The Bale Peasant Rebellion, 1963--1970
Innovations, Number 67 December 2021
Posted: 9 Mar 2022
Date Written: December 10, 2021
This article tries to examine one of the challenges that the regime of Solominonic Dynasty of Emperor Haile Selassie faced in the Southern parts of Ethiopia (post of Ethiopian independence); and the triggering causes that fueled to the decline of Feudalism and Emperorship period in Ethiopian History around 1970s. The post-liberation period of 1941 Ethiopia witnessed growing opposition among peasants in different parts of the country against Haile Selassie's regime thereby giving the opposition a broader dimension. Peasant revolts, although on a small scale, were especially numerous in the southern territories, where the imperial government had traditionally rewarded its supporters with land grants thereby reducing the indigenous peasantry into tenancy. Among those Southern rebellion groups, the Bale peasant uprising presented the most serious challenge to the Ethiopian government. Initially, rebel groups conducted hit-and-run raids against military garrisons and police stations separately. The causes of the uprising were multifaceted. The indigenous peasants largely became tenants on their own land after the introduction of the Qalladland measurement in 1951. Likewise, peasants also suffered from religious antagonism which reached to unprecedented level after the appointment of Christian man of WarquEnquselassie as governor of the Muslimareas of Balein 1963. Further, the Somali government extended material and moral support to the rebels as part of its strategy of reestablishing a “Greater Somalia”. The rebellion ended in 1970s after some of its popular leaders including WaqoGutu surrendered to government forces due to the mediation role played by General JagamaKello.
Keywords: Bale, WaqoGutu, Peasant Uprising, Feudalism, Land Tenure, Greater Somalia
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