The Socio-Economic Status of Pottery Making Women among Hararge Oromo
Pottery making is one of the oldest traditional technologies among the rural communities of Hararge. Pottery has many functions among which utilitarian and symbolic value are paramount. While it is common to observe the making of pottery and its utility at homesteads, arguably our knowledge of the status of pottery making women in rural Hararge is very limited. This paper is basically a survey work and adopted historical and ethnographic methods. By collecting qualitative data through interview, Focus Group Discussion, non-participant observation and document analysis, the paper aims at investigating the socio-economic status of Hararge potters. The finding shows that potters and other occupational groups such as smiths and tanners are treated by the agriculturalists not as equal partners but are marginalized social groups. This was partly due to the underlying deleterious socially constructed origin of the occupational groups. Although they are considered as Oromo and Islam in the social construction of their identity, when it comes to real life situation, they are not accorded with that identity. As a result, the social hierarchy places them below the agricultural communities and views them as alien and remnants of ancient autochthonous population. The paper concludes that, although there is no direct relation with their marginalization, pottery making women generate very low income so that their family have to subsidize their living by engaging in other activities like agriculture through tenancy arrangement. The study implies this tentative discussion of the voiceless and marginalized peoples in Hararge in general demands further empirical research.
Keywords: Marginalized groups; Pottery; Smiths; Social groups; Status