The Place of Proverb in Gedeo Agroforestry Wisdom

Author: Tesfatsion Petros Golle (Dilla University, Ethiopia)
Speaker: Tesfatsion Petros Golle
Topic: Anthropological Linguistics
The GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


The Gedeo people are predominantly agriculturalists who live on the eastern escarpment of the Great Ethiopian Rift Valley in southern Ethiopia. They are well well-known for their agroforestry, which is currently on UNESCO’s tentative list for designation as a world heritage site. The people possess a unique wisdom that is employed as a means of transferring culture and cultural practices from one generation to the next. Proverbs are one of the methods used to teach society to protect the environment. The Gedeo people communicate both casually and formally using proverbs. In this study, we examine the most prevalent Gedeo proverbs that are employed to spread agroforestry knowledge. To gather data, detailed interviews with 29 knowledgeable elders and three focus group discussions with 35 participants were conducted in three districts of Gedeo Zone between January 2022 to December 2022. Based on the contexts in which proverbs are employed to express the situations and convey their intended meanings, we have thematically analyzed the data. According to the data the place of proverb in Gedeo’s agroforestry wisdom is thematized in three themes with distinct messages. The messages are that encouraging hard work (farming), indicating the value of planting a variety of plants and crops, mentioning the proper season for planting and harvesting, drawing comparisons between hard workers and lazy people, emphasizing the benefits of doing the right thing on the right time and vice versa, and emphasizing the human nature relationships. Hence, we conclude that the overall purpose of proverb in Gedeo agroforestry wisdom is to preserve human-natural environment relationships and create a secure environment for all creations.

Keywords: Gedeo, Proverb, Agroforestry, Baalle, Songo