Images of Amhara women in oral poetry

Berhanu Asaye Agajie


The objective of this article is to describe thematic images of Amhara women in oral poetry. The study is based on field research conducted in rural areas of Western Gojjam and Awi Zone. The data was collected by observation, interview and focus group discussion. For documentary evidence, twelve informants were selected by using a purposive sampling technique. The research method used was ethnographic qualitative description. The result revealed that images reflected through oral poems address women mainly as wives, particular aspects refer to love, woman’s attitude to marriage issues, divorce and include general knowledge, understanding the life and personages within women's worldview. By the same token, oral poetry portrayed those women as inferior to men. Finally, the study recommended a further research on oral literature of Amhara region of Ethiopia.


Image of Women; Gender Theme; Oral Poetry; Amharic

Full Text:



Alembi, E. 2002. The Construction of the Abanyole Perceptions on Death Through Oral Funeral Poetry. Unpublished PhD Dissertation. Helsinki University, Finland.

Alembong, N. 1996. “Folklore and Identity: Lessons for Cameroon”. Epasa Moto: A Bilingual Journal of Language, Letters and Culture 1. 119-24.

Bauman, R. 1977. Verbal Arts as Performance. Long Grove, IL: Wave Land Press.

Bauman, R. 1986. Story, Performance, and Event: Contextual Studies of Oral Narrative. New York: Cambridge Universty Press.

Bauman, R. 2011. “Commentary: Foundations in Performance”. Journal of Sociolinguistics 15(5). 707-720.

Bruce, J. 1987. Field Work. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Cherinet, H. & E. Mulugeta. 2003. A Profile of Gender Relations. Towards Gender equality in Ethiopia. [n.p.]: SIDA.

Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. 1994. Cultural Policy. Addis Ababa: Artistic Printing Press.

Fine, E. 1984. The Folklore Text from Performance to Print. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Fong, M. 2004. Communicating Ethnic and Cultural Identity. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc.

Finnegan, R. 1970. Oral Poetry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Finnegan, R. 2012. Oral Literature in Africa. Cambridge: Open Book Publishers. Online: [20.06.2020].

Furniss, G. & L. Gunner. 1995. Power, Marginality and African Oral Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gellner, E. 1987. Culture, Identity and Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gelaye, G. 2001. “Amharic Oral Poems of the Peasantry in East Gojjam. Text, Classification, Translation and Commentary”. Aethiopica 4. 276-277.

Hirut, T. 2005. “Violence Against Women in Ethiopia: A Strong Case of Civil Society Concern”. Civil Society in Ethiopia: Reflections on Realities and Perspectives of Hope, ed. by B. Benzing. Frankfurt am Mäin & London: IKO verlag für Interkulurelle Kommunikation. 59-81.

Hurreiz, S. 1986. “Folklore and the Cultural Premises of African Oral History”. Studies in African Applied Folklore, ed. by S. Hurreiz. Khartoum: Institute of African and Asian Studies, University of Khartoum. 78-92.

Kaschula, R. H. 2001. African Oral Literature: Functions in Contemporary Contexts. Cape Town: New Africa Books.

Kumar, R. 1996. Research Methodology: A Step By Step Guide for Bingers. London: SAGE Publication Ltd.

Lindfors, B. 1977. Forms of Folklore in Africa: Narratives, Poetic, Gnomic, Dramatic. Austin & London: University of Texas Press.

Miruka, O. 1994. Encounter with Oral Literature. Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers Ltd.

Okpewho, I. 1985. The Heritage of African Poetry. Harlow: Longman Group Limited.

Okpewho, I. 1990. The Oral Performance in Africa. Ibadan: Spectrum Books Limited.

Okpewho, I. 1992. African Oral Literature: Background, Character and Continuity. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Sone, E. 2009. “What Kind of Literature for Ethical Education in Africa?”. LWATI: A Journal of Contemporary Research 6. 157-65.

Toelken, B. 1996. The Dynamics of Folklore. Logan, Utah: Utah State University.

Wambua, M. et al.. 2008. Training Manual for Gender Planning. Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children, Tanzania. Online:$file/Tools-%20Gender%20Mainstreaming%20(Kenya,%202008).pdf [28.06.2020].

Zewde, B. 2000. “African historiography: Past, present and future”. Afrika Zamani 7-8. 33-40.

EDITORIAL OFFICE Department of African Languages and Cultures, University of Warsaw, Faculty of Oriental Studies, ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 26/28, 00-927 Warszawa, Poland, +48225520517

PUBLISHER University of Warsaw Press, ul. Prosta 69, 4th floor, 00-838 Warszawa, Poland,