Title: "Land Tenure and Agriculture in Sayyoo-Afillo, Western Wallaga, Ethiopia, 1880-1974 (OROMO)" Author: Ayana, Daniel Date: 1995 School: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Advisor: Donald Crummey Degree: Ph.D.
Abstract: This dissertation outlines the agrarian history of the Oromo from their sixteenth century migration to the twentieth century. Using linguistic evidence the study argues that in the pre-sixteenth century period the pastoral and the agricultural Oromo had an interdependent economy and a unified culture. The linguistic evidence indicates the existence of a common pool of vocabulary related to farming activities and crops in the pre-migration period. The study also reconstructs the context of Macha Oromo adoption of plow agriculture at the beginning of the seventeenth century.
After the adoption of plow agriculture the land use pattern for mixed farming and the customary practice of primogeniture influenced the pace of Macha frontier expansion and settlement. The transhumant pastoral strategy of herd-splitting, among others, to minimize the risks of cattle disease was modified into the darabaa institution.
On the frontier the Qabiyee system determined the modes of land claiming. Pioneer settlers claimed the land communally but held the plots individually within the household. Thus, individual holding system was the dominant feature of land tenure among the Oromo in the pre-Ethiopian days.
The study also reconstructs the Ethiopian conquest of the research region and the imposition of Ethiopian colonists (naft'anna-gabbar system). The study indicated how Turco-Egyptian rule of the Sudan between 1821 and 1880s secluded the research region from external contact and acquisition of firearms to build a strong state. The initial phase of Ethiopian indirect rule was replaced with the extractive direct rule of gasha-gabbar system, a variant of the naft'anna-gabbar. The study quantified the amount of cash extracted from an average Oromo household in the 1920s, and it was found to have been more than 70 per cent of the per capita income of Ethiopians in the mid-1970s.
Tracing the region's integration into the world capitalist economy also formed part of the study. The rise of coffee plantations with the use of unfree labor provided the link with the world market at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The rise of coffee plantations and commercial maize farming took place on land rights contested between the Ethiopian empire-state and the subject Oromo. The study argues that the Ethiopian version of land measurement was intended more for political integration and less for the commercialization of land. The Oromo of the research area challenged the imposition of the qalad system and demanded for the reinstitution of the pre-Ethiopian individual holding system. Based on the property tax payment between 1933-1935 and 1941/42 the Oromo undertook two decades of legal struggles which finally abolished tenancy in favor of individual holding, a decade before the 1974 revolution. The revolution arrested the expansion of commercial farming but also temporarily removed the Ethiopian officials who, for decades, resisted the reinstitution of individual holding system.
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