This thesis, titled Children and Oral Tradition among the Guji-Oromo in Southern Ethiopia, explores the oral play culture and everyday life of children in a rural context in Ethiopia. With its focus on Guji people in southern Ethiopia, it presents how children (girls and boys in the age range of 7-14 years) participate in performance; interpretation and transmission of oral tradition and through this process learn about their social world. The thesis is part of the research and capacity building project known as Children, Young People and Local Knowledge in Ethiopia and Zambia. Data were obtained through one year of fieldwork that involved ethnographic methods such as participant observation, ethnographic interviews, indepth- interviews and focus group discussions.
The thesis is based on the perspectives of the interdisciplinary social study of childhood and social construction of oral tradition, and the findings were presented through six articles, four of which have been published and two accepted for publication as articles in journals and a chapter in a book. Through a synthesis of the findings from each article, the thesis presents four central results. Frist it is seen that children play active roles in the practices of oral tradition. They produce, interpret and transmit oral tradition and through such practices they play, compete and share knowledge with each other as well as with adults. Second, it was seen that the everyday life of rural children ( which refers to children among the Guji people) encompasses diverse places of children`s social interaction (play interaction) –cattle herding fields, home and school, the dynamic social positions and practices of children and multigenerational interactions of children-children interacting with each other and with adults. Third, the thesis demonstrates oral tradition provides children with contexts through which they can enhance their formal and informal learning. Fourth, it is argued that in order to understand children across these dynamic social contexts, the more effective research approach is that of reflexive ethnography. Based on these findings, the thesis concludes that oral tradition is the means through which children participate in the process of knowledge production and transmission and that children link oral tradition to their everyday life and make sense of their social world through it.