Justice by Ethiopian Traditional

In Justice, a traditional Ethiopian tale, we have the theme of justice, mistaken identity, gratitude, disconnection, fear and anger. Narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator it becomes clear to the reader after reading the story that the story teller is exploring the theme of mistaken identity. The woman mistakenly believes that the old man knows where her goats are. However he can’t because he is deaf and he thinks that the woman is asking him something else. Nonetheless the old man is right and the woman finds her goats and is in full of gratitude to the old man. In fact so grateful is the woman she offers the old man one of her young goats but the old man confusingly thinks that the woman is blaming him for the goat being poorly. In what should be a happy ending turns out to be an ending which involves the near-sighted local judge.

When the judge gets to hear the case he mistakenly believes that the old man and woman are married and that the goat is their child. This would be funny if events where not so serious on the woman’s part. She wants justice for her lame goat. Even though no one knows how the goat became lame. The crowd play an important part in the story too. They laugh on cue and scorn on cue. Though they seem none the wiser as to what is happening. The real fight is between the old man and the woman. The judge tries his best but because he is near-sighted he is not really a fair judge. In reality he doesn’t understand the case nor do those in attendance in the court room understand the case.

The story would be even more humorous if it was not for the judges short-comings. He believes the goat is a new born infant and that both ‘parents’ should equally look after him and rear him to be a fine man. What is interesting is that the old man and woman do not dispute the judge. Whether this is out of fear or respect is difficult to say but things would have been clearer if the woman had told the judge the infant was not an infant but a young goat. In many ways the reader may be thinking that the story teller is making a fool of the judge and the judiciary that ruled the land. Possibly believing that they do not know the way of the land. Something which is very much the case when it comes to the judge. He appears to be disconnected from his community. Preferring the ways of the Emperor. Though it should not be taken away that both the old man and the woman are angry and deserve justice. Though the justice they get is not what it seems.

For mistakenly the judge believes the squabble is a domestic one and as such he feels empowered to solve the crisis. Even though the reality is that he doesn’t know what is going on. Apart from being deaf he is also near-sighted making matters worse for all concerned. Both the old man and the woman would be right to feel that an injustice has been served. The old man did nothing wrong but point in the direction of the goats. While the woman incorrectly blamed the old man of breaking the goats leg. In reality the story is one of mistaken identity that is taken to the next level by the judge. Who has been blinded throughout the story? Though the judge is the rule of law he may take that position a little bit too far. Considering that he is not suited to be a judge. His job appears to be for life and there lies the problem. He has no superior to call him back to the city and his word is final. If anything the judge has misruled on the case believing the old man and woman to be a couple and the goat to be an infant. Ironically the people at the court think the judge has ruled favourably and are high in their praise for him. The only two dissatisfied people are the old man and the woman.

Cite Post
McManus, Dermot. "Justice by Ethiopian Traditional." The Sitting Bee. The Sitting Bee, 21 Nov. 2020. Web.

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