The pragmatics of blessings in Gedeo (south Ethiopia)

  • Tesfatsion Petros Golle Dilla University
  • Ongaye Oda Orkaydo Dilla University
  • Yetebarek Hizekeal Zekareas Dilla University


The Gedeo, a Cushitic-speaking group in southern Ethiopia, have a long tradition of blessing expressions ingrained in their native cosmology. The pragmatics of the Gedeo people's blessing utterances are examined in this article. Pertinent information was gathered from knowledgeable senior community members through interviews, and focus group discussions conducted between November 2020 and December 2021. The technique of gathering data also included non-participant observations. We have thematically analysed the data based on the situations in which the blessings are expressed and used to convey the intended meanings in the specific contexts, The expressive functions of blessings in Gedeo vary from context to context as would be expected, but, interestingly, they frequently revolve around praising Mageno ‘the Creator,’ shielding fellow community members from harm, boosting the land's productivity, safeguarding the environment, and upholding the general well-being of the community. We conclude that, while blessings have diverse meanings depending on the context in which they are expressed, their overall purpose is to preserve communal harmony and order.


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Author Biographies

Tesfatsion Petros Golle, Dilla University

Tesfatsion Petros Golle is a fulltime researcher at Dilla University, Institute of Indigenous Studies. He has experience in teaching and research. He also presented his research work in National and international research conference. His research interest includes anthropological linguistics, Socio-linguistics, indigenous knowledge and practices folklore, mother tongue education, and oral literature and (co-) published articles in international journals.

He can be reached at

Ongaye Oda Orkaydo, Dilla University

Ongaye Oda Orkaydo is an Associate Professor of Linguistics at Dilla University, Ethiopia. He received his PhD in Linguistics from the University of Leiden in 2013. Currently, he is a researcher in the Institute of Indigenous Studies (IIS) at Dilla University. He has national and international teaching experiences in linguistics. He has written grammars of Konso (2013), K’abeena (2014), Silt’e (2018), Hoor (Arbore) (2021), and (co-)published several articles in reputable international journals, and in conference proceedings. His research interests include grammar writing, dictionary making, mother tongue education (planning, implementation and evaluation), language and nature, indigenous conflict resolution mechanism, cross-border trade, regional economic integration, and organizational performance. He was a visiting fellow at the University of Turin, 2016, and at the African Studies Centre, The Netherlands, 2018. He is a member of the scientific board of Kervan. He can be reached at:

Yetebarek Hizekeal Zekareas, Dilla University

Yetebarek Hizekeal Zekareas is an Assistant Professor of Social Works, and a researcher in the Institute of Indigenous Studies at Dilla University, Ethiopia. He offered courses in the Department of Sociology at Dilla University, and has (co-)published articles in reputable journals. He also participated in several national and international research conferences. Currently, he is a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Applied Social Science (APSS) at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Hong Kong). His research interests include, but not limited to, Africa-China relations, cultural contact and dynamics, cross-border socio-economic relations, and state-society relations.

He can be reached at: