Glossary -- Ethiopia
- age-set system
- A system comprising several named sets (or groups) of men, each of which
consists of those initiated in a given period. Each set passes through a series of age-
grades, taking on the rights, duties, and activities specific to the grade. In Ethiopia
such a system coexists with a generation-set system in some ethnic groups, e.g., the
gada system (q.v.) among the Oromo.
- An Amharic term originally referring to any person with a claim to rist
(q.v.) land by virtue of membership in a cognatic descent group
(q.v.). Commonly used since the establishment of present-day Ethiopia by
Menelik II in the late nineteenth century for those local chiefs and other non-Amhara
who were assigned low-level administrative positions among their own people and who
were allocated substantial landholdings.
- birr (pl., birr; no symbol used)
- The Ethiopian monetary unit, composed of 100 cents. Introduced officially in
1976, replacing the Ethiopian dollar at par. Through mid-1991, US$1 equaled 2.07 birr,
or 1 birr was worth about US$0.48.
- A group whose members are descended in the male line from a putative
common male ancestor (patriclan) or in the female line from a putative common
female ancestor (matriclan--not reported in Ethiopia). Clans may be divided into
subclans organized on the same principle or into lineages (q.v.) believed
to be linked by descent from a remote common ancestor.
- Among the Somali, a group of clans (q.v.) believed to be linked by
descent from a remote common ancestor.
- cognatic descent group
- A group comprising those persons tracing descent from a common ancestor
through both males and females, thereby differing from unilineal descent groups
(q.v.), such as clans (q.v.) and lineages (q.v.).
This entity is important among the Amhara and the Tigray as the one holding the
block of land in which its members claim rist (q.v.) rights. The
group has no other function.
- Formed in June 1974 and composed of a substantial body of young military
officers, none above the rank of major, drawn from the main units of the army, air
force, navy, and police. The Derg's membership ranged from perhaps 106 to 120 or
more. New officers were never admitted, whereas original members were continuously
eliminated, especially during the Derg's early years. Its inner workings were almost
never disclosed. Known at first as the Coordinating Committee of the Armed Forces,
Police, and Territorial Army, after September 1974 it was known as the Provisional
Military Administrative Council (PMAC), or simply as the Derg (Amharic for
"committee" or "council"), a term derived from Gi'iz and little used before the 1974
revolution. The Derg lasted officially from June 1974 to September 1987, when the
People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia came into being.
- descent group
- A group having political, economic, or social functions. Formation of the group is
based on actual or putative descent through persons of one sex from a common
ancestor of the same sex, and therefore called unilineal descent groups (clans or
lineages, q.v.), or through persons of both sexes from a common ancestor
of either sex (cognatic descent groups--q.v.).
- Ethiopian calendar year
- The Ethiopian year consists of 365 days, divided into twelve months of thirty days
each plus one additional month of five days (six in leap years). Ethiopian New Year's
falls on September 11 and ends the following September 10, according to the
Gregorian (Western) calendar. From September 11 to December 31, the Ethiopian
year runs seven years behind the Gregorian year; thereafter, the difference is eight
years. Hence, the Ethiopian year 1983 began on September 11, 1990, according to
the Gregorian calendar, and ended on September 10, 1991. This discrepancy results
from differences between the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic
Church as to the date of the creation of the world.
- Ethiopian fiscal year (EFY)
- Based on the Ethiopian calendar year (q.v.). Corresponds to July 8 to
July 7, seven years behind the Gregorian (Western) calendar through December 31,
and eight years behind thereafter.
- gada system
- An Oromo term used to refer to a system that groups persons (invariably males)
of the same generation (rather than age) into sets. The sets are ordered hierarchically
and assigned a range of social, military, political, and ritual rights and responsibilities.
Generation-set systems are found in varying forms among the Oromo and other
groups, e.g., the Konso and Sidama.
- gross domestic product (GDP)
- A measure of the total value of goods and services produced by a domestic
national economy during a given period, usually one year. Obtained by adding the
value contributed by each sector of the economy in the form of profits, compensation
to employees, and depreciation (consumption of capital). Only domestic production is
included, not income arising from investments and possessions owned abroad, hence
the use of the word "domestic" to distinguish GDP from the gross national product
(GNP--q.v.). Real GDP is the value of GDP when inflation has been taken
into account. In this book, subsistence production is included and consists of the
imputed value of production by the farm family for its own use and the imputed rental
value of owner-occupied dwellings. In countries lacking sophisticated data-gathering
techniques, such as Ethiopia, the total value of GDP is often estimated.
- gross national product (GNP)
- The total market value of all final goods and services produced by an economy
during a year. Obtained by adding the gross domestic product (GDP--q.v.)
and the income received from abroad by residents and then subtracting payments
remitted abroad to nonresidents. Real GNP is the value of GNP when inflation has
been taken into account.
- A principle of land tenure among the Amhara, Tigray, and, with modifications,
elsewhere. Abolished by the military government in 1975. Gult rights were
rights granted by the emperor or his designated representative either to members of
the ruling group as a reward for service or to Ethiopian Orthodox churches or
monasteries as endowments. The holder of gult rights, often but not
always an official, was entitled to collect tribute and demand labor from those on the
land over which he held rights. Some of the tribute was kept, and the remainder was
- International Monetary Fund (IMF)
- Established along with the World Bank (q.v.) in 1945, the IMF is a
specialized agency affiliated with the United Nations that is responsible for stabilizing
international exchange rates and payments. The main business of the IMF is the
provision of loans to its members (including industrialized and developing countries)
when they experience balance of payments difficulties. These loans frequently carry
conditions that require substantial internal economic adjustments by the recipients,
most of which are developing countries.
- Popular term used to describe a cooperative urban neighborhood association.
Kebeles were formed after the nationalization of all urban land and
rentable dwellings in July 1975. These cooperatives became the counterpart of the
peasant associations developed under the military government's Land Reform
Proclamation of March 1975. After their introduction, kebeles became the
basic unit of urban government and served as instruments of sociopolitical control in
- A group whose members are descended through males from a common male
ancestor (patrilineage) or through females from a common female ancestor
(matrilineage--not reported in Ethiopia). Such descent can in principle be traced.
Lineages vary in genealogical depth from the ancestor to living generations; the more
extensive ones often are internally segmented.
- Lomé Convention
- A series of agreements between the European Community (EC) and a group of
African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) states, mainly former European colonies, that
provide duty-free or preferential access to the EC market for almost all ACP exports.
The Stabilization of Export Earnings (Stabex) scheme, a mechanism set up by the
Lomé Convention, provides for compensation for ACP export earnings lost through
fluctuations in the world prices of agricultural commodities. The Lomé Convention also
provides for limited EC development aid and investment funds to be disbursed to ACP
recipients through the European Development Fund and the European Investment
Bank. The Lomé Convention is updated every five years. Lomé I took effect on April
1, 1976; Lomé II, on January 1, 1981; Lomé III, on March 1, 1985; and Lomé IV, on
December 15, 1989.
- Red Terror
- The campaign of terror unleashed by the Derg (q.v.) in response to
the urban guerrilla warfare--the so-called White Terror--of the Ethiopian People's
Revolutionary Party and later of other leftist civilian opponents of the Derg, such as
the All-Ethiopia Socialist Movement. Beginning in February 1977, untold thousands of
mostly young people were jailed, tortured, and killed before the Red Terror had run its
course by early 1978.
- A principle of land tenure among the Amhara and, with some variations, among
the Tigray. Rist rights are land-use rights that any Amhara or Tigray,
peasant or noble, can claim by virtue of descent through males and females from the
original holder of such rights. Claims must be recognized by the cognatic descent
group (q.v.). Once held, such rights cannot be withdrawn except in favor
of one who presumably holds a better claim or, in extreme cases, by the emperor.
- A segment of a lineage (q.v.) and organized on the same principles.
- teff (eragrostis abyssinica)
- A cereal indigenous to Ethiopia, to which its consumption is almost entirely
confined. It is the most widely grown grain in the highlands, where its flour is preferred
in the making of the unleavened bread injera, the traditional form of cereal
- World Bank
- Informal name used to designate a group of four affiliated international institutions
that provide advice and assistance on long-term finance and policy issues to
developing countries: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development
(IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance
Corporation (IFC), and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). The
IBRD, established in 1945, has as its primary purpose the provision of loans at
market-related rates of interest to developing countries at more advanced stages of
development. The IDA, a legally separate loan fund but administered by the staff of
the IBRD, was set up in 1960 to furnish credits to the poorest developing countries on
much easier terms than those of conventional IBRD loans. The IFC, founded in 1956,
supplements the activities of the IBRD through loans and assistance designed
specifically to encourage the growth of productive private enterprises in the less
developed countries. The president and certain senior officers of the IBRD hold the
same positions in the IFC. The MIGA, which began operating in June 1988, insures
private foreign investment in developing countries against such noncommercial risks
as expropriation, civil strife, and inconvertibility of currency. The four institutions are
owned by the governments of the countries that subscribe their capital. To participate
in the World Bank Group, member states must first belong to the International
Monetary Fund (IMF--q.v.).
- Amharic for "campaign," in the military sense; popular term used to denote the
military government's Development Through Cooperation Campaign, which was
launched as part of the initial land reform in 1975. Early implementation included
forced mobilization of university and secondary school students to explain the socialist
revolution, including land reform, to peasants and to improve their traditionally low
literacy rate. The term "green" zemecha was used to describe the
agricultural aspects of the National Revolutionary Development Campaign in 1979.
LaVerle Berry is a Research Analyst in African Affairs
with the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress.
Edmond J. Keller is Professor of Political Science and
Director of the James S. Coleman African Studies Center at the University
of California at Los Angeles.
Mulatu Wubneh is Associate Professor of Planning at East
Thomas P. Ofcansky is a Senior African Analyst with the
Department of Defense.
John W. Turner is an African Analyst with the Department
Yohannis Abate is a Geographer and African Analyst with the
Department of Defense.