Title: Being in and out of Africa: The Impact of Duality of Ethiopianism
Author: Asafa Jalata (University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA)
Published: Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 40, No. 2 (2009), pp. 189-214 | On April 29, 2015, a version of this paper was presented as a seminar at the University of Botswana.
Keywords: Ethiopianism, racism, colonialism, Abyssinia, Ethiopia, Oromo, Habashas (Amhara-Tigray), Africanness, Blackness, state terrorism, Afrocentricity, Oromummaa (culture identity nationalism), self-determination, multinational democracy
This article critically examines how the duality inherent in the concept of Ethiopianism shifts back and forth between claims of a “Semitic” identity when appealing to the White, Christian, ethnocentric, occidental hegemonic power center and claims of an African identity when cultivating the support of sub-Saharan Africans and the African diaspora while, at the same time, ruthlessly suppressing the history and culture of non-Semitic Africans of the various colonized peoples, such as Oromos. Successive Ethiopian state elites have used their Blackness to mobilize other Africans and the African diaspora for their political projects by confusing original Africa, Ethiopia, or the Black world with contemporary Ethiopia (former Abyssinia) and at the same time have allied with Euro-American powers and practiced racism, state terrorism, genocide, and continued subjugation on the indigenous Africans who are, today, struggling for self-determination and multinational democracy. Exposing the racist discourse of Ethiopianism and liberating the mentality of all Africans and the African diaspora from this “social cancer” must be one of the tasks of a critical paradigm of Afrocentricity. Developing Oromummaa (Oromo culture, identity, and nationalism), the Oromo national movement engages in such a liberation project.
Title: The Conflict between the Ethiopian State and the Oromo People
Author: Alemayehu Kumsa, PhD
Published: Centro de Estudos Internacionais do Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL) (5th European Conference on African Studies/ECAS – June 27-29, 2013)
Keywords: Colonialism, Abyssinia, Oromo, Ethiopia, Liberation Movement
Colonialism is a practice of domination, which involves the subjugation of one people to another. The etymology of the term from Latin word colonus, meaning farmer. This root reminds us that the practice of colonialism usually involves the transfer of population to new territory, where the arrivals lived as permanent settlers while maintaining political allegiance to the country of origin. Colonialism is a characteristic of all known civilizations. Books on African history teaches us that Ethiopia and Liberia are the only countries, which were not colonized by West European states, but the paper argues that Ethiopia was created by Abyssinian state colonizing its neighbouring nations during the scramble for Africa. Using comparative colonial history of Africa, the paper tries to show that Abyssinian colonialism is the worst of conquest and colonial rule of all territories in Africa, according to the number of people killed during the conquest war, brutal colonial rule, political oppression, poverty, lack of education, diseases, and contemporary land grabbing only in the colonial territories. In its arguments, the paper discusses why the Oromo were defeated at the end of 19th century whereas we do have full historical documents starting from 13th century in which the Oromo defended their own territory against Abyssinian expansion. Finally the paper will elucidate the development of Oromo national struggle for regaining their lost independence.
Title: Urban Centers in Oromia: Consequences of Spatial Concentration of Power in Multinational Ethiopia
Author: Asafa Jalata (University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA)
Published: Journal of Oromo Studies, Vol. 17, No. 2 (2010), pp. 39-74.
Keywords: Oromo, Oromia, indigenous people, centralization and spatial concentration, formation of garrison towns
This paper examines the essence and characteristics of cities and urban centers in Oromia and the major consequences of the centralization and spatial concentration of Habasha (Amhara-Tigray) political power in a multinational Ethiopia. It specifically demonstrates how the integration of indigenous Oromo towns into the Ethiopian colonial structure and the formation of garrison and non-garrison cities and towns in Oromia consolidated Habasha political domination over the Oromo people. Ethiopian colonial structure limited the access of Oromo urban residents, who are a minority in their own cities and towns, to institutions and opportunities, such as employment, education, health, mass media and other public services. In addition to exclusion, the Oromos have been prevented from developing autonomous institutions, organizations, culture, and language, and have been subordinated to the institutions and organizations of the Habasha colonial settlers in their own cities, towns, and homeland.
Title: History of Oromo Social Organization: Gadaa Grades Based Roles and Responsibilities
Author: Dereje Hinew Dehu
Published: Science, Technology & Arts Research (STAR) Journal Volume 1, Issue 3, 2012, pp. 97-105
Keywords: Oromo, Social organization, Gadaa, Luba, Gogeessa
The major purpose of this manuscript is to depict how membership to gadaa grades determined the social-political and economic roles and responsibilities of individuals in the Oromo society, and show the viability of values of Gadaa in democratic culture. The Gadaa system is a special socio-political organization of the Oromo people that has its origin in the age-system of the Horn of Africa. In the system, male individuals were grouped into grades known as gadaa. As an age-based social organization, the Gadaa system provided the mechanism to motivate and organize members of the society into social structure. Various socio-political rights and responsibilities are associated with each group. Accordingly, the system provided a socio-political framework that institutionalized stratified relationship between seniors and juniors and egalitarian relations among members of the grade. Initiation into and promotion from one gadaa grade to the next were conducted every eight years. The fundamental quality of the Gadaa system is that it has segmentation and specified social functions for its members that helped the members to develop a consistent and stable sense of self and others.
Gadaa system is one of the main themes studied by scholars of different disciplines. Scholars that studied Gadaa system at large gave attention to the nature of the institution, the socio-cultural performance in Gadaa system, calendar, and the political aspect of the Gadaa system. Asmarom produced the most comprehensive ethnographic study on the indigenous Oromo socio-political organization based on the people’s oral historic records (Asmarom, 1973). However, none of the scholars studied the age-grade privileges and responsibilities of individual members and clearly depicted the training, knowledge acquired and the rights and duties attributed to the members.
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.