THE DASSANECH OF ETHIOPIA (geleb, merile, gabarich)
Dassanech means the people of the delta as they live in the southern part of the Omo valley as it enters Lake Turkana.
The Dassanach people live in the harshest of conditions and constantly have to adapt to the changing weather conditions and the temperatures at times rise to 35degress and mosquitoes in the area enhance more to the semi arid land. To counter these conditions the Dassanach have to change by using the Lake Turkana shores for their sustenance.
WAY OF LIFE.
Cattle are a vital live hood to this tribe and to all the tribes of tribes of the Omo Valley. They feed on; milk, meat leather for clothing, and clothing’s and these are also used for dowry payment during marriage ceremonies.
The Dassanech survive by cultivating crops when the rains arrive and the Omo river floods, they also use their cattle herds as they use their old herds for meat in the dry season for their sustenance, when there are no feeds for their herds and food for the tribe. The Dassanech who have in turn lost their cattle have turned to crocodile hunting which endangers their lives as they try to feed their families.
When flooding is experienced in the Omo River the tribe cultivates crops for consumption during the rain period.
The Dassanech people lose their cattle to raids from neighboring tribes drought and at times diseases and when these happens they become the Dies and are considered poor people as they cannot sustain their livelihood.
These means that when a family or group among the Dassanech loose their cattle and become poor they are set apart as the Dies group is temporary until they regain their livestock and be part of the Dassanech people again this indicates that in time of plenty there is no or few dies as the famine spread the Dies increases in the area.
FAMILY MEMBERS ROLES
The women have the responsibility of building the huts and take down the huts during migrations this are semi-circular constructions, made up of sticks and branches. They build boxes with the use of ropes and reeds from cow’s skin
Men for crocodiles at night as they use gestures in their small handmade canoes and with the use of torches to locate the crocodile eyes in the darkness.
The Dassanech has been divided into different tribes namely Arbore, Ari, Bodi, Daasanech, Bena, Bumi, Hamer, Kara, Dorze, Muguji, Konso, Tsemay, Turkana, Mursi, and Surma
Dassanech has eight clans the Elele, Inkabelo, Inkoria, Koro, Naritch, Oro, Randal and the Ri’ele and of which have their own identity and responsibility and customs and are divided into territories. Among this clans the Inkabelo are the wealthiest.
The Shiir , Narich Oro koro depend on livestock and crop production
Inkoria, Randal rely on livestock production
Elele and Riele depend on cultivation.
BELIEFS OF DASSANACH
*Gal bur water or crocodile is believed to have power to deal with diseases of the glands among the tribes.
*Turat- healing burns from fires and also have the ability power to keep away snakes and have also the ability to keep away enemies of their livestock.
* Turnyerim- this clan is believed to be able to pray for the rains on drought periods and are able to heal snake bites with their saliva by spitting on them.
*Kara-this clan believed in curses that a boy child was mingi- meaning Cursed because of illegitimate birth, with physical deformities and the many superstitions that this clan believed that the child had to be killed to keep away evil spirits.
Among these tribe the circumcision for both boys and girls was important as this was vital for the girls as they could not be married unless they had been circumcised as these was considered as maturity among the girls.
This ceremony is vital in a man’s life and takes place in the dry spells so as to provide meat when there is scarcity of pasture for cattle grazing.
Men had to go through a ceremony the Dimi to bless her daughter for future marriage and also as a sign of the girl’s fertility. And when men pass through this celebration they are considered elders in the community.