We have next to consider what means there are of preserving constitutions in general, and in particular cases. In the first place it is evident that if we know the causes which destroy constitutions, we also know the causes which preserve them; for opposites produce opposites, and destruction is the opposite of preservation.
In all well-attempered governments there is nothing which should be more jealously maintained than the spirit of obedience to law, more especially in small matters; for transgression creeps in unperceived and at last ruins the state, just as the constant recurrence of small expenses in time eats up a fortune.
The expense does not take place at once, and therefore is not observed; the mind is deceived, as in the fallacy which says that ‘if each part is little, then the whole is little.’ this is true in one way, but not in another, for the whole and the all are not little, although they are made up of littles.
In the first place, then, men should guard against the beginning of change, and in the second place they should not rely upon the political devices of which I have already spoken invented only to deceive the people, for they are proved by experience to be useless.
Further, we note that oligarchies as well as aristocracies may last, not from any inherent stability in such forms of government, but because the rulers are on good terms both with the unenfranchised and with the governing classes, not maltreating any who are excluded from the government, but introducing into it the leading spirits among them.
They should never wrong the ambitious in a matter of honor, or the common people in a matter of money; and they should treat one another and their fellow citizen in a spirit of equality. The equality which the friends of democracy seek to establish for the multitude is not only just but likewise expedient among equals.
Hence, if the governing class are numerous, many democratic institutions are useful; for example, the restriction of the tenure of offices to six months, that all those who are of equal rank may share in them. Indeed, equals or peers when they are numerous become a kind of democracy, and therefore demagogues are very likely to arise among them, as I have already remarked.
The short tenure of office prevents oligarchies and aristocracies from falling into the hands of families; it is not easy for a person to do any great harm when his tenure of office is short, whereas long possession begets tyranny in oligarchies and democracies. For the aspirants to tyranny are either the principal men of the state, who in democracies are demagogues and in oligarchies members of ruling houses, or those who hold great offices, and have a long tenure of them.
Constitutions are preserved when their destroyers are at a distance, and sometimes also because they are near, for the fear of them makes the government keep in hand the constitution. Wherefore the ruler who has a care of the constitution should invent terrors, and bring distant dangers near, in order that the citizens may be on their guard, and, like sentinels in a night watch, never relax their attention. He should endeavor too by help of the laws to control the contentions and quarrels of the notables, and to prevent those who have not hitherto taken part in them from catching the spirit of contention. No ordinary man can discern the beginning of evil, but only the true statesman.
Source: Politics – Aristotle, Tran. by Jowett, B. BOOK_5|8 VIII, Page 108 – 109
Hata’umalee nuti barsiisotni oromoo kan jigjigaa yuuniversitii fi oromoonnii magaglaa jiraatan kun hanga ammattillee eegumsaa fi wabii tokkollee kan hin arganne tu’uu isaa bulchiinsii mootummaaa naannoo oromiyaaa beekuu qaba.
Kana malees eejjennoonifii ibsii mootummaan federaala kaaraa midiyaalee adda addatiin uumataf ibsaatti jiru illee kan lafa hin geenyeefii gamaa motummaa somaleetiin hanga fuulbaana 8titti hojiirraa kan hin oolleefi gochaan buqqisaanii arii’uullee kan itti fufe ta’uusaa akka nuuf beektan barbanna.
Dabalataniis meeshaaleen keenya itti jiraannuu akka manca’ee, amileen hoji keenyaa fi jiruu keenyaallee kan bade ta’uu isaa isin hubachiisna.
To begin with less controversial fact, today’s Amhara is not exactly what it is referred in old historical scripts of the country (Ethiopia). It has mostly been used to refer to the Christians, and also, to mean ‘good people’. It is also used seldom to mean Amharic speaking people. But, all of these are when the Amharic speaking people use it; for example, Oromos used to say ‘Sidama’ to refer to the Amhara. There are many people who still use the phrase ‘Afaan Sidama’ to say ‘Afaan Amhara’. EPRDF’s ethnic federalism definded Amhara as the people who are residing in Northern Shoa, Gojjam, Gondar, Wollo, and also people currently residing in other regions whose parents are originally from these places.
To know how Amharic language evolved would help us learn how the people, who are currently considered as ‘Amhara’, have reached here. Even though it is second largest “ethnic group” (population wise), Amharic is most spoken in Ethiopia. Yet, it is not oldest langauge in the country. Legend has it that it was in Shoa, in the 13th Century, that the language was first born. Others say it was first spoken by ‘Amahara Sayint’ people as early as seventh century. Either way, the language is younger than Cushitic languages that include Afaan Oromo and Somali and also than most Omotic and Nilo-Saharan languages.
How does it grow larger and faster? Who are the people who are speaking it now? There are many possible answers for the first question. One of the possible and not controversial answers is that its adoption by the ruling elites has contributed to its quick growth. For the second question, we can certainly speak about the fact that the first people who started to speak Amharic used to have other languages as well. So, we can deduct a conclusion that may not please people who define ethnicity based on only language. This is because the birth and expansion of Amharic language proves the fore fathers of the current Amharic language speakers will happen to have another ethnicity according to language-based definition of ethnicity.
Scholars say Amharic is a child of Ge’ez, currently dying Semitic language; but, also say its syntax has similarity with Cushitic languages such as Afaan Oromo. The likes of Donald Levin suspect, while trying to explain how the Semitic language could have Cushitic syntax, ‘Amharic maybe created when the Oromo try to speak Ge’ez’. It maybe true. Bahru Zewdie has also written that ‘Amharic has more words derived from the Cushitic Afaan Oromo instead of its presumed parent language Ge’ez’.
Amharic language became official language of Ethiopia’s rulers since the 19th century, during the reign of Emperor Theodros II. Before that, Ge’ez used to be the official language of the rulers even to have their stories recorded. The adaptation of Amharic language as an official language of state has advantantaged the language’s expansion. In the Imperial Ethiopia, the central source of legitimacy was Orthodox Christianity. Added to that, to speak Amharic language became a necessity as Amharic was promoted to be the official language.
So, people – whatever their ethnic background is – have to be Christians and speak Amharic to have the maximum chance of taking over leadership. (The exceptions won’t count here. In the Yejju era (also called as ‘Era of the Princes’) Afaan Oromo is said to have become language of the palace; and before that, Gondar royalities had adopted Catholic Christianity. Both lived short. During Emperor Menelik II’s reign, King of Jimma, Abba Jifar, could keep his faith of Islam and submitted to the King of Kings. But, no similar diversity has ever been experienced before and after.)
But, since Orthodox Christianity is the main factor to seek royality (and also maybe because the current Tigray region is where the state was founded), Tigrians have shares in leadership regardless of their language difference. This makes Christianization a factor of eligibility to rule. To communicate effectively with the central ruling elite, it also needs one Amharanize oneself. Thus Amharanization often involved both Orthodox Christianization as well as Amharic language skills. Accordingly, people of any ethnic background Amharanize themselves as they get close to the ruling elites’ inner circle.
Amhara people speak of their birth place (saying I’m Gojjamé, Gondarré, Showayé or Wolloyé) when they are asked about their identity; other ethnic groups such as Oromo and Somali speak of their tribal family roots (AKA gossa) or that they are Oromo or Somali to tell their identity. This is an implication that the Amhara do not have direct familial (tribal) line but mixed background.
Now, there is a society (or, an ethnic group) that is identified as Amhara. And, this Amhara have a common psychological make up that keep them together. This common psychological make up is usually pride. The source of this pride is the long standing narration of heroism and leadership opportunity they had. They do have strong sense of ownership to the state. They make proud of the fact that they had central role in forming the Ethiopian state. And, therefore, they don’t like critics of the way Ethiopia is formed. They hate anyone who hates the Imperial rulers and dislike who doesn’t like the state.
The Amhara Privilege
Because Amharic is official for at least the past 200 years, the Amhara are advantaged by getting the ultimate chance to determine (participate in determining) the fate of the country. Currently, in this ethnically federalized republic, Amharic is spoken in almost every corner of the country. Amharic speaking people are privileged to easily communicate in all towns existed in Ethiopia better than any other language speakers. In fact, many Amharas reject this privilege as non existent only because all Amharic speaking people are not Amharas.
The Amhara Challenge
As privileged as Amharas are in the past historical events and its legacies, they are also victims of its short falls. All Amhara people were not members to the royal members. Many were just ordinary people who tilled the land of the the lords. However, the revolution of 1974 which has thrown away the Imperial system has also came up with a narration that blames the Amhara for almost everything. Amhara became the antagonist of the new narration. Given the history of the people, Amhara people are most dispersed of all. They have communities in every other ethnically categorized new regiones. They are often victims of displacement and are viewed as settlers. The history they make pride made them victims in a contrary interpretation.
The Amhara Psychology – the pride in the way the republic was founded and in the role they had to – kept many of Amharas rejecting the Amhara nationalism in an ethnonationalist federation. But, the Amhara challenge made it a necessity to forge a nationalism. In addition, Ethiopian nationalism claims of the Amhara is criticized to be a camouflage to keep the interests of the ethnic group. However, the challenge is the way the ethnic group is created. It has no straight familial (tribal) line which can make members associated with and protective of. So, it needs different approach to convince the Amhara take its part in the federal members competitio and limit affairs in regional issues when necessary.
Amhara people are said to be extremely individualist than collectivist which ethnonationals need to survive. Newly growing Amhara nationalists so far failed to define the social psychology, history and demands of Amhara people. There is no single book so far published with the title ‘History of Amhara’. And no pragmatic Amhara nationalism is formulated so far. This has posed a challenge in identifying the very way Amahara nationalism, without destroying the social tendency of individualism, should be established to keep the benefits of the people while helping it live with others in harmony.
ADDIS ABABA, Sep 20 (IPS) – The middle of September marked the beginning of Meskerem, the first month, the beginning of a new year, just after the girls dance in Tigray to mark the end of the rains and the coming of the summer in a ceremony called Ashenda. Children in Mekelle and other parts of this region in northern Ethiopia had added reason to rejoice.
As the girls danced, beating small drums and clapping, two donkeys appeared, draped with colorful national and regional flags and pulling a bright yellow cart. This arresting sight seized everyone’s attention, especially the children whose excitement grew when they found out the cart was full of books for them.
The United Nations Children’s Fund estimates that just 45 percent of Ethiopian children attend school because their parents are too poor to pay even nominal fees or buy basic school supplies. UNICEF reports that 62 percent of males between the ages of 15-24 are literate; for females, this number drops to 39 percent.
In rural Ethiopia, a majority of schools have very limited facilities, and a library in a primary school is an almost-unheard-of luxury.
Yohannes Gebregiorgis, the founder of the Ethiopian Books for Children and Education Foundation (EBCEF), was himself born in the rural town of Negelle Borena in1951, but was one of the lucky few able to attend school. He emigrated to United States in 1982, where he trained as a librarian and worked for a time at the San Francisco Public Library.
“I thought of my country’s children often,” he says. “In summer, when the American children made a long list of the books they were reading, I knew that Ethiopian children were playing with rag balls and tin cans.”
Yohannes came established his foundation to bring books to Ethiopian children and Donkey Mobile Library is one of the EBCEF’s projects. The first mobile library was set up in the central Ethiopian town of Awassa in 2005, where it provoked just as much excitement as the latest donkeys’ arrival in Tigray.
Inside the cart pulled by the donkey, there are 40 stools. The cart also contains new and secondhand books provided by EBCEF, which children can borrow or read on the spot.
In the middle of the cart, there is food and water for the two donkeys. The library has just two staff; one attends to the donkey, the other to the books. The library assistant sometimes reads aloud for the children, but most of the mobile library’s patrons choose a book for themselves and sit on a stool to read it along with their friends. Even very young children, under five years old, perch seriously on stools looking at the pictures if they don’t know how to read.
“The children were very excited about the opening of the library,” Yohannes said, “but they were thrilled to witness the beautifully decorated donkey pulling a colorful box full of children’s books. It was a new experience for all members of the town and a memorable day for me.”
Yohannes was winner of the CNN Hero Award winner of 2008 for his work promoting reading amongst children. The foundation has shipped tens of thousands of books to Ethiopia, some donated, others paid for from the proceeds of a children’s book Yohannes published in 2002. Another book he has written, called Tirhas Loves Ashenda, was distributed freely to the children on the opening day.
That this latest book is written in English and the local language, Tigrigna, only added to the pleasure of the children. Most of the other books are in Ethiopia’s national language, Amharic, or in English.
Janet Lee, a professional librarian from the United States who volunteered to help launch the mobile library.
“It is important for all children to have access to books. Every child has different interests at each stage of his or her life and by reading and gaining knowledge the child has the opportunity to explore these different interests and build upon them,” she told IPS.
“Developing a reading habit helps to improve overall literacy and life skills. The child should gain literacy in his/her first language (mother tongue) and then gain strength in other commonly used languages. Multilingualism is a benefit for a fulfilling life and for career aspirations.”
Lee also brought along donated books and computers for a more conventional youth library being set up in a building donated by the Mekelle city administration.
The Donkey Mobile Library goes out every day – save Sunday – from 9 am to 4 pm, sometimes to a designated spot in the village where children can easily find it, sometimes to the school compound. Some of households have library cards so children can borrow books to take home; other children borrow books that their teachers take responsibility for.
Twelve-year-old Regat is in grade seven. “I like reading, and there are so many beautiful books. My favorite books are in Amharic, but I like to read books in English and Tigrigna also.”
EBCEF, also known as Ethiopia Reads, is operating a half-dozen mobile libraries bringing books to rural children eager to read. The foundation has also set up 11 conventional libraries, mostly serving schools.