Indigenous Governance among the Southern Afar (ca. 1815-1974), Ethiopia
The Sultanate of Aussa among the Afar has been vigorously implementing its indigenous governance. It was the incorporation of the Sultanate into the Ethiopian central government in 1974 that ushered the demise of its independent existence. The question that naturally follows is that how the centralization of power degenerated, in relative terms, the non- hierarchic system of indigenous governance? The objective of this paper is to identify the elements of indigenous governance and the mechanisms of how this indigenous governance kept peace and stability in between 1815-1974. It also attempts to investigate how the status quo was affected by the internal and external factors that withered the dynamics of indigenous governance which resulted in the frequent occurrence of conflict. The data for this work are qualitative and taken from a review of published and unpublished historical, ethnographic and sociological materials. Relevant conceptual framework related to the subject is also used to interpret and analyze the literature consulted. Based on the data, the paper argues that the incorporation and subordination of Aussa in favor of imperial centralization has a negative consequence on the indigenous governance of the relatively stable Afar communities. The result demonstrates that the indigenous system of governance works to the best of the interest of its peoples, provided that it is given proper protection and respect that in turn promotes peace and stability.
Key words: Indigenous governance, Sultanate of Aussa, Emirate of Adal, imperial centralization, Conflict, structural functionalism
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