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TRADITIONAL LEADERS OF AFAR AND THE DYNAMICS OF PASTORALIST STATE INTERACTION EVIDENCE FROM LOWER AWASH VALLEY OF AFAR REGIONAL STATE [Abstract ID: 0306-07]
The arrival of European colonists and the expansion of the Ethiopian state caused the Afar to be divided and administered under three Horn of Africa countries, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea. In the Horn of Africa, the Afar had been led for centuries by traditional leaders from four different areas called Tajoura, Rahaito, Girrifo and Aussa. During the Imperial period, the traditional leaders were incorporated into the Imperial state structure and awarded new Imperial titles. At this period, the traditional leaders served as a bridge between the state and ordinary pastoral society. In the same vein, the role of traditional leaders as intermediaries continued after the Derg came to power. Again when the EPRDF came to power, traditional leaders played a pivotal role in times of political instability, serving as an instrument to maintain the power of both the federal and regional state. In general, across the three regimes, even though there were social, political and economic changes in the country, there was no significant change in the role of traditional leaders in the interaction between the state and pastoralists. This paper will explore the interaction of the pastoralist Afar with the state through the role played by traditional leaders and how the state maintained its power in the Lower Awash Valley, using data obtained by qualitative research methods.