The Use of Ethnographic Novels as a Promotional Tool in Tourism Marketing in Ethiopia: The Case of Land of the Yellow Bull

Belachew Weldegebriel


The use of literary works for diverse practical purposes is a long established tradition. It can be traced back to the days of our earliest ancestors who had been using different genres of oral literature to entertain, enlighten or instill moral lesson in small children. These days, in addition to the traditional entertainment and instruction functions, different forms of written literature are serving diverse purposes. Historical fictions, for example, are tracing the past and helping us to be proud of our prestigious achievements or learn from our mistakes. Speculative science fiction on the other is predicting the future and helping humanity to prepare for it in advance. In the same token, this paper focuses on the use of ethnographic novels in tourist promotion. Culture and cultural practices constitute a staple tourist attraction. Given the role of ethnographic novels to vividly portray the cultural peculiarities of a particular community, they can be used as a promotional tool to attract tourists to the destination. Such novels can also serve as a preliminary source of information about the tradition of the community at the destination. An ethnographic novel by Fikremarkos Desta, Land of the Yellow Bull, which accurately depicts the life of the Hamar people and neighboring ethnic groups found in the Southern part of Ethiopia, is used for illustrating the case.

The author of the novel gives the reader a bifocal view of this community with intact cultural traditions. Charlotte Alfreds scholarly and touristic observation and the native peoples dogged description of their tradition had made nothing to be left uncovered in the story. The diverse cultural practices (rites of passage and rituals); beliefs, perceptions and value system; the unique beauty of the land and material culture of the people were vividly portrayed. The key intention of this paper is to show that the country could secure her fair share of the tourist revenue if this and other similar novels are used as a promotional tool in the tourist marketing practice of the country along with other conventional methods in use.


Literature; Culture; Ethnography; Cultural Tourism; Promotion; Ethiopia.

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