I joined Jason Mosley of Oxford University on TRT’s flagship program, Newsmakers, to discuss the conviction of Yonatan Tesfaye and the broader problem of repression in Ethiopia.
What Jason’s remark makes clear is the government’s narrative still dominates in Western academic institutions and think tanks. I have heard several Western Ethiopia scholars argue that the Oromo/Amhara protests were mainly about socio-economic conditions, not ethnic discontents or nationalism. I think this is a complete misreading of events and is mainly due to a problematic appreciation of the country’s social structure – the deeper social codes that are often inaccessible to outsiders. I accept that those of us who have skin in the game could be subjectively biased in terms of how we orient ourselves to these questions but to say that these protests are ‘mainly’ about bread is misleading, to say the least. In Ethiopia, a country in which ethnic identity underpins literally all aspects of public life, socio-economic conditions are not causes of political discontent, they are the symptoms.
Via Awol Kassim Allo