Prolog  

Photo 4: Sorghum field
Rufo

 

 

Photo 5: In the field
Rufo

 

 

Photo 6: Gandarab sleeping place
Rufo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biyya Arbore – the land of the Arbore

Ar means Bull, bore is the land. This land of the bulls is situated in Southwestern Ethiopia not far from the salt lake Chew Bahir. The roughly 4.000 Arbore are Agropastoralists i.e. they practice both the cultivation of crops and the raising of livestock. Twice a year they cultivate Sorghum in the alluvial soil of the Woito River. But their pride is their cattle.

During my first stay there in 1993, the Arbore assigned me a bamira from the main village of Gandarab. Bamira means best girlfriend or sworn sister. It was an allocation. My bamira, Rufo, and I didn’t choose each other. The elders chose Rufo for me and I was made her bamira in return. This was my initiation into Arbore society. From that time on, everyone called me bamira Rufo, Rufo's best girlfriend.

By and by, Bamirtaw, my bamira and I became real friends, with all the ups and downs that a friendship between two people from totally different cultures must inevitably have. I was integrated with her help into a family and was thus able to attend, to observe and to question the family members at their daily work.