Wolaitta evangelists : a study of religious innovation in southern Ethiopia, 1937-1975
This study presents the religious dynamics of the Wolaitta Kale Heywet Church through the work of her evangelists in southern Ethiopia from 1937-1975 and seeks to determine why there has been such phenomenal growth within the Wolaitta church and, through the agency of her evangelists, church development in southern Ethiopia. Other writers associated with the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM) have attempted to explain this rapid growth during the Italian occupation (1936-1941) and subsequent years. Through a varied investigation of the historical, political, religious and socioeconomic situation of Wolaitta, this study attempts to bring further understanding and insight to the work of mission. Chapter One provides historical background on southern Ethiopia. The advance of Christianity into the South was through the instrumentality of the so-called Solomonic Northern kings together with the Orthodox Church evangelists in the 15th and 16th centuries. Historical documents produced by Ethiopians as well as Europeans who were in contact with the South are used. Several maps, portraying southern Ethiopia by European travelers, geographers and missionaries, prove helpful in attempting to understand the location and dislocation of the former Kingdom of Damot. Wolaitta oral history furthermore incorporates Damot far into the South. A brief linguistic survey of the languages of southern Ethiopia reveals the stability of the ethnic groups in the South for over one hundred and fifty years. A discussion of the numerous Wolaitta clans assists the reader in understanding the diversity contained within Wolaitta. It was from within this homogeneous grouping of clans that the Wolaitta Kingdom evolved in the middle of the 17th century.