P4P medium Grant 

“More Than Just Words: An Inquiry into the Transformative Promise of ‘Solidarity’ and ‘Medemer’ in Ethiopia’s Transition to Democracy”

Dr Awol Allo (PI), Abdulatif Idris (Co-I)

The tactical alliance between Oromos and Amharas – the two largest ethnic groups in Ethiopia, comprising approximately 70% of the population – played a transformative role in Ethiopia’s quest for democratic change. The alliance reconfigured the balance of political power in Ethiopia’s ruling coalition and paved the way for Dr Abiy Ahmed’s reformist and progressive government. Since assuming power, PM Ahmed has introduced a new vocabulary and praxis – framed around the concept of medemer – aimed at mobilising public support for his government. Medemer, it is said, will help Ethiopia heal old wounds and build a free and democratic society. However, research on the scope, content, meaning and cultural suitability of medemer and associated concepts is limited. Looking at the Oromo-Amhara solidarity that made PM Ahmed’s ascension possible, we know that this solidarity is anchored in shared grievances rather than a shared understanding and vision for the future. So, to what extent is medemer able to make a sustained and meaningful contribution to the country’s future in a culturally relevant way? This project draws together local stakeholder knowledge and leading academic expertise to undertake an independent preliminary inquiry into the transformative promise of solidarity and medemer in Ethiopia’s transition to democracy.