Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ethiopian Languages

It is fantastic how many languages are spoken in Ethiopia. There are more than 80 languages! The main languages are Amharic, Oromiffa, Tigrinya and Guraginya. During the previous government, everybody was forced to learn Amharic. Now, Amaharic is still the official language, together with English, but in the provinces the local language is being used.
Amharic and Tigrinya are written in a different alpahbet, an Abugida fidel. This is a phonetic set of alphabet, with each letter representing a sound. It is not so difficult to learn, what you see is what you say.
Like in many other African countries, language has ben a means of oppressing the people. It used to be forbidden to speak Oromiffa. A very likely reason is that the tribe of Oromo is fighting to gain independence.
There are many foreigners who have learned Amharic, a number of Italians were born in Ehiopia and brought up there. Others have studied it for the sake of working in Ethiopia. Of course, many people can speak English. But knowing the local language does bring you closer to the people.  Then, there are the many families who adopt children from Ethiopia and want to preserve their cultural heritage.

Women of Ethiopia

Women in Ethiopia are incredibly strong. Life, for most of them, is tough. Hard work from morning to night. Frequent pregnancies and many children. Many have to go far to fetch water, carrying it on their heads and backs. Even women in the city need to be strong. With power-cuts a normal occurence, many get up at 1 am to cook food, since there is always electricity in the night. Others work hard with little pay in an office, just to make sure the children get an education.
Then, there are some Ethiopian women who have become famous. Most of us have heard about the marathon runners from Ethiopia. A number of them are women! One of them, Derartu Tulu, took time off to give birth and then made a come-back- twice! Talk about strong women! Others are White House chefs or super models. In other words, the whole spectrum is covered with Ethiopian women.
Like women in every part of the world, these women also have dreams. Often centered around the well-fare of their children. Just like us. Most of them want their children, especially their daughters, to have a better life than them.