By Debteraw Associate Reporter

Here are my observation and impression as an audient at Harvard Forum that was organized by Ethiopian Students Association at Harvard. The topic is Ethnicity and National Identity in Ethiopia, with five panelists and twenty-five to thirty participants. For panelists’ resumes and accomplishments, please see The forum runs the whole day with two sessions of three panelists each. 
I-The morning session started with the three panelists, Teshale Tibebu, Mohammed Hassen Ali and Sarah Vaughn, each with twenty minutes presentation and twenty minutes comments from the panelists and audience.


Teshale Tibebu, the author of the Making of Modern Ethiopia, 1896-1974, which I get a chance to read the book, I would categorized is book as mainstream. His presentation topic is Competitive Nationalism in Ethiopia. The theme is Ethiopian nationalism vs. ethno-nationalism. He categorized Ethiopian nationalism into three theses:

  • Imperial Ethiopianness, “

    Island”, landlords and landless

  • Marxist (socialist) Ethiopianness, “

    Island”, class struggle

  • Liberal Ethiopianness, such as Kinijt.


His description of Ethnocentric Nationalism is focusing on more domination and oppression and differences than common shared experiences or common grounds.

  • Oromo, Somalia, and Sidama Nationalism,
  • Colonial question, self determination including secession
  • EPRDF in the middle between Ethiopian and ethnocentric Nationalism
  • EPRDF with its solution of linguistics policy (line) of nine ethnic regions


His concluding remarks are:

  • Well founded fears of disintegration or dismemberment of the country
  • Problems of Kilele
  • Genbot 7 Election and aftermath
  • Playing like with recent religion incitements is like playing with fire
  • Diluting history is not solution to our problems
  • The need for common grounds to save the country 

Mohammed Hassen, the author of the Oromo of
Ethiopia: A History, 1570 to 1860,
focusing on the development of Oromo nationalism within the Ethiopian state. His presentation title is Ethiopian Nationalist and Rival Nationalism. He talked in general on similarities and difference as follows:

  • Long history of
    Ethiopia with rival nationalism
  • Contest between various ethnic groups
  • Nation formation, question of legitimacy
  • Nationalism in not divisive, fear from ignorance
  • Christianity vs. Islam in
  • Creation of modern
    Ethiopia by Menlik
  • Imposition of one’s culture and custom, language
  • Amharanization, Hegemony’s Amhara elite


His concluding viewpoints are not specific and put it general scholarly manners and terms:

  • Lack of democracy
  • Need for institutional identity such as institution of nationalities during time of military government
  • Devolution of power through federalism did not specified.


Sarah Vaughn, I do not much care about her, she looks to me more of a technocrat than academician. Her presentation is careful worded and well guarded not to offend the present government. Anyway her topic was Ethnic Federalism in Practice: Issues from
Ethiopia’s South and West.
Her focus on current situation based on her work for the government and study are:

  • Linguistic federalism
  • How ethnicity changing
  • How the government policy is working
  • Phases of government policy and response 1991-2006
  • Relationship between local evolution and transformation of ethnic identity
  • Deep rooted in local understanding of the policy of environment, government actions and institution
  • Political organization mushrooming


In concluding remarks, she told the audience that she is not at liberty to say any bad things about the Ethiopian government because she does not to jeopardize her privilege to go in and out of
Ethiopia. Please make your judgment by looking on the Harvard website about her expertise.


Comments and questions for three panelists are:

  • Why is the minority ethnic group  dominating the majority?
  • What is the relationship between Derge nationalism and class struggle?
  • What is the problem of ethnic federation? Is it with its implementation? Or with itself?
  • What should be done to keep the country together?
  • Are ethnic groupings fighting for identity or share of limited resources? Or both?
  • Why is Article 39 important for ethnic groups?


II-Afternoon Session was supposed to start with the three panelists, Messay Kebede, Asafa Jalata and Ghelawdewos Araia, because Messay unable to attend due to sickness, the afternoon presentation began with Asafa Jalata and followed by Ghelawdewos. The session was not any more like the first session brainstorming. It is heated debate and everybody wants to score points. Ghelawdewos and Asafa were confronting and combating each other without giving much time for audience to comment and ask questions. Despite back and forth arguments, the audience was not bored or tried.


Asafa Jalata, I did not read any of his works, but from what I learn from his presentation, he looks like more of a vanguard member of the OLF  political organization. To learn more about his works, please see Harvard website.  His title for the presentation is
Ethiopia On the Fire of Competing Nationalisms: The Oromo People’s Movement, the State, and the West. His emphasis of the presentation is as follows:

  • Focus on the struggle of Oromo’s people
  • Showed a large map of
    Ethiopia with the present ethnic divisions with state of Oromo in green color
  • Question of colonialism
  • The Abyssinian colonizer and colonized ethno-nations
  • Ethiopian Empire
  • National self determination
  • Ethiopian settler colonialism and its institutions
  • Labeled the Ethiopian Student Movement as Amhara Student Movement
  • Objectives of OLF
  • Ethiopian racism and radical/ethno-national hierarchy
  • Compare Oromo’s People Struggle with that of African American Movement


His concluding remarks are more offensive to the audience at large except few well-known radical OLF members in our community are cheering him. According to him:

  • Tewodros, Yohannes, Melik and Haile Sellasie are/were warlords
  • His solutions to the present crisis in the country is to recognize the past and present state crimes committed against the Oromo people
  • Accepting the principle of self determination
  • Common ground to save the country from disintegration can only be established by accepting the past and present crimes as well as accepting the right of self determination
  • Ethiopianness should not be pre-condition for opposition forces to form an alliance. He did not mention by name AFD or Kinijit, just said an alliance between two major ethnic groups meaning the Oromo and Amhara.


Ghelawdewos Araia, . In comparison to Asfa Jalata, Ghelawdewos looks to the audience as an Ethiopian patriot. For his works and accomplishments, please the Harvard website. His topic is Ethnocentric Politics. His main points are:

  • Ethno-nationalism and Ethiopian nationalism
  • Highlight the history of
    Ethiopia from antiquity to the present
  • Ethnic groups in
    Ethiopia have more common grounds to stay together than their differences to force them to disintegrate.
  • Battle of Adwa and the participation of various ethnic groups as Ethiopian
  • Battle of Bademe and the participation of various ethnic groups as Ethiopian


His concluding remarks are:

  • The need to broaden common ground to save the country
  • Eritrean model of
    Independence is not acceptable to the Oromo
  • Bringing religion to politics is more dangerous than ethnic politics


Comments and questions from the audience are:

The audience made comments in favor and against Ethiopian and Ethno-nationalism. Some are real and legitimate grievances and others are unacceptable to most Ethiopians or advocates of ethno-nationalism. Overall, the presentation and discussion were good as brainstorming and I believe the presentation will help the Ethiopian students to be more familiarizing with problems of our country and seek possible solutions. At the comment session, I felt bad to be only good listener and not telling at least students and young people my viewpoints.  . For the records, the real issues that should have been discussed are:

Ethiopia is a multiethnic and multi-religious nation –state and not an empire

·        To save the country, the need for a grand coalition of opposition forces under common ground of Ethiopianness

·        To recognize and support the legitimate grievances of ethnic groups, women’s rights

·        The need for transition period for a multiparty democracy

·        The need for democratic constitution making

·        The exploration of federalism will be more meaningful and useful if addressed during a democratic constitution making by future democratically elected representatives. To me it wills useful, if future federal structure is considered based on linguistics, geographic, cultures and most of all by endorsement of Ethiopian people with rights to make amendments.

·        Under a united democratic federal
Ethiopia, there will be not problems that will be addressed and seek acceptable solutions to the majority of Ethiopian people without affecting the right of minority.

Published in: on November 16, 2006 at 7:01 pm  Comments (16)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

16 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. If you are interested in making money online, please visit us – The Best HYIP Rating. The Fairest High Yield Investment Programs Monitoring Service. HYIP Mailings, HYIP Articles, HYIP Compares, HYIP Analysis.

  2. 300 is a great movie full of visual effects and graphics which made it different and much better.
    Acting was great, director did a wonderful job and chose great actors, full of action, and it is based on a true story.

  3. InterShipCo. Is a company based in Shanghai , which specialize in high quality technical ceramic products and export into Canada/America, Europe an Australia.

    Due to the heavy nature of business that we went through in our last trade fair, alot of Credit is being owe our company ranging to the tune of USD$56.5 million. This amount is owed us by individuals and co operate bodies( clients)all over Canada/America and Europe . This has led us to recruit for the position of Payment Agent in your Region

    1.Honest, Responsible and Dedicated .
    2.Having no problem with the Authorities
    3.Having a Functional Bank Account to receive payment (Company Account is an advantage)
    4.Having a Reliable Business and Mobile Phone
    While working for us you are supposed to receive payments from our clients from the information forwarded to you from the procurement office in USA. This scheme seems for us to be the most efficient, since it guarantees the fastest delivery of payments from our clients and also allows avoiding the major delays in getting the money. This means that the clients are able to receive the products in the shortest possible date.

    You will get 10% commission from the whole sum of every transaction by you. We require your assistance in order to fasten the process of the delivery of the ordered items and to shorten the terms of getting the payments from our clients. Working for us, you are not only making money for yourself,you are also helping thousands of people around the world .

    If you would like to join our team please contact Jeremy Cornell with the following informations below:


    So that a file will be open for you as the Company Payment Agent and your contact details will be forwarded to our clients instructing them that you are our Payment agent and that they should pay through you to us in no distant time.

    Thank You for your time.
    Jeremy Cornell
    Staffing/Managment Group

  4. Amerikanische Firma „ACG Logistics“ sucht nach Mitarbeiter in Europa fuer die Arbeit im Logistikbereich. Interessanter Job mit guter Verdienstmoeglichkeit.

    Schicken Sie bitte Ihre Bewerbung an

  5. Dear Sir, madam. Our logistics company, STS Logistics looking
    for people for work from home in USA, Germany, UK, Spain & Australia
    We are searching for active workers, male/female from 18 years old.
    We are ready to offer you an interesting job and partnership.

    -basic english
    -2-3 hour free time
    Monthly salary will be about 3000-4000 USD! And this is real with us.
    John Campbell

    For more info send e-mail:
    You will have all information!

  6. Dear Sir, madam. Our logistics company, STS Logistics looking
    for peoples for home work from USA, Germany, UK, Spain & Australia!
    We are searching for active workers, male/female from 18 years old.
    We are ready to offer you an interesting job and partnership.
    -basic english
    -2-3 hour free time
    Weekly salary will be about 3000-4000 EUR per week! And this is real with
    John Campbell

    For more info send e-mail:
    You will have all information!

  7. Dear Sir, madam. Our logistics company, STS Logistics looking
    for people for work from home in USA, Germany, UK, Spain & Australia
    We are searching for active workers, male/female from 18 years old.
    We are ready to offer you an interesting job and partnership.

    -basic english
    -2-3 hour free time
    Monthly salary will be about 3000-4000 USD! And this is real with us.
    John Campbell

    For more info send e-mail:
    You will have all information!

  8. Hello,
    My name is John Campbell, I represent STS Logistics company
    located in the USA (offices in Germany, Russia and Japan).
    Our company is seeking for a representatives part-time jobs in the USA, Germany, Spain, UK, Australia.
    This is not spam and we will not ask any money from you.
    Your minimal income will be $2000USD a month in average. You
    will be paid weekly.
    No relocation required, job duties include mail and payments
    processing, standart office duties and everyday reporting.
    All candidates have to be authorized to work with minimal
    computer knowledge.
    If you’re interested in this Job please
    contact us through the contacts below:


    Best Regards,
    John Campbell

  9. i’m eric. joining a couple boards and looking
    forward to participating. hehe unless i get
    too distracted!


  10. Hey,
    I’m oOgerryOo.

    Just saying hey – I’m new.

  11. very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

  12. Greetings
    I am Jason Lee , I am new to this forum. I wasn’t sure where to make this post, and my
    apologies, if I posted inappropriately,
    moderators, please move this post accordingly.
    Few months ago, I discovered information about
    investment funds, that are not readily available to the public. The rates of investment
    return, which people could
    receive by investing in such
    funds, looked
    shockingly high at
    first, but as I searched additional
    information about them, I joined some too. These days, I consider
    myself being the successful
    investor. To take my online adventures on the next level, I
    established the blog, which
    outlines detailed information
    about current investment funds. If you would like to see my
    blog, here is the link. I would be happy to receive
    your feedbacks.

  13. Hello everybody,
    Is everything fine? What’s going on?


  14. Who know a web-site where there is a dance & electronic music for free?? give me the link please!

  15. Please! Leave more information and more links about next themes:
    1. controlling boyfriend
    2. free adult dating and chatting services
    3. videos dating
    4. parent dating again
    5. ads dating gay texas

  16. hyip manager script


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: