Archive | March, 2013

Is Sidama’s bottleneck an opaque system or an opaque whim?

8 Mar

By Hawassa Teessonke
8 March 2013

In brutally suppressed societies such as ours, struggle for liberation becomes a daunting task not only because of the sheer enormity of the machinery of subjugation unleashed against the society, but also because of the pedagogy of the oppressed. As Paulo Freire succinctly puts it people in oppressed societies often lack cognitive power to reflect, analyze and understand the reality in which they live in order to equip themselves with critical level of consciousness that would enable them to transform the reality and liberate themselves from the oppression.

Oppressors will never wittingly endorse or encourage the cognitive development of their subjects. To the contrary they never leave any stone unturned to maintain the status quo either by coercive means or use of the conformists who consider their situation as normal and support it more often than not. These individuals have acquired a naïve consciousness and think that others outside of their peers are either outliers or diehard trouble makers. The typical conformists in today’s Sidama constitute the mainstream cadres who have openly or tacitly endorsed the bid by the regional rogue administrator to brand the Sidama struggle for regional self-determination as unlawful and unwarranted.

Yet there are a third group of individuals in any oppressed society who construct their own reality, liberate themselves from the oppression only to go to the other extreme and create stumbling block to the very notion of liberation they pledged to anchor. This could emanate from a number of misperceptions: First, such individuals overvalue their modest emancipation and undervalue major contributions made by other groups or individuals in their society. This could lead to wrong conception of achievement and arrogance leading further to a complete detachment from the reality on the ground. These individuals often lack experience and are likely to hard land as they move on and are confronted with more pervasive reality. And second, narrow, clannish sentiments could impair their vision to see beyond what is at hand. In traditional societies liberation is complicated by lack of a unifying ideology that transcends the narrow clan lines within an ethnic group. The challenge of Somalia, another Kushitic group of ours, is a typical case in point. Some individuals, who have fully reflected, analyzed and understood the reality surrounding them and ready to confront them for better may become the victims of the capricious whims of this failed group or individuals. This group could be more dangerous than the group with naïve consciousness because of the inherent inability to learn. This group is delusional and endangers the aspirations for freedom more so than the naïve conformists. On the other hand, better education, training and exposure could unlock the real potential of the naïve group in the medium to long term.

Societies under perpetual systems of subjugation such as ours should therefore confront liberation from two broad angels- the oppressive system and the opaque societal behavior. This opaque behavior should be confronted openly be it conformist or delusional.

This brief article is meant to incite debate and discussions among the Sidama scholars. It is under no terms comprehensive; but is expected to ignite thoughts and reflections. The reader is cordially invited to lament about home sweet home.