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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ABEBA Amare, Addis Ababa University, Academy of Ethiopian Languages and Cultures

This study analyzes proverbs as a cultural discourse in order to determine how gender justice is expressed and constructed through Amharic and Tigrigna proverbs in Ethiopia. Like any other people in the world, the Ethiopian people have an oral heritage. Proverbs as part of oral tradition provide a network of meanings for societal and cultural norms as well as practices by consistently depicting and transmitting such values and practices from generation to generation. In spite of the influence of modernity, traditional thoughts and values transmitted through proverbs are still significant socio cultural practices among the Ethiopian people. This paper will attempt to show how proverbs in relation to gender construction and justice induced in our day-to-day life reveal the concepts and values they convey to the public and how they shape the mindset and social relations of society. Gender system is perceived here as a multi-layered structure in which the perpetuation of gender concepts and metaphorical meanings is reflected. In order to explore the role of proverbs in relation to gender justice, attention is given to gender power relations, gender role expectations, gender identities (womanhood and manhood), violence against women, gender representations, and in general how gender justice affects women in particular. The study employs Critical Discourse Analysis as the epistemological framework to analyze the proverbs in the context of traditional systems of the people. Critical Discourse Analysis helps to examine gender relations and identities in relation to how they are constructed and used in the proverbs or cultural artifact. The proverbs are collected from published sources “የአማርኛ ምሳሌያዊ ንግግሮች”(Amharic Proverbs which has collection of 5,142 proverbs,) and ምስላታት- የትግርኛ ምሳሌያዊ ንግግሮች (Tigrigna Proverbs which has collection of 5,144 of proverbs) by Academy of Ethiopian Languages in 1982 (E.C) and 1885 (E.C) respectively.