Contested Terrains

Oromianwisdom

CONTESTED TERRAINS: CONFLICTS BETWEEN STATE AND LOCAL COMMUNITIES OVER THE MANAGEMENT AND UTILIZATION OF NECH SAR NATIONAL PARK, SOUTHERN ETHIOPIA
Asebe Regassa Debelo
Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies, Bayreuth, Germany

Journal of Sustainable Development in Africa (Volume 13, No.5, 2011)
ISSN: 1520-5509. Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Clarion, Pennsylvania

 

ABSTRACT
In Ethiopia, development models have been borrowed from different countries since the mid 19th century. Despite their difference in discourses over political and economic ideologies, successive regimes in the country shared similarities in their relationship with the society. The Ethiopian state has been perceived as predatory state for its exploitative nature and because of its reliance on the poor in extracting revenue. In 1991, Ethiopia experienced a new political order that ostensibly promised the society with rights of self-government, decentralization of power and local development through
empowerment of local institutions. Nevertheless, the top-down and centrist approach in the planning and management of development schemes have been the features of the current regime. Taking the case of Nech Sar national park as a case study, this paper argues that the official narratives of development and conservation contradict local conceptions and ultimately fail to ensure both conservation and development missions it intends to achieve. Rather, state intervention threatens the livelihood of local communities and sustainability of biodiversity in the park.
Keywords: Development, Conservation, Local communities, Conceptions of nature
INTRODUCTION
In Ethiopian history, the territories in the southern part of the country have been represented as a natural space ‘unspoiled’ by human activities where as the people are portrayed as ‘close to nature’. In a close investigation of the north-south dichotomies in Ethiopia, an analogy can be drawn with Europeans’ perception of Africa during the colonial conquest. In other words, the north has been represented as ‘historical’ while the south is viewed as ‘natural’ or ‘wilderness’. David Turton (2009) argues that the Ethiopian state used the ‘wilderness’ notion in peripheral south as a mechanism of state building, control of the people and territories, and for building legitimacy through so called development and conservation schemes. Following the incorporation of the south into the Ethiopian empire in the late
19th century through military conquest, the state-society relationship has been paternalistic in which the state is perceived as predatory because of its policies of suppression and exploitation.

A new political landscape was introduced in 1991 following the institutionalization of ethnic federalism and its policy instruments of decentralization, self-government and local autonomy (Clapham 2002). Ostensibly, the new political order was thought to redress past injustices and inequalities. In principle, ethnic federalism grants ethnic based self-government to different ethnic groups and presumably ensures decentralization of power as vehicle of local development. According to Mohammed Salih and John Markakis (1998), the Ethiopian experiment of ethnic federalism envisions development
harnessing ethnicity as a vehicle. They contend that; Decentralization in Ethiopia is not seen merely as device for the satisfaction of ethnic political demands, but also as the path leading to democratization through devolution of decision making in a manner that enables more people to influence the political process. Furthermore, since decentralization and democratization are regarded as requisite to development, the empowerment of ethnicity is intended to harness ethnicity to the purposes of
development (Mohammed and Markakis, 1998, p. 8, emphasis added).
Although institutionalization of ethnic federalism is supposed to ensure self-government of the constituent nations and nationalities in Ethiopia, different critiques have been outlined by scholars, particularly regarding its practical implementation. For instance, as Dereje (2006) contends in his study of the Gambela case, despite a promising start (formal and symbolic empowerment) ‘the political blessing’ has turned out to be a curse for the majority of ordinary men and women who experienced the federal experiment as escalation of conflict. The message implicated in the argument indicates persistence of disparities between the national discourse of the experiment and its actual realities at local levels.
Likewise, based on his fieldwork analysis among the Siltie in South Ethiopia, Zerihun (2004) contends the presence of hierarchical structures in state-peasant relationship in development programs despite the rhetoric of participatory development advanced by the government. He further argues that the concept, “development”, itself is perceived and being practiced by elites and ethnic entrepreneurs as a technocratic process to be administered and planned by the state rather than negotiated with, and contested by, the peasants (Zerihun, 2004). In line with this concern, Mohammed and
Markakis critically point out that it is crucially important to note that the success of this unfinished altruistic project depends on “whether the formal i.e. constitutional provisions of decentralization and democratization are realized in practice” (1998, p.8).
More specifically, the Ethiopian experiment of ethnic federalism and its policy instruments of decentralization and selfgovernment failed to move beyond rhetoric. Centralized and top-down administrative systems are still in place while local communities’ participation in decision making processes is far from practical. In this article, the national discourse of ethnic federalism that ostensibly promotes decentralized governance and local development through empowerment of
local administrative units will be analyzed by taking the management of Nech Sar National Park as a case study. By so doing, it probes whether the envisioned and highly applauded ethnic federalism has been translated into practice.
THE NECH SAR NATIONAL PARK: A CONTESTED TERRAIN
Unlike in other African states where national parks and game reserves were established following the commencement of colonial conquest in the late 19th century, Ethiopia entered into international environmental politics (with reference to Protected Areas) in 1960s (Abiyot, 2009). The country began collaborating with international institutions such as UNESCO in early 1960s as a step towards adopting western conservation practices. The first partnership was established when a team of Ethiopian delegation participated in a conference organized by UNESCO in 1962 in Paris that deliberated
on “Economic Development and Conservation of Natural Resources: Flora and Fauna”. The Ethiopian team requested UNESCO Director-General to provide the country with necessary support for the survey of potential areas to be reserved as national parks. To this end, UNESCO sent a team that surveyed and recommended three areas: Semein Mountain, Awash and Omo Valleys in 1965. Later on, a British Biologist added Nech-Sar to be established as national park in 1967 that came into effect in 1974 as game reserve (Abiyot, 2009; Tewasen, 2003). It was this partnership that later enabled Ethiopia to adopt the ‘conventional’ or classical conservation approach as implemented elsewhere in colonial Africa. 51
Source: http://www.southtourism.gov.et/Home/Nature/NationalParks/NNPBigMap.html
The major initiative for the establishment of the park was “for preservation of the endemic Swayne’s Hartebeest and for its scenic beauty” (Dessalegn, 2004) but later because of its richness in biodiversity, other objectives were included. The park is endowed with over 800 species of higher plants, 91 species of Mammals, 351 species of birds, and others such as insects. The park features a great diversity of animal population with the dominant ones including Burchell’s Zebra, Grant’s gazelle, the endemic Swayne’s hartebeest, Nile crocodile in Lake Chamo, Lesser Kudu, lion, wild dog and other animals (APF Annual Report, 2007). Moreover, the landscape that constitutes underground water forests and the ‘Forty
Springs’ add to its scenic beauty. As a result, the park was established with the aim of preserving immense natural resources and generating economic benefits from tourism for the country (Dessalegn, 2004; APF Annual Report, 2007).
Before the establishment of the park, the territory was used by the Guji Oromo agro-pastoral community as a wet season grazing land whereas the fertile eastern escarpment has been extensively utilized by both the Koore and Guji communities for agriculture (Tadesse, 2004; Getachew, 2007). Before the state intervention through conservation program, the Guji lived with the wildlife in mutually complementary manner. However, adopting the western approach that presumes wildlife and people as incompatible mixes, the park management has taken fierce measures against local communities throughout the three regimes. The local Guji and Koore communities were evicted from the park in two phases. The first was in 1982 under the military regime while the second was in 2004/5 under the EPRDF (Ethiopian
Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front) that is on power since 1991. Following the eviction of the local people from the park, wildlife, particularly the herbivorous, were reported to have migrated with the people. Perhaps, this experience is against the ‘conventional’ conservationist thought that presumes local people as threats to wildlife in and around protected areas. This scenario raises a fundamental question on what implicit relationships exist between the people and the animals. Thus, this paper attempts to investigate different conceptions of nature and the implications that such disparities invoke on conservation practices in and around Nech Sar national park. It also probes into human-wildlife 52
relations in and around the park. As points of departure, this paper raises questions which include: How do the Guji conceptualize/perceive their environment? What are the basis of relationship between human and non-human ‘worlds’ in Guji’s cosmological scheme? What approaches has been followed by the park administration in Nech Sar national park?
What conservation implication does the different conception of nature entail? With a total size of 514 km2 (official figure during its establishment), the park adjoins Arba Minch town in the west,
Amaro Mountains in the East, Lakes Abaya and Chamo in the north and south respectively. In fact, parts of the two lakes are included into the park territory in 1990s. It should be noted that following change in administrative systems at national levels, the park was also reported to have undergone changes in size. Local communities and some academic sources indicate that the official figure is far less than the actual park size (Tadesse, 2004). It is rather estimated to be over 1000km2 . In terms of interaction with human population, in the west Arba Minch town dwellers and in the east Guji and Koore communities heavily rely on resources in the park for different livelihood purposes. While urban dwellers
exploit forest resources for charcoal, firewood, timber, and construction materials, the Koore extensively use the eastern border of the park (sometimes inside the park territory) for agriculture. Similarly, the Guji agro-pastoral communities graze their cattle in and around the park while cultivating crops such as maize, coffee, banana, sweet potato and avocado in a contested lowland area that adjoins the park and the Koore people. It has been claimed that the whole territory now designated as national park was Guji’s dry season grazing land since 16th century (Getachew, 2007).
From its establishment till the downfall of the military regime, the park management was typically state-centered, topdown, exclusionary and coercive against local people. In a similar approach to the classical protectionist conservation approach, it used ‘fences and fines’ and considered local people as hostile to nature, particularly to the wildlife. Oral narratives of the communities (particularly Guji’s and Koore’s) indicate that the park management strictly controlled any access to the park by establishing police stations and taking coercive measures against the people who are found utilizing resources in and around the park territories. For instance, at present if a person is caught hunting or grazing his cattle in
the park, he would be jailed for six months and would pay fifty Ethiopian Birr (about three dollars) per head of cattle. In short, customary rights were criminalized whereas indigenous knowledge of resource management was denigrated. To make the matter worse, the military regime forcefully evicted over 2000 Koore and Guji communities in 1982 (Dessalegn, 2004). During the eviction, houses, crops, and properties were burnt to ashes. Many cattle died in shortage of water and pasture en-route to new settlement areas. Since the state did not prepare any resettlement areas for the displaced people, they were prompted to compete over resources with other neighboring communities such as the Konso
and Burji. This led to protracted inter-ethnic conflict that further destabilized the region and impoverished the people.
Following the regime change in 1991 and the subsequent legal and political vacuum created for a while, both communities returned to their previous settlement areas. But the people’s attitude towards the park and their relationship with the wildlife was changed to hostility. Informants from both communities recall memories of how people reacted against wildlife and resources of the park. Some further pointed out that “people began to associate the animals with the state because it was for those animals that the state evicted the people” (informant, Shanxara Halake, May 2011). As a result, both groups began massive killing of animals for food and commerce. Moreover, the Guji started grazing their cattle far inside the centre of the park while hundreds of Koore community moved down to the Sermale basin for
agricultural activities. On the western side where it adjoins Arba Minch town, massive destruction of forests for timber, charcoal, firewood, and construction materials were reported to have been taken place (APF Annual Report, 2007). Informants from Arba Minch town bitterly recall that the period was a time when people destroyed resources as if it were enemy’s property. Although some sorts of administrative decentralization have been put in place in post 1991 period (the park was administered by SNNPR – Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region – from 1991 to 2004 and then was given to African Parks Foundation), the conservation philosophy was not changed across the three regimes. The fundamental protectionist approach of the pre-1970s that advocates complete isolation of protected areas from human interaction and perceives local people as foes to the ‘wilderness’ continued to date. As a result, since late 1990s, resettlement programs were proposed as the only strategies to ‘sustainably’ manage the park and its resources. In a preparation to transfer the management of the park to The Netherlands-based Multinational Company (African Parks Foundation – APF), the resettlement process of the Guji and Koore communities became an inevitable option. While over thousand Koore
households were resettled to Abulo and Alfacho villages (some 50km to the south bordering Konso and Burji ethnic groups) in 2004/5, the Guji community initially refused to move. Finally, the SNNPR government deployed a police force gainst the Guji and pushed them away from the Nech-Sar plains at gunpoint. Reports from oral informants and other sources indicate that 463 Guji houses were burnt during the eviction while about 5000 people were evicted (Dowie, 2009).
The justification on the side of the park and government, particularly SNNPR, for the resettlement program is that local communities have continuously been encroaching into the park territory for pasture, water, agriculture and poaching. Therefore, it is claimed that increased competition between livestock and wildlife would threaten the survival of the latter and by implication affects the economic gain to be earned through tourism. It is also argued that further agricultural expansion into the park territory threatens homes of wildlife while hunting actually risks the life of the animals.
In contrast to what community-based conservation advocates propose, the actions of Ethiopian government and the APF in the early years of the new Millennium clearly fit into the classical conservation discourses that used to promote strict isolationist approach. According to Zube and Busch (1990), for sustainable environmental management, involvement of local peoples becomes uncompromised. The authors emphasize that sustainable community based conservation strategies
in protected areas include four possibilities: 1) a condition where local people are involved in managing the park and/or reside in the park, 2) park management delivers services for people residing outside the park, 3) maintenance of traditional uses inside the park (from outside) 4) local people’s involvement in tourism related activities (Zube and Busch, 1990, p. 117-126). As it has been noted above, this view itself does not address the dichotomous perceptions on human-non-human relations. It rather tries to seek a rights-based solution to local communities. As it was clearly stipulated in the agreement between the government and APF, the Ethiopian government took the mandate and responsibility to resettle the local people so that the company would proceed in fencing the park to deter any human and
livestock entrance into the territories designated for the park (APF Annual Report, 2007). In this regard, the resettlement program would detach the local people from their customary land because the sites selected for the resettlement were located at a minimum of 50km to the south of the park. It had also economic consequences as it dislocates the communities from the fertile lowland area called Tsalke, which is drained by Sermale River. The fertile Sermale basin provides year round opportunity for agriculture through irrigation. Currently, the people produce mango, avocado, coffee, banana, enset, maize, and root crops. For the Guji and few Koore communities who still live adjacent to the park,
the Sermale valley provides a means of survival that cannot be compromised.

The agro-pastoralist Guji community has had long history of interaction with the wildlife. Therefore, an insight into their cosmologies, perceptions on development and conservation approaches gives us a clear understanding of the implication of difference between national and local discourses on development and conservation. Since the Guji are one of the major local actors who influence the dynamics in the park, this paper focuses on different levels of confrontation between the Guji and the state over the park.
GUJI COSMOLOGIES
The Guji people belong to the larger Oromo nation and inhabit southern part of Ethiopia. Currently, they live in Oromia regional state in Borana and Guji zones with few members of the community included in NSSP (Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples) regional state in Sidama and Gedeo zones. The Guji community perceives the advent of park administration as an intervention into their historical harmonious relationship with the wildlife. The historical conservation practices among the Guji were entwined with their cosmological schemes and embedded in their culture, beliefs and norms. The Guji are among a few of Oromo nation who have strong cultural connection with their environments (Van De Loo, 1991). For the Guji, culture, peace and supernatural power, Waaqa (God) are strongly
entwined. Baxter (1991, p. 9) explains that “Guji, like other Oromo society, are keenly aware that the maintenance of their culture depends on the maintenance of Nagea: Peace, that is amongst them considered as a community and between them and God. But this peace is not a free gift; its maintenance requires continuous, earnest application, and is never sure or certain”. According to Baxter, the duty of maintaining peace rests on the shoulder of elders and requires them to provide continuous rituals, prayers, sacrifices, blessings and obeying the rules of Waaqa (Baxter 1991). The Guji elders
provide rituals and prayers to Waaqa on behalf of all people, cattle and their environment at large. The Guji believe that failure to maintain harmony with Waaqa may inflict by withholding the rain on which all animals and humans absolutely depend. The author remarks that “For fertility to continue and for all people and things to grow and mature, the Earth, the cattle and the women must all be moist” (Baxter, 1991, p. 10). Among the Guji community, cattle herding and possession of large herd of cattle are associated with cultural pride, economic values (wealth), sense of Guji identity and provides social privilege in marriage arrangement and inter-societal relationships. Tadesse (2006, p. 209) describes that though the Guji practise mixed economy of animal husbandry and crop cultivation, “their real wealth consists of cattle, sheep, goats and horses. Emotions and pride are centred on stock.
People who do not own cattle are not considered to be proper Guji”. In Guji culture, beyond the economic values, cattle are used for rituals, transition rites, gift, bride price, compensation during reconciliations, and as a symbol of social prestige. Therefore, the Guji count not in terms heads of cattle but of moona (kraal) that ranges from seventy to hundreds.
(However, the stock – source of wealth and reflection of Guji identity – is currently under serious depletion because restriction to pasture land and change in climatic conditions in the horn of Africa.) Their strong attachment to the stock provides the Guji with knowledge about their environment. As Van De Loo (1991) indicates, the Guji possess deep knowledge of the anatomy, disease and remedies that they acquired through religious practices and experiences. Despite owning large number of livestock, the Guji have traditionally no meat feeding culture. In most cases, their food constitutes barley, maize, and milk products. Meat is eaten only on special occasions such as festivals, reception of a special guest, weddings and so on. Traditionally, it was culturally prohibited among the Guji to eat the meat of wild
animals. While the reason for low meat consumption culture in reference to livestock is related to the value they give to cattle; the Guji claim that traditionally they do not eat meat of wild animals for many reasons. This prohibition was associated to religious belief, social implications and health factors.
The first one is closely related to their cosmological scheme in that they have an oath to safeguard the animals under the protection of the supernatural power, Waaqa/God. For the Guji, their relationship with wildlife is part and parcel of their connection to the supernatural power, Waaqa. Guji’s worldview puts the biophysical, the human and the supernatural in one integral component of the environment. They argue that the relationship between the three is based on reciprocity.
They state that;

Waaqa created us with cattle so that we look after them, care for them and use them for our needs. But these animals [wild animals] do not have shepherd except God Himself. Waaqa gave us the responsibility to care for the animals on his behalf and he cares for our cattle, people and generally nagaa Gujii [peace of the Guji land]. Therefore, if one kills the one that God looks after, he will inflict through famine, drought, disease and instability that destroys livestock and people. But, when we care for the animals, Waaqa reciprocates us with fertility, abundance, rain, and peace. Therefore, from our forefathers until today, we lived with these animals in peace and harmony. They are also peaceful to us (Group discussion, Ergansa, April 2011).
Through a reciprocal relationship, they expect Waaqa to bless them with fertility, peace, abundance, and health which they would get only by doing something good to the environment, especially caring for animals. In Guji worldview, all living and non-living things in their environment were created by a supernatural power, Waaqa. They believe that Waaqa created them with their cattle and gave them water and pasture to nurture their animals. It is their inherent conviction that they were born pastoralists, to look after cattle. At same time, they are conscious about the presence of other ‘cattle’ whose shepherd is Waaqa himself. These are what other people call wildlife. The Guji do not categorize “wild” and
“domesticated” in a strict sense of the words. The dichotomy prevails only when it comes to place of residence and ownership.
The Guji maintain a balance of food chain by safeguarding the prey wildlife, particularly herbivorous animals who seek refuge close to their homesteads in fear of big predators. A Guji elder said that “we care for the animals by providing grass and water, for example if we come across an animal in process of delivery or attacked by a predator. We do this because we want to save the life of the animals. Its owner loves them as we love our cattle” (interview with Danbala Badacha, May 2011). This also goes to what Tim Ingold (2000) explains as trust and reciprocity in human-non-human relations. According to the people, the preys developed trust upon the people and approach them seeking protection.
Another restriction is related to culture. Among the Qaalluu clan (a clan from where Qaalluu religious leaders are hereditarily elected), there are restrictions on many food items. Qaalluu institution is a religious institution that regulates the relationship of people with Waaqa. The leaders are seen as intermediaries between the two. The restriction includes poultry items, cabbage, meat from all wild animals, and some cereals such as millet, teff and sorghum. Many of the Guji around Nech Sar national park are from Alabdu clan – the clan known among the Guji as Qaalluu clan. Therefore, in traditional context, they were prohibited from eating the flesh of wild animals. Social taboos contribute to biodiversity conservation by imposing different levels of restrictions on members of a social group. Colding and Folke (2001) identified six types of social taboos exercised by indigenous peoples in different parts of the world. These include segment, temporal, method, life history, specific-species and habitat taboos (see Colding and Folke, 2001 for details on each category). In the context of Qaalluu regulation, a specific-species taboo applies to Guji’s restriction on consumption of specific animals. However, in traditional context, Guji’s prohibition of the killing of all wildlife, except those used for
cultural pride, can be related to general social taboo regardless of species specificity. Colding and Folke argue that such restrictions are mainly associated with beliefs in that “in some traditional societies taboos are enforced through beliefs that spirits will sanction violators by invoking illness upon people” (2001, p. 589). Likewise, the Guji believe that violation of the ancestral oath with Waaqa would invoke disasters on their livestock, people and the environment by causing drought that would lead to famine, the spread diseases and the disruption of peace. Moreover, avoidance of specific food items, including wild animals is meant to maintain their legitimacy as religious leaders.
Restriction to bush meat is also related to social implications it perpetuates. A person who kills wild animals for food is categorized among the poor because killing wildlife for food is perceived as derived from poverty. Poverty implies low social prestige, which in turn is reflected in marriage arrangement and other interpersonal relations. An elder from the Ergansa village recalled the tradition that “if a person is once labeled as killing animals for food, people would not give him their daughters for marriage. They would label the person saying he is from those who eat bush meat but now everyone abandoned the safuu (norms)”. Moreover, the Guji link the prohibition of bush meat with health conditions.
They claim that eating bush meat spoils one’s mouth and destroys teeth. It is also explained that it causes diseases (Getachew, 2007).
But it should be noted that there are exceptions in Guji’s prohibitions of the killing of wild animals. The first is when they need the meat for medicinal purposes. Even in the past, the people used to selectively kill some animals for medicine but once they kill a single animal, its meat can be kept for long period of time. The second exception is killing big game animals out of motives related to cultural honor. The Guji kill also big game animals for midda (honor). The killing of animals such as lion, buffalo, elephants and rhino give the killer a prestige of midda (Tadesse, 1994). The Guji claim that they were given midda culture by Waaqa. It is a culture through which they reveal their pride, greatness, bravery and thus the Guji believe that all these are given to them from Waaqa. However, today, it is only lion that exists
in and around the park.
As indicated above, institutions of resource governance and ethics pertaining to the utilization and access to resources among the Guji have been entwined with their cosmological schemes. Their attachment to their environment as part of their connection to Waaqa, religious institutions such as the Qaalluu institution, the socio-political system called the Gadaa system and other social norms and values are important local frameworks that guide the nature of resource management among the group. It is also worth mentioning that the livelihood engagement of the people, that is, pastoral activity prompts the people to systematically utilize the resources (pasture and water) in order to cope up to local climate
variability. Among the Guji, access to resource is decided by clan elders in which all members of the clan are eligible to common pasture and water grounds. However, granting water sources and pasture to members of other clan or ethnic group(s) is considered as future investment during times of scarcity or in cases of drought. There are also other social networks such as marriage and trade that necessitate sharing resources. The Guji say that letting livestock to die by blocking access to water and pasture is considered as transgressing Guji’s oath with Waaqa. Such act is believed to bring infliction by the Waaqa who would hold back rain or causes diseases. For the Guji, conservation and development are understood from cultural point of view. For instance, while caring for the environment is part of their cosmological schemes of local knowledge and belief, what they consider appropriate development scheme is something that is compatible to local values, customs and livelihood traditions. Although they
have expectations to get schools for their children, road connecting to the nearest markets, health centre, mill machine and access to pure water, any ‘development’ program that disrupts their traditional livelihood system – pastoralism – is not acceptable to the ordinary men and women. As stated earlier in this paper, livestock signifies beyond mere economic purpose among the Guji. Thus, state’s development conception that gives emphasis to settled agriculture and ecotourism project in the area is seen by the Guji as a challenge to their livelihood and a restriction on their customary rights of
resource utilization.
THE NATIONAL DISCOURSE: THE STATE’S CONCEPTION OF DEVELOPMENT AND CONSERVATION
Following the birth of the modern Ethiopian state in the late 19th century through military conquest of the then autonomous states in the south, the state was noted for ethnic-based political dominations, economic exploitation and socio-cultural marginalization upon the subjected people (Vaughan, 2003). During those periods, peasants were restricted from their customary land rights while pastoral communities were highly marginalized from access to any social services (Hagmann and Mulugeta, 2008). Thus, because of its exploitative nature, the Ethiopian state remained predatory over the
people, particularly in the south. As Donald Donham (1986, p. 24) remarks on exploitation of the subjected peoples of the south, “By the early twentieth century, extractions from northern peasants lightened, just as those from southern peoples were made more heavy”. Donham bemoans that the Ethiopian state comprised a dual system in which the political economy of the north was sustained by massive transfer of wealth from the southern regions and that the peoples of the south were, notwithstanding their region’s contribution to the national economy, denied access to political power,
economic resources, and cultural autonomy.
Despite their contribution to the national economy, the peoples in the subjugated regions of the south were not given equal opportunities in the national economic, political and social affairs of the country not least their representation as ‘backward’ and ‘close to nature’ as portrayed in the legend of ‘Great Tradition’ (Donham, 1986; Levin 2000; Turton 2009). Such history of domination continued for over half a century until mid 20th century. In the 1960s, the pervasiveness of Amhara domination provoked a reaction from the subject peoples. Grievances that they were being economically-exploited, administratively-oppressed, socially-marginalized and culturally-stigmatized by the few Amhara
elites operating within ethnic-based oppressive system fomented a sense of ethnic self-awareness among the subjugated peoples. People who shared the historical experiences of oppression began to witness their dichotomized existence of privilege and deprivation based on ethnic distinctiveness. They harnessed on a repertoire of traditional values and deployed them as a fortification against the Amhara/Ethiopian ethnic hegemony (Bassi 1996; Seyoum 2001). Gradually, ethnic consciousness – a sense of awareness of being oppressed, exploited and marginalized on ethnic basis by elites of a 58
particular ethnic group – grew up into sense of ethnic nationalism, mainly among the educated segments of the oppressed ethnic groups who later contributed to the rise in ethnic self-representations and sense of identity among their respective groups.
Among possible factors that transformed ethnic grievances into consciousness and later into ethnic nationalism, the role of education was significant. In the post 1941 period, the expansion of modern education, specifically the opening of a university and colleges, brought a particular group of students close to the centre of political activity. Born in rural conditions, this group of students had direct experiences of the depredations of the ethnic-based oppressive system. The opportunity of higher education enabled them to conceptualize Amhara hegemony within Ethiopia in a broader
international dimension of colonial oppression. This cohort played a pivotal role in articulating ethnic grievances as ethnic consciousness and transforming the latter into ethnic nationalism, thereby in generating support for ethnonationalist liberation movements who included issues of ethnicity in their political agenda.
In effect, ethnic nationalism was articulated by the Ethiopian Student Movement (ESM) in the 1960s. This opened a new chapter for ethnic politics in the country where talking about ethnic diversity was condemned as a threat to national unity.
The ESM was first organized by Hailesillasie I University (now Addis Ababa University) students as a protest against the exploitative class relations under the imperial regime, which had impoverished the rural life. After mid 1960s, the movement added ‘the nationality question’ into the list of political agenda (Balsvik, 1985).
For the activists of the ESM, Marxist-Leninist philosophy was initially their inspiration for setting their political agenda. The solution they prescribed as a cure of the problem of national oppression – right to self-determination of nations and nationalities including secession – was brought to public attention in 1969 by an article written by Wallelign Mekonnen, one of the leaders of the student movement who was killed in 1972 during an attempted hijack of (Balsvik, 1985; Merera, 2003).The article sparked a political bombshell to the regime by explicitly addressing ethnicity and exposing the Amhara dominance and oppression to the public. A portion of his article reads as follows:
Is it [Ethiopian national identity] not simply Amhara and to a certain extent Amhara-Tigre supremacy? Ask anybody what Ethiopian culture is? Ask anybody what Ethiopian language is? Ask anybody what Ethiopian religion is? Ask anybody what is the national dress? It is either Amhara or Amhara-Tigray!! To be a ‘genuine Ethiopian’ one has to speak Amharic, to listen to Amharic music, to accept the Amhara-Tigre religion, Orthodox Christianity, and to wear the Amhara-Tigre shama in international conferences. In some cases to be an ‘Ethiopian’, you will even have to change your name. In short, to be an Ethiopian, you will have to wear an Amhara mask (Quoted in Balsvik 1985, 277).
Wallelign’s article broke the ice of silence on the issue of ethnicity among Ethiopian students. His was a strong condemnation of the century long illusion of the success of the imperial regime’s ‘nation-building’ project. Thus, the political, historical, economic and social realities of the country expressed in the form of ethnic-based oppression became the basis for the rise of ethno-nationalist movements devoted to a struggle for liberation from the century long ‘colonial experience’ or ‘national oppression’ (Merera, 2003). In short, ethnicity became an aspect of the call for political change of the major liberation fronts such as the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and OLF (Oromo Liberation Front) and many others since the 1960s.  In the process, the last feudal regime was toppled in the 1974 revolution that brought a military junta to the political scene. Although some signs of recognition to issues of diversity were seen during the early years of the military regime, it could not move beyond rhetoric (Clapham, 2009). Clapham argues that the early promises of the military regime (i.e. the derg) that attracted popular support became a nightmare to most of the Ethiopian masses as the centralist policy
undermined local autonomies of those who contested the structure of the state itself (ibid). By the end of 1980s TPLF managed to organize other ethnic-based movements and formed Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front/EPRDF. In part because of its failure to address the nationalities questions, the military junta was ousted by the combined forces of different liberation movements. With EPRDF’s seizure of state power in 1991, ethnicity has been formally institutionalized as the foundation of ethnic federalism as a new political arrangement (Clapham, 2002; Turton 2006).
As a brainchild of the student movement, TPLF/EPRDF emphasized on rights of nations, nationalities and peoples to ‘self-determination’ (Clapham, 2009). In contrast to its predecessor, the military regime, which attempted to resolve the country’s most difficult issue – ethnic question vis-à-vis unity – through class struggle, the TPLF/EPRDF sought resolution to the issue through ‘voluntary’ federalism based on ethnic based autonomous units in a pursuit for forging national unity (Clapham, 2009). In this manner, the federal arrangement was conceived in the Transitional Charter of 1991 but was enacted by the 1994 constitution that came into effect a year later. The Ethiopian Constitution of 1995 can be described as comprehensive for embracing essential democratic values and declaring Ethiopia to be a party to all major international treaties on human rights and public law (Abbink, 2009). Article
39 of the Constitution, with its reference to rights of nations, nationalities and peoples, reveals the centrality of ethnicity as the organizing principle of the new political system:
Every Nation, Nationality and People in Ethiopia has an unconditional right to self-determination, including the right to secession…Every Nation, Nationality and People in Ethiopia has the right to speak, to write and to develop its own language; to express, to develop and to promote its culture; and to preserve its history…Every Nation, Nationality and People in Ethiopia has the right to a full measure of self-government which includes the right to establish institutions of government in the territory that it inhabits and to equitable representation in state and Federal governments (Art. 39:3 of FDRE Constitution, 1995). Besides the envisioned promises of the political order in granting opportunities of self-government to nations and nationalities, it was also highly applauded by many scholars as a vehicle to harness local development through economic decentralization and empowerment of local institutions (Mohamed and Markakis, 1998; Kidane, 1997). However, as Asefa Fiseha (2006) contends, the Ethiopian ‘experiment’ of ethnic federalism suffers from rifts between rhetoric and practice lacking genuine devolution of power and precarious regional and local administrative units with strong
intervention from federal state. Although over twenty years have elapsed since the implementation of the political model, its success is still contested among scholars (Dereje, 2010). Apart from the view of detractors who skeptically see the experiment from a political dimension, the practice of ethnic federalism is still far behind the rhetorical promises (ibid). Although it opened some degree of political spaces and granted freedom of expression free before 2005, the new political order is at weakest point as far as genuine decentralization and local empowerment are concerned (Clapham,
2009; Dereje, 2010). Therefore, the success of the political order should be assessed on the basis of whether the discourse is translated into practice. The contestations and claims between different actors over Nech Sar national park illustrate how local conceptions of development and conservation confront with the national discourses.
CONFRONTATIONS BETWEEN LOCAL AND NATIONAL DISCOURSES OF DEVELOPMENT AND
CONSERVATION IN NECH SAR NATIONAL PARK
An analysis of the existing conditions in and around Nech Sar national park can be posited within the contexts of local claims of entitlement (claims of customary rights, recognition of local knowledge, local livelihood conditions and questions of benefit sharing and participation), inter-regional conflicts of interests, issues related to self-government (the constitutional provisions versus the practice on the ground) and differences in conceptions of development and resource governance. In this section, I analyze how these conflicting views are contested, negotiated and acted upon. By so doing,
the implications of such contestations on development and conservation in and around the park will be elaborated by drawing on whether the national discourses are translated into practice.
The Guji challenge the state intervention into what they consider as their customary right drawing on historical claims and cosmological schemes. Historically, they argue that their ancestors were prior settlers in the area since the 16th century (Getachew, 2007). According to this claim, all the territories located to the east of Arbaminch town (including the town itself) were traditional Guji lands. Place names such as Siqala, Secha, Bishaan Hare, Haro Rophi, Bonke and many others were all Afan Oromo names – the language the Guji speak as all other Oromo groups. It was following the establishment of the town of Arbaminch and the national park in 1974 respectively that the Guji were pushed out to the
eastern part of the park. Besides reliance on history of settlement, the Guji seem to have systematically used the law (the constitution) to defend their rights to the land. According to Article 43 (2) of the FDRE (1995), Nationals have the right to participate in national development and, in particular, to be consulted with respect to policies and projects affecting their community”. However, in 2004/05 when the government agreed to transfer the management of the park to APF and took the responsibility of resettling the Guji and Koore communities who reside in and around the ‘park territories’, the
local communities were reported that they have been removed from their land at gun point without consent (Dawie, 2009). This contradicts with the official narratives of participatory development and decentralized government that advocate empowerment of local institutions in decision-making processes.
From cosmological dimension, the Guji challenge the ‘modernist’ approach espoused by the state contending that while the state institutions present conservation from isolationist perspective, the local people have inherent wisdom and belief that holistically treat human and non-human nature because of their connection to the supernatural power. A view of a Guji elder substantiates this argument in that:
If we or our ancestors didn’t care for the animals, wouldn’t it be that they would have been perished long time ago? Who cared for them before the coming of the state? Who cared for them 50 years ago? It was our grandparents, our parents and ourselves. But, these people [the park authorities] came yesterday [recently] and began telling us what to do and what not to do. We rather know how to live with the animals. We care for the animals as we do for our livestock not because of their order but because of orders we received from our Waaqaa through our ancestors. We care for them so that our cattle would multiply (interview with Gaga, April 2011). The Guji challenge state’s paternalistic approaches in which it imposes what to do and what not to do. In development spheres as well, successive Ethiopian regimes had similar views on pastoralist communities. For instance, pastoralist areas were noted as threats to the national security as a result of their trans-border movements and infiltration of small arms. As a result, they faced heavy forces of suppression in the hands of the central state. On the contrary, the country
heavily depends on pastoral communities for its export items like hides. Since 1991, the federal arrangement produced more of sedentary lifestyle based on more permanent and less flexible boundaries (Hagmann and Mulugeta, 2008). Such differential treatment of livelihood engagements that represents some activities as more preferred than others prompts one to ask whether the constitutional provisions are really translated into practice. As evidenced in 2004/05, after the Guji refused to move to the proposed resettlement site, the police force of the SNNP regional state forcefully displaced
them burning their huts and confiscating their properties. Ironically, Ethiopia’s federal constitution determines that “Ethiopian pastoralists have the right to free land for grazing and cultivation as well as the right not to be displaced from their own lands” (FDRE 1995, Art. 40).
In the process of transferring the management of the park to APF in 2004/05, the SNNP regional state government convened several meetings with representatives from Gamo Gofa zone, Amaro district, park authorities and regional bureau of agriculture. However, except in one meeting, no representatives from Oromia regional state were availed. To make the rhetoric of participation more questionable, there was no genuine involvement of local communities in the planning of resettlement program not least in the management of the park. Informants from both Guji and Koore communities argue that they were informed about the resettlement through local government authorities as inevitable government policy of development. One Guji informant remarks that; We don’t know if this government is really a government of the people or government of animals. Animals were better treated than our children, our livestock and ourselves in the past. We thought this government [EPRDF] would improve our conditions but still no change. They came and told us to go to Abulo Alfacho or elsewhere in Oromia. But we have nowhere to go. This is out ancestral land (interview with Danbala Badacha, May 2011).
Besides their discontent on exclusion in terms of participation in decision making, members of local communities expressed their dissatisfaction on the failed promise related to benefit sharing. Although involvement in ecotourism is not the primary motive of the people, particularly the elders and women, they still question that there is no benefit trickled down from this sector. In the Guji village in Ergansa – a village bordering the park on eastern side, children were observed attending primary school in huts made of wood and grass, were sitting on stones. There is no road connecting the village to the nearest market. The local people had to travel three to four days when they want to take their livestock
and other goods to the market. Besides the challenges this invokes in connection to time and energy of the people, it also reduces the price of livestock to be sold as the animals lose weight along the way without enough food and water. The other risky option for the local Guji people to get access to market is traveling on Lake Abaya by the traditional boat. The passengers risk their lives by crocodile and waves that sink the boat. Although the park authorities and other government officials used to tell the people that the income from the park through ecotourism will be used to provide social services to the local people, such promise remained unrealistic. Rather, the park authority sees the local people as threats to the park and works its level best to denounce all their activities labeling them as poachers and criminals.
At this junction, it is imperative to note that the official narratives of development and conservation that has been ‘emulated’ by successive regimes in Ethiopia contrast with local practical contexts (Clapham, 2006). As Clapham argues, the attempts of emulating foreign development discourses failed in Ethiopia mainly because it lacked harmonization with local contexts and by and large has been exclusionary of local traditions, customs and practices (2006). In this line, I would argue that the state version of development and conservation in the case of ‘ecotourism’ scheme in Nech Sar national park confronts with local conceptions and in the process brings different levels of contestation, negotiation and
display of power positions between different actors involved – the state and its agencies on the one hand and local actors on the other. However, it is worthy to single out the heterogeneity of actors in each category. Among the state category for example, Oromia regional state persistently demonstrated its positions supporting the local Guji claims for entitlement. In 2004/05, the regional government was given a responsibility to facilitate the resettlement of Guji Oromo into Oromia region. However, according to claims from SNNP regional state authorities, particularly officials in Amaro
district and Gamo Gofa zone – the two major actors in park affairs – the resettlement was delayed by reluctance of Oromia regional state. The views from Oromia questions the territorial reconfiguration of the park itself claiming that it was supposed to be administered under the region building its claim on Guji’s historical settlement in the area. This poses inter-regional conflict of interests on the governance of the park and the people surrounding it. Because of lack of institutional set-up to solve such inter-regional conflicts, except the Ministry of Federal Affairs, the federal arrangement seems to function through strong intervention of the federal government. That is why the park management has been
swinging between private company, SNNPR government and lastly the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority.
Office turnover and shifting conditions of management structures have obstructed consistency in management approach and produced mistrust on the part of the local people on whom to account for in cases of breaches in formal or informal agreements.
Another important aspect of the confrontation is its resultant consequence in changing local people’s attitude towards the park and prompting them to seek alternative mechanisms of securing their rights. According to James Scott (1990), the powerless would opt to hidden transcripts or hidden forms of resistance under conditions of domination. Likewise, as the domination of state apparatus continues to be stronger and stronger deploying coercive forces, the local people switch differently in covert and overt contexts. For example, they talk the words of the state (development and conservation) in
public spaces or with a researcher before rapport establishment. Their defiance of the state programs is evinced through acts of breaking park laws and discussions among members of the group. As signs of contesting the park boundaries, cattle trespass, hunting in the park and collecting forest resources are a few of acts conducted at night. More importantly, scouts employed from local communities also switch between the state and their members contextually. They are paid their salary by the government but they have also strong social networks with the local communities. Besides their connection through kinship and marriage, they depend on the people for much of their livelihood. Depending on government salary does not sustain the scouts and their family. As a result, they keep considerable number of livestock
with their kin who live close to the park. As a result, the scouts find themselves in dilemma in the confrontation between the state/park authorities and the local people. As one scout mentioned on conditions of anonymity, they conform to both state and local obligations differently. For instance, when they encounter hunters or cattle trespassers in the park territory, they chase the ‘intruders’ but report to the officials that the locals escaped the attempts of capture.
Elders from the local people argue that government intervention through so-called development and conservation schemes by evicting the people from their customary had changed the way local people; particularly the youth relate themselves with the park. Unlike in the past when the people considered the wildlife as part of their environment to be cared for, the distinction created by the state between the park and the people has brought a reconstruction of identity among the youth in which they identify the park and wildlife as foes. It can, therefore, be argued that any development program that excludes local values, norms and practices risks its missions. The ‘ecotourism’ project in Nech Sar national
park has has not only excluded the local people from their land by criminalizing their customary rights but it created a new hostile relationship between the people and the park. The ultimate effect of such top-down and non-participatory development and conservation program is destructive both to the people and the park resources.
CONCLUSION
In Ethiopia development and conservation models have been ‘emulated’ from more developed countries with the presumption that similar models would be replicated as they functioned in the host countries. Although adopting development models is not a cause of failure by itself, as it transformed Japan’s development to the expected end since the late 19th century for example, the politics of ‘emulation’ demands consideration of local contexts at best (Clapham, 2006). In the Nech Sar national park case, there are contesting views on conceptions of development and conservation.
The Ethiopian state has adopted the western approaches of nature conservation and development through ‘ecotourism’ that was derived from the protectionist perspectives of colonial period in Africa. This perspective not only excludes local people from their customary land rights, but it denigrates local knowledge of resource governance, management and conservation practices. As a result, the state ‘development’ and ‘conservation’ programs have created a hostile relationship between the people and the park and threatens the lives of the people and sustainability of the resources in
the park, particularly the wildlife for the protection of which the park was initially established.
Acknowledgement The fieldwork for this research has been done as part of my PhD project at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. While the travel expenses from Germany to Ethiopia were covered by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), all other fieldwork costs have been supported by Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS).

Read more at: http://www.jsd-africa.com/Jsda/Vol13No5_Fall2011_A/PDF/Contested%20terrains.pdf

Read related works at: Ethnicity and Inter-ethnic Relations by Asebe Regassa Debelo

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Amnesty International’s Report: “Because I Am Oromo”: A Sweeping Repression in Oromia

OFILE - Ethiopian migrants, all members of the Oromo community of Ethiopia living in Malta, protest against the Ethiopian regime.

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“Because I am Oromo”: A Sweeping Repression in Oromia… full report @:http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AFR25/006/2014/en

SUMMARY: REPRESSION OF DISSENT IN OROMIA
“I was arrested for about eight months. Some school students had been arrested, so their  classmates had a demonstration to ask where they were and for them to be released. I was accused of organising the demonstration because the government said my father supported the OLF so I did too and therefore I must be the one who is  organising the students.”
Young man from Dodola Woreda, Bale Zone1

The anticipation and repression of dissent in Oromia manifests in many ways. The below are some of  the numerous and varied individual stories contained in this report:
A student told Amnesty International how he was detained and tortured in Maikelawi Federal Police detention centre because a business plan he had prepared for a competition was alleged to be underpinned by political motivations. A singer told how he had been detained, tortured and forced to agree to only sing in praise of the government in the future. A school girl told Amnesty International how she was detained because she refused to give false testimony against someone else. A former teacher showed Amnesty International where he had been stabbed and blinded in one eye with a bayonet during torture in detention because he had refused to ‘teach’ his students propaganda about the achievements of the ruling political party as he had been ordered
to do. A midwife was arrested for delivering the baby of a woman who was married to an alleged member of  the Oromo Liberation Front. A young girl told Amnesty International how she had successively lost both parents  and four brothers through death in detention, arrest or disappearance until, aged 16, she was left alone caring  for two young siblings. An agricultural expert employed by the government told how he was arrested on the  accusation he had incited a series of demonstrations staged by hundreds of farmers in his area, because his  job involved presenting the grievances of the farmers to the government.

In April and May 2014, protests broke out across Oromia against a proposed ‘Integrated Master Plan’ to expand the capital, Addis Ababa, into Oromia regional territory. The protests were led by students, though many other people participated. Security services, comprised of  federal police and the military special forces, responded to the protests with unnecessary and excessive force, firing live ammunition on peaceful protestors in a number of locations and  beating hundreds of peaceful protestors and bystanders, resulting in dozens of deaths and  scores of injuries. In the wake of the protests, thousands of people were arrested.
These incidents were far from being unprecedented in Oromia. They were the latest and  bloodiest in a long pattern of the suppression – sometimes pre-emptive and often brutal – of even suggestions of dissent in the region.  The Government of Ethiopia is hostile to dissent, wherever and however it manifests, and also shows hostility to influential individuals or groups not affiliated to the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) political party. The government has used arbitrary arrest and detention, often without charge, to suppress suggestions of dissent in many parts of the country. But this hostility, and the resulting acts of suppression, have  manifested often and at scale in Oromia.  A number of former detainees, as well as former officials, have observed that Oromos make up  a high proportion of the prison population in federal prisons and in the Federal Police Crime  Investigation and Forensic Sector, commonly known as Maikelawi, in Addis Ababa, where  prisoners of conscience and others subject to politically-motivated detention are often detained when first arrested. Oromos also constitute a high proportion of Ethiopian refugees.  According to a 2012 Inter-Censal Population Survey, the Oromo constituted 35.3% of  Ethiopia’s population. However, this numerical size alone does not account for the high  proportion of Oromos in the country’s prisons, or the proportion of Oromos among Ethiopians  fleeing the country. Oromia and the Oromo have long been subject to repression based on a widespread imputed opposition to the EPRDF which, in conjunction with the size of the  population, is taken as posing a potential political threat to the government. Between 2011 and 2014, at least 5,000 Oromos have been arrested as a result of their actual or suspected peaceful opposition to the government, based on their manifestation of  dissenting opinions, exercise of freedom of expression or their imputed political opinion. These included thousands of peaceful protestors and hundreds of political opposition members, but also hundreds of other individuals from all walks of life – students,  pharmacists, civil servants, singers, business people and people expressing their Oromo cultural heritage – arrested based on the expression of dissenting opinions or their suspected opposition to the government. Due to restrictions on human rights reporting, independent journalism and information exchange in Ethiopia, as well as a lack of transparency on detention practices, it is possible there are many additional cases that have not been reported or documented. In the cases known to Amnesty International, the majority of those arrested were detained without charge or trial for some or all of their detention, for weeks,
months or years – a system apparently intended to warn, punish punish or silence them, from which justice is often absent.
Openly dissenting individuals have been arrested in large numbers. Thousands of Oromos have been arrested for participating in peaceful protests on a range of issues. Large-scale arrests were seen during the protests against the ‘Master Plan’ in 2014 and during a series of  protests staged in 2012-13 by the Muslim community   in Oromia and other parts of the  country against alleged government interference in Islamic affairs. In addition, Oromos have  been arrested for participation in peaceful protests over job opportunities, forced evictions,  the price of fertilizer, students’ rights, the teaching of the Oromo language and the arrest or extra-judicial executions of farmers, students, children and others targeted for expressing  dissent, participation in peaceful protests or based on their imputed political opinion. Between 2011 and 2014, peaceful protests have witnessed several incidents of the alleged use of unnecessary and excessive force by security services against unarmed protestors. 
  Hundreds of members of legally-registered opposition political parties have also been arrested in large sweeps that took place in 2011 and in 2014, as well as in individual incidents. 

In addition to targeting openly dissenting groups, the government also anticipates dissent  amongst certain groups and individuals, and interprets certain actions as signs of dissent.  Students in Oromia report that there are high levels of surveillance for signs of dissent or political activity among the student body in schools and universities. Students have been  arrested based on their actual or suspected political opinion, for refusing to join the ruling party or their participation in student societies, which are treated with hostility on the  suspicion that they are underpinned by political motivations. Hundreds of students have also been arrested for participation in peaceful protests.

Expressions of Oromo culture and heritage have been interpreted as manifestations of  dissent, and the government has also shown signs of fearing cultural expression as a potential catalyst for opposition to the government. Oromo singers, writers and poets have been arrested for allegedly criticising the government and/or inciting people through their work. People wearing traditional Oromo clothing have been arrested on the accusation that this demonstrated a political agenda. Hundreds of people have been arrested at Oromo traditional festivals.

Members of these groups – opposition political parties, student groups, peaceful protestors, people promoting Oromo culture and people in positions the government believes could have influence on their communities – are treated with hostility not only due to their own actual or perceived dissenting behaviour, but also due to their perceived potential to act as a conduit  or catalyst for further dissent. A number of people arrested for actual or suspected dissent  told Amnesty International they were accused of the ‘incitement’ of others to oppose the government.

The majority of actual or suspected dissenters who had been arrested in Oromia interviewed  by Amnesty International were accused of supporting the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) – the armed group that has fought a long-term low-level insurgency in the region, which was proscribed as a terrorist organization by the Ethiopian parliament in June 2011. The accusation of OLF support has often been used as a pretext to silence individuals openly  exercising dissenting behaviour such as membership of an opposition political party or  participation in a peaceful protest. However, in addition to targeting demonstrators, students,members of opposition political parties and people celebrating Oromo culture based on their  actual or imputed political opinion, the government frequently demonstrates that it  anticipates dissenting political opinion widely among the population of Oromia. People from all walks of life are regularly arrested based only on their suspected political opinion – on the  accusation they support the OLF. Amnesty International interviewed medical professionals, business owners, farmers, teachers, employees of international NGOs and many others who  had been arrested based on this accusation in recent years. These arrests were often based on suspicion alone, with little or no supporting evidence.

Certain behaviour arouses suspicion, such as refusal to join the ruling political party or  movement around or in and out of the region. Some people ‘inherit’ suspicion from their  parents or other family members. Expressions of dissenting opinions within the Oromo party  in the ruling coalition – the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) – have also been responded to with the accusation that the dissenter supports the OLF. Family members have also been arrested in lieu of somebody else wanted for actual or suspected dissenting behaviour, a form of collective punishment illegal under international law. 

In some of these cases too, the accusation of OLF support and arrest on that basis appears to be a pretext used to warn, control or punish signs of ‘political disobedience’ and people who have influence over others and are not members of the ruling political party. But the constant  repetition of the allegation suggests the government continues to anticipate a level of  sympathy for the OLF amongst the Oromo population writ large. Further, the government  appears to also believe that the OLF is behind many signs of peaceful dissent in the region.

However, in numerous cases, the accusation of supporting the OLF and the resulting arrest  do not ever translate into a criminal charge. The majority of all people interviewed by  Amnesty International who had been arrested for their actual or suspected dissenting behaviour or political opinion said that they were detained without being charged, tried or  going to court to review the legality of their detention, in some cases for months or years. Frequently, therefore, the alleged support for the OLF  remains unsubstantiated and unproven. Often, it is merely an informal allegation made during the course of interrogation. Further, questions asked of actual or suspected dissenters by interrogators in detention also suggest that the exercise of certain legal rights  –for example, participation in a peaceful protest – is taken as evidence of OLF support.  A number of people interviewed by Amnesty International had been subjected to repeated arrest on the  same allegation of  of being  anti-government or   of OLF support, without ever being charged. 

Amnesty International interviewed around 150 Oromos who were targeted for actual or  suspected dissent. Of those who were arrested on these bases, the majority said they were subjected to arbitrary detention without judicial review, charge or trial, for some or all of the period of their detention, for periods ranging from several days to several years. In the majority of those cases, the individual said they were arbitrarily detained for the entire duration of their detention. In fewer cases, though still reported by a notable number of interviewees, the detainee was held arbitrarily – without charge or being brought before a court – during an initial period that again ranged from a number of weeks to a number of  years, before the detainee was eventually brought before a court.

A high proportion of people interviewed by Amnesty International were also held  incommunicado – denied access to legal representation and family members and contact with the outside world – for some or all of their period of detention. In many of these cases, the detention amounted to enforced disappearance, such as where lack of access to legal counsel and family members and lack of information on the detainee’s fate or whereabouts placed a detainee outside the protection of the law. them again. The family continued to be ignorant of their fate and did not know whether they  were alive or dead.Many people reported to Amnesty International that, after their family members had been arrested, they had never heard from.

Arrests of actual or suspected dissenters in Oromia reported to Amnesty International were  made by local and federal police, the federal military and intelligence officers, often without  a warrant. Detainees were held in Kebele, Woreda and Zonal3 detention centres, police stations, regional and federal prisons. However, a large proportion of former detainees interviewed by Amnesty International were detained in unofficial places of detention, mostly  in military camps throughout the region. In some cases apparently considered more serious, detainees were transferred to Maikelawi in Addis Ababa. Arbitrary detention without charge or trial was reported in all of these places of detention.

Almost all people interviewed by Amnesty International who had been detained in military camps or other unofficial places of detention said their detention was not subject to any form of judicial review. All detainees in military camps in Oromia nterviewed by Amnesty International experienced some violations of the rights and protections of due process and a high proportion of all interviewees who had been detained in a military camp reported torture, including rape, and other ill-treatment.
Actual or suspected dissenters have been subjected to torture in federal and regional detention centres and prisons, police stations, including Maikelawi, military camps and other  unofficial places of detention. The majority of former detainees interviewed by Amnesty  International, arrested based on their actual or imputed political opinion, reported that they had been subjected to treatment amounting to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, in most cases repeatedly, while in detention or had been subjected to treatment that amounts to torture or ill-treatment in and around their homes. Frequently reported methods of torture were beating, particularly with fists, rubber batons, wooden or metal sticks or gun butts, kicking, tying in contorted stress positions often in conjunction with beating on the soles of the feet, electric shocks, mock execution or death threats involving a gun, beating with electric wire, burning, including with heated metal or molten plastic, chaining or tying hands or ankles together for extended periods (up to several months), rape, including gang rape, and extended solitary confinement. Former detainees repeatedly said that they  were coerced, in many cases under torture or the threat of torture, to provide a statement or confession or incriminating evidence against others.
Accounts of former detainees interviewed by Amnesty International consistently demonstrate that conditions in detention in regional and federal police stations, regional and federal prisons, military camps and other unofficial places of detention, violate international law and  national and international standards. Cases of death in detention were reported to Amnesty  International by former fellow detainees or family members of detainees. These deaths were  reported to result from torture, poor detention conditions and lack of medical assistance.  Some of these cases may amount to extra-judicial executions, where the detainees died as a result of torture or the intentional deprivation of food or medical assistance. 

There is no transparency or oversight of this system of arbitrary detention, and no independent investigation of allegations of torture and other violations in detention. No independent human rights organizations that monitor and publically document violations have access to detention centres in Ethiopia.

In numerous cases, former detainees interviewed by Amnesty International also said their release from arbitrary detention was premised on their agreement to a set of arbitrary  conditions unlawfully imposed by their captors rather than by any judicial procedure, and  many of which entailed foregoing the exercise of other human rights, such as those to the freedoms of expression, association and movement. Failure to uphold the conditions, detainees were told, could lead to re-arrest or worse. Regularly cited conditions included: not participating in demonstrations or other gatherings, political meetings or student activities; not meeting with more than two or three individuals at one time; not having any contact with certain people, including spouses or family members wanted by the authorities for alleged dissenting behaviour; or not leaving the area where they lived without seeking permission from local authorities. For a number of people interviewed by Amnesty International, it was the difficulty of complying with these conditions and the restricting impact they had on their  lives, or fear of the consequences if they failed to comply, intentionally or unintentionally, that caused them to flee the country.
The testimonies of people interviewed by Amnesty International, as well as information received from a number of other sources and legal documents seen by the organization, indicate a number of fair trial rights are regularly violated in cases of actual or suspected  Oromo dissenters that have gone to court, including the rights to a public hearing, to not be  compelled to incriminate oneself, to be tried without undue delay and the right to presumption of innocence. Amnesty International has also documented cases in which the lawful exercise of the right to freedom of expression, or other protected human rights, is cited as evidence of illegal support for the OLF in trials. Amnesty International also received dozens of reports of actual or suspected dissenters being
killed by security services, in the context of security services’ response to protests, during the  arrests of actual or suspected dissidents, and while in detention. Some of these killings may  amount to extra-judicial executions. A multiplicity of both regional and federal actors are involved in committing human rights violations against actual or suspected dissenters in Oromia, including civilian administrative  officials, local police, federal police, local militia, federal military and intelligence services,
with cooperation between the different entities, including between the regional and federal levels.
Because of the many restrictions on human rights organizations and on the freedoms of  association and expression in Ethiopia, arrests and detentions are under-reported and almost no sources exist to assist detainees and their families in accessing justice and pressing for  remedies and accountability for human rights violations.

The violations documented in this report take place in an environment of almost complete impunity for the perpetrators. Interviewees regularly told Amnesty International that it was either not possible or that there was no point in trying to complain, seek answers or seek justice in cases of enforced disappearance, torture, possible extra-judicial execution or other violations. Many feared repercussions for asking. Some were arrested when they did ask about a relative’s fate or whereabouts.
As Ethiopia heads towards general elections in 2015, it is likely that the government’s efforts to suppress dissent, including through the use of arbitrary arrest and detention and other  violations, will continue unabated and may even increase. The Ethiopian government must take a number of urgent and substantial measures to ensure no-one is arrested, detained, charged, tried, convicted or sentenced on account of the peaceful exercise of their rights to the freedoms of expression, association and assembly, including the right to peacefully assemble to protest, or based on their imputed political opinion; to end unlawful practices of arbitrary detention without charge or trial, incommunicado detention without access to the outside world, detention in unofficial detention centres, and enforced disappearance; and to address the prevalence of torture and other ill-treatment in Ethiopia’s detention centres. All allegations of torture, incidents involving allegations of the unnecessary or excessive use of force by security services against peaceful protestors, and all suspected cases of extra-judicial executions must be urgently and
properly investigated. Access to all prisons and other places of detention and to all prisoners should be extended to appropriate independent, non-governmental bodies, including international human rights bodies.
Donors with existing funding programmes working with federal and regional police, with the military or with the prison system, should carry out thorough and impartial investigations into allegations of human rights violations within those institutions, to ensure their funding is not contributing to the commission of human rights violations. Further, the international community should accord the situation in Ethiopia the highest possible level of scrutiny. Existing domestic investigative and accountability mechanisms have proved not capable of carrying out investigations that are independent, adequate, prompt, open to public scrutiny and which sufficiently involve victims. Therefore, due to the  apparent existence of an entrenched pattern of violations in Ethiopia and due to concerns over the impartiality of established domestic investigative procedures, there is a substantial
and urgent need for intervention by regional and international human rights bodies to conduct independent investigations into allegations of widespread human rights violations in Oromia, as well as the rest of Ethiopia. Investigations should be pursued through the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry, fact-finding mission or comparable procedure, comprised of independent international experts, under the auspices of the United Nations Human Rights Council or the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. 

See full report @http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AFR25/006/2014/en/539616af-0dc6-43dd-8a4f-34e77ffb461c/afr250062014en.pdf

Amnesty International’s report titled, “‘Because I Am Oromo’: A Sweeping Repression in Oromia …” can be accessed here.

Read also other media sources reporting:

http://www.voaafaanoromoo.com/content/article/2499696.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=facebook

http://http://unpo.org/article.php?id=17650

http://http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/28/ethiopia-torture-oromo-group-amnestry-rape-killings

http://http://m.voanews.com/a/amnesty-ethiopia-systematically-repressing-oromo/2498866.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-29799484

http://finfinnetribune.com/Gadaa/2014/10/full-report-amnesty-internationals-because-i-am-oromo-a-sweeping-repression-in-oromia/

http://www.tesfanews.net/amnesty-says-ethiopia-detains-5000-oromos-illegally-since-2011/

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-27/amnesty-says-ethiopia-detains-5-000-oromos-illegally-since-2011.html

http://ayyaantuu.com/human-rights/amnesty-ethiopia-systematically-repressing-oromo/

http://www.elwatannews.com/news/details/586125

http://mobi.iafrica.com/world-news/2014/10/28/ethiopia-torturing-ethnic-group/

http://www.warscapes.com/opinion/oromoprotests-perspective

http://news.yahoo.com/ethiopia-torturing-opposition-ethnic-group-amnesty-100724983.html

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/10/28/ethiopia-oromo-amnesty.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2812850/Thousands-Ethiopians-tortured-brutal-government-security-forces-Britain-hands-1-BILLION-aid-money.html

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/politics/article4250755.ece

http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article52880

http://www.noticiasaominuto.com/mundo/297457/etiopia-acusada-de-perseguir-a-etnia-oromo

http://www.afriqueexpansion.com/depeches-afp/17872-lethiopie-torture-et-execute-les-oromo-accuses-dopposition-au-gouvernement-amnesty.html

http://lepersoneeladignita.corriere.it/2014/10/28/etiopia-persecuzione-senza-fine-ai-da

http://maliactu.net/lethiopie-torture-les-oromo-les-accusant-dopposition-au-gouvernement/

http://www.kleinezeitung.at/nachrichten/politik/3783541/aethiopien-geht-gnadenlos-gegen-o

https://www.es.amnesty.org/noticias/noticias/articulo/el-estado-detiene-tortura-y-mata-a-personas-de-etnia-oromo-en-su-implacable-represion-de-la-diside/

http://www.caracol.com.co/noticias/internacionales/amnistia-internacional-denuncia-la-persecucion-de-la-etnia-oromo-en-etiopia/20141028/nota/2481622.aspx

http://www.tribune.com.ng/news/world-news/item/19982-ethiopia-targets-largest-ethnic-group-for-link-to-rebels-amnesty-says

Does British aid to Africa help the powerful more than the poor?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/ethiopia/11198471/Does-British-aid-to-Africa-help-the-powerful-more-than-the-poor.html

Poverty & Ethiopia: Poverty on the Streets of Finfinnee (Addis Ababa)

 

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Poverty on the Streets of Addis Ababa

Published on September 1st, 2014 | by Meredith Maulsby

September 2, 2014 (The baines report) — Poverty can easily be seen throughout the capital of Ethiopia, but nowhere is it more evident than when you pass a beggar on the street.  Beggars are everywhere in Addis Ababa, and they represent a vast range of demographics. There are men, women, children of all ages and conditions– some with their mothers, some without, and the severely disabled.

Older children, rather than begging, try to sell you gum or clean your shoes, while the younger children walk in front of you asking for money or food, not leaving you until they spot another person to ask.  The women are often with young children, sometimes babies, and usually with more than one.  I was once walking down the street and a young child no older than 2 or 3 who was being held by his mother made the signal they all make to ask for food or money while calling me sister.  I thought this child probably learned this signal before he even learned how to speak.  Women are often seen grilling corn on the sidewalk on a small grill to sell to people passing by.

I have been told the severely disabled have most likely suffered from stunting, polio or the war.  I have seen men with disfigured legs so mangled that they can not walk but instead drag themselves down the sidewalk. Others are in wheelchairs and unable to walk.  And this city is not easy for the disabled.  The sidewalks, where they exist, are not always flat and not always paved. There are also often giant holes in the middle of the sidewalk or loose concrete slabs covering gutters.  On the main roads, near where I’m staying there are tarps and blankets off to the side of the road where the beggars must sleep or live.

It is a very difficult scene to walk through.  You want to help them all and give everyone a little bit of money or food. But there are so many it would be nearly impossible to give to them all.  We have been told to not give to beggars because once you give to one you will be surrounded by others.  When people do give money to beggars it is often very small bills or coins that will not go very far.

I have often wondered how much money they actually receive. Perhaps it would be beneficial to do more in depth look at why these people became beggars and where they come from. After a cursory search for research and reports on beggars in Addis Ababa, I found very little.  There is a study on the disabled beggars and a report focusing on children.  There is a documentary that follows two women who come to the capital from a rural town and become beggars in order to raise money for their family when climate change creates a food shortage.

Both the government of Ethiopia and large NGO’s, like USAID and the UN, are working to stop the “cycle of poverty.”   There are major health and nutrition projects being implemented all over the country, but these are long-term projects that do not address the immediate needs of people on the streets. Short term solutions such as creating shelters or centers for the disabled and homeless could allow beggars more opportunities for housing but could also generate income potential through workshops and other skill development programs.

Source: The baines report

http://ayyaantuu.com/horn-of-africa-news/ethiopia/poverty-on-the-streets-of-addis-ababa/

Oromia: Enhanced Master Plan to Continue Committing the Crimes of Genocide

 

 

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Oromia: Enhanced Master Plan to Continue Committing the Crimes of Genocide
The actions taken were aimed at destroying Oromo farmers or at rendering them extinct.

~Ermias Legesse, Ethiopia’s exiled EPRDF Minister

August 30, 2014 (Oromo Press) — The announcement of the implementation of the Addis Ababa Master Plan (AAMP) was just an extension of an attempt by EPRDF government at legalizing its plans of ridding the Oromo people from in and around Finfinne by grabbing Oromo land for its party leaders and real estate developers from the Tigrean community. The act of destroying Oromo farmers by taking away their only means of survival—the land—precedes the current master plan by decades. Ermias Legesse, exiled EPRDF Deputy Minister of Communication Affairs, acknowledged his own complicity in the destruction of 150,000[1] Oromo farmers in the Oromia region immediately adjacent to Finfinne. He testifies that high-level TPLF/EPRDF officials are responsible for planning and coordinating massive land-grab campaigns without any consideration of the people atop the land. Ermia’s testimony is important because it contains both the actus reus and dolus specials of the mass evictions[2]:

Once while in a meeting in 1998 (2006, Gregorian),the Ethiopian Prime Minster Meles Zenawi , we (ERPDF wings) used to go to his office every week, said. Meles led the general party work in Addis Ababa. We went to his office to set the direction/goal for the year. When a question about how should we continue leading was asked, Meles said something that many people may not believe. ‘Whether we like it or not nationality agenda is dead in Addis Ababa.’ He spoke this word for word. ‘A nationality question in Addis Ababa is the a minority agenda.’ If anyone were to be held accountable for the crimes, everyone of us have a share in it according to our ranks, but mainly Abay Tsehaye is responsible. The actions taken were aimed at destroying Oromo farmers or at rendering them extinct. 29 rural counties were destroyed in this way. In each county there are more or less about 1000 families. About 5000 people live in each Kebele (ganda) and if you multiply 5000 by 30, then the whereabouts of 150,000 farmers is unknown.

Zenawi’s statement “the question of nationality is a dead agenda in Addis Ababa” implies that the Prime Minister planned the genocide of the Oromo in and around Finfinne and others EPRDF officials followed suit with the plan in a more aggressive and formal fashion.

Announcement of the Addis Ababa Master Plan and Massacres and Mass Detentions

AAMP was secretly in the making for at least three years before its official announcement in April 2014.[3] The government promoted on local semi-independent and state controlled media the sinister plan that already evicted 2 million Oromo farmers and aims at evicting 8-10 million and at dividing Oromia into east and west Oromia as a benevolent development plan meant to extend social and economic services to surrounding Oromia’s towns and rural districts. Notwithstanding the logical contradiction of claiming to connect Oromia towns and rural aanaalee (districts) to “economic and social” benefits by depopulating the area itself, the plan was met with strong peaceful opposition across universities, schools and high schools in Oromia. Starting with the Ambo massacre that claimed the lives of 47 people in one day[4], Ethiopia’s army and police killed over 200 Oromo students, jailed over 2000 students, maimed and disappeared countless others over a five-month period from April-August 2014.

Read the full text @ OromoPress:http://oromopress.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/enhanced-master-plan-to-continue.html

 

 

 

More references:

http://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/widespread-brutalities-of-the-ethiopian-government-in-handling-protests-in-different-parts-of-the-state-of-oromia-by-peaceful-demonstrators/

 

http://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/ethiopias-new-master-plan-of-ethnic-cleansing-against-the-oromo-in-the-name-of-development-expansion-of-finfinnee-addis-ababa/

 

 

http://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/oromo-diaspora-mobilizes-to-shine-spotlight-on-student-protests-in-ethiopia/

 

Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! TEdTalk from Italian aid worker Ernesto Sirolli

 

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This is a fantastic and humorous TedTalk from Italian aid worker Ernesto Sirolli.

When most well-intentioned aid workers hear of a problem they think they can fix, they go to work. This, Ernesto Sirolli suggests, is naïve. In this funny and impassioned talk, he proposes that the first step is to listen to the people you’re trying to help, and tap into their own entrepreneurial spirit. His advice on what works will help any entrepreneur.

All 17 minutes are worth watching, but the first 3 or so are especially recommended. Enjoy!

http://www.ted.com/talks/ernesto_sirolli_want_to_help_someone_shut_up_and_listen#t-1053556

http://www.ted.com/speakers/ernesto_sirolli

Government media in Ethiopia vs Scholars view of development: A stand-off paradox

 

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Government  media in Ethiopia vs Scholars view of development: A stand-off paradox

Ameyu Etana*

 

It has been more than a decade since DEVELOPMENT became a buzzword in Ethiopian Radio  and Television Agency

As ERTA is a pro-government media and are sponsored by the state, there is a strong probability to be under the guise of social responsibility theory when addressing issues. As it is common of using development journalism as an instrument in developmental states, likewise, the Ethiopian government is using media as a big power to making the public participating in development.  Television Agency (ERTA) and other media that are pro-government but run under the auspices of private media. Regrettably, probably, it is the most abused and corrupted word beyond what one could imagine. A name developmentalist came to develop a negative connotation for a journalist in Ethiopia. Quite number of academic researches has been done on the single nationwide media in Ethiopia, however; very little of them adduced and proved the professional nature of political power house of Ethiopian government, ERTA.

Ethiopia, a nation came to be a laboratory of political economy is a dish for choose and pick philosophy of politics. The political economy of Ethiopia is democratic developmental state. By their nature such states are repressive. And there has never been a country both democratic and developmental at a time except Ethiopia. Nevertheless, it seems, what we are seeing is not in accord with the political economy.

The Ethiopian government adopted United Nations General Assembly Resolution 41/128:1986. Alike, the right to development is one of the bill rights that had been included in the federal constitution of Ethiopia. Article 43 of FDRE constitution could depict this. To the contrary, mostly, what has been written and what has been practiced seems contradict each other.

As we know, what Ethiopian Television, Ethiopian Radio, Ethiopian Herald, Addis Zemen, Bariisaa, Ethiopian News Agency, Walta Information Center and other government driven media and/or news agency in Ethiopia and other whose names called under the guise of private but pro-government media view development as econometric (statistics use to view development e.g. economic development) view of development. As a result, any report that put Ethiopian development in number presumed to have high political benefit and get the major attention as it makes a headline. Infrastructure, number of investors, their capital, the KM of a road built, export and import quantities, number of graduates, number of higher institutions, and others are mostly at the desk of those media institution. Hence, what is seen is not the human side but the growth side as it uses to be.

Since the philosophy of state media in Ethiopia is development journalism, though wrongly interpreted, the issue of development vastly and exhaustively reported in a form of news, program, documentary, and other types of reports. However, most news are just a report as they lack interpretation while the journalist acts as a conduit than the one who produce it. I.e. Ethiopia is amongst the fastest growing economy in the world though third of its population lives in absolute poverty. In addition, there is been a big unequal economic distribution in the country and unemployment is getting higher albeit it is repeatedly told it is non-oil economy. If so, what is the benefit of jobless growth? Moreover, indigenous knowledge is ignored at the same time modern technology is also getting little attention by farmers, which is discrepancy right now in the country. As the journalism model, those media were supposed to critically examine and meticulously analyze issue that matters most to the people than merely reporting it.

The people of the country have long experienced the use of development for propaganda. Owing to this, it is difficult to identify the real concept of development in the mind of citizens. This resembles the sedative nature of the media in the country. Recently, journalists of Oromia Radio and Television Journalists (ORTO) did a deliberation on the controversial master plan of Addis Ababa, however, regrettably, they got an axe for the mere fact they did speak their mind. Hence, we can say that development is like politics in Ethiopia as it is untouched area to be opened for deliberation.

After all what is development? What scholars say about development? 

Several scholars held a debate for decades on what development is until they came to, probably; seems agree as it is all about human development. Lamentably, as Rita Abrahamsen puts it in her book called Disciplining Democracy: Development Discourse and Good Governance in Africa the issue of development became politicized, which is unfortunate as the world came to see help poor countries based on their political ideology they might have than favoring solely for being human.

The leading professor Amartya Sen in his book Development as Freedom which was published in 1999 argues development should be seen as a process of expanding the real freedoms that people enjoy. He contrasts the view of development with the widely prevalent concentration on the expansion of real income and on economic growth as the characteristics of successful development. Poverty, the flip side of development, means capability deprivation that inhibits citizen’s freedom to live, the reason they value most. As a result, development means an expansion of freedom.

For Amartya Sen Poverty is lack of choice, socioeconomic and political deprivation while development is a freedom or emancipation from poverty, empowerment of the people. Therefore, we simply understand us development is all about a people than merely numbers.

Similarly Michael Todaro in his book Economic Development argues that development must be seen as multidimensional process involving major changes in social structure, popular attitudes, and national institutions as well as the acceleration of economic growth, the reduction of inequality and the eradication of absolute poverty. And several scholars including Thomas Alan and others believed development is about empowering and emancipating people from the agony that make them suffer most than ignoring their existence.

Having looked at this, inopportunely we see the paradox in Ethiopia. In the name of development people has been ignored freedom; few are benefiting but millions are joining poverty if not struggling to survive. Rather than sensitizing them the media is pursuing sedative under the auspices of development as submissive people at large are being produced in the country seeing that the issue of development became not open for discussion and untouchable. Regrettably, in the name of investment and several projects, millions are being displaced from the land they presumes their only property they got from their forefathers but, are treated like ignorant who could serve nothing for the development. I.e. it is the residents of Addis Ababa that were deliberating over the contentious master plan for days on the lands of farmerssurrounding Addis Ababa. How could this be the right way? By no means it is democratic or developmental? It is highly nonsense and absurd but not surprise as it uses to be in the country.

If development is for the people why do ignore them or why to treating them as against development? By its nature development is not merely road or building, it is about mind development. If the big asset for human, which is mind is not well set, how to manage the entire infrastructure? It seems everything is messed up in Ethiopia. Due to this, the wider public is feeling ignorant to the plans and strategies the government drafts each time.

Consequently, here in Ethiopia, under the guise of development thousands get prisoned, displaced, ignored, dehumanized, unnerved, denied capability, bottled in poverty, whereas, few get rich, empowered, emancipate in such a way to fasten andwiden the gap of living standards of citizens, which is shockingly inhuman. Inconveniently, for the development gained it is not the people but a party or officials get recognition as personal cult is common so far.

The other vital issue we should pay attention to is making the people the participant when the plan is drafted which mean making the people the source of development. If doing so, those who decide by themselves become responsible for the accomplishment, which is a big benefit for the ruled and for the ruler. However, this was not happening rather the people are assumed as ignorant mass that could have no role prior to drafting of the plan but after. http://mohiboni.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/government-herd-media-in-ethiopia-and.html

*Ameyu Etana is a journalist in Ethiopia and by now he is a graduate student at Addis Ababa University. Can be reached at: ameyuetana@gmail.com  You can follow and comment on his articles on mohiboni.blogspot.com and mohiboni.wordpress.com. All are encouraged to challenge. Any idea is welcomed as far as it has adduced. 

 

False accounting & the great ‘poverty reduction’ lie

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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. 

Oromia: The Oldest Oromo Civic Association, Macha-Tulama Marks 50th year Anniversary Celebration

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MachaTulama2014_AfanOromoMacha-tulama-300x147.jpg

 

Some of the Founders of the Macha-Tulama Association; Photo: Public Domain
 

FOR OROMO, ‘SURVIVAL ITSELF IS A REVOLUTIONARY ACT

 AyantuTibeso

August 5, 2014  Published in Opride Contributors

ayantuT

 

It is a great honor to be part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Macha Tulama Association. For a people facing complete erasure, survival itself is a revolutionary act.

The fact that we are gathered here today to honor the founding of Macha Tulama 50 years ago speaks to the fact that despite all odds, we, as a people are survivors. Ethiopian history is full of attempts to annihilate the Oromo—culturally, politically, socially, economically, in all and every ways possible.

Oromos — cast as foreign, aliens to their own lands, have been the targets of the entire infrastructure of the Ethiopian state since their violent incorporation. Our identity, primarily language, religion and belief systems and cultural heritage have been the main targets of wanton destruction.

Oromo and its personhood were already demonized, characterized as embodiments of all that is inferior, shameful and subhuman from the beginning. Oromo people were economically and politically exploited, dominated and alienated.

Oromo cultural, political and religious institutions have been under massive attacks and dismantlement by consecutive Ethiopian governments. Oromos were rendered slaves on their own lands by a colonial land tenure system.

Given the huge systematic and structural forces that have been mobilized against Oromo people and its peoplehood, it is truly astonishing that we have survived. But we have survived not by some miracle, but because our ancestors have continuously resisted violent assimilation, dehumanization, economic exploitation, and complete eradication.

We have survived because our people have courageously and wisely Organized, sang, fought and sacrificed. We have survived because of brilliantly organized Oromo institutions such as Macha Tulama, which have held our communities together.

For five decades, this organization has been the vanguard of the Oromo people’s struggle for freedom, liberty and autonomy. Macha Tulama was conceived at a time when Oromo people desperately needed institutions that would provide direction, leadership, and mobilize the financial, human, intellectual and creative resources to empower Oromo communities.

 
The 50th Golden Jubilee Anniversary Celebration of Macha-Tulama Association at Washington DC, 1st August 2014
 
The upcoming 50th Anniversary Celebration of Macha-Tulama Association (MTA).
This historic event will be held on August 1, 2014 in Washington DC.
Please allow us to explain once again why this celebration will be held in Washington DC, thousands of miles away from Ethiopia.
The story of the establishment of the Macha-Tulama Association was an event of great drama and wonder that has captured the imagination of the Oromo public since 1963, while its banning in 1967 is story of epic proportion which demonstrates Oromo powerlessness in Ethiopia. History of modern Ethiopia includes few cases of injustice and open discrimination equal to the banning of the first Oromo peaceful civic organization, which has come to symbolize the condition of the Oromo nation under successive Ethiopian regimes to the extent that in 2014, the Oromo who constitute the single largest national group in Ethiopia, are not allowed even to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of their oldest civic organization in their own country.
The leaders of the Macha-Tulama Association came together from different parts of Oromia. They have become the symbol of courage and sacrifices that have propelled millions of Oromo into organized motion. Firm as their grasp of reality, they looked upon peaceful resistance with a boldness of imagination unsurpassed in modern Ethiopian history. What spirit was it that moved them, made them accept sufferings, torture, imprison­ment, loss of property, breakup of families and loss of life itself? Without a doubt, it was the spirit of Oromo political awakening that propelled these men and women onto a new historical stage. They became the organizational expression of Oromo national consciousness. Through their struggle and sacrifices, they won a lasting place in the hearts of the Oromo nation. Within four short years the leaders of Association not only united and provided the Oromo with central leadership, but also made them conscious of their unity and their dehumanization as second-class subjects and inspired them to be agents for their freedom and human dignity. The 50th anniversary celebration is organized for honoring the sacrifices made by the leaders and members of Macha-Tulama Association and for keeping alive the spirit of freedom and human dignity for which they struggled.
Without any doubt it was the Macha-Tulama Association that planted the tree of Oromo political consciousness. The limited gains the Oromo achieved since the 1970s was the fruit from that tree of political consciousness. The Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, which has dominated Ethiopian government since 1991, is determined to deprive the Oromo of any independent organization by banning the Macha-Tulama Association, detaining its leaders from time to time and confiscating its property, thereby demonstrating the utter absence of the rule of law in Ethiopia.
We believe that you feel the pain and the daily humiliation of our people who are even denied the simplest right of celebrating the 50th anniversary of their oldest country-wide civic organization in their own country. Those of us who live in freedom beyond the tyranny of the TPLF regime have moral responsibility for supporting the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Macha-Tulama Association. It will give us a wonderful opportunity for informing the Western world that the Oromo and other peoples in Ethiopia are denied their basic human and democratic rights in their own country. What is greater shame for the TPLF regime that beats the empty drum of democracy than denying the Oromo the right to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their civic organization? Together, let us expose the brutality of the Ethiopian regime and lift up the spirit of our people. Now is the time for those of who are interested in freedom, democracy and the rule of law in Ethiopia to rise to the challenge of publicizing the 50th anniversary celebration so that more people will know about the tyrannical TPLF regime.
The plan of the day is:
· Demonstration at 9AM, gathering in front of the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW.
· Marching to US State Department, 2200 C St, NW, at 11AM – ending at 1PM.
· Official Celebration at the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine, 4250 Harewood Rd, NE, Washington, DC 20017, starting at 4:30PM.
· Continuing with Oromo Cultural Evening at the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine until midnight.
Please join us so that we joyously celebrate together the 50th anniversary of the Macha-Tulama Association and demonstrate to the TPLF leaders that they will never be able to kill the spirit of freedom and human dignity that the Macha-Tulama Association planted in the heart, mind and soul of the Oromo nation.
We thank you for your cooperation in this noble undertaking.
Respectfully,
MTA 50th Anniversary Organizing Team

 

http://freeoromia.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/banned-by-tplf-ethiopian-regime-oldest.html

 

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

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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

 

 

 

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 “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

Africa:Why are we so poor? Yet we are so rich?

 

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Africa’s poverty persists in the midst of a wealth of natural resources, estimated by the United Nations Economic Commission on Africa as including 12 percent of the world’s oil reserves, 42 percent of its gold, 80 to 90 percent of chromium and platinum group metals, and 60 percent of arable land in addition to vast timber resources.

 If these were idle, unexploited resources, it would be one thing.
 

However, the reality is that they are increasingly being exploited: investment and trade in Africa’s resources sector is on the rise, largely accounting for the sustained GDP growth rates witnessed over the last decade. The Economist magazine has reported increased foreign direct investment into Africa, rising from U.S. $15 billion in 2002, to $37 billion in 2006 to $46 billion in 2012.

 

While trade with China alone went up from $11 billion in 2003, to $166 billion in 2012, very little can be pointed to in commensurate changes in human development and fundamental economic transformation. It is multi-national corporations and a few local elites which are benefiting disproportionately from the reported growth – exacerbating inequality and further reinforcing the characteristic “enclave economy” structural defect of most African economies.

 
 

The disparity between sustained GDP growth rates and Africa’s seemingly obstinate and perverse state of underdevelopment, extreme poverty and deepening inequality brings to the fore issues of inclusivity and responsible governance of domestic resources. The question that is being asked by many – especially Africa’s young people who have assumed the agenda for economic transformation as a generational mandate – is this: Why are we so poor? Yet we are so rich?

Read more @http://allafrica.com/stories/201408120664.html

 

 

Africa: Illicit Financial Flows Drain US$55.6bn Annually from the Continent

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Illicit Financial Flows Drain US$55.6bn Annually from African Continent

Only Ethiopia has lost $11.7 billion to illicit fund outflows in the last decade.  

A climate of corruption, Ethiopian edition

corruption-in-africaWorking Group Must Address Trade Misinvoicing and Role of U.S. Business and Government in Facilitating Illicit Finance to Be Truly Effective, Warns GFI

Illicit Financial Flows Drain US$55.6bn Annually from African Continent, Sapping GDP, Undermining Development, and Fueling Crime, Corruption, and Tax Evasion

August 7, 2014, WASHINGTON, DC (GFI) – Global Financial Integrity (GFI) welcomed the announcement from the White House and African leaders today regarding the establishment of a bilateral U.S.-Africa Partnership to Combat Illicit Finance, but the Washington-DC based research and advocacy organization cautioned that any effective partnership must be sure to address deficiencies in both the U.S. and in Africa that facilitate the hemorrhage of illicit capital from Africa.

“We welcome the move by President Obama and certain African leaders to form this partnership on curbing illicit financial flows from African economies,” said GFI President Raymond Baker, who also serves on the UN High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa. “Illicit financial flows are by far the most damaging economic problem facing Africa. By announcing the creation of the U.S.-Africa Partnership to Combat Illicit Finance, President Obama and African leaders have taken the first step towards tackling the most pernicious global development challenge of our time.”

GFI research estimates that illicit financial outflows cost African (both North and Sub-Saharan African) economies US$55.6 billion per year from 2002-2011 (the most recent decade for which comprehensive data is available), fueling crime, corruption, and tax evasion. Indeed, GFI’s latest global analysis found that these illicit outflows sapped 5.7 percent of GDP from Sub-Saharan Africa over the last decade, more than any other region in the developing world. Perhaps most alarmingly, outflows from Sub-Saharan Africa were found to be growing at an average inflation-adjusted rate of more than 20 percent per year, underscoring the urgency with which policymakers should address illicit financial flows.

The problem with illicit outflows from Africa is so severe that a May 2013 joint report from GFI and the African Development Bank found that, after adjusting all recorded flows of money to and from the continent (e.g. debt, investment, exports, imports, foreign aid, remittances, etc.) for illicit financial outflows, between 1980 and 2009, Africa was a net creditor to the rest of the world by up to US$1.4 trillion.

Trade Misinvoicing at the Heart of Illicit Outflows

According to GFI’s research, most of the illicit outflows from Africa—US$35.4 billion of the US$55.6 billion leaving the continent each year—occur through the fraudulent over- and under-invoicing of trade transactions, a trade-based money laundering technique known as “trade misinvoicing.” As GFI noted in a May 2014 study, trade misinvoicing is undermining billions of dollars of investment and domestic resource mobilization in at least a number of African countries. The organization emphasized the importance of ensuring that the new U.S.-Africa partnership prioritizes the curtailment of trade misinvoicing.

“The misinvoicing of ordinary trade transactions is the most widely used method for transferring dirty money across international borders, and it accounts for the vast majority of illicit financial flows from Africa,” said Heather Lowe, GFI’s legal counsel and director of government affairs. “While it is easy to place the blame for this on corrupt officials or transnational crime networks, the truth of the matter is that the bulk of these fraudulent trade transactions are conducted by normal companies, many of them major U.S. and European companies.”

Ms. Lowe continued: “Just yesterday, President Obama announced the Doing Business in Africa Campaign, a U.S. government initiative focused on boosting trade between U.S. and African companies, without a signal mention of the elephant in the room: trade misinvoicing. Increasing trade is important to boosting economic growth across Africa, but only if the trade is done honestly and at fair market values. The single most important step that wealthy nations like the U.S. can take to help African economies curtail illicit flows is to trade legitimately and honestly with Africa. While this topic was not addressed at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum yesterday, it must be on the table as the U.S.-Africa Partnership to Combat Illicit Finance commences its work.”

U.S. Must Clean Up Its Own Backyard

GFI further emphasized the need to address the role of the U.S. financial system as a major facilitator of such outflows.
“For every country losing money illicitly, there is another country absorbing it. Illicit financial outflows are facilitated by financial opacity in tax havens and in major economies like the United States,” said GFI Policy Counsel Joshua Simmons. “Indeed, the United States is the second easiest country in the world—after Kenya—for a criminal, kleptocrat, or terrorist to incorporate an anonymous company to launder their ill-gotten-gains with impunity.

“While governance remains an issue for many African countries, structural deficiencies in the U.S. financial system are just as responsible for driving the outflow of illicit capital. This initiative cannot place the onus entirely on the shoulders of African governments. The burden for curtailing these illicit flows must be shared equally by policymakers in the U.S. and in Africa for this partnership to be effective,” added Mr. Simmons.

http://ayyaantuu.com/africa/illicit-financial-flows-drain-us55-6bn-annually-from-african-continent/

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2012/01/25/ethiopia-reflecting-on-corruption-in-ethiopia/

Is Poverty the fault, crime, of the poor?

 

Odaa Oromoo

 

 

Poverty

 

 

The truth is that humanity must now confront, not just poverty, but a convergence of mega crises, all of which are deeply interconnected: Government corruption; ecological destabilization; structural debt; and hyper-consumerism established in the west and rapidly expanding worldwide.

 

 

 

 

 

Right now, a long and complicated process is underway to replace the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire in 2015, with new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These will set the parameters for international development for the next 15 years and every government, UN agency, large corporation and NGO, not to mention billions of citizens on the planet have a stake.

Judging by what’s being produced, though, we have a serious problem. The best way to describe it is with an old joke: There’s a man driving through the countryside, trying to find a nearby town. He’s desperately lost and so when he sees a woman by the side of the road he pulls over and asks for directions. The woman scratches her head and says, “Well, I wouldn’t start from here.”

The best evidence of where the SDGs are starting from is the so-called “Zero Draft” document, first released on 3 June and currently undergoing exhaustive consultation.

First things to note are the big differences with the MDGs. Most strikingly, the SDGs suggest an end to poverty is possible in the next 15 years, whereas the MDGs aimed at halving it. The implication is that we’ve made amazing progress and are now on the home stretch. Secondly, the SDGs get serious about climate change. This is a major paradigm shift and, what’s more, they aim squarely at the heart of the problem: patterns of production and consumption. Impressive. Thirdly, reducing inequality “within and between” countries is included, with a goal of its own. This suggests another paradigm shift, and a controversial one because it opens the door, just a crack, to the idea that the extremely rich might be making an undue amount of their money off the backs of the extremely poor.

Of these three goals, it is fairly certain that two will disappear before the process concludes. There is no way the world’s rich governments and corporations will allow a meaningful challenge to production and consumption patterns, or a focus on reducing inequality. This is a given.

However, there is an even more important problem in the Zero Draft document which is that the very starting point of the issue is profoundly misconceived. How do we know? Because of the language. Language is a code that contains a lot more than its literal meaning, and an analysis of semantic frames in the Zero Draft exposes the logic upon which it is built.

Let’s take the opening paragraph:

“Poverty eradication is the greatest global challenge facing the world today and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. We are therefore committed to freeing humanity from poverty and hunger as a matter of urgency.”

Poverty can be conceptualised in many ways and in this passage it is presented as both a preventable disease (“to be eradicated”) and as a prison (“to free humanity from”). In both, the framing reveals the framers’ view, conscious or otherwise, on causation. Diseases are just part of the natural world, so if poverty is a disease, it suggest that it is something for which no-one is to blame. The logic of a prison meanwhile is that people are in it for committing a crime. The former denies the idea that human actions may be a cause of inequality and poverty; the latter invokes the idea that poverty is the fault – the crime – of the poor.

Also note the phrase: “the greatest global challenge.” This asserts a logic in which there is a hierarchy of individual issues based on relative importance, with poverty at the top. The truth, however, is that humanity must confront a convergence of mega-crises all of which are deeply interconnected. Government corruption, ecological destabilisation, structural debt, hyper-consumerism established in the West and rapidly expanding in the east and south, for example, are all closely linked. But framing poverty as “the greatest global challenge” conceals the web of interconnected systems and removes them from consideration. The result: No systemic solutions can arise from a logic that denies systemic problems.

There is a good reason for this: it protects the status quo. This logic validates the current system and ordering of power by excusing it of blame and says it can, indeed must, continue business as usual. This is the logic of the corporate capitalist system.

There’s no denying that some excellent progress has been made since 1990 – the year the MDGs measure from – but you don’t need to deny that to know there is something fundamentally wrong with a global economy in which, at a time when wealth grew by 66%, the ratio of average incomes of the richest 5% and the poorest 20% rose from 202:1 to 275:1. Or that the reality masked by the ratios is that one third of all deaths since 1990 (432 million) have been poverty-related. Using UN figures, that’s more than double the combined deaths from the Two World Wars, Mao’s Great Leap Forward, Stalin’s purges, and all military and civilian deaths from the wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. What’s more, even though we are now seeing around 400,000 deaths every year from climate change, we are pumping 61% more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere annually than we were in 1990.

The point is that, in light of the logic the language exposes – and we have mentioned just two of many possible examples telling the same story – any glorification of the SDGs we hear over the next year must be seen as reinforcing the logic their language contains.

To really tackle poverty, inequality and climate change, we would need to change that logic to one that is built on an acceptance of how much these problems are the result of human actions. And that the fact of living in poverty makes no inherent comment whatsoever on the person or people concerned, other than that they live in poverty. This in turn would make a wholly different type and scale of change feel like common sense. For example, it would feel obvious to work towards taxing carbon emissions at source and putting in place sanctions against those responsible for hoardingat least $26 trillion in tax havens. We would instinctively reach to introduce laws that give local authorities everywhere the right to revoke corporate charters for serious social or environmental misdeeds anywhere. And the big one: money. Ridiculous though it may sound, right now we allow private banks to control the supply of US dollars, euros and other major currencies that surge through the global economy. These banks charge everyone, including governments, interest on every note, thereby guaranteeing that a constant river of money flows into their coffers, along with immense power. But unfortunately, none of these issues will make it into the SDGs because they contradict the current, dominant logic, and what’s more, because they might actually work and redistribute power and wealth more equitably.

We compound our problems when we allow ourselves to be drawn into processes like the SDG-design are turning out to be. Every ounce of credence given to their frames helps weigh down the center of debate far from where it needs to be. Until the UN can use its powers, resources and privileges to promote policies that grow from the logic of its highest ideals, we may help it, the planet and each other best by divesting our attention from it and finding avenues for change that can.

This article was originally published by Common Dreams.

Read more @ http://commondreams.org/views/2014/08/06/hidden-shallows-global-poverty-eradication-efforts

Oromo: “For a people facing complete erasure, survival itself is a revolutionary act”, IOYA’s Former President Ayantu Tibeso at the Macha-Tulama Association’s 50th Anniversary Celebration

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The fact that we are gathered here today to honor the founding of Macha Tulama 50 years ago speaks to the fact that despite all odds, we, as a people are survivors. Ethiopian history is full of attempts to annihilate the Oromo—culturally, politically, socially, economically, in all and every ways possible.Oromos — cast as foreign, aliens to their own lands, have been the targets of the entire infrastructure of the Ethiopian state since their violent incorporation. Our identity, primarily language, religion and belief systems and cultural heritage have been the main targets of wanton destruction.   Oromo and its personhood were already demonized, characterized as embodiments of all that is inferior, shameful and subhuman from the beginning. Oromo people were economically and politically exploited, dominated and alienated.

Ayantu Tibeso

Africa’s Slide Toward Disaster 

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Africa’s Slide Toward Disaster

AUG. 1, 2014

A specter is haunting Africa — the specter of impunity. Many countries the United States considers allies are in the grip of corrupt, repressive tyrants; others are mired in endless conflict. As Washington prepares to host the first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit next week, American policy makers must acknowledge their contributions to this dismal situation. By lavishing billions of dollars in military and development aid on African states while failing to promote justice, democracy and the rule of law, American policies have fostered a culture of abuse and rebellion. This must change before the continent is so steeped in blood that there’s no way back.

The summit seeks to highlight Africa’s development successes and promote trade and investment on a continent rich in oil and natural resources. Justice and the rule of law aren’t on the agenda. But they should be, unless American C.E.O.s want to see their investments evaporate.

Read interesting comments @ http://ayyaantuu.com/africa/africas-slide-toward-disaster/#respond

Read more @http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/02/opinion/africas-slide-toward-disaster.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0

Ethiopia: UK Aid Should Respect Rights

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

 

Ethiopia: UK Aid Should Respect Rights

By Human Rights Watch,  14th July 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Tyranny: What does democracy mean for TPLF/EPRDF?

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What does democracy mean for TPLF/EPRDF?

by Alemu Hurissa 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At the end of my piece of writing, I challenge all Oromos to unite, as unity is strength and to contribute whatever we can to bring down woyane and its members from power and to bring justice and freedom to Oromia and I challenge and hope developed countries also will stop financial and technical support to terrorist regime in Ethiopia.
Read more@

http://ayyaantuu.com/horn-of-africa-news/oromia/what-does-democracy-mean-for-tplfeprdf/

 

Related articles and references:

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

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

Pre 2015 Election and The Fate of The Opposition In Ethiopia

By Firehiwot Guluma Tezera

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

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

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

Measures taken post 2005 election

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

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

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

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

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

Haile FidaHirmatadubbii afaanoromo

 

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

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

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

http://oromodictionary.com/afaanOromoLK.php

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 Read Full Report@

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

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

 

Related References:

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

Perverted Development: What role for Institutions

 

Development: What role for Institutions

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

 

 

 

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sclerotic to development: The Abyssinian Colonial Occupation and Its Alliances

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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