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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Failed modernization of the Ethiopian State: Oromo perspectives on Ethiopian political culture
Authors:Bassi, MarcoISNI
Megerssa, Gemetchu
Periodical:The journal of Oromo studies
Geographic term:Ethiopia
Subjects:political participation
political history
political change
Abstract:Before incorporation into the Ethiopian State, Oromo society was a highly ordered, complex society, characterized by a democratic political system, the 'gadaa' system. From interviews carried out between 1998 and 2000 in towns west of Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, the authors found that 'gadaa' is still vivid in the memory of elders and is presented as a democratic and egalitarian mode of political organization, which sharply contrasts with the hierarchical political culture of the Ethiopian empire. The dynastic principle and the connected symbols of political legitimacy of the empire could neither be shared nor accepted by most Oromo. Indeed the elders' discourse tells that the victorious system was imposed by means of military conquest and maintained through violence and other coercive means. Brute force emerges as the sole source of Ethiopian State power, and this holds true throughout the 'derg' period as well, when the regime forbade the 'gadaa' ritual. The lack of political legitimacy of the State actually prevented most Oromo from participating in the Ethiopian political process. Being outside Ethiopia's political system and political culture is not perceived to be a conscious choice made by the Oromo, but rather a condition imposed on them by the State. This entrenched political culture has not been changed by the recent political transformation of Ethiopia. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]