chapter  4
Ethnotheory, ethnopraxis
Ethnodevelopment in the Oromia regional state of Ethiopia
ByAneesa Kassam
Pages 18

This chapter describes how a non-governmental organization (NGO) from the Oromia regional state of Ethiopia is attempting to apply an indigenous theory of development in order to bring about social and economic change from within the culture.1 This ethnotheory is based on a model of development that was elaborated by experts of the oral traditions of the Boorana of southern Ethiopia, the most traditional of the Oromo territorial groups.The model was recorded as part of an anthropological study conducted by a ‘native’ scholar to reconstruct the system of knowledge that existed prior to the incorporation of the Oromo people into the Ethiopian empire state at the end of the nineteenth century (Megerssa 1993). The chapter discusses how this strategy of development has come to represent the ideological basis upon which the past and present problems of underdevelopment of the Oromo in Ethiopia are being addressed. It shows how the model offers an alternative approach, both to the dominant local and hegemonic Western views of development.The chapter hence brings to bear on issues of indigenous knowledge and development in the context of politicized ethnicity and nationalism in Ethiopia (Chanie 1998; Hassen 1996; Jalata 1993a, 1993b; Krylow 1994; Lata 1999; Ottaway 1999; Poluha 1998).