BURJI AND THEIR PEACEFUL WAY OF LIFE
By Tego Wolasa
The Burji are ardent farmers and successful entrepreneurs. Firmly supported by history, they are an extremely peaceful and industrious community.
Their already peaceful nature is enhanced by the two ways of life; farming and trade.
Being farmers force the Burji to settle in one place while being traders make them coexist harmoniously.
To the Burji peace is needed for farms to be tilled and for their wares to sell.
They are always busy in the farms and shops and profoundly detest even a single day of conflict.
The Burji did not do well in keeping their oral history. Some writers attribute that to the busy lifestyle of the Burji.
Being busy gives them little or no time for oral transfer of culture and tradition from one generation to the other.
Besides, both farming and trade forces them to spend most of the time alone on the farm or shops. Being busy and alone most times gives no room for oral stories. Or does it?
If there is no time for oral stories, is there time to engage in endless conflict and tension? No!
Another evidence of their peaceful coexistence with the neighbors is the inability of the new generation of the Burji living outside the Burji district to speak their language.
Some linguists attribute the loss of language partly to the peace and integration that the Burji has with their neighbors.
The conflict would have made them enclosed and thus easily preserve the language.
For over a century, from Addis Ababa to Mombasa, the Burji have coexisted peacefully with their neighbors.
An exception to above is a temporary politically inspired misunderstanding with the Borana in Kenya, as well as sporadic neighborly conflict with the Guji in Ethiopia.
In order to remain productive, the Burji are keen to maintain internal peace and harmony.
Whenever there is an impasse, elders immediately arrest the situation and resolve the matter amicably.
There is an age-old practice by the Burji where the elders wake up at dawn to resolve misunderstandings before commencing a new day.
The attached photo shows an example of such meeting which took place in Goro, Lemo Qebele.
Photo by Ali Edris (Addo), Ali works with Ethiopia Revenue Authority in Addis Ababa