Local leadership and State governance in southern Ethiopia : from charisma to bureaucracy

TitleLocal leadership and State governance in southern Ethiopia : from charisma to bureaucracy
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsG.J. Abbink
EditorO. Vaughan
Secondary TitleIndigenous political structures and governance in Africa
Pagination177 - 207
Date Published2003///
PublisherSefer Books
Place PublishedIbadan
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsAfrica, chieftaincy, Dizi, Ethiopia, Mekan, Suri, traditional polities

Based on the study of chiefs, elders and local leaders in southern Ethiopia, this paper analyses the idea of authority, legitimacy and governance among three small-scale societies, the Meén, the Dizi and the Suri. It shows that in southern Ethiopia efforts were made to replace charismatic and traditional authority by a bureaucratic structure of rulers and legal procedures instigated by the expanding national State, but that this process was neither complete nor successful, because the sources of legitimacy of leadership and authority remained firmly within the local societies and were ill understood by outsiders, including State authorities. The central imperial State (upto 1974) did not use the pre-existing forms of local chiefs and other authorities and simply bypassed them either by appointing its own administrators as an extra layer of power or by relying upon provincial lords or kings in the core regions of the empire. The appointees had little connection with the local population. If they became too popular they were removed. Their loyalty only had to be upward, towards the emperor and his political circle. In the Derg era (1974-1991), this authoritarian pattern was reinforced, and wherever traditional chiefs existed, they were violently removed and suppressed. To date these three forms of authority co-exist and interact and define much of the local political dynamics, including violent conflict. Bibliogr., notes. [ASC Leiden abstract]

IR handle/ Full text URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1887/9692
Citation Key1845