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Social Affairs

By Tsegaye R Ararssa*

  1. 1.     Introduction

What is the story of the Ethiopian federal experiment? What stories does it tell? And what stories can be told about it? Feeding from and into the ever polarized and polarizing ‘debate’ on Ethiopia’s politics, Dr Taye Negussie recently argued that the Ethiopian federal arrangement is synonymous with apartheid’s ‘racial federation’. In a similar vein, Dr Asfawossen Asrate also remarked that “ethnic federalism amounts to nothing but apartheid.”[i] In this piece, I seek to explore the tales the Ethiopian federal experiment tells (and masks) with a view to shedding light on whether, by juxtaposing the two systems, there emerges a tale of two federations or two tales of two differently unjust governance systems.

Taye Negussie (PhD)

Following the general election of 1948, the Afrikaners dominated National Party officially legislated a racially segregated system of government–racial federations–in South Africa, the infamous apartheid system that came to an end in 1994.

The year that saw the coming to an end of the racial federations in South Africa, in a manner of curious coincidence, heralded the birth of another fairly similar form of ethnically segregated system of government–ethnic federations – in Ethiopia.