Academic journal article The International Journal of African Historical Studies

Haile Selassie, Western Education, and Political Revolution in Ethiopia

Academic journal article The International Journal of African Historical Studies

Haile Selassie, Western Education, and Political Revolution in Ethiopia

Article excerpt

Haile Selassie, Western Education, and Political Revolution in Ethiopia. By Paulos Milkias. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006. $89.95 paper.

Paulos Milkias is an Ethiopian writing about revolutionary change that engulfed his country beginning in the 1960s, which resulted in the overthrow of legendary emperor Haile Selassie, and then a singularly brutal military dictatorship lasting until 1991. The book includes observations about the period of the Mengistu dictatorship and important information and insights from Ethiopia's earlier history. But, principally, it centers upon the period of the 1960s and 1970s when students and teachers played important roles in heralding and mobilizing revolutionary change, a period when western education that Haile Selassie championed played an important role in the undoing of his regime and a long history of feudal Ethiopian imperialism.

Haile Selassie, Western Education, and Political Revolution adds a great deal of important information about this tumultuous period from the perspective of the education sector about which too little has been written. While others have written about the role of students and teachers in Ethiopia at this time, Milkias's book adds much useful information and important insights that complement these other works. A particularly important insight of the book is that educational reform on the eve of the emperor's overthrow coincided with shrunken funding for education, thereby increasing the number of educated Ethiopians beyond what the emperor's government could continue to effective co-opt, as it had done so effectively earlier.

Equally valuable are the book's insights into the roles played by the military at the time of Haile Selassie's overthrow. He records that the objectives of most units were stability and redress of specific material injustices, distinguishing them from the more revolutionary goals of the students, teachers, and other groups. Ultimately, however, these disparate objectives melded for a time in overthrowing the emperor's government, in large part because of important linkages between the students and groups of non-commissioned officers. …

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