Journey for Peace
By Awra Amba Community
By Awra Amba Community
Most people, who come to visit the Awra Amba community from different corners of the world, have asked Zumra Nuru for his philosophy and the lifestyle of the community to be documented, as it can be educational for the entire world. He used to reply: “If the ideas are written down in a document, they may prohibit the next generations to take on new technological developments because the next generations may be tied by the written ideas which need to be amended.” The visitors again said to him “your response revealed us how far-sighted you are. All the ideas which come out of your mind are indispensable for the entire mankind and they are neither seen before this time nor would be expected to be emerged for the future. Therefore, all the ideas that come out of your mind are crucial and educational for the entire human race. So all your ideas should be written in a document and be available for all the people in the world.” Hence Zumra was convinced by the comments given and let his philosophies to be written.
As a result, a great number of students from different universities in Ethiopia and abroad wrote about the community for their first, second and third degree studies. In addition researchers and scientists from different countries wrote about the community as well. However, due to cultural differences and language barriers there are some circumstances in which the ideas were distorted from the truth. Therefore, readers of the written materials sometimes encounter misunderstanding about the community.
To solve this problem people suggested that the lifestyle and the philosophies of the community should be written by the members of the community themselves. It is true that writing down the lifestyle and the philosophies of the community by the community members would minimize the distortion from the truth, but it is very difficult to eliminate the distortion from the truth totally; especially the distortion resulted from language barriers. It is sometimes very difficult to translate an idea conveyed in Amharic language to English, which would convey exactly the same meaning. Therefore, it becomes imperative to translate such words with words that we think have closer meaning to it. The distortion may be a result of grammatical errors. We tried our best to minimize distortion by consulting English speaker foreigners.
Prepared by Awra Amba Community
The Awra Amba community thought a lot and changed harmful traditional practices exercised in Ethiopia and other countries in different parts of the world. Then the community established a new and a progressive way of life that they started practicing. The community created a good system by living and working collaboratively, sympathetically, peacefully and cheerfully. They treat each other as brothers and sisters. This idea was established for all the people in the world to use.
This community was founded by Zumra Nuru who, at the age of two, started to ask questions to people he thought would have the answers. No one was able to answer him. From the age of four he started talking about issues such as the equality of women, the rights of children, caring for the elderly, complete avoidance of bad speech and bad deeds. However, the surrounding society didn’t accept his ideas.
Meanwhile, he returned back to his family and participated in farming activities. He started to share his farm products with people who were unable to work due to old age or health problems in order to assist them. As well as sharing farm products with those in need, during the dry season, he continued to search for people who would share his ideas.
After spending a number of years in this situation, he was able to find some people in Fogera Woreda, who were happy to listen to his ideas. As a result, he left his former community and went to stay with the people who wanted to listen to his ideas. When he explained his ideas to these people, he was completely accepted. Hence, he established the Awra Amba community in 1972.
In the Awra Amba community there are two levels of memberships. One is the Awra Amba Community New Chapter for Behavior Building and Development Multi-purpose Association (Community Member) and the other one is the Awra Amba Community Farmers and Handicraft Multipurpose Cooperative (Cooperative Member). The community members live either in Awra Amba or in other places by putting the values, principles, rules and regulations of the community to practice and disseminating them to the areas in which they live. The cooperative members all live together and work communally, whether they are strong or weak in order to bring about holistic economic, love and peaceful developments.
The Awra Amba community lives according to the five basic ideas of Zumra Nuru that they put into practice. These include the equality of women, respecting children’s rights, caring for those who are unable to work due to ageing or health problems, avoiding bad speech and bad deeds (doing things to others which you would want done to you and not to do to others what you dislike to be done to you), accepting all human beings as brothers and sisters regardless of their differences and living in solidarity with everyone.
For simplicity of achieving its goals, the community is led by 13 different committees. Each committee has its own duties to carry out. Out of the 13 committees, the Development committee is the central committee which co-ordinates and supervises the activities of the other 12 sub committees.
Once a week, all the members of the
community participate in
Twice a month, the members of the Awra Amba community participate in a family discussion about peace. The discussion may be held by gathering either three to four nearby neighbors together, or it may take place in only a single family. The agendas for the discussions are including implementation of planned activities, the avoidance of bad speech and bad deeds, and etc. The community believes that peace will be created throughout the world if everyone participates in family discussions. The objective of the peace discussion is to use family discussion as a key tool to bring about peace and development throughout the world by discussing and solving problems at the family level.
In the community marriage can be
entered at the age of 19 or above for females and 20 or above for males by the full consent of both sexes. There is no wedding ceremony to mark the
marriage. The couple continues their usual work activities.
The Awra Amba community believes in the existence of one creator that created the sky and the earth, night and day, female and male, air, sun and all the creatures that exist on earth. Their belief is conveyed by good deeds. Therefore the members of the community live by doing good deeds for others and avoiding bad deeds done on others. The community practices the golden rule: Do unto others as you would do unto yourself.
In the community every person shares the grief or the happiness of any other
individual. The community tries to fulfill the needs of a person in his life
time as much as possible. If someone is ill, the community tries to find ways
to make him/her heal from his/her illness. But if all has been done to heal the
ill person, and if they don’t have any possibility of healing him/her and the person dies, people may burst in
The Amhara Region is located in the northwestern part of Ethiopia between 9°20' and 14°20' North latitude and 36° 20' and 40° 20' East longitude. The Amhara region contains much of the highland plateaus above 1500 meters with rugged formations, gorges and valleys, as well as millions of settlements for Amhara villages surrounded by subsistence farms and grazing fields. The world-renowned Nile River and its source, Lake Tana, are located in this region, as well as historic sites including Gondar and Lalibela. Interspersed on the landscape are higher mountain ranges and cratered cones, the highest of which, at 4,620 meters, is Ras Dashen Terara northeast of Gondar
Fig. 1 Map of Amhara national regional state
The Amhara region is divided into 11 zones, one of which is South Gondar. South Gondar zone is divided in to 12 woredas (districts). Decision-making power has recently been decentralized to woredas and thus the woredas are responsible for all development activities in their areas. Fogera is one of the woredas in the South Gondar zone. The geographical coordinates of Fogera are 11° 57' 0" North, 37° 35' 0" East. The administrative center for Fogera woreda is Woreta. Fogera Woreda is again divided in to Kebeles (the smallest administrative units) one of which is Woji Awra Amba Kebele.
Hence, the Awra Amba community is located in the South Gondar Administrative Zone of the Amhara National Regional State of Ethiopia. Awra Amba lies within the Woji-Awra Amba kebele, which is in the Fogera Woreda (district). To get to the Awra Amba community, travel 12km from the town of Woreta, on the Woreta-Woldiya main road, and seeing the sign for Awra Amba, turn right onto a dirt track heading south, reaching the village after 2 km.
1. 2. Landscape of Woji Awra Amba Kebele
The landscape of the Woji-Awra Amba kebele is 30% plain area, 40% mountainous terrain, and 30% is hilly terrain. The Kebele is 2000m above sea level, and its soil is mainly composed of clay. The climatic condition of the Kebele is temperate. The average annual temperature is 250C and the average annual rain fall is 4500mm.
2. The foundation of Awra Amba Community (As described by Zumra Nuru)
“My mother told me that when I was six months old, I started to walk. At the age of two, I began speaking and asking questions with the ability of an adult person. At the age of four, I forwarded my thoughts to the surrounding communities, and I discovered four basic principles (concepts), including respecting women’s equality, respecting children’s right, helping people who are unable to work due to health problems or ageing, and changing bad behavior. However, the community living in the surrounding area did not accept my basic ideas. In fact, I was ostracized for my ideals. As a result, I wasted my childhood doing nothing.
When I turned 13, I was desperate to meet some like-minded human beings. To satisfy my desire, I decided to go and find people that shared my ideas. No one from my family or community came with me. I tried to find people who shared my ideals by traveling from place to place. People that I came across and realized this, asked me what my ultimate wish was. I responded that my longing for likeminded human beings was similar to someone starving or being thirsty. Even if all human beings living in the world were with me, I knew I would not be satisfied until I could find those human beings that share my ideas. Hoping to find such a community, I traveled to Gojam, Wollo, and Gonder. However, my journey didn’t work out as I thought it would. While I was searching for people who shared my ideas, most of the time, the following events happened to me: In the day time, I had no one to talk to and during night time I had no place to sleep. Often I climbed up in a tree in a field to sleep. After spending some time on the tree, I felt a prickling sensation. Thus I became hopeless, and I came down to the ground. When I came down to the ground, the wild animals came and circled around me. So during the night I spent my time together with wild animals. At day break, the wild animals left me alone. In these times I had no food to eat and no water to drink.
I spent about five years traveling from place to place searching for people that I could connect with. But I couldn’t find anybody. Therefore, I decided to return to my home to farm, like my parents do. I thought I would find relief if I shared my farm products with people who are unable to work due to ageing or health problems. When I returned to my home, I began sharing my farm products with those in need. When I helped those people, my parents criticized me by telling others that I didn’t eat, I didn’t drink, I didn’t wear good clothes. They said that instead of giving my possessions and wealth to my relatives, I gave it to non-relatives. When I realized this discrimination among human beings, I felt lonely. Once again I was ostracized by the surrounding people due to my unique ideas. I couldn’t live being isolated from others.
Thinking that I would be able to find people who could accept my ideas, I began traveling from place to place during the dry season and I returned to my home to farm in the rainy season. I spent several years traveling here and there. But one year, I was traveling from my home Estie to Gondar and I found people among farmers in Fogera Wereda accepted my ideas. Finding out that they shared my ideas, I went to them several times to discuss my ideas with them. I thought that if I went there and lived with them, my aim might come true. Thus I left Estie Wereda and went to Fogera Wereda in 1972 to live with these people that accepted my principles. Here the Awra Amba community was established.
After I established this community, I presented my first basic idea to the community, which is respecting the rights of women. Woman in her femininity is a mother, and man in his masculinity is a father. As they become mother and father, why did woman become a nursemaid and man become a commander? If this is because of physical strength, let us use this strength to work. If there is no mother, there is no father either. If calling women our wives gives the impression that they are distant blood relatives, let us call them our mothers. Therefore, woman and man (mother and father) both should have equal rights.
The second issue that I presented to the community was that conflict should be eradicated from the world, and we should bring about peace and paradise on earth. The community asked me how conflict could be eradicated. I replied that conflict has no root. If we become aware of conflict, ending it is our duty. Imagining conflict is what human beings create. Instead of imagining conflict in our mind, let us imagine love. The causes for conflict are two things: bad speeches and bad deeds. We don’t like it when someone does something wrong to us or talks badly to us, so we should also avoid bad speech and bad deeds. If we live in such a way, conflict will not exist
Fig. 4 some of the members of Awra Amba Community when the community was established
The next question the members of the community asked me was how we could bring about peace. I answered that peace can be achieved when the human race treat each other as brothers and sisters. If someone has a problem, all of us should lend our hands to solve that person’s problem. This will make that person happy. Seeing someone feeling happy is our wealth. We should share his/her happiness. When we live harmoniously and act lovingly with one another, we feel delighted. Having created delighted life, we will bring about peace. If we bring about peace, we can bring about the paradise we want to have. Bringing about paradise is what we do before death. After death paradise cannot be progressed. Avoiding conflict and bringing about peace cannot be expected to descend from the sky. This shall be created by the effort that we perform when we are alive.
As the result all the members of the community agreed on the ideas that I presented to them. Finally we promised to put the ideas into practice. So we began exercising the ideas practically.
As we continued practicing our principles with one another, the people that resisted our basic ideas became obstacles for us to move forward. Even if they tried to murder us, we continued our journey to present our basic principles to educated people. Who do we mean by “educated people”? We mean academic intellectuals or religious leaders. Until they would hear our basic concepts, we were committed to sacrifice our life, because when educated people hear and believe in an idea they will raise it. If they do not believe in it, they will leave it. As time went on, the neighboring people continued their antagonistic hostility towards us and they reported us to the Derg regime, the government of Ethiopia at the time, as members of ‘woyanie’, the rival front of the Derg regime. Thus the Derg regime decided to assassinate us.
Due to this reason we left our homes in February 1988 and escaped to the southern part of Ethiopia, Bonga. When there is migration there is no occupation; when there is no occupation, there is no money. At that time we had nothing to eat, nothing to drink and we had no money for medicines or medical treatment when we were sick. In this time we lost most of our community members and buried their bodies in the soil near some bushes. Having lived through such a situation, we were determined to continue our goal to reach educated people with our ideas.
In August 1993, we returned back to our original place of residence. When we came back, we found our farmland occupied by nearby farmers. We applied to the Woreda, Zonal, and Regional administration in order to get our farmland back, but we couldn’t find a solution. We were told that we would get our farmland when the proclamation of farmland reallocation would be implemented. Until then, the Woreda administration gave us 17.5 hectares of land to reside on. When it was time to reallocate farmland, the regional government proclaimed equal farmland reallocation among the farmers. However, the group appointed to do this task negotiated with the nearby farmers and refused to give enough land for us.
As a result we had no source of revenue and we suffered from starvation and disease. During this time, a large number of our community members died. At last we thought that livelihood is not only possible by farming but it can also be achieved through an industry. We decided to shift our focus to industry.
From 1972 to 2001, we struggled to share our idea with all of humanity. Journalists came and took my idea and disseminated it in different media. But one of the most successful dissemination of our idea to the Ethiopian people was prepared by journalist Mekicha Engdayehu, the camera men Getachew Mehari, and Asmamaw. It was broadcast on a local television channel called Amhara TV in 2001.
Spreading my basic principles throughout the country allowed me to achieve one of my childhood visions, which was to find people interested in my ideas. I missed this in the beginning of my childhood. Since childhood, my dream has been to get people curious about my ideas and to get them to put my ideas into practice. Even if I didn’t get people to put my ideas into practice at this time, people became interested in my ideas. Many people throughout the world heard about my ideas from different media like magazines, journals, radios, televisions and the Internet. This is the first step for me. Getting human beings to know about my basic ideas was the beginning.
In the Awra Amba community there are two levels of memberships. One is Awra Amba Community New Chapter for Behavior Building and Development Multi-purpose Association (community member) and the other is Awra Amba Community Farmers and Handicraft Multipurpose Cooperative (Cooperative Member)
The Awra Amba Community New chapter for Building Behavior and Development Multipurpose Association level of membership encompasses all the values and principles that the Awra Amba community is led by. Members of the community are responsible in implementing and promoting these values so that they can be of use for all human beings. Members of the community are trying to spread values to people all over the world. People can be members of the community regardless of where they live in the world. However, they should follow or implement these values and promote the vision and mission of the community, in collaboration with the founders. The Awra Amba Community New Chapter for Building Behavior and Development Multipurpose Association was legally recognized on October 2006 by the Amhara national regional state justice bureau.
The vision of the Awra Amba Community is to see the world as a place where poverty is eradicated and all human beings can live honorably, compassionately, collaboratively, sympathetically and peacefully with one another.
The mission of the Awra Amba community is to apply best practices and values of the community by all mankind at large in a quality manner through avoiding bad speech and bad deeds and to strengthen good thinking, speech and deeds as well as to show how to apply and implement peace all over the world.
The Cooperative Membership is known as the Awra Amba Community Farmers and Handicraft Multipurpose Cooperative. Members of the cooperative are the community members who are willing and committed to work coordinating their labor and knowledge to bring about holistic economic development. The Cooperative incorporates weaker and stronger members of the community and they share the benefits and risks of the venture equally. Members of the cooperative are assigned work according to their capabilities by a committee called Field Work Assignment committee. They work to eradicate poverty and to bring the greatest possible economic growth. Each member has to follow and respect all the values and principles (rules and regulations) parallel to expanding those values of the community. In addition to formulating and putting in to practice the bylaw of the community they also formulate and implement the bylay of the cooperative. They help each other through honest work and sympathy. Once a year the whole activity of the cooperative will be audited and then the annual profit will be calculated. Then some percentage of the profits will be shared between all members equally and the remaining part will be used to improve the capacity or capital of the cooperative. The Awra Amba community farmers and handicrafts multipurpose cooperative was legally recognized and certified by Amhara national regional state cooperatives promotion agency in February 2008.
The vision of the cooperative is to grow the economy of the cooperative at high level by coordinating the labor with knowledge and the weak with strong members of the cooperative. All the members work in different work types in order to create new jobs.
The mission of the cooperative is to spread the best practices of the cooperative to all mankind at large in a quality manner by coordinating the members to utilize their capability of working effectively to bring about extreme economical growth, as well as to show how to apply and implement the work culture and living solidarity with everyone of the cooperative.
4. Zumra’s five basic principles
Zumra thought that his four basic ideas that he discovered at the age of four, and the fifth principle that he discovered at the age of 18, are essential for all human beings to put into practice. For years, Zumra practiced these ideals by himself. In 1972, when he founded the Awra Amba community, he shared his basic principles with the community as to how to put these principles in to practice in a way that would be relevant for their lives.
The basic concepts are listed as follows:
- Respecting the right to the equality of women.
- Respecting children‘s rights.
- Helping people who are unable to work due to old age and health problems.
- Avoiding bad speech and bad deeds, such as theft, lying, insulting, cursing, quarrelling, killing, conflict, etc. Instead improving practices of cooperation, peace, love, and good deeds in general.
- Accepting all human beings as brothers and sisters, regardless of their differences.
Zumra described his five basic ideas by relating them with his life experience to the community in his own words as follows.
My mother and father were farmers. In farming the land, they worked together. In the evening, when they returned home, my father was done for the day. But my mother‘s work continued into the house. My mother’s duties were cooking wot (traditional sauce), baking injera (traditional pancake), collecting firewood, fetching water, nursing babies, washing my family’s feet, grinding grains by hand etc. These house tasks were my mother’s regular duties.”
In addition to her regular duties, there were also orders that descended from my father to my mother. All these regular duties and daily orders were performed by my mother. We slept during the night, but she did her tasks overnight. At dawn she would wake up early and do the tasks that needed to be done during daytime. Even if she worked hard day and night she was not able to finish the house work given to her. If she had too many house tasks or did not finish them on time, my father said to her: “What are you doing sitting here?” She was assaulted, insulted, cursed at and sometimes beaten. When I observed this situation, I couldn’t tolerate what was going on. Did my mother have more energy than everyone else? House work was only her duty, nobody else’s. Farming tasks were shared between my mother and my father. The children who lived and were cared for in the house were both of their children. Why didn’t my father help my mother with the house work when she helped him with the farm work? When she failed to accomplish all those house duties and farming tasks, why did he beat her? Does my mother have extra strength? Why didn’t my father at least wash his feet by himself? I couldn’t find a way to help my mother. When she was busy with all her different tasks, I wanted to help her. When I tried to help my mother by grinding grains on the mill, I realized I was too short to reach the mill. So I put stones in a row and climbed up on them and tried to grind, but the grains passed through without being ground. My failure to help my mother made me feel disappointed.
One way I found to help my mother was in fetching water. There was a ‘koda’. (A koda is a small bottle like a flask made from metal). With that ‘koda,’ I helped my mother by fetching water many times during the day. When I went to the stream to fetch water, I always met youngsters and other travelers. They were impressed by my level of speaking. Before I returned home carrying my ‘koda,’ they always made me stand in front of them and told me to ‘say this‘, ‘say that‘. And I did so. They were amused by me but I felt uneasy. Even though I did not like to speak with those people, I didn’t stop helping my mother.
When I observed the division of labor between men and women, I thought it was just a problem between my father and my mother. But as I examined life outside my family I realized that it was the same in other families. The division of labor between men and women is not the only problem. When a husband and a wife would quarrel and then divorce, the husband would say to his wife: “Get out of my house. I will lock you out of my house”. Having said this, the husband would lock the house and would then beat her.
I know of many mothers that suffered in such a way. This situation hurt my mind. Why is it happening? A woman is a mother and man is a father. As they become mother and father why does the woman become a nursemaid and the man become a commander? If this is because of physical strength, why don’t we instead utilize this strength to work? If there is no mother, there will be no father either. When we call women our wives that gives the impression of no blood relation, let us therefore call them our mothers. A woman and a man (mother and father) should both have the right to equality.
Men are capable of doing what women do. And women are capable of doing what men do. The only tasks that men don’t share with women are pregnancy, giving birth, and breast feeding. When a woman performs traditionally known as ‘a man’s task’ it is her father’s task. And if man does traditionally known ’a woman’s task’ it is his mother’s task.
Therefore we should avoid work division based on sex; and rather divide work depending on ability. While my wife gave birth, I was doing all the house work and looking after my wife, my children, and myself. We are equal in the work that we do, administering wealth, and in decision making. In general, between my wife and me, there is no difference in status.
4. 2 Respecting Children’s Right
Children starting from the age of three or four were given work that was beyond their capacity. Then, when the work was not done properly because of their inability to do it, they were told off. Why did they fail? Without considering their capacity to do the work, they would be beaten /physically punished. At that time, I asked why this was happening to children. “Aren’t they human beings? Why are they given work beyond their capability?”
Our parents didn’t give us a chance to study. This affected our lives. We shouldn’t repeat this situation to our children. We, as adults, should do the work that we give to our children and we should send our children to school. Our children should grow up with their rights being respected. Once they leave school, they should be given work based on their capability. But if children are forced to work beyond their capability, that means that they are insulted, cursed at, and beaten. This shouldn’t happen. It is however important to involve children in house tasks, parallel to their academic education, starting from their childhood so that they understand what house works are. Besides we should allow them to distinguish between what is good and what is bad. They are advised to put in to practice good things and avoid bad things. We shouldn’t look down upon their opinions, and we should accept them as equals. If their thinking is good, we should encourage them. However if they make a mistake we should advise them not to do it again. This is fundamental to create a high quality generation.
One of the basic ideas that Zumra thought about when he was four years old was taking care of people who are unable to work due to ageing and health problems. Zumra explains this as follows:
“I observed people who were unable to work and who would fall on the ground because of ageing and health problems. The people who were able to work and to support themselves enjoyed eating, drinking and laughing with one another. But nobody was thinking about the people in need. These people are human beings as we are. These people also need to eat and drink as we do. However they have no capability to work. If we go and leave them alone, who will come to their help? It is only us human beings who can help other human beings, who else? If we leave them behind, then perhaps in the future we may also fall down. When we fall down, we need people who will come to our help. As we will need help from others, why we don’t help those who are in need?”
Zumra has put this basic idea in to practice from the age of thirteen. When he came across people in need during his journey from place to place, he took care of them even before he established his community.
Zumra presented his fourth basic idea or concept to the community members as follows:
”I saw and heard people insulting, cursing, lying, stealing, snatching, beating, and sometimes killing one another. Since these acts signify bad speech and bad deeds, they should be eradicated. Instead we should promote collaboration, honesty, love, compassion, humbleness, good heartedness, truthfulness, and peace.
In general it is not questionable to put the above mentioned four basic principles in to practice. We should do to others as we want done to us. No one needs to do awful things to others and everyone needs good things to happen. Therefore, we should avoid bad deeds and spread good things. We should also show this to human beings by putting it in to practice. When we do to others what we don’t want to happen to us, what makes us better than animals? Animals are designed as animals because they don’t distinguish between harmful and useful things; they are not led by plans; they snatch their relatives; they kill their fellows; they don’t help their fellows when they are in need. Since animals don’t think about their relatives, they are called animals. If we don’t think about our relatives, and if we do things to our relatives, that we don’t want to be done to us, and then what makes us better than animals? At that time my parents said, “Your thinking is not as other’s people thinking. You don’t want to do what other people do. If you think this at this time, we don’t know what you will do in the future. For that matter, we don’t think you did this deliberately; so you must be ill.” When they said to me I was ill, I asked myself if I was ill indeed. When I asked myself, I couldn’t find my illness. I said let us trust, collaborate, cooperate with one another, so where is my illness? Being told I was ill, I stayed many years with my parents.
In general I raised these four basic ideas mentioned above when I was four years old. These basic ideas made me isolated from other human beings and I became lonely. I put them in to practice even before I established this community.”
4. 5 Accepting all Human Beings are Brothers and Sisters Regardless of their Differences
“Because of the questions I asked and the unique ideas that I offered to my parents and to the nearby community ever since my childhood, I was told I was mentally ill. My family and community did not accept my ideas. When I grew up, I could not find any relief because of the situations that I witnessed in our society. I hated my life. Therefore, I thought that if I moved from place to place, I could find other people that may share my ideas.
I was born in Estie Wereda. When I was thirteen, I moved from Estie to Gojam, from Gojam to Wollo and then to Gondar in order to search for people who could share my four basic ideas. I traveled from place to place for five years by myself - sharing my ideas in different social gatherings away from my parents.
When I did this, people said, “What is this child saying?” Even if they didn’t say that I was ill as my parents did, I couldn’t get people to understand my ideas. “What he is saying carries a big message but who will take on what he said?” When I became hopeless, I wished that I could get people to hear me out or at least ask me what I have in my mind. But I couldn’t get either. After that I thought if I go back to my village and do what my parents did, I might be satisfied by helping needy people who are unable to work.
When I returned to my village and asked my parents to find a fiancée for me, they felt delighted. When I returned home, they thought that I was traveling from place to place because I was mad and sick. When I asked them to find me a fiancée they said if I was thinking of marriage, then I must be cured from my sickness and madness. Otherwise, I would not have thought about marriage. They found a fiancée for me soon and I got married. After I married, I started to work on the farm and shared my farm products to the nearby needy people. When my parents observed me giving my farm products to those in need, they said to me that I was not cured; the disease that I caught could not be healed. They added that I didn’t eat and drink well or wear good clothing. My relatives didn’t get a share of my property or wealth. I gave it to the non- relatives.
This is one surprise for me. I asked them, “Among us human beings who are non-relatives? Whom do you consider relatives and whom do you not consider relatives? For me, everyone is equal. Nobody can decide whether they are black or white. Making white and black is the task of the creator. Being white and black is not only for humans but also for other creatures (for instance when we take earth, animals). This is the art of the Creator. Humans originated from Adam and Eve, and we all stem from the same roots. How can human beings not be related? As I asked this question, I was told that I was unable to distinguish between relatives and non-relatives because I was mentally ill. They said that after seven successive generations you are no longer related.
Here is the other surprise for me. I asked them: “Who decides the moment when humans are no longer related after seven generations? When you reach the seventh generation, who says you will no longer be related?” Humans have created the idea that we are not related if we are not from the same family. This notion brings about hostility; and hostility brings about quarrels. Human beings frighten other human beings just like ferocious animals. I thought if we could live by considering all human beings as sisters and brothers, there would not be any difference among human beings. I was isolated in my idea but I couldn’t live like that.
Hopefully, I thought, one day I would find people to share my ideas. During the dry season, I stayed away from my village by moving around from place to place. In the rainy season I returned home and kept working on the farm, as usual. In this way I was able to search for people, uninterrupted, who may share my ideas. After a long time searching, I came across a community who did share my ideas. I started living with these people because they shared my ideas. Together, we agreed to put in to practice my four basic ideas. Now we are also putting in to practice my fifth basic idea by accepting all human beings whether they are black or white as sisters and brothers. We should bring about peaceful life by enhancing trust, love and cooperation with one another.
5. 1 The Structural Organization of the Community
The Awra Amba community is led by 13 committees.
Fig.5 a diagram that shows structural organization of the Awra Amba Community
1. Development Committee: the central committee of the community. It has five executive members. The responsibility of the committee is to coordinate and oversee all the activities performed by all sub committees.
2. Weekly Development committee: The responsibility of the committee is to coordinate and manage the work that all the members of the community participate in once a week, on Tuesdays. The funds generates from this day are allocated to people who are unable to work due to ageing and health problems. The committee has five executive members.
3. Guest reception committee: The responsibility of the committee is to receive the guests who visit Awra Amba in order to see the life style and practices of the community, and to provide information about the community. It has four executive members.
4. Legislative committee: The responsibility of the committee is to make the rules and regulations governing the community; to reform those rules if necessary, and to control their implementation. It has 15 executive members.
5. Lost and found property storing committee: The responsibility of the committee is to store the properties lost by somebody and which are found by a member of the community. The committee receives the property by recording who found it, where it was found and when it was found. Then they return the item back to the owner if the committee gets reasonable information from the owner. If the committee can’t find the owner of the property, the property will be donated to the weekly development committee The committee has three executive members.
6. Elderly and orphans care committee: The responsibility of the committee is to support the elderly and the orphaned. It has five executive members.
7. Patients and maternity care committee: This is a committee caring for patients and women who have given birth (new mothers). The responsibility of the committee is to assign someone to care for the sick, and for the new mothers. It has five executive members.
8. Problem identifying committee: The responsibility of the committee is to identify a member of the community who is in trouble and to report the case to the weekly development committee in order to solve the problem. It has three executive members.
resolving committee: The responsibility of this committee is to
resolve complaints when a disagreement occurs among the community members
through discussion as the disagreement occurs. If the committee can’t resolve
the complaint, it will be brought to the general assembly where problem will be
resolved. It has three executive members.
10. Security committee: The responsibility of the committee is to maintain the peaceful life of the community by assigning community members to guard the village. The Security committee safeguards the community from robbery. It has three executive members.
11. Education committee: The responsibility of the committee is to provide educational materials, keep the kindergarten school safe, and to make sure children and adults have access to education. It has five executive members.
12. Hygiene and sanitation committee: The responsibility of the committee is to keep the village clean by coordinating hygiene and sanitation duties done by the members of the community. It has three executive members.
13. Field work assigning committee: The responsibility of the committee is to assign the members their respective tasks, given according to their capabilities and the plan provided from the development committee. It has three executive members.
The community has abolished all traditional harmful practices, for instance the division of work between male and female. Therefore the community established a new culture of work. In the community the work division is not based on sex, but on personal capability. All sorts of works belong to both women and men. The tasks men cannot share with women are pregnancy, giving birth, and breast feeding which are acquired by nature. Men and women participate equally in house work as well as tasks outside of the house depending on their capability. Men bake injera, cook wat (local foods), fetch water, nurse children and do all activities traditionally reserved for women. Women do farming, weaving and other activities traditionally reserved for men. Doing tasks regardless of sex encourages working independently. Women are able to work independently of men; men are able to work independently of women. This results in tasks being accomplished and not left undone because of its dependency on a particular sex. Therefore, in the community the equality of women is manifested not only in the areas of work but also in administrating wealth, decision-making, and participating in committees.