Majang zone is one of the Zones in Gambella National Regional State in Southwestern part of Ethiopia. It is among the areas in Southwestern part of Ethiopia rich with natural resources as well as enchanting cultural heritages and traditional practices of the local communities.
Majang zone is also one of the areas where the few remaining afromontane natural forest of the country is found.
It has become two years now since MELCA-Ethiopia opened a project office in Majang zone with the aim of ensuring sustainable development through conservation and promotion of the bio-cultural diversity of the local community.
One of the approaches that MELCA is implementing to attain its aim is SEGNI program. SEGNI is an intergenerational learning program designed to create critical young generation who well understand cultural values of their communities that have strong connection with conservation of nature and play active role in conservation of bio-cultural resources of their communities.
One of the manifestations of a SEGNI program is a Cultural-biodiversity (CB) celebration whereby SEGNI club member students showcase the various activities they have been performing in relation to the culture and biodiversity of their communities in their respective schools.
The second Majang zone CB celebration has been organized in Meti town on the 27th of December 2015. Though the second, this CB celebration is the first to be conducted in Majang as the first one was conducted in Tepi town jointly with CB celebration of Sheka zone.
The compound of Akashi primary school, where the celebration was organized, started to be alive and busy starting from as early as 7:00 am. SEGNI club members of participant schools from both Godere and Mengeshi woredas of Majang zone started to flow in to the compound early in the morning. Community members interested in attending the celebration followed them and the school compound looked full of people just before 9:00 am. Finally invited guests, including government officials at zonal and woreda levels and NGO representatives took their places and the celebration started to unfold.
The celebration was officially opened by an opening speech of Ato Muse Gajet, administrator of Majang zone. In his opening speech Ato Muse stated that culture and biodiversity are like two sides of the same coin; any change in one will result in a change in the other. If we lose our cultural values the consequence will definitely be losing our biodiversity.
He further stated, “…this celebration is special in that we are about to get our forest registered, by UNESCO, as a biosphere reserve. The celebration is an event on which the youth show and share what they have learned about their culture and biodiversity as well as their commitment to play an active role in conservation of bio-cultural diversity of their community. The forest is an invaluable resource we received from our fathers. We also have to conserve and transfer it to the next generation. So a lot is expected from the youth who are the main actors in this celebration.
I would also like to thank MELCA, on my own and on behalf of communities in Majang zone, for the supports it is making in our zone to promote and conserve bio-cultural diversity of our zone and bring a better life for our communities. I would also like to say our administration is ready to render any support required of it to realize the objectives set by MELCA.
The celebration was exciting and full of various festivities related to promotion and conservation of bio-cultural resources of Majang zone. SEGNI club members from a total of 14 primary and secondary schools presented dramas, traditional songs and dances, poems, cultural dressing styles of various ethnic groups, traditional conflict resolution and wedding ceremonies.
Three SEGNI club schools from Godere and Mengeshi woredas each, which have performed best in preparation for the CB celebration at Zonal level, have been awarded different mini-media materials on this celebration.