Academic journal article Social Justice

Two National Liberation Movements Compared: Oromia and the Southern Sudan

Academic journal article Social Justice

Two National Liberation Movements Compared: Oromia and the Southern Sudan

Article excerpt

THE NATIONAL LIBERATION MOVEMENTS OF THE OROMOS AND SOUTHERN SUDANESE are new types of anticolonial struggles in the postindependent peripheral nation-states of Ethiopia and Sudan, and they aim to facilitate the national self-determination of Oromia and the southern Sudan respectively. As Oromo nationalism emerged in opposition to Ethiopian colonialism, southern Sudanese nationalism developed to fight against northern Sudanese domination. These two movements emerged in opposition to colonial domination, economic exploitation, cultural destruction and repression, and the denial of individual and national rights. Since these nationalisms are modem phenomena and an integral part of the modem world, this comparative analysis is done in the context of the global system.

There have been two major historical waves in the capitalist world-system. The first historical wave was characterized by slavery, conquest, colonization, ethnocide, and continued subjugation; it extended approximately from the 17th to the 20th centuries. The emergence and expansion of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries in Western Europe increased the need for raw materials, free or cheap labor, expanded markets, and the intensification of global colonial expansion during this historical wave.

The second historical wave was a turning point and emerged after World War I in the form of national liberation movements and revolutions. Wallerstein (1979: 234) notes that the war "marked the opening skirmishes of a worldwide struggle of movements of national liberation against Europe's world political hegemony, which had been based on the latter's temporary technological advantages and deep-rooted racism." The objective long-term economic crisis, plus objective evidence of the ability of the oppressed to organize successfully, made those who held power and privilege lose the bloom of arrogant and smug self-confidence and face their future with anxiety and hatred. The first phase of this second global historical wave was mainly manifested as a form of territorial nationalism. This nationalism opposed colonialism, which had been grounded on metropolitansatellite relations. The second phase of this wave has been characterized mainly by ethnonationalism within established nation-states. The ongoing national s truggles of the Palestinians, Bosnians, Kurdistans, Northern Irish, Chechens, Sabrawi, Sidamas, Afars, Oromos, southern Sudanese, and others indicate the significance of the second phase of this secoad historical wave.

Initially, Oromos and southern Sudanese resisted conquest and colonization without systematically organizing themselves; their cultural and political resistance has continued after their colonization because these two peoples were assigned to the status of colonial subjects and second-class citizens by the Ethiopian and Sudanese nation-states respectively. Although the national struggles of these two peoples are the continuation and culmination of previous resistance, they emerged from certain historical and sociological factors. This comparative essay historically situates the emergence and development of these nationalisms, and explains how the resistance to colonial domination was transformed into the Oromo and southern Sudanese national movements. It also assesses whether the principle of national self-determination is applicable to the conditions of Oromia and the southern Sudan.

Similarities and Differences Between the Two Movements

Oromos and southern Sudanese are under colonial domination and neither have respective national sovereignty; hence, they have been engaged in national liberation struggles. They are under the total control of Ethiopian and northern Sudanese nation-states respectively. Habashas and northern Sudanese manifest cultural arrogance and racist beliefs claiming that they are Semitic. The Amhara and Tigrayan peoples are descendants of some Arab elements and Africans; these Arab elements probably immigrated to African coasts early in the first millennium B. …

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