Dr. Awol Allo, Abdulatif Idris

The tactical alliance between Oromos and Amharas – the two largest ethnic groups in Ethiopia, comprising approximately 70% of the population – played a transformative role in Ethiopia’s quest for democratic change. The alliance reconfigured the balance of political power in Ethiopia’s ruling coalition and paved the way for Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s reformist and progressive government, which introduced a vocabulary and praxis framed around the concept of medemer. Medemer, it  has been argued, can help Ethiopia heal old wounds and build a free and democratic society; but there is scant research on its scope, content, meaning and cultural suitability.

This project fills this gap in knowledge, by examining whether, and how, medemer can make a sustained and meaningful contribution to the country’s future in a culturally relevant way. It draws together local stakeholder knowledge and leading academic expertise to undertake an independent preliminary inquiry into the transformative promise of solidarity and medemer in Ethiopia’s transition to democracy. In the spirit of collaboration and dialogue, the project team disseminated their findings at a workshop comprising people from the fields of academia, politics, and activism, and facilitated round-table discussions about collective memory and history, the challenges to democratisation, the transformative promise of medemer, and what collective futures in Ethiopia might look like.

In order to create more inclusive dialogue about these interconnected themes and topics, workshop presentations and discussions were posted on the Facebook page ‘Conversations in ideas’, and Dr. Allo published a series of articles and was interviewed speaking about Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s democratising aspirations and policies.

As a direct consequence of his research project, Dr. Allo was invited by the non-governmental organisation Destiny Ethiopia to participate in scenario-building for Ethiopia’s future along with members of the the country’s major political parties, senior representatives of civic and religious institutions, influential personalities, activists, and opinion leaders – whose beliefs and ideas occupy a broad spectrum. Together they developed four scenarios for Ethiopia’s future and launched a report in early 2020.

Articles and interviews

‘Why Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party could be bad news for Ethiopia’ (2019), Al Jazeera, 5th December 2019.

‘Why I nominated Abiy Ahmed for the Nobel peace prize’ (2019), Al Jazeera, 13th October 2019.

‘Nobel prize 2019’ (2019), TRT World, 11th October 2019.

‘Ethiopian reform’ (2019), Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation, 14th May 2019.

‘The Abiy Doctrine: One year of Ethiopia’s new foreign policy’ (2019), African Arguments, 5th April 2019.

‘How a major anti-colonial victory divided Ethiopia’ (2019), Al Jazeera, 1 March 2019.