Documentary Screening: Abraham & Sarah Hosting the Gundagundo Pilgrims, Thursday 28th October 2021, 4 PM

DOCUMENTARY / DOCUMENTAIRE

Abraham & Sarah II. Hosting the Gundagundo Pilgrims

By Tesfahun Haddis (2018)

Thursday 28th October 2021, 4 PM @ CFEE

 

To pursue the weekly screening cycle of ethnographic and archaeological documentaries in CFEE, n° 2 of the Guardians of Productive Landscapes film series will be presented, sequel to ‘Abraham and Sarah I: Creators of a productive landscape’.

In the highlands of Tigray – northern Ethiopia – on the edge of the escarpment that descends steeply to the Danakil desert, Hagos Mashisho and Desta Gidey have toiled and struggled for years to turn the rugged slopes of the East African Rift Valley into fertile ground. They have grown crops here not only to feed themselves and their family but also to share with others, in particular the pilgrims who regularly pass by on their way to the monastery of Gundagundo. Touched by the kindness of their hosts, the pilgrims have given them the biblical names “Abraham” and “Sarah”.

We see how Sarah and other women prepare food and drink for the pilgrims, while Abraham and other men erect a shelter. At dawn, dozens of pilgrims descend the steep escarpment, eventually arriving at Gundagundo where celebrations are in full swing. We witness highlights of the festival and the pilgrims’ return to the homestead of Abraham and Sarah. Here they receive food, drink and shelter, and sing the praises of their hosts. At midnight visitors arrive with an old, sick monk. Before the guests depart the next morning, a monk thanks and bless Abraham and Sarah.

 

The Guardians of Productive Landscapes Film Series – edited by Ivo Strecker and supported by Max Planck Institut for Social Anthropology, Germany – is a major new initiative in applied anthropology. It calls for nothing less than a reorientation of global attitudes toward subsistence agriculture and pastoralism – a view that contests the received wisdom of capitalist ‘development’ and underlines the crucial role of the traditional farmer and pastoralist in maintaining the planet’s environmental health and diversity. Its most singular feature is that it argues not from theories but from empirical observation, and it presents its findings in a form that is universally accessible (…) By concentrating its attention on the highly varied landscapes and cultures of Ethiopia, the series also creates a comprehensive study of a country exhibiting many of the climatic and geophysical conditions found throughout the world.

 


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