Addis Abeba – Members of the Kebena community in the Kebena Woreda of the Gurage zone in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s (SNNP) regional said they are about to switch the use of Sabaean script, which is in Ethiopia known as Ge’ez alphabet, in their written language to Latin due to inconveniences of the former to develop the characteristics of the Kebena language which prevented the language from growing.
Researchers and linguistics who are native speakers of the Kebena language discussed a research paper at the third cultural symposium of the Kebena community as part of the program organized every year to celebrate the history, culture and language of the people of Kebena.
Muhammad Hassan, Kebena Development Association (KDA) General Manager, said on the occasion that it became necessary to change the Ge’ez alphabet to the Latin alphabet as it it became impossible for the community to communicate in writing, proved inconvenient for students to use the language, and became impossible to develop the language.
Kotebe Metropolitan University (KMU) Linguistics Professor and Researcher Tadesse Girma (Dr.), on his part explained that explained that the Kebena language didn’t develop written language, and for many years ago it was using the Ge’ez script. The research is therefor prepared based on the the request from the community. He also said that the research has shown the phonetics and the characteristics of the language and how it can be written using the letters.
Based on the study which is commissioned by the Council of SNNP regional state,it was determined that there has been a high public interest in identifying the letters and designing textbooks.
According to Muhammad Hasan, the result of a survey which was presented to the Kebena Woreda council was approved because more than 90% of the community agreed to change the Ge’ez as Kebena language written script. He expressed his views that the change to the Latin letters will contribute greatly to the development of the language.
Kebena is a distinguished community having its own identity expressed by language of kushitic family, dressing style, feeding habit, way of life, culture, cooperation and dispute resolution mechanisms which are embedded in the community’s traditional law known as “BobanI Geltita” and enforced by traditional elder assembly or council called “Oget”.
The principles of kebena traditional by-law is believed to be adopted from Islamic law, according to KDA, which has been established as an independent community based development organization since 2003.
Kebena people have its own separate woreda administration with 23 rural kebeles and the Kebena woreda shares geographic boundaries with Oromia region from the north and the Gurage zone from south west and east. AS