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Grass-roots Justice in Ethiopia

Alula Pankhurst
Getachew Assefa

Regional Case Studies

5. Customary Dispute Resolution in Harar

Biruk Haile et Jira Mekonnen

Texte intégral

Profile of the Region

1The Regional State of Harar is one of nine member states under the current federal state structure. The Harari Peoples National Regional State is found in the eastern part of Ethiopia surrounded by Eastern Hararge Zone of the Oromia Regional State. The formation and growth of Harar are closely related to the ancient port of Zeila, which was found in the northwest Coast of today’s Northern Somalia. Historical accounts attest to the fact that the emergence and growth of Harar in history dates back to those days in which the fall of the port of Adulis gave prominence to the port of Zeila.

2The 1994 Population and Housing Census reveals that the total population of the state amounts to 131,139. The majority of the population 76,378 reside in urban areas, and rural residents, constitute the remaining 54,716. The 1994 Housing and Population Census shows that in terms of ethnic composition, Oromos account for 52.3%, Amharas 32.6%, Harari 7.1%, Gurages 3.2%, while others accounted for the remaining 4.8%. In terms of religious composition, Muslims account for 60.3% followed by Orthodox Christians that account for 38.2%; while Protestants, Catholics, and others constitute 0.9%, 0.5% and 0.1% respectively.

3This diverse community background creates a fertile ground for the existence of diverse ethnically based practices in areas of dispute settlement. However, this chapter will be devoted only to the customary dispute settlement means of the Harari and the Argobba peoples. Settlement of disputes outside the regular court is common. Part of the reason attributed for limited statistics of records of court-decided cases each year is the delay of courts in rendering decisions. That is why almost all of the participants of a conference convened to discuss the nature of CDR mechanisms in Harar took that opportunity to speak out their grievances against courts in the presence of the head of Regional Justice Bureau (by citing cases which took years for courts to render decisions).

Harari Customary Institutions: An Overview

4The Harari People have a longstanding tradition of self-rule, cooperation and maintenance of peace and order through its respected traditional institutions. The following five traditional institutions are usually identified to be the most important ones (Mustafa Hassen 1988):

  1. Afocha: an egalitarian cultural association for help at death, weddings, sickness, etc.

  2. Mureno·. women’s traditional association of help for good and bad times known as ‘kitchen association’.

  3. Baha: association of women of comparable age, economic and social status for giving money during deaths and weddings.

  4. Jemeha: women’s association for saving money.

  5. Guza: peasant association for help in farming, cultivation, and harvesting.

5Among the above traditional institutions, the present chapter will be devoted to the Afocha as it is the prime Harari institution entrusted with the function of settlement of disputes

The Afocha Institution

6The term Afocha in Harari language literally means neighbourhood. Afocha in its institutional sense is an association of neighbours participating in various social activities (Yusuf 1965:125). The Afocha is a ceremonial association whose primary functions are assisting in the performance of weddings and funeral ceremonies. Thus, one can say that Afocha is in principle a self-help membership association for cooperation. This nature of the institution was emphatically stated by Haji Ali Keyiro, a known local elder, who said that the premises of Afocha are found in the need to help each other on different occasions like death, wedding, sickness and others.

7Afocha, though originally typical to Harari people, Haji Ali Keyiro said, is nowadays being practiced by other peoples notably the Oromos. However, one can say that Afocha is still the most important association for the Harari people, said Ato Abdusamed Idris, Chairman of the Harari Council. ‘In Harar, a man can live without relatives and friends, but never without an Afocha’.

8There are two types of Afocha:

  • 1 Most of the following information is from interviews with Haji Zekaria Abubaker.

91 the male Afocha, known as Aboch, and female Afocha known as Endoch. The two Afochas are not related as such and have their respective functions for their members. At the time of this research, there were 40 male Afochas and 12 female Afochas in the Harari Regional State. A person cannot be a member of the opposite sex Afocha. There is, however, an interesting exception in that there is a room for a widowed woman to become a member of her deceased husband’s Afocha.

10Any married person or anyone who has attained marriageable age is expected to be a member of an Afocha. Male children join the Afocha of their fathers. A person may also, for convenience’s sake, join the Afocha nearest to his shop or working place.6 Membership to the Aboch is free as opposed in the Endoch which is upon payment of a sum which can vary from one Afocha to another. This is because the women spend more than men during different social events like weddings. The function of the Afocha in funerals (amuta gar) and weddings is tremendous. In addition to digging the grave and burying the corpse, the members spend the following days with the mourners supplying foods and a variety of drinks. One interesting aspect of Afocha is that every member, before he is admitted to the association, is duly informed by the leaders about the operation of the institution and the rights and duties of members. More importantly, any an incoming member is required to resolve disputes between him and other members in the course of membership under the institutional arrangements without recourse to regular courts. This is an indirect indicator as to the fact that in addition to its significant social role, the institution of Afocha has another function that deals with settlement of disputes outside regular courts.

Mechanims for Disputes Settlement under the Afocha

  • 2 Interview with Tewfik Kedro.

11Even though the institution of Afocha is primarily designed to facilitate cooperation between members in various social situations, settlement of disputes through customary negotiation, ‘arbitration’ or mediation is other significant role of the Afocha2. If a conflict happens within members of an Afocha it should be solved there without going to court and without the intervention of anybody else. Therefore, it can be said that settlement of disputes under the Afocha arrangement is the role of the association accepted by members at the moment of admission.

  • 3 Interview with Haji Ali Keyro.

12Under the Afocha institutional arrangement it is the elders (in some instances kadis) who actually decide the case.3 The informant also emphasized the existence of other occasions where cases are settled by elders not acting under the Afocha channel. That is, there is a possibility of settling disputes by elders not acting under the authorization of Afocha. In such circumstances, there is a possibility of referring cases to the Afocha in the form of appeal. Also, cases which elders acting on their own cannot resolve can be referred to the Afocha. This shows in one way that though the Afocha has to compete with other avenues of traditional dispute settlement, it still claims pre-eminence over them because of its respected institutional position

  • 4 Interview with Haji Muktar Mubarek.

13Individuals do not serve in the dispute settlement on a permanent basis. They come to play their role, when they are called upon either by one or both of the disputing parties or people of the village (usually neighbours) who want to see the parties coming to terms without regular court proceedings.4 The informant also stated that settlement is important in order that the Afocha renders its functions among members smoothly.

  • 5 Interview with Haji Muktar

14But in usual cases the elders working under the auspices of the Afocha are supposed to be prestigious enough in the society to influence the disputing parties so that they come to terms.5 Also the elders are expected to have appreciable religious and academic knowledge. Moreover, it is accepted that an elder, who comes to play the role of an arbitrator, should not be selfish and should be known for his concern for peace in the society.

15Another important point worth mentioning is that the services of arbitration by elders is provided for free (without payment of remuneration). This free service is viewed positively because such elders are interested in the peaceful settlement of the problem. For this very reason, in certain cases elders arrange the settlement at their own expense in addition to precious business time they miss.

  • 6 Interviews with Haji Ah Keyro and Mohomed Shesh.

16Once they are selected and have come to play their role, the elders will require parties in dispute to sign an agreement to accept and be bound by the outcome of the case, whatever it might be.6

  • 7 Interviews with Haji Ali Keyro, Mohammed Shesh and W/ro Nejeha Ummer
  • 8 Interviews with Tewofik Kedr, Hiji Zekaria and Mahir Abdusamed.

17Just like multitudes of other customary institutions of dispute settlement, the jurisdiction of Afocha institution knows no bounds and embraces both civil and criminal cases of any nature. In its criminal jurisdiction, the Afocha resolves crimes like bodily injury, manslaughter, adult confrontations, trespass on land and others. However, there is a general reluctance on the part of the arbitrators to try criminal cases originating from theft, adultery, intentional homicide, and other crimes entailing moral turpitude.7 In civil areas, too, cases of inheritance (succession) and labour cases are dealt with.8

The procedure of settlement of Disputes

  • 9 Interviews with Haji Zekaria and Haji Ali Keyro

18Once the elders are constituted under the Afocha, the procedure of deciding the case is a more interesting subject if at all we think of integration of the CDR mechanism with the formal justice system. Consideration of any case starts by hearing the parties separately. The hearing process starts by the party alleging to have been aggrieved i.e., the plaintiff or the applicant in the matter. While this party is being heard, all others including the defendant (respondent) will be ordered to stay outside of the hearing venue. This is justified in the interest of bringing about amicable settlement by avoiding possible temperament in direct conversation.9

19It is very interesting to note that in the fact finding process under the Afocha institution, the role of witnesses and other modes of evidence is diminished. This is because parties are warned in the name of Alah or God to speak the truth. As a result of which they will be simply trusted to speak the truth making evidentiary squabbles between them unnecessary. Moreover, in many instances, the elders themselves know all what happened between the parties and, hence, apply such knowledge than calling witnesses. But in spite of this presumptive approach to evidentiary matters, in rare instances, witnesses would be called and when they are so called to testify, again, the witness are to be heard separately and in the absence of the parties. When the elders pass a decision under any rule, the two parties will be called together to hear the decision.

  • 10 interview with Haji Mohamed & Haji Ali Keyro.

20As regards the rules used by the elders in the Afocha system to reach a verdict, it is indicated that it varies from case to case. Sometimes the decision is rendered as per what the Holy Qor’an sets forth. But there is also a possibility of resorting to equity if Qor’an does not provide adequate remedy or it is unreasonable to apply rules of the Qor’an. According to Sheik Muktar, certain disputes can also be resolved on the bases of customary rules (ada). For example, in a manslaughter case in which one of the oral informants acted as an arbitrator, a driver knocked down a child in one of the streets in Jegol (the fenced heart of Harar city) and the child passed away. It was found to be that both driver and victim family belonged to the same Afocha. After burial the neighbours of both parties notified the leaders of Afocha about the need for settlement of the matter. Through the Afocha, known elders were mandated to take up the case. They finally reached a settlement decision in which the slayer was adjudged to pay a nominal number of 100 camels to the victim’s family. It is interesting to note that the compensation awarded is nominal in a sense that each head of cattle is valued for much less than its market price. Then the devalued amount, say 50 birr; will be multiplied by the number of cattle awarded as compensation, in this case a hundred camels. Thus the actual compensation would be 50 x 100 = 5000 birr. What is important is that one or two cattle are handed over and slaughtered to mark the settlement of the dispute. And in this particular case the family, satisfied by the nominal award, pardoned the driver.10

  • 11 Interview with Ato Abera Haile and Woizero Fetia

21There was also an occasion when a person who lost his four teeth due to an assault by another was entitled to replacement of those teeth with golden ones. In certain civil cases, there were instances where a person was adjudged to discharge his debt by paying money in fixed allowances.11

22In general, the basis for decision is not uniform and it varies taking in to account religion and other cultural norms. But no instance where corporal punishment was involved was mentioned by any of our informants. This may appear paradoxical in the face of the predominantly Islamic background of most Afocha and elders acting thereunder. It is a matter of common knowledge that Islamic rules prescribe corporal punishment for certain forms of offences.

  • 12 Interview with Haji Ali Keyiro
  • 13 Interview with Haji Zekaria

23Once the decision is pronounced the crucial stage remains enforcement. In usual cases, the parties to the case comply with the decision out of fear of the harsh social consequences that may ensue due to failure to comply with the elders’ decision and, incidentally, in fear of the resource-demanding sluggish court litigation. Moreover, if the case was considered under the Afocha channel, there is a possibility of expulsion of the disobedient party from Afocha.12 The consequence of expulsion from Afocha is not difficult to imagine: one’s burial will not be fully attended and celebrated; one’s wedding will be without help and company of fellow friends as well as there will not be help in case of sickness. In addition, once a person is expelled from Afocha there are penalties for readmission as may be decided by elders.13

CDR institutions in Argobba

24The Argobba people belong to the Semitic language family. In today’s Ethiopia, they live scattered in different parts of the country predominantly in Afar, Amhara, Oromia and Harari regional states. According to the 1994 Housing and population Census, the number of the Argobba people around the country is 62,831.

  • 14 Inteview: with Adem Yusuf.
  • 15 Abbebe (2003:333) suggests that the Argobba of Shewa and Wello are a remnant population of the Sult (...)

25Oral information has it that the Argobba community has its origin across the sea. The Argobba community claim to have originally come from Saudi Arabia. It is held that long ago before opening of the Suez Canal, people known as Beni Umayya were expelled from Arabia and came to Ethiopia, which the Prophet Mohammed heard was peaceful and known for its hospitability as well as respect for others’ religion. Subsequently the news of prosperity of the first (test) group sent in Ethiopia reached back in Arabia and subsequent influx followed. The oral tradition has it also that the original known place of settlement for the Argobba in Ethiopia is Yifat14 It is also believed that the name ‘Argobba’ is an elision of the Amharic word ‘Arab gaba’ which means ‘the Arabs came’.15

26This survey is conducted on the Argobba Community in and around the Harar city. In the region, the community is settled both in the city and in the surrounding rural kebeles/vicinities. In Hundane (rural) Kebele the Argobba people live separately and in other areas like Kormi, Kazi, Kogna, Etiza, and others they live with other peoples like the Oromo.

Settlement of Disputes

  • 16 Interview with Adem Yusuf and Atham Mohammed.

27Turning to dispute settlement mechanisms used among the Argobba, the record of court settlement by members of this society is almost nill. Members of this community have no known significant record of resort to court when disputes arise.16 This means that members of the community use their traditional institutions of dispute settlement. The most commonly used of these means is the Damina.

  • 17 Interview with Abdu Hussien

28On other of the institutions which can be linked to outside court settlement is the institution of Walasma. The term Walasma refers to a pure race, upper class, and owners of Land. One who becomes Walasma is from a clan known as Doha and he administers and distributes land (Adem 2003:1). This therefore was an institution that specialized in disputes relating to land, no doubt very important issue till 1974. However, since the coming into power of the Derg and the abolition of private ownership of land, this institution has vanished.17

The Institution of Damina

  • 18 Interview with Ato Adem Yusuf and Aman Daud.

29The word Damina, is derived from Arabic and has its equivalent in Amharic meaning ‘Yedem ayin’, which means to see the blood and decide (the amount of compensation). Damina is used in the different contexts according to the same source. First, it refers to the compensation awarded to (families of) victims of crimes. Secondly, it refers to arbitrators involved in the settlements of disputes. Thirdly, the term is used to express the over all system of settling disputes outside regular courts. The system of settlement of disputes through the mechanisms of Damina is not restricted to member of the Argobba community but also is practiced by the neighbouring Oromo society.18

30Disputes are settled in the Damina arrangement through the Gosa (roughly ‘clan’) structures. Especially in criminal cases, if the offender and the victim belong to the same gosa, the dispute will be resolved by the Damina of that gosa. On the other hand, if the offender and victim are form different gosa, the dispute will be settled by the Daminas of the two gosa. At this point, let us emphasize the resolution of criminal cases involving homicide as this illustrates how the institution of Damina operates in criminal cases.

  • 19 Inteview with Adam Yusuf and Aman Daud.

31When a person commits homicide, his close relatives will hide him until the close relatives of the offender approach the Damina of the gosa or daminas of Gosas (as the case may be) so that the damina(s) start preparing grounds for settlement. Then after, the Damina(s) will take over the offender and put him under their protection or under the protection of a third party. Then, the Damina(s) will add some nine more persons from the concerned gosa or from each gosa and will start to deliberate as to manner of settlement and payment of guma (blood compensation). The compensation is to be awarded as per what the Shari’a prescribes in which a set of specific rules called fiqi sets specific remedies for both civil and criminal cases. The compensation prescribed for homicide is 101 (one hundred and one) cattle. From this number, the first twelve will be given to family of the victim in the form of ‘refisa’ to calm and stabilize members of the family until final settlement. The remaining 89 cattle will be delivered subsequently with in a week after the delivery of the first twelve. The payment of compensation can either be in cash or in kind. However, compensation cannot be paid exclusively in terms of money. The offender, he adds, should deliver at least limited number of cattle.19

  • 20 Interview with Zelia Kassim

32As it is the case in many other Ethiopian traditions, the compensation is not to be solely paid out of the coffers of the offender; rather it is his gosa that contributes toward the fixed compensation amount. In cases in which the compensation is to be paid in terms of money, undervaluing the price of each cattle is not uncommon.20

33On the last day of settlement in which the whole compensation is handed over to the victim’s family, a place will be chosen by the Damina(s) and the nine selected people of the gosa(s) in a third village and the offender will slaughter one animal and share its meat with the victim’s family to mark return of blood and final settlement, and that will be followed by the recitation of the Fitiha from the Qor’an. However, if the family of the offender fails to facilitate settlement by informing the Damina(s) until three days after the commission of the crime, the victim’s family starts to take private justice against the offender and his family.

  • 21 Interview with Ato Aman Yusuf and Abdu Hussein
  • 22 Interview with Abdu Hussein

34One might ask as to what happens if in a given case, perpetrators of a given crime cannot be identified and remain unknown. In such instances, the Argobba society has its own established procedures of screening out the offender. This is possible, through the mechanisms of afersata. In this case a place will be identified where the sun is so battering during day and the temperature is piercingly cold during the night for gathering, the same source depicts. This is, he adds, to subject people to extremely unfavorable weather there by compelling or forcing them to disclose the offender. In aach village, a person who used to guard public gatherings, there are guards to make sure that every member of the community attends the public gathering (afersata). In case a person who is supposed to attend such gathering does not show up, the guards will knock on his door and compel him to attend public gathering. Moreover, the guards, Abdu Hussien adds, confine the people in that place until the offender is screened out.21 During the gathering, each participant is asked to tell all he knows in relation to the incident or the crime committed. For example, individuals who have quarrels with the deceased, those who were last seen, and all other possible links with the crime will be identified. In case the afersata succeeds in yielding any offender, a decision will be given as per what the Shari’a prescribes. In other instances, everything will be left to attendance of the victim or his family to resort to private justice by way of revenge.22

  • 23 Interview with Adem Yusuf

35One important feature of the damina decision is that there is a possibility of taking the decision to Qadis in the form of appeal. That is, if the parties feel that the decision is not commendable in light of Shari’a law, they can appeal to the Qadi. This is because, as said earlier, the Qadi in a society is well conversant with the Shari’a law and its procedures. Yet one fascinating feature of such appeal is that the damina’s decision is not reversed even when found to be not in line with the Shari'a law The only effect of the appeal is that the damina will be called by the qadi and told by the latter of the shortcomings of the decision and reprimanded so that such mistakes will not be repeated in subsequent decisions; this also helps the damina to maintain its credibility in the eyes of the society.23

Evaluation of the CDR institutions

The Afocha institution

36Earlier in the chapter, the mechanisms of settlement of disputes under the Afocha has been introduced If this system of dispute settlement is sought to be recognized or integrated with the formal justice system, there are a few things that should be set straight. It was explained earlier that a new incoming member of Afocha is supposed to manifest his agreement to settle disputes he may come across with other members in the course of membership. However, given the tremendous social function Afocha renders no one will be expected to opt for excluded fife for the sake of preserving one’s freedom to resort to a court when dispute occurs. That is, even if a person might have consented to out-of-court settlement from the beginning such consent should by no means provide adequate justification for preventing him from resorting to courts.

37Such an arrangement can also be challenged in light of Art.37 of the federal Constitution of Ethiopia which entitles individuals to bring to regular courts any justiciable matter. When a person enters into an arrangement for out-of-court settlement after (a particular) dispute has emanated, such arrangements may be acceptable. But the Afocha type of overwhelming arrangement in which courts are put beyond the reach of individuals cannot be accepted.

38Furthermore, such arrangement washes away the link between the state and criminal law in which it is the primary concern of the state to take action against criminals. That is, the nature of Afocha arrangement engulfs both civil and criminal areas that ousts the state from its jurisdiction over criminal law. Since crimes are primarily against the state (especially in relation to grave and morally indefensible crimes), the state has to safeguard the interest of the public by exercising its representative functions.

39The other side of Afocha about which a ‘modernist’ would become uncomfortable with is the procedure of hearing the parties and witnesses. As it is noted earlier, parties, and when applicable witnesses, to a given case are heard separately. In such case, the one making allegations (especially the one seeking remedy) can make as many comfortable allegations as he likes and the other party may not be in a position to destroy the belief/impression such allegations may create in the elders unless he (the latter) is informed adequately the details of allegations made against him. This is because it is likely that the elder may (deliberately) fail to communicate some of the allegations made by one party against the other with a view to keeping the procedure soft. Yet the allegation made by one party, if not refuted by the other party, will definitely have an impact on the elders’ understanding of the case.

40This is an even more delicate procedure when seen in light of the FDRE constitution. Article 20 (2) of the same instrument states that accused persons have the right to be informed with sufficient particulars of the charges brought against them and to be given the charges in writing. But in case of Afocha, parties are informed about the charges made against them not as they are made but from a third party (elders) who may distort or even fail to make the full account of the allegations made.

41Similarly, one can say that the Afocha evidentiary procedure, e.g., on hearing of witnesses, would violate Article 20(4) of the current federal Constitution which guarantees to the accused persons the right to full access to any evidence presented against them, to examine witnesses testifying against them, to advice or to have evidence produced in their own defence, and to obtain the attendance of and examination of witnesses on their behalf.

The Damina institution

42Settlement of disputes under the damina arrangement has its own drawbacks. Particularly in criminal cases the ideal of individual liability would be compromised. That is, when member of a given Gosa is found to be guilty of a crime, it is, as said earlier, his gosa that bears the burden of contributing compensation for him. This gives an impression that liability is imposed on the collective members of the gosa rather than that particular criminal.

43Another area where settlement of dispute in Argobba proves delicate is when the procedures of afersata comes to attention. In the mechanisms of afersata participants are subjected to unfavourable conditions so that they identify the criminal. In other words, the offender is forced to admit the crime he committed and others (possibly witnesses) are subjected to unfavourable situations to testify or identity the wrongdoer. Such practice is much more unacceptable in light of the standard in Art 20(3) of the FDRE constitution which guarantees individuals the right not to incriminate themselves. Moreover, subjecting individuals to unfavourable conditions to solicit testimonies against some others is unacceptable and unfair. This is because individuals so subjected to hostile conditions may come up with unfounded testimonies simply to do away with the hostile situations by naming one among themselves as a criminal.

Integration of CDR mechanisms in Harar with the Formal Justice System

44In countries like Ethiopia where it takes courts years, if not tens of years, to render justice it may not be difficult to justify adequately why CDR mechanisms should operate on a par with the formal justice system. It may be frustrating to hear claims by elders and ordinary people in the research site claiming that courts are dead as far as they are concerned. One may think that such claims by elders (arbitrators) is merely meant to strengthen their hold and to continue to serve influential roles in the society. But ordinary individuals are also heard expressing their grievances against the sluggish justice system of courts.

  • 24 Interview with Ato Mahir Abdusamed

45On the other hand, the statistics of court-decided cases each year tend to suggest otherwise. Just to mention the situation in Harari Supreme Court the number of cases, the chief registrar brought to and decided by the court each year is very insignificant, though he could not specifically mention the figure. Part of the justification he attributes to such is the tremendous role of traditional CDR mechanism.24

46Therefore, it is not difficult to deduce two basic reasons as to how the CDR mechanisms are operating in Harar region. First, the delay of justice in regular proceedings is one factor. Secondly, the role of cultural norms in settling disputes thereby persuading people to exclude courts from social life can also to be taken as another factor.

47In the face of the above justifications it is good to consider whether it is possible to integrate the CDR mechanisms with the formal justice system thereby affirming their operation. However, given the disparity they show in light of modern generally accepted principles, especially in criminal cases, it is difficult to conceive of possible integration with the formal justice system as they stand today.

48The most sensitive rights of the accused, such as the right to be informed details of allegations and charges brought against one, the right to cross examine adverse witnesses, the right against self incrimination, the right to an impartial tribunal, the right to bring to court any justiciable matter and similar rights are not safeguarded. Moreover, the practices in most instances make questionable the role of the state as the primary organ to maintain peace and order. In a society like Argobba that does not predominantly know the whereabouts of courts integration of their CDR mechanism (especially in areas of grave crimes) may also make the whereabouts of the very state questionable.


49One possible way of looking at the issue of integration of the CDR mechanisms with the formal justice system is in the areas of minor crimes and civil cases. In such instances CDR mechanisms, in addition to reducing court congestion, will make people live with their own traditional arrangements. In such circumstances settlements under traditional mechanisms should be considered as final and a fresh court procedure after any such settlement should be barred. Moreover, the state has to put one strong tooth on the traditional CDR mechanism by enforcing the decisions under such arrangements.

50Thus, a person whose case is decided by an Afocha should be barred from having resort to regular courts on the same case, and in case a person fails to comply with the Afocha decision, mechanisms should be arranged to start execution proceedings in courts. But this should be so only when it can be conclusively shown that a person has specifically manifested his consent for settlement under the Afocha arrangement.

51Similarity, as regards settlement of civil suits and minor criminal case by the damina of each gosa in Argobba, the same comment should apply.

52However, importantly before the sought integration is embarked up on, the following steps should be taken:

  • Individuals who should play arbitration (dispute resolving roles) permanently under the traditional CDR mechanisms should be given preliminary periodical training regarding fundamental human rights and standard procedures, and

  • A periodical remuneration (by the state) should be given to such individuals with a view to enhance their willingness and care in handling a given case.

List of Informants




Place of interview


Ato Ataham Mohammed

Head, state justice bureau




Emil Mohamed

Regional prosecutor and secretary of Selam Lawyers’ association




Nejaha Ummer

Harari cultural museum




Tewofic Kedro





Teka Gurmu





Mahir Abdu samed

Registrar’s office head state supreme courts




Zeineda Ah

Secretary typist regional justice office




Adem Yusuf

Political representative of the Argobba community




Abdusamed Idris

Chairman, Harari council




Haji Zekaria Abubaker Homid





Sheik Muktar Mubarek





Haji Abubeker





Haji Ah Mohammed Kigero





Mohamed Shesh





Ato Alemayehu G/Mariam

Justice Cashier office




Ato Abera Haile





Aleqa Nolawi G/meskel





Aman Daud





Mohamed Ali





Zeha Kasim





Abdu Hussen





Ato Awod Abul

President, Harar Chamber of Commerce




Sheik Abdi Yasin




Fetia Ahmed

Secretary, Harari Regional Cultural Bureau





1 Most of the following information is from interviews with Haji Zekaria Abubaker.

2 Interview with Tewfik Kedro.

3 Interview with Haji Ali Keyro.

4 Interview with Haji Muktar Mubarek.

5 Interview with Haji Muktar

6 Interviews with Haji Ah Keyro and Mohomed Shesh.

7 Interviews with Haji Ali Keyro, Mohammed Shesh and W/ro Nejeha Ummer

8 Interviews with Tewofik Kedr, Hiji Zekaria and Mahir Abdusamed.

9 Interviews with Haji Zekaria and Haji Ali Keyro

10 interview with Haji Mohamed & Haji Ali Keyro.

11 Interview with Ato Abera Haile and Woizero Fetia

12 Interview with Haji Ali Keyiro

13 Interview with Haji Zekaria

14 Inteview: with Adem Yusuf.

15 Abbebe (2003:333) suggests that the Argobba of Shewa and Wello are a remnant population of the Sultanate of Ifat.

16 Interview with Adem Yusuf and Atham Mohammed.

17 Interview with Abdu Hussien

18 Interview with Ato Adem Yusuf and Aman Daud.

19 Inteview with Adam Yusuf and Aman Daud.

20 Interview with Zelia Kassim

21 Interview with Ato Aman Yusuf and Abdu Hussein

22 Interview with Abdu Hussein

23 Interview with Adem Yusuf

24 Interview with Ato Mahir Abdusamed

© Centre français des études éthiopiennes, 2008

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