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The Unravelling of a Colonized Mind by Jana-Rae Yerxa March 24, 2013

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Colonizing Structure, Development, Humanity and Social Civilization, Ideas, Irreecha, Kemetic Ancient African Culture, Knowledge and the Colonizing Structure., Knowledge and the Colonizing Structure. Africa Heritage. The Genocide Against Oromo Nation, Knowledge and the Colonizing Structure. African Heritage. The Genocide Against Oromo Nation, Oromia, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo Culture, Oromo First, Oromo Identity, Oromo Nation, Oromo the Largest Nation of Africa. Human Rights violations and Genocide against the Oromo people in Ethiopia, Oromummaa, Qubee Afaan Oromo, Self determination, Sirna Gadaa, Slavery, Uncategorized.
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The Unravelling of a Colonized Mind by Jana-Rae Yerxa.

Sure everybody struggles. But to be born an Indigenous person, you are born into struggle. My struggle. Your struggle. Our struggle. The colonial struggle. There are many layers to this struggle. For the longest time, I didn’t even know what the true struggle was about yet I couldn’t escape it. It consumed me. Colonialism, as I have been forced to discover, is like a cancer. But instead of the cells in your body betraying itself, the thoughts in your mind work against you and eat you up from the inside out. You’re like the walking dead and you don’t even know it because you are so blinded. You can’t see the truth.

Here are some of the perverted ways colonialism infects the mind:
• With a colonized mind, I hate being Indian.
• With a colonized mind, I accept that I am Indian because that’s who the colonizer told me I am.
• With a colonized mind, I don’t understand that I am Anishinaabe.
• With a colonized mind, I believe I am inferior to the white race.
• With a colonized mind, I wish I was white.
• With a colonized mind, I draw pictures of my family with peach coloured skin, blonde hair and blue eyes because I’ve internalized that this is the ideal, what looks good and what is beautiful.
• With a colonized mind, I keep my feelings of inferiority to white people a secret from others and even from myself.
• With a colonized mind, I try diligently to mirror white people as closely as I possibly can.
• With a colonized mind, I desperately want to be accepted by white people.
• With a colonized mind, to gain the acceptance of white people, I will detach myself from all that does not mirror acceptable “white” standards, whether it is how one dresses, one speaks, or one looks.
• With a colonized mind, I feel as though I am swearing when I say “white people” in front of white people.
• With a colonized mind, I believe there is no racism.
• With a colonized mind, I believe that racism does not impact me.
• With a colonized mind, I deny my heritage and proudly say, “We are all just people.”
• With a colonized mind, when discussing issues pertaining to race, I try desperately not to offend white people.
• With a colonized mind, I do not know who I am.
• With a colonized mind, I believe I know who I am and do not understand that this isn’t so because I’ve become the distorted image of who the colonizer wants me to be and remain unaware of this reality.
• With a colonized mind, I could care less about history and think that our history don’t matter.
• With a colonized mind, I do not understand how the history created the present.
• With a colonized mind, I do not see how I have been brainwashed to be an active participant in my own dehumanization and the dehumanization of my people.
• With a colonized mind, I do not recognize how others dehumanize me and my people.
• With a colonized mind, I devalue the ways of my people- their ways of seeing, their ways of knowing, their ways of living, their ways of being.
• With a colonized mind, I cannot speak the language of my ancestors and do not care that this is so.
• With a colonized mind, I am unaware of how colonization has impacted my ancestors, my community, my family, and myself.
• With a colonized mind, I think that my people are a bunch of lazy, drunk, stupid Indians.
• With a colonized mind, I discredit my own people.
• With a colonized mind, I think that I am better than ‘those Indians’.
• With a colonized mind, I will silently watch my people be victimized.
• With a colonized mind, I will victimize my own people.
• With a colonized mind, I will defend those that perpetrate against my people.
• With a colonized mind, I will hide behind false notions of tradition entrenched with Euro-western shame and shame my own people re-creating more barriers amongst us.
• With a colonized mind, I tolerate our women being raped and beaten.
• With a colonized mind, I tolerate our children being raised without their fathers.
• With a colonized mind, I feel threatened when someone else, who is Anishinaabe, achieves something great because I feel jealous and wish it was me.
• With a colonized mind, when I see an Anishinaabe person working towards bettering their life, because my of my own insecurities, I accuse them of thinking they are ‘so good now’.
• With a colonized mind, I am unaware that I was set up to hate myself.
• With a colonized mind, I do not think critically about the world.
• With a colonized mind, I believe in merit and do not recognize unearned colonial privilege.
• With a colonized mind, I ignorantly believe that my ways of seeing, living and believing were all decided by me when in reality everything was and is decided for me.
• With a colonized mind, I am lost.
• With a colonized mind, I do not care about the land.
• With a colonized mind, I believe that freedom is a gift that can be bestowed upon me by the colonizer.
• With a colonized mind, I believe that I am powerless and act accordingly.
• With a colonized mind, I do not have a true, authentic voice.
• With a colonized mind, I live defeat.
• With a colonized mind, I will remain a victim of history.
• With a colonized mind, I will pass self-hatred on to my children.
• With a colonized mind, I do not understand the term “self-responsibility.”
• With a colonized mind, I do not recognize that I have choice and do not have to fatalistically accept oppressive, colonial realities.
• With a colonized mind, I do not see that I am a person of worth.
• With a colonized mind, I do not know I am powerful.

The colonial struggle, as I said earlier, has many layers. I am no longer being eaten from the inside. Yet it is no less painful. What is different today is that I am connected to a true source of power that was always there. It’s like my friend once said, “I come from a distinguished people whose legacy shines on me like the sun.” I now understand this and it is because of this understanding that my mind and my soul are freer than they have ever been. It is because of that gift- that awakening which came through struggle- that I will proudly continue to struggle for freedom. My freedom. Your freedom. Our freedom.

Jana-Rae Yerxa, is Anishinaabe from Little Eagle and Couchiching First Nation and belongs to the Sturgeon clan. Activist. Social Worker. Former professor. Current student. She is committed to furthering her understanding of Anishinaabe identity and resurgence as well as deconstructing Indigenous/settler relations in the contexts of colonization and decolonization. Jana-Rae is currently enrolled in the Indigenous Governance Program at University of Victoria.

Copyright © Oromianeconomist 2014 and Oromia Quarterly 1997-2014. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.


Enemies of Human Development: Structural Injustices, the Lack of Social Competence and Human Insecurity March 15, 2013

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‘The political problem of mankind is to combine three things: Economic Efficiency, Social Justice and Individual Liberty.’ John Maynard Keynes

‘The traditional agendas for reducing poverty recognize but inadequately address its structural sources. Contemporary interventions to promote inclusive growth have tended to focus on the outcomes of development through expanding and strengthening social safety nets. While such public initiatives are to be encouraged, they address the symptoms of poverty, not its sources. The results of such restrictive interventions are reduction of income poverty to varying degrees and some improvement in human development. But across much of the South, income inequalities have increased, social disparities have widened and injustice remains pervasive, while the structural sources of poverty remain intact. Any credible agenda to end poverty must correct the structural injustices that perpetuate it. Inequitable access to wealth and knowledge disempowers the excluded from competing in the marketplace. Rural poverty, for example, originates in insufficient access to land and water for less privileged segments of rural society. Land ownership has been not only a source of economic privilege, but also a source of social and political authority. The prevailing structures of land ownership remain inimical to a functioning democratic order. Similarly, lack of access to capital and property perpetuates urban poverty. Unequal participation in the market With the prevailing property structures of society, the resource-poor remain excluded from more-dynamic market sectors. The main agents of production tend to be the urban elite, who own the corporate assets that power faster growing economic sectors. By contrast, the excluded partake only as primary producers and wage earners, at the lowest end of the production and marketing chains, leaving them with little  opportunity to share in market economy opportunities for adding value to their labour. Capital markets have failed to provide sufficient credit to the excluded, even though they have demonstrated their creditworthiness through low default rates in the micro credit market. And formal capital markets have not provided financial instruments to attract the savings of the excluded and transform them into investment assets in the faster growing corporate sector.

Unjust governance:This inequitable and unjust social and economic universe can be compounded by unjust governance. Often the excluded remain voiceless in the institutions of governance and thus underserved by public institutions. The institutions of democracy remain unresponsive to the needs of the excluded, both in the design of policy agendas and in the selection of electoral candidates. Representative institutions thus tend to be monopolized by the affluent and socially powerful, who then use office to enhance their wealth and perpetuate their hold over power. Promoting structural change to correct these structural injustices, policy agendas need to be made more inclusive by strengthening the capacity of the excluded to participate on more equitable terms in the market economy and the democratic polity. Such agendas should reposition the excluded within the processes of production, distribution and governance. The production process needs to graduate the excluded from living out their lives exclusively as wage earners and tenant farmers by investing them with the capacity to become owners of productive assets. The distribution process must elevate the excluded beyond their inherited role as primary producers by enabling them to move upmarket through greater opportunities to share in adding value through collective action. Access to assets and markets must be backed by equitable access to quality health care and education, integral to empowering the excluded. The governance process must increase the active participation of the excluded in representative institutions, which is crucial to enhancing their voice in decision making and providing access to the institutions of governance.

Social competencies, human development beyond the individual: Individuals cannot flourish alone; indeed, they cannot function alone. The human development approach, however, has been essentially individualistic, assuming that development is the expansion of individuals’ capabilities or freedoms. Yet there are aspects of societies that affect individuals but cannot be assessed at the individual level because they are based on relationships, such as how well families or communities function, summarized for society as a whole in the ideas of social cohesion and social inclusion. Individuals are bound up with others. Social institutions affect individuals’ identities and choices. Being a member of a healthy society is an essential part of a thriving existence. So one task of the human development approach is to explore the nature of social institutions that are favourable for human flourishing. Development then has to be assessed not only for the short-run impact on individual capabilities, but also for whether society evolves in a way that supports human flourishing. Social conditions affect not only the outcomes of individuals in a particular society today, but also those of future generations. Social institutions are all institutions in which people act collectively (that is, they involve more than one person), other than profit-making market institutions and the state. They include formal non-governmental organizations, informal associations, cooperatives, producer associations, neighbourhood associations, sports clubs, savings associations and many more. They also consist of norms and rules of behaviour affecting human development outcomes. For example, attitudes towards employment affect material well-being, and norms of hierarchy and discrimination affect inequality, discrimination, empowerment, political freedom and so on. To describe what those institutions can be and do, and to understand how they affect individuals, we can use the term social  competencies.Central to the human development perspective is that societal norms affect people’s choices and behaviours towards others, thus influencing outcomes in the whole community. Community norms and behaviours can constrain choice in deleterious ways from a human development perspective—for example, ostracizing, or in extreme cases killing, those who make choices that contravene social rules. Families trapped in poverty by informal norms that support early marriage and dowry requirements might reject changes to such entrenched social norms. Social institutions change over time, and those changes may be accompanied by social tension if they hamper the interests of some groups while favouring others. Policy change is the outcome of a political struggle in which different groups (and individuals) support or oppose particular changes. In this struggle, unorganized individuals are generally powerless, but by joining together they can acquire power collectively. Social action favouring human development (such as policies to extend education, progressive taxation and minimum wages) happens not spontaneously, but because of groups that are effective in supporting change, such as producer groups, worker associations, social movements and political parties. These organizations are especially crucial for poorer people, as demonstrated by a group of sex workers in Kolkata, India, and women in a squatter community in Cape Town, South Africa, who improved their conditions and self-respect by joining together and exerting collective pressure. Societies vary widely in the number, functions, effectiveness and consequences of their social competencies. Institutions and norms can be classified as human development–promoting, human development–neutral and human development–undermining. It is fundamental to identify and encourage those that promote valuable capabilities and relationships among and between individuals and institutions. Some social institutions (including norms) can support human development in some respects but not in others: for example, strong family bonds can provide individuals with support during upheavals, but may constrain individual choices and opportunities. Broadly speaking, institutions that promote social cohesion and human development show low levels of disparity across groups (for example, ethnic, religious or gender groups) and high levels of interaction and trust among people and across groups, which results in solidarity and the absence of violent conflict. It is not a coincidence that 5 of the 10 most peaceful countries in the world in 2012, according to the Global Peace Index, are also among the most equal societies as measured by loss in Human Development Index value due to inequality. They are also characterized by the absence of discrimination and low levels of marginalization. In some instances antidiscriminatory measures can ease the burden of marginalization and partially mitigate the worst effects of exclusion. For instance, US law mandating that hospital emergency rooms offer treatment to all patients regardless of their ability to pay partly mitigates the impact of an expensive health care system with limited coverage, while affirmative action in a range of countries (including Brazil, Malaysia, South Africa and the United States) has improved the situation of deprived groups and contributed to social stability. The study of social institutions and social competencies must form an essential part of the human development approach—including the formation of groups; interactions between groups and individuals; incentives and constraints to collective action; the relationship among groups, politics and policy outcomes; the role of norms in influencing behaviours; and how norms are formed and changed.

The 1994 Human Development Report argued that the concept of security must shift from the idea of a militaristic safeguarding of state borders to the reduction of insecurity in people’s daily lives (or human insecurity). In every society, human security is undermined by a variety of threats, including hunger, disease, crime, unemployment, human rights violations and environmental challenges. The intensity of these threats differs across the world, but human security remains a universal quest for freedom from want and fear.Consider economic insecurity. In the countries of the North, millions of young people are now unable to find work. And in the South, millions of farmers have been unable to earn a decent livelihood and forced to migrate, with many adverse effects, particularly for women. Closely related to insecurity in livelihoods is insecurity in food and nutrition. Many developing country households faced with high food prices cannot afford two square meals a day, undermining progress in child nutrition. Another major cause of impoverishment in many countries, rich and poor, is unequal access to affordable health care. Ill health in the household (especially of the head of the household) is one of the most common sources of impoverishment, as earnings are lost and medical expenses are incurred. Perspectives on security need to shift from a misplaced emphasis on military strength to a well rounded, people-centred view. Progress in this shift can be gleaned in part from statistics on crime, particularly homicides, and military spending.’

According to  the United Nations Development, despite the much exaggerated  recent economic growth data, Ethiopia is still near the bottom of  in its Human Development  Index 2013.Ethiopia ranks 173 out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index 2013 compiled by UNDP. The Index is part of the Human Development Report that is presented annually and measures life expectancy, income and education in countries around the world. Since 2000, Ethiopia has registered greater gains than all but two other countries in the world – Afghanistan and Sierra Leone. But it still ranks close to the bottom of the Index. Ethiopia is one of the countries that are  known in human rights violations, government waging war against its people, marginalizing communities, political and social discrimination and where the system of structural injustices are the norms than exceptions.

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The Myth of Development: Ethiopia’s Land loyalties, Displacement and Government Genocide in Oromia and the Omo region March 2, 2013

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‘In Ethiopia, land sales are occurring in six key areas. Oromia and Gambella in the south, Amhara, Beneshangul, Gumuz, the Sidaama zone, or SNNP and the Lower Omo Valley – an area of outstanding natural beauty with acclaimed UNESCO World heritage status. The Ethiopian government’s conduct in Omo and Oromia, Genocide Watch (GW) considers “to have already reached stage 7 [of 8], genocidal massacres”. A statement that shocks us all, and casts shame upon the government and indeed slumbering donor nations, who act not, who speak not, but know well the cruel methods, which violate a plethora of human rights laws, employed by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). A regime whose loyalties, it seems, rest firmly with investors, corporations, multi-nationals and the like, and who cares little for the people living upon the land, or indeed in the cities. The government proclaims land sales are part of a strategic, long-term approach to agriculture reforms and economic development, that foreign investment will fund infrastructure projects, create employment opportunities, help to eradicate hunger and poverty and benefit the community, local and national. The term development is itself an interesting one; distorted, linked and commonly limited almost exclusively to economic targets, meaning growth of GDP, established principally by the World Bank, whose policies and practices in relation to land sales, the OI discovered, “have glossed over critical issues such as human rights, food security and human dignity for local populations”, and its philanthropic sister, the International Monetary Fund; market fundamentalism driving the exported (one size fits all) policies, of both ideologically entrenched organisations, that promote models of development that seek to fulfill corporate interests first middle and last. Defined in such limited ways, Ethiopia, having somehow achieved impressive GDP growth figures since 2004, (with a dizzy 9.8%, average, similar to that of India) would seem to be in the premiership of development. Inflation, though, sits at 30% and, whilst unemployment in urban areas has dropped to around 20%, over a quarter of young people aged 18-24 remain out of work; high unemployment in urban areas means young women are often forced into commercial sex work or domestic servitude. Statistics compiled by The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), provide a broader, less GDP-rosy picture of the country. They place Ethiopia 174th (from 187 nations) on the Human development index (HDI), with average life expectancy of 59 years and 40% of people living in poverty (on less than $1.25 a day). The 2012 Global Hunger Index makes Ethiopia the 5th hungriest country in the world (IFPRI), with between 12 and 15 million people a year relying on food aid to keep them alive. What growth there is benefits the rich, privileged minority. There is a growing divide between the 99.9% and the small number of wealthy Ethiopians – who, coincidentally, are mainly members of the ruling party trickle down, gushing up’, concentrating wealth with the wealthy; as the Inter Press Service (IPS) 22/08/12 reports, “development has yet to reach the vast majority of the country’s population. Instead, much of this wealth – and political power – has been retained by the ruling party and, particularly, by the tiny Tigrayan minority community to which [former Prime Minister] Meles belonged.” Protagonists laying claim to the all-inclusive healing powers of agriculture and agro-industrial projects, contradict, the OI states, “the basic facts and evidence showing growing impoverishment experienced on the ground”. What about the bumper benefits promised, particularly the numerous employment opportunities? It turns out industrialised farming is highly mechanised and offers few jobs; overseas companies are not concerned with providing employment for local people and care little for their well-being, making good bedmates for the ruling party. They bring the workers they need, and are allowed to do so by the Ethiopian government, which places no constraints on their operations. Such shameful indifference contravenes the letter and spirit of the United Nations (UN) “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework.’ G.  Peebles,

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Africa: Archaic and colonial boundaries are no longer representative of the peoples living within them March 1, 2013

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‘The Yugoslav Wars exposed the bitter, entrenched divides between peoples and religions in the Balkans and took almost a decade of continued conflict, numerous international interventions (some more effective than others) and continued UN presence before peace in the region returned. The idea of sub-Saharan Africa ‘Balkanizing’ into nation states is a terrifying thought indeed. The right to self-determination is enshrined in the highest echelons of the United Nations; it is the reason why the Falkland Islands will remain in British hands despite being 8000miles from London; why the Scots will vote in 2014 over dismantling the United Kingdom and why Cataluña are aiming for similar successes in Spain. The Scots and Catalans argue that they are nations distinct and separate from that of the power that rules over them and that they are caught in archaic national boundaries which are no longer representative of the peoples living within them. Africa’s borders remain archaic and colonial; arbitrary lines in the sand sketched by generals and statesmen in London and Paris that serve to divide peoples, communities and nations, forcing them to be ruled by people with whom they share little but who they rely on for everything. Whilst we celebrate separatist movements in Europe we continue to dismiss them in Africa as tribal disputes, or as Jihadist land grabs or anything else that allows other countries to ignore a deep-seated issue. The wholesale redrawing of the African continent along national, ethnic lines is impossible, but if the conflicts of Mali and Sudan can teach us anything it is that the separatist cry across the continent is becoming louder and louder. The further fracturing of the continent seems almost inevitable.’

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