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The case of the Ethiopian empire

The case of the Ethiopian empire

For the Oromo nation and other subordinate nationalities in the Horn of Africa, the 20th century commenced with a holocaust. Oromos lost about 5 million people (about half their population) during their conquest. A British historian, Margery Perham, observed that Emperor Menelik II had one dominant policy toward Oromos--for Menelik, there were two categories of Oromos: those whom he could recruit to use them against the majority Oromo population, and those whom he conceived to be fit for massacre [6]. Indeed, to this end, he recruited prominent Oromos such as General Gobana Docci and Fituarari Habte Giorgis. Then, by massacring as many Oromos as it would take, was able to conquer and subjugate.

Emperor Haile Sellassie pursued similar policy. On the one hand he elevated few Oromos to his cabinet and even arranged marriages with his family members. To the Oromo masses however, his policies were to conduct cultural and linguistic genocide. His regime introduced evictions of the peasants from their ancestral land. In my view, it was during this period that a new designation relative to the Oromo emerged in the Abyssinian colonial legacy. This designation relates to their treatments of the educated Oromos. Those who supported the system were referred to as “degg Galla” (the good Oromo). Those who challenged the system were referred to as kiffu Galla (the bad or evil Oromo) [7].

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