Conquest and Resistance in the Ethiopian Empire, 1880 - 1974

The Case of the Arsi Oromo


This work examines the philosophical origins of Oromo egalitarian and democratic thoughts and practice, the Gadaa-Qaalluu system, kinship organization, the introduction and spread of Islam and the consequent socio-cultural change. It sheds light on the advent of the Ethiopian empire under Menelik II, its conquests and Arsi Oromo fierce resistance (1880-1900), the nature and legacy of Ethiopian imperial polity, centre-periphery relations, feudal political economy and its impacts on the newly conquered regions with a focus on Arsi Oromo country. The book also analyzes the root causes of the national political crisis including, but not limited to, the attempts at transforming the empire-state to a nation-state around a single culture, contested definition of national identity and state legitimacy, grievance narratives, uprisings, the birth and development of competing nationalisms as well as the limitations of the current ethnic federalism to address the national question in Ethiopia.

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Abbas H. Gnamo, B.A (Addis Ababa University), M.A, Ph.D. & DEA (Paris University I, Panthéon-Sorbonne), has authored a monograph, and many articles on Ethiopia and the Oromo as well as chapters in books on the Rwandan Genocide (1999 & 2006). He began his career at Addis Ababa University, Institute of Ethiopian Studies and has been affiliated with several research centres in Canada. He has taught at some major Canadian universities including Ryerson, York and the University of Toronto
'Gnamo (political science, Ryerson Univ.) organized his study into two general categories. The first is anthropological; the author discusses the traditional cultural and socioeconomic structures and political institutions of the Arsi Oromo. The second, which takes up the bulk of the book, is concerned with their place in the Ethiopian political, social, and economic landscape. In discussing the conquest of the Oromo and their subsequent resistance, the author points out that the Ethiopian state did nothing to integrate them, in any capacity, into the Ethiopian sociopolitical order. Gnamo makes a case for the exploitative and extractive nature of the relationship between the Christian-Ethiopian core and the Oromo periphery. Brutal suppression and continual repression resulted in continual Oromo resistance to the central government and was a major factor in the Arsi Oromo conversion to Islam. The people remained marginal throughout the period under consideration, and the author fears that unless the present government undertakes fundamental structural alterations, there will be no change. Gnamo did fieldwork among the Arsi Oromo using both Oromo and Amhara languages to conduct his interviews. The bibliography contains most relevant written sources in the major European languages; maps and charts bring greater clarity to the narrative. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above'.

--T. Natsoulas, emeritus, University of Toledo, in Choice, August 2014
Anthropologists, sociologists, political scientists, historians, libraries, practioners, students and Africanists in general and those who are interested in Ethiopia and Oromo issues in particular.
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