The Gamo of Ethiopia
A Study of their Political System

By Jacques Bureau
Translated by Dominique Lussier

December 2012, paperback, 228 pp.
ISBN: 978-1-905622-41-2
Studies in the African Rift Valley

Publication of this title was supported by THE CHRISTENSEN FUND


The Gamo of Ethiopia are made up of around forty political entities integrated into the Menilek Empire in 1897–1898. Each of these entities is governed by a democratic assembly and represented by a sacrificer-king. In The Gamo of Ethiopia (originally published as Les Gamo d’Éthiopie in 1981) Jacques Bureau looks at several of these entities at different moments in their history and studies variants of two types of institution: assemblies and sacrificers.

In this comparative analysis the author accords an important place to the historical dimension and situates the institutions he describes within the more general framework of the wider political landscape of Ethiopia on which they depend.



Chapter One: Geographical and Historical Landmarks
Chapter Two: The Gamo Entity
Chapter Three: Clan, Neighbourhood, Federation
Chapter Four: The Status of the Land
Chapter Five: Hierarchical Order Based on Primogeniture: The Problem of the Ka’o
Chapter Six: The Assemblies
Chapter Seven: Elective Titles: The Halaqata
Chapter Eight: Balabbat and Chiqa-shum

Critical Bibliography

About the Author

Jacques Bureau spent almost thirty years living, working and studying in Ethiopia before his untimely death in 1998. He was a member of the Laboratoire d’Ethnologie et de Sociologie Comparative since 1972 and taught in the Faculty of Law in Addis Ababa from 1973–1980. From 1991–1997 he was
director of the Maison des Études Éthiopiennes d’Addis-Abeba.

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