2 O cows, sheep, camel and inormation
inormation management are pivotal to the health, well-being and survival o the Aars. Tis paper detailsthe Aars’ traditional systems or cattle managementand inormation management, gathered rom key in-ormant interviews conducted in October among thecommunity.
When two Aars meet, they must rst exchange
. Itis not important whether they are riends or strangers, whether they are neighbors or come rom the distantreaches o the Aar region. In all cases, in keeping withthe principles o word-o-mouth transmission, inor-mation exchanged will be hearsay. In other words, thenarrator will mention what he heard rom other Aarsencountered along the way.o help lter out
that is critical to Aar healthand survival, every Aar learns the ve dagu subjectsthat carry a top priority rating – in other words, dagupertaining to any o these must be treated as highly urgent, and be passed on without prejudice or discrimi-nation to as many Aars as possible, Te ve subjectsare:
: Any dagu relating to hostile rival tribesthat could help avert or have the winning advantage inan attack.
: Primarily concerning cattle health, new diseases, inections, deaths and acilities or care. Sec-ondarily,
concerning women’s health, diseases,cures, new acilities.
: Dagu about where grass is good, wheredepleted, where encroachments are happening, wheregrazing is being prohibited.
: Dagu about where it is dry, where it hasrained, where better or worse weather is expected.
: What are the prices? How many birrs iste (a local staple grain) going or? Is there a market orgoats? What is the price o batteries? And so on.In the case o
that relates to potential conict with other tribes, the disseminator is expected to carry it straight to the village’s women, who will then emerge
beating drums and raise the call to arms.
How Aars learn to pass on dagu
Passing dagu is a learned skill, and it is taught to Aarchildren rom the time they are old enough to herdcattle. Children who are learning herding skills mustalways remain within hailing distance o the village,and will be given charge o small numbers o cattle. While in the pasture, they will be told to make care-ul note o two things – what they see, and what they hear. Tese two together will constitute the content o transmitted
. When the child returns rom a day at the pasture, he or she will relate the day’s
to theparents – who they saw, how they were dressed, what words were exchanged, what the sky was like, how thecattle behaved, and so on. Te parents will teach thechild how to evaluate the
, ltering out inaccura-cies and irrelevancies, siting the essential rom trivialusing the ve guidelines, and thus extracting meaningrom raw data.It is not till age 15 or so that a young Aar’s ap-prenticeship will end, and his or her
deemed astrustworthy and suitable or sharing with the commu-nity. Coming o
sharing age is nearly as much arite o passage or a young Aar as ritual circumcision.From that point, he or she is ‘trusted’ – an importantmilestone.
Authenticity and verifcation
Te need or verication arises when survival-critical
has originated rom an Aar stranger. In such acase, the receiving Aar will probe in depth or
trivial peripheral information
– What route did you come by? What did you see en route? What was your wie wearing when you let? What did you eat this morning? What was your amily doing when you let? And so on. Any doubt about the
provenance is settled by authen-ticating this peripheral inormation. I any part o it isound inaccurate, then the main
will be treated asdoubtul and rejected in its entirety. Tis involved andruthless verication seems to be the main method orvalidation prevailing within the community.Te penalty or disseminating incorrect or alse daguis severe: it could mean public lashings, the slaughter o a avorite cow, and being publicly denounced as ‘un-trustworthy’. Te individual is cursed to live as an ex-ile within his or her community, a Cassandra orever whom no one will believe.
Shortcomings o dagu
An inherent shortcoming o dagu is that the sourceis lost in transmission. In other words, an Aar mightmention the person who gave him a particular dagu,but not include the originator o the dagu itsel. Tismakes a verication trace next to impossible. A second shortcoming, but only rom a program-matic point o view, might be that dagu is restrictedto data, and is not equipped to reect questions andconcerns that might arise within the community. Putdierently, dagu is oriented towards dissemination o