May 31st, 2021

Society is one of the most integral parts of our life.  It is a common home for all which we need from birth to death. In an ideal society, one can lead a decent basic standard of living, develop his/her potential and flourishing materially and emotionally, participate and contribute as well as build a fair and sustainable future for the coming generation.   Even though many are facing huge practical difficulties in achieving such a society, a community in Ethiopia by the name Awra Amba is working towards it and becoming successful. 

Awra Amba, which means “Top of the Hill” in Amharic, is located 74 km from the town of Bahar Dar. It was founded in 1980 with the goal of solving socio-economic problems through helping one another in an environment of egalitarianism in marked contrast to the traditional norms of Amhara society. Zuma Nuru Mohammad is the founder of this community and established its principles. Born in 1947 from the age of four, he allegedly started wondering about the unfairness of gender inequality, the maltreatment of the elderly, labor exploitation, cruel punishment of children, and dishonest dealings among people. In a very religious, traditional, and patriarchal society, he was ostracized from childhood by his family and his neighbors, who considered him to be mentally ill, not only because of his support of equality between men and women but also because of his opposition to institutionalized religion. In 1972 he dreamt of setting up this unique community hence convinced a small group of men and women. Eventually, after some defections, 19 families had established a community on about fifty hectares.

The community now has 500 members. In Awra Amba children and women are respected and equal to male adults. Men and women perform all tasks side by side, early and forced marriages are forbidden. Honesty is one of the core values of the Awra Amba community. In order to join the community, one has to be honest and to live peacefully: you should not lie, steal, swear, quarrel, or behave immorally. There is no theft in Awra Amba, and children do not beg. The Awramba Community does not follow any religion, and they believe in honesty and love for all human beings.  The people of Awra Amba do not observe the country’s many religious holidays and not even its public holidays. The only holiday the village takes is on the first day of the New Year according to the national calendar, the 11th of September. Funerals are carried out quickly, without ceremony. The community is unique not only for its attitudes toward gender, religion, and education but for the social security it provides its members in need. There are formal committees to provide services which include: education, receiving guests, taking care of patients, the elderly and children, and community health. They have established a literacy campaign for adults, a library, and a preschool. These placed the community in line with the long list of utopian communities.

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