Awra Amba

a village based on ideals of equality.

Linked with Zumra Nuru Mohammad – Ethiopia, and with Zumra’s new lifestyle perception.

In Ethiopia, one man’s model for a just society, Zumra Nuru founded a village based on ideals of equality. It’s now lauded by leaders of all stripes (a community which has no time for religious dogma except to work hard for what he calls the realization of heaven on earth by giving love to all humankind without disregarding ones religion). (full text, August 21, 2007).

Watch this video about Awra Amba, 5.08 min., June 4, 2006, and

this video Anarchy Africansis, 2.33 min, March 2, 2007.

“These people mainly did not want to hear about women’s equality to man and children’s rights,” says, Enaney Kibret, a member of the community engaged in guiding visitors around the community. “They are also upset because we work everyday regardless of holiday and Sundays, which they don’t because of their faith. But, our faith is based on working hard for the betterment of our lives and supporting people who deserve our help,” she says. (full text).

Awra Amba is an Ethiopian community comprises about 400 people residing together 62 kilometres away from Bahir Dar on the way to Debretabor … In the 1980s, Nuru launched the egalitarian society he dreamed of with 19 other people who adopted his vision. Today Awra Amba has some 400 members and is lauded as a model to alleviate poverty and promote gender equality in a country where women generally hold a subservient status to men.

The community is distinct in that its members work together, are diligent, disciplined and self-confident. Children get access to primary education in a school run by members of the community itself. The main means of livelihood for the community is weaving. Women have equal rights as men and there is no distinction in divisions of labor between male and their female counterparts. All people in the community have no religion as distinct from most communities in Ethiopia. They believe in hard work and being good to people. They keep their houses and their surrounding unbelievably clean. Theft is seen as very obscene. What ever money or property found by a member of the community is handed over to the responsible committee that in turn hands over the item to the owner or if not claimed to the Finance Department of the Woreda.

The community is ostracized, as it does not fall into one of the religious categories: Islam or Christianity. Members of the Awra Amba community therefore could not be given agricultural land to cultivate. They are rather pushed into the most infertile and malaria infested corner called Awra Amba. As they cannot live on farm activities, they have opted to operate as a micro enterprise in the weaving business. They also provide grain-milling service to the neighbouring farmers, as they own one small grain mill donated by the Amhara Development Association.

The villagers are well fed and clothed. Children play instead of working.

The village hopes to earn more money in order to build potable water and sewage systems, pave the road, and create an education fund for the children.

The village is unique not only for its attitudes toward gender, religion, and education, but for the social security it provides its members in need. There’s a home for the elderly with 24-hour care and a committee that helps out new mothers, who also get three months of maternity leave. Early and forced marriage are forbidden.

The village’s success has made it a subject of numerous studies.

“This is an extraordinary initiative within a traditional and conservative community,” says Mohammed Musa, a rural development consultant who prepared a case study on the village for the World Bank. “It’s a good example for other Ethiopian communities – and even beyond Ethiopia – because of its gender equality, its work ethic, and its social security system.”

Today 96 families live in closely built mud huts.

Nuru said more people want to join, but there is not enough space … (full text).

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