Title: Onesimos Nasib’s pioneering contributions to Oromo writing
Author: Mekuria Bulcha (Uppsala University, Sweden)
Published: Nordic Journal of African Studies Vol. 4, No. 1, 1995, pp. 36-59
Keywords: Onesimos Nasib, Afan Oromo
Linguists tell us that the Oromo language also referred to as afaan Oromoo or Oromiffaa with its more than 20 million speakers is the second most widely spread indigenous language in Africa. More than two-thirds of the speakers of the Cushitic languages are Oromo or speak afaan Oromoo, which is also the third largest Afro-Asiatic language in the world (Gragg 1982). In spite of its importance as a vernacular widely spoken in the Horn of Africa afaan Oromoo lacks today a developed literature. Both the cultural history of the Oromo people and the language policy of the Ethiopian government were suggested to be responsible for this state of affairs.
In this paper I maintain that, although some basic literature existed in afaan Oromoo for the last 100 years, as the Oromo were colonized, they were (and still are) not given the chance to build on the literary foundations that were laid down during the last two decades of the 19th century.
To illustrate my argument, I describe Onesimos Nasib’s contribution to Oromo literature, and the efforts he made to spread literacy and modern education in Oromoland at the beginning of this century. I discuss also, albeit briefly, the reactions that the works of Onesimos aroused among the Abyssinian nobility and clergy and the resultant language policy that suppressed development of literacy in afaan Oromoo and the other Cushitic and Omotic languages. The approach in this paper is socio-historical as well as socio-linguistic.
Title: Genocidal Violence in the Making of Nation and State in Ethiopia
Author: Mekuria Bulcha (Mälardalen University and Uppsala University, Sweden)
Published: African Sociological Review Vol. 9, No. 2, 2005, pp. 1-54
Keywords: Oromo, Oromia, Abyssinian homogeneity, Menelik II, creation of the Ethiopian empire state, nationalism of the dominant ethnic group, authoritarian rule, genocide in Ethiopia
Based on a qualitative historical-sociological investigation of the incidents of mass-killings that have been registered during the last one hundred and fifty years, this study concludes that both the unification of the Abyssinian state between 1850s and 1870s, and the creation of the Ethiopian empire state during last quarter of the nineteenth century were accomplished through wars that were clearly genocidal. Though their aims were building a state, there were differences between the types of state and nation envisaged by the two ‘categories’ of rulers. The attempts of the nineteenth century rulers were to purge the Abyssinian state of non-Abyssinian religious and ethnic communities they perceived as ‘alien’ in order to build an exclusive Abyssinian state and a homogeneous Abyssinian nation. The nationalism of late nineteenth century rulers, as represented by its architect Menelik II, was expansionist. Abandoning the idea of Abyssinian homogeneity, they opted for hegemony over other peoples they had conquered in the heyday of the European Scramble for Africa. The result was a multinational empire state. This study shows that policies used to build and maintain the empire state were implemented using methods that were ethnically oppressive, immensely exploitative, and genocidal. This had triggered ethnic nationalism that has been at logger-heads with the ‘official’ nationalism of the dominant ethnic group. Moreover, the conflict between the two brands of nationalism had increased in tandem with rising ethnic consciousness and intensified since the mid 1970s as a consequence of the policies of the Dergue. In order to legitimize the state, control dissent, and stay in power, the ruling elites built a huge military apparatus and used retributive genocidal killings. The study confirms that there is clear nexus between authoritarian rule, man-made famines, and genocide in Ethiopia. It suggests that there are several warning signs showing that genocide is in the making today. Taking the international context into account, the study indicates that the role of some Western states has been abetting rather than deterring genocide in Ethiopia.