AWRAMBA COMMUNITY

(By Tefera Alemu)

Unlike most of the communties in Ethiopia, the Awramba community is not ethnic based. It is not based on religion either. Awramba is a community of individuals, currently in their hundreds, who share the same view and philosophy of life.

This Ethiopian community was established when, one visionary man, was granted by the communist government of the time free land to realize his childhood goal. His name is Zumra. Zumra is considered as a man with unique vision and exeptional personality. Although he never went to a formal school, Zumra gives any visitor the impression that he is someone who did lots of reading and is very well familiar with communist principles.

 

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What drove him to create this community was the discrimination and inequality that he observed in his society. He was also against a number of Ethiopian cultural values: the exessive domestic burden on women, extended mourning periods during the loss of loved ones ( taking up to 40 days)... Zumra also used to advocate that human beings have the power to get rid of vices like lying, cheating.... When he set out to establish this community in which everyone is equal and where there is no room for unwanted human behaviors, his seemingly utopian community was not taken seriously. Very few thought that the Awramba will survive decades and maintain the values it was first established for.

The Awramba is a self sufficient community. The major source of livelihood of this unique Ethiopian community is farming. They also engage in weaving and spinning for their clothing needs. Representatives of the community go outside the territory to a nearby market where they will sell surplus production and get needed commodities. There is no such thing where one will be handed the responsibility of doing a specific task in the community. Every task is done on rotation.

 

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Most importantly there is no community leader. The Awrambas have their own consititution to which everyone abides to. Whenever there is someone who breaks the community codes, members convene and actions are taken in accordance with the consitution. The biggest penalty will be expulsing the individual from the community.

The Awrambas have their own schooling system. Students starts their classes by vowing never to commit sins like lying, cheating, swearing... so that the communitie's values are instilled since their childhood. Although every child lives with his/her parent they are collective responsibility. In the case where, for example, there is a widow in the community, everyone takes turn to fill the gap created by the deceased parent by filling the domestic gaps. And in the case where both parents are lost, the children are immediately adopted by the community.