Gabra – Out is Out

20-Sep-21
John Wood
GABRA – Out is Out

Here’s a program from our archives.

ambience: IL Bati (new moon) chant.

In Eastern Africa, in the desert between Kenya and Ethiopia, right now it’s the dry, rainless season now. And for the men of Gabra people, the nomads who live in this region, it’s a time to leave their families at a main camp and form roving satellite camps, traveling across the desert in search of vegetation on which to graze their camels. And although the men miss their families and home life, they also relish this moment of relative freedom. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

John Wood is a professor of anthropology at Emory University.

“There was a time when I was on a walk with a friend of mine and we were going from the main camp to his satellite to visit his camels. And we stopped in the middle of the afternoon in the worst of the heat to sit underneath an acacia tree and chew tobacco. And he smiled at me and said, ‘Ali al,’ which means ‘out is out’. And I think what he was conveying to me is the sentiment that it doesn’t get any better than this. To be outside, away from the social pressures and harassments of the main camp, to be getting close to his camels and to be, above all, sort of among men instead of among the women and the older men and the children of the main camps. To be out among men was sort of the zenith of life. You couldn’t get any better than that. It was a joyful experience for him. So on the one hand, going out and being fragmented is a hardship and it’s something that they lament in their songs. On the other hand, they celebrate it because it allows them to be away and to be free and independent and somehow rid of the social pressures and responsibilities.”

Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Gabra - Out is Out

For the men of the Gabra, nomadic life demands separation from their families but it also affords an opportunity for friendship and freedom from social pressures.
Air Date:09/20/2021
Scientist:John Wood
Transcript:

20-Sep-21 John Wood GABRA - Out is Out Here's a program from our archives. ambience: IL Bati (new moon) chant. In Eastern Africa, in the desert between Kenya and Ethiopia, right now it's the dry, rainless season now. And for the men of Gabra people, the nomads who live in this region, it's a time to leave their families at a main camp and form roving satellite camps, traveling across the desert in search of vegetation on which to graze their camels. And although the men miss their families and home life, they also relish this moment of relative freedom. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. John Wood is a professor of anthropology at Emory University. "There was a time when I was on a walk with a friend of mine and we were going from the main camp to his satellite to visit his camels. And we stopped in the middle of the afternoon in the worst of the heat to sit underneath an acacia tree and chew tobacco. And he smiled at me and said, 'Ali al,' which means 'out is out'. And I think what he was conveying to me is the sentiment that it doesn't get any better than this. To be outside, away from the social pressures and harassments of the main camp, to be getting close to his camels and to be, above all, sort of among men instead of among the women and the older men and the children of the main camps. To be out among men was sort of the zenith of life. You couldn't get any better than that. It was a joyful experience for him. So on the one hand, going out and being fragmented is a hardship and it's something that they lament in their songs. On the other hand, they celebrate it because it allows them to be away and to be free and independent and somehow rid of the social pressures and responsibilities." Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.