Agrarian Question and its Impact on the Development of Ethiopia
A. Kumsa, PhD, June 17, 2018
Charles University in Prague
U Kříže 8, 15800 Praha 5, Czech Republic
Ethiopia was created by the Abyssinian King Menelik II in the late XIX century; he was the only African monarch to participate in the fight for Africa with the European states. He expanded his territory to the southern neighboring countries and colonized them. According to the historical facts, compared to other colonial conquests the Abyssinian colonization was the most brutal occupation in terms of number of people killed and sold in slavery. After the occupation, the land and the peoples of the new territory were divided among the Abyssinians. The new colonial landless subjects were forced to farm the land of the new landlords, to handover up to 75% of their agricultural products to the landlords. That is why the people struggled to regain their stolen land for decades. The slogan “Land to the tillers” of the student movement was secretly introduced by the Oromo President on the paper stamp of Haile Sellasie’s Parliament and the Oromo Chairman of the University Students Union Baro Tumsa. As D. Horowitz wrote about the 1974 Revolution “in Ethiopia, a major effect of a land reform was to take land from Amhara and distribute it to the Galla, and for a time the revolution is suspected of being a Galla plot” [19. P. 8]. The revolution was gradually highjacked from the colonized nations by the Abyssinian military elite. The revolution led to the land reform of 1975 that destroyed the colonial landlords; the military government nationalized the land but refused to redistribute it among the landless people. The state became the only landlord in the country, and the military government tried to destroy the Oromo national movement by resettling seven million Abyssinians on the Oromo territory and by moving the Oromo people to new villages to control them. The collective struggle of oppressed peoples overthrew the military government in 1991. The contemporary government formed and led by the Tigrean Liberation Front (TPLF) monopolized the military, political, ideological and economic power in the country. This group collaborates with a new ‘super-class’ of the world by selling the land of the colonized peoples. The author considers the land ownership under three regimes of the Ethiopian government to answer the question “Why Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world though it possesses large water resources, fertile land and hardworking people?”.
Key words: Abyssinia; Ethiopia colonialism; slavery; land tenure; land grabbing; gabbars; poverty
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