scarcely more than 20,000) but shook their whole culture to its roots.
Beautiful Dizi tribe woman, Maji Ethiopia. Johan Gerrits

Dizi mythology
"Once upon a time,heaven (= God, both described as saagu) and earth were closer to each other than
now. People were living happily together, and there was no death on earth.However, when the Amhara came, people started to deceive, steal, and hurt each other even within the same community.
Dizi young man from Omo valley Ethiopia

 Heaven and earth became separated far apart, and from then, people started to die." his myth was not known by all, and did not necessarily describe the Amhara as the cause of the separation of heaven and earth or the origin of death.

                                              Dizi veiled girl,Omo Valley Ethiopia. Eric Lafforgue
Language Classification
Dizin is a member of the Omotic language family, which has generally been considered a member of the Afrasian (Afro-Asiatic) language family. Omotic was known as Western Cushitic until Fleming and Bender argued for a separate language family in the late 1960s and early 1970s (Hayward 1990:vii-viii). The internal classifications of the Omotic languages are still unsettled questions. Even the inclusion of Omotic in Afrasian is a matter of some debate. Bender has even speculated "about the possibility that part of Omotic is indeed
Afrasian but that perhaps Aroid and Dizoid (AD) are not" (2003:xii). It will be interesting to see where the evidence leads in the coming years.
Woman from Dizi tribe at Maji Market. Johan Gerrits

In his recent reanalysis of the Omotic data based on morphology, Bender calls "Dizi" a member of Dizoid which is a member of Dizoid-Aroid which is a member of TNDA. That abbreviation stands for "tɑ/ne" (pronouns common to the TN group) and "Dizoid-Aroid" (2003:1-7, 299).
Girl from dizi tribe,Ethiopia with awesome hairstyle

The Dizoid languages besides Dizin are Sheko and Nayi. Aklilu Yilma (2003:59) uses "Maji" instead of "Dizoid" because both Sheko and Nayi speakers say that their ancestors moved to their present locations from the Maji area. Others have also used the term "Maji languages" (Bender 1975:46, 48 and Hayward 1990:xi.), as will be done in this thesis. Dizin's next closest linguistic relatives, according to Bender, are the Aroid languages: Ari, Hamer, and Dimé. Some of the languages from the TN side of the TNDA group are
Welaitta, Basketo, Malé, Kooreté, Benchnon (Gimira), Yem (Janjero), Kaficho, and Shekacho (Mocha) (2003:1-7).

            Dizi tribe girl in Toum market - Omo Ethiopia. Eric Lafforgue

History
Dizi people are one of the indigenous tribes in Ethiopia. They have always occupied that land and did not come from anywhere. The oral tradition of the Dizi people rather suggests a connection to the Tigre people of  Northern Ethiopia. Harold Kurtz (2005, personal communication), who lived near Maji for  many years, says that the oral tradition is that Orthodox Christian missionaries from Tigre  came to the Dizi area several hundred years ago. They taught and preached for a few years, and when they left, they gave three things to the Maji Chief and the Adikas Chief that those chiefs considered sacred: a blue cloth, a block of wood, and a fly switch. These artifacts are still being kept in those chiefs' compounds in small, carefully maintained buildings.
Kurtz (2005, personal communication) also says that "[the Dizi] were a very, very class structured society even to the point that you needed to know by relationship exactly how far up the hand—what knuckle—you took hold of when you shook hands with another man."
Dizi woman from Maji, Ethiopia. Johan Gerrits

The traditional leaders such as burji, kiam, and kiaz, maintained order before the current structures of the Ethiopian government came to the area. Subsistence farming was (and continues to be) the most common livelihood for the Dizi. Metal workers were likely invited from outside the area by the Dizi leaders to refine iron ore and make tools of high tensile steel (Kurtz 2005, personal communication)
Maji has been a southwestern outpost of every central government of Abyssinia or Ethiopia since the days of the Emperor Menelik in the 1890s (Deguchi 1996:122). Mule trains moved goods from Maji to Jimma to Addis Ababa, as well as the reverse direction.
When viewing the mountainous Dizi territory today, a striking feature is numerous terraces. These were built in the days when the Dizi population was great enough that the scarcity of farmland necessitated a creative solution. Because a decreased population over the past 100 years or so has no longer required increased farmland, the Dizi have lost the art of building these terraces. Disease is a possible reason for the currently reduced numbers, but another factor is the slave trade that took many Dizi people from this area to other places.

                                Dizi men drinking beer

This was still continuing on a large scale in the early Twentieth Century, as was reported by Major Henry Darley, a British explorer who traveled to Maji and wrote Slaves and Ivory: A Record of Adventure and Exploration among the Abyssinian Slave-Raiders (1926). Fernyhough reports, "Contemporary Ethiopian and European estimates suggest that for Kaffa, Gemira and Maji the demographic impact of slaving involved the deaths or deportation of at least 300,000 people between the early 1900s and the mid-1920s" (1994:696). Fernyhough's data suggest that those estimates are probably high (1994:696), but he does agree that there is evidence for significant numbers of slaves being taken from the southwest of Ethiopia, including the Maji area, as late as the 1920s (1994:692-8).
A British consulate was established near Maji during the 1920s, after Ethiopia became a member of the League of Nations in 1923 (Strollo 2005:1). The purpose of the consulate included monitoring and discouraging the slave trade (Kurtz 2005, personal communication).
When the Italians occupied Ethiopia from 1935 to 1941, they built roads so that vehicles could be driven into the Dizi area. During those years a Catholic Mission became active there and began at least one school (Kurtz 2005, personal communication). The American Mission was established in 1948 near Maji. This Mission also made education and medical care more available to the area. It left Maji in 1977 (James Keefer and Kurtz 2005, personal communication).
Relations between the Dizi people and the Tirmaga-Chai people have been complex. For example, a number of Tirmaga-Chai men have married Dizi wives, but I am not aware of any cases of Dizi men marrying Tirmaga-Chai wives. Market forces are certainly one factor, since the bride price for a Dizi bride (around five cows) is only one-fourth the price required for a Tirmaga-Chai wife.
Dizi tribe girl with awesome hairstyle

Economy
The Dizi 36,380 people (or 0.05% of the population) are highland cultivators in the well-watered region around the town of Maji (altitude about 2800 m). As subsistence farmers they grow, corn, barley, teff, and other crops. They raise cattle, sheep and chickens, and they also are beekeepers for the honey.

                                      Dizi livestock

Socio-political organization
Haberland wrote about the chiefdom: "Until they lost their independence, the Dizi were divided into over twenty chiefdoms (clans), with shifting .boundaries and allegiances." The chiefdoms were distributed from southeast to northwest as follows: "Kolu, Adi, Muy, Tsiski, Maji (Kyerts, Gelkamo, Kuri), Wor, Say, Mash, Gobi, Aro, Duku, Dami, Kanta, Ezkolu, Kasi, Beru, Gay, Garo, Jabba, Bay."

                                 Dizi elder

These chiefdoms, which Haberland has outlined, have somewhat changed.
On the "caste system" of the Dizi, Haberland states:
 "Their social structure was characterized by a caste system which, even by
 Ethiopian standards, could be termed hypertrophic, and by a strong emphasis
 on the principle of primogeniture. Society was organized hierarchically into
 five castes: nobles (karyab), freemen (nyank), bondsmen (zaku), geymi and
 hunters (kwoygi. Geymi is a special caste, closely associated with the nobility,
 with manifold functions as craftsmen and in the sacral sphere. Each caste was
 distinguished by a large number of prerogatives, obligations, taboos and
 special `languages.' The nobility was in turn divided into seven hereditary
 ranks, although these did not.form a hierarchy in the political sense: they had
 more to do with the ritual status of the holder than with his political power."
These seven hereditary ranks were as follows: "Kyaz, Burji, Tso'ani, Koyz, Ba and Keysi. " Akira Deguchi in his research on Dizi Sai people came out with the following:
 Chief (Saiktyasu), koichiezi (a village headman, or the head of an area) and their relatives (kaartyab), baabaishi (a ritual expert, both Sai and uruki and his relatives;
 b. uruki (a man not originally Sai, and his patrilineal descendants);
 c. geima (the retainer) which corresponds to geimi of Haberland.
 .The caste that Haberland called the kwogyi class does not exist in Sai today. The word nyank is occasionally used as a name of a person, or the rank of a village headman. everybody is allowed to possess his own land as he wishes, instead of having to borrow somebody else's property for cultivation. When newly reclaimed land is cultivated, a koichiezi may occasionally perform a ritual (the detail is unknown)
kwaygi are hunters and from Dizi. Kwoygi lived in Adikas, Maji, Jabba, and Gobi. There are some among the Surma (Tishana) called nyara. Kwaygi and nyara mean the same. When geima of the adiktyasu were not present, kwoygi conducted rituals on their behalf. Geima and kwaygi are of different peoples. For most of the people, eating meat of cattle which have died from an illness is considered a taboo, but kwoygi would eat it.
 However, S explained that there are no kwoygi in the land of Dizi. Instead they only exist in the surroundings of the Omo River.
Uruki
The Dizi language term zuru corresponds to "blood relationship" or "blood relatives." It refers' to the cognatic kin as opposed to the affines, who are toozu. There is no folk term meaning the agnatic kin or a patrilineal descent group. However, if one continues to live in the land where he was born, in general, the actual form of inheritance would be patrilineal. Marriage tends to be virilocal, and the couple reside on land near the groom's father. But occasionally, people leave the chiefdom where they were born and move into the chiefdom where the mother's relatives (especially the mother's brothers) live. In this case, as Haberland pointed out, they are free to migrate to different lands and it is quite easy for them to obtain their own land in the new chiefdom where they have immigrated. But even if one was a kaartyab in the original land, he changes to uruki in his new land, is not recognized as kaartyab any more,' and his patrilineal descendants remain uruki regardless of how many generations pass. In a broad sense, a marriage between two kaartyabs of the same chiefdom is avoided, unless it is clear that both the bride and the groom are not of the same zuru. However, in contrast, marriage between a kaartyab and an uruki within the same chiefdom is allowed. That is to say, marriage between two different "classes" is possible).
Geima
A geima has to marry a geima and remains geima even if they move into a different land. However, there are instances a geima woman marry a kaariyab man. The daughter of Zalaka Zer, who was geima, married Keishi Komtu, arelative ofthe Saiktyasu, to be his third wife. She had no child yet. The elders made some comments that such a marriage had been impossible in the old days and that things are changing abruptly,. but in fact, it may be open to further discussion whether this is a recent trend or not. It is not certain whether the geima marriage rule had been strictly observed or not, and secondly, this particular marriage was not spoken of as horrifying or scandalous.
 The roles played by the geima are mainly to assist a chief, to help a koichiezi conduct rituals, and to transport or bury their bodies in funerals. It is predetermined which chief or koichiezi a geima would serve. Unlike the Hindu castes, there is no conflict between the upper class groups of the caste over the service of the lower class. The geima elders are so well informed about events in the past or the precise genealogy of the people who live in the area, and the names of the successive Saiklyasu, that they could be called knowledgeable seniors.
 The.geima are not allowed to use the same containers, when they drink local alcoholic beverages, as those from the other classes. The chief and the koichiezi must also use different containers. The gourd container, used by the chiefs and the koichiezi, which has three or four engravings on the grip, is called geini. The one'
without such engravings is called kofu. Baabaishi never drink alcohol f'rom geini.
Those who hold the chieftainship or headmanship can only use geini, but their relatives (kaartyab) cannot. The Kaartyab are not necessarily distinguished from other classes in regards to geini usage. The geim. a are obliged to use kofu, however, and are not allowed to use the same koju as other people from different classes. They cannot drink from geini. Thus, with regards to tableware and marriage, the geima are largely distinguished from other people, but their freedom to choose a place to live or to possess farmland is ensured.
Chief, koichiezi, and kaartyab
The seven hereditary ranks which Haberland outlined are not the sort of ranks in which' all the kaartyab are divided and classified into seven groups, but are rather the ranks of occupations as chief or koichiezi (or a classification by type). According to Fukui, who conducted research in the same place as Haberland had
done, the hierarchy of ranks is as follows:
ktyazu > ktyam > buJ:zi > koizi '- nyangu > ts 'ooni > zaaku > baabu
Ktyazu is the highest rank. The people who belong to this rank eat and drink together, and never dine with people from other ranks. However, the people who are of a higher status within burai and ktyam are allowed to dine together with ktyazu. Koizi and those who are ranked lower, regardless of how high their rankings are within the group, never dine with those who belong to burzi or higher ranks . Ts 'ooni and zaaku are allowed to eat and drink together. (Fukui , personal communication.) Zaku (zaaku) means the same as koichiezi.
The following are rank names:
1) ktyaza>burzya>k:vama>tso 'ina, burzya chiezya >koiza ・
2) ktyaza > nyanga == koiza == chiezya == buraya (inside Sai)
3) kiyasu > bucai>k pam = nyang=: tswoni-> ch iezi> koiza
4) ktyaza > buaya > kyam = tswoni= koiza > keishi
5) ktyaza > k vam > buru,a > tswoni > koiza > nyang = ch ieza = zaku > keishi
6) ktyaza > kyam > buru7a > ko iza = ch ieaya > tswoni > ayang = keishi
7) burzya>kyam
Since there is no king or paramount chief who dominates the Dizi as a whole, within each chiefdom, the
chief is superior in apy case, and the informants do not seem to take much heed of other ranks.
The tasks of the chiefs, koichiezi and baabaishi, as Haberland also stated, are very ceremonial. The chief conducts the ritual to control rainfall by offering sacrifice, and "ceremonially supervises" the abundance of the harvest and the health of the people in his entire domain. During the ritual to eliminate contagious disease, for instance, Where only goats are sacrificed, I was told that the Saiktyasu, as a priest, smeared himself with the blood of the victims. The koichiezi prayed for the health and prosperity of the area he dominated. For example, Baasu, as a koichiezi of Gelt, invited his relatives andneighbors to his house, and conducted a ritual plastering of gray-green colored soil on thejr foreheads and right elbows (not to let disease get into their body), so that people would not suffer from illness, and that the Tama, Surmic pastoralists, would not invade their territory. The soil he used is called chiizi, and the ceremony of plastering it is described as chiizi sieeri. However, since Baasu is also renowned as a diviner, it is difficult to judge whether he conducted this ceremony as a koichiezi or as a diviner. On the other hand, baabaishi are not allowed to conduct these
rituals as the chief does. What is often witnessed during these ceremonies of praying for good harvest and prosperity is that the people who normally drink the local alcoholic beverage during a break in farmwork pour the remaining liquor in the bottom of the gourd onto the ground, while koichiezi and baabaishi utter
prayers to God (saagu). If a geima is present, it is his role to pour the liquor onto the ground. This ceremony of pouring liquor onto the ground is called choi choin.
Various obligations and taboos are specific to the office of chief and koichiezi, not to a whole class ot a whole rank. For instance, there are containers for their exclusive use, such as geini, and the chief and koichiezi do not dine using the same container as kaartyab and geima. Uruki are not allowed to cough while eating with them. There are two types of food made from ensete: udu and imbu. The chief and koichiezi can eat udu made with ensete, but are prohibited to eat imbu. Besides beef, they do not eat any meat of other animals. Barley and tef are not to be touched by them, unless they are cooked. The Saiktyasu do not drink any liquid, including the local alcohol, in the town of Maji. This taboo is only for the Saiktyasu. Cultivating yam in the compound of Saiktyasu in the central area of Sai is not allowed.
Dizi tribe woman carrying large wooden plates on her head

Ritual of Naali (friendship)
Naali is the ritual, regardless of the hierarchy or the category, to affirm friendship between people of the same sex, and to become close friends. When two people start to like each other and decide to become Naali, the ritual is conducted in the house of one of them. During this ritual they tap each other's shoulders (diyeem) with goat hide four times; first right, then left (repeated twice). First the person of the house starts tapping the other's shoulder, then vice versa. They must call each other's name when'tapping the shoulders.
Dizzi woman with an umbrella, Tum market Ethiopia

When this is finished, the persons concerned are not allowed to speak to each other until a second ritual in the other person's house is completed. They communicate with each other through a third person. After.three months to one year, the second ritual will be conducted in the other person's house. At this time, many local people gather around with some local liquor in their hands. New kofu are prepared. There are broken into two and the two persons who are becoming naali' separately drink liquor with the fragments. The fragments of the broken kofu would then belong to each of them.
Then, as was done before, they tap each other's shoulders several times with the goat hide. The one who conducted the first ritual presents the other with a cow. The one who is given the cow has to raise it for about three years and breed at least one calf. This will be given to his partner. Such is the outline of the ceremony.

                         Dizi people sharing local drink

After the naali courtesy is completed, the two people concerned become quasi-relatives. Therefore, the descendants of naali are not allowed to marry each other. This is because they,are recognized as naali as well. This ritual is possible even between persons of different ranks. Therefore, a kaaltyab man and a geima
man can become as close as relatives as a result. This sort of relationship must be something that contravenes the "caste" system. This ritual is completely approved in Sai, although in fact, it does not take place too often.
 It may be objected that this ritual represents a kind of so called "communitus" and therefore.does not contravene the caste structure. Nonetheless, it should be recognized that Dizi society is not composed of a monolithic rank system.

                                            dizi kids. FO Travel
Religious Belief
Dizi people are very religious and religion forms part of their culture. In their cosmology, they worship a Supreme Being or Creator God, Saagu. Saagu is the god that created all thing in Dizi world and the god above all other gods and divinities. Dizi elders pour libation and offer prayers to Saagu in times of needs to come to their rescue.

Folklore
The Kumu
The Kumu is said to be "the mother of the people (yabkoi)": he was the first human being to obtain fire. Holding the fire in his hand, which he started by rubbing pieces of wood together, he moved from Gemo-Gofa near the Omo River to a land called Kwomo in Mui. The Kumu 's descendants now live in Mui. The person who takes up the title of the Kumu is a male. However, the Kumu is not the chief of Mui. The chief of Mui is the Muikzyam, while kumu remains in the rank of burzya・
Dizi girl. FO Travel

An oral tradition as follows: When Saiktyasu came from the land of the Shako to Sai, Sai was already the territory of the Kumu. After the Saiktyasu conquered this land, the Saiktyasu became the follower of the Kumu. The chiefs other than the Saiktyasu, under the Kumu, were the Daagburzi, the Wloruburai, the Muikyam (Muigay'u), the Gobittyaar, and the Mojikurit (Adikas, Kworu, and Chiski are not the ceremonial territory of the Kumu). The ranking of the Kumu is buru2a, but is higher in rank than the Saiktyasu, and there is nobody else who is higher. The founders of some baabaishi in Sai are said'to be the children ofthe Kumu. When a baabdishi or koichiezi dies, the Kumu comes' to Sai and conducts the ritual. A cow is killed then, and given to the Kumu.
Dizi girl. FO Travel

Source:http://ir.minpaku.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/10502/789/1/SES43_006.pdf
           http://dspace.uta.edu/bitstream/handle/10106/206/umi-uta-1121.pdf?sequence=1












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