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Do Ethiopia’s Oromo People Have A Better Alternative For Modern Democracy? December 13, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ancient African Direct Democracy, Gadaa System, Sirna Gadaa.
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Oromo nation and Gadaa system

Oromo nation and Gadaa system

Odaa (the Official Plant) and Abbaa Gadaa, the origin of democracy and elected government

Odaa (the Official Plant) and Abbaa Gadaa, the origin of democracy and elected government

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Do Ethiopia’s Oromo People Have A Better Alternative For Modern Democracy?


By Dana Sanchez, AFK Insider, December 13, 2016

Gada is the traditional governance system of Oromos in Ethiopia and Northern Kenya. Photo: gadasunlightours.com

Gada is the traditional governance system of Oromos in Ethiopia and Northern Kenya. Photo: gadasunlightours.comEthiopia’s Oromo people made headlines around the world when peaceful protests turned violent against government land use changes, prompting a state of emergency.

Now Oromo voices are being heard thanks to an entity more often associated with boosting tourism than governance — UNESCO.

Ethiopians rejoiced when the traditional Oromo governance system, known as Gada, was inscribed on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity. The announcement was made during the 11th session of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, held in Ethiopia.

UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, is a special agency of the U.N. created to build the defenses of peace in the minds of men.

Built over generations, the traditional Oromo Gada governance system contains regulatory measures for conflict resolution, questions of religion and women’s rights.

“In contrast to the modus operandi employed by the current, authoritarian government, the Gada form of governance contains provisions guaranteeing an effective system of ‘checks and balances,’ the separation of powers and an institutionalized opposition – all of which provides safeguards against totalitarianism and a governmental abuse of power,” according to the U.N.

When UNESCO announced it was listing the Gada system as an intangible cultural heritage, Ethiopians rejoiced, the Ethiopian Herald reported. Sara Dubee, head of the West Arsi Culture and Tourism Office, said the Oromo people have been subjected to marginalization and subjugation during the former regimes. “The day is special to me and the people of Oromo. The day is a most awaited one in the history of Oromo. Oromo people have paid all the sacrifice to see the day.”

Gada has some features that differ from western democracies, according to Waltainfo. One is the distribution of power. Researchers say western democracies are deficient in distributing power. Those in power control most of the authority and wealth of the country. The young, poor and the elders are politically and economically marginalized in Western democracies.

The Oromo make up about 35 percent of Ethiopia’s population, which now exceeds 102 million, according to Worldometers.

Ethiopia already has eight cultural and one natural site designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites — the most of any African country. Morocco has the second highest.

The Gada system developed from knowledge gained by community experience over generations, UNESCO wrote on its website, according to Waltoinfo.com. Gada is practiced in Northern Kenya as well as Ethiopia.

The system serves as a mechanism for enforcing moral conduct, building social cohesion, and expressing forms of community culture.

In addition to distribution of power, another distinctive Gada feature that sets it apart from Western democracy is a testing period for elected leaders. Researchers say Gada believes in rigorous practical testing of candidates before they assume office, unlike western democracy, which relies almost exclusively on election.

Even though the Gada system is considered an intangible heritage, Ethiopians say the UNESCO designation will stimulate tourism.

“The Oromo people have sustained their authenticity for so long. We believe the values attached to the Gada system deserve to be safeguarded, nurtured, shared and spread across the world,” said Hirut Woldemariam, culture and tourism minster, Ethiopian Herald reported.

People can learn from the system, said Lemma Megerssa, Oromia state chief. “The adoption would increase our responsibility of safeguarding and promoting the convention, the system would be a center of tourist attraction.”

Oromo artist Mohammed Tawil said, “Our forefathers should be honored for their priceless endeavors in handing over the culture and identity of the system.”

“The Gada System is the true manifestation of the identity of the Oromo people,” Oromo artist Tadele Gemechu told the Ethioian Herald. “We should preserve it. UNESCO’s inscription could overturn the business-as-usual way of handing the values of the heritage. The government and research institutions should look ways how to bolster and promote the assets of (gada) system.”

The Oromo people have suffered a lot, said Atsede Kadire. “The Oromos have original and unique heritages that could take into account the whole form of life. The Gada system is one of the heritages that binds all. Gada system could be one of the bases for modern democracy.”

The UNESCO designation is a milestone and “a huge step to beef up our tourism industry because the world will come to learn about the Gada system from the community,” Kadire told Ethiopian Herald.

Ethiopia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites and dates of designation include the following:

  • Aksum (1980)
  • Fasil Ghebbi, Gondar Region (1979)
  • Harar Jugol, the Fortified Historic Town (2006
  • Konso Cultural Landscape (2011)
  • Lower Valley of the Awash (1980)
  • Lower Valley of the Omo (1980)
  • Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela (1978)
  • Tiya (1980)
  • Simien National Park (1978)

Here’s what UNESCO had to say about the Gada system, according to Waltoinfo.com:

Gada is organized into five classes with one of these functioning as the ruling class consisting of a chairperson, officials and an assembly. Each class progresses through a series of grades before it can function in authority with the leadership changing on a rotational basis every eight years.

Class membership is open to men, whose fathers are already members, while women are consulted for decision-making on protecting women’s rights. The classes are taught by oral historians covering history, laws, rituals, time reckoning, cosmology, myths, rules of conduct, and the function of the Gada system.

Meetings and ceremonies take place under a sycamore tree (considered the Gada symbol) while major clans have established Gada centers and ceremonial spaces according to territory. Knowledge about the Gada system is transmitted to children in the home and at school.

Various sources indicated that the Gada system has the principles of checks and balances (through periodic succession of every eight years), and division of power (among executive, legislative, and judicial branches), balanced opposition (among five parties), and power sharing between higher and lower administrative organs to prevent power from falling into the hands of despots. Other principles of the system include balanced representation of all clans, lineages, regions and confederacies, accountability of leaders, the settlement of disputes through reconciliation, and the respect for basic rights and liberties.


 

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Amnesty International UK Press Releases: Ethiopia: Social media and news websites blocked by government to prevent protests. #OromoProtests #OromoRevolution December 13, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Internet Freedom.
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Viber, twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp Are strictly forbidden in Fascist regime (TPLF) Ethiopia

 

Ethiopia: Social media and news websites blocked by government to prevent protests

  • Google transparency report shows dramatic drop in internet traffic out of Ethiopia on two days when at least 100 people were killed by security forces during protest
  • 16 news sites and access to WhatsApp blocked between June and October

“As far as the Ethiopian government is concerned, social media is a tool for extremists… The reality, though, is very different” – Michelle Kagari

The Ethiopian government systematically and illegally blocked access to social media and news websites in its efforts to crush dissent and prevent reporting of attacks on protesters by security forces during a wave of protests over the last year, a new report released today shows.

Research conducted by Amnesty International and the Open Observatory of Network Interference shows that between June and October this year during times of heightened tension and protests, access to WhatsApp and at least 16 news outlets was blocked, especially in the Oromia region.

Since November last year, thousands of people from Oromia have taken to the streets to protest against possible land seizures under the government’s Addis Ababa Masterplan, which aims to expand the capital’s administrative control into the region. The government declared a six-month state of emergency in October this year in response to the protests.

The study was conducted to investigate whether and to what extent internet censorship was actually taking place after contacts of Amnesty and the Open Observatory of Network Interference in Ethiopia consistently reported unusually slow internet connections and inability to access social media websites.

Testimonies gathered by Amnesty from different parts of Oromia found that social media mobile applications such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter, have been largely inaccessible since early March this year, especially in the Oromia region where residents were waging protests against the government since last November.

The Ethiopian government is also reported to have blocked access to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Viber during the National University Exam week (9 – 14 July 2016) so as “to prevent students being distracted from studying during the exam period”.

Amnesty contacts also reported that internet access on mobile devices had been completely blocked in Amhara, Addis Ababa and Oromia in the lead up to protests in the three regions on 6 and 7 August.

This was confirmed in Google’s transparency reports for the period between July and November this year, which showed a dramatic drop in internet traffic out of Ethiopia on the two days when at least 100 people were killed by security forces during the protests.

Amnesty International’s Deputy East Africa, the Horn and Great Lakes Director Michelle Kagari said:

“It’s clear that as far as the Ethiopian government is concerned, social media is a tool for extremists peddling bigotry and hate and therefore they are fully justified in blocking internet access.  The reality, though, is very different. The widespread censorship has closed another space for Ethiopian’s to air the grievances that fuelled the protests.

“The internet blocking had no basis in law, and was another disproportionate and excessive response to the protests. This raises serious concerns that overly broad censorship will become institutionalised under the state of emergency.

“Rather than closing off all spaces for people to express their concerns, the authorities need to actively engage with, and address the underlying human rights violations that have fuelled the protests over the last year. “We urge the government to refrain from blocking access to internet sites and instead commit its resources to addressing its citizens’ legitimate grievances.”

Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology used to filter websites

The report also found that the Ethiopian government uses Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology to filter access to websites. DPI is a technology that can be bought and deployed on any network. Though it has many legitimate functions, it can also enable monitoring and filtering of internet traffic.

The Open Observatory of Network Interference’s Maria Xynou said:

“Our findings provide incontrovertible evidence of systematic interference with access to numerous websites belonging to independent news organisations and political opposition groups, as well as sites supporting freedom of expression and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights.

“Tor Metrics data illustrate that more and more people were trying to access censorship circumvention tools, such as TOR, which indicated that the internet was inaccessible through the normal routes. This all paints a picture of a government intent on stifling expression and free exchange of information.”

 

Background

Ethiopia has been hit by a wave of protests since November 2015 when ethnic Oromos took to the streets to protest against possible land seizures under the government’s Addis Ababa Masterplan, which aimed to expand the capital’s administrative control into Oromia.

The protests later spread to Amhara, with demands for an end to arbitrary arrests, as well as respect for regional autonomy rights enshrined in the constitution.

Most of the protests were met with excessive force from the security forces. The worst incident involved the death of possibly hundreds of protesters in a stampede on 2 October at Bishoftu.

Protest groups say the stampede was caused by the security forces’ unnecessary and excessive use of force. The government has denied this, instead blaming the deaths on “anti-peace forces.”

Africa News: Oromia’s Olympic athlete, Feyisa Lilesa, has been named among the 2016 top 100 global thinkers by the Foreign Policy (FP) magazine. December 13, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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FP  Global Thinkers  2016: The challengers, FEYISA LILESA

 

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Feyisa Lelisa Rio Olympian and world icon of #OromoProtestsoromorevolution-thefinalmarchforfreedom

Olympic athlete, Feyisa Lilesa, has been named among the 2016 top 100 global thinkers by the US based Foreign Policy (FP) magazine.

Hero Hero, double hero in Olympic Marathon, Rio 2016 and Oromummaa. Oromo athlete. Fayyisaa Lelisa. p1

Ethiopia’s Olympic athlete, Feyisa Lilesa, has been named among the 2016 top 100 global thinkers by the US based Foreign Policy (FP) magazine. Feyisa was classed in the group of thinkers called ‘‘the challengers.’‘

The long distance athlete became famous during the just ended Rio Olympic games after he made an anti-government gesture at the end of his track event. He crossed his arms above his head as he finished the event as a protest against the Ethiopian government’s crackdown on political dissent.

He won the silver medal in the men’s marathon after finishing the 42 kilometer race. He later claimed that his life was in danger. He sought for asylum in the United States and has been living there since leaving Rio.

Given the fact that the Olympic Charter bans political propaganda, demonstrations are a rarity at the games. Nevertheless, Ethiopian runner Feyisa Lilesa snubbed the rulebook in order to call attention to the brutal actions of his country’s security forces.

Under the title, ‘‘For breaking the rules of the games,’‘ FP wrote about Feyisa: ‘‘Given the fact that the Olympic Charter bans political propaganda, demonstrations are a rarity at the games. Nevertheless, Ethiopian runner Feyisa Lilesa snubbed the rulebook in order to call attention to the brutal actions of his country’s security forces.

‘‘As the marathoner approached the finish line in second place, he crossed his arms over his head—an attention-grabbing gesture to show solidarity with his Oromo tribe. In the weeks before the race, the Ethiopian government had cracked down on protests by the embattled indigenous group and killed dozens.

They went on to quote him in an interview with AP news agency as saying, “If I would’ve taken my medal and went back to Ethiopia, that would’ve been the biggest regret of my life.” Adding further that “I wanted to be a voice for a story that wasn’t getting any coverage.”

Feyisa like the twelve others listed in his category were recognized for challenging the status quo in order to put their views across. ‘‘These individuals showed that agitation takes myriad forms,’‘ the FP said.

Aside Feyisa, another African was listed in the same category. Pastor Evan Mawarire of Zimbabwe who championed the #ThisFlag protests through the use of social media platform, Twitter. The FP listed him ‘‘For initiating a democratic movement.’‘