Africa: A resurgent “Dictators’ Club

 

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‘The international community’s failure to demonstrate strong opposition to the antidemocratic trajectory of many African countries is allowing authoritarian heads of state to gain more power and influence. The United States should single out and prioritize the needs of the few African leaders working to comply with international law and to promote democratic governance domestically and regionally. One way Washington can do this is by acknowledging and giving preference to the democratic states participating in the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit next week. If current trends are not thwarted, the future of the continent could fall under the control of a resurgent “Dictators’ Club.”’

 

“Repressive leaders are also copying one another’s laws, which collectively undermine basic freedoms for the continent’s citizens. In 2009, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia enacted the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and the Charities and Societies Proclamation, which essentially aimed to eliminate independent civil society activity. Within a few years, Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya had introduced nearly identical laws, which are muzzling the work of human rights defenders, the independent media, local journalists, and members of the political opposition across East Africa.”

 

 

Reemergence of the African Rat Pack

(Freedom House, 30 July 2014)The reemergence of unconditional solidarity among Africa’s incumbent leaders is threatening respect for human rights and good governance throughout the continent. The phenomenon is obviously bad for the people of Africa and for the overall progress of democracy. But the worst consequence of many African leaders’ support for even their most authoritarian colleagues is the growing regional acceptance—and in some cases promotion—of deeply repressive policies.

Strong bilateral relationships in Africa, for instance between Presidents Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, are undercutting domestic and regional democratic frameworks. In Zimbabwe’s 2013 election, Zuma—acting as the chief election facilitator for the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)—disregarded his obligation under the organization’s Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections to maintain neutrality by publicly rebuking a technical team for questioning the election preparations. Zuma then endorsed Mugabe’s reelection on behalf of SADC, even when clear evidence of vote rigging emerged, which Botswana cited as another violation of SADC’s guidelines. Nevertheless, Zuma stood by his counterpart in Zimbabwe, bolstering the idea that the region’s entrenched leaders can rely on one another in their efforts to maintain power, even if this means violating their own democratic standards.

This type of solidarity in Southern Africa has extended beyond domestic affairs to include limiting citizens’ access to justice on a regional level, as clearly demonstrated by the disbandment of the SADC Tribunal, launched in 2005 to enforce the SADC Treaty. The tribunal’s fate was sealed when it ruled that Zimbabwe’s seizure of land from white farmers without compensation was illegal and discriminatory. Mugabe refused to obey the decision, challenging the court’s authority and paving the way for its suspension in 2010. Despite the best efforts of civil society groups in the region, Southern Africa’s heads of state sided with Mugabe and voted to remove the individual mandate of the court, meaning victims of state abuse could no longer file cases against their governments. Not only was this a blow to human rights protection, but it also discouraged private-sector investment, as property owners would have no legal recourse beyond national courts. Once the SADC court ruled against the big man’s interests, political imperatives suddenly took precedence, and legal order was sidelined.

Repressive leaders are also copying one another’s laws, which collectively undermine basic freedoms for the continent’s citizens. In 2009, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia enacted the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and the Charities and Societies Proclamation, which essentially aimed to eliminate independent civil society activity. Within a few years, Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya had introduced nearly identical laws, which are muzzling the work of human rights defenders, the independent media, local journalists, and members of the political opposition across East Africa.

A similar contagion effect occurred after the signing of what UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay referred to as “a piece of legislation that in so few paragraphs directly violates so many basic, universal human rights.” Nigeria’s Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, signed early this year, went far beyond other anti-LGBTI laws by banning association with or operation of “gay” organizations. Instead of pushing back, many of the continent’s leaders supported Nigeria with their own repressive measures, including the signing of an “anti-homosexuality” bill in Uganda, the introduction of a draft law to criminalize gay and transgender people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the launching of a parliamentary caucus to ensure the implementation of anti-LGBTI laws in Kenya, and the refusal of justice for victims of homophobic attacks in Cameroon. Many argue that this is not surprising given the preceding rise in homophobic rhetoric from many African leaders, but since the Nigerian bill was enacted, attacks against LGBTI people across the continent have increased, even in more tolerant countries such as Côte d’Ivoire and Sénégal. Nigeria’s leadership catalyzed a steep regression for the protection of LGBTI individuals that could take decades to reverse.

Big-man interests are also driving a movement to withdraw en masse from the International Criminal Court (ICC), which would enable impunity for mass atrocities. Urged on by President Kenyatta, who is currently accused of crimes against humanity at The Hague, the African Union (AU) held a special meeting in October 2013 to discuss an ICC withdrawal. Due to the efforts of countries like Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Sénégal, the AU rejected the proposition, but Kenyatta succeeded in obtaining a resolution calling on the ICC to postpone his trial and to exempt sitting heads of state from international prosecution. As if this were not enough, an amendment to the newly established Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights was adopted at a June 2014 summit, giving immunity to African heads of state and senior government officials (yet to be defined) at what was supposed to be the continent’s new regional human rights court.

If the immunity amendment to the African court’s statute is ratified by AU member states, leaders will not be deterred from committing the same crimes of the past, and African citizens will have one less option for protection against human rights abuses. Furthermore, the amendment is entirely at odds with the normative frameworks already ratified by the AU member states to protect human rights, including the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Compliance with and enforcement of these frameworks are the best hope for strengthening democratic governance in Africa. However, these treaties, laws, and protocols will be useless if authoritarian leaders succeed in working together to ignore and actively undermine them.

It is therefore extremely important for countries like the United States to work actively with their African partners to uphold democratic principles on the continent. The international community’s failure to demonstrate strong opposition to the antidemocratic trajectory of many African countries is allowing authoritarian heads of state to gain more power and influence. The United States should single out and prioritize the needs of the few African leaders working to comply with international law and to promote democratic governance domestically and regionally. One way Washington can do this is by acknowledging and giving preference to the democratic states participating in the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit next week. If current trends are not thwarted, the future of the continent could fall under the control of a resurgent “Dictators’ Club.” Read @http://freedomhouse.org/blog/reemergence-african-rat-pack#.U9lHW9JDvys

Meroe, Oromo and Old Nubian: Solving the Mystery of Meroitic Language

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Meroe, Oromo and Old Nubian: Solving the Mystery of Meroitic Language
By Dereje Tadesse Birbirso (PhD),  College of Social Science and HumanitiesHaramaya University, Ethiopia
Abstract
 
 Meroitic language is one of the most controversial ancient languages but one of the few having advanced writing systems. Some classify it Asian, European, non-African, Semitic,or ‘unclassified’. This paper contends Meroe, similar to their Cushitic friends, are left victims of preconceived ideas based on an entirely argument from silence, an hegemonic epistemology that elevates a single perspective and silences other(s). This paper, thus,comparatively analyzes Meroitic and Old Nubian lexical and grammatical items with corresponding Oromo, a Cushitic family which, 
a Cushitic family which,vocabulary possibly the Ancientlanguage of the Nile Valley and/or Horn of Africa. Meroitic and Old Nubian lexical, grammatical and epigraphic data were collected from secondary sources by Meroitic researchers. Oromo corpora are obtained both from classical and modern descriptions and native-speakers. Results indicate Oromo lexemes show significant level of cognates with not only Meroitic and Old Nubian, but also with the Ancient Egyptian to their northern part.
Keywords:  Oromo, Meroe, Nubian, Ancient Egyptian, Cushitic, Chiekh Anta Diop

Archaeological Sites of the Island of Meroe

Listening to Ethiopia’s South: Music, Musicians, and the Performance of Oromo Nationalism

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Listening to Ethiopia’s South: Music, Musicians, and the Performance of Oromo Nationalism

By Harvard  University Professor Kay Kaufman Shelemay

Oromo Studies Collection

 

 Harvard University’s African Studies Workshop Featuring Kay Kaufman Shelemay: “Listening to Ethiopia’s South: Music, Musicians, and the Performance of Oromo Nationalism”

Title: Listening to Ethiopia’s South: Music, Musicians, and the Performance of Oromo Nationalism
Author: Kay Kaufman Shelemay (Professor of Music and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University)
Published: Seminar Presentation, African Studies Workshop at Harvard University
Language: English
Keywords: Ethnography, Ethnomusicology, Music, Oromo Nationalism

On March 3, 2014, Kay Kaufman Shelemay, G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, presented, “Listening to Ethiopia’s South: Music, Musicians, and the Performance of Oromo Nationalism.” Ingrid Monson, Quincy Jones Professor of African American Music at Harvard University, was the discussant.

Original Source: African Studies at Harvard University

 

The Human Factor in Innovation:Ethiopia Ranks Very Low in 2014 Global Innovation Index July 20, 2014

Ojohn cornell university logoinsead the business school of the world logoworld intellectual property organization logo

 

 

Global Innovation Index (GII) 2014:  This year, the theme of the report is the ‘Human Factor in Innovation’

The fundamental driver behind any innovation process is the human factor associated with it. We observe that some nations take the lead in innovation capability over others. A major factor for this disparity of innovation prowess is the quality of human capital linked to the innovation activities carried out in these nations. Otherfactors, such as technology and capital, also influence the innovation process; these directly correlate with the human factor. Hence nurturing human capital at all levels and in all sections of society can be crucial for developing the foundation for innovation.

Human-Centric Innovation: Inspired Talent Is the Engine of Innovation.

http://www.globalinnovationindex.org/content.aspx?page=gii-full-report-2014

 

Out of 143 countries listed in the Global Innovation Index report released in Sydney, Australia,  18th July 2014, Ethiopia  is in the 126th position. The score is 25.4.

Among Ethiopia’s poorest performances are:

Innovation input sub-index (128)

Ecological sustainability (136)

Political stability (136)

Regulatory quality (134)

Ease of starting business (130)

Human Capital & research (137)

Education   (136)

ICT access (133)

Logistics performance (133)

Online creativity (141)

http://www.globalinnovationindex.org/content.aspx?page=gii-full-report-2014#pdfopener

 

Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Sweden are the most innovative countries in the world – and Singapore is Asia’s most innovative economy. No African country made the first 39 spot in the ranking but Mauritius tops the list for African countries coming in at 40. Mauritius (40) and Seychelles  (51) beat South Africa (53rd) to the chase in the African continent. The regional winner, Mauritius,  has shown an impressive improvement of 13 places from 53rd in 2013. The  following Africa countries are in the first 100 rankings: Tunisia (78), Morocco (84), Kenya (85), Uganda (91), Botswana (92), Ghana (96), Cabo Verde (97), Senegal (98) and Egypt (99).

Top 10 in the  2014 rankings:

1. Switzerland

2. United Kingdom

3. Sweden

4. Finland

5. Netherlands

6. USA

7. Singapore

8. Denmark

9. Luxembourg

10. Hong Kong (China)

According to  the authors of the report: “These GII leaders have created well-linked innovation ecosystems, where investments in human capital combined with strong innovation infrastructures contribute to high levels of creativity.”

“In particular, the top 25 countries in the GII consistently score high in most indicators and have strengths in areas such as innovation infrastructure, including information and communication technologies; business sophistication such as knowledge workers, innovation linkages, and knowledge absorption; and innovation outputs such as creative goods and services and online creativity.”

11 of the bottom 20 countries are from Africa ( Ethiopia, Sudan, Burundi, Angola, Niger, Algeria, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Benin, Guinea and Togo). These countries are making the 11 worst African countries.

The Global Innovation Index surveys 143 economies around the world, using 81 indicators – to gauge both their innovation capabilities and measurable results.

The annual rankings is published by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization.
To view the full list, click here

Aid to Africa:A smokescreen to hide the “sustained looting” of the continent

OThe Guardian home

Although sub-Saharan Africa receives $134bn each year in loans, foreign investment and development aid, $192bn leaves the region, leaving a $58bn shortfall. See @ http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jul/15/aid-africa-west-looting-continent?CMP=fb_ot

 

 

Mark Anderson writes for the Guardian:

Western countries are using aid to Africa as a smokescreen to hide the “sustained looting” of the continent as it loses nearly $60bn a year through tax evasion, climate change mitigation, and the flight of profits earned by foreign multinational companies, a group of NGOs has claimed.

Although sub-Saharan Africa receives $134bn each year in loans, foreign investment and development aid, research released on Tuesday by a group of UK and Africa-based NGOs suggests that $192bn leaves the region, leaving a $58bn shortfall.

It says aid sent in the form of loans serves only to contribute to the continent’s debt crisis, and recommends that donors should use transparent contracts to ensure development assistance grants can be properly scrutinised by the recipient country’s parliament.

“The common understanding is that the UK ‘helps’ Africa through aid, but in reality this serves as a smokescreen for the billions taken out,” said Martin Drewry, director of Health Poverty Action, one of the NGOs behind the report. “Let’s use more accurate language. It’s sustained looting – the opposite of generous giving – and we should recognise that the City of London is at the heart of the global financial system that facilitates this.”

Research by Global Financial Integrity shows Africa’s illicit outflows were nearly 50% higher than the average for the global south from 2002-11.The UK-based NGO ActionAid issued a report last year (pdf) that claimed half of large corporate investment in the global south transited through a tax haven.

Supporting regulatory reforms would empower African governments “to control the operations of investing foreign companies”, the report says, adding: “Countries must support efforts under way in the United Nations to draw up a binding international agreement on transnational corporations to protect human rights.”

But NGOs must also change, according to Drewry: “We need to move beyond our focus on aid levels and communicate the bigger truth – exposing the real relationship between rich and poor, and holding leaders to account.”

The report was authored by 13 UK and Africa-based NGOs, including:Health Poverty ActionJubilee Debt CampaignWorld Development MovementAfrican Forum and Network on Debt and Development,Friends of the Earth AfricaTax Justice NetworkPeople’s Health Movement Kenya, Zimbabwe and UKWar on WantCommunity Working Group on Health ZimbabweMedactHealthworkers4AllFriends of the Earth South AfricaJA!Justiça Ambiental/Friends of the Earth Mozambique.

Sarah-Jayne Clifton, director of Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: “Tackling inequality between Africa and the rest of the world means tackling the root causes of its debt dependency, its loss of government revenue by tax dodging, and the other ways the continent is being plundered. Here in the UK we can start with our role as a major global financial centre and network of tax havens, complicit in siphoning money out of Africa.”

A UK government spokesman said: “The UK put tax and transparency at the heart of our G8 presidency last year and we are actively working with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to ensure companies are paying the tax they should and helping developing countries collect the tax they are owed.” Read  @http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jul/15/aid-africa-west-looting-continent?CMP=fb_ot

http://www.gfintegrity.org/report/2013-global-report-illicit-financial-flows-from-developing-countries-2002-2011/

Dictators lie about economic growth

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Dictators lie about economic growth

BY HENRY FARRELL

(Washington Post, 26th June 2014), There’s a lot of recent scholarship suggesting that non-democratic regimes grow faster than democratic regimes. This has led some people not only to admire the Chinese model of growth focused authoritarianism, but to suggest that it may be a better economic model for developing countries than democracy. However, this research tends to assume that both democracies and non-democracies are telling the truth about their growth rates, when they report them to multilateral organizations such as the World Bank. Is this assumption safe? The answer is no, according to aforthcoming article (temporarily ungated) by Christopher S. P. Magee and John A. Doces in International Studies Quarterly.

The problem that Magee and Doces tackle is that it’s hard to figure out when regimes are being honest or dishonest about their rates of economic growth, since it’s the regimes themselves that are compiling the statistics. It’s hard to measure how honest or dishonest they are, if all you have to go on are their own numbers. This means that researchers need to find some kind of independent indicator of economic growth, which governments will either be less inclined or unable to manipulate. Magee and Doces argue that one such indicator is satellite images of nighttime lights. As the economy grows, you may expect to see more lights at night (e.g. as cities expand etc). And indeed, research suggests that there’s a very strong correlation between economic growth and nighttime lights, meaning that the latter is a good indicator of the former. Furthermore, it’s an indicator that is unlikely to be manipulated by governments.

Magee and Doces look at the relationship between reported growth and nights at light and find a very clear pattern. The graph below shows this relationship for different countries – autocracies are the big red dots. Most of the dots are above the regression line, which means that most autocracies report higher growth levels to the World Bank than you’d expect given the intensity of lights at night. This suggests that they’re exaggerating their growth numbers.

Growth and reported growth

 

The two countries with the biggest difference between their reported growth and their actual growth (as best as you can tell from the intensity of nighttime lights) are China (although the discrepancy was considerably larger in the mid-1990s than now) and Myanmar. More broadly:

If democracies report their GDP growth rates truthfully, then dictatorships overstate their yearly growth rate by about 1.5 percentage points on average. If democracies also overstate their true growth rates, then dictatorships exaggerate their yearly growth statistics by about 1.5 percentage points more than do democracies.

The authors conclude:

the existing literature on economic growth overestimates the impact of dictatorships because it relies on statistics that are reported to international organizations, and as we show, dictatorships tend to exaggerate their growth. Accounting for the fact that authoritarian regimes overstate growth slightly diminishes the effect of these regimes on long-run economic growth. In light of this point, much of the evidence showing growth benefits associated with authoritarian regimes is less compelling and the case for democracy looks better than before. See more @ http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/06/26/dictators-lie-about-economic-growth?Post+generic=%3Ftid%3Dsm_twitter_washingtonpost

 

Related Article:

What if everything we know about poor countries’ economies is totally wrong?

Read @ http://www.vox.com/2014/7/10/5885145/what-if-everything-we-know-about-poor-countries-economies-is-totally?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_name=share-button&utm_campaign=vox&utm_content=article-share-top

 

 

(OPride) – Over the last decade, Ethiopia has been hailed as the fastest growing non-oil economies in Africa, maintaining a double-digit annual economic growth rate. The Ethiopian government says the country will join the middle-income bracketby 2025.

Despite this, however, as indicated by a recent Oxford University report, some 90 percent of Ethiopians still live in poverty, second only after Niger from 104 countries measured by the Oxford Multidimensional Poverty Index. The most recent data shows an estimated 71.1 percent of Ethiopia’s population lives in severe poverty.

This is baffling: how can such conflicting claims be made about the same country?  The main source of this inconsistent story is the existence of crony businesses and the government’s inflated growth figures. While several multinational corporations are now eyeing Ethiopia’s cheap labor market, two main crony conglomerates dominate the country’s economy.

Meet EFFORT, TPLF’s business empire

The seeds of Ethiopia’s economic mismanagement were sown at the very outset. We are familiar with rich people organizing themselves, entering politics and protecting their group interests. But something that defies our knowledge of interactions between politics and business happened in 1991 when the current regime took power.

Ethiopia’s ruling party, the EPRDF, came to power by ousting the communist regime in a dramatic coup. A handful of extremely poor people organized themselves exceptionally well that they quickly took control of the country’s entire political and military machinery.

In a way, this is analogous to a gang of thieves becoming brutally efficient at organizing themselves to the extent of forming a government. Once in power, the ruling Tigrean elites expropriated properties from other businesses, looted national assets and began creating wealth exclusively for themselves.

This plan first manifested itself in the form of party affiliated business conglomerate known as the Endowment Fund for Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT). EFFORT has its origin in the relief and rehabilitation arm of the Tigrean People Liberation Front (TPLF) and the country’s infamous 1984 famine.

As reported by BBC’s Martin Plaut and others, the TPLF financed its guerilla warfare against the Dergue in part by converting aid money into weapons and cash. That was not all. On their way to Addis Ababa from their bases in Tigray, the TPLF confiscated any liquid or easily moveable assetsthey could lay their hands on. For instance, a substantial amount of cash was amassed by breaking into safe deposits of banks all over Ethiopia. Those funds were kept in EFFORT’s bank accounts. TPLF leaders vowed to use the loot to rehabilitate and reconstruct Tigray, which they insisted was disproportionately affected by the struggle to “free Ethiopia.”

Intoxicated by its military victory, the TPLF then turned to building a business empire. EFFORT epitomizes that unholy marriage between business and politics in a way not seen before in Ethiopian history. According to a research by Sarah Vaughan and Mesfin Gebremichael, EFFORT, which is led by senior TPLF officials, currently owns 16 companies across various sectors of the economy.

This figure grossly understates the number of EPRDF affiliated companies. For example, the above list does not include the real money-spinners that EFFORT owns: Wegagen Bank, Africa Insurance, Mega Publishing, Walta Information Center and the Fana Broadcasting Corporate. The number of companies under EFFORT is estimated to be more than 66 business entities. Suffice to say, EFFORT controls the commanding heights of the Ethiopian economy.

While it is no secret that EFFORT is owned by and run exclusively to benefit ethnic Tigrean elites, it is a misnomer to still retain the phrase “rehabilitation of Tigray.” Perhaps it should instead be renamed as the Endowment Fund for Rendering Tigrean Supremacy (EFFORTS).

MIDROC Ethiopia, EPRDF’s joker card

In Ethiopia’s weak domestic private environment, EFFORT is an exception to the rule. Similarly, while Ethiopia suffers from lack of foreign direct investment, MIDROC Ethiopia enjoys unparalleled access to Ethiopia’s key economic sectors. Owned by Ethiopian-born Saudi business tycoon, Sheik Mohammed Al Amoudi, MIDROC has been used by the EPRDF as a joker card in a mutually advantageous ways. The Sheik was given a privilege no less than the status of a domestic private investor but the EPRDF can also count it as a foreign investor. For instance, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development reported that about 60 per cent of the overall FDI approved in Ethiopia was related to MIDROC.

MIDROC stands for Mohammed International DevelopmentResearch and Organization Companies. Despite reference to development and research in its name, however, there is no real relationship between what the crony business says and what it actually does. Ironically, as with EFFORT, MIDROC Ethiopia also owns 16 companies. But this too is a gross underestimation given the vast sphere of influence and wealth MIDROC commands in that country.

Like EFFORT, Al-Amoudi’s future was also sealed long before the TPLF took power. He literally entered Addis Ababa with the EPRDF army, fixing his eyes firmly on Oromia’s natural resources. Shortly after the TPLF took the capital, Al-Amoudi allegedly donated a huge sum of money to the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization.

Why the rush?

The calculative Sheik sensed an eminent threat to his business interests from the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a groups that was also a partner in the transitional government at the time. In return for its “donation,” MIDROC acquired massive lands in Oromia – gold mines, extensive state farms and other agricultural lands. In a recent article entitled, “The man who stole the Nile,” journalist Frederick Kaufman aptly described Al Amoudi’s role in the ongoing land grab in Ethiopia as follows:

In this precarious world-historic moment, food has become the most valuable asset of them all — and a billionaire from Ethiopia named Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi is getting his hands on as much of it as possible, flying it over the heads of his starving countrymen, and selling the treasure to Saudi Arabia. Last year, Al Amoudi, whom most Ethiopians call the Sheikh, exported a million tons of rice, about seventy pounds for every Saudi citizen. The scene of the great grain robbery was Gambella, a bog the size of Belgium in Ethiopia’s southwest whose rivers feed the Nile.

It is little wonder then that Al-Amoudi said, “I lost my right hand,” when Ethiopia’s strongman of two decades Meles Zenawi died in 2012. If EFFORT is a curse to the Ethiopian economy, MIRDOC is EPRDF’s poisoned drink given to the Ethiopian people.

Mutual Distrust

The marriage between politics and business has had damaging effects on the country’s economy. One of its most far-reaching consequences is the total breakdown of trust between the EPRDF and the Ethiopian people. In economic policy, trust between private investors and the government is paramount. The deficit of trust is one of the hallmarks of Ethiopia’s much-touted development.

After all youth unemployment hovers around 50 percent. Every year, hundreds of young Ethiopians risk their lives trying to reach Europe or the Middle East, often walking across the Sahara desert or paying smugglers to cross the Red Sea or Indian Ocean aboard crowded boats. The desperation is a result of the lack of confidence in the government’s ability to provide them with the kind of future they were promised.

Ironically, aside from their crony businesses, the EPRDF does not have any confidence in Ethiopian entrepreneurs either. It is this mutual distrust that culminated in the prevalence of an extremely hostile environment for domestic private investment.

This is not a speculative claim but a well-documented fact. The World Bank’s annual survey, which measures the ease with which private investors can do business, ranks Ethiopia near the bottom. In the 2014 survey, Ethiopia came in 166th out of 189 countries in terms of difficulties in starting new business or trading across borders. Moreover, year on year comparison shows that the investment climate in Ethiopia is actually getting worse, sliding down the ranking both in the ease of doing business and trading across borders.

Farms but no firms

The TPLF cronies do not engage in competitive business according to market rules but act as predators bent on killing existing and emerging businesses owned by non-Tigrean nationals. However, the ruling party, which largely maintains its grip on power using bilateral and multilateral aid, is required to report its economic progress to donors (the regime does not care about accountability to the people). In this regard, the lack of foreign direct investment (FDI) has been a thorn in the throat of the EPRDF. Donors have repeatedly questioned and pressured the EPRDF to attract more FDI. The inflow of FDI is often seen as a good indicator of the confidence in countries stability and sound governance. Despite widespread belief in the West, the EPRDF regime cannot deliver on these two fronts.

To cover up these blind spots, the regime has persuaded a handful of foreigners to invest in Ethiopia, but until recently few investors considered any serious manufacturing venture in the country. Besides, considered “cash cows” for the government, banks, the Ethiopian Airlines, telecommunication and energy sectors remain under exclusive monopoly of the state. They provide almost free service to the crony businesses. Any firm looking to invest in manufacturing and financial sectors have to overcome insurmountable bureaucratic red tape and other barriers.

One sector that stands as exception to this rule is agriculture. Since the 2008 financial crisis and the rise in the global price of food, the regime opened the door widely for foreigners who wanted to acquire large-scale farms. These farms do not hurt their crony businesses but they do harm poor subsistence farmers. Vast tracts of lands have been sold to foreigners at ridiculously cheap prices, often displacing locals and their way of life.

Contrary to the government rhetoric, the motivation for opening up the agricultural sector has nothing to do with economic growth but everything to do with politics – to silence critics, particularly in the donor community who persistently question EPRDF’s credibility in attracting FDI. In essence, hundreds of thousands of poor farmers were evicted to make way for flower growers and shore up the government’s image abroad. This tactic seems to be working so far. Earlier this year, Ethiopia received its first credit rating from Moody’s Investors Service. In the last few years, in part due to rising labor costs in China and East Asia, several manufacturers have relocated to Ethiopia.

Addis’ construction boom as a smokescreen

Crony businesses and flower growers may have created some heat but certainly no light in Ethiopian economy. EFFORT and MIDROC were in action for much of the 1990s and early 2000s but GDP growth was not satisfactory during that time. In fact, since other private businesses were in dismal conditions (and hence domestic market size is very limited), even the crony businesses encountered challenges in getting new business deals.

The setbacks in political front during the 2005 election shifted EPRDF’s strategies to economic front to urgently register some noticeable growth.  This partly explains the motives behind the ongoing construction rush in and around Addis Ababa. In several rounds of interviews on ESAT TV, former Minister d’etat of Communications Affairs, Ermias Legesse, provided interesting accounts of cronyism surrounding Addis’ explosive growth and its tragic consequences for Oromo farmers.

It is important to understand the types of construction that is taking place around or near Addis. First, private property developments by crony estate agents mushroomed overnight. A lion’s share of land expropriated from Oromo farmers were allocated to these regime affiliates through dishonest bids. Luxury houses are built on such sites and sold at prices no average Ethiopian could afford, except maybe those in the diaspora. The latter group is being targeted lately due to shortages of hard currencies.

Second, EPRDF politicians and high ranking military officers own multi-storey office buildings, particularly aimed at renting to NGOs and residential villas for foreign diplomats who can afford to pay a few thousand dollars per month. It is a known fact that the monthly salary cap for Ethiopian civil servants is around 6000 birr (about $300). As such, that these individuals could invest in such expensive properties underscores the extent of the daylight robbery that is taking place in Ethiopia.

Third, the government was engaged in massive public housing construction but under extremely chaotic circumstances. The condominium rush in Addis is akin to the Dergue regime’s villagization schemes in rural Ethiopia. Families are uprooted from their homes without any due consideration for their social and economic well-being.

Most households that once occupied the demolished homes in Addis Ababa’s shantytowns made a living through informal home businesses such as brewing local drinks and preparing and selling food at prices affordable to the poor. It was clear that the condominiums were not suitable for them to continue doing such businesses. The construction of the public houses was financed by soft loans from various donor agencies to be sold to target households at affordable prices. However, the government often priced them at the going market rates for condos.

As a result, the poor households simply rented out the properties to those who could afford, while struggling to find affordable houses for themselves. Solving the public housing crisis was never the government’s intention in the first place, as they were only interested in creating business opportunities for their crony construction companies.

Fourth, roads and railway networks are by far the most important large-scale public sector construction projects taking place in Addis. There is no doubt that Addis Ababa’s crowded roads, equally shared by humans, animals and cars, need revamping. But, what is happening in the name of building roads and railways simply defies belief. First, the sheer scale and magnitude as well as the obsession with construction makes the whole undertaking look suspicious. Every time I travelled to Addis, I witness the same roads being constructed and then dug up to be reconstructed over and over again.

The ulterior motive behind these projects is nothing more than expanding TPLF’s business empire and benefit crony allies. Having exhausted opportunities within the existing perimeter of Addis, the so-called master plan had to be crafted to enlarge the size of “the construction site” by a factor of 20 to ensure that the cronies will stay in business in the foreseeable future.  In effect, the large-scale construction projects are being used to siphon off public funds. And there seems to be no priority or accountability in the whole process from the project inception, planning to implementation.

Lies and damn lies

The construction boom in Addis serves as a two edged sward. On the one hand, the funds generated from selling Oromo lands to private property developers adds to the ever-expanding business empire of Tigrean political and military elites. On the other hand, the appearances of several high-rise buildings and complex road networks give the impression that Ethiopia is witnessing an economic boom. The target audience for the latter scenario is foreign journalists and the diplomatic community in Addis Ababa, some of whom are so gullible that they fall in love with ERDF’s economic “miracle” from the first aerial view even before landing at the Bole airport.

The fact remains however: no such economic miracle is actually happening in Ethiopia. A pile of concrete slabs cannot transform the economy in any meaningful way. After all, buildings and roads are only intermediaries for doing other businesses. For instance, it is not enough to build highways and rural roads – a proportionate effort is required to enhance production of goods and services to move them on the newly built roads in such a way that the roads will get utilized and investments made on them get recovered. Otherwise, the roads and buildings can deteriorate without giving any service, and hence more public money would soon be required to maintain them. This is exactly what is happening in Ethiopia.

Meanwhile, the EPRDF has been engaged in a frantic effort to generate lies and damn lies to fill the gap between the rhetoric and the reality of Ethiopia’s economy. The government-controlled media has been used for extensive propaganda campaign to create a “positive image” in the eyes of ordinary citizens. They literally compel viewers or listeners to see or feel things that do not exist on the ground. The Ethiopian television zooms onto any spot of land with a colony of green grass or lush crop fields to “prove” the kinds of wonders the government is engineering.

Barring rain failures, much of Ethiopia’s lush-green countryside has a decent climate for agriculture. But the EPRDF regime tries to convince the public that anything positive that occurs in the Ethiopia is because of its economic policies. But, as evidenced in ongoing multifaceted grievances around the country, the government is fooling no one else but itself (and perhaps a few gullible individuals in the diplomatic community).

Its lies also come in the form of dubious economic statistics, which are generated in such a way that EPRDF could report double-digit economic growth year after year. The story of the double digit economic growth rate in Ethiopia has been such that a lie told hundreds of times, no matter how shambolic the numbers are, is becoming part of the western vernacular. Donors often point to the abundance of high-rise buildings and impressive road networks in Addis Ababa in regime’s defense.

In a brief conversation, it is not possible to take such casual observers through details of the kind I have attempted to narrate in the preceding paragraphs. And, unfortunately for millions of Ethiopia’s poor, in the short run the government’s lies and crony capitalism may continue to ravage the country’s economy until it begins to combust from within.

*The writer, J. Bonsa, is a researcher-based in Asia. Photo courtesy of Addis Food Not Bombs – Ethiopia.

http://www.opride.com/oromsis/news/3762-the-myth-of-ethiopia-s-crony-capitalism-and-economic-miracle

 

 

Ethiopia: UK Aid Should Respect Rights

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A UK High Court ruling allowing judicial review of the UK aid agency’s compliance with its own human rights policies in Ethiopia is an important step toward greater accountability in development assistance.

 

Ethiopia: UK Aid Should Respect Rights

By Human Rights Watch,  14th July 2014

(London) – A UK High Court ruling allowing judicial review of the UK aid agency’s compliance with its own human rights policies in Ethiopia is an important step toward greater accountability in development assistance.

In its decision of July 14, 2014, the High Court ruled that allegations that the UK Department for International Development (DFID) did not adequately assess evidence of human rights violations in Ethiopia deserve a full judicial review.

“The UK high court ruling is just a first step, but it should be a wake-up call for the government and other donors that they need rigorous monitoring to make sure their development programs are upholding their commitments to human rights,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director. “UK development aid to Ethiopia can help reduce poverty, but serious rights abuses should never be ignored.”

The case involves Mr. O (not his real name), a farmer from Gambella in western Ethiopia, who alleges that DFID violated its own human rights policy by failing to properly investigate and respond to human rights violations linked to an Ethiopian government resettlement program known as “villagization.” Mr. O is now a refugee in a neighboring country.

Human Rights Watch has documented serious human rights violations in connection with the first year of the villagization program in Gambella in 2011 and in other regions of Ethiopia in recent years.

A January 2012 Human Rights Watch report based on more than 100 interviews with Gambella residents, including site visits to 16 villages, concluded that villagization had been marked by forced displacement, arbitrary detentions, mistreatment, and inadequate consultation, and that villagers had not been compensated for their losses in the relocation process.

People resettled in new villages often found the land infertile and frequently had to clear the land and build their own huts under military supervision. Services they had been promised, such as schools, clinics, and water pumps, were not in place when they arrived. In many cases villagers had to abandon their crops, and pledges of food aid in the new villages never materialized.

The UK, along with the World Bank and other donors, fund a nationwide development program in Ethiopia called the Promotion of Basic Services program (PBS). The program started after the UK and other donors cut direct budget support to Ethiopia after the country’s controversial 2005 elections.

The PBS program is intended to improve access to education, health care, and other services by providing block grants to regional governments. Donors do not directly fund the villagization program, but through PBS, donors pay a portion of the salaries of government officials who are carrying out the villagization policy.

The UK development agency’s monitoring systems and its response to these serious allegations of abuse have been inadequate and complacent, Human Rights Watch said. While the agency and other donors to the Promotion of Basic Services program have visited Gambella and conducted assessments, villagers told Human Rights Watch that government officials sometimes visited communities in Gambella in advance of donor visits to warn them not to voice complaints over villagization, or threatened them after the visits. The result has been that local people were reluctant to speak out for fear of reprisals.

The UK development agency has apparently made little or no effort to interview villagers from Gambella who have fled the abuses and are now refugees in neighboring countries, where they can speak about their experiences in a more secure environment. The Ethiopian government’s increasing repression of independent media and human rights reporting, and denials of any serious human rights violations, have had a profoundly chilling effect on freedom of speech among rural villagers.

“The UK is providing more than £300 million a year in aid to Ethiopia while the country’s human rights record is steadily deteriorating,” Lefkow said. “If DFID is serious about supporting rights-respecting development, it needs to overhaul its monitoring processes and use its influence and the UK’s to press for an end to serious rights abuses in the villagization program – and elsewhere.” Read @http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/07/14/ethiopia-uk-aid-should-respect-rights

 

Ateetee:The divinity for motherhood and fecundity in Oromo mythology


O

Yaa Maaraam furootu gahee

Waliin nu Gahee

Emmoo yaa obbolee emmoo

 

 

 

Ateetee:The divinity for motherhood and fecundity in Oromo mythology

 

 

Maaram is believed to be the divinity of women. Maaram was created by Waaqa and 
addressed as haadha boor (the mother of ocean). I think this is to indicate that Maaram 
came to the Oromo from outside. The Oromo believe that Mooram is the mother of a 
child. The Oromo women perform traditional ceremonies in respect of Maaram. It is 
believed that Maaram will help barren women to beget a child, and help pregnant 
women to give birth to a child. When a woman gives birth to a child Oromo women will 
gather and ululate (say ilili ilili). They also prepare porridge, and splash butter. It is 
normal for the Oromo to sacrifice an animal during this ceremony. Moreover, Maaram 
is worshipped for the health of the environment, animals, human beings and crops. 
The Oromo Qoolluu leaders pray to Maaram every two weeks for the continuation of 
offspring of humans. Maaram has her own ritual house. Ritual goods include Jaaloo
(earthen caldron), and Qoloo (traditional shirt). It has also madabii (raised platform of 
Earth). The dancing ceremony is performed on Tuesdays, Thursdays,. and Saturdays.

Some writers have explained the nature of Ateetee and Maaram. Knutsson states that the  names Ateetee and Maaram are used interchangeably for the same kind of being (Kmitsson 1967,55). Daniel states that  the various songs of Ateetee imply that “[a]teete is a ceremony prepared for Ayyolee, Maaram and Waaqa as thanksgiving by those who have children and a lamentation by the barren women” (Daniel 1984, 111). Bartels, however, questioned this assertion. To the Oromo of Western Matcha, Ateetee is the name of the ritual in which Maaram is invoked (Bartels 1983). Baxter (1979) had similar observation concerning the belief of the Arsi Oromo. For Cerulli, Ateetee is conceived as the goddess of fecundity (Cerulli 1922,127; Harris 1968,50).

– http://www.ossrea.net/publications/images/stories/ossrea/ssrr-19-p-3.pdf

In the traditional Oromo society, women played distinct roles through an institution called the Siiqqee (a symbolic decorated stick given to all women by their mothers upon marriage). This is an exclusively women’s solidarity institution sanctioned by tradition and respected by society. It is a sort of sorority that provides women with channels to participate in village councils, and a cultural vehicle to mobilize en masse against violence and abuse. Infringement of certain rights that women enjoy is regarded as an attack on human rights. In the event of violation of their rights, women take out the Siiqqee and mobilize to fight for the respect of rights, and for any perpetrator of abuse to be tried by society. The use of Siiqqee draws an enormous religious, ritual and moral authority and in the pursuit of peace and social tranquility. According to tradition peace is not merely the absence of war, but a constant state of unity and cooperation among the people as well as harmony with God and nature, with the power to bless or curse. Historically, women as a sector of society were designated as strangers and excluded from the Gadaa structures and rituals, but, they stuck together through the Siiqqee counting on one another within this common sorority. –http://oromowomensinternationalconferenceonline.com/general-information.html

http://portal.svt.ntnu.no/sites/ices16/Proceedings/Volume%203/Marit%20Tolo%20%C3%98steb%C3%B8%20-%20Wayyuu%20%E2%80%93%20Women%E2%80%99s%20Respect%20and%20Rights.pdf

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=gCxLwdmLNMIC&pg=PA177&lpg=PA177&dq=siiqqee+Oromo+institution&source=bl&ots=TFj2Y7vo_G&sig=IrqVfrNe8PKIgo2ZCTkL0DtVtJE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=TxSwU8DwBYiK1AWaoYH4BQ&ved=0CCYQ6AEwATgK#v=onepage&q=siiqqee%20Oromo%20institution&f=false

http://www.academia.edu/4604793/Qaallu_Institution_A_theme_in_the_ancient_rock-paintings_of_Hararqee-implications_for_social_semiosis_and_history_of_Ethiopia

http://www.slideshare.net/chalihundu/oromo-peoplehood-historical-and-cultural-overview

http://trace.tennessee.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1080&context=utk_socopubs

http://zelalemkibret.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/jos-volume-4-numbers-12-1997.pdf

Weedduu Maaram / Weedduu Ateetee

(Translation: Zelelaem Aberra Tesfa)

http://www.zelealemaberra.com/?page_id=388

 

In Oromo mythology, the divinity for motherhood and fecundity is Ateetee or Maaram. Maaram or Ateetee is invoked and praised on birth-rituals. In addition, women prepare a feast and invoke Her, praise Her kindness so that they could be fertile, healthy, prosperous, and happy (Bartles, 1990,124; Cerulli 1917, 127, Tilahun Gamta, 2004,101)

Atoomaa hardhoo Maarami!
Maa mukoofna yee!

Yaa Maaram yaa Maaramii,
Wallaalaaf araarami.
Yaa Maaram, yaa kuullee koo,
Kottu taa’i fuullee koo.

Ciniinsuu afaa butuu
Miixuu dagalee butuu
Da’anii mucaa butuu
Iddoo ciniinsuu kee tii
Guddeen kun kan kee ti.

Yaa deessuu waalluu kobe,
Maaramtu boroo gonfe,
Dhirsatu balbalaa kolfe.
Yaa dhabduu waalluu moojoo
Dhirsatu aaree guungume,
Maaramtu boroo sokkee.

Utuun Balasiin ta’e,
Balas Boongaa ta’e,
Dhabaadhaaf mirgan kenna;
ittiin haa doorsifatu.
Utuun Maaramiin ta’e,
Maaram giiftii ta’e,
Dhabduudhaaf ilman kenna,
Dhirsa haadoorsifattu.

Yaa Maaram, yaa Maaramee
Dhabduudhaaf araarami mee.
Yaa Maaram godeettii koo
Yaa dhiiga toleettii koo
Yaa Maaram marmaartuu koo
Yaa hiika gargaartuu koo.
Aayyoleen walii lama
Tokkoo ishee carii gamaa
Tokko ishee asii kana.

Akka abbaa fardaa beeka
Irraangadee kaachisa
Akka abbaa warraa beeka
Niiti deessuu caalchisa
Gaangoo jedhee na cabsee
Gindoo saa nabaachisa
Yaa maaram hundaaf giiftii
Rakkoo kiyya naaf hiiki
Yookaan ilmaa naa kennii,
Beekaattan moggaafadha
Yookaan durba naa kennii
Beektuuttin moggaafadha
Yookaan dua naa kennii
Waayeekoon obbaafadhaa.

Get-together, for today is Maaram
Let us rejoice, throw away the boredom!

O Maaram, O dear Maaram,
Reconcile, with us who lack wisdom.
Maaram with beautiful eyes, O Maaram,
Have a sit, in front of me, please come!

When in pain, the mattress one clutches
When in labour, the wall one clutches
After delivery, a baby one snatches!
In return for your labour pain
Here, the little one is your gain.

O prolific woman, your clothes smell bad,
But Maaram has adorned your backyard,
The husband laughs from the front yard.
O sterile woman, with beautiful dress
Your husband furiously grumbles,
For your backyard, Maaram avoids.

If I were Balas,
That Balas of Boongaa,
To a bad-shooter his trophies I give;
So he could boast about it with relief.
If I were Maaram,
Our great lady Maaram,
A son I would give to the sterile woman,
So she could intimidate her man.

O Maaram, my dear Maaram
Be merciful to the childless.
O Maaram, with beauty and grace
You have revered blood in your face
O Maaram, you are my commuter [between me and God]
My parturifacient mother.
Two kinds of mothers are there
One is far across the river [The biological one]
The other one is the one here. [Maaram]

I know a rider’s thought and will
He gallops down the hill
I know a husband’s thought
He loves the prolific wife the most;
He equates me to a mule, dry and bare
and makes me carry his ploughshare.
O Maaram every women’s’ queen
Resolve this problem for me
Either grant me a baby boy
I call him “he the wise”
Either grant me a baby girl
I call her “she the wise”
Or either give me death
So I could get done with my worries.

 

The following stanza is taken from a birth song:

Odoshaa gofaa ka’u
Sareen agartee laata?
Agartee nyaattee laata?
Dhabduu ishee mucaaf boossu,
Yeelalaa fayyaaf boowu,
Adeemsa mirgaa boowuu
Maareen agartee laata?
Agartee laattee laata?

Ililleen Waaqa akka
Ililcheen Waaqiin kadha;
Gabaa shaqaxxuu faaqi
Anoo sagadduu Waaqi!

Loome qoraan karaa
Yomiree wal agarraa?
Bor guyyaa afaan waaree
Loonee wal agarra.

Garbuu kaballaa tokko
Manteessuun akaawwatte
Kan maseente ittiin horte
Kan deesse lakkaawwatte.

Deessuun akka naan jette
Mucaa koo hinargin jette
Diinqa koo hindarbin jette.
Maali yoon diinqa shee darbee?
Maali yoon mucaa shees argee?
Mucaa sheef argaan laadha
Garaa koof marqaan nyaadha
Jabbisheetu gola miti
Mucasaheen dhora miti.

Yaa dhabduu anaa nyaatu
Ulfooftee gumaa hin nyaannee
Deesse gumaata hindhugne.
Dhagaa kakatta guutuu
Rarra’etu wal baachise
Dhabduun dawuu hinjibbine
Maaramtu wal caalchise

Yaa deessuu waalluu qobe
Ayyaanni boroo gonfe.
Yaa dhabduu waalluu moojoo
Ayyaanni boroo sokke.

Yaa dhabduu masoo dhirsa
Dhirsatu dhaanu hawwee.
Yaa saree eegee dabbasaa
Kan quufee Waaqiin darbata
Kan Maaram namaa gootu
Haati ofii namaa hingootu.
Sibiila mutaa gootee
Kan djiiga mucaa gootee.

Baddaan qullubbii hinqabu
Muree laga dhaabbata
Kan kee dhukkubbii hinqabu
Turtee nama yaadattaa.
Araarfanne yaa maaram
Sirraa deenyee.
Gadi jedheen xaafii haamaa
Ol jedheen Waaqiin waama

An old horse’s rise from the stable,
I wonder if dogs have seen it and been able?
To have eaten it, and then did settle?
Cry of a baby-longing childles
Lament of a health-longing patient
A trophy-longing hunter’s plight
I wonder if Maaree have seen?
If She has seen and granted!

Ululation for Waaqa is a must
I ululate and beseech Waaqa;
Market of the taxing tanner
I am Waaqa’s earnest prayer!

The Loomee firewood of the street
When do you think we could meet?
Tomorrow, around mid-day
We will meet slipping away.

A handful of barley
That a widow parched and eat
the sterile prospered with it
the prolific counted it. [To equally divide.]

You know what the prolific said?
“Do not see my baby.” she said
“Do not enter my inner-room” she said.
What if I enter her inner-room?
What if I see her baby?
To her baby, I give a gift
To my stomach, porridge I eat.
No calf is kept in her inner-room,
She thinks I pine her child, I presume.

What a pity for the sterile lady
She could not get pregnant and eat a hunk of meat
She could not deliver and have showers of gift.
Abundance of rock and escarpment
Is hanging and piling up
The sterile did not hate giving birth
It is Maaram that un equalizes.

The prolific with smelly skirt
Her backyard is full of spirit.
But, the childless in a pretty skirt
Her backyard is devoid of spirit.

The sterile, the husband’s name-sake
The husband wishes to punish her.
O dog with a hairy tail
The over-fed hurls at Waaqa
The favour Maaram does for one
One’s own mother would not do.
She turned iron to needles
She turned blood to a baby that toddles.

The high land does not have onion
They cut and plant in the valley;
Your delay is not offensive
for you compensate gradually.
Reconciliation with you, O Maaram
You gave us deliverance.
I bow down and harvest xaafi [food plant]
I rise up and invoke Waaqi

Iyya Siiqqee

Hoga iyya Siiqqee

Ilmaan hidda Horoo,

Guchuma baattee siida Ateetee
Siiqqeen iyyite seenaaf godaante

Safuuf nagaa waaqa tokkichaan dursa
Na ofkolchaa iyya Siiqqeefan tumsaa
Godaana siiqqeefan imimman robsa!

Safuu! Hoga iyya Siiqqeef
kan mandiisu akka bakakkaa
Safuu! Godaana faana Siiqqeef
Seenaa hin duune, kan hin qabne fakkii fi akka!

Uggum! Hoga iyya Siiqqeef
Iyya eenyummaa – diroon fufe gumaaf birmatu
Uggum! Godaana faana Siiqqeef
Adeemsa seenaa – qaraan-qara hin dhaabbatu

Hoo dhommoqxes Siiqqeen hin cabdu
Harooressa hin haanxoftu – gogdee hin baddu

Ni latti akka coqorsaa – jilbeeffattee dhukaan riqxee
Ni lalisti akka saardoo – margee leensa diroon cobxee
Ni daraarti akka keelloo – kuusaa aadaan booka naqxee

Sarara ulumaa Siiqqeen hareeroo
Hormata eenyummaa seenaa iyya Horoo
Duudhaa ganamaa irkoo fi utubaa boroo
Jandoo baaxii galma suuqa sororoo
Siiqqeen hin baddu dagaleen Gadaa
Kanaaf iyyatti – qabattee guchuuma aadaa!

Kan Waaqni mildhate Ayyaantuun eebbaa
Eenyummaaf birmadhu jamaan kaabaa fi kibbaa
Hoga dabarsaa, bahaa fi lixaa seenaa utubaa
Seenaa iyya Siiqqeef goonni dhiiga roobaa!

Kuusaa Oromummaa fi Hooda Ayyaantuu
Bir’uu eenyummaaf Siiqqeef birmatu!
Gadaan quufaa fi gabbina
Gabbisi ya Waaq, keenniif humna!

Humna Siiqqee kan hin cabne
Humna Gadaa kan hin dabne
Humna Oromummaa kan hin banne
Dilbii- Kuusaa kan hin dhumne
Seenaa boonsaa eenyummaa abdanne!

Gadaan gabbina Siiqqeen hareeroo
Gabbisi yaa waaq nurraa cabsi roorroo!

http://waaqeffannaa.org/iyya-siiqqee/

 

Oromo and Greek based Democracies

By Ibsaa Guutama

This article is for those who did not have the opportunity to know how democracy evolved in human society. Democracy is only one type of government supposedly based on the will of the masses. There had been other types of government like monarchy or aristocracy, dictatorship or autocracy and totalitarian. One can find overlapping characters in all these. So what ever form we may talk about we have to expect element of one in the other. For much, democracy is an ideal type of government but not all proclaimed democracies are fully pro-people. Here the writer is trying to introduce the essence of both Western and Oromo democracy in an easy way.  For those who are well versed in theory and practice of democracy this is an opportunity to enrich this work for the benefit of the youth. In particular the young generation that is showing pride in its historic past from oral tradition if armed with the facts may show more interest and start to inquire about it. To prepare the following information in addition to oral tradition and experience this writer was exposed to, the books: Gadaa and Oromo Demokrasii by Asmirom Laggasaa, The Oromo by De Salviac as translated by  Qannoon, Folk Litrature by Ceruuli, Aadaa Booranaa by Ton Leus, Ethiopia through Russian Eyes by Bulatovich and Wikiipedia from internet  were refered to.

Short note on Western Democracy 
Democracy is a term frequently heard from lips of everyone to express equality, justice and liberty in one word. There are no governments that do not claim to follow democratic principles in their governance. Even totalitarian states call themselves “democratic republics” (probably with exception of fascism) in spite of flagrant violation of their subjects’ rights. Just like true democrats they talk about the inviolability of people’s and human rights and respect for the rule of law and fair and free election.  They claim that it is to protect these rights on behalf of the masses when they take what are inhuman actions for others. Their founding documents are full of borrowed phrases from ideal democracies. Democratic governmental structures are adopted minus their functions from different countries.

Democratic models many emulate are American governmental structure with its system of separation of powers. The functions of legislature, executive and judiciary are separated into three branches in such a way that one can check on excesses of the other to maintain the balance of power. The executive or President and the legislative or members of Congress are elected directly by the people. Members of the Supreme Court are nominated by the president and endorsed by the legislature for life. The other models are Parliamentary Democracy where the executive is elected by the legislature. Those can be its members or non elected persons that are answerable to it. Britain and European governments fall under this. They have mainly different styles of organization. Still others are traditional rulers blended with modern jargons.

All these claim their objective to be safeguarding peoples’ democratic interests. The term democracy is a legacy of ancient Greek city state, Athens. It is derived from Greek demokratia which means government of the people (“demos”, people, and “kratos”, power).  In this aspect “people” for Athens includes only male citizens above 20 years of age. That does not include women, children under 20, those not born in the city state and slaves.

In the city state all those qualified had the right to be present at meetings and participate in deliberations directly. That is why it is now referred to as direct democracy. After many modifications it has reached the present level of modern Western democracy. Here people elect representatives that participate in deliberations on its behalf. The two methods of electing representatives are plurality and proportional voting systems. In the first one with the highest vote is elected even if one represents minority of voters. The second shares votes in proportion of the votes parties got in overall election. Those are the features of modern indirect democracy. In both not all electorates are represented.

Now in most cases men and women above certain age have the right to vote depending on the law of each democratic country. The right to vote for women was achieved, for example, for Switzerland in 1971 on federal level and 1990 at Canton levels. It took a long time and a relentless struggle to attain universal suffrage. Though all accept these basics of democracy the structure and function of elected offices are not yet standardized and methods of elections fall short of including every voter’s voices. For example if hundred people vote for three persons and two of them got thirty votes each and the third one gets forty he/she wins the whole thing. That leaves 60 persons unrepresented. Proportional representation may improve this but cannot totally correct it. Here seats are divided in proportion to votes parties got overall.

For African countries democracy was imposed on them by departing colonial masters that keep on insisting to this day not to abandon it even if it was a fake one. Africans did not participate to construct a government relevant to their culture and tradition. Even those who later wanted to introduce amendments tried to mix the various world systems instead of looking into their own history and tradition and make it reflect national personality or psyche.  As copy and eclectic as it is, it is understood only by elites who themselves are copies of colonial culture.

They rule the way they wanted, constitutions are only window dressings. On the other hand the West had modified the concept of democracy in such a way that it fits their particular national needs not as it was practiced by Athenians or any other pioneer democracies. Therefore there is no one common blueprint for it.

Had it not excluded a segment of the population Athenian democracy could have been an ideal one where the concern of every member is taken care of. Much has been tried to approximate that but the world did not yet achieve flawless democracy. Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address “Government of the people, by the people for the people shall not perish from the earth.” reflects that aspiration. The question to be answered is who are the people that influence decisions, are they really the people or oligarchs?  Though the ideal is not yet achieved there are those that had come nearer and worth emulating. Had Oromo democracy been able to answer that question?

Be as it may there are certain basics that underlie every governance of those that claim to be democratic. Principles like equality, freedom, fair and free election; rule of law and respect for people’s and individual rights run through all of them. Even dictators and totalitarian government claim to apply these principles in their own way.   Thus these are universally accepted principles of governance though malpractice is rampant in so many countries. Ethiopian rulers had tried to adopt constitutionalism under pressure against their established tradition.  The emperor had instituted a semblance of Westminster parliament without political parties. His successor (Darg) had one party state. The next (Wayyaanee) is a pseudo multiparty system but only its party is destined to win.

Be him the last emperor or the two dictators after him used democratic phraseology to cover up their core authoritarian values. Their inherited autocratic practices could not go away. The Habashaa in most part of their own history were ruled by forces that come through coup d’états violently or outlaws overthrowing the preceding government. That was so before they formed the empire and remained so even after it.  All the three came to power overthrowing their predecessors. The first two staged coup d’états the third was an outlaw.

It was not consensus but brut force that kept that highland kingdom together under one crown. Democracy assumes one man one vote in a fair and free election that should be carried out periodically. Democracy is the rule of majority. Who ever gets most of the votes comes to power. In numbers they are the minority in the empire and are scared of others outnumbering them at the ballot box. They have no confidence of winning an election by strength of their platform and performance. Therefore they believe that many opportunities would be at stake if they really change from the old ways bowing down for democratic principles. The situation makes the rulers greedy, self centered, chauvinistic and paranoid that they believe only in their own ways and wisdom and are not permeable to new possibilities.  They do not believe that even their own people would elect them in a democratic election.  That is why human right abuse became their trade mark.

Brief note on Gadaa Democracy 
When one discusses Gadaa it would be preposterous to claim understanding its depth and breadth. It was a highly complicated and sophisticated societal system to be attributed only to few generations. That it has a background of ancient civilizations can be deduced from organization of society, its legal system and patterns of knowledge it emanates. For this reason what this article presents is only a simplistic superficial aspect of it, which yet could give a clue to its democratic legacy. Leaving aside procedures, rituals and the regalia what interests us here is the legal and democratic principles enshrined in it. To discover the truth of it much effort is needed from nationals that so far considered it to be just one among the age grade initiation systems found in so many societies. They have to erase all they learned about the Oromo in colonial schools and start unraveling the truth about this so far neglected great African nation.

Gadaa was an all encompassing national system where by every male of all ages had roles to play in groups based on peerage.  Accordinglly all institutions in society were managed by elected bodies that decide in counsel. Though all activities in general fall under the Gadaa system, it was more visible in its political aspect.  Major divisions to be considered are the temporal and the spiritual institutions and within the temporal one the social and the political functions.  Gadaa is temporal while Qaalluu is spiritual. It is said that the Qaalluu office used to assist in Gadaa operations like elections. But sovereignty is vested in Gadaa Assembly. Therefore Qaalluu as an institution does not interfere in running political affairs of the country.  That means Gadaa was secular. Here we are more interested in Gadaa secular democracy. The social and political aspect of the spiritual institution may worth following for its historical and academic significance.  There are several Oromoo that follow traditional religion to this day.

Gadaa was practiced by the Oromo people from time immemorial. In social aspect male members of society are grouped into age grade “hiriyaa” (peer) system. To simplify, these were Dabbalee from 1-8 years, Foollee or Gaammee 9-24 and Qondaala or Kuusaa 25-33, Raaba didiqqaa 30-38, Raaba Doorii, 38-46 Luba 46-54 and Yuba 55-78 and gadamoojjii or jaarsa above 78 (taken from different regions practice for convenience). Each member of a society had rites to pass through. At each grade there were roles to be played and training to go through.

Activity of a hiriyaa group starts from cradle to calf herding, to different hurdles of fitness that include military training to ruling and counseling the country. It is from these hiriyaa groups that members of national leadership evolve and gradually become Luba, members of the Gadaa ruling group. These leaders in most cases had been leaders of hiriyaa group from the beginning. Women, non naturalized aliens (kan luba hin bahin) and artisans were not included in Gadaa power sharing process.

One Gadaa period is eight years. At the end of that period there used to be great feast. That ceremonial feast was called “Buttaa”. Buttaa also served as measurement of time. To know someone’s age one asks “how many Buttaa did you eat?”  All those who were born during the eight years tell the same age, one, two, three etc.  Buttaa. From that a wise man could tell to which hiriyaa group or Gadaa party one belonged. Five buttaa are slain in one Gadaa cycle of forty years. Those born into each Gadaa are hiriyaa (peers) irrespective of up to eight years possible differences. A boy born at the beginning of the eight years and one born on Buttaa day after eight years are considered to have eaten one Buttaa.

On the political side society is divided into Gadaa of five parties. Members in each Gadaa party were recruited from their own generational age grades. Each Gadaa has a role to play in the political life of the nation depending on the time and level in the Gadaa tier. The oldest group is the Yuba. It is composed of person whose members were in power in previous times. Next is Luba, the ruling party. Below that is the Itmakoo or Raba Doorii (these may have other names with different tribes) juniors that lead in defense and nation building. The next group follows the foot steps of their seniors and engages in different aspects of society appropriate for their ages. Each hiriyaa group maintains close relationship and prepare themselves for the next stage of partisan responsibility. They all elect their leaders. Those at the bottom of the ladder are the dabbalee to whose raising society gives much attention. It is there that the basis of Oromummaa is laid down and hunting for generational leaders start.

At any one period there are three Gadaa levels that engage is serious party work and has conventions or yaa’a. The bottom one is Raabaa Doorii a group that is preparing to take power after eight years (from), the middle one is the Gadaa in power Luba and the last one is the one that leaves office, Yuba. Each Gadaa comes to power after a cycle of forty years. Since there is a party in waiting to replace the other no party can stay in power for more than eight years. No crisis can be obstacle to transfer Baallii for there is a ready made leadership. To transfer Baallii means to transfer authority. As symbol of authority the old Abbaa Gada hands over to the incoming ostrich feather that was in his custody. Each Gadaa proclaims its own constitution and laws. Therefore there is no stagnation in waiting for cumbersome methods of amendments. Even if there is no article to be changed the past law is formally made null and void and proclaimed again as new. The five Gadaa had set names or are called after their leaders.

The highest Assembly of the nation is Caffee or Gumii. The Caffee sits under shade of an Odaa tree. The General Assembly includes all members of the ruling party and any such persons that want to attend it. In this way it is a representative indirect democracy with some elements of direct democracy. Living Abbaa Gadaas and the Yuba can also participate in the assembly. Abbaa Gadaa or Abbaa Bokkuu is the head of the Caffee and the chief executive as well. There is a case where their were two heads of Caffee, one ritual head called Abbaa Bokkuu and another elected head, Abbaa Gadaa. The Luba usually consults “raagaa” wise man or philosopher on the future or consequences of certain decisions. But the raagaa has no power to avert a decision.

In addition to mentioned institutions there are several others that should not escape our attention. For example the institution of clan elders which are hereditary have no place in the Gadaa structure but has important role in organizing and guiding the tribe. Members of Gadaa were recruited (nominated) from tribes they lead. They have ritual symbols and roles to play in cursing and blessing. When Gadaa is the national leadership these ones are tribal ones. It was from among these ones that the colonizers embraced and recruited as agents for all their grassroots activities. In tribal protocol the eldest of the clans is called or seated first. Since tribal structures have already been rendered obsolete it has no nationwide political relevance in modern setting. There is also the Siiqqee institution that gives women social and political authority to some degree. In principle this can be integrated into any modern adaptations.

For the Oromo rights like equality, freedom, fair and free election; rule of law and respect for people’s and individual rights, respect and protection for environment and wild life are inbuilt qualities of Gadaa democracy. All human beings are equal; no one is above the law; discrimination because of origin, color or economic status etc is unjust. Respect for human rights, freedom of expression that are not safuu or morally repulsive, freedom of movement and association are protected by law. Elected officials are loved and respected as long as they serve the people whole heartedly and with the highest morale standard.  An incompetent and corrupt official can be removed from office by the assembly before the expiry of his term of office. In meetings it was preferred if decisions were reached by consensus. Each member of a meeting or assembly has the right of veto to halt a discussion. Once decisions were reached all are required to acclaim and the law becomes sacred.
Gadaa Assembly combines executive, legislative and judiciary powers. Gadaa here is to mean the ruling class as well as the eight years of their rule. Leaders of current Gadaa are called Luba. The outgoing Gadaa which participates as advisors and judges are called Yuba. The Yuba group includes two previous Yuba. Though all powers and responsibility lie with the Luba, Yuba and all living Abbaa Gadaas had also roles to play in matters of law and checking on excesses of Luba and had great influence on all political matters. Full retirement comes three Gadaa after they leave office. From thence they are called gadamoojjii or jarsaa. Another hiriyaa group that is active during a Gadaa period is the Itmakoo or Raaba Doorii with defense as their major activity with their eye on the bokkuu when the time comes.

In Oromo society there was a tendency of the weak to form alliance against the strong. For example grandparents and grandchildren ally against parents. In the same way it is logical for Raabaa Doorii to ally against the strongest institution of the land, Luba. In that way power of Luba can be checked before it gets corrupted and become abusive.

The chief Luba is the Abbaa Bokkuu or Abbaa Gadaa (Hayyuu Fiixee). In places he has two deputies one having greater power than the other. The executive power is held by Salgee, the top nine Luba or six in some places. Those were elites elected by the people for eight years with Abbaa Gadaa as their leader. Committees were usually formed at different levels for different functions. Prerogatives of decision making at each level is known. There will always be consultation before decisions are taken. They were it is believed, those frequent meetings to make seera (law, legislation) that gave rise to Amaara legal term “seeraa” to mean conspiracy.

Abbaa Bokkuu implements what is decided by Salgee. Abbaa Bokkuu’s role as a chief is defined by law. Thus he has internal constraint imposed on him by peers and external ones by Yuba and Raaba Doorii and Caffee periodic assembly that is chaired by Abbaa Seera who is a well respected past Abbaa Gadaa.  The limitation of office term of only eight years for a party is by it self a reason not to get corrupted lest face humiliation with no chance of reelection. Thus Gadaa democratic system was a well balanced system with inbuilt checks and balance mechanism. The Abbaa Gadaa and Luba had assistances called makala (Makkala). Makala kan be compulsory service to Gadaa offices.

Military functions are assigned to Raaba Doorii by law and tradition. But Abbaa Gadaa was commander in chief and only Caffee can declare war. Commanders are appointed by Abbaa Gadaa for each engagement. After a campaign is over the person went back to his normal duties.

But lack of efficient communication and contingent law enforcement mechanism had given rise for Abbaa Duulaas to defy tradition starting in the course of the 16th century.

Some cardinal points of Gadaa system

  1. Gadaa is equal: There should be no one to be denied passing through Gadaa process, elect and be elected when ones turn comes. There should not be partiality or discrimination in services and protections Gadaa provides. Every member has the right to directly or through elected representative be heard in all affairs that affect people’s life; to be equally treated in matters of administration of justice. No one is above the law. No one may be prohibited to attend Gadaa deliberations.
  2. Odaa is equal: Odaa is a national symbol for people’s government, demokratia. It represents freedom of speech and expression, freedom of assembly, equality of all participants that meet there, freedom of worship, peace and araaraa (reconciliation) and liberty to rest for persons and animals under its shade without worry of being disturbed.
  3. Malkaa is equal: Ford or river crossing (confluence) is open to all for crossing; perform rituals; using water for drinking, washing etc for humans and animals. No one for any one reason can bar any one from using it. Malkaa is a symbol of transiting from status quo to something new.
  4. Market is equal: every one has equal rights to take ones produce to the market and exchange with goods and services that it provides. Every one is free to participate in such exchanges and any trade of ones liking that the market provides
  5. Road is equal: every one is entitled to the right of way; no one can be denied an access from his home to outer world or restricted from using of existing roads like all others; there will not be restriction to the right of travel; no one has the right to close an existing road for own use.

Is there any point that modern society discard from these? So far we have tried simplistic approach to uncover old Gadaa practice. Gadaa was more inclusive in its membership than Greek City state democracy. It involves every member of society to equally participate in all activity of the nation according to generations. All male nationals are grouped into generational hiriyaa and play roles society assigned for them. For this reason the Gadaa system involves all in the process of managing a society. Each division stays in the age grade for eight years before it is initiated into the next level. Probably except kids under nine all elect their leaders through electoral process. Gadaa was a representative democracy with some elements of direct democracy. Anyone that can travel to Caffee Assembly can participate in its deliberations and express ones opinion. That gives it semblance of direct democracy. Gadaa was practiced when Qaalluu institution had significant role in Oromo society and the nation was at a different level of economic and technological development than the present. Taking these variations into account let us see if there are principles that we could salvage for new democratic Oromiyaa.

  1. Societal development takes place on two lines. One is the social age grade system and the other is the party system. One follows the gradual mental and physical development of a child, while the other handles its political development. At stage of adult hood both overlap. In the political aspect society is grouped into five hiriyaa category and a party name is attached to them. Each party takes turn in governing every eight years. A party has to wait for forty years to reign again. All five parties exist at the same time with different roles to play.
  2. In Gadaa executive and legislative functions are combined. Bokkuu and Caffee (Gumii) are the highest authority of the land. Sovereignty lies with the people but expressed through Caffee and Bokkuu.
  3. Decisions are reached by consensus how ever long it may take. That means minority opinion is never neglected.
  4. Abbaa Bokkuu is the commander in chief of the fighting force. Caffee is the only power that can declare war. People love and respect the leaders because of their valor and uprightness not out of fear and threat.
  5. Yuba is the highest advisory body and also heads the supreme court of the land. Its head is the most respected among the living retired Abbaa Gadaas and usually taken as the Supreme Judge (Chief Justice).
  6. Itmakoo/Raaba Doorii is a power in waiting to replace the incumbent Luba. It is responsible for recruiting, training military personnel and conducting war.
  7. Qaalluu is the spiritual leader with some functions concerning elections but never interferes in secular affairs of the Gadaa. Gadaa was a temporal institution.
  8. Women were recognized as subjects of rights through Siiqqee institution. There were also rituals that cannot be performed without them. But full equality was not guaranteed.
  9. The top Gadaa counselors were nine ( Salgee) or Six
  10. The Luba are assisted by unelected official called makala (Aide de camp)
  11. Each Gadaa general assembly convenes at the beginning of its term to declare laws. Then it will assemble in its mid term to make progress report. Then members can be criticized, condemned or uprooted for wrong doings if any. That means electors had the right to recall their representatives for corruptions and abuses. Caffee meetings are open for citizens that can attend.
  12. Raagaa is a wise usually old man or philosopher that can advise on the future
  13. Hayyuu were notables (elites) that can give decisions and counseling on several issues. They were knowledgeable members of the society without any flaw in character.

To summarize, the people are sovereign; representative system mixed with direct democracy were practiced; rulers were elected for a limited term of only eight years; citizens had the right to elect and be elected according to their ages; no one was above the law; people can recall their representative; humans, animals and nature are protected by law; the welfare of children was concern of all members of society; their was majority rule but by making decision by consensus minority views were protected; all human being were equal, ill treatment was abhorred; right to assemble and freedom of expression were protected; right to engage in any trade was protected; right to travel were granted; right to worship was recognized and discrimination based on race, age, gender and economic status are forbidden. There was inbuilt check and balance system in the political process but not so spelled out.

Now, that we have seen a brief introduction to western and ancient Oromo Gadaa democracy, let us try if we can come out with a fitting system for reorganizing modern Oromiya. The system of dividing and managing society into generations is not different from modern world school systems. Children learn what is assigned them according to peerage, “preschool, kindergarten, primary, secondary, college”. This is not far from what they call “dabbalee, Foollee, Gaammee, Raaba etc.” Existing political parties recruit members from this school system. But the Oromo as different as they are, had something to add and their own outlook. Oromo see the system in interrelation with all other societal activities. To pass from one stage to the other are rights of all citizens not of particular classes.

Probably it would be essential to revise certain things and see how they may serve modern society better.  Instead of collectively saying Oromo youth association if one says association of Foollee, Gaammee, Raaba etc it will help to mobilize in unison generation that under stand each other better. It may also give better opportunity to develop future leadership for society. In the past stages in the Gadaa were seen from fathers’ point. For this reason the age at which one has to produce a child was determined. If one is born before that it was bad omen. Now all children should be treated equally and age has to be considered from childrens point. So, age should not be calculated by butta and father’s Gadaa grade, but the exact date of a child’s birth. All those excluded to participate in gadaa activities and elections must now be included to make true that all humanbeing are eqal. This is only the skeleton otherwise social functions require deeper research. During the period of Abbaa Gadaa there was only one Qaalluu, now they are numerous (in addition to those of other religions). In the past we go for pilgrimage only to Abbaa Muudaa now we crossed the sea and added Mecca and Jerusalem etc. After all, what do you think?  This is a big challenge for Oromoo intellectuals. It may require liberating ones mind from the shackles of foreign influences to appreciate what we had. Gadaa is never obsolete but may need refurbishing. Go and make research before responding.

Let us get prepared to be ourselves and show the world that Gadaa still dwells in our minds and body.  This will not be difficult for one who has pride in Oromummaa.

Honor and glory for the fallen heroines and heroes; liberty equality and freedom for the living and nagaa and araaraa for the Ayyaanaa of our fore parents!
Ibsaa Guutama
July  2011

http://gubirmans.com/Oromo%20and%20Greek%20based%20Democracies.html

…The presence of the aged, both men and women who attired in traditional costumes, and carrying ritual sticks—bokkuu and siiqqee—the symbols of power and justice of the gadaa system decorated the march which reflected the authentic Oromo tradition. This authenticity is articulated not only in the words spoken by the elders and sung by the artists but also expressed in the peacefulness of the gathering of millions of people. Oromo nationalism is reviving and thriving in the fertile soil of rich symbolic cultural resources that have come to the open since the 1990s. The array of national symbols such as the odaa tree which decorate the costumes worn by men, women and children, the siiqqee, the bokkuu and other pre-colonial pan-Oromo symbols carried by men and women at the festival represent and reinforce the pride of the nation and unite the multitude gathered for the festival through a common imagery of shared memories, myths and values—in other words the shared structures of feeling.

http://maddawalaabuupress.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/oromo-freedom-from-what-and-for-what.html

 

Related Article:

Safuu, the Oromo moral value and doctrine

by Rundaasaa Asheetee Hundee 

is the principle of deep moral honor and accountability that was fostered by Waaqayyo fearing people of Oromia. “Yoon maqe, Waaqni na arga” is the principle rooted in each Oromo proven to be worthy of wholesomeness, to have virtue, and love other. These type of people have a desire to understand and live by traditional values.

Young Oromo children often spoke about the fundamental principle that telling the truth, respecting nature, being trustworthy, and standing for the right thing is natural to human beings. As an Oromo, we were taught these values and it made us women and men of such noble character.

Not only our characters were shaped by Safuu Oromo, even the process of Seera tumu (law making) was inspired by this principle and the Gadaa system was framed on the basis of Safuu. Basically then, Safuu is the principle of restoration of human dignity in a significant way. Because of Safuu, Birmadummaa and honesty is expected from each Oromo so that we all can live virtuous life of divine purposes.

When the Oromo people lived according to the Gadaa system, they dominated the horn of Africa and established their republic, and the Oromoo Foollee turned into statesmen and defended the norm of Gadaa governance. Because they believed in being honest, true, benevolent and virtuous in doing good to humanity, they demanded no money for their work and time. They worked on their farms but served their country as abbaa Seeraa, abbaa Alangaa, abbaa Caffee, abbaa Bokku and as Hadha sinqee etc..

Because of Safuu, the Oromos are inspired to respect nature and committed to deal justly with humankind! That’s why we are indebted to freedom-loving individuals everywhere who had the integrity necessary to build the foundations of human societies upon safuu’s fundamental moral values. Only in an atmosphere of freedom and trust could values like honesty and integrity truly flourish.

Safuu Oromo therefore is an expectation that people must rise above self-interest and act in the public interest with wisdom and courage both on the national and the local political scene.

One reason for the decline of Safuu in Oromia to day is that people invented new standards that constantly changes and undependable moral conduct. As a result, individuals define good and evil as being adjustable according to each situation but doing so is in direct contrast to the Safuu standard.

The vast majority of so called educated Oromos speak or think based on this mindset where right and wrong are calculated to either remain neutral or to be liked by others at the expenses of own value, the Safuu. In the process, our people lost their ancestral knowledge of what is right and what is wrong and went astray by longings for luxury and leisure that they think will be found in the western world style of living and thinking.

The devastation that comes from such fraudulent life style and self misrepresentation is immeasurable. It leads to a false belief that they can worship anything they want following the rules they set for themselves.

However, the continued survival of a free and open society is dependent upon a high degree of divinely inspired values and moral conduct (safuu), as stated by the Oromo Ayaantus. People must have trust in their institutions and in their leaders. Hence, a great need today is for leadership that exemplifies truth, honesty, and decency in both public and private life.

Honesty is not only the best policy, it is the only policy according to Safuu Oromo.
There are several things we can do to develop SAFUU.

Desire It (Fedhii Safuu horadhu)

Live honest life (hin Maqin)

Be Humble (Fayaalessa ta’i)

Study (Qu’adhu)

Search and ponder on ideas (Yaada xiinxali)
Love nature ( Umaa jaaladhu)

 

Read @ http://advocacy4oromia.org/home/safuu-the-oromo-moral-value-and-doctrine/

http://ayyaantuu.com/horn-of-africa-news/oromia/safuu-the-oromo-moral-value-and-doctrine/

 

Tyranny: What does democracy mean for TPLF/EPRDF?

O


What does democracy mean for TPLF/EPRDF?

by Alemu Hurissa 

Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) minority led regime has ruled Ethiopia for 23 years. During the years TPLF has been in power, they have used various methods to control everything in the country. One of these methods was false accusations against individuals or groups of sympathizing with the Oromo Liberation Front although the question of these individuals or groups has been based on the constitution of the country.

At the beginning when they came to power after overthrowing the Derg regime they promised to democratize the country, however they didn’t take time before they started targeting those who didn’t support their ideas as dissenters were subjected to torture and terrible sufferings in mass detention centres across the country. Over the last 23 years they have been in power, they have carried out unimaginable destruction against human life and natural resources in the country particularly in Oromia region. For instance destruction of Oromia forests and other natural resources as well as the killing of Oromo students, farmers and Oromo intellectuals in all parts of the region.

In December 2003 the government security forces massacred more than 400 Anuak Civilians in Gambella region as reported on January 8, 2004 by Genocide Watch, a US based Human Rights group. Police violence in Tepi and Awassa in the Southern Nations-Nationalities, and Peoples (SNNP) regional state, resulted in the death of more than one hundred civilians and the arrest of hundreds. The Human Rights Watch report 14 January 2003 termed it as Collective Punishment.

War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in the Ogaden area of Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State, June 2008 and 19 October 2006, the Ethiopian police massacred 193 protesters in violence following last year’s disputed elections, an independent report says. These are very few among many such incidents that I have elected to mention as an example of TPLF security forces’ atrocious acts against innocent people in different parts of the country. The victim of these brutal acts range from very young children to the elderly people by age categories. For example, there was a report that an eight years old child was killed by federal police in Gudar in May 2014.

If any individual does not agree and support their agenda, automatically that person is a member of OLF, according to Woyane regime’s definition. For example, Bekele Gerba, who was a lecturer at Addis Ababa University was arrested in 2010 by the TPLF-led regime simply because he clearly depicted the true evil nature and behavior of TPLF and its members. He said the land inOromia is a private property of the ruling party members. If they want they will sell it or they will give it to the people who support them and these are people who got rich in a way that cannot be reasonably explained. Many Oromo prisoners testified about Oromo people suffering in jail after they have been released or escaped from prison. To name some of them, Ashenafi Adugna and Morkaa Hamdee are among the victims who suffered at the hands of Woyane security forces while they were in prison. Many innocent Oromo people sentenced to life term and death without any evidence that shows their involvement in any criminal act. What happened in the Oromia region against Oromo University and high school students by federal police as reported by the BBC and other mass media is evident to mention as an example.

In general, the brutal acts against Oromo people by TPLF security forces have never been witnessed anywhere in the world. This clearly depicts what the TPLF government and its party members stand for and lack of their perception about personal worth, and the contempt they have for a human being. One can be quite sure that oppression cannot continue forever, and the dark time for Oromo people shall be replaced with justice and freedom.

In a democratic country, the people have right to express themselves freely in accordance with the constitution and the laws of the country; but in Oromia, there is no freedom of speech. No one in Oromia can freely express him/herself. In oromia, the will of the people has been replaced by the will of the TPLF regime. What has been unfolding for the last 23 years in Oromia region is that the TPLF regime is busy fabricating false documents that are used by the brutal regime’s security forces to incriminate, intimidate, persecute, harass, arrest, torture and kill the innocent Oromo people. So for Woyane democracy means not to allow people their freedom of expression, intimidating, persecution, harassment, arresting, torture and killing innocents in cold blood.

Generally, woyane is a tyrant regime which uses power oppressively and unjustly in a harsh and cruel manner against Oromo people to keep itself in power as long as they could, but I strongly believe that the crimes woyane carried out against Oromo people as a part of its lust for wealth and power will not keep them in power rather it shall hasten the time the Oromo people will achieve freedom. It would be wrong to say woyane will stay in power while using excessive force of power and committing crimes against innocent Oromo people in horrible and oppressive character. What the government is doing now by the name of development is meaningless and inhuman; how one can bring development while exposing people to suffering and death is beyond anyone’s imagination.

Playing game with human life to gain wealth and acquire luxurious life in modern time by robbing and plundering the Oromo people’s wealth is simply unacceptable. The TPLF regime should have been grateful to the Oromo people instead of making Oromo people live a horrible life; because the better life enjoyed by the TPLF politicians came as a result of Oromia’s natural resources. Instead of displacing Oromo farmers, dismissing, arresting and killing Oromo students and dismissing Oromo workers from their job, would have given more respect and value for all Oromos. The problem is that the TPLF regime and itsSatellites parties like OPDO never understand the importance of Oromo people and Oromia region in Ethiopia. Oromia is bleeding since woyane has come to power, because woyane governed Oromia by using excessive force and violence.

All countries that have diplomatic relationships with Ethiopia have also played a major role in keeping woyane in power, because woyane has received too much money from these developed countries under the name of humanitarian assistance which woyane uses to buy weapons to brutally crackdown Oromo students, farmers and scholars. Under woyane’s political system there is no legal and moral right, in general, no rule of laws and justice.

On May 2, 2014, BBC reported that the security forces of the regime in Ethiopia had massacred at least 47 University and high school students in the town of Ambo in Oromia region. Human rights watch and other Non- governmental organizations also reported how the Ethiopian government abuses its own citizens for the benefit of the ruling party members.

The inhuman acts of TPLF regime against the Oromo students shows that it does not only kill students but also TPLF wants to kill the whole young generation psychologically which is their evil strategy and tactics in fact became in vain as Oromo students have continued their struggle for justice in Oromia region. We, Oromo should stand together to bring the perpetrators of massacre in Ambo town and other Universities to justice. It is true that as long as Woyane keep getting money and other facilities from developed countries; as developed countries also give priority for strategic interest than human right, it will be like climbing the top of a mountain; however, we should not let them to continue their inhuman action. What we have to know is that those students who have been massacred by woyane security forces could have been mine, our relatives or children. These students are hope of their family, Oromo society and the Oromia region in general.

TPLF-led regime in Ethiopia never understand the value of human being, what democracy and freedom of speech means because since they came to power, they have never learned from their mistakes rather than its political system goes from bad to the worst. Atrocities against our people have to continue because of just addressing the human right issue and the question of justice and freedom. So, to change the woyane’s oppressive and horrible political system in Oromia, all people who believe in justice and who know the value of human being should stand with the Oromo people and say no to the fascist and terrorist government of Ethiopia. Killing Oromo University and high school students in April and May 2014, beating and arresting students and local people, when the students and local people protested peacefully against the expansion of Finfinne and the eviction of Oromo farmers from their indigenous land is a proof that the regime in Ethiopia is being the fascist and terrorist regime. Woyane is always looking for a scapegoat for their evil actions and behaviors, but it is only woyane and its members who are responsible and will be held accountable for the crimes they committed against innocent Oromo people.

Fake leadership in Ethiopia have destroyed the Oromo people, and the constitution and the law of the country is always in favour of the TPLF regime, not the Oromo people. The TPLF regime is simply the worst government I have ever seen in the modern era.

At the end of my piece of writing, I challenge all Oromos to unite, as unity is strength and to contribute whatever we can to bring down woyane and its members from power and to bring justice and freedom to Oromia and I challenge and hope developed countries also will stop financial and technical support to terrorist regime in Ethiopia.
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http://ayyaantuu.com/horn-of-africa-news/oromia/what-does-democracy-mean-for-tplfeprdf/

 

Related articles and references:

Widespread brutalities of the Ethiopian Government in handling protests in different parts of the state of Oromia by peaceful demonstrators

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/widespread-brutalities-of-the-ethiopian-government-in-handling-protests-in-different-parts-of-the-state-of-oromia-by-peaceful-demonstrators/

Pre 2015 Election and The Fate of The Opposition In Ethiopia

By Firehiwot Guluma Tezera

When we talk about election in Ethiopia, the 2005 national election has become foremost as previous elections under both Derg and EPRDF were fake. The national election of 2005 has shown a hint of democracy until election date in Addis Ababa but in regions it was until one month before the voting date. The ruling party has been harassing the opposition and has killed strong opposition candidates. In Addis Ababa the hint of democracy disappeared after the ruling party diverted the election results.

Having no other option than forcefully suppressing the anger of the people caused by its altering of election results, the ruling party intensified the harassment and killing. So the outcome for the opposition was either to go to prison or follow the path given by EPRDF.  Election 2005 ended in this manner.

The plan of the ruling party to give a quarter of the 540 parliamentary seats to the opposition and to minimize outside pressure and to restart the flow of foreign aid was unsuccessful. The election has made the party to assess itself. Even though it was widely accepted that EPRDF had altered the outcome of the 2005 election and had not anticipated the outcome, many have expected that the party will correct its mistakes. But the party says it has learnt from its mistakes but it made the following strategies:

Measures taken post 2005 election

  1. To harass print medias and to formulate and implement harassing press legislatures
  2. The government is the main American ally in east Africa in the anti-terrorist campaign. Through this it gets significant military and financial aid. Using this as a pretext the government formulated and implemented anti-terror laws and used it to harass and imprison parties that struggle peacefully. And through this to weaken peacefull struggle.
  3. Labeling jobless youth as dangerous and discriminating against the educated was identified as mistake during the election. To correct it they tried to share benefits by replacement and to appoint to political positions and making them members
  4. Letting jobless youth to organize and allowing them to get loans but making party membership a precondition and to stop youth joining the opposition by means of benefit
  5. To organize the rest of the people in groups of five and to disperse security personnel among the people and make difficult for the opposition to work with the people
  6. To change the roads built by aid organizations by cobble stone by employing unemployed youth. Employing the youth was good but they request exaggerated amount from the people. By doing this they are hitting two birds with one stone, to make its members beneficiaries and increase their numbers.

EPRDF used the above strategies for the preparation of 2010 elections. By implementing the strategies it has succeeded in increasing its members but they were not genuine supporters but they supported for benefits. When such kind of members increase, it becomes difficult to fulfill their benefits and at the end they become corruptionists. And they will become the ultimate enemies of the party.

The strategies mentioned above have enabled the party to claim to be winning 99% of the votes. Thenext day the then prime minister said” the people have given us 5 years contract believing that we have learnt from our past mistakes. This is a big warning for us. If we don’t live to their expectation they will take away their votes.” This was his scorning speech. But both the people and they know how they won and the 2010 election was declared error free.

Read more @http://ayyaantuu.com/horn-of-africa-news/oromia/pre-2015-election-and-the-fate-of-the-opposition-in-ethiopia/

Decolonizing Development:The Political and Cultural Locations of Nationalism and National Self-determination (the Case of Oromia)

 

 

 

Decolonizing Development:The Political and Cultural Locations of Nationalism and National Self-determination (the Case of Oromia)

Several scholars have argued that national self-determination is a claim for cultural independence and that nationalism in general is based on the right to cultural autonomy, right to a culture. In the Oromo context, national self-determination is about the representation of collective identity and dignity. It is the demand of the Oromo people to govern themselves. Practically, this can be interpreted as let us be governed by people who are like us, people of our nationality or people who accept and respect our value system. For the last hundred years and so, the Oromo nation has suffered from Abyssinian expansionism, social, ecological and economic destruction and continuous and intensive cultural and physical genocide. The Abyssinians and Oromians connections have been the coloniser (refers to the former) and the colonised (refers to the latter) relationships. Contrary to the Ethiopianist discourse, they have not developed a common unifying identity, social and political system. While the Abyssinians feel a sense of glory of their kings, warlords and dictators, the Oromians feel victimisation to these rulers, so they have not emerged a common ancestry, culture and collective memory, which can result in common ‘Ethiopian’ identity. From the perspective of Oromo social construction, the present Ethiopian domination over Oromia is a continuation of what pervious generations of Oromo nation had experienced. Thus, the Oromo people, sees the present political arrangement as illegitimate because it is a rule by the people who have engaged in destroying them. So, they claim not only cultural but also political independence. Oromo nationalism is also very democratic. It follows the UN principles of self-determination for the citizens of Oromia, claiming independence from the tyranny of Ethiopian Empire. The latter has been constructed based on Amhara-Tigre nationalism. The Oromo nationalism also offers democratic solutions to the ethnic minorities in the Ethiopian Empire. Scholars of Oromo studies claim that there is fundamental behavioural, linguistic, ethnic and cultural differences between the Abyssinians (northern) and their subjects (Southern). The Oromo, Sidama, Afar and the Ogaden (Ogaden Somalians) nations, beyond their common Cushitic progeny, they have common experiences of victimisation and illegitimately absorbed by Abyssinian southward expansion. Their collective memory of past experiences and present victimisation are making common identity. This identity is a key to understand politics there and to work together for self-determination, to recover their lost humanity.

Man knows himself only insofar as he knows the world, and becomes aware of the world only in himself, and of himself only in it. Every new object, well observed, opens a new organ in ourselves.

Goethe, Maximen und Reflexionen, VI Build therefore your own world. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

Introduction

The passions of national freedom and national interest are probably the strongest in the whole political spectrum that characterises the present world. Kellas (1998) holds that it is stronger than the passions aroused by religion, class, individual or group interest. This passion is not all futile, either. In Gellener’s (1983) understanding, nationalism has been considered as essential to the establishment of a modern industrial society. According to Smith (1991), it is ‘the sole vision and rationale of political solidarity.’ For Kellas (1998), it provides legitimacy to the state, and inspires its citizens to feel an emotional attachment towards it. It can be a source of creativity in the arts, and enterprise in the economy. Its power to mobilise political engagement is unrivalled, particularly in the vital activity of nation building. It is intimately linked with the operation of popular democracy. Indeed, the global pattern is a mosaic of political drives, economic interests, linguistic pride, cultural imperatives, psychological needs and nations seeking identity. These factors are manifesting as a powerful staying power in a modern Africa, either. As European colonialism and socialism melted away, the perpetual existence of the backlash against ‘neo-colonial’ colony colonialism and the reviving of national selfdom become more and more significant in social and political dynamics of contemporary multi-ethno-nation African societies. The African experience is motivated by the same aspirations as that of elsewhere. At its root is a need for freedom, dignity, for the right of people of distinct social communities to function freely and independently. In this regard, Oromia represents the case of rejuvenating claim for national freedom and the struggle against more than a century old Abyssinian Empire colonialism in Africa. Oromia is a homeland for an Oromo nation, a group of people with a common culture and value system (seera fi aadaa), language ( Afaan Oromo), political institutions (Gadaa), and historical memories and experiences. Oromia is the single largest, homogeneous and endogenous nation in Africa with a population of 40 to 45 million. Both in terms of territorial and population size, more than two-third’s today’s sovereign states that are making members of UN (United Nations) are smaller than Oromia. The Cushite (see Demie, 1998) Oromo people have inhibited their homeland, Oromia, since pre-history and in antiquity were the agents of humanity’s documented Cushitic civilisation in terms of science, technology, art, political and moral philosophy. The links between the Oromo and the ancient civilisations of Babylon, Cush and Egypt has been discussed in Asfaw Beyene (1992) and John Sorenson (1998) scholarly works. Utilising prodigious evidence from history, philosophy, archaeology and linguistics, Diop (1974 and 1991) confirms that the Cushite Egyptian civilisation was emerged from the Cushite civilisations of North East Africa, particularly, the present day Western Sudan and upper Nile Oromia (also known as Cush or Punt). Indeed, except the name of places, saints and prophets, many of the Old Testament and the Holy Koran moral texts are copies of the Oromo moral codes. The formers are written documents while the latter are orally transmitted. Since the late 1880s the Oromo people have disowned their sovereignty. They disowned their autonomous institutions of governance, culture, education, creativity, business, commerce, etc. Thus, they have been claiming for national self-determination, national-self government and the right to their own state and resist the Abyssinian Empire saver (supremacist’s) nationalism. The Oromians are not only against the quality of Ethiopian Empire governance but also against the philosophy on which it is based: domination, dehumanisation, inequality, double standard, hypocrisy, deceit, exclusion, chauvinism, war institution, rent-seeking, extractive state, conservatism, feudalism, Aste fundamentalism (Aste Tewodros, Aste Yohannis, Aste Menelik, Aste Haile Sellasie), etc. The political goal of national self-determination (national self-government) is asserted in the outlook and attitudes of the Oromo political and social organisations. Of course, the Oromo nationalism, which supports the interests and identity of the Oromo people, is a more subtle, complex and widespread phenomenon than common understanding and observation. It is within this context that we are going to discuss the Oromos’ politics of national self-determination and the search for the national homeland, the demand for reinventing a state of their own in the following sections.

Defining Nation, Nationalism and Self- determination

To define nation and nationalism is as Benjamin Akzin (1964, pp. 7-10) discussed five decades ago, to enter into a terminological jungle in which one easily gets lost. Different scholarly disciplines have their own more or less established and more or less peculiar ways of dealing with nation and nationalism. Ideally, our definition of nation and nationalism should be induced of elements of nationalist ideology. Getting at such a definition has confirmed phenomenally strenuous. Hugh Seton-Watson, an authority in this domain, has deduced that ‘no scientific definition’ of a nation can be concocted. All that we can find to say is that a nation exists when significant number of people in a community consider themselves to form a nation, or behave as if they formed one (Seton-Watson, 1982, p.5).Van den Berghe (1981) defines a nation as a politically conscious ethnic group. Several attempts have been made at making a cardinalist definition of the term, pointing out one or more key cultural variables as defining variables. Among those tried are language, religion, common history/descent, ethnicity/race, statehood and common territory (homeland). For a group of people to be termed a nation, its members typically have to share several of these characteristics, although historically, one criterion may have been predominant (for example, language in Germany, or culture and history in France). In the case of Oromo, common language (Afaan Oromo), common territory (Biyya Oromo, dangaa Oromiyaa or Oromia), common historical experiences (victimisation to Ethiopian Empire rules or Abyssinocracy) are particularly very significant. Stalin made his undertaking in 1913. His definition includes four criteria: the members of a nation live under the same economic conditions, on the same territory, speak the same language, and have similar culture and national character (Seton-Watson, 1982, p.14). Neither Ernest Gellner nor Eric Hobsbawn, two influencials, gave definite definitions of the nation in their major achievements. Indeed, they are very hostile towards what they define as nationalism. ‘…For ever single nationalism which has so far raised its ugly head…’ (Gellner, 1983, p.45), this is a Gellner’s conception and sees the world as naturally divided into nations, each with its own individuality. This implies an acceptance of the nationalist self-perception. There are also other conceptualisations. A social anthropologist, Thomas Hylland Eriksen (1992, p. 220) says ‘a nation is an ethnic group whose leaders have either achieved, or aspire to achieve, a state where its cultural group is hegemonic’, Anthony H. Birch (1989, p.6) considers that a nation is best defined as ‘a society which either governs itself today, or has done so in the past, or has a credible claim to do so in the not-too- distant future. Kellas (1998) defines the nation as a group of people who feel themselves to be a community bound together by ties of history, culture and common ancestry. Nations have ‘objective’ characteristics, which may include a territory, a language, a religion, or common descent, and ‘subjective’ characteristics, essentially a people’s awareness of its nationality and affection for it. In the last resort it is ‘the supreme loyalty’ for people who are prepared to die for their nation. The definition of ‘nation’ which we will make use of in the following is one suggested by Anthony D. Smith (1983,pp. 27-109, 1991, p. 14; 1995); a definition mastering well the ‘sounding board’ dimension. Smith here defines a nation as ‘a named human population sharing a historic territory, common myths and historical memories, a mass, public culture, a common economy and common legal rights and duties for all members. A recent definition of Smith holds nationalism, one manifestation of national-self-determination, as ‘an ideological movement for attaining and maintaining autonomy, unity and identity on behalf of a population deemed by some of its members to constitute an actual or potential ‘nation’ (Smith, 1991, p. 73; 1995). For Smith nationalism has a deep ethnic roots and rejuvenates itself in response to global and domestic impulses. While the phenomenon of globalisation and technocratic culture are there, nationalism is an eternal nature and nourishes and propels itself on technocratic innovations. In this context, national self-determination may be defined as many part aspirations of a nation: To be free to freely determine one’s own national identity, culture, including language, education, religion, and form of government, to be free of rule by another ‘nation’, that is to overcome social and political systems of domination and exclusion in which nations other than one’s own wield predominant power. To be free to select its own form of government; and those governed within it have the right of unflagging consent.

Culture and the Politics of Self-determination

Nation, nationalism and national self-determination are commanding attentions. One of the perennial issues within nationalism is whether national self-determination can stand alone, or whether it requires a ‘qualifier’ from within cultural or political ideas or both to clarify its precise cultural and political location. Several scholars have argued that national self-determination is a claim for cultural independence and that nationalism in general is based on the right to cultural independence and that nationalism is based on the right to a culture. Nielson, for example, peers a nation as groups of people whom ‘perceive themselves as having a distinct culture and traditions’, and Tamir presents that a nation is a community in which individuals develop their culture, and they therefore regard their place within a nation as membership in a cultural group. Indeed, she argues that ‘the right to national-self determination stakes a cultural rather than a political claim, namely, it is the right to preserve the existence of a nation as a distinct cultural entity.’ Will the people who demand national self-determination be satisfied with such an arrangement? Tamir gives credence to that the idea of basing the right to self-determination on the right to a culture is the one that has best conformity with a liberal internationalist viewpoint. That is thinkable, but international liberalism is incompetent on this particular matter. A nationalism, which is based on culture and cultural distinctions, was not very long a go. It is a concept that characteristic the thesis of right wing, or romantic theorists such as Herder. Indeed, Herder’s nationalism was not political, and it distrusted a state as something external, mechanical, not emerging spontaneously from the life of the people. Nevertheless, in the Oromo context the claim for national self-determination is a political rather than a cultural one. If we look at the distinction between the two, it would seem that the claim for national self-determination involves more than a demand to be tolerated while the cultural question is. For example, the Catalan’s and Quebecois’ culture and identity have been tolerated and respected to some extent, and yet many of them thought that this did not reflect a situation of self-determination. Indeed, meeting their claim would involve legislation and redefinition of institutions within the state, and perhaps even a new state. In the Oromo case the demand is actually the claim to have control over their lives. This does not mean over every individual’s private life, but over the public aspect of one’s existence, i.e. the system of mutual relationships, which reflect and sustain one’s membership of a certain collective. Here the self is conceptualised within the context of community, but one that has to be real, actual, and functioning and performing. Otherwise these communal ties are too abstract, which makes it impossible for the self to be defined by them. The statement of Cohen has to be recalled: ‘A person does not only need to develop and enjoy his powers. He needs to know who he is, and how his identity connects him with particular others. He must… find something outside himself which he did not create… He must be able to identify himself with some part of objective social reality’ (Cohen, 1988). Moreover, self-realisation, however, cannot be merely a mental situation; thus this community cannot be only cultural. It must be a political situation at least so that, in order for the Oromo people to realise themselves, they must not be dependent on the goodwill of a second party. They then must be certain that their self-realisation in all spheres of life will not be prevented by the Abyssinian government, the TPLF, the Orthodox Church, and so forth. They should therefore be politically active and watch such institutions carefully. In addition, they must participate in politics in order to decide collectively upon public matters, which influence their self-realisation. So the Oromos claim for national-self determination is about the realisation of their potential status, ability and collective character, which may be achieved only through participation in autonomous political institutions. But for more than a century Oromos have been denied access to these institutions, either officially or in practice. In other words, if Oromos as a nation achieve self-determination they will better able to participate, better represented, better able to deliberate, gain much more control over their life than formerly and more autonomous. The Oromos demand for national self-determination thus, aims at establishing those institutions, which are needed for the realisation of the self-determination. When an Oromo demands national self-determination, he/she is not asserting that he/she would like to control his/her private life, e.g. his/her job, his/her shopping activities, his/her love affairs. Many Oromos do not control these aspects of their lives and yet nevertheless demand national self-determination. But the same principle also applies to cultural life. The Oromos may be allowed more-or-less to use their language, have their own newspapers and theatre, and the freedom of worship, etc. which are making cultural freedom. Actually, these rights are hardly exist at present. But when they claim national self-determination they are not only referring to these aspects of life, as political community: they want to be able to form and choose among and vote for the Oromo political parties, to observe the Oromo constitutional laws, to pay taxes to an Oromo authority, and to have a history (and indeed, myth) of independent Oromo state, from which their identity and self-determination can derive. Thus, the Oromo’s Declaration for Independence will emphasise parliamentary participation and the need to form a constitution, rather than cultural activities. In general the Oromos demand for national self-determination entails that the individuals in this nation should be citizens, engaged in politics as members of a community committed to the realisation of certain (their own) common goods, rather than participating as individuals who seek their self-interests, as it is implied by the right- to- culture school of thought and Liberal Internationalists. Perhaps for this reason Margalit and Halbertal revise the right-to- culture argument, arguing that the right is to a certain culture rather than to culture. A certain culture, then, becomes a common good. And yet, this is not enough, because they still regard the common good in cultural rather than political terms: ‘shared values and symbols… are meant to serve as the focus for citizens’ identification with the state, as well as the sources of their willingness to defend it even at the risk of their lives (Margalit and Halbertal, 1994). Why, then, do theories adhere to the culture discourse? Of course, for most of the Western theorists, the term national self-determination is affiliated to the strive to become part of humanity, to regain the human condition of autonomy; it is adjoined to the struggle to be part of the free world, of the more progressive forces; it is seen as decolonisation, as civilisation, as an attempt made to become part of the world of liberty, rights, and justice. But, it is seen as part of centrifugal forces, from the centre to the global, universalism or what Lane (1974) calls as ‘total situation’ or citizenship based on individual freedom and social justice. These theorists, therefore, universalise the notion of national self-determination: they make it part of liberalism. The liberals’ universal approach tends to be uniformist. This makes a society rootless and a citizen far removed from those who control his/her destiny. On the other hand, the notion as it is put forward and used by the Oromos that the demand for national self-determination is also centripetal, from the global and the greater units to the smaller ones. These groups demand the disengagement from the ‘other’, the global, the colonist, even from other humanity, by asserting that ‘we are not merely the essential equal and part of humanity, but rather we are also different and distinct: we have our own political identity, which we want to preserve, sustain, and establish institutionally, like the Scottish vision in multi-nation state Europe. This is the language of liberation from colonisation. It is also the language of particularisation within the universal or the global, and it seems that the uniformist approach is not sensitive enough to the real Oromos problems. Thus, the Oromos quest for self-determination involves the ultimate goal of particularism (its own unique space), reinventing the Oromia State, owning the national homeland. Of course, in a heterogeneous society of the Ethiopian Empire, though uniformity may simplify system of control, social justice will not be attained in one vast monolithic block of oppressed by colonial legislation, bureaucrats and its armies. An important work of Professor Asafa Jalata, an authority in the study of Oromo nationalism kindly quoted as’ The Oromo question involves both colonialism and ethno nationalism. Ethiopian colonialism has been imposed by global capitalism on the Oromo nation. Ethiopians, both Amharas and Tigrayans, through establishing settler colonialism in Oromia, have systematically killed millions of Oromo and expropriated their lands and other resources from the last decades of the nineteenth century until today. Ethiopian colonialists already destroyed the people called Agaw by taking their lands, systematically killing them, and assimilating the survivors. They attempt to do the same thing to the Oromo by destroying the Oromo national movement, confiscating Oromo lands, and forcing the remaining Oromo into ‘settlement villages’ or (reservations). Many times, some Oromo organisations attempted to democratize Ethiopia so that the Oromo would achieve equal citizenship rights and maintain their ethno cultural identity. Determined to maintain their colonial domination and to destroy the Oromo cultural personality through ethnocide or assimilation, Ethiopian colonialists destroyed or suppressed those Oromo political forces that attempted to transform Ethiopia into a multinational democratic society. Therefore, most Oromos are convinced that their rights and freedom cannot be obtained and respected without creating their own state, or state that they can create as equal partners with other ethno national groups interested in forming a multinational democratic society to promote ethno cultural diversity and human freedom. Hence, Oromo nationalism is an ideology of the subjugated Oromo who seek human rights, freedom, justice, and democracy’ (Jalata, 1997). In fact social justice can be attained when and only when the oppressed majority able to rule its homeland. The Oromos work for national self-determination is the great humanist and historical task in terms of Freire (1993) argument ‘To liberate themselves and their oppressors as well. The oppressors, who oppress, exploit, and rape by virtue of their power, cannot find in this power the strength to liberate either the oppressed or themselves. Only power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free both. Any ‘attempt to soften the power of the oppressor in difference to the weakness of the oppressed almost always manifest itself in the form of false generosity; indeed, the attempt never goes beyond this.’ In this context, for Oromos in order to have the continued opportunity to express their ‘generosity,’ the Habasha colonist must perpetuate injustice, too. Tyranny is the permanent fount of this ‘generosity,’ that sustains at the price of death, dehumanisation, despair and poverty. ‘True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity.’ (Freire, 1993). For further discussions on Oromo nationalism, universalism, globalism, Ethiopianist discourses and Oromo Nationalism, see Sorenson (1998) and Sisai Ibssa (1998).

Concluding Thoughts

Man as a social animal always seeks his own territory and belongings to a social group in which his identity and sense of community is observed and respected. In the defence of the cause for social justice and social ecology, these are basic tenets to backlash against the danger of the rhetoric of universalism, polyarchy and false perspectives of social uniformity, which appear to appreciate the social problems from a single privileged point. Georg Hegel, The Phenomenology of Mind ( New York, 1967 edition), in his famous philosophical discussion of the relationship between ‘lordship and bondage’ maintained that a single consciousness could know itself only through another, even in a condition of totally unequal power relationship. According to this philosophical model, the lord (the oppressor) is lord only through the relationship with a bondservant (the oppressed, the one whose humanity is stolen). In the relationship, however, the other is annulled. The self of the mastery, the lord, derives from the conquest and negation of the servant, the bond. Only recognition of the selfhood of the other permits for its annulations. Thus, lordship covertly recognises the separate identity of the dominated. They are normally equal selves locked into unequal hierarchy. Metaphorically, Hegel’s dialectics of lordship and bondage is very important to understand the Ethiopian domination over Oromia. However, in the Ethiopianist discourse, the essential equality of the selves has been escaped totally. Rather, the persisting hierarchy has taken for granted. According to Sorenson (1998), Ethiopianist scholars like Clapham, Sven Rubenson and Levine because of their attachment to one version of the Ethiopian past and present make them either or unwilling to engage with the full complexity of the problem. From this point of view, to accept the unchanging polarity of Ethiopia and Oromia in the lordship-bondage relationship is to succumb to a structure of Ethiopian aggression and colonialism. The Oromians demand for national self-determination is, however, the civilised step out of the polarity upon which the coercive hierarchy relies, it is the collective political demand, as its main purpose is to achieve the good of the social whole, humanisation, the essential liberation of the Oromo national identity, dignity and the reinvention of Oromia as a sovereign state. The Abyssinian occupation of Oromia, the existence of the Abyssinian Rule, war-lordism and their armies in Oromia and the making of Finfinnee their garrison station, the centre of their crowds is not only an act of conquest, aggression and colonialism but also, from Oromo perspective, such elements are symbols of bondage and slavery that negate the Oromo selfhood as equal essential. For the last over hundred years, the Oromo nation has disowned selfhood, its own state or administration, and lived as a bondage of Abyssinia. The Abyssinian administration which has undermined the Oromo national traditions, exploited it economically, and maintained order through mechanical and repressive means- such a nation actually must seek national self-determination to foster within its politics, to bring dignity, justice, freedom and democracy and to survival as essential equal, as a nation and as part of humanity and its civilisation. It is necessary for Oromians to build the world of their own, a world which make them capable to sustain as a group of human people. They must able to liberate themselves and the violent, the oppressor too. In this context, the Oromo issue is a test case to the deceptive ‘democracy world-wide’ which is being advocated in the USA foreign policy and manipulated by the neo-nafxanyas (see Ibssa, 1998). It is a challenge to contemporary theories of democracy and polyarchy (Robinson, 1997) and actors of post cold war Ethiopian politics who simply take for granted that the boundaries and powers of political community in the ‘Horn’ have already been settled. Thanks to the dedicated works of human rights activists, particularly the OSG (the Oromia Support Group) and its UK based publication, Sagalee Haaraa, we have been well informed on plights of human population and their environment in the entire region. We are interested to recommend this publication to all actors of the region. In this context, we are confident to say that Ethiopian democracy rhetoric or federalism sham politics is nothing more than a fig leaf, covering up the continuation of an extraction of the ‘politics of the belly’, in terms of Bayart (1993) from ‘prudish eye of the West.’ Its democratic rhetoric is a new type of rent seeking (extracting economic rent). By making believe, it enables the collection of international aid that includes diplomatic, military and humanitarian. It enables the seizure of the resources of the modern economy for the benefit of the Tigrayan elites. The situation is not in democracy’s favour, rather it is a situation that the Tyranny is retaining control over the security forces, economic rents and the support of the West. Such manipulation is not new for Africa. Menilik, Haile sellassie, Mengistu, Mobutu, Biya, Senghor and Diouf did the same thing either in Ethiopia or elsewhere in the continent at one time or another. The Quote from Bayart’s (1993) African analyis comes to our mind ‘…The support of western powers and multilateral institutions of Bretton Woods and the Vatcan, who despite having waved the flag of democratic conditionality and respect for human rights, have not dared to pursue such sentiments to their logical conclusion and have continued to think in terms of ‘Mobutu or Chaos’ where Gorbachev given up saying ‘Ceaucescu or chaos’…’. Indeed, very recently, we have read the deceptive descriptions to neo-Mobutu, neo-Mengistu, etc.: democratic, new generation, confident and pragmatic, etc. Sadly, everything changes so that everything stays the same. Nevertheless, the oppressed Oromos are not passive objects, either. They have not allowed themselves to be ‘captured’, as in the past they have demonstrated their historical ability to resist dehumanisation, despair and poverty, and predictably will continue to resist until the justice will come to them. An everyday Oromo coins the following: ‘Victory to the Oromo people! Oromia shall be free!’ We feel moral and social responsibility to support the just cause of fellow humanity.
http://ayyaantuu.com/horn-of-africa-news/oromia/oromo-freedom-from-what-and-for-what-part-1/

http://gadaa.com/oduu/4613/2010/06/27/on-the-question-of-nationalities-in-ethiopia/

 

‘External self-determination, in particular, seems to carry dual meaning. On the one hand it is taken to mean full independent statehood, while on the other hand it is taken to mean external recognition by other states within the
international community.’

http://bemis.org.uk/docs/redefining-self-determination.pdf

 

‘Every individual/group possesses a moral right to secede. The burden of proof rests with the opponents of secession.’ 

Copyright © Oromianeconomist 2014 and Oromia Quarterly 1997-2014. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.

Language and National Development: A tribute in Honour of Haile Fida’s Contribution to the Development of Oromo Orthography

Haile FidaHirmatadubbii afaanoromo

 

Dr Haile Fida  Kuma has made an outstanding contribution to the development of Oromo national orthography. He was one of the pioneers who attempted to shade fresh on the history of the Oromo, the right of the Oromo people to speak, read and write in Afaan Oromo. He initiated Oromo studies in Europe and has made a major contribution both to our knowledge of Afaan Oromoo grammar and to the discussion on how the language should be written 1968-1974. His first research paper was published in 1972, on Tatek, theoretical Journal of Ethiopian Studies in Europe entitled ‘Languages in Ethiopia: Latin or Geez for writing Afaan Oromo.’ He further published in 1973 Oromo Grammar book entitled ‘ Hirmaata Dubbi Afaan Oromo’: Haile Fida, et al. (1973). Hirmaata Dubbi Afaan Oromo, Paris and a literature book :‘Barra Birran Barie, paris,’ using his adopted 35 Latin Qubee alphabet. The books were as a result of his long-time study of the Oromo language and problems of Oromo orthography. In this groundbreaking Afaan Oromo grammar book, he adopted the Latin alphabet to the phonology of the Oromo language by modifying some of the shapes of the letters and adding subscript diacritics. He made distinctions between short and long vowels letters by using single vowels letters (i, e, a, o,u) for the former and double (ii, aa, oo, uu) ones for the latter. He presented the finding of his research to the conference of Ethiopian Student Union in Europe in 1972 and this brought a debate on language issues within the Ethiopian and Oromo students movement abroad (see, Dr. Fayisa Demie. 1996. Historical Challenges in the Development of the Oromo language and Some Agendas for Future Research, Journal of Oromo Studies, Vol.3, no.1 &2, pp. 18-27. Oromia Quarterly. Fayisa Demie. 1999. The Father of Qubee Afaan Oromo: A tribute in Honour of Haile Fida’s Contributions to the development of Oromo Orthography, Oromia Quarterly, Vol.. II, no.3. Pp. 1-5.) His knowledge on Oromo language was so encyclopaedic and his contribution to the Oromo studies in Europe was so well known at the time and his contribution was greatly acknowledge by the Oromians who know him very closely. Oromo national Organisations have started to use Qubee Afaan Oromo from 1970s. Oromo national Convention in 1991 endorsed the use of Qubee all over Oromia. Dr. Haile was assassinated by the Dergue Ethiopian regime before seeing this remarkable achievement in the use of Qubee in Oromia which is the greatest milestone in the history of the Oromo people. Dr. Haile Fida completed his initial primary education at Arjo primary school and junior garde 7-8 at then Haile Selassie I Secondary school in Naqamtee followed with secondary education at General Wingate school in Finfinnee and undergraduate at Finfinnee University (Science Faculty, Geology Department). Haile was an outstanding student while he was in General Wingate secondary school and the university. He completed his secondary education with 10A’s and 2B’s and his Undergraduate University with distinction with GPA 4. After graduation from the Department of Geology he was employed as a graduate assistant and became a lecturer in the same department. He left to France to pursue a postgraduate studies. Haile studied MA in sociology and social anthropology and PhD in philosophy at the Le Palais De L’ Academie Paris. While he was in Europe he was an active member of the Ethiopia students Union in Europe and an Honorary secretary of the French Socialist Party. Dr. Haile was married to Mme Marie and survived with two children.

Haile belonged to a group of generation of Oromo nationalist who embarked on arduous struggle to liberate the Oromo nation from Ethiopian oppression in two different strategies . The first Oromo group were convinced the Oromo question is a colonial question and argued the solution to the Oromo question is the liberation of Oromia from Ethiopian Colonialism. Indeed to show the Oromo identity as a colonial people deprived their right to govern themselves democratically and oppressed by Amhara/ Tigrai colonial settlers, they have put forward historical evidence which support the Oromo case. The second group, in which Haile belonged, argued the Oromo question is a national and it is possible to solve the problem through the democratisation of the Ethiopian state. As part of their struggle against national oppression this group of Oromos have attempted to take forward the national question high in the agenda of the Ethiopian student movement and other Ethiopian organisations that were mushroomed since the Ethiopian revolution in 1974. The first members of this generation were born in the early 1940’s and the youngest in the early and mid 1950’s. It was a generation of Oromo activists who came together to struggle against national oppression. Most of them killed while struggling for the Oromo cause or while attempting to change Ethiopia. Indeed Haile was one of the victims who died while attempting to change the environment of national oppression in Ethiopia. He was killed by Ethiopians while struggling against national oppression and for the right of the Oromo people to speak and write in their language. His early death robs Oromia an enthusiastic, hardworking and committed Oromo professional. The inspiration he provided throughout his life continues to influence Oromo scholars and new generations in the field of Oromo studies.

http://gadaa.com/oduu/20278/2013/06/17/seenaa-barreefama-afaan-oromootiifi-shoora-dr-sheek-mahammad-rashaad/

http://oromodictionary.com/afaanOromoLK.php

http://www.oromian.net/OromoRogaland/Afaan/qube.htm

 

 

http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Hornet/Afaan_Oromo_19777.html

http://www.omniglot.com/writing/oromo.htm

 

 

http://www.ethiomedia.com/14store/2025.html

Confession documents under the notorious Derg Military Dictatorial regime interrogation of Haile Fida Kuma

 

Copyright © The Oromianeconomist 2014 and Oromia Quarterly 1997-2014. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

The Oromian Economist

Oromia and the east african region

The Oromian Economist makes research, discusses, analyses and informs on   leading issues of Economics, freedom, liberty, development, culture  and change that are relevant to Oromia, Africa, developing world and the related humanity and civilization.

 

Published in: on July 8, 2014 at 6:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Summary of Oromos Killed, Beaten and Detained by the TPLF Armed Forces during the 2014 Oromo Protest Against The Addis Ababa (Finfinne) Master Plan

Oqeerroo2
A Summary of Oromos Killed, Beaten and Detained by the TPLF Armed Forces during the 2014 Oromo Protest Against The Addis Ababa (Finfinne) Master Plan

Compiled by: National Youth Movement for Freedom and Democracy (NYMFD) aka Qeerroo Bilisummaa
July 05, 2014
QeerrooReportOromoProtestsFDG2

 

BackgroundIt is a well-documented and established fact that the Oromo people in general and Oromo students and youth in particular have been in constant and continuous protest ever since the current TPLF led Ethiopian government came to power. The current protest which started late April 2014 on a large scale in all universities and colleges in Oromia and also spread to several high schools and middle schools begun as opposition to the so called “Integrated Developmental Master Plan” or simply “the Master Plan”. The “Master Plan” was a starter of the protest, not a major cause. The major cause of the youth revolt is opposition to the unjust rule of the Ethiopian regime in general. The main issue is that there is no justice, freedom and democracy in the country. The said Master Plan in particular, would expand the current limits of the capital, Addis Ababa, or “Finfinne” as the Oromos prefer to call it, by 20 folds stretching to tens of Oromian towns surrounding the capital. The Plan is set to legalize eviction of an estimated 2 million Oromo farmers from their ancestral land and sell it to national and transnational investors. For the Oromo, an already oppressed and marginalised nation in that country, the incorporation of those Oromian cities into the capital Addis Ababa means once more a complete eradication of their identity, culture, and language. The official language will eventually be changed to Amharic. Essentially, it is a new form of subjugation and colonization. It was the Oromo university students who saw this danger, realized its far-reaching consequences and lit the torch of protest which eventually engulfed the whole Oromia regional state.

For the minority TPLF led Ethiopian regime, who has been already selling large area of land surrounding Addis Ababa even without the existence of the Master Plan, meeting the demands of the protesting Oromo students means losing 1.1 million of hectares of land which the regime planned to sell for a large sum of money. Therefore, the demand of the students and the Oromo people at large is not acceptable to the regime. It has therefore decided to squash the protest with its forces armed to the teeth. The regime ordered its troops to fire live ammunition to defenceless Oromo students at several places: Ambo, Gudar, Robe (Bale), Nekemte, Jimma, Haromaya, Adama, Najjo, Gulliso, Anfillo (Kellem Wollega), Gimbi, Bule Hora (University), to mention a few. Because the government denied access to any independent journalists it is hard to know exactly how many have been killed and how many have been detained and beaten. Simply put, it is too large of a number over a large area of land to enumerate. Children as young as 11 years old have been killed. The number of Oromos killed in Oromia during the current protest is believed to be in hundreds. Tens of thousands have been jailed and an unknown number have been abducted and disappeared. The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa, who has been constantly reporting the human rights abuses of the regime through informants from several parts of Oromia for over a decade, estimates the number of Oromos detained since April 2014 as high as 50, 000

In this report we present a list of 61 Oromos that are killed and 903 others that are detained and beaten (or beaten and then detained) during and after the Oromo students protest which begun in April 2014 and which we managed to collect and compile. The information we obtain so far indicates those detained are still in jail and still under torture. Figure 1 below shows the number of Oromos killed from different zones of Oromia included in this report. Figure 2 shows the number of Oromos detained and reportedly facing torture. It has to be noted that this number is only a small fraction of the widespread killings and arrest of Oromos carried out by the regime in Oromia regional state since April 2014 to date. Our Data Collection Team is operating in the region under tight and risky security conditions not to consider lack of logistic, financial and man power to carry the data collection over the vast region of Oromia.

 

 Read Full Report@

https://qeerroo.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/list-of-oromos-killed-and-detained-compiled-july-05-2014-compiled-by-qeerroo.pdf

http://gadaa.net/FinfinneTribune/2014/07/a-summary-of-oromos-killed-beaten-and-detained-by-the-tplf-armed-forces-during-the-2014-oromo-protest-against-the-addis-ababa-finfinne-master-plan/

 

Related References:

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/widespread-brutalities-of-the-ethiopian-government-in-handling-protests-in-different-parts-of-the-state-of-oromia-by-peaceful-demonstrators/

Why has Africa’s growth failed to translate into adequate job creation?

 

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Why has Africa’s growth failed to translate into adequate job creation? Key insights from Unctad’s Economic Development in Africa report 2014*

Africa has a huge problem with unemployment, particularly youth unemployment. It has experienced a high rate of population growth, which has the potential to be a demographic dividend but only if there is sufficient investment in jobs, skills and education.

Essentially, the continent hasn’t produced enough investment and growth in the domestic economy. Public sector investment has been low, and foreign direct investment has largely been channelled into the sectors where the big returns are – oil, gas and minerals.

The difficulty is that these sectors are not very good at generating economic benefits outside a very small enclave. They are not labour intensive so they don’t create large numbers of jobs and benefit the wider economy. Investment needs to support sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and industry that have the potential for higher growth and job creation. This type of employment creation will be key to the future of the continent’s growth.

What lies behind this failed investment strategy?

Partly it is the advice many African countries have had from Bretton Woods Institutions [World Bank and International Monetary Fund]. It is also partly a risk-averse strategy so they don’t find themselves in a terrible situation should another global financial crisis arise. But it is also fundamentally about a lack of political focus on building capacity, diversifying economies and recognising the need to create more employment.

What does the report have to say about the sectors where employment has declined, and risen?

Broadly speaking, because in Africa we’ve seen both population growth and a failure to upgrade traditional sectors like agriculture there’s been a high degree of rural-urban migration. Lots of people are moving from subsistence agriculture into urban activities which are largely informal and survivalist. This tends to be low-paid, vulnerable employment. This type of work makes up about 80% of total employment in many African countries.

The report highlights the unusually high level of employment and growth in the services sector in Africa, relative to its stage of development. However for this sector to see long-term growth and adequate job creation, there needs to be big leaps in investment in basic infrastructure. There are opportunities in agriculture too. While in the long run many people will still move from rural to urban areas, if we invest and raise productivity we can raise the incomes for those in the sector.

Are there any misunderstandings about the relationship between growth, investment and employment in Africa?

Often this relationship is understood as being a virtuous circle. We argue that growth in Africa has failed to translate into broader development gains such as employment.

What is key to this nexus is the role of the state. Governments have to be more aware that different types of economic activity involve different types of employment intensity. While the services sector is producing more job opportunities than the extractive sectors there still needs to be more investment directed towards industries such as manufacturing and agriculture. Africa has a relatively weak private sector so the state needs to have a much more prominent role in mobilising investment into job-rich sectors.
*By Junior Davies, an economist at the division on Africa, least developed countries and special programmes of Unctad
@http://4globaldevelopment.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/booming-economies-are-not-boosting-employment-in-africa-why-global-development-professionals-network-the-guardian/
Read more@
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2014/jul/03/unctad-report-africa-economics-employment?CMP=twt_gu

http://4globaldevelopment.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/booming-economies-are-not-boosting-employment-in-africa-why-global-development-professionals-network-the-guardian/

Theorizing Development

Theorizing Development

From historical perspectives, the urgency underlying the contemporary development quest of developing economies has been recognised for the last seven decades. Of course, this should not be considered as that there were no problems of development prior to 1940’s.  However, paralleling the increasing for economic self-determination and development of developing economies, there has been a tremendous growth in intellectual activity concerning the development problems.

The past 70 years have also witnessed a gluttony  of models, theories, and empirical investigations of the development problem and the possibilities offered for transforming Asia, African, Latin American, and Caribbean nations. This body of knowledge as come to be known in academics and policy circles as development economics.

In these perspectives development is discerned in the context of   sustained rise of an entire society and social system towards a better and ‘humane life’. What constitutes a better and humane life is an inquiry as old as humankind. Nevertheless, it must be regularly and systematically revised and answered over again in the unsteady milieu of the human society. Economists have agreed on at least on three universal or core values as a discernible and practical guidelines for understanding the gist of development (see Todaro,1994; Goulet, 1971; Soedjatmoko, 1985; Owens, 1987).  These core- values include:

Sustenance:

 the ability to meet basic needs: food, shelter, health and protection. A basic function of all economic activity, thus, is to provide a means of overcoming the helplessness and misery emerging from a lack of food, shelter, health and protection. The necessary conditions are improving the quality of life, rising per head income, the elimination of absolute poverty, greater employment opportunity and lessening income inequalities;

self-esteem:

which includes possessing education, technology, authenticity, identity, dignity, recognition, honour, a sense of worth and self respect, of not being used as a tool by others for their own exigency;

Freedom from servitude:

 to be able to choose. Human freedom includes emancipation from alienating material conditions of life and from social servitude to other people, nature, ignorance, misery, institutions, and dogmatic beliefs. Freedom includes an extended range of choices for societies and their members and together with a minimization of external restraints in the satiation of some social goals. Human freedom embraces personal security, the rule of law, and freedom of leisure, expression, political participation and equality of opportunity.

Sustained and accelerated increase and change in quantity and quantity of material goods and services (both in absolute and per capita), increase in productive capacity and structural transformation of production system (e.g. from agriculture to industry then to services and presently to knowledge based (new) economy), etc. hereinafter economic growth is a necessary if not a sufficient condition for development.

As elaborated in Hirischman (1981) and Lal (1983), this corpus of thought and knowledge denotes economics with a particular perspective of developing nations and the development process. It has come to shape the beliefs about the economic development of developing countries and policies and strategies that should be followed in this process. While development economics goes beyond the mere application of traditional economic principles to the study of developing economies, it remains an intellectual offspring and sub discipline of the mainstream economics discipline. The growth in economic knowledge and the corresponding intellectual maturation of development thought and policy debate has led to the appearance of various perspectives of thought on the theory and reality of development and underdevelopment within the same discipline of development economics. The two  main paradigms are neo-classicals (orthodox), and Political economy (neo-Marxists). There are also eclectics.

Copyright ©  The Oromianeconomist 2014 and Oromia Quarterly 1997-201 4. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.

Perverted Development: What role for Institutions

 

Development: What role for Institutions

The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.
Keynes, John Maynard

 

 

 

Introduction

The force of human reductionism that had assaulted on Oromia’s history, civilisation, politics and economy for many centuries in the last three Christian millenniums and particularly of the last two centuries has continued in the new millennium to enfeeble the endeavours of its people towards progress and development.

Oromia is not the poorest of the nations of the world in resources but it is one of the most underdeveloped, characterised by thwarted advancement, declined progress and cataclysm.

In Oromia today immense agricultural potential, mineral wealth and human capital coexist with some of the lowest standards of living in the world. Part of the problem lies in the nature of the economic change the Abyssinian colonialism fostered in Oromia. The Oromo economy has been distorted to serve the Abyss interest and needs.

Oromos are the most brutalised and humiliated in modern history. The genocidal treatments, which Oromos have received from Abyssinians, have been as gruesome as anything experienced by Jews, Native American and native Australians and the Armenians received from the Nazi, Europeans, white Americans, and the Ottoman Turkey respectively. Oromos have also been humiliated in history in ways that range from the level of slavery, segregation and treated as second-class citizens in part of their own country to the present day in spite of being numerically the majority and geographically the largest territory.

In the early 1990s the old Amhara settler colonialism (Nafxanyaa system) was substituted by Tigrean ‘federal colonialism’ (neo- nafxanyaa system) the facet of exploitation seemed to take on new dimensions. In fact, the pattern of colonisation and domination has remained the same since it instated century ago with the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885, which had approved the scramble for Africa among European colonial powers. It was a time when the cruel Abyssinian Empire was given an ordinance of Christianising and ‘civilizing’ the Oromos; though it is a historic derision how a backward and barbaric empire was to ‘civilize’ the society of prime civilisation, high culture and social structure, the ‘natives’, whose development levels and potentials were diverse and by far advanced.

The very idea of Christianising and civilizing was an external imposition often upheld by external protagonists. In the pre 1974 Ethiopia, this took the form of substantial military and economic aid from the US America and Europe. During the Cold War era, the mission of oppression of the Oromos maintained and supported by fresh military and economic aid from the then Soviet Union scheme of spreading its sphere of dominion and its ideology to Africa. In the contemporary ‘new world disorder’, the support has got new momentum in which the old Christian missionaries are replaced by an army of western neo-classical economists who peddle a ‘free market’ ideology, which they hope, will take care of the imprisoned market agents, in this case the Oromos.

According to the new Gospel, the Tigrean colonizers are given the mandate and the necessary financial backing to pursue ‘economic liberalization’ while keeping strict control that Oromia remains the Abyssinian colony. The liberalization agenda has served as a precursor of the making of Tigrean version of crony capitalism or more appropriately advanced feudalism in the age of economic globalisation. It is alien to Adam Smith’s invisible hand, social justice and the free-market ideals of relying on legal contracts, property rights, impartial regulations and transparency. It is no wonder that the political and economic prescriptions that the Ethiopian colonial rules implemented and or pretend to implement are in line with the advice of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and The US administration’s The Horn of Africa Initiative all of which have exacerbated the problem of the Oromo nation. It has also betrayed the ideals of free market, social justice, self-determination and human rights.

The sorrowing fact is that shared interest and solidarity between the West and the Abyssinian colonizers are impoverishing the people. Pretentious and ill-conceived measures are being taken in the name of free market and above all development. Currently, there are a number of regime-sponsored ‘associations’ of this or that ‘Region/State’s Development’ anti-terrorism, poverty alleviation, renewal process, revolutionary democracy, etc. Given this, the people’s last resort is to defend their own interests is the exit option or to retreat from the colonizers. What has become more apparent than ever is the need to rely on the Oromo initiatives to solve the problems of the Oromo. The Oromo poor need to defend themselves from the bogus free market invaders and their phoney local allies. This is necessary, since, in the absence of property rights, social justice, and individual and social freedom and democracy, no free market economic gimmickry is able to reserve the tragedy of the oppressed. It is within this context, that we discuss, how the Ethiopian colonial rules, in collaboration once with international socialism and now with the global capitalism has impoverished and underdeveloped one particular community in Africa, the Oromo nation.

Sclerotic to development: The Abyssinian Colonial Occupation and Its Alliances

Economists are inspired to point out the weight of political factors, captured by the term ‘governance’ and its role in economic development. Concerns about political factors in economic development is revitalized because of the dearth of economic development reform and structural adjustment programs to yield definite success and prosperity, particularly, in Africa. The main problem pointed out is ‘poor governance’ (World Bank, 1989; Moore, 1992). There are three different aspects to the notion of governance that can be identified as:

The form of political regime (independent, colonial government, multi-party democracy, authoritarian, etc.),

The process by which authorities exercised in the management of the country’s economic and social resource; and’

The willingness, the competence and the capacity of the government to design, formulate, and implement genuine development policies, and, in general to discharge development and government functions.

As there is no antithesis concerning the conviction that ‘good’ governance is an important and desirable ingredient of development, scholars are cautious not to attach specific regime type and political reforms to good governance. Broadly, however, good governance is legitimated by developmentalist ideology while poor governance is characterized by ‘state elite enrichment ‘ (Jackson and Rosberg, 1984), the ‘rent seeking society’ (Krueger, 1974) or ‘politics of the belly’ (Bayart, 1993;Tolesa, 1995) such as Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zaire). The latter in fact are characterized by sclerotic behaviours and are obstacles to development.

The Oromia’s underdevelopment (negative development) and its associated problems are never going to be understandable to us, much less contain it, as long as we persist to ponder it as a mere as an economic enigma. What is before us momentarily is in essence an enigma of political colonialism whose economic after-effects are severe.

Not only the problem is basically political and colonial in character. It arose largely from Abyssinian imperial conquest and its associated colonial disposition, which is characterized by reliance on sheer force, state terror, genocide, plunder, authoritarianism and violence.

The story goes back to the days of the Abyssinians crossed the Red Sea and seized the territory and resources of the Cushites ( Bibilical Ethiopia, the present Horn of Africa and Oromia) making concerted aggression on the latter’s history and culture in the name of settlement and civilizing the ‘non-believers.’

As it is discussed above and elsewhere, in the first millennium BC the Abyssinian group crossed the Red Sea from South Arabia (source: the debtras’ records and memories of Abyssinian high school history text book) to the present North East Africa to conquer and resettle the land occupied by endogenous Oromo and the other Cushitic people. Recent research recognises that the Semitic culture of the Abyssinian empire’s northern highlands was built on the Cushitic base for which not genuine credit has been given, and the Axum obelisks which were attributed to the (Sabeans Abyssinians) do not have corresponding existence on the Arabian peninsula while they are abundant in the Nile valley stretching from Egypt to ancient Kush in today’s Sudan. This most probably indicates that the earlier phase of Axum civilization was predating the Sabean infiltration/invasion.

Cleansing as a policy was initiated to conquer the Cushite territories. The territory they conquered was divided among numerous Abyss chiefdoms that were as often at war with each other as with Oromo and the entire Cushite. The population of conquered territories were considered as dangerous thus; Abyssinian cleansing, up rooting, forced labour and killings of the vanquished were conducted as the means of crushing resistance, securing the conquered territories and even to expand their occupation further. Though the Abyssinian gained some territories and resettled in the northern highlands of the Oromo and other Cushitic regions among others Afar, Agau, etc., their expansion was checked for a long time in history by wars of resistance and liberation they encountered by the endogenous people. These wars of resistance led to a decisive victory for Oromo, Afar and Somali nations particularly from 12th to the second half of 19th century. As a result of such a defeat Abyssinians started to wage particularly anti-Oromo propaganda battles to alert themselves and attract foreign support against the Oromo. The derogative name ‘Galla’ and the ‘16 century Oromo migration’ were all the Abyssinian fabrications and to serve the war against Oromo. In fact, the Oromo oral history shows that the 16th century was a massive Abyssinian further southward migration and intensive campaign to entirely control Oromia and other territories. For the Oromo this period was characterized by political and military dynamism and at the same time it was a period of victory, massive dislocations, rehabilitation and displaced communities returning home.

According to M. Bulcha (see Oromo Commentary), it was only during the second part of the 19th century that the Abyssinians ultimately succeeded to make significant in roads into the Oromo territory. Tewodros (also known in different names Hailu, Kassa, Dejazmach, Ras, etc., as other Abyssinian shiftas and present Woynes, is on record for his brutish hostility towards the Oromo nation. He was not the first or the last of his kind. They were many before and after him, for concrete evidence even today, this time and this second. All of them have been gangsters of very abnormal characters and Abyssinian detested figures. The Abyssinians remembered Tewodros and his type not only as the romanticized hero figures but also portrayed them as a modernises. Tewodros the lunatic and bandit declared and conducted a war of extermination against the Oromo. In order to help them to bargain for the western support, he and all his type including Yohannes, Menelik, Haile Sellasie, Mengistu and currently Meles declared anti-Islam and anti-Muslim nations. They mobilized all their resources and the entire Abyssinia (Amhara &Tigre) against the Oromo to achieve their goal. Tewodros made every effort to obtain the European military support claiming his fictions of Christian identity and ideology (the then dominant political ideology though he had not any biblical ethics and values, not at all). Tewodros is a symbol and an element of Abyssinian barbarism that was conducted at particular historical stage (1850-1868). Such barbarism has been conducted since the Axumite period (3000 years) but has never achieved its ultimate goal of elimination of the entire endogenous people of the North-East Africa. But it eliminated millions of and it thwarted the civilisations of Cushite people. They have used all the devastating means the: Christian civilizing ideology, European army, settler colonialism, Soviet Socialism, Stalin collectivisation, Mengistu’s villegisation, and America’s structural adjustment, terrorism, etc. They have always tried to change names after names for the same ugly & old expansionism, feudalism and empire (the legendary land of Sheba, Ethiopia, Ethiopia first, socialist Ethiopia, republic, mother land, federal etc.). The very name Ethiopia is Hellenistic Greece. It was the name used in the ancient Greece occupation (before Romans) of North Africa people and southward expansion. This name was colonialism from the beginning and it has been, it is and it will be. It is not African in origin as the people who invented it. This name was adopted and maintained to conquer the entire Cush and then the entire Africa in the shadow of christianisation. It is a sinister name that has no boundary and ethnic identity. It is not only the conquered people of North-East Africa but also all Africanists that must understand, including its sinister philosophy. It was designed and adopted to deconstruct an endogenous African identity.

One implication of the doctrine of Abyssinian ‘civilizing mission’ was that the Oromos needed to be ruled by Abyssinians and could not responsibly be granted civil liberties. Authoritarian as it has always been, the Abyssinian colonial rule in Oromia whether under Menelik II, Haile Selassie, Mengistu and currently under Meles has been characterized by the ‘politics of the belly.’ The underlying ethos remains self-aggrandizement and those elites are alien to growth whereas corruption, brutality, inefficiency and grotesque incompetence have tainted their politics. Time and again, they siphoned off Oromia’s wealth and indulged in conspicuous consumption and stashing millions of dollars in remote secret accounts in Europe, America and Asia. Scholars understand that development is about the future. However, the Abyssinian elites are living for the present. They came for quick self enrichment. The Oromos have no opportunity to invest in their country. They disowned everything.

While the Abyssinian colonial settlers in Oromia do no want and support policies that promote development, they find military and other forms of support abroad to stay in power. In more than one time, this force of underdevelopment has been strongly reinforced by external forces (Holcomb and Ibssa, 1990). Despite generous foreign assistance, this hardly commanded legitimacy to mobilize the colonized masses behind their rule. To the contrary, people who have waged legitimate struggle to reclaim their freedom, cultures and history has fiercely resisted their rule.

As it has been discussed elsewhere, Oromos have their own political power, which was fully operational before they were colonized and occupied by Abyssinians put under the strict control of Ethiopian empire state. Their political system is based on the Gadaa (Gada) system. The Gadaa system has been the foundation of Oromo civilization, culture and worldview (Jalata, 1996). The Gadaa political practices manifested the idea of real representative democracy with checks and balance, the rule of law, social justice, egalitarianism, local and regional autonomy, the peaceful transfer of democratic power, etc. (Jalata, 1966). The Gadaa political system also facilitated property rights, stability, and the expansion of free trade, commerce, improved farm techniques and permanent settlements, gradual diversification of division of labour. The Gada state was non-taxing state. Military was not the focal point, only defensive which is democratic. It was the opposite of expansionist, imperial, genocide or conquering state, e.g. Roman, Sparta, Abyssinian and Serbia, etc.

One of the distinctive virtues of Gadaa state was the weight of civilian power as compared to military power, military aristocracy was practically absent and in normal times, the army executed only an inconspicuous, if not nonexistent, political function. The military aristocracy was not the focal point of society. War had rather a defensive mission.

Nonetheless, particularly since the last decades of the nineteenth century, the Abyssinian colonial rule and its state disallowed the Gadaa political system and expropriated the Oromo basic means of subsistence, such as land cattle while it established an Ethiopian system of rule over Oromia. The Oromo commerce and industrious activities were not only discouraged but also ridiculed and obtained the lowest social status. Productive relations were imposed through the process of commodity production and extraction between those who control or own the means of production, the state, and those who do not. Those who control the means of coercion had the opportunity to reorganize productive relations through dispossession of the colonized Oromos in order to expedite more product extraction.

The process of dispossession is multi-faceted and far-reaching. As the result of it, the Oromos have been denied power and access to education, cultural, economic and political fields while at the extremes, the Abyssinian colonialism has been practiced through violence, mass killings, mutilations, cultural destruction, enslavement and property confiscation.

Apart from the splendid crop farm and animal husbandry, in his 1896-1898 travels in Oromia Bulatovich (2000, pp 60-61) described the Oromian industrial and commercial economy as the most vibrant with conducive endogenous institution as follows:

“Artisans such as blacksmiths and weavers are found among the [Oromo]. Blacksmiths forge knives and spears from iron, which is mined in the country. Weavers weave rough shammas from local cotton. The loom is set up very simple. … There is also the production of earthenware from unbaked clay. Craftsmen who make excellent morocco; harness makers who make the most intricate riding gear’ artisan who make shields; weavers of straw hats (all [Oromo] know how to weave parasols and baskets), aromers who make steel sabers; weavers who weave delicate shammas, etc.

Bulatovich Observed that commerce in Oromo was both barter and monetary based. The monetary unit was the Austrian taller and salt. The former was rather little in quantity and was concentrated in the hands of merchants. He witnessed that Oromos have great love for commerce and exchange economy. According to Bulatovich (2000, pp, 61-63):

“In each little area there is at least one market place, where they gather once a week, and there is hardly an area which is relatively larger and populated which does not have marketplace strewn throughout. Usually the marketplace is a clearing near a big road in the centre of [Oromo] settlements…. Rarely does any [Oromo] man or women skip market day. They come, even with empty arms or with a handful of barely or peas, with a few coffee beans or little bundles of cotton, in order to chat, to hear news, to visit with neighbours and to smoke a pipe in their company. But besides, this petty bargaining, the main commerce of the country is in the hands of the [Oromo], and they retain it despite the rivalry of the Abyssinians. Almost all the merchants are Mohammedan. They export coffee, gold, musk, ivory, and leather; and they import salt, paper materials, and small manufactured articles. They are very enterprising and have commercial relations with the Sudan, Kaffa, and the Negro tribes.”

The Oromos have also valued both the collective and personal independence and freedom very much. Their peaceful and independent way of life was broken and their freedom lost with the coming of the utterly vicious and sever authority and hard school of surrender and obedience of the Abyssinian conquerors. As Bulatovich (2000, p.65) further described:

“The main character of trait of the [Oromo] is love of complete independence and freedom. Having settled on any piece of land, having built him a hut, the [Oromo] does not want to acknowledge the authority of anyone, except his personal will. Their former government system was the embodiment of this basic trait of their character- a great number of small independent states with figurehead kings or with a republican form of government. Side with such independence, the [Oromo] has preserved a great respect for the head of the family, for the elders of the tribe, and for customs, but only insofar as it does not restrain him too much.”

Jalata (1993) sees the Ethiopian colonial domination as the negation of the historical process of structural and technological transformation. This is the case where the Abyssinian colonial class occupies an intermediate status in the global political economy serving its own interest and that of imperialists. The Oromos have been targeted to provide raw materials for local and foreign markets. Inside the empire, wherever they go, the Abyssinian colonial settlers built garrison towns as their political centres for practicing colonial domination through the monopoly of the means of compulsion and wealth extraction.

The Abyssinian colonial system was more cognated to a tributary system whereby the rulers extract tribute and labour from colonized lands. The Abyssinian peasants supported their households, the state and the church from what they produced. After its colonial expansion, Abyssinians maintained their tributary nature and established colonial political economy in Oromia and in the Southern nations. Although the colonial state intensified land expropriation and produce extraction from colonized peoples, capitalist productive relations did not emerge. Gradually with the further integration of the Ethiopian empire into the capitalist world economy, semi-capitalist farms seemed to emerge by extracting their fruits mainly through tenancy, sharecropping and the use of forced-labour systems.

The colonial exploitation has been maintained under Mengistu’s so-called socialist collectivisation/ villegisation campaigns and in the current Meles’ regime under the mask of structural adjustment and ‘free’ market economic system.

It should also mentioned that in addition to authoritarian and coercive rule, the Ethiopian colonialism depended on an Oromo collaborationist agents that were essential to enforce Ethiopian colonialism. This second rate clique is merely an expandable appendage which devotes most of its energy to the scramble for the spoils of slavery, picking up the leftover in economic and political advantages. The main task of this class is to ensure the continuous supply of products and labour for the settlers. Of course this class was not always loyal to the Ethiopian colonial state (Jalata, 1993). Broadly speaking, the state itself is a battlefield for two exclusive claims to rule and political competition among the Ethiopian colonizers, the Amharas and Tigreans. In effect, this makes the Abyssinian colonizer politics effectively a zero-sum game and the very practice of politics become a negation of politics, i.e. politics are practiced with the inert ending of politics.

The Abyssinian rulers, who have inherited power used to believe that their interests were well served by depoliticising, muting and suppressing the Oromos and the Southern peoples’ quest for national-self determination under the guise of maintaining the unity of the Ethiopian empire. So they convinced themselves and tried to convince others that there were no serious socio-political differences and no basis for political opposition. Apoliticism has been elevated to the level of ideology while the political structures become ever more monolithic and authoritarian.

The political structures and political ideologies, which have been used to effect depoliticization and suppression, are all too familiar. The process entailed political repression, which the Oromos endured and suffered for more than a century. The implication of depoliticization is to deny the existence of differences, to disallow their legitimate expression and, therefore, to deny collective negotiation. Whatever the degree of repression, the process did not remove the differences. The ensuing popular frustration and resistance has led to even more repression. That is how political repression has become the most characteristic feature of the colonial political life and domination as its salient political relationship. All this means that political power becomes particularly important; so the struggle for it gets singularly intense.

In Abyssinian Colonial regime and psyche Seize power is supernatural and a magical axiom and power itself does not mean influence on policies but it means license over their colonial subjects. People have been so frightened and constricted by fear and indoctrination. Besides, they have been overwhelmed by deceptive rhetoric, crude, systematic misinformation, and hypocrisy, which made it virtually impossible to see through the situation and to form an intelligent judgement. The Abyssinian rulers including Tewodros, Menelik, Yohannes, Hailessilassie, Mengistu and Meles in resemble wanted an absolute power both on earth and heaven. All mobilised Abyssinian myth to enhance their cults. Loyalty and submission to them was being shrouded in an illusive appeal to be a good citizen. We heard and observed, childhoods dominated by a miasma of poverty, misery, starvation, with no shoes, slavery, slave soldier, premature and painful deaths. The power of the Abyssinian colonial empire has been not only absolute but also arbitrary, extraordinarily statist and hostile. It tightly controls every aspects of its subject’s economy. In the state where politics is driven by the calculus of power, everyone in arena only focused in the accumulation of power. Politics has been reduced to a singular issue of domination. It has never afloat restraint and dispensation. There have been regime changes within the empire but the new has accustomed to reproduce and reinforce the past. None of the the Ethiopian rulers including the present regime fundamentally had any firm interest in transformation , and all of them were only too alert that they could afford to broaden the social base of the state power. Power has been maintained by politicising and manipulating the Abyssinian myth and chauvinistic nationalism and depoliticisation of the occupied. In doing so, they engaged in weakening. They produced not only fanatical divisions within their own echelon but antagonism and exclusivity in society and . the solidarity of the oppressed at any price. It is so clear that such political condition has been profoundly hostile to development. The struggle for power within itself and to sustain the occupation of the oppressed majority has been so engrossing that everything else, including development must be sacrificed

The oppressed are exposed to all kinds of onslaught by state that is hardly subject to any constitutional or institutional fetters. The colonial power barred Oromos from engaging in their own industrial enterprises, export trade, domestic commercial venture, modern and relatively productive farm, private, free media, education and philanthropy etc. Unlike the Hobbes’s state, it is so backward, uncivil sing, further underdeveloping and essentially a military institution that imposes subordination and maintains colonial condition. In this context, it is more colonial and barbaric by the standard of other colonial experiences observed elsewhere in the Americas, Asia and other parts of Africa.

There are two major aspects in which this situation has severely thwarted Oromia’s development. The first enigma lies in the incompatibility between the pursuit of development and the crusade for survival, reproduction of the existing forms of social control and domination. The deleterious after-effect of this animosity is that it leads to misuse of human resources, inefficiency and corruption. Unquestionably, appointments into the positions of power, even when they are positions, which demand specialized knowledge, tend to be made by political criteria, particularly by regarding these appointments as part of survival strategy. Each time such appointment is being made, the friction between political survivals, economic efficiency and development crops up. The ruination to efficiency and development derives not only from the performance criteria and likely incompetence of the persons so assigned but also from the general demoralization of the technically qualified and competent people purveying under them who are often repressed and frustrated by their subjection to the surveillance and regulations of people who are powerful but inapt. Here lies the role of Ethiopian ministers and parastatals: incompetent personnel used to obstruct productive use of resources. Wasted are also competent people. They lose at both ends. In the midst of waste, the Oromos have been denied basic civil and political rights and the right to development. Alien leaders who channel the meagre resources into unproductive uses imposed the related economic problem, the very rights over which the people are fiercely struggling.

Development projects were initiated for wrong reasons; they may, on account of political considerations, be located in places where they are least beneficial both economically and socially. One could site familiar cases where important contracts and licenses have been given to politically significant people. Higher positions are created and new rule and regulations are established just to benefit people whose political support is considered important. Oromia pays for all these disservice. The Ethio-crats are overpaid and creating demoralizing disparities between reward and effort. That is how; the persistence of Ethiopian imperial and colonial domination is imperilling to the integral tenets of development.

Abyssinian academics and international development agencies offer many factors for the apparent failures and crises of development industry in the Abyssinian empire: lack of capital, lack of technology, entreprenuerial skills, corruption, poor planning and management, socialist system, lack of infrustracture, falling commodity prices, cyclical drought, unfavourable international terms of trade, low level of saving and investment. These factors and the long lists of related factor are undeniably crucial factors in development. However, we have to address the misleading assumption that has commonly been taken that there has been development failures and crises. The Oromia experience exhibits the terrible realites that development has never been on the agenda. The business of the politics of occupation has prevented the pursuit of development and the emergence of relevant and effective development paragims and programs.

The burning question is, can the people of Oromia try to trade, farm, imitate and innovate then develop their economy in this state of siege? The question is vital and congruous; but the answer is doubtful, as it is impractical. Development strategies as such are comprehensive programs of social transformation. They call for a great deal of ingenious management, confidence in the leadership and commitment. They require clarity of purpose for a society at large; they need social consensus especially on the legitimacy of the leadership. Yet these are not common features of an institution, which does not represent the society. Besides, development is about change and that change may not work to the survival of the colonial rulers. In this sense it runs against the instincts of the rulers whose preoccupation is to survive and maintain its dominant position. One of the most amazing things about development discourse in Ethiopian empire is how readily it is assumed that the rulers are interested in development particularly when they profess commitment to development and negotiate with international aid organizations for economic assistance. People making this assumption forget the primacy of maintaining colonial power and its conflict with other social and economic goals.

Why the Ethiopian rulers embark on a course of societal transformation just because it is good for the nations under its empire like Oromos if it is bad for their own survival?

The ideology of development has been adopted to grapping resources from external aid agencies. In the name of development people are forced to obedience and conformity. Billions of dollars was looted by tolitarian regime and its cliques. Structural adjustment, privatisation, liberalisation, investment, rural development, fertiliser for farmers and democratisation have been the slogans of Mele’s regime for the last 20 years. There have not been: appropriate political structure and practices, administrative system, institutional framework to conduct development in Abyssinian empire. There have been also failures by international development agencies that have taken the responsibilities of financing development and transferring resources ignoring the specificity and historicity of the Abyssinian empire. This has also exhibited the mounting anarchy of development studies and development practices that has been based on modernising paragim.

The Abysinian rulers and their elites, especially the Amharas regard the ideal characters of themselves as the end of evolution. The application of this evolutionary schema meant advancement is a matter of assimilating to Abysinian culture. Abyysinians have established the negative view of the Cushite people, institutions and their culture. The colonial regime discourages any belief in the integrity and validity of the Oromo society and have offered the notion that Oromos can find validity only in their total transformation, that is, in their total self-alienation. On practical level , the result has been frustrating.They have assaulted on Oromo governance (Gadaa), Oromo culture, Oromo religion (Waqeffannaa) and Oromo names.They have changed Oromo names to Amharic (e.g. Finfinnee changed to Addis Ababa). They assaulted on the use of Oromo language. They evicted Oromos from cities and towns. They instituted the negative image of the Cushite and the superiority of the Abyssinians. How people in such state of mind, behaviour and attitude pursue development? According to Claude Ake “Development requires changes on a revolutionary scale; it is in every sense a heroic enterprise calling for consummate confidence. It is not for people who do not know who they are and where they are coming from , for such people are unlikely to know where they are going,”(Ake, 1996, p. 16).

When we think of development, it is about society at large and the paradox is that it is often the leader who is not in a position to think of the objective interests of the society. For thinking in this way entails profound democratic commitment, which cannot usually be expected of such leaders. By virtue of their position, colonial rulers suffer the disadvantage of confusing what maintains the existing social order, which they dominate, and they are tendentiously suspicious of change; it is all the more so when it comes to fundamental changes.

Finally, we need to remember some of the implications of development with respect to alien colonial rulers. As it has already been mentioned, they have been more interested in taking advantage of the social order inherited from their predecessors rather than in transforming it. To all appearances, they are colonial rulers. Oromos have been oppressed and humiliated for over a century. The political history of the last hundred years of colonial rule of Oromia has vividly indicted that the Oromos lacked freedom; it means that they did not have control over the products of their labour, it means that their natural resources and environment were tarnished by others; and eventually it means that they witnessed chronic poverty, destitution, killing forces, the forces of abuse & alienation, human misery and less and less of humane life.

In these circumstances, it is not surprising that where development is pursued in Oromia, if at all, it is full of ambiguities and contradictions and it is just a mere posture. Even taking these postures on the face value, in so far as we are critical of development strategies in Oromia, our criticism runs in the direction of their sloppy conception and hence their failure to come to grips with sclerotic of imperial domination. If we raise the question of the contradiction between political survival and social transformation, we commence to behold that it is doubtful and equivocal where development is, or it has ever been, on the colonizers’ list for Oromia.

The other aspect of economic consequences of colonial domination has been militarism, which is but the outcome of over-valuing of political power. Associated with it is the intense struggle to obtain and keep it. Therefore, the politics of the empire is sustained by warfare and force than by consent. In this atmosphere, force is mobilized and deployed: the winners are anxious to take absolute power into their hands while the losers forgo not only power but also lose liberty and even life. As politics relies solely on force, the vocabulary and organization advocates coercion. For that matter, the Ethiopian empire is a political formation of armies in action and this is in itself a serious development problem. In an institution in which the political formations are organized as warring armies, differences are too wide and far, the scope for co-operation too limited; there is too much distrust; and life is too raw to nature commerce and industry in subject nations like Oromia. Currently, the militarism of life in general and politics in particular has reached its logical culmination in Ethiopian military rule and its negative consequences have wider regional implications. This too hinders the course of development not only in Oromia but also in entire North East Africa.

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Methodological Individualism as a development Model and its Critics

 

 

Methodological Individualism as a development Model and its Critics

The orthodox (neoclassical) world view comprises research programmes that are basically concerned with applying the tenets of neoclassical economics to the study of developing economies. From such a perspective, the principles underlying the economics of developing economies are the same as, or can be considered extension of those governing the economics of developed nations. This implies that meaningful epistemological activities within the development economics cannot be conducted without first determining its inextricable intellectual and analytical ties to mainstream economics.

According to Rostow (1960), the critical intention of development has been seen as the achievement of ‘high mass consumption society’ that can be measured by the level of per capita income. In this context, the inherent aim of development seems to materialise a society that reproduce the political economic system of the western Europe and North America, i.e., a competitive private enterprise based on the foundations of free market economy and a representative and democratic political system. Rostow (1960) has detailed this historical process of development in his schema of stages-of- growth model. Charles K. Wilber (1988) argues that the application of this model as centre of assay of the course of development supposes that present day developing countries reckon to the ‘traditional society’ stage or at the ‘preconditions’ stage in relative to the present stages of western developed countries. Like so, the contemporary developed countries were formerly underdeveloped, hence, all countries progress in the course of these stages.

In the extreme, the Orthodox (Neoclassical) strand theorises that since principles of economics are universal, there is but one economics, whose basic tenets are equally valid for both developing and developed economies, David (1986). In other words, it is considered inappropriate to speak about two distinct economics- one for developed countries and the other for developing countries. In this case, the, the dominant interpretive model of thought is based on a ‘universalist’ epistemology or ‘one world’ ideology and ‘aesthetic’, which assumes the existence of a continuous and homogenous world, David (1986). Contextually, knowledge and society are viewed in terms of discrete individual elements that become the continuous and homogenous phenomena of economic and social life through a process of aggregation.

The neoclassical paradigm stands on universalist, rationalist and positivist methodological pillars. In addition to the influence of positivism and other rationalist patterns of reasoning, neoclassical economic thinking also makes heavy use of the concept ‘mechanical equilibrium’, which is explained by the self-regulating operation of equilibrating forces. Such forces, it is argued, not only tend to maintain equilibrium of the economic system but also to restore this equilibrium once it has been disturbed by external forces.

In its evolution, the concept of equilibrium has had to be based on some conception of the economic system. Accordingly, it was thought that the evolution of any logically consistent economic order required some institution of private property as well as a sharp conceptual distinction between the economic system and other aspects of social reality, David (1986). This led to an emphasis on capitalistic, free enterprises ethic based on the principle of individualism. In the conception, individuals are considered to be at liberty to organise their social relationships in accordance their own interests, cole, etal (1991). Society hence, becomes no more a collection of individuals, and an individual behaviour, the goal and standards of moral behaviour.

The neoclassical paradigm is based on individualistic and libertarian philosophy. The philosophy postulates that the ultimate constituents of society are individual people who act appropriately in accordance with their own dispositions. In other words, the argument is that no social tendency exists that theorising about classes and other activities can only be represented by mental constructs, which are abstract models for interpreting certain relations among individuals. One implication is that it is impossible to have laws about society. Another is that the good of individuals is primarily objective of society as opposed to the neo-Marxist which emphasis that of the society as whole, Cole etal (1991).

Economic models, theories, and conceptual systems should be considered as device that merely helps the analysts to remember certain predictive regularities in observed phenomena, David (1986).

A related implication follows from the widespread acceptance of the “science as science” methodology. These are based on the claim that search for knowledge should be governed by scientific objectivity and the commitment to universal values that cut across national frontiers. Adherence to universal epistemological principles implies that there are common standards of scholarship and, as others argued there cannot be Chinese, Nigerian or Egyptian criteria for truth and validity. Commercial farms can be nationalised, criteria for truth cannot.

The universality epistemology finds a foremost representation in the study of resource allocation. The underlying principle that all societies must make decisions about the degree of sacrifice that must be made if resources must be allocated efficiently. This is based on the assumption of the universal scarcity of resources relative to human needs. Given scarce resources, it is impossible to satisfy all of the society’s goals simultaneously. Therefore, if scarce resources are to be efficiently utilised, they must be properly allocated. The possibility of deriving meaningful benefits from the use of these resources is therefore forecasted upon the nature of sacrifice. The problem of economic decision making in conventional economics is therefore coined in terms of a “cost-benefit” calculus. The neo-classical approach to this problem emphasise the need for rational choice in the use of scarce resources. The basis of this approach is that if the alternatives presented to us are not rationally chosen, resource scarcity is likely to increase within the passage of time, hence, impairing current standards of living and decreasing the possibility for future economic growth, David (1986). In this regard, the neo-classical, explanation of economic behaviour tends to rely heavily on competitive equilibrium, which assumes that the behaviour of free markets and prices provides the necessary conditions for individual economic agents to achieve maximum economic welfare and personal liberty, Todaro (1991)|.It is based on the methodological individualism mentioned previously, the implication being that individual economic decision-making units (household), firms, national governments, and so on)| are free and rational actors whose behaviour is guided by harmonious equilibrating force, David (1986)|.

The whole economy is assumed to consist of a large number of interacting markets that have a tendency to clear, that is, reach equilibrium, with the latter defined in terms of equality between demand and supply, and price. (These conditions are assumed to take place for individual markets, that is, partial equilibrium, or in other aspects where there is a set of relative prices for all goods and services, resulting in a simultaneous clearing of all markets that is general equilibrium. Given the quantities of resources of all kinds available to economic agents, consumer tastes and preferences, and production technology, the problem of general equilibrium revolves around the determination of the relative quantities of goods of all kind that will be produced and consumed, the prices at which they will be exchanged and how the earnings derived from resource utilisation will be distributed, Cole et al (1991)|.

Income distribution is thus treated as a special case of the general theory of price relations. The over all argument is that it is possible for self-interested individuals in a market-oriented economy to strive for and receive, their fair share of income and wealth created by the competitive process. In this context, the neo-classical model indicates that the marginal productivity forms the basis for payments to all factors of production. The assumption is that individuals have at their disposal a set of factors endowments and that income merely represents the sum of the product of these factors and their marginal products. The evolution of factor shares and incomes over times thus depends on factor prices and quantities, the elasticity of substitution among factors, changes in demand patterns, and the capital or labour savings bias of technological change.

It is therefore assumed that, given completive conditions and perfect information, resources will be efficiently allocated. Adjustment in factors prices are expected to bring equality in factor shares, with each factor receiving its ‘just’ or equitable reward. Under the circumstances, any attempt to enforce equality in the prevailing pattern of income distribution is considered inimical to economic growth and efficiency. To the extent that inequalities exist, they should be considered necessary for guarantying productivity levels, David (1986)|.

The implications of the marginal productivity theory of income distribution can be further explained by considering the distribution of labour and capital incomes. In the case of returns to the human factor (wage and salaries), the theory suggests that differences in marginal productivities can be explained by differences in both innate and acquired abilities. These differences tend to be particularly acute in those societies, for example, developing economies where highly skilled labour is in short supply relative to the large supply of unskilled labour. The argument, as is that individuals with relatively scarce skills would receive quasi-rents. These rents and other payment differences would disappear as more people acquired skill through education and training, David (1986). Hence, they argue that any attempt to equalise wages and salaries would prove to be inefficient. The implicit assumption is that pay differentials not only reward those with superior natural abilities but also serve as an incentive to those not so blessed to acquire skills to increase their productivity and efficiency, Hunt (1989). Given a set of competitive prices, the actions and reactions of individual economic agents will determine the quantities of goods and services demanded, and these will be matched with the quantities supplied in the various markets of the economy, David (1986). The achievement of such an over all equilibrium requires two sets of conditions. First, these is a subjective one in which the individual pursues the goal of maximum income satisfaction. The second is an objective one in which the market provides for these incomes and wants based on the maximum profit goals of business people. Thus, through the equilibrium between demand and supply, with all markets cleared, the optimum economic position reached by each individual economic agent becomes compatible with that attained by others.

The general equilibrium analysis (Varian, 1990) postulates that, in principle, the set of equilibrium prices tend to provide all the information that each individual economic agent needs to have in order to be able to co-ordinate its activities with those of all other economic agents in the economic system, Cole et al (1991). It is therefore, based on the assumptions of perfect competition and knowledge and foresight, and the absence of uncertainty. This ensures that the essential adjustments would take place of a disequilibrium situation were to arise. Where prices diverge from their equilibrium values, inconsistencies will arise in the plans economic agents, and they will be forced to adjust to an equilibrium situation. The underlying assumption is that the operation of the market is based on a negative feedback mechanism that reduces differences to zero through iterative price adjustment processes are also assumed to be stable. This means that once the system diverges from its equilibrium with a process of automatic readjustment would take place. Full employment is also implicitly assumed. With demand for goods and services equal to their supply, labour market will also clear. Neoclassicals consider this equilibrium to be the most efficient one, and thus the standard against which particular sectors of the economy as a whole should be appraised. The reasoning is that when over all economic agent will have reached an ‘optimal position’, that is, one that it cannot possibly improve by altering its behaviour. This is the ideal state described by Pareto and also known as a Pareto efficient allocation. It is considered to be the most efficient state and implies that any attempt made to improve a given economic agent’s position would have to be at someone else’s expense (David, 1986, Varian, 1990).

The general framework outlined above is also replicated in analysis of international economic relationships. In this case, trade and exchange are considered to be two of the most effective weapons for promoting resources allocation, distribution, and growth. This follows from assumptions of harmony of interests among nation states, patterns of trade based on comparative advantage, an equitable distribution of the gains from trade, and the free international flow of resources. The same normative forces are assumed to operate both nationally and internationally, with the private market considered to be the most effective mechanism for allocating distributing resources in all spheres, Hunt (1989|).

Consequently, the neoclassical (orthodox) school of thought attribute problems of developing economies essentially to the ‘dirigiste dogma’ and the ‘denial of economic principle’ (Lal, 1988); to over extension of the public sector; to economic controls which distorts the market and have unexpected and undesirable side effects; and to an over emphasis on investment in physical capital (spending on lavish prestige projects such as sport facilities, conference centres, brand new capital city, roads leads to nowhere, irrigation schemes that damage soil) compared to human capital. And they have proposed these setbacks to be neutralised to overcome inadequate development, Toye (1987). They took the form of supply side macro-economics and the privatisation of public corporations and call for the dismantling of public ownership, planning, and regulation of economic activities. By permitting free markets to flourish, privatising state owned enterprises, promoting free trade and export expansion, welcoming foreign investors, and eliminating the plethora of government regulations and price distortions in factor, product and financial markets, the neoclassical argue that economic efficiency and economic growth will be stimulated, Wilber (1988). Contrary to the claims of the political economy strands (neo- Marxist world views) which are subjects of subsequent discussions, the neoclassicals (Orthodox) argue that the third world are underdeveloped not because of the predatory activities of first world and the international agencies that it controls, but rather because of the heavy hand of the state and corruption, inefficiency, and lack of economic incentives, Todaro (1991).

It is assumed that development experience of western industrial countries is a model for the developing economies of today and therefore, neoclassical economics is universally applicable. It is held that the international capitalist economy does not discriminate against developing economies, but when conformed to it acts as an engine or motor of growth. What is needed, therefore, is not a reform of the international economic system or restructuring of dualistic developing economies or an increase in foreign aid or attempts to control population growth or amore effective central planning system. Rather, it is simply a matter of promoting free markets and laissez faire economics within the context of permissive government that allow the magic of market forces. And the “invisible hand” of market prices to guide resource allocation and stimulate economic development, Todaro (1991). They are quoting to us the failures of the public interventionist economies of African countries, Toye (1987).

Neoclassical policy is based on faith in the price mechanism to bring about an equilibrium in the economy which maximises welfare and growth, (i.e. development by their terms), “Efficient growth… raises the demand for unskilled workers by getting the prices right… is probably the single most important means of alleviating poverty,” Lal (1983). This process of development raises the standard of living of the poor via the ‘trickle down’ effect. Intervention by the government is unnecessary as a measure to alleviate poverty and would retard growth by distorting the market mechanism, holding up sustainable development. According to Lal, government policies dealing with basic needs, surplus labour, decreasing terms of trade, etc., are misleading and incorrect. He argues that developing countries are following the same economic patterns of development as developed countries. Therefore, the same economic rules and considerations apply. Both he and Bauer criticise ‘dirigistes’ for implying, by their policies, that people of developing countries are not rational that the ‘market decisions’ have to be made for them. That would suggest Toye’s argument- governments fulfilling the desires of frustrating individuals has some validity. Being rational does not necessarily make people able. It is within this context that the planning, growth with equity approach and a social market economy operation have come into considerations. However, such interventionist approach have been criticised by laissez faire economists as a reaction to far a recipe to failure. Lal (1988) points out that inefficient and incompetent bureaucracy as a cause of government failure. Attempts to intervene in imperfect markets serves to make things even further from the equilibrium of maximum efficiency and welfare. This is an over-sight, a generalisation which dismisses all past, present and future government intervention to make influence on disparities in income and accelerate development, as ineffective. This is clearly not the case.

The rapid development of South Korea and Taiwan in both intervening for growth and equity demonstrate this. Government policies concentrated on rural development, export oriented industrialisation were directly and indirectly dealing with inequality and poverty whilst promoting growth. It would be argued that all government intervention is not good. As is clear, some government intervention is and has bee ill advised- for example ‘the white elephants.’

But what is also becoming increasingly apparent is that the neo-liberal (Washington consensus) policies of liberalisation which the IMF and World Bank have made conditions for accepting loans have also created many problems. Not only have they quite often caused increasing inequalities in income distribution, but they have also failed to encourage growth in these countries. In many countries they have led to near chaos and crisis, in the economy as in many African countries, Lawrence (1986). External influences, such as increasing oil prices, MNC transfer pricing, increase in debt burdens, increased protectionism by developed economies, etc, mean that following free market principles lead to decreasing terms of trade and created economic problems within the countries. D. Lal (1983) would say that this is acceptable because it is a step in the right direction towards free market economies. Toye (1987) believes the neoclassical approach neglects the issues and treats and treats the solutions, In a reductionist manner, over looking the complexity of the issues and gives an over simplified solution.” Lack of past successes cannot simply be blamed on government interference with the price mechanism to account for the relatively poor performance of these economies would require a very detailed historical analysis of class forces and class struggle within these countries, of the effects of international strategic and geo-political factors as well as the effects of drought other climatic/ecological disasters, Sender et al (1986).

Neoclassical according to Sender and Smith, have paid too much attention to anti-interventionism- when it would be more beneficial to concentrate on improving what intervention is necessary. It is harmful for economists to adhere to policies which can only be relevant in a hypothetical ‘perfect market’ economy. The post- colonial period has been characterised by an astonishing absence of any coherent, analytical/ideological framework within which to formulate state intervention of an effective and suitable kind,” Sender et al (1986). Neo-classicalists need to address the conclusive historical evidence concerning the role of the state in all late industrialising countries in considering policy formulation.

The laissez faire economists edge on economic growth through the operation of the market mechanism (Adam Smith’s the famous invisible hand) as the key to development. There are also economists who emphasised planning (government intervention) to supplement or supplant the market. As in the former, the latter and economic growth has been taken as the essential of development. Meanwhile, the growth with equity economists contemplate on the distribution of the remunerations of growth to the deprived.

Neo-Marxist and dependency theorist, two main school of thoughts in the Political economy paradigm, are broadly apprehensive of the nature of the progression by which development is attained, Wilber (1988).

Classical Marxism was always, of course, a theory of development, i.e., of capitalism and its development, and transition to socialism. The theory was never adequate, however, in dealing with development problems of third world especially underdevelopment issues. Classical Marxists, after all, consider capitalism as historically progress, in every way an advanced over previous production systems, even if it is to be replaced by socialism one day. “ Imperialism was the means by which techniques, culture, and institutions that had evolved in western Europe over several centuries… sowed their revolutionary seeds in the rest of the world,” Warren (1980).

Seers (1987) argued that Marxism thus arrived at conclusions similar to those of many neoclassical economists, since both derived from Smith and Ricardo and the economics of the 19th century. He further pointed out that both doctrines assume competitive markets and the overriding importance material incentives. They are both basically internationalist and also optimistic, technocratic and economist. In particular, both treat economic growth as development and due primarily to capital accumulation.

According to Hunt (1989), the neo-Marxist paradigm derives from an attempt to develop and adapt classical Marxist theory to the analysis of underdeveloped economies. The paradigm gained widespread influence in the late 1960’s, providing an ideological and analytical framework for radical critiques of contemporary theories. Drawing their inspiration from the ideas of Marx and Lenin, and influenced also by other early Marxists, particularly Rosa Luxemburg, the neo-Marxists set out to investigate a problem that Marx himself had touched on only briefly- the process of economic change in the economies of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

With respect to the third world, the primary concern of the neo-Marxists is with what is happening to national output and to its distribution, and why. Particularly in the 1950s and 1960s there was little concern on the part of leading neo-Marxists to explore the essential nature of the models of production that prevail within the periphery. Instead the emphasis was on the economic and political relations between the ‘centre’ and the ‘periphery.’ In the analysing these issues the neo-Marxists use a terminology for the key concepts in their analytical framework that appears to drive from Marxism with different interpretation to certain concepts.

The neo-Marxist school which is tracing back to the work of Paul Baran, differs from Marx in arguing that capitalism will not be spread from the ‘centre’ to the ‘periphery’ but rather that existing underdevelopment is an active process linked to the development of the centre by the transfer of the surplus, Baran (1957, 1988). As economic surplus was extracted, capital accumulation stopped, and budding industries were killed off by ‘centre’ competition. Development in colonies was forced off its natural course and completely dominated by imperial interests. The colonies stagnated between feudalism and capitalism or the mix of both systems.

For Baran (1957) the real problem in developing economies is not the presence of the vicious circle- a phenomenon whose existence is acknowledged – but the lack of a significant stimulus to development aggravated by the surplus drain. Here again we have a polar view she said, something like a zero-sum game, in which the continuing primitive accumulation by the ‘centre’ implies a simultaneous negative accumulation for the periphery. Surplus then, generate and maintain underdevelopment in the developing economies, a phenomenon whose existence is acknowledged – but the lack of a significant stimulus to development aggravated by the surplus drain. As Frank (1988) (dependency scholar) has called this leads to “the development of underdevelopment.”

Amin, too, adopts Frank’s Motto, but with an altered meaning; for Amin, it means a “dependent development,” that, is, an inappropriate pattern of growth imposed upon the country through its ties with the centre- literally, through its being included in the world capitalist system. This view in turn allows for the possibility of growth aggregate income, an observed fact in many developing economies, Hunt (1989).

The crucial problem of how the available surplus is utilised in developing economies leads the political economy worldview to the examination of local elites. Writers like Baran and Sweezy argue that no local development is to be expected from such elites. On the contrary, the elites are by their very nature a factor contributing to underdevelopment. The analysis is based on the “objective function” in which these elites find themselves. Their economic behaviour- conspicuous consumption, investments in real estate and extreme risk aversion, the export of their savings to be deposited with foreign banks for security, their avoidance of investments in industry- is, from the sand point of private advantage, essentially a rational response to the circumstances in which they find themselves. Their fear of foreign competition where they to invest in more productive activities is seen as fully justified. They argued that most elite members lack the capital retained for the establishment of enterprises able to compete with foreign oligopolies. Also lacking are entrepreneurial skills and attitudes to work and innovation conducive to growth, see Wilber (1988).

Amin offers the view that many members of the developing economies elites profit, too; from foreign activities in their country. What enables Amin to say this is his adoption of Emmanuel’s theory of unequal exchange, in which the level of wages is the major determining factor. That wages are lower in developing economies means that the labour force of these countries carries the burden of exploitation both by its local capitalist class and by the capitalist class at the centre. It is burdened by the “regular” exploitation of the home capitalists and the “primitive accumulation” of the capitalist class at the centre. The higher wages that the centre’s working class enjoys are in turn attributed not solely to its higher productivity; it does not partake of the proceeds of the continuing primitive accumulation, Todaro (1991).

That there is also a disheartening lack of entrepreneurial and administrative talent in the countries of the third world that the neo-Marxists do not deny. But they view those who place this fact at the centre of their explanations of underdevelopment as being eclectic and arbitrary. The claim that entrepreneurial and administrative skills will make their utilisation possible and necessary appears- conditions that cannot exist in an environment of dependence. This problem, they claim, is secondary: It is consequence of the fundamental problem, which is the discouragement and systematic sabotaging (or, for Amin, the guiding into incorrect path), of the local development efforts by the centre, Todaro (1991).

They recognise the existence of a ‘comprador states’ or class and bourgeoisie classes in developing countries but they maintain that their positions are solely dependent on the advantages they give to an imperialist power- not exist in their own right.

So the main consideration for government intervention would be, for neo-Marxists, the ability to make a complete and absolute change “the third world was and is an integral and destined to play a major role in the attempt of capital in the world capitalist economy to stem and reverse the tide of growing economic crisis, “Frank (1981, 1988). This is manifested in increasing repression of the workforce in developing countries, not increasing equality, or alleviating poverty. So in order to achieve sustainable development with equality it would be necessary for a developing country to withdraw from the world capitalist system. The present system only maintains present inequalities due to the interest characteristic of capitalism. They would advocate complete autarky facilitated by a socialist movement.

Generally, the political economy school advocate equity oriented development. The fundamental assumptions of this perspective regarding capitalism and international capitalist economy are essentially opposite to those of neo-classical economists. They not only believe that international capitalist economy discriminates against developing economies, but that is directly responsible for their dire condition. Thus any solution to the poverty predicament requires a fundamental break from the international capitalist economy. A distinction here, more for historical relevance than for the logic of the argument should be made between neo-Marxian and the Marxian of Marx, with (Marx) essentially regarded the capitalist commodity production process as progressive, in that it was required for the realisation of the ultimate inevitable tools of communism. Thus, capitalism for Marx is a necessary phase of societal change. Furthermore, for Marx the capital commodity production process is universally applicable.

The other fundamental disagreement these theorists have with neo-classical school concerns ethics. Equity, for these theorists is an ethical ideal, an end by itself. The logical extreme of this view is that equality must remain the primary objective, even at the cost of efficiency.

It is argued by this perspective that it is contrary to the interests of the international capitalist commodity process, which is essentially and exclusively concerned with maximisation of profit, to redistribute wealth. Instead of a y ‘trickle -dawn’ tendencies, the inner- logic of capitalism with only lead to greater accumulation, and concentrate of wealth. Thus, it is imperative for any comprehensive development effort to break with the internationalist political economy. Since weak political position of the poor prevents them from changing the system, empowering the poor becomes the means to meaningful development. These theorists contend that attacking the symptoms of poverty with basic needs provisions, or welfare laws will not suffice, it is crucial to attack its cause. The answer is the empowerment of the poor.

The general tendency is towards the satisation of the modes of production, at least those sectors of the economy that are essential to the public goods. Thus, only the intervention of a populist state, resulting on the commanding heights of the economy can restructure the relations of production that benefit not a privileged few, but the unprivileged many.

This perspective defining the ‘left’ contours of the continuum in its logical extreme are diametrically contradicts the neo-classical perspectives.The obvious point of departure on the debate on development between the neo-classical and the political economy strands must be a definition of development. This is inescapably a normative exercise, but one that should not be avoided for this the reason. Development, by the very meaning of the word, can only be a process of the ‘becoming’. The argument holds regardless of whether the tendencies are rectilinear, cyclical or both (or neither). According to orthodox school sometimes implicitly and sometimes explicit value judgement in the definition of development has been westernised. This tendency has been challenged by the ‘development of another civilisation in East Asia, that is quickly achieving standard of living comparable to the west. One conclusive inference that can be drawn from the experience of Japan, China and the Asian Tigers is that a protestant ethic or generally a western social arrangement or socialist revolution of neo-Marxist is not a prerequisite for economic development.

http://rodrik.typepad.com/dani_rodriks_weblog/2013/05/what-is-wrong-and-right-in-economics.html

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