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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/1189

Title: A HISTORICAL SURVEY OF JIMMA TOWN
Authors: YONAS, SEIFU
Advisors: Dr. Takalign W/Mariam
Copyright: 2002
Date Added: 23-May-2008
Publisher: Addis Ababa University
Abstract: This study deals with the history of Jimma town from 1936 to 1974. It explores social, economic and administrative themes, but also attempts to show the interrelationship between these themes. Socially, the town of Jimma evolved during this period from a home-town of a relatively homogenous society and culture to a place of residence for a diverse and increasingly cosmopolitan population. The period of Italian occupation (1936-1941) was socially significant because it saw the first major influx of people into the town of Jimma from beyond the borders of the former Kingdom whose name it had inherited. The Post-Liberation period (1941-74) was characterized by the evolution of an even more complex social fabric than before. An even greater influx of people and greater interaction came about partly because the imperial order retained and enhanced Jimma’s primacy in the region and partly because economic developments in the region attracted thousands of job-seekers to the town. Economically, the story of Jimma during this period was one of both continuity and change. It is a story of continuity because Jimma, which had from the very beginning been a center of trade, continued to be so during this period also. There was significant change, however, because unlike the previous decades in which Jimma served as a point of exchange or transit for elite goods (like slaves, ivory and musk) that mostly originated beyond the borders of the Oromo Kingdom, Jimma during this period developed into the chief center for the collection, organization and export of a cash crop (coffee) that grew in the countryside all around it. Economic change involved, therefore, both production and exchange. Administratively, Jimma during this period developed from the center of rule by a local dynasty that exercised authority over a small kingdom to a capital of a whole region. The background for this was set by the ending of the autonomous political existence of the Oromo Kingdom of Jimma and its full absorption into the political economy of the Ethiopian state on the eve of the Italian occupation of 1936. But the decision by the Italians to make Jimma the chief center of their activities in the whole v of southwestern Ethiopia was of even greater significance. The imperial system of administration that was put in place after Liberation simply built on that beginning. The social, economic and administrative history of Jimma are closely intertwined, however. The admixture of peoples and cultures as well as the nature of the urban social institutions that evolved in the town are closely tied to “the cash crop revolution” which brought streams of permanent and temporary residents to the town; the evolution of the town into a chief administrative center as well as the introduction of somewhat peculiar administrative and fiscal institutions came about in part due to the location of the town in the heart of the “coffee country” as southwestern Ethiopia came to be referred to. In short, both the urbanity and the urbanization of Jimma can be explained by the story of coffee production and marketing. This thesis documents these processes extensively and accounts for the growth of a major town in modern Ethiopia. After a brief background chapter, it deals with three themes of social evolution, economic activities and municipal government and administration. It argues that despite its significant growth Jimma’s development was limited due to the fact that it served merely as an outpost for an extractive system that removed resources from the region, not as a place of investment or technology with generative impact on the surrounding countryside.
Description: A Thesis Presented to the School of Graduate Studies of Addis Ababa University in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in History.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/1189
Appears in:Thesis - History

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