The Social Function of Amharic Folk Poetry with Reference to Shänä in Rayya Qobbo

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Date

2010-06

Authors

Nigussie, Beakal

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Addis Ababa University

Abstract

In countries like Ethiopia, where the rate of literacy is very low, and the written word is deficient to wave public opinion, the role of folk literature is mammoth. Contrary to this fact, folk literature in Ethiopia is overwhelmed by western cultures and many such heritages are on the verge of oblivion, in the country in general and in Rayya Qobbo in particular; and Shänä a folk poetry is among the victimized assets. Bearing such assumptions in mind, this study was designed to record Shänä a folk poetry in Rayya Qobbo and to examine its social functions through thematic as well as contextual analyses. The study embraces six chapters, of which the first provides a general background to the study, physical and social setting of the study area and insights about the magnitude of the problem, the objectives, significances and scope. In the second chapter, different theories, approaches and studies are reviewed and definitions of terms are given to substantiate the research with guiding framework. In chapter three, the different methods employed in collecting Amharic Shänä a folk poetry using audiotape recorder and classifications used in the study are described. In the fourth chapter, a brief description of the ceremonial process of Shänä a and major occasions of performances of Shänä a folk poetry are given. Chapter five, mainly deals with a contextual analysis of Shänä folk poetry to brought to the fore its themes and social functions. Thus, forty poems were selected, transcribed on paper, translated in to English and analyzed accordingly. Chapter six, the conclusion, gives a succinct summary of the social functions of Shänä a folk poetry as reflected in the data collected and analyzed. Thus, the study revealed blessing, curse, praise, socio-political commentary, historical record and cherishing patriarchy as the major social functions of Shänä a folk poetry. Blessing appeared as the most common function served and wealth, power and fame, victory, successful marriage, health, long life and righteousness were identified as the main focuses. Regarding curse, contrary to blessing, weak sides of individuals got expressions. Praise also appeared playing roles in upraising individual’s generosity, wealth and heroic deeds. In the category of socio-political commentary, criticism of the manner of the society like envy and malevolent and protest against a government were reflected. In recording history, historical places, names of heroes and heroic deeds appeared as points of focuses. Finally, Shänä a folk poetry was also found playing roles in maintaining conformity to male supremacy by cherishing patriarchy.

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Food Security

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