Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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MISGANAW Tadesse, PhD Candidate, University of the Western Cape, Department of History, Cape Town, South Africa

“The history written till now is one-sided, partial and not showing the true picture of the low-level group in society”. (Sahoo, 2014:85) For that matter existing histories are partial, presenting only a one small part while marginalizing the majority of the society. In many countries and societies while the ruling elite dominated historical narration, regions who they regarded as ‘inferior’ were marginalized. One such case is the case of Wollo province in Ethiopia.Before the sixteenth century, Wollo had been a center of history, political administration, religion and religious education. Due to such factors, Wollo has been part of the historically dominant regions in Ethiopia. The expansion of Islam and the settlement of the Oromo people in the sixteenth century in the province totally changed the socio-political atmosphere of Wollo. Its domination by Muslims and Oromo caused Wollo to be marginalized by the Christian population of the north. In many of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries recordings, Wollo was described as a “Galla” and Islam province. These narrations defined Wollo as a province infected by the permanent stain of “Galla” while labeled the northern provinces of Begemder, Gojjam, and Tigray as pure Habesha provinces. (Yates, 201:91). Such thoughts and narrations led to the marginalization of the province. Wollo, a region which was once part of the historically dominant groups later was excluded from central Ethiopian politics and historical narration due to its ethnic and religious backgrounds. In the earliest recordings of the historically dominant groups, Wollo was not properly represented as it was regarded as a Muslim and “Galla” province. In much of the recently recorded literature on the Oromo in the post 1991 period, the internal events of Wollo have been ignored. These recordings considered Wollo as part of the Amhara province. Thus the socio-political history of Wollo province has been left in between the dominants and the subalterns of the country. This article looks how and in what way Wollo is left between the dominants and the subalterns.