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Ethiopia plans new Damotic State to replace SNNPR

Damotic _ Ethiopia

By Teshome Borago
February 3, 2020

As Ethiopia’s Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR) continues to collapse, southern elders and intellectuals have searched for a new path away from a complete breakup. With the help of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the remaining SNNPR officials are reportedly saving most of the SNNPR remnants under a new name “Damotic Regional State.” 

The new Damotic Regional State (DRS) will unite the Dawro, Omo, Gamo, Wolayta, Basqeto, Konta and other Omotic speaking people of southern Ethiopia. In order to create more economic centers, the DRS will not have one capital city but it will have at least three political and economic centers: including Arba Minch, Sodo and Jinka. 

With over fifty parliament seats representing around 9% of Ethiopia, the DRS will likely become the third most powerful state in the Ethiopian government. 

The name itself comes from the combination of Damot mountain and the Omo River, which forms boundaries of the new state. The DRS will not have one official language but all Omotic dialects and Amharic will be working languages. By creating a new multiethnic state using Damot mountain, Omo River and other geographical boundaries, the DRS will likely be a pioneering state in Ethiopian history: by successfully combining features of both post-1991 ethnic-federalism and pre-1991 geo-federalism. 

This new state proposal reportedly has the blessings of local elders and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his Prosperity Party (PP), which includes all the current Zonal ruling parties in Gamo, Gofa, Wolayta, Dawro, South Omo and neighboring areas.

However, the de facto separation of Sidama zone to become its own state has created a domino effect of disintegration. Some Gamo and Wolayta youth activists are not happy about this new DRS unity proposal by the zonal ruling parties, because they wanted to copy the Sidama blueprint by organizing a referendum to create a small Wolayta regional state and Gamo regional state. 

But a region-wide survey and research done in 2019 claimed that most citizens of the SNNPR prefer to stay together, rather than creating 50 tiny states based solely on ethnicity. The committee said southern citizens want unity; but accused power-hungry elites and tribal activists for pushing separation. 

Therefore, a new committee is now created by the Prime Minister’s office to redo the survey and more studies that will be finalized after the 2020 elections. The DRS proposal and other ideas are considered by the new committee in order to break up SNNPR into 3 or 4 big pieces, instead of 50 tiny states. 

However, Wolayta and Gamo activists have recently been contacted by Jawar Mohammed’s OMN media and invited by TPLF to conferences in Mekele. According to inside sources, Jawar’s camp and the TPLF are not working together against Abiy on SNNPR politics, but they share the same goal to destabilize the south and profit from proliferation of tribalism. Some Oromo nationalists also want to annex Gedeo zone to incorporate it into Greater Oromia; after the SNNPR collapses. 

There are several unknown factors in play.

With the creation of a multiethnic Omotic state, it is unknown what will happen to the remaining parts of SNNPR (particularly Gurage and Hadiya).

Despite a successful referendum, the fate of Sidama region is also unknown. After Sidama ruling party joined Abiy’s Prosperity Party, the process of dividing assets and creating an official Sidama regional state has been delayed and the fate of Hawassa city’s regional or federal city status will be decided during the elections. 

The DRS proposal has been applauded by some scholars and progressive groups. In its press release, the Wolayta Committee for Human Rights (WCHR) said,

Keeping a multiethnic state will prevent the human rights crisis we see in Ethiopia due to one-ethnic-based territorial conflicts nationwide,”  according to its online statement.

Former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegne has also advised Dr. Abiy to transform the SNNPR into a more geographic based regional states while applying a bigger “language family” requirement instead of a single language or dialect. The Omotic language family is estimated to make up between 7-10% of Ethiopia. Historically, the Omotic community occupied even larger area in southern Ethiopia but conquests by the Abyssinian kingdom and gradual Oromo expansion has swallowed up their land. Scholars like Professor Haile Larebo believe a significant population of modern day Afan Oromo speakers have Omotic ancestors. 

Some critics believe the “Damotic State” proposal is similar to the failed Wagagoda proposal 20 years ago. However, this criticism was proved to be false since, unlike the Wagagoda concept, the Damotic state does not invent or impose a new mixed language as Omotic dialects will remain independent. Supporters of the DRS believe the Damotic State will unite people who share the same culture, shared history, one geographic area and the same family of languages as well as restore the ancient and bigger Ethiopian kingdom of past centuries. 

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  1. Hawasa is already decided by popular vote and is the capital city of Sidama. You can dream anything but won’t happen. Fools like you always dream to steal anything from the people.

  2. Take your nonsense proposal away from the people of Wolaita. We the people of Wolaita will create stronger Region than Afar, Benshangul, Gambela, Harar regions.

  3. The proposal to create a new Omotic state shows how tone-deaf those in power for the last 30 years are.

    The above seemingly unbiased reporting bends and twists logic to show the idea has widespread support.

    It is no secret the proponents of this idea are mainly the Wolayta elite, and the others oppose it vehemently. Outside of the ruling party circles, even the Wolayta elite realize the idea is dead on arrival and have given up the intention not to antagonize their bretherin in other Zones.

    In this article, two contradictory ideas are presented as an argument. There is no doubt the idea behind is linguistically these regions should have the same killil, which was rejected by the people when Wogagoda was introduced. The naming of the language was only symbolic. To try to present it as anything else is a not so clever deception. The languages are mutually intelligible, probably better than the Oromo language of from different regions that are put into one Oromia region despite the geographical, economic, social, historical realities.

    The people of Dawro, Gammo, and others should be commended for rejecting this archaic organization of the country as it was done in other regions. It should be copied by others to breakup killils that become too big for the people to effectively self administer and become the source of conflict as scruples elite are using them as a base to instigate it.

    Large administrative regions are inefficient, economically, administratively. In fact, there is no need for political appointees between a woreda and the national government. Any administrative region that is bigger than Woreda is too big for the inhabitants to have oversight over the politicians. It is not without reason that of all administrative units in Ethiopia the special woredas had the least problem when it comes to governance and maladministration.

    Particularly where regionalism is deeply rooted as in Ethiopia to suppress the one region seemingly to benefit another become an attractive politics. That is what the Sidamas did, and the Wolaytas did and the reason why others oppose the idea in the first place.

    Despite the attempt to show a unified front (to the competing killils), regional competition and animosities within killils are well and kinking in Oromia, Amhara, and Tigray. It is this competition that is the main source of maladministration than the competition between killils. Of course the competition between bigger kills present even more existential threat to the nation as a whole.

    Any forward-looking intellectual should loud and support the wish of the people in Southern Ethiopia to bring autonomous regional administration to the people instead of building mansions for the few elites away from the scrutiny of the people in “capitals” that are foreign to the inhabitants.

  4. we Dawro peoples restrictly oppose this stupid idea,we have decided to unite ourselves as Dawro regional state we not accept any additional beyond to ours decision .

  5. Damot kingdom was once strong enough to face the Aksumite/Ethiopian kingdom. Now it only exists in the southern part of Ethiopia after Wollega and Illubabor was lost.

  6. This should be given a trial period to see if it could work for the next few years with the federal budget being given to the President of the State only, If it doesnot work thensolution would be to have the states budget that comes from the federal government given to the state as always with Lake Ziway being where the office of the President of the state will be located at, since Ziway is where different ethnicities coexist as one unlike Arba Mench and Jinka..

    Pambazuka News › land-environment
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  7. It looks like a great idea to unite people but it is too late
    tribalism is addictive

    Woyane was in power too long and woyane created a new generation that hate unity and love division
    Woyane made us think only tribe

  8. What is damot, a mount near Sodo or is it from Gojam?
    What is the relationship between damot and Omotic language family?
    Does this guy know why the so called WOGAGODA failed?
    Please don’t confuse the poor people who has no idea of your fabricated and concocted meaningless state

  9. Unifying similar langueges speakers is seems better idea that it one of parametres in the constitution. They are being from langue family, they communucate each other by their own ethnic language. The questions comes now, we knew that how and why the so called WOGAGODA failed. I hope no need to repeat the past conflicts 20 years before. Peaple are killed, displaced, sacrificed and so on in Soddo. From where the name Damot comes? It is not far from, why is that important naming by mountain from wolaita? Damotic (wolaita) regional state DRS or WRS represents wolita. Avoid another conflict and blood shed. To be direct, honest. Rather than DRS, ORS ( omotic regional state) represents the omotic languege family peoples)

  10. Is that the demand of the people to build an empire or to bring the so called hoax damot kingdom back? Do not try to fool the people. Leave the history of the past damot kingdom to the people who believe and belongs as history. Do not confuse damot mountain in wolaita and omotic languege families. Please make a history today in one or other way peacefully, in manner avoiding conflict and bloodshed. Underlining that Damotic is bloody word, bad and dangerous. Omotic and Damotic are not same words.

  11. Thank yo for the idea because we need unity against big regions
    Even Amhara region is not Amhara because they have kimant, agew etc

  12. So what is your proposal gonna do to help the south ? Is it to divide and conquer ? Or is it to take control of southern Ethiopians ? Is their any thought of what y’all going to do with other regions like Konso , Burji , Dirashe , etc… I think us Southern Ethiopians should find are own solution to our problems instead of y’all thinking you know are lands better then us . And you guys are really trying to make oromo people look bad . I have meet many oromos and they all wanted us to be free and successful as well from Amhara power so stop .

  13. Let me advise you people from the south. All these mess is the legacy of the woyane. Even our largest ethnic group, the OROMOS, they did not understand this plot to disintgrate Ethiopia. Why because the Woyanes they are minorities in the north. They always attack the Amharas out of pure inferiority complex. Brothers and sisters mothers and fathers, all ethiopians, Egyptians are effectevely exploiting this diabolic divisions umong one ethiopian family. What do the sidama elites want? Awassa, what do the petty Oromo nationalists want? Addis Ababa. Even the educated person from these two nationalities, their hidden agenda, is to take these two cities to their “killil”. No other agenda. Their mind is manufactured in Mekele. I don’t think they realize this. We Africans are normally half baked so called intellectuals. We have seen the HUTUS AND THE TUTSIS. How they slaughtered each other. This is pity!. Pure Monkeys!!. Please, let’s get out of the Bush and live a decent life. Let’s us think of big one country:- ETHIOPIA. Think big you little headed people. The so called petty politicians. By the way I am from the south who believe in one ethiopia. No kilil but administrative regions delineated only based on geographical factors not on languges or dialects.because it is old colonial Italy home work handed down to us.Down with ‘ bull shit’ tribalists and 4th century forest dewelers of mother ethiopia. Up with our great leader ABIY AHMED!!.

  14. Yae It Is Blessd Proposal But It Is Dominated By The Singularists And Hater Of Omotic People Because We Have Seen & Specified Who Were The Enamy And The Beloved Of Omotic People During WOGAGODA STATE In History
    The Yesterday Destroyer Comeback To Repair (Rebuild) Or To Foolish Us
    Neither Damotic Nor Omotic State We Accept AS GAMOGOFA

  15. Unity is what we need.We dont benefit by forming small kills.We will be too insignificant to be heard . Dawro, Gamo,Gofa, Wolayita,konta all speak the same language and have similar culture.
    If some day Oromia becomes independent they will together be viable country.
    I hope Ethiopia will remain united but we are not sure.

  16. the naming is incorrect . what it means ?it indicates only one zone what about others? pls change it to like as previous WOGA GODABA AKO


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