False accounting & the great ‘poverty reduction’ lie

O

Poverty

Exposing the great ‘poverty reduction’ lie

Jason Hickel* @ Aljazeera Opinion

 

The UN claims that its Millennium Development Campaign has reduced poverty globally, an assertion that is far from true.

 

 

The received wisdom comes to us from all directions: Poverty rates are declining and extreme poverty will soon be eradicated. The World Bank, the governments of wealthy countries, and – most importantly – the United Nations Millennium Campaign all agree on this narrative. Relax, they tell us. The world is getting better, thanks to the spread of free market capitalism and western aid. Development is working, and soon, one day in the very near future, poverty will be no more.

It is a comforting story, but unfortunately it is just not true. Poverty is not disappearing as quickly as they say. In fact, according to some measures, poverty has been getting significantly worse. If we are to be serious about eradicating poverty, we need to cut through the sugarcoating and face up to some hard facts.

False accounting

The most powerful expression of the poverty reduction narrative comes from the UN’s Millennium Campaign. Building on the Millennium Declaration of 2000, the Campaign’s main goal has been to reduce global poverty by half by 2015 – an objective that it proudly claims to have achieved ahead of schedule. But if we look beyond the celebratory rhetoric, it becomes clear that this assertion is deeply misleading.

The world’s governments first pledged to end extreme poverty during the World Food Summit in Rome in 1996. They committed to reducing the number of undernourished people by half before 2015, which, given the population at the time, meant slashing the poverty headcount by 836 million. Many critics claimed that this goal was inadequate given that, with the right redistributive policies, extreme poverty could be ended much more quickly.

But instead of making the goals more robust, global leaders surreptitiously diluted it. Yale professor and development watchdog Thomas Pogge points out that when the Millennium Declaration was signed, the goal was rewritten as “Millennium Developmental Goal 1″ (MDG-1) and was altered to halve the proportion (as opposed to the absolute number) of the world’s people living on less than a dollar a day. By shifting the focus to income levels and switching from absolute numbers to proportional ones, the target became much easier to achieve. Given the rate of population growth, the new goal was effectively reduced by 167 million. And that was just the beginning.

After the UN General Assembly adopted MDG-1, the goal was diluted two more times. First, they changed it from halving the proportion of impoverished people in the world to halving the proportion of impoverished people in developing countries, thus taking advantage of an even faster-growing demographic denominator. Second, they moved the baseline of analysis from 2000 back to 1990, thus retroactively including all poverty reduction accomplished by China throughout the 1990s, due in no part whatsoever to the Millennium Campaign.

This statistical sleight-of-hand narrowed the target by a further 324 million. So what started as a goal to reduce the poverty headcount by 836 million has magically become only 345 million – less than half the original number. Having dramatically redefined the goal, the Millennium Campaign can claim that poverty has been halved when in fact it has not. The triumphalist narrative hailing the death of poverty rests on an illusion of deceitful accounting.

Poor numbers

But there’s more. Not only have the goalposts been moved, the definition of poverty itself has been massaged in a way that serves the poverty reduction narrative. What is considered the threshold for poverty – the “poverty line” – is normally calculated by each nation for itself, and is supposed to reflect what an average human adult needs to subsist. In 1990, Martin Ravallion, an Australian economist at the World Bank, noticed that the poverty lines of a group of the world’s poorest countries clustered around $1 per day. On Ravallion’s recommendation, the World Bank adopted this as the first-ever International Poverty Line (IPL).

But the IPL proved to be somewhat troublesome. Using this threshold, the World Bank announced in its 2000 annual report that “the absolute number of those living on $1 per day or less continues to increase. The worldwide total rose from 1.2 billion in 1987 to 1.5 billion today and, if recent trends persist, will reach 1.9 billion by 2015.” This was alarming news, especially because it suggested that the free-market reforms imposed by the World Bank and the IMF on Global South countries during the 1980s and 1990s in the name of “development” were actually making things worse.

This amounted to a PR nightmare for the World Bank. Not long after the report was released, however, their story changed dramatically and they announced the exact opposite news: While poverty had been increasing steadily for some two centuries, they said, the introduction of free-market policies had actually reduced the number of impoverished people by 400 million between 1981 and 2001.

This new story was possible because the Bank shifted the IPL from the original $1.02 (at 1985 PPP) to $1.08 (at 1993 PPP), which, given inflation, was lower in real terms. With this tiny change – a flick of an economist’s wrist – the world was magically getting better, and the Bank’s PR problem was instantly averted. This new IPL is the one that the Millennium Campaign chose to adopt.

The IPL was changed a second time in 2008, to $1.25 (at 2005 PPP). And once again the story improved overnight. The $1.08 IPL made it seem as though the poverty headcount had been reduced by 316 million people between 1990 and 2005. But the new IPL – even lower than the last, in real terms – inflated the number to 437 million, creating the illusion that an additional 121 million souls had been “saved” from the jaws of debilitating poverty. Not surprisingly, the Millennium Campaign adopted the new IPL, which allowed it to claim yet further chimerical gains.

A more honest view of poverty

We need to seriously rethink these poverty metrics. The dollar-a-day IPL is based on the national poverty lines of the 15 poorest countries, but these lines provide a poor foundation given that many are set by bureaucrats with very little data. More importantly, they tell us nothing about what poverty is like in wealthier countries. A 1990 survey in Sri Lanka found that 35 percent of the population fell under the national poverty line. But the World Bank, using the IPL, reported only 4 percent in the same year. In other words, the IPL makes poverty seem much less serious than it actually is.

The present IPL theoretically reflects what $1.25 could buy in the United States in 2005. But people who live in the US know it is impossible to survive on this amount. The prospect is laughable. In fact, the US government itself calculatedthat in 2005 the average person needed at least $4.50 per day simply to meet minimum nutritional requirements. The same story can be told in many other countries, where a dollar a day is inadequate for human existence. In India, for example, children living just above the IPL still have a 60 percent chance of being malnourished.

According to Peter Edwards of Newcastle University, if people are to achieve normal life expectancy, they need roughly double the current IPL, or a minimum of $2.50 per day. But adopting this higher standard would seriously undermine the poverty reduction narrative. An IPL of $2.50 shows a poverty headcount of around 3.1 billion, almost triple what the World Bank and the Millennium Campaign would have us believe. It also shows that poverty is getting worse, not better, with nearly 353 million more people impoverished today than in 1981. With China taken out of the equation, that number shoots up to 852 million.

Some economists go further and advocate for an IPL of $5 or even $10 – the upper boundary suggested by the World Bank. At this standard, we see that some 5.1 billion people – nearly 80 percent of the world’s population – are living in poverty today. And the number is rising.

These more accurate parameters suggest that the story of global poverty is much worse than the spin doctored versions we are accustomed to hearing. The $1.25 threshold is absurdly low, but it remains in favour because it is the only baseline that shows any progress in the fight against poverty, and therefore justifies the present economic order. Every other line tells the opposite story. In fact, even the $1.25 line shows that, without factoring China, the poverty headcount is worsening, with 108 million people added to the ranks of the poor since 1981. All of this calls the triumphalist narrative into question.

A call for change

This is a pressing concern; the UN is currently negotiating the new Sustainable Development Goals that will replace the Millennium Campaign in 2015, and they are set to use the same dishonest poverty metrics as before. They will leverage the “poverty reduction” story to argue for business as usual: stick with the status quo and things will keep getting better. We need to demand more. If the Sustainable Development Goals are to have any real value, they need to begin with a more honest poverty line – at least $2.50 per day – and instate rules to preclude the kind of deceit that the World Bank and the Millennium Campaign have practised to date.

Eradicating poverty in this more meaningful sense will require more than just using aid to tinker around the edges of the problem. It will require changing the rules of the global economy to make it fairer for the world’s majority. Rich country governments will resist such changes with all their might. But epic problems require courageous solutions, and, with 2015 fast approaching, the moment to act is now. Read more @original source http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/08/exposing-great-poverty-reductio-201481211590729809.html

*Dr Jason Hickel lectures at the London School of Economics and serves as an adviser to /The Rules. 

Africa’s Jobless Growth: Economic success just for a few cannot be a replacement for human rights or participation, or democracy August

O

Africa is Rising! At Least Its 1% Is

Africa’s economy may be booming, but this will do little to help unemployment and poverty if growth is jobless and its spoils are limited to the few.

What we need in Africa is balanced development. Economic success cannot be a replacement for human rights or participation, or democracy … it doesn’t work…it worries us a lot when we don’t see the trickle-through factor, when gain goes to the top 1% or 2%, leaving the rest behind.” – Mo Ibrahim October 15, 2012

It did not come as a surprise to many when, on October 15, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation announced that there was no winner for its annual $5 million African leadership award – for the third time since its inception in 2006. What was surprising, however, was that the foundation’s chair, British-Sudanese billionaire Mo Ibrahim, alsoadmonished the much-celebrated recent economic ‘success’ of the African continent for largely failing to translate into better human rights and social development, and for essentially creating a few elitist winners at the top whilst the rest were left struggling at the very bottom.

Recent reports, forecasts and editorials of influential financial magazines are incredibly optimisticabout Africa – its booming economic growth, its investment opportunities and its growing middle-class. Sub-Saharan African countries are reportedly among the fastest growing in the world with six out of ten world’s fastest growing economies, and recording growth rates averaging 4.9%, higher than the developing country average and much higher than the developed country average.

The Economist’s December 2011 print issue was boldly titled ‘Africa Rises’ and in August 2012, it again boldly proclaimed that ‘A Continent Goes Shopping’, underscoring the voracious purchasing power of the African middle-class to buy consumer and even luxury goods. The current received wisdom in these sleek reports, glossy magazine pages and glass-panelled conference rooms is that sub-Saharan Africa really is the place to be and to invest in, with all its abundant opportunities.

Jobless growth

This much-trumpeted economic success is mostly true, until one looks at the other side. Then questions arise over to what extent growth is spread across sectors of the economy, and whether such economic growth is translating into corresponding improvements in human and social development.

It is common knowledge that this new dawn of booming economic growth is largely the consequence of the recent rise in the global commodity prices of natural resources, chiefly oil, while the vibrancy of other sectors of the economy such as banking, telecommunications and construction trail behind in terms of growth. Many African countries primarily depend on the exportation of natural resources – and industry which is highly capital- (and technology-) intensive, providing few jobs. Only five of Africa’s fifty-four countries are currently not “either producing or looking for oil”.

It is therefore no surprise that many African countries, especially the economic powerhouses of the continent, are bedevilled by high unemployment, particularly amongst young people – hovering at25% in Egypt, 48% in South Africa and 42% in Nigeria. Thus, growth in capital-intensive sectors – such as resource exports, banking, and telecommunications – is barely trickling down to create jobs and economic opportunities for the vast majority of the people – a phenomenon commonly known as ‘jobless growth’.

Many sub-Saharan African countries experiencing record-level economic growth still have low rankings in human development indices, despite marginalimprovements in education enrolment and, with countrywide variations, maternal health. This contradiction is further reinforced by the growing inequality that characterises many of such African ‘powerhouses’. Luanda in Angola (thanks to flowing petro-dollars) and N’Djamena in Chad were, respectively, the second and eighth most expensive cities to live as an expatriate in 2012 – ahead of Sydney, London and New York according to Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey. Juba in the newly independent South Sudan is also gaining notoriety for its high cost of living, while the price of select real estate in Abuja and Lagos in Nigeria reportedly rivals that of some Western cities. These expensive cities are in countries grouped within the ‘Low Human Development’ category of the United Nation’s Human Development Indexbased on indicators such as health, income and education.

A tale of two cities

There has certainly been some improvement – for one, there is now an identifiable middle-class in Africa with money to splash around in the cinemas of Abuja and pricey hotels of Accra, the malls and retail outlets of Johannesburg and the exclusive residential estates of Lagos and Nairobi. However, once you step out of these glitzy inner cities and look to the outskirts, the glaring contrast between the shiny modernity and the urban deprivation in the slums hits you like the searing tropical sun.

 

The task thus remains for governments to devise sustainable development strategies that are tailored specifically to suit the African context. Such strategies must sustain the momentum of economic growth while ensuring that growth spreads to and strengthens sectors such as mechanised agriculture, light manufacturing and small-scale enterprises, which have a direct impact on the lives and incomes of citizens.

Such transformational policies should ensure that revenue windfalls are utilised wisely towards social and welfare policies, which will empower millions of Africans out of poverty, thereby creating a robust middle-class rather than just enriching an already existing sliver. It also means that such funds can be saved to help with later needs, as with the Sovereign Wealth Fund embarked on by countries such as Angola and the new oil-producer Ghana.

Importantly, the African youth bulge needs to be transformed into a demographic dividend by providing employment and economic opportunities to an increasingly educated African youth and by providing critically needed infrastructure so that abundant innovative ideas, which are capable of transforming lives and societies, can materialise into reality.

Ultimately, these are still governance challenges that Africa has a long way go to overcome, but the marginal improvements in some aspects of governance, especially women’s rights, as the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s Index has shown, gives room for some cautious optimism. Mo Ibrahim’s admonishment could not have come at a better time.

Read @ it original source:http://thinkafricapress.com/development/mo-ibrahim-issues-timely-caution-afro-optimists?utm_content=buffer46624&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

 

*Zainab Usman is a Nigerian freelance writer. She is currently a DPhil candidate at the University of Oxford in Governance and Political Economy of Economic Diversification in Sub-Saharan Africa. She has a BSc in International Studies from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and a Masters in International Political Economy and Development from the University of Birmingham. Zainab is an advocate of good governance, poverty reduction and women and youth empowerment. She regularly blogs atzainabusman.wordpress.com.

The Conflict between the Ethiopian State and the Oromo People, by Dr. Alemayehu Kumsa

 

 

 

O

 

 “What is important to consider is the significance of the fact that the people who control TPLF (Tigrai People’s Liberation Front) and Government are very parochial minded and appalling arrogant charlatans. They are extremely violent, insanely suspicious … With twin character flaws of excessive love of consumer goods and obsession with status and hierarchy… Fear, blackmail, intrigue, deception, suspicion, and brutality are its defining characteristics. It is absolutely insane for anyone to expect democracy from a secretive and tyrannical organization as such the TPLF and its spawn” (Hagos 1999:66)71. This study proves the observation of Prof. Gellner (1983) “the Amhara Empire was a prison house of nations if ever was one”72. The contemporary government of Ethiopia controlled by Tigrians is worse than all previous governments economically, politically, militarily and in human rights violation of Oromo and other nations which means, it is one of the worst prison houses of nations in Africa.

 

The Conflict between the Ethiopian State and the Oromo People

Published: Centro de Estudos Internacionais do Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL) (5th European Conference on African Studies/ECAS – June 27-29, 2013)
Keywords: Colonialism, Abyssinia, Oromo, Ethiopia, Liberation Movement

Abstract:
Colonialism is a practice of domination, which involves the subjugation of one people to another. The etymology of the term from Latin word colonus, meaning farmer. This root reminds us that the practice of colonialism usually involves the transfer of population to new territory, where the arrivals lived as permanent settlers while maintaining political allegiance to the country of origin. Colonialism is a characteristic of all known civilizations. Books on African history teaches us that Ethiopia and Liberia are the only countries, which were not colonized by West European states, but the paper argues that Ethiopia was created by Abyssinian state colonizing its neighbouring nations during the scramble for Africa. Using comparative colonial history of Africa, the paper tries to show that Abyssinian colonialism is the worst of conquest and colonial rule of all territories in Africa, according to the number of people killed during the conquest war, brutal colonial rule, political oppression, poverty, lack of education, diseases, and contemporary land grabbing only in the colonial territories. In its arguments, the paper discusses why the Oromo were defeated at the end of 19th century whereas we do have full historical documents starting from 13th century in which the Oromo defended their own territory against Abyssinian expansion. Finally the paper will elucidate the development of Oromo national struggle for regaining their lost independence.

Article in PDF format   ……   Alternatively, On Gadaa.com

Waaqeffannaa (Amantii Oromoo):The traditional faith system of the Oromo people

O

 

Waaqeffannaa (Amantii Oromoo), the traditional faith system of the Oromo people, is one version of the monotheistic African Traditional Religion (ATR), where the followers of this faith system do believe in only one Supreme Being. African traditional religion is a term referring to a variety of religious practices of the only ONE African religion, which Oromo believers call Waaqeffannaa (believe in Waaqa, the supreme Being), an indigenous faith system to the continent of Africa. Even though there are different ways of practicing this religion with varieties of rituals, in truth, the different versions of the African religion have got the following commonalities:

 

– Believe in and celebrate a Supreme Being, or a Creator, which is referred to by a myriad of names in various languages as Waaqeffataa Oromo do often say: Waaqa maqaa dhibbaa = God with hundreds of names and Waaqa Afaan dhibbaa = God with hundreds of languages; thus in Afaan Oromoo (in Oromo language) the name of God is Waaqa/Rabbii or Waaqa tokkicha (one god) or Waaqa guraachaa (black God, where black is the symbol for holiness and for the unknown) = the holy God = the black universe (the unknown), whom we should celebrate and love with all our concentration and energy

 

– No written scripture (ATR’s holy texts are mostly oral), but now some people are trying to compose the written scripture based on the Africans’ oral literature.

 

– Living according to the will of the Supreme Being and love also those who do have their own way of surviving by following other belief systems, which are different from that of the Waaqeffannaa. It includes keeping both safuu (virtues) and laguu (vices); i.e. to love safuu as well as to hate and abhor cubbuu (sin).

 

– Correspondence with the Supreme Being in times of a great need (i.e. in times of natural calamities, unexplained deaths) and try to walk always on the karaa nagaa (on the way of peace = on the way of righteousness, on the road of truth).

 

– Having a devout connection with ancestors; in case of Oromo, the ancestors are all ways blessed and celebrated for the good inheritance we got from them, but not worshiped as some people want to mis understand.

 

The word “culture” is most commonly defined as the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group; different cultures are the distinct ways that classified people living in different parts of the world, that represented their experiences and acted creatively. African peoples have got our own culture, which distinguish us from other parts of the world, of course also having our own sub-cultures among ourselves. Aadaa Oromoo (Oromo culture) being one part of the Cush culture is one of the sub-cultures within the common African culture, which consists also the faith system of Waaqeffannaa as part and parcel of the Oromo/African culture.

 

Waaqeffannaa’s interaction with other religions

According to the expert opinions written up to now, the concept of monotheism is the whole mark of African Traditional Religion including the faith system of the Cush nations. It seems that this concept of monotheism have moved from Cushitic black Africans (including the Oromo) first to ancient Egypt, secondly, further to Israel of the Bible and lastly to the Arab world of Koran. The experts tell us that Moses was not the first monotheist, but Akhenaten was the first revolutionary monotheist; they even claim that Moses might have been black. It is also argued that Moses was an Egyptian Pharaoh known as Akhenaten before the exodus. Additionally, they do argue that Akhenaten’s monotheism revolution in Egypt was not inspired from inside, but induced from outside by the Cushites, i.e. Akhenaten might have derived his monotheism concept from Africa’s/Oromo’s concept of Waaqa tokkicha in a form of “Waaq humna malee bifa hin qabu (God has no physical form, but power).” This concept may have been misinterpreted so that the other religions later started to talk about God with a physical form.

 

It is also interesting to observe many similarities between some old Egyptian words and Afaan Oromo words; for instance, the similarities of the ancient Egyptian words “Anii and Matii” with the Oromo words of “Ana (Ani) and Maatii.” Anii of Egyptians, which means I (I am who I am), that is equivalent to God is similar to the Oromo word Ani, which also means I and refers to the first person singular (the actor = the main character of GOD). Matii being the designation of God’s congregation and the Oromo word Maatii for the family which is the “congregation” of ani (first person = God) are surprisingly the same. This is only one of many similarities between Oromo and Egypt registered by experts till now. It is not my intention to talk about this historical relationship here, but just to show the relation between Oromo’s traditional religion and the three Abraham religions, even though Judaism is not part of the current religions practiced by the Oromo. It means the new acceptance of both Christianity and Islam by Africans is the coming back of the same belief in Waaqa tokkicha to Africa in different forms.

 

This historical relation between Amantii Oromoo and the two big religions of the world suggests that Waaqeffannaa is the older version of monotheism and humanism. Waaqeffannaa as a faith system and Irreechaa as a major national celebration were part and parcel of Oromo public life. Now, some Oromo nationals prefer the name Amantii Oromo/Amantii Africa to Waaqeffannaa. It is important if we all can agree to call the Oromo traditional religion as Amantii Oromo/Amantii Africa, just like we agreed on calling our language Afaan Oromo and our country Biyya Oromo. So in short, we can say: Our land is Biyya Oromo, our language is Afaan Oromo and our religion is Amantii Oromo. It is known that some people may argue by saying “how can we call it Amantii Oromo, when we do see that more than half of the Oromo nowadays have Christianity and Islam as their religion?” Are Oromo with other first language rather than Afaan Oromo not Oromo, despite their lost Afaan Oromo? Should we say just because of these Oromo, who nowadays speak only English, German, Amharic, etc., that Oromo language is not Afaan Oromo? The same way, it is not logical not to call Oromo religion as Amantii Oromo because of the Oromo who overtook other religions. Actually, the designation Waaqqeffannaa (believing in and living with Waaqa) can also be applied to Christian Oromo and Islam Oromo even though most of the Islam Oromo prefer the name Rabbii to the name Waaqa. They all are believers in Waaqa = God = Allah = Rabbii. Amantii Oromo differs only because of its specificity for it is the older Oromo faith embedded in only Oromo/African culture without any influence from alien culture.

 

The fact to be accepted here is that God is universal even though we call HIM Waaqa, Rabbii or Allah. But, Amantii Oromo is the way how our forefathers believed in this universal Waaqa of humankind. We don’t have God or Waaqa, who is specific only to Oromo/Africa and doesn’t care for other nations. Waaqa is the God of nations. But, we Oromo do have a specific way and culture regarding how we do practice our belief in Waaqa. This way of practicing our faith is what we call Amantii Oromo. Amantii Oromo is simply the Oromo way of practicing the faith in the universal Waaqa. It is part of the Oromo way of dealing with the problems of life (it is part of Aadaa Oromo). Accordingly, aadaa (culture) can also be defined as the way, in which a certain collective or group of people deals with its own life problem.

 

The difference between this Amantii Oromo and the other two big religions practiced by Oromo is that the other two got not only the faith in one God, but also the elements of cultures from the people in which they first emerged. We can see here the Arabs accepted the concept of Waaqa tokkicha while still keeping pre-Mohammad Arab culture in Islam, which is far different from Oromo/from African culture, but Islam practiced by Oromo in Oromia is colored by Arab culture for it is adopted from there. Interestingly, this is the difference between Islam Arab and Islam Oromo; Islam Arabs adopted only the concept of Waaqa tokkicha from Cush of Africa/Egypt/Israel, but don’t seem to exercise alien culture from these areas, whereas Islam Oromo tend to adopt both the faith and the culture from Arabs. Egyptians and Israelis, who accepted the concept of the same Waaqa tokkicha, also do practice their faith being colored by their own previous culture; they don’t seem to practice Cush culture; but again Christianity practiced in Oromia is mostly colored by the culture of the Israelis, the Habeshas as well as by that of the Western world for Christian Oromo tend to adopt not only the faith, but also the alien culture.

 

That is why it is not actually bad that some Oromo nationals accept and believe in the two monotheist religions (Christianity and Islam) per se, but not good is giving more value to the culture of the nations from which the religions come to us, at the cost of the very valuable Aadaa Oromo. Of course, good elements of foreign cultures can be accommodated without damaging the good elements of our own. For instance, the similarity between dibbee Qaallu (Qaallu’s drum) and the beat of Tigrinya music shows how Tegarus have inherited and kept some elements of Oromo’s culture. This can verify that the suggestion of Donald Levine, who in his book called Greater Ethiopia wrote that “Tegarus are part of the Cushites of the Old Testament who denied their identity”, may be true. After all, why do they call their mother Aadde? Where does the name Barentu in Eritrea come from? Are they only inheritance of names or were they part of the lost Oromo/Cush? Anyways, it is good to follow the advice given once by Luba Shamsadin. He said (paraphrased here), when we try to accept religions from other nations, we have to identify and separate “the bone of the fish from the meat”; i.e. we need to identify and leave the unnecessary cultural elements of other nations, which are usually mixed with their religions we Oromo do tend to accept and adopt.

 

So as it is put here in short,

Waaqeffannaa (believe in one Waaqa of the universe) is practiced not only among the Cush nations, but also among almost all African nations. This faith system of Africans including Waaqeffannaa has been devalued as something “paganism, barbarism, religionlessness, uncivilization, Godlessness, animism, primitivism, etc”. The black color, which is the symbol of holiness in Waaqeffannaa was/is demonized as a symbol for Satan. All the blessing ceremonies of Waaqeffannaa and the utensil used for the blessings are condemned as a service, an instrument and worshiping of demons/Satan. Despite this denigration, the current revival of Waaqeffannaa and the celebration of Irreechaa in Oromia can be a good example-setting for the other African nations to revive their hitherto devalued and almost lost culture and religion.

 

To serve this purpose of revival, the right way of Waaqeffannaa (believing in, celebrating of and living with Waaqa) must be cleaned from alien non-constructive elements as well as from non-productive practices and rituals like that of “qaalichaa” (infiltrating idolatry), which are not serving the purpose of Waaqa in our personal or national life. That means, we have to differentiate Waaqeffachuu (realizing God’s purpose in our life) from waaqessuu (serving alien gods). Waaqeffachuu is applying Waaqa’s goodwill in our practical life, whereas waaqessuu is making someone or something be our Waaqa, i.e. practicing idolatry. The Oromo people in general have never had an idol to worship, but always had only one Waaqa to believe in and to celebrate. Of course, there are very few Oromo individuals nowadays tending to practice waaqessuu. Such purification of the African faith system from unimportant and useless elements must be done in all versions of the practices and rituals among all African nations.

 

Concept of God in Waaqeffannaa

To make Waaqeffannaa a little bit clear, here is a short narration about this faith system in practice. Oromo nationals practicing this faith do talk about Waaqa tokkicha, which is one of the evidences for the faith to be monotheism, just as the Christianity and Islam are. The concept of God among these believers is summarized by their usual saying: “Waaq humna malee bifa hin qabu.” These believers do not misinterpret Waaqa tokkicha as an expression of physical form for even the whole nature as a physical form is also an expression of his power. The believers and the Qaalluu or Qaallitti (local spiritual leader) are usually very lovely; specially the leaders are simply like a love in person. All their followers are selfless people full of good deeds and love; they do talk about Waaqa, calling him as abbaa koo (my father), and they usually do pray for children saying: “akka ijoollee keenyaa eebbisuuf abba keenya gaafanna (let’s ask our father to bless our children),” they usually don’t say “abba keenya kadhanna (let’s beg our father).”

 

Whenever they are challenged by life problems, they do assert by saying: “Waaq abbaan keenya eessa dhaqeetu (our God is not far away)”, denoting that Waaqa is always ready to help his children. They some times also talk as prophets in a way: “Abbaan keenya akkas jedha, ani sin wajjin jira, ani nan sin gargaara (our father says, I am with you and I will help you)”. According to them, the spiritual father is Waaqa garaa gurraachaa, i.e. Waaqa with holy heart, symbolized with black color, most of whose holiness is unknown to humans. Knowledgeable believers do tell that the concept “Waaqa gurracha garaa garba (black God with heart like ocean)” actually refers to the unknown future. What Waaqa may bring in the future is unknown, and that is signified by black color. Here, garaa garba is also about the unknown. One couldn’t know what is inside the body of water from afar. This point of view seems to be the reason for the color black in the Oromo tricolor to signify the unknown future.

 

In some regions of Oromia, there are a lot of congregations visited by Oromo at some big houses called gimbi (galma) which have got different names: gimbii diloo, maram, abbaa jama, hiike, etc; the spiritual practices done there include the following: dalaguu (dancing), irreenssa kennu (green leaf as a gift), wareeguu (offerings), hammachiisaa (blessing babies), gashaa (delicious food brought to gimbi), etc. Actually, people go to such gimbi regularly carrying green leaves of Irreensaa. In this culture, green grass or green leaf is a powerful symbol for life and prosperity, and it is an element present in all public rituals of Waaqeffataa Oromo, including funerals and prayers of remembrance, during which grass is spread on the ground or grave. The above listed different names of gimbi are Oromo spiritual holy places and palaces, which are equivalent to temple, church and mosque. In all the places mentioned, everyone prays to Waaqa. The practices mentioned above are just variations of spiritual practice to Waaqa.

 

It is also to be observed among the practicing Waaqeffattaa how balanced is their way of discussion and relationship. During sorts of discussions, they often discuss very wisely. For example, when they give comments, here is a sample of how they do: “Ilaa, kanaa fi sana waan gaarii jette. Haa ta’u malee, kunimmoo otoo akkana ta’e wayya (here and there you said good, but it is better if this one be so and so)”. They do not denigrate the opinion of the other side, but tell the better alternative to the opinion they do disagree with. They do tolerate the mistake of others and just tell the consequence of the mistake. As far as they are concerned, there is always cubbuu (sin) in their consciousness, but no concept for hell or condemnation after death. This simply implies that we all do experience the consequence of our trespasses regarding the safuu (virtues) and laguu (vices) expected from us during our life time.

 

Not to suffer such consequences of cubbuu, Waaqeffattaa Oromo have got a lot of very well said prayers in their practical life activities. The following are very few of the impressive prayers in the day to day life of the Oromo, which need to be presented here as examples. They are usually heard from the believers of Amantii Oromo, and they are almost similar to what the believers in Christianity and Islam do pray, let alone the similarity of the greatly formulated prayers we do hear during Irreechaa celebration with what the Christian Qesis and the Islam Sheiks usually do pray:

 

– Yaa Waaq kan dubbatee nu dubbachiisu fi kan hamaa nutti yaadu nurraa qabbi (God keep us from those who speak evil and make us speak the same).

 

– Yaa Waaq mirga nu oolch (help us to walk on the right way); hamaa nurraa qabi (protect us from evil).

 

– Yaa Rabbii, ilmi ga’e haa fuudhu (Oh God, let the young man be married), dubarri geesse haa heerumtu (let the young woman be married), this prayer shows howimportant family building for human blessing is.

 

– Yaa Waaq, ani galee, kan galee hin rafne narraa qabi; ani rafee kan rafee hin bulle narra qabi (I am now at home to sleep, save me from the evil ones who didn’t yet be at their home and didn’t sleep).

 

– Yaa Waaq galgala koo hin balleessiin (let my old age not be cursed), this is related with the conse -quence of cubbuu. The believers are asking Waaqa to help them stay away from cubbuu so that their “galgala (late age)” will not be bad/painful. Here we see something similar with the native American’s culture. They say: “when you came to this world, you cried and everybody else laughed; live your life so that when you leave this world, you laugh and everyone else cries”; i.e. to say live your life free from cubbuu and its conse -quence (suffering), the life style which leads you to the blessing in your old age.

 

This prayers indicate the fact on the ground how Oromo look at Waaqa and at the human-being. Waaqa is conceived as a holy father with whom we can correspond during our day to day life problems or when ever we face calamities or difficulties for his will is always good, whereas human-beings can be with either bad or good intention in relation to each other. Both Gadaa and Qaalluu institutions look at all individuals as human with equal rights in front of Waaqa; that is why there is no a “respect form” of addressing human-being or God in Afaan Oromo, just as there is non in English language. After losing our sovereignty, the Oromo people had to learn how to “respect” authority figures. For there is no such option in Afaan Oromo, we had to use plural verbs to address the authority figures. Even Abbaa Gadaa (chief of the government) and Abbaa Mudaa (the spiritual leader) were addressed as “ati = you in a singular form,” not as “isin = you in a plural form.” Today, we have to address our fellow human being with certain authority as “isin” to show “respect.” It is not bad if such addressing would have been mutual/symmetrical as for instance it is in German language. But such “respect,” which we are now applying is asymmetrical (only the authority figure is addressed with the “respect” form, whereas the authority figure can address the other person without using the “respect” form. Where it is the reality that we don’t use the “respect” form during addressing our Waaqa, as seen in the above prayers, why should we bother to use it in addressing our fellow human being? It would be better if we leave this culture, which we adopted from others with authoritarian culture in contrast to our own egalitarian one. Our concept of Waaqa doesn’t allow us to behave so submissively to any human being, who is equal to us.

 

Virtues and Vices of Waaqeffannaa

Here in short, safuu (virtue) can be defined as the “to do list” in order to serve Waaqa and to achieve his kaayyoo/goal in our personal and national earthly life; whereas laguu (vice) is the “not to do list” or the taboo, so that we can refrain from doing such activities diverting us from the kaayyoo Waaqa for our life. Cubbuu (sin) then in short includes both not doing the safuu and doing the laguu. Just as an example, if we take bilisummaa (national freedom) as Waaqa’s kaayyoo for the Oromo nation, what are the safuu and the laguu to be respected? If the kaayyoo of Waaqeffannaa is individual healing from any sort of illness, what are the safuu and the laguu, which both the healer and the sick person should respect?

 

In order to look at the virtues and vices of the traditional Oromo/African belief system for our earthly life, let us now try to describe Waaqeffannaa as we experienced it and knew it. Note that all the descriptions and notions we try to put here on paper are based on our own argaa-dhageetti (based on our own perception), which may differ from that of the other Oromo nationals. For instance, we could observe that Oromo is a nation filled with celebrations of eebba (blessing), who do have different celebrations for almost everything and everybody related to our life. For instance, taaboree as a blessing ceremony for young boys; ingiccaa for blessing young girls; ayyaana abbaa for blessing the ancestors for the good inheritance we got from them; ateetee for blessing our women; borantichaa for blessing adult men; jaarii looni for blessing our useful animals; jaarii qe’e or jaarii kosii for blessing our residence area; jaarii midhaani to bless our farms; garanfasa mucucoo as a celebration of the rainy season and, of course, gubaa and irreechaa for celebration of the coming birraa (the coming spring season) etc. We hope that Oromo students of anthropology, sociology and theology will make a scientific research on these blessing ceremonies and tell us the constructive and non-constructive elements of the activities in them.

 

But, let us mention few of the virtues (positive aspects) of Waaqeffannaa in our earthly life time. Here the reference point to judge certain elements as negative or positive is the position of the purpose, which Waaqa do have for our personal and national life, i.e. based on the kaayyoo (goal) our Waaqayyoo do have for us. To elaborate this relationship between kaayyoo and Waaqayyoo, we can ask: is Waaq-aayyoo our ka-ayyoo / is our ka-ayyoo the Waaq-ayyoo? It is about knowing what purpose we do serve in our daily life both cognitively and behaviorally, as individuals or as a nation. Be it that we do think and walk at political, religious or private level, we do try to serve certain purpose in life. In order to identify that purpose, we only need to be conscious about it, reflect on it and ask our selves: whom do we privately or collectively serve in our endeavors? Do we serve Waaqa’s purpose for us or that of the others’? Simply put, which purpose should we serve? Fortunately the hitherto cumulative knowledge and wisdom of different societies in general and that of the Oromo society in particular tell us what we ought to serve: i.e. to serve Waaqa’s purpose which is good for us as an individual and as a collective. This good purpose is given a sacred name and it seems to be what people call the will of Waaqa.

 

As a support for this assertion, we can look at an example written in the Bible of Christians, that states : “God is my objective”. Is this to be understood also as: “my objective is God”? Can we say that our good personal or political purpose is the will of Waaqa, whom we ought to serve? To comprehend this, it is no where clearly written other than in Afaan Oromo. Surprisingly the words kaayyoo and Waaqayyoo in our language do indicate to have the same source. As we know, the short word KA is the name given by our Cushitic ancestors to God and the word aayyoo is, of course, the name given to a mother, who does wish all good things for her children and does plan and try to fulfill it. So KA can be defined as the Supreme Being, which has good purpose for ayyoo’s children. This purpose is the “Goodness” for her children. So KA-ayyoo is God’s will (his good objective to her beloved children). The term Waaqayyo is the short form of waan-KA-ayyoo (what is planned from KA for aayyoo and for her children). So we can see that the good end, we have to serve, can be called kaayyoo from Waaqa. So the will of Waaqa is simply to be defined as the good end we should choose to serve as part of the balanced universe created by HIM.

 

To fulfill this service to the good end, fortunately the best thing we do observe among Waaqeffataa Oromo is the work-ethics they do have to achieve the purpose of Waaqa in their earthly life, specially in the life areas of career and family. They do love to be the best in both life areas; they love their family and most of them are very enthusiastic to be successful in their profession. They usually say “Waaq taa’i taa’i namaan hin jedhin (let HE not make us idle);” simply put, diligence is part of safuu and to be idle and lazy is part of laguu. We know that there are certain contamination from other cultures to be practiced as rituals contradicting this virtue and which are not serving the purpose of Waaqa for us. That is why we do recommend not only the revival of this marvelous belief system, which was the creation of our forefathers, but also we do suggest a necessary reformation to make the faith system to be fit, so that it can help us to cope with the 21st century challenge and situation. Waaqa’s creation and his keeping the balance of the universe is still going on, so that HE demands also a dynamic creative work from his creature, from the human being. Another impressive virtue of Waaqeffannaa necessary to be mentioned is its relation with nature and its persuasion to help us keep the environment healthy; it is the faith system which is simply through and through green.

 

Waaqeffannaa’s position on the life after death

According to this belief system, we all will live further after death as ekeraa (in a form of soul/spirit) with our father, with Waaqa, without any possibility of punishment in hell. We recently read Martial De Salviac’s translated book, in which he wrote “Oromo invariably believe that they will go to heaven.” So, the consequence of our cubbuu is not losing eternal life, but suffering in our earthly life. To Waaqeffataa Oromo, Waaqa is the one who wants us not to do a collective cubbuu, but expects us to protect the balanced nature, in which HIS power is manifested. The wisdom that guides Waaqeffataa Oromo in fulfilling this mission seems to be our arga-dhagetti (believe and act on a principle of reality, i.e. based on what we see and hear).

 

According to argaa-dhageetti, the concepts like “cubbuun ni qabdi (sin has got consequence), cubbuun ni sirriqxi (the consequence of sin can be inherited), cubbu abbaatu eeggata or cubbuu irra abbaatu uf eega (everyone should keep him-/herself from committing sin and everybody is responsible for the consequences of the sin he/she commit)” are nice and practical. What we liked most from the principles of Waaqeffannaa is this concept of cubbuu. The consequences of cubbuu are only to be seen here on this earth, not in the coming life after death. There is no hell that Waaqayyoo has prepared to punish the people with cuubbu. This is hilarious and very healing for those who always have to live with the fear of hell or punishment after death.

 

Another interesting aspect of Waaqeffannaa is that we never heard from the practicing believers that they are believing in the presence of an evil spiritual power in the form of Satan, which acts and lives against the almighty power of Waaqa. Accordingly, there is only one sovereign power doing and undoing all things in a universe, that is Waaqa. Unfortunately, the concept Satan is now already spread among the whole Oromo population as a contamination taken from other religions. Waaqeffataa Oromo do believe that the evil things we do experience in life are due to the imbalance of nature as a result of the unwise or wicked deeds of humans as collective, i.e. it is a human cubbuu with its consequences on the earth. That is why they usually ask their Waaqa for wisdom to keep the balance of nature and that HE lead them to only those with good intention and protect them from those with bad intention, for example, in a prayer like: “yaa Waaq tolaa nutti qabi, hamaa irraa nu eegi (God lead who is good to us and keep away who is evil from us). Here it seems that good is someone, who works to keep the balance of nature; and evil is the contrary.

 

According to the faith system of Waaqeffannaa, there is nothing we have to do now to earn eternal life after death; life after death is simply a free gift we got from our father, Waaqayyoo, whom we just need to celebrate and thank as we do daily and during the yearly celebrations like Irreechaa. We also don’t need a savior, who has to suffer and die for us, so that we can get life after death. The only area where we have to work on is trying to live the quality life (the character of the eternal life) according to the will of Waaqa here on earth. To live this quality life, we need to activate our potentials given to us from Waaqa and then walk on the karaa nagaa towards the kaayyoo Waaqa for our life, being free from cubbuu by keeping both safuu and laguu.

 

Further recommendation

The very important aspect of Waaqeffannaa as part of Oromo/African culture is its principle of argaa-dhaggeetti (it is relatively an evidence based faith system, possibly trying to be free from superstition). This principle is about reading the real situations at hand and finding the appropriate solutions for the situations. Waaqeffannaa teaches that only Waaqa is not prone to change for HE is perfect, but all his creature and all the situations are changing with time; that is why his creative action is still going on and that we also need to be in a position to find new solutions for the changed situations. In short, we need to be situation oriented, time oriented and live accordingly. That means, it is good to know the past version of aadaa and Amantii Oromo/Africa; but better is to live and practice the present version of aadaa and Amantii Oromo; of course the best is to create the most beneficial version of aadaa and Amantii Oromo as well as to inherit it to our coming generation. So let’s learn from the past version, live the present version and love to create the future verion of aadaa Oromo in general, and Amantii Oromo in particular.

 

This article is of course coloured by subjective perceptions, so that Oromo nationals are welcome to complement or contradict it. All the sub-titles given in this article need a further meticulous research and study. Through scientific studies, it can be possible to cleanse Waaqeffa -nnaa from certain meaningless rituals adopted from the other sub-cultures, e.g rituals like that of “qaalichaa” (idolatry), xinqolaa (sorcery), etc, where the practitioners are actually making business in the name of the religion. Waaqeffannaa needs not only revival, but also reformation as part and parcel of the ongoing liberation from such sensless practices. Elements, which are against the will of Waaqa for all human-being in general and for African nations in particular must be removed, so that we can say Waaqa bless Oromia/Africa and then live accordingly. Adopting good elements, which serve the will of Waaqa for us, from other cultures and faiths is not bad as it is usually said: “waan gaariin bade hundi kan Oromo ti” (every good thing lost belongs to Oromo). Again, good and bad is defined from the position of the will of Waaqa for our life, i.e. from the position of his kaayyoo in our life, which is always a good purpose.

 

So, only celebrating the holidays and reviving the religion are not enough, if we want to be fit for the present 21st century situation and for the situation in which our future generation will live. Our forefathers created a faith system as part of the solution to their situation; we also need to do the same. So let’s not try to use the same key used by our forefathers in the past to open doors with totally different keyholes at the present and the future or we don’t need to ride a donkey at this age of driving a limousine; in short we need a right solution for the present and the future situations. Our next generation need to inherit from us the latest and modern model/edition/version of our faith system, Waaqeffannaa, which they also can reform, edit and secure for their children and grand children, so that we human-being continue to be as creative as our father, Waaqa.

 

Let’s give a simple suggestion as an example in the required reforming: why can’t we use bundle of flowers for Irreechaa, instead of only grass used by our forefathers? Why don’t we use water or oil, instead of butter to anoint others during the blessing ceremonies just for the sake of hygiene? Why don’t we use candle light or the modern beautifully colored electric light decorations instead of bonfire during wa-maraa (demera)? etc. Now it is a time to have Waaqeffannaa free from non-productive and untimely elements, so that it will be a faith system, which will be accepted and believed by the enlightened and informed Oromo in particular as well as by Africans in general (so that it will be a faith system serving the will of Waaqa for Oromia in particular, and for Africa in general).

 

Last but not least, Waaqeffataa Oromo need to be creative in realizing the will of Waaqa in our life, which is the only way to “evangelize” and convert others to the “karaa nagaa (to the right way) HE wants us to walk. We need to learn from the past (the known part of life, which is symbolized by white color), live the present (the challenging part of life symblized by red color) and love to know the future (the unknown part of life symbolized by black color). The karaa nagaa at this particular era/time includes the virtue of a passinate struggle in life both individually and collectively, not an attitude of the pacifistic stoicism. Waaqeffannaa doesn’t persuade us to do things to secure life after death, but it tells us that our effort and enthusiasm are part of the safuu we have to keep and implement in order to make our life here on earth the excellent success story.

Read the full article from original source @http://gihonpostsite.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/waaqeffannaa-the-african-traditional-faith-system/

 

 

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

 

O

 

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.

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