5:16 pm - Wednesday May 23, 4508

Banned Amhara and Amharic by the Police and Policy Respectively 

Banned Amhara and Amharic by the Police and Policy Respectively 


By:  Abe Lema 

There was an unheard cry of passengers from the Amhara region who were reporting that they were being barred from entering the capital, Addis Ababa, for their Amhara region ID card. Unbearable social and economic crisis happened to the Amhara ethnic individual amid growing ethnic, religious and political tensions in the Amhara and Oromia region. Key voices who outcried the Atrocities were arrested and thrown to jails without due process. It looks that being an Amhara has become a crime particularly after Fano’s military struggle came into prominence. In the name of law enforcement and controlling Fano intruders in Addis several Amhara daily laborer youth have been mass arrested and detained in unknown places. 

Not only Amhara, but Amharic language is also suffering even in the capital city. Public service structures and offices in the capital city including Kebele, Police stations, revenue offices, heath centers and utility services are dominantly stuffed by Oromos. Speaking Oromiffa language is a free gate to handling issues easily and very fast. Office holders show discrimination over Amharic speakers by delaying decisions or asking for bribes.

A Woman witnessed “I only speak Amharic. As I queued at a nearby Kebele for Kebele ID renewal starting from very early in the morning, another Woman who speaks Oromiffa came over very late in the morning and just entered directly to the office by greeting all in Oromiffa. She needed not to stay in the queue. She was favored to get her request done within a few minutes for she was welcomed by all in the office who all speak Oromiffa” Everybody murmurs about language inequality since Abiy Ahmed came to power and publicly declared that his regime is of Oromo. 

At present, Amharic is struggling to remain the working language of the Federal Government as well as of some regional States. Though the 1994 Education and training policy clearly stated that Amharic shall be taught as a language of countrywide communication the new policy has taken off Amharic from its previous identity. Scholars are complaining that this is politically designed persecution and killing of Amharic language as wrongly thought it to be the language of the fore oppressors. 

The importance of Amharic as lingua franca is not questionable. Once a researcher asked one zone official in Oromia regional State about the use of Amharic as a language of countrywide communication. The official responded, “Well, Amharic is also our language. We use it everywhere. If we need to travel to Addis, we need Amharic. Everyone in the towns uses Amharic. If you need employment in Ethiopia, you need Amharic. If you are self-employed in Ethiopia, you need Amharic. So we all speak Amharic.” This is true of all honest Oromo people though the agenda of killing Amharic is originated and cultivated in the neighborhood of the few political elites.

Empirical studies indicated that currently, Amharic language is not serving as a language of national communication. Nationalities could not speak Amharic as required. It is observed that in the rural parts of Oromia, Amharic was not well or not entirely spoken by all school children. This is a reality in most rural parts of the country where about 80% of Ethiopia’s population lives. Most of the peasants except for those living in the Amhara region do not have any or only small access to the lingua franca Amharic. These rural communities have remained largely monolingual. In most parts of Africa, multilingualism tends to increase with the size and function of towns . The trend looks similar in Ethiopian towns and cities too. For instance, a child who lives in Hawassa (the capital city of Sidama Region) and South Omo, one of the remotest zones in Southern Ethiopia could not have similar proficiency in Amharic even if both children belong to the same regional neighborhood. It is not only the rural community that could not communicate in lingua franca but also university students as well. After surveying several university students and their instructors in the country, a researcher concluded that Amharic as a language of “nation-wide communication” seems to have a limited role in facilitating intercultural understanding. This lack of common language that most nationalities speak limits intercultural contact and understanding.


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