This research examined the effects and outcomes on democracy of the relationship between clan leaders, parliamentarians, and the community in Afar. As a pastoral community, the Afar people occupy a marginal position nationally, and their social and political realities are informed by a strong attachment to cultural norms and values. The team asked how tradition and modernity interact in the governance of Afar and tried to make sense of the relationship of clan leaders, women, and youth with parliamentarians.
The research methodology was based on ethnography, which took the team to the heart of lived experience in Afar and embedded them in the information communication network of ‘Xaagu’; as well as interviews with key interlocutors ranging in status, authority, gender, and age; and focus group discussions. Going beyond formal interviews, the researchers shadowed politicians in restaurants, market places, government buildings and at social events and followed daily life in Afar, thus enriching their understanding of the dynamics of Afar politics.
The results of the research are being disseminated amongst Afar people, academics, and policymakers regionally and nationally. Abukeker Yasin Gebro has reflected on what the contemporary changing political landscape means for Afar in the excellent edited volume “Ethiopia in the Wake of Political Reforms” (and in one of our long blogs).