By Asafa Jalata, PhD* | Ayyaantuu.com
This paper 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, racist/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 or destroying the history and culture of non-Semitic Africans of the various colonized nations, 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 Oromummaa. Developing Oromummaa (Oromo culture, identity, and nationalism), the Oromo national movement engages in such a liberation project. Those intermediary Oromos who have been joining the Tigrayan or Amhara camps as collaborators have promoted Ethiopianism at the cost of Oromummaa. Those diaspora Oromo elites who are claiming to change the program of the Oromo Liberation Front are part and parcel of these subservient forces that have perpetuated Ethiopian colonialism and political slavery.
The critical and thorough examination of the essence and duality of Ethiopianism demonstrates the negative impact of this ideology on the processes of identity formation, state building, and development in the Ethiopian Empire. Ethiopians/Abyssinians or Habashas consider themselves Semitic and suppress their African-ness or Blackness by claiming their racial and cultural superiority to Blacks in general and the indigenous Africans they colonized in particular. Successive Ethiopian state elites have used the discourses of civilization, race, culture, and religion to justify and rationalize the colonization and dehumanization of the indigenous Africans, such as Agaos, Oromos, Ogaden-Somalis, Afars, Sidamas, and Walayitas, and have selectively utilized the politics of African-ness or Blackness without actually practicing this aspect of Ethiopianism. The duality of Ethiopianism and the politics of building contemporary Ethiopia as an empire on the foundation of racial/ethno-national hierarchy have prevented successive Ethiopian state elites from building a viable country. Consequently, Ethiopia has remained one of the most impoverished countries in the world and has become infamous for its recurrent famines and a series of internal and external wars and massive human rights violations.
* Asafa Jalata (email@example.com) is a Professor of Sociology, Global Studies, and Africana Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.He has published and edited eight books and authored sixty refereed articles in regional and international journals and several book chapters.