Majangir tribe woman from Fide, Gambella area, Ethiopia with awesome hairstyle
Ethnologue 2010 put the Manjangir`s location at Southwest, parts of Gambela, Oromo, and Kafa administrative regions, a long, narrow belt between Bure (east of Gambela) and Guraferda south.
The area which they co-exist with the other tribes is the most densely forested in the Region and they too depend on forest resources for their livelihood. They are particularly noted as honey producers for which the forest ecosystem is critical. Moreover, for all population groups the ecosystem provides a variety of other essential resources, including wood for tools, grass for homesteads, wild food, medicinal and other useful
plants, and access to water resources.
Their total population is estimated to be around 16,000 people. However many population analyst believe that this figure underestimate their real number, as they are difficult to count because they live in dispersed settlements. Dessalegn Rahmato in his 2001 survey study and academic paper entitled "LAND TO INVESTORS: Large-Scale Land Transfers in Ethiopia" written for Forum for Social Studies put the population of the Majangir at 60,000.
Woman from Majangir tribe in Tepi, Ethiopia
Gambella has been, and still is one of the Regions which has attracted considerable investor attention and has been targeted as focal area for land investments by MOARD as well as other government agencies on account of what is perceived to be its extensive and untapped land and water resources. Domestic investors began to acquire land here even before the investment legislation noted above was issued and before the government had given the green light to large-scale investments. Data from the Region’s Investment Commission shows that there are now over fifteen large-scale investors (with holdings of 2000 hectares or more), made up of both domestic and foreign interests, holding 535,000 hectares of land.
Woman from Majangir tribe in Tepi, Ethiopia
In addition, there are numerous medium and small-sized investments scattered throughout the Region, but while there is not much information available on them, we estimate that the total land held by all investors, small and large, may reach 600,000 hectares. There is reason to believe that more land will be handed out to investors here in the months ahead as the Region is said to possess 1.2 million hectares of land suitable for investment. The main interest of the largeprojects is growing high value export commodities such as rice, soya beans and other pulses, and sesame; bio-fuel plants such as palm-oil trees are also attracting a good deal of interest. Some investors are planning to grow maize as a second or third crop but this is largely for bio-fuel purposes rather than as food for the local market. Except for two companies, all other investors
have a lease period of 50 years, and almost all have been committed to pay a rental fee of 30 to 35 Birr (less than two USD) per hectare per year (depending on the use of irrigation water).
Many of the small investors are engaged in growing oil seeds, cotton, maize, peanuts and fruit trees. All investment projects, small or large, will require secure access to sources of water for irrigation without which many of them will not be sustainable. Gambella is located in the extreme west of the country and shares a long border as well as many ecological features with southern Sudan. While in population terms it is relatively sparsely settled (less than half a million inhabitants), the Region nevertheless has a unique ecology and is
immensely rich in biodiversity and wildlife22. The land cover consists of several varieties of woodland, high forest, shrub-land, savanna grassland and permanent and seasonal wetlands; the largest permanent wetland in the country is located here. There are four rivers that flow through it, three of which (Akobo, Baro and Gilo) feed into the Sobat River in the Sudan which forms an important tributary of the White Nile. The fourth river, Alwero, has a dam built over it and provides irrigation water for Saudi Star, the second largest investor in the Region. The inhabitants of the Region use the rivers to catch fish which is a useful income earner for families as well as being consumed at home. The Region was neglected for many decades under the two
previous regimes and is thus not well endowed in basic infrastructure and services.
One of the most important “hidden treasures” of Gambella is its diverse wildlife. There are some twenty or so important wild animal species in the area of which several are of international significance. There is an immense wildlife migration that takes place seasonally between Gambella and the Sudan, and experts believe that this is the second largest wildlife migration in the world, after that of the Serengeti in east Africa. The major animal species are the white-eared kob, Nile lechwe, hartebeest, roan antelope, giraffe, buffalo, warthog, water buck, and elephant. There is also a diversity of bird-life along the rivers and in the wetlands. The population of the white-eared kob is estimated to be about 750,000 of which some 255,000 make their
habitat in Gambella while the rest are in the Sudan. The Nile lechwe is a rare animal found only in the Sudan and Gambella, and is now on the endangered list of the world conservation body, IUCN. The wildlife species are distributed throughout the western half of Gambella and along the entire border with the Sudan. Many of the animals in question engage in short-distance seasonal migration within the Region also, moving from one ecology to another in the dry and wet seasons in search of food, water and change of habitat. The Region has one national park and several protected areas. The Gambella National Park was established in 1974 but was neither gazetted nor effectively managed for many years. Gambella is inhabited by several ethnic minority groups of which the three major ones are the Annuak, (population 100,000), the Nuer (113,000), and, the numerically smaller of the three, the Majangir (60,000) who live in the south-western part of the Region adjacent to the SNNP.
The Majangir speak a diolect of Surmic language. Majangir language is part of the Surmic cluster, however it is the most isolated language in that cluster (Harold C. Fleming 1983). A language survey has shown that dialect variation from north to south is minor and does not seriously impede communication
The language has implosive consonants (bilabial and retroflex), but no ejective consonants (Bender 1983). There are nine vowels, and length of duration of the vowel is also distinctive, such as goopan 'punishment' and gopan 'road'. In addition, two tones also distinguish meaning, on both the word level and the grammatical level: táŋ (higher tone) 'cow', tàŋ (lower tone) 'abscess'.
They traditionally lived in small groups, farming for 3 to 5 years, then moving on as the fertility of the soil diminished (Stauder 1971). They were active bee keepers, collecting honey from hives consisting of hollowed logs placed in trees. They did some hunting and snaring of game and trapping of fish. They raised the bulk of their own food by farming, animals providing only a small part of their diet.
Food production has changed since Stauder's time. The single most obvious change is that people are now living in permanent settlements. Livestock was not traditionally raised, but many Majangir have begun small scale livestock raising since about 1980. In addition, they have begun planting fruit and coffee trees, plants that take a number of years to produce a crop.
The Majangir traditionally had a very egalitarian society, with no standing political leaders (Stauder 1971, 1972). The only people in official positions were people in the role of "tapad" (final implosive d), who served as ritual leaders. These were from the Meelanir clan, a group has links with similar-named privileged clans in other Surmic groups (Unseth and Abbink 1998).
In case of a serious disagreement, one party would simply move away. There was no standard social reconciliation mechanism as is found in highland Ethiopian cultures.
The Majangir have over 70 clans, with clan identity passed down through the male line. A person cannot marry a person from the same clan (exogamy), nor should they marry a person from their mother's clan (Stauder 1971, Unseth 1998a).
The Majangir traditionally made two kinds of alcoholic drink: one from grain "tááján" (cf. tella) and one from honey "ògòòl" (cf. tej; Teramoto et al., 2005).
The Majangir have traditionally used a number of musical instruments, sometimes to accompany singing and sometimes played without. Their instruments include a five-string lyre, thumb piano, drum, rattles, panflute. In addition, they play a vertically suspended marimba with as few as three wooden bars, but this is seen as a way of passing time, especially when guarding fields, rather than an instrument for music.
Their vocal music includes singing of both harmonies and antiphonal parts. Often, this results in two parts being sung by women and two parts by men.
Majangir tribe woman from fide, Gambella, Ethiopia
Changes are happening rapidly to their traditional way of life. Since about 1971, many Majangir have become Christians (Hoekstra 2003 and Sato 2002). Further, since the end of the Ethiopian Civil War in 1991, with its subsequent remapping of Ethiopia by ethnic lines, the Majangir have felt very marginalized politically, their territory now divided among three kalil or administrative Regions (Sato 2000 and 2002). This frustration has led to some armed fighting with the government (Vaughan 2003:268).