Awuramba Community: Short History and Current Social Status


Awuramba Community: Short History and Current Social Status

Awuramba Community: Short History and Current Social Status


Sisay Mengeste Sep 20, 2014


1.      Introduction

Awuramba community is found in the north-western part of the Amhara National Regional State, south Godar Administrative Zone nearby eastern part of Lake Tana areas. The term Awuramba is the name of a village and a community found in Wojina Awuramba Kebele of Fogera Woreda. It is also located about 68kms.far from the capital city of Amhara region, Bahar Dar, via Wereta town alongside the main road from Wereta to Woldia town of north Wollo Administrative Zone. The total population of Awuramba community is 403, of which 196 male, 207 female and 119 are house hold heads include both men and women.[1]


However, according to the survey conducted by Organization for Rehabilitation and Development for Amhara (ORDA) planning team, the Awuramba community’s total land area of the village owned by the Awurambas is only 43 hectares of land, which is insufficient to the population size of the community. In other words, the Awurambas do not have sufficient plot of land to use for both agricultural and other off farm activities including rearing of domestic animals.


Therefore, marginalization of such segments of the society starts from this negative reaction, and extends to condemning members of the community by leveling different names that are degrading the social status of individuals who want to be part and parcel of Awuramba community. Though farm land was redistributed in the name of some individual members of Awuramba community in 2004, land and domestic animals are commonly owned as well as managed by all community members as they are considered once as common properties of the whole community.[2]


2.      Foundation

When we examine the origin and history of Awuramba community, it is highly associated with a person whose name is Zumra Nuru, a founder and community leader of such community. He was born in 1946 from his mother Trusew Kassaye and his father Nuru Mohammed who were peasant dwellers of Simada Woreda, in the former province of Gondar, currently known as south Gonder Administrative Zone of Amhara Region. The first incident that Zumra confronted the long established existing religious tradition in his younger age, when his mother accused him of eating piece of meat from their Christian neighbor’s.


As he remembered such event, he immediately asked his mother why he was not allowed to eat such meat while the meat come from similar animal that they had at home, and Zumra was not satisfied at his mother’s answer and continued raising related questions why the existing social structure that divided members of the community based on sex, occupation and other related philosophical issues though his relatives and neighbors considered him as a mad person. Moreover, around 1950 when he was a four year old boy, he started evaluating the existing relationship of his father and mother pertaining to their social status as well as classification of work based on sex in the peasant community of Amhara Region.[3] According to him he tried to help his mother involving in homestead works, however, he did not satisfy at his short term solution and started thinking about the whole social interaction and he realized that patriarchal authority of male is the major source of such misery life of women and children including his mother. Other activities which are considered as evil things such as stealing, telling lies, robbery, violation of human rights including the rights of children attracted his attention and started fighting against them and thinking about sustainable solution of these societal problems. To the writer of this piece the view of Zumra on the present imbalance societal interaction and his perception on the rights of women as well as children makes him a traditional human rights activist. However, until he became seventeen, he was moving from place to place including Gojam, Wollo and Gonder provinces and finally he stationed at Wojina Awuramba Kebele of Fogera Woreda, after getting some people who were at least voluntary to listen his thoughts.[4]


In other words, it was at the age of eighteen that Zumra firmly convinced himself to fight against these harmful traditional practices and revitalize the old socio-economic and traditional system by creating the ideal community for the betterment of the whole society of the country.[5] And Zumra’s vision for creating such ideal society was started its full function in 1972 after many sacrifices of the founder of this community. Hence, his life has been primarily associated with fundamental principles of his thoughts i.e. helping the poor, believing in hard work and cooperation; abolish patriarchal authority of the male and subjugation of women in relation to his opposition to the traditional Amhara marriage system.


Though the founding members of the community of Awuramba had no the same descendants, in their own eyes as well as in the eyes of the outside observer, the Awurambas constitute a family, psychologically speaking, bound by ties of common residence, common experience, a common past and a common present and a common future of their fate, and mutual aid-all the ties which bind a family-as well as a common ideology.[6] Besides the majorities of the founders of the community including the leader of the community were originally Muslim in religion though they changed immediately their belief into the spirit of strong working culture, respect all human beings and believe in equality, making love and peace for common life as well as avoiding harmful traditional practices including the religious supported ones among others.[7]


That means according to personal observation of the writer, currently they are neither Muslim nor Christian, rather their emphasis is respecting a Devine Power (God) as well as shared values and principles of their own. Awurambas, then, is a community which is founded for the most part, by men and women, fired with strong conviction and purpose, which banded together and deliberately chose to be strong workers. By so choosing, they reversed both the traditional prestigious hierarchy and patriarchy system of Ethiopians. Instead of aspiring to “rise” in the social ladder, they are aspiring to ‘social equality’ through social cooperation and gender equality.[8]


According to Zumra Nuru, who is the founder of the community, neighboring people were and are not happy by the Awuramba’s new belief, culture and way of life; especially by the conditions of their strong belief in working hard and equality between men and women which contradicts with the existing working tradition, religious doctrines and other cultural values of such neighboring people. Because of their different belief and indiscriminate working tradition and equal treatment of the whole society they developed, neighboring people continued blaming and alleging that Zumra together with his followers is not only anti existing religious values and beliefs but also he became anti Degue regime rather he is inclined to support Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF)[9] though he had no any relationship with such political organization until it became the governing party of the country.[10]


To the neighboring people, Awurambas are suspicious, secretive, pagan and deviant caste social groups though some other neighborly individuals oppose this hasty generalization and characterized them as hard working, highly disciplined and trustworthy community. To the latter ones, although the Awurambas are pagans, they are trustworthy and they do not steal as well as do not tell a lie.[11] The writer of this Article observes that peoples that are condemning the Awurambas community as deviant and pagan are mostly followers of the Muslim religion and some Christian fundamentalists who are very reluctant to accept such new culture and way of life that is different from theirs.


Of course members of Awuramba community has become suspicious of members of their neighboring community as they develop negative perception against their new culture, belief and way of life. In this regard some respondents living nearby the village of Awuramba community stipulate that members of Awuramba community are always in fear of neighboring people and guard themselves day and night.[12] To Mohamed and other neighboring people who believe same, even Zumra, who is the founder and community leader of Awuramba community, has his own body guard. When they come to market place they do not drink and eat anything even in the tea rooms found around such market places and their children always flock together making a line when they go to school and back home.[13] According to these neighborly people, Awuramba community is isolating themselves and being ashamed of their deviant behavior as well as afraid of what they might suspect of their potential ‘opponents’ and they always segregate themselves from their neighboring people.


Though nowadays the degree of marginalization and segregation by neighboring people is lowering, we can understand the negative perception of neighbors from the aforementioned statement that describes the behavior of the community and this problem still exists as well as continuing for some time in the future too. For instance the neighboring people are not ready to enter into marriage relationship with members of Awuramba community due to such wrong perception and negative attitude they developed. And even the experts of different government offices of Fogera Woreda and south Gondar administrative zone particularly the experts of cooperative expansion offices of same are still reluctant to professionally assist this community though they are duty bound to equally treat them like that of their neighboring people.

In this regard we can take a concret example to show the reality Awuramba community is facing. Experts of Fogera Woreda Cooperative Expansion Office were and are still resisting to recognize the organization of Awuramba community in the form of cooperative and to audit same. The writer of this piece witnesses the negative reaction of such officers when he was in his office as well as during the data collection process. Moreover, the community leader told the writer of this Article that most of the experts are not ready to support the Awurambas value and philosophy.



·         Seid Mohammed (2008), The Working Traditions and their Contribution to Rural Development, in Awuramba Community, Northern Amhara Region-Ethiopia, M.A Thesis, Mekele University.

·         Solomon Atinafu (2004), Social Transformation among Awuramba Community: the Role of Gender, M.A Thesis, Addis Ababa University.

·         Sisay Mengistie Addisu (2010), Treatments of the Rights of Minorities in Amhara National Regional state: Law and Practice, LL.M Thesis Addis Ababa University.

·         Sisay Mengistie Addisu (2014) Awuramba Comminity: Foundation and Philosophy (Amharic Version), Presented to the Workshop Organized by Ethiopian Tourism and Hotel Training Institute, Addis Ababa.



Zumra Nuru, Initiator, founder and community leader.

Nuru Belay, Public Relations officer, Awuramba community

Mohammed Kasim , neighbor and strong opposer of Awurambas’ belief,

Ahimed Seid, neighbor of Awuramba community.

Moizer Ali, neighbor of Awurambas community.

[1] Taken from the community’s registration book, October 2009.

[2] Nuru Belay, Public Relations officer, Awuramba community.

[3] Zumra Nuru, Initiator and founder of the Awura-Amba community.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Seid Mohammed, The Working Traditions and their Contribution to Rural Development, in Awura-Amba Community, Northern Amhara Region-Ethiopia, M.A Thesis, Mekele University, 2008,p.67.

[6] Solomon Atnafu ((2004), Social Transformation among Awuramba Community: the Role of Gender, M.A Thesis, Addis Ababa University, p.59.

[7] Zumra Nuru. Founder of Awuramba Community.

[8] Solomon Atnafu, p.49.

[9] Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is a coalition of Tigray People Libration Front (TPLF), the former Ethiopian Peoples Democratic Movement (EPDM) now Amhara Nation Democratic Movement (ANDM), Oromo People Democratic Organization (OPDO) and Southern Ethiopian Peoples Democratic Movement (SPDM).

[10] Zumra Nuru, founder and community leader.

[11] Mohammed Kasim and Ahimed Seid, neighbors of Awuramba community.

[12] Mohamed Kasim, neighbor and strong opposer of Awurambas’ belief.

[13] Mohamed Kasim and Moizer Ali, neighbors of Awurambas community.

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