Tuesday, April 23, 2024


Although Gambella is a very small state in terms of its population size, its culture is not unique since it various from tribe to tribe. Hence the Gambella culture could be categorized as a diverse due to different ethnic groups found in the region. Cultural similarities might be seen between the Nuer and Anyuak but in a very minimal extent even though these two tribes are from Nilotic group. The Anyuak of course have their own way of life and thinking in a variable degree from their Nuer counterparts. The same is also true to Oppo and Mejeng people all of whom have various cultures different from one another.

The Nuer in Ethiopia share similar culture with the Nuer in South Sudan since the two are the same type of people but have become divided by national boundaries. The Nuer have marks or scars called โ€œgaarโ€ in local dialect. The marks are placed on the forehead of male individuals only. Nuer females do not have anything on their faces to identify them from other women in the region. These marks on male faces do not only serve as identical symbols which distinguish them from other ethnic groups in the region or from other tribes for those found in South Sudan but they also initiative another function. They acts as a prerequisite for marriage and joining or participation in the tribal or clan wars. Those who donโ€™t have marks on their face cannot either get marry nor participate in communal strife as they are deemed too young regardless of how mature a person might be even if they might be well past their ย twentieth birthday.

However, such a belief of marking does not longer exist among Nuers of Ethiopia. The globalization has made the world a smaller place and people have become aware of the fact that strength and power is not intertwined to only those who have scar on their face. As a result the marking culture is being abandoned since scars do not give any extra strength than what an individual already have and the fact that it is an identity one would not be able to peel off once it is adopted


The marriage in Nuer does not use to be so easy especially when a person does not have cattle which is paid as a dowry to brideโ€™s family. Unlike scars on the forehead which has been abandoned, the notion of dowry is not getting away easily even though the majority of Nuer now believe that it is a culture which should also go. The good thing about it is that the amount of dowry has plummeted significantly. It used to be 20 cows and five oxen which had to be deliver to the brideโ€™s family. In Gambella today the Nuer especially those in urban centres do not give a lot of fuss about dowry. What they are mindful of is a genuine love and the ability that the couples would be able to look after themselves and their future children. However, in rural Gambella, the notion of dowry depends on the amount of cattle that is found in hand. People do not concern too much about the figure. In some cases the amount of cows can be as low as five cow or even twenty if the groom or his family is rich enough to afford.