Travelling south and west from Sidama towards Amaro, one passes through the open plains that the Guji call home. Pastoralists, the Guji build temporary homes until they are ready to strike a match to the rickety structures and move themselves and their cows towards greener pastures. Puffs of smoke dot the landscape where the Guji burn swaths of vegetation to release nutrients in the soil. Soon after, fresh young green shoots poke through the burned grasses. For the Guji cows, this means meal time.
In the Guji areas, every man carries a gun, used primarily as a stick to herd his stock, but bullets are ready to load in case any conflict with the neighboring Amaro should arise.
The Amaro, by contrast, are sedentary agriculturalists, subsistence farmers and home builders whose homes extend into the high Amaro Mountains but also reach the plains, close to the Guji. The land-burning habits of the Guji are not appreciated by the Amaro, and conflict has flared up recently between the two groups, resulting in approximately 70 deaths around the border of the two territories.
Crossing from Guji to Amaro, one might as well be passing into another country, at war with its neighbor, with its own languages and customs, its own homes and life strategies. There are nearly 80 different ethnic groups in this country.
Yet, somehow, this is all called Ethiopia. And the coffee, even more diverse, is all termed Ethiopian.
How arbitrary are our boundaries and designations?