The main faiths among the Gurage of Ethiopia – Orthodox Christianity, Islam and autochthonous polytheism – provide a constellation of integrative principles for territorial and descent segmentation. Religious leaders and ritual specialists of the three confessions have always represented the unity of Gurage tribes facing the outside world and still receive tributes of cattle, sheep, goats, honey, ensete, money etc. The ethnic court of justice of the Gurage, the yejoka, has re-dimensioned its office, in order to prevent the rise of central instances within the process of political mediation between juxtaposed lineages and territorial segments. The article focuses on the identification and institutionalisation of sacred places among these tribes, the places where the personae, the lineages and residential groups interact within the self-representation processes of Gurage society. The theological and liturgical pluralism, practised by the three faiths, confirms the Gurage’s capacity to answer to the many and contradictory stimuli of modern society, of market economy, of political, administrative and territorial transformation which takes place in the world. This religious plurality in a single family, in a single person, unveils religion as an answer, or rather as a structure of satisfactory answers.
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