Ethiopia — The Oromo People Part 1

Ethiopia’s relations with donors has been precarious since 1985 with evidence of piled up American grain in warehouses only to be redistributed in resettlement camps instead of being given to the hungry poor. Adis Ababa July 22nd, 2017 is a different story from February 7th 1985 though. Today Adis Ababa is being expanded but in the face of an angry OLF claiming that the development plan is a guise for further oppression of the ethnic group. But does the group deserve to stand in the face of what can be seen as further development and urbanization? The group of Oromo are considered to be their own cultural group with their own customs, language and heritage. Men have their own political system called Gada and women have their own political system within the Oromo customs called Siqqee. The negotiation today here is whether or not the OLF deserves to challenge the development plan by Adis Ababa. How has this played out? What does it mean for the refugee crisis? Who are the beneficiaries? And who comes out as the loser?

The deep structure of culture can be best quoted as “indestructuble; as long as there are people they will have a way of life”. The concept of African identity to people of Africa has been repeatedly emphasized by both white and black scholars. Afroethnic thinking, centeredness, ethnocentricism, Huntington vs Fukuyama’s clash and Pan-African discourse are all examples and case studies that have thoroughly covered this topic. Tooth and nail has been fought to understand and re-evaluate what it means to be African, what it means to be Ethiopian after colonial rule, warfare and slavery. The social stratification systems of society are in of themselves a challenge to overcome historically, morally and on an individual basis and as a country in itself. Post-1991 found Ethiopia in an ethnic-based federalism, informed by a neo-Leninist political model called revolutionary democracy. The Oromo were part of this ethnic-based federalism. This paper will discuss the Oromos people and the social stratification system imposed on Ethiopia. It will discuss the sense of nationalism created by the history of Ethiopia’s leaders and reflect on the social conditions both before and after the Gada tradition was abolished. It must be added that Gada is not just a ritualistic tradition but a political structure that couldn’t make itself recognizable as such within and beneath Ethiopian colonialism.