Why People to People Relations Need More Concern?

Professor Fikre Lema

Though unity in diversity and entertaining or sharing common national agendas still continued as typical values of Ethiopians, higher educational institutions and other concerned elements have made little efforts in promoting people to people relationships based on constructive historical backgrounds over the past few decades, scholars say.

However, maintaining strong people to people relationship is a must do task to embrace current socioeconomic and political developments and reforms, says Desalegn Tolera, Instructor and Researcher at Wollega University.

He argues most historical studies and documents that have been conducted so far concerning Ethiopian peoples’ relation for many years, were mostly concentrated on political issues and the differences among each other.

According to him, many scholars often portrayed internal conflicts and war stories that have been fought by kings and lords in different periods of time as crucial events in the history of this country and its peoples. As a result, the long lasted socioeconomic and cultural ties have not gained significant regards.

He strongly argues that there were no considerable conflicts or wars between the peoples or ethnic groups in Ethiopia. "Rather socioeconomic and cultural interactions have been dominant values, which the nations shared and strengthened their bondage with marital and blood ties", Dessalegn tells The Ethiopian Herald.

He adds Ethiopia’s existence as a country has been sustained on the deep-rooted cultural and historical bondage of its diversified people of several ethnic and religious backgrounds for thousands of years.

For instance, Wollega and Debremarkos Universities have jointly conducted a historical research focusing on the socioeconomic, political and cultural interactions between the peoples of Oromia and Amhara, in Wollega and Gojjam border area, particularly on the Abay (Nile) river basin.

The research, indicates even if it was established earlier, the Oromo and Amhara peoples’ relation has grown stronger beginning from the 16th century, as people from both ethnic groups crossed the River for different purposes.

"It is true that the interactions between these people were not completely peaceful. There were conflicts but as I said earlier those conflicts have been between kings or lords and not the people," stresses Desalegn.

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Sharing Desalegn’s view Professor Fikre Lema President of Jimma University, says higher educational institutions did not put much effort to collect the common socioeconomic, political and cultural values that Ethiopian peoples shared and lived together in unity. Certain difference between the people on the other hand, have been propagated by most scholars on their researches and historical books, he notes.

Dr. Niguse Mitiku

According to him, scholars have indispensable role in promoting socioeconomic and cultural relations between peoples for the overall existence and unity of one country.

In this case, encouraging people to people forums are started between few universities in Amhara and Oromia states.

"Such forums need to be more institutionalized. Research findings, delivered in the forums, could be relevant inputs for policy makers and state administrations. Most of all, the more people are accessed to information, that promote common values on their historical ties, the stronger their cooperation would get with better national consensus on the present and future political developments in the country," emphasizes Fikre.

Dr. Niguse Mitiku, former President of Debremarkos University, for his part says, the way diversity has been handled over the past two decades, has its own positive and negative impacts.

He adds that Ethiopian nations and nationalities have been celebrating their diversity and unity for twenty-seven years. But there were also gaps in entertaining some historical values for they were covered by insignificant thoughts that did not describe the peoples.

"For instance, the realities between the Amhara and Oromo people in most documents have been illustrated in a way that portrayed these two people existed with their own separate cultures and history. But the fact is different and in order to fill this gap, universities need to exert level best efforts by conducting more valuable researches and promoting people to people discussion forums at large scale".

He also stresses that diversity is a great wealth for a country if properly entertained. Therefore, the people to people discussion forums must expand to other higher educational institutions and involve more students as well as the public. But if these forums are only limited between scholars and few members of college societies, it may not achieve the expected goals, according to him.