J. Abbink / M. Bryant / D. Bambu: Suri Orature – Introduction to the Society, Language and Oral Culture of the Suri People (Southwest Ethiopia) [PDF]


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Verbal Art and Documentary Literature in African Languages vol. 33

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X, 203 pp.
1 map, 6 colour photos, 3 genealogies and graphs, numerous tables and charts

Text language: English

This book on the agro-pastoralist Suri of Southwest Ethiopia is a pioneering collection on a relatively under-documented people, containing historical and linguistic overviews as well as a first selection of Suri oral texts. Several genres of the orature of the Suri are presented in an annotated form. The book thus provides new context information and oral source material of possible wider use to scholars and the wider public as well as to the Suri themselves.

Over the past two decades the Suri (approx. 27,000 speakers) – with their spectacular body painting and other customs of decorative culture – have become known as a prime object of the tourist gaze, and were projected in countless modern travel accounts, photo books, magazine pictures, advertisements, and films. These media, primarily being geared to attractive visual imagery and travel literature hyperboles, do not always depict them in an informative or responsible way.

This book has the more modest aim of presenting the Suri as a contemporary people in a process of survival and change, presenting elements of their social organization, historical background and way of life, and provides the best introduction to a better understanding of this fascinating group. The authors also indicate some of the problems faced by the Suri in this historically crucial time of change, where many new economic, social and cultural challenges face Southwest Ethiopia and its peoples.


Jon Abbink / Michael Bryant: Introduction and Acknowledgements

Part 1 Suri Society

Jon Abbink: Introduction to the Society and History of the Suri People

Part 2 Suri Language

Michael Bryant: The Suri Language – A Condensed Description

Part 3 Orature – Samples from the ‘Literature’ of an Oral Culture

Introduction / Folk Tales / Public Meetings / Traditional Suri Songs (Favourite Bull Song and Age-initiation Ritual Song)

Part 4 A Suri View on Suri Life and Society – Daniel Bambu’s Accounts

Daniel Bambu: From my Perspective as a Suri – Narratives on Suri Life

Jon Abbink / Michael Bryant: Introduction

The Narratives

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