Friday 29 March 2019
ETHIOPIA: Sidama People And Sidama Coffee
They speak the Sidamo language which is a language of the Cushitic branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Despite their large numbers they currently lack a separate ethnic regional state.
The Sidama preserved their cultural heritage, including their traditional religion and language until the late 1880s during the conquest by Emperor Menelik II.
Before this, the Sidama had their own well-established administrative systems that dated at least to the 9th century, though it was made up of a loose coalition of Sidama kingdoms. These kingdoms extended into the Gibe region.
As a result of marginalization and since the language does not have its own alphabet, very little has been written on Sidama issues. Many were not able to attend school until after the Derg came to power in 1975.
They number 3.8 million 4.01% of the population of whom 149,480 are urban inhabitants, the fifth most populous ethnic group in Ethiopia. Their language is called Sidaamu-afoo, which according to the 1994 national census was the mother language of 99.5% of this ethnic group.
According to one authority, the majority of the Sidama practice their traditional beliefs, and only in the 1960s that European missionaries came to their region did any leave that faith.
However, according to the 1994 national census, only 14.9% practice traditional beliefs while the majority (66.8%) are Protestant, 7.7% Muslim, 4.6% Catholic, and 2.3% practice Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity.
Today, the Sidama area has only a small number of schools, and inadequate health services, though primary education has increased recently. The people have repeatedly complained that Sidama does not have regional autonomy in the country and asked for the government to give the Sidama people their own region.
First, the Sidama people constitute about 20% of the total population in the Southern region, with a significant economic contribution to the central government.
Second, the 40 smaller ethnic groups in the region belong to the three main socio-cultural and linguistic groups namely, Kushitic groups: Sidama, Alaba, Tambaro, Qewenna, Danta (Dubamo), Maraqo, Konso, Hadiya, Kambata; Omotic groups: Wolayta, Gamo, Gofa, Dawuro, Konta, etc., and Semitic group: Gurage.
After the downfall of the Military regime in 1991, the Transitional Government endorsed five separate regions within the current SNNPR region. These regions were established based on socio-cultural, linguistic and economic similarities.
They followed similar administrative arrangement made by the previous regime shortly before its downfall. Sidama, Gedeo and Burji belonged to one of the five independent regions within the current SNNPR. However, those five regions were dissolved without consultation with the peoples of the region.
Third, proper administrative arrangement is essential for administrative efficacy, effective delivery of social and economic services and broader economic development.
Those against autonomy argue that with the SNNPR being a condensed region with the most ethnic groups concentrated in a small territory, carving out boundaries that historically never existed and are often violently disputed between ethnicities in order to give autonomy to the more than 40 ethnic groups is virtually impossible.
Sidama Zone is a zone in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region (SNNPR) of Ethiopia. It is named for the Sidama people, whose homeland is in the zone.
Sidama is bordered on the south by the Oromia Region except for a short stretch in the middle where it shares a border with Gedeo zone, on the west by the Bilate River, which separates it from Wolayita zone, and on the north and east by the Oromia Region.
Towns in Sidama include Hawassa,the capital of Sidama and SNNPRS, Yirgalem and Wendo. Sidama has a population of around 3.2 million in 2017 who speak the Cushitic language Sidama also known as Sidamigna.
Sidama has 879 kilometers of all-weather roads and 213 kilometers of dry-weather roads, for an average road density of 161 kilometers per 1,000 square kilometers.
Sidama Zone is the leading coffee producing zone in Ethiopia, which contributes greatly to the foreign exchange of the federal government.
The Central Statistical Agency (CSA) reported that 63,562 tons of coffee were produced in Sidama and Gedeo combined in the year ending in 2005, based on inspection records from the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea authority. This represents 63% of the SNNPR's output and 28% of Ethiopia's total output.
The Zone is also rich in water resources, which are underutilized. The leading causes of morbidity and mortality in SNNP region are mostly attributable to lack of clean drinking water, poor sanitation, and low public awareness of environmental health and personal hygiene practices.
There is a high value attached to livestock by the Sidama, among whom a person without cattle is not regarded as a fully-grown social person, but as an outcast. Cattle numbers are good indicator of wealth, and gives chief popularity for the farmer who owns more cattle.
Nearly 95% of the Sidama live a life centered on agriculture. An important staple food is the wesse plant, or Ensete. Other crops are also grown and they breed cattle.
Perhaps the most important source of income is coffee,and chat or khat trees are the major source of income and area is a major contributor to coffee production, producing a high percentage of export coffee for the central government, second only to the Oromia region.
The Sidama farmers have been affected by hunger caused by declining world market prices for coffee, despite supplying the popular coffee chain Starbucks with the majority of their coffee products from the region.
Most residents are subsistence farmers. Cattle especially, are a measure of wealth. Sidama grows several crop types. It is a major coffee growing area, with coffee the most popular agricultural product in the zone. Its prized coffee is sold on the world market.
Coffee exports contribute revenue and foreign exchange for the country and the production and exchange of coffee has been used as the main economic power of people living in Sidama.
Despite Ethiopia’s vast resources of land, water and labor, it remains among the poorest countries in Africa and the world. It has been unable to use its resources effectively to prevent famine, reduce poverty, and support its rapidly increasing population.
The communities in Sidama Zone have been practicing integrated agriculture with crop production like Enset false banana, wheat, maize, sugar cane, etc. and livestock for their survival and as income generation.
The majority of the communities are producing coffee, which is the main cash crop and main income generating agricultural activity.
Though the community gets good income from coffee selling, they become rich only for three months during coffee production and selling months and become poor the remaining nine months, due to poor financial management and weak savings.
The Sidama economy is based primarily on subsistence agriculture characterized by archaic production techniques. However, coffee has been the major source of income for rural households in a substantial part of Sidama.
Although the recent plunge in international coffee price drew most of these households back into the subsistence production and absolute poverty as coffee prices fell dramatically even during the commodity price boom of 2001 to mid-2008.
Sidama is one of the major coffee producing regions in Ethiopia. It supplies over 40% of washed coffee to the central market. Coffee is the single major export earner for the country. Export earnings from coffee ranges from 60-67% although the country's share in the world market is less than 3%.
The Sidama people have not faced major hunger and famine until very recently. Due to reliable rainfall and evergreen land area, they were always able to produce enough to ensure food security. The society has been characterized by what one may call a low level economic equilibrium.
Even the 1984 great famine that hit all other parts of the country did not have a major impact in Sidama.
However, a continued dependence on subsistence agriculture, which relies on archaic technology and vagaries of nature coupled with massive growth of rural population, and limited rural development, has made Sidama prone to frequent hunger and famine recently.
Thus about a quarter of the total population in Sidama is directly or indirectly dependent on food aid from the international community today
Sidama coffee: The first reference to coffee in the English language is in the form chaoua, dated to 1598. In English and other European languages, coffee derives from the Ottoman Turkish kahve, via the Italian caffe.
The Turkish word, in turn, was borrowed from the Arabic: qahwah. Arab lexicographers maintain that qahwah originally referred to a type of wine, and gave its etymology, in turn, to the verb qaha, signifying to have no appetite, since this beverage was thought to dull one's hunger.
Several alternative etymologies exist that hold that the Arab form may disguise a loanword from an Ethiopian or African source, suggesting Kaffa, the highland in southwestern Ethiopia as one, since the plant is indigenous to that area. However, the term used in that region for the berry and plant is bunn, the native name in Shoa being bun.
Ethiopian ancestors of today's Oromo people were believed to have been the first to recognize the energizing effect of the coffee plant. In Ethiopia, coffee originated in Keffa Zone, also in the SNNP region.
This Zone has agro-ecological, agricultural practice and socio-cultural similarity with Sidama Zone. As coffee is a commercial crop and it becomes one of the best sources of foreign currency, the people in Sidama become very interested in large scale coffee production.
A substantial part of Sidama produces coffee, which is the major cash crop in the region. Coffee has been the major source of income for the rural households in the coffee producing regions of Sidama.
However, the recent plunge in international coffee price drew most of these households back into the subsistence production and absolute poverty coffee prices fell dramatically even during the commodity price boom of 2001 to mid-2008.
Sidama is one of the major coffee producing regions in Ethiopia. It supplies over 40% of washed coffee to the central market. Coffee is the single major export earner for the country. Export earnings from coffee range from 60-67% although the country's share in the world market is less than 3%.
Considering different coffee producing areas in Ethiopia, one of the special things about Sidama coffee is that it is organic coffee. Most coffee producing farmers use natural fertilizers and not artificial fertilizer. As the coffee of Sidama is local variety, it has special aroma and unique test.
As coffee become one of the greatest sources of foreign currency, the government of Ethiopia is promoting coffee producing areas like Sidama Zone for more production.
Due to this, the people of Sidama are now benefiting from this strategy. Exports from Ethiopia in the 2009/2010 financial year totaled US$1.4 billion. The country produces more coffee than any other nation in Africa.
In Ethiopia coffee has a special cultural value. Ethiopians hold coffee ceremonies in which people get together to deal with issues. Today the Ethiopian coffee ceremony has become a popular activity for tourists.
In Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, drinking coffee is strictly forbidden. Different religious leaders teach their followers that when a person becomes very familiar with coffee, he/she will face difficulties such as loss of concentration during fasting time where it is not allowed to eat or drink anything.
In this religion, there is meditation time Aremimo during fasting and it is assumed that those who have high adaptation with coffee will lose their concentration during meditation time.
Spirit possession occurs among the Sidama. Spirit possession is a form of compensation for being deprived within Sidama society. The majority of the possessed are women whose spirits demand luxury goods to alleviate their condition, but men can be possessed as well.
Possessed individuals of both sexes can become healers due to their condition. This is a form of compensation among deprived men in the deeply competitive society of the Sidama, for if a man cannot gain prestige as an orator, warrior, or farmer, he may still gain prestige as a spirit healer.
Women are sometimes accused of faking possession, but men never are.
Fichchee is the most celebrated Sidama cultural holiday, representing the Sidama New Year. The Fichchee is based on the lunar system. Sidama elders or astrologists observe the movement of the stars in the sky and decide the date for the New Year and the Fichchee celebration.
The Sidama New Year is therefore unique in that it does not have a fixed date. It rotates every year following the movements of the stars. Sidama has 13 months in a year. And each of the months is divided equally into 28 days while the 13th month has 29 days.
This is because the Sidama week has only 4 days and hence each month has 7 weeks instead of the conventional 4 weeks. The names of the 4 days in Sidama week are called: Dikko, Deela, Qawadoo and Qawalanka to be followed by Dikko completing the cycle of a 4-day week.
The Sidama people preserved their cultural heritage, including their traditional religion and language throughout the centuries under Ethiopia's Solomonic rule.
As said by the historian Donald Levine, legends recall the great 15th-century Amhara emperor Zera Yaqob who the Sidama still remember as Seraqo and his reign as a golden age.
Following the devastating 16th-century Ahmad Gran invasion and Oromo migration, the Sidama people had been cut away from the central government who strived for its survival at war for centuries to come. It will be under the great Menelik II in the late 1880s that the Sidama will be reintegrated in the Ethiopian empire.
The Sidama have their own well-established administrative systems that dated at least to the 9th century, though it was made up of a loose coalition of Sidama kingdoms. These kingdoms extended into the Gibe region. since the language does not have its own alphabet, very little has been written on Sidama issues.
Historically the Sidama nation was administered by the indigenous moote political system. The Mootichcha, equivalent to a king, was nominated by the family and near relatives for the position. The nominated moote or king is presented to a Fichche, the Sidama New Year ceremony.
The Mootichcha is the head of political and administrative structure. The Mootichcha is assisted by Ga'ro, akin to king's assistant, and hence next to the former in politico-administrative authority.
After the fall of the Derg military regime, the Sidama people were able to widely use the local language – Sidamigna as exercised in all regions of the country. Hawassa has been serving as the capital city of Sidama since 1978 and SNNPR since 1993.
But recently the government of Ethiopia planned to make Hawassa a chartered city with its own administrative structure, rather than having the city serve as the capital for SNNPR and Sidama Zone.
Due to this, the Sidama people requested the government to consider creating a separate region for the Sidama people, rather than combining them with other ethnic groups in the SNNPR.
The peaceful demonstrators came into conflict with armed government people and several dozen of them were killed. Thus, there is still high tension in the zone.
Different facts showed that the government is requested by the people to give regional autonomy for Sidama people. There are several justifications for this argument.
First, Sidama constitutes about 20% of the total population in the Southern region, with a significant economic contribution to the central government.
Second, the 40 smaller ethnic groups in the region belong to the three main socio-cultural and linguistic groups namely, Cushitic groups: Sidama, Alaba, Tambaro, Qewenna, Danta (Dubamo), Maraqo, Konso, Hadiya, Kambata; Omotic groups: Wolayta, Gamo, Gofa, Dawuro, Konta, etc., and Semitic group: Gurage.
After the fall of the military regime in 1991, the Transitional Government endorsed five separate regions within the current SNNPR.
These regions were established based on socio-cultural, linguistic and economic similarities. They followed similar administrative arrangement made by the previous regime shortly before its fall. Sidama, Gedeo and Burji belonged to one of the five independent regions within the current SNNPR.
However, those five regions were dissolved without consultation with the peoples of the region. Third, proper administrative arrangement is essential for administrative efficacy, effective delivery of social and economic services and broader economic development.
Sidama Zone is northeast of Lake Abaya and southeast of Lake Hawasa. The zone is bordered by the Arsi Oromo in the north and west, Gedeo, Burji, Guji Oromo people groups in the south, Guji Oromo in the west, and Wolayta and Kambata language groups to the east.
The Sidama live between Tikur Wuha River in the north and Dilla town in the south, spread out in a cone-shaped area of the middle of southern Ethiopia. Sidama is generally a fertile area, varying from flat land warm to hot to highland warm to cold.
Sidama has geographic coordinates of latitude, North: 5′ 45″ and 6′ 45″ and longitude, East, 38′ and 39′. It has a total area of 10,000 km2, of which 97.71% is land and 2.29% is covered by water. Hawassa Lake and Logita falls are water bodies that attract tourists.
Of the land, 48.70% is cultivated, 2.29% is forested, 5.04% is shrub and bush land, 17.47% is grazing land, 18.02% is uncultivated, 6.38% is unproductive and 2.10% has other uses. Some of the cultivated lands are in undulating escarpment and create difficulties for the farmers in the area.
Sidama has a variety of climatic conditions. Warm conditions cover 54% of the area. Locally known as Gamoojje or Woinadega, this is a temperate zone ranging from an elevation of 1500 m to 2500 m above sea level. The mean annual rainfall of the area varies between 1200 mm and 1599 mm, with 15 °C to 19.9 °C average annual temperature.
A hot climatic zone, Kolla, covers 30% of the total area. Its elevation ranges from 500 m to 1500 m above sea level. It has a mean annual rainfall of 400 mm to 799 mm, and the mean annual temperature ranges from 20 °C to 24.9 °C. Cool climatic conditions known as Aliicho or Dega exist in the mountainous highlands.
This covers 16% of the total area with an elevation between 2500 m and 3500 m above sea level. This part gets the highest amount of rainfall, ranging from 1600 mm to 1999 mm. It has a mean annual temperature of 15 °C to 19.9 °C.
Based on the 2007 Census conducted by the CSA, this Zone has a total population of 2,954,136, of whom 1,491,248 are men and 1,462,888 women; with an area of 6,538.17 square kilometers, Sidama has a population density of 451.83. While 162,632 or 5.51% are urban inhabitants, a further 5,438 or 0.18% are pastoralists.
A total of 592,539 households were counted in this Zone, which results in an average of 4.99 persons to a household, and 566,926 housing units. The three largest ethnic groups reported in this Zone were the Sidama (93.01%), the Oromo (2.53%), and the Amhara (1.91%); all other ethnic groups made up 2.55% of the population.
Sidamo is spoken as a first language by 94.23% of the inhabitants, 2.14% speak Amharic, and 2.07% Oromiffa; the remaining 1.56% spoke all other primary languages reported.
84.38% of the population said they were Protestants, 4.62% were Muslim, 3.35% practiced Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, 3.01% embraced Catholicism, and 2.72% observed traditional religions.
In the 1994 Census Sidama had a population of 2,044,836 in 439,057 households, of whom 1,039,587 were men and 1,005,249 women; 143,534 or 7.02% of its population were urban dwellers.
The four largest ethnic groups reported in this Zone were the Sidama (88.6%), the Amhara (4.15%), the Oromo (2.97%), and the Welayta (1.84%); all other ethnic groups made up 2.44% of the population.
Sidama is spoken as a first language by 88.6% of the inhabitants, 4.15% speak Amharic, 2.97% Oromiffa, and 1.84% Welayta; the remaining 2.44% spoke all other primary languages reported.
62.54% of the population said they were Protestants, 13.64% observed traditional religions, 8.24% practiced Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, 8% were Muslim, and 4.24% embraced Catholicism.