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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Historical Legacy and the Democratisation Process in Ethiopia
Author:Zewde, Bahru
Periodical:Afrika Zamani: revue annuelle d'histoire africaine = Annual Journal of African History (ISSN 0850-3079)
Geographic terms:Ethiopia
Northeast Africa
Politics and Government
History and Exploration
political science
Abstract:Ethiopian historians have always operated under the ever-watchful eye of Church and State. They have been expected or asked to conform to three ideological constructs: the story of the Queen of Sheba (until 1974), the sacredness of Ethiopian unity (1974-1991), and the deconstruction of that unity (after 1991). The historian trying to disentangle the impasse into which the transition process inaugurated in Ethiopia in May 1991 with the collapse of the Mengistu regime seems to have fallen observes the interplay of several legacies of the past in the unfolding reality of the present. The imperial legacy (authoritarianism, militarism, regional competition and oppression and exploitation of the southern peoples), the religious legacy (symbiosis of Church and State), the Marxist-Leninist legacy (notably the principle of the right of nations to self-determination), the economic legacy (poverty), and the international legacy (uncritical support of a foreign superpower ally). The Ethiopian past is replete with authoritarianism and dogmatism - imperial autocracy, military dictatorship, Marxist-Leninist commandism - and short on democracy and tolerance. The value of history is to help understand the antidemocratic traditions of the past in order to overcome them.