n Language Matters : Studies in the Languages of Southern Africa - Politics and power in Southern Ethiopia : imposing, opposing and calling for linguistic unity - research

Volume 50 Number 3
  • ISSN : 0256-5986
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In 2018 there were demands for the creation of new regional states in Ethiopia by ethno-linguistic groups seeking greater self-determination. Two examples of this were the Sidama and Wolaita, with some members of the latter advocating for the creation of an “Omotic Peoples” regional state. The idea of Omotic unification is not new to southern Ethiopia. When the amalgamated language of Wogagoda was introduced in the 1990s, the peoples of the region rallied in opposition against government. This article explores the intersection of language, politics and power during that period, which resulted in the withdrawal of a language policy and the creation of new, disintegrated administrative structures. Drawing upon historical experiences, this article reflects on the role of ethno-linguistic identities and their implications for contemporary decision making about languages of instruction and administrative boundaries. The results provide insight into situational contexts that may enable or constrain bottom-up and top-down language policy processes.

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