Leaders’ Identity in Ethnic Based Federalism

Leaders’ Identity in Ethnic Based Federalism

By Tola Jilo, September 5, 2018

Without having identity alignment or psychology of belonging, individuals cannot have common intensions to work toward similar end results. The major problem in ethnic federalism is the confusions arising surrounding finding common denominator/identity for its members. Identity is defined as “who or what a person is” or having “a close similarity or affinity”.

The meanings of identity is complicated and unclear concept but plays a central role in ongoing debates in every subfield of political science (for example, debates about national, ethnic, gender, and state identities). Identity as we now know it derives mainly the work of psychologist Erikson 1950s.  The analysis yields the following summary statement. (a) a social category, defined by membership rules and (alleged) characteristic attributes or expected behaviors, or (b) socially distinguishing features that a person takes a special pride in or views as unchangeable but socially consequential (or (a) and (b) at once). In the latter sense, “identity” is modern formulation of dignity, pride, or honor that implicitly links these to social categories. I also agree with the argument that it allows us to better understand how “identity” can help explain political actions, and the meaning of claims such as “identities are socially constructed.” Please see below how identity plays in political platform and leaders mental models in Oromia.

Identity and leaders’ mental models



The psychology of the major Oromo political parties & their mental models
OLF and OFC leaders – identityOPDO Leaders – identity
Similarities & DifferencesFeeling of pride/dignity/honoured as Oromo – OLF was described as terrorist & OFC as instigator of the Qeerroo revolution. Both parties have strong connection with Oromo people from cost to cost.  The supporters of both parties greatly suffered, killed, jailed, tortured, etc. These two independent Oromo parties never surrender, never changed their original thought, always listened to their people; struggled for the same/similar outcome; had similar experience under the previous TPLF government.Closer affinity with Oromo people- At the beginning, there was leadership confusion, gave-up the right of their people, & fear of TPLF.  Then during the Qeerroo revolution, OPDO came out of its shell & that was the turning point for OPDO. Critics say the Qeerroo revolution saved OPDO and later its leaders mental model changed and aligned with the “system”.
Oromo interestFull autonomy – on Oromia (land, language, resources, special benefit from the capital city of Oromia, Finfine, etc.)Fluid on autonomy – unclear political platform when it comes to promoting Oromo interest vs. Ethiopia
Differentiation from other None Oromo political partiesClearly for self-governance in federation; believes in a distinguished boundary for OromiaAlso believes in federalism but “soft” on boundaries between regional states & on the benefits Oromia should get from Finfine
Article 39 of the Ethiopian Constitution On Secession and Self-determinationView as a panacea and a civilized way of ending the state if he various ethnic component of the state in the country fail to agree on how to live with each otherMay agree to keep Article 39 on paper, but not sure when & whether such a constitutional right can be given for self-determination
QeerrooPart and parcel of these two Oromo political organizationsLead by Qeerroo to grasp the political power in Ethiopia.  Qeerroo is proud of OPDO’s achievement & with its two top leaders
Unity concernsOLF & OFC are inseparable from Oromo people. Amhara elites hate these two Oromo political parties “call them Xabbab” because they don’t want to someone standing for OromoThe Amhara elites  trying to engage & isolate Dr. Lamma to weaken his acceptance in Oromia   E.g. they gave him the best man awarded of the year  yesterday.  They call him a true Ethiopian.  Why did they do it and what do they want?
FearIf these two political parties go separately, Oromo people will be confused at election and this will create opportunities for others to win.


Please make the merger sooner and make it public sooner

I hope Dr. Lammaa won’t be deceived by Habasha’s divisive wishes. You need your people to support you.  You often tried hard to please the Amhara elites by making speech in Amharic to the Oromo people (e.g. in Minnesota). This type of simple issues trigger identity questions.