Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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Zuzanna AUGUSTYNIAK, Department of African Languages and Cultures, Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Warsaw

The first written code of laws that was supposed to be obeyed by all Ethiopians – Fetha Nahgast – was far from being perfect when it came to the regulations concerning marriage. Originally compiled in Egypt, the code did not fully reflect the life and customs of the Ethiopians. Moreover, the code only dealt with Christian marriages, overlooking other types of matrimonial union. Therefore its provisions were applied only in the higher courts of Ethiopian cities. In the provinces customary law was still applied. Despite Ethiopia’s geographical and ethnical expansion in XIX and XX centuries, legislation concerning the institution of marriage had not changed much until the general law codification in 1960’s. The aim of legislators, under the auspices of Haile Sillase, was to create a code of civil law that would serve the needs of all Ethiopian subjects. The task was a difficult one since the needs and cultural background of different ethnic groups were often contradictive.
The aim of the presentation is to show how the legislators of the 1960’s Civil Code of Ethiopia improved provisions concerning the institution of marriage in comparison with laws found in Fetha Nagast.