Ethiopians Debating Over Who Really Owns Addis Ababa / Finfinne

Ethiopians are having a tense debate over who really owns Finfinne or Addis Ababa
A ticking time bomb. TPLF is sowing the seeds of discord, suspicion and mistrust by exploiting the apprehension of various stakeholders on the future of Finfinne, also known as Addis Ababa. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)


Nine months into a state-of-emergency imposed to quell popular unrest, Ethiopia’s ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), has unveiled its first significant political concession. But the furor surrounding the draft bill presented to parliament last week reveals just how deep tensions in Africa’s second most populous country still run. At stake is the answer to a highly charged question: Who owns Addis Ababa?

For Oromos, who make up at least a third of the population and formed the backbone of last year’s mobilization against the central government, the answer is simple: the federal capital, which they call Finfinne, belongs to Oromia. They recount a long history of grievance which casts Oromos as colonial subjects violently displaced from their land and alienated from their culture.

This anger became especially acute in the past decade as Addis Ababa expanded rapidly and when, in April 2014, the authorities published a new master plan which proposed further eviction of Oromo residents and farmers in the name of development.

“The issue of Finfinne is the heart of our politics,” says Gemechis, an Oromo resident of the city. “It is where we lost everything.” The master plan was dropped in January 2016 but demonstrations continued unabated until October.

Addis Ababa, with a population approaching four million people, is also home to the African Union and the UN Economic Commission for Africa and is widely regarded as Africa’s diplomatic capital—and indeed the world’s third largest diplomatic hub.

The new bill is a symbolically important effort to address some of the protesters’ demands, and to give concrete meaning to Oromia’s constitutionally-enshrined “special interest” in the capital.

Proposed changes include making Afan Oromo an official language of the federal government alongside Amharic, as well as setting up Afan Oromo schools in the city; renaming the city “Finfinne/Addis Ababa”; restoring original Oromo names of public squares, roads and neighborhoods; and the establishment of a joint council with the federal government to administer the city.

It is a watered down version of an earlier draft that reportedly met with much objection inside the ruling party. This is not surprising since the meaning of “special interest” has never been fully spelt out and there is much debate as to how much privilege Oromos should have in a multiethnic city that, despite being located entirely within Oromia, has a population that is only around 20% Oromo.

For many activists, the revised bill is wholly insufficient. There are no plans to “pay a penny” to Oromia for use of its natural resources, such as water, or for dumping the city’s waste on its farmlands, says Seyoum Teshome, an academic and blogger. “The bill is trash.” He and others argue that promises to pay farmers proper compensation for further evictions merely proves that the government still intends to expand the boundaries of the city.

Proposals to put the Afan Oromo language on par with Amharic are more welcomed since one of the key grievances of unemployed Oromo youth is that they struggle to get government jobs. But official quotas for Oromo representation in the city council is for many a non-negotiable. “The land must be administered by Oromos,” says Tolasa, a pharmacist who spent five years in prison for protesting the relocation of the regional state government away from Addis Ababa back in the early 2000s.

The controversy matters because it reflects stresses within Ethiopia’s model of ethnically-based federalism. The country is an example to many countries in Africa grappling with potentially explosive ethnic faultlines — from Somalia to South Sudan to Nigeria — and its constitution has long been admired for keeping such tensions in check.

35 thoughts on “Ethiopians Debating Over Who Really Owns Addis Ababa / Finfinne

    1. I heard the real Eritreans kicked the shabo ambassador in Italy? I wonder if your leader would end making shirts for his old masters? Please inform the clueless readers instead of Ethiopia is dying, we are not going anywhere.

        1. Erena
          Could you please translate what does, this little MLLT zombie, mean with his garbage if you have understood it. He begins to imitate my usual phrase ” real Ethiopians” guess what he imitated it like his cousins, that is why they called bunch or gang without a spinal cord, that is to say no own eagerness only copy copy and copy…

        1. Please, let us conduct discussions focused not on the person, rather on the issues. Character assassination is not a civilized way of discourse. Sorry, we need to complement one another.

          1. Character assassination has never crossed my mind. I was just telling him, his background and his up bringing, that is all!. He is biting the hand that fed him! Like Tedrous Adhanom and the rest of MLLT gangs. Most of them were born and dragged up in Geza Tanika and enjoyed Shinema Hamashen, Beles Arbe-robuue.

        2. I know him never been there .( Sentiko/sheger addis/ Ethio/Balance/My thinking / TPLF Agent with IQ 60!!!).He is pathological liar. He lives in a fantasy world where everything said felt false or exaggerated.

      1. Why 15 million real Ethiopians starving???Hello Miss Sentiko/sheger addis/ Ethio/Balance/My thinking / dan / A Hero from Amhara (TPLF Agent !!! ) I don’t know what kind of nick name you’ll get tomorrow .Anyways!!! Why are you here???????????/ The funny thing you responding on your comment .Do you really think you going to hoax Eritreans, stupid dam!!! This is for you! “የብዙዎቹ ምናልባትም የሁሉም በሽታዎቻችን መሠረቱ ድህነትና ማጣት ናቸው፡፡ የገንዘብ ድህነትን በማግኘት ይላቀቁታል፤ የአስተሳሰብን ድህነት ግን በምን ይገላገሉታል? ችግር ነው፡፡ First of all don’t google to much get fact ok!!! Before answer this question go and feed those kids dam .

    2. Weyanes are desperate to stay in power, they are willing to do anything, just to stop anti-government views and protest from Oromos, but at the moment in Amhars regional states in Gonder and Gojam, government troops, Police force and the minorities government supporters are under attack in a daily basis. The country is still under state of emergency and curfew for the last nearly ten months.

  1. Here is one person, who is commenting something for every article then he replays his own comment by changing his nick name (alias)!! He has many nick name so far those are his nick names, Sentiko/sheger addis/ Ethio/Balance/My thinking / Guest/dan/ Hero from Amhara . He is a TPLF agent with IQ 60!!! He is in TN website 24/7 more than the admin does. I ‘m very surprised, he didn’t comment today for this article yet. He did comment for all of article except for

    1. Hi
      He is at korshe collecting some garbage to help his starving cousins, the much spoken double digit doesn’t materialised. The MLLT woods economists are at Dedebit to design a formula how to grow by triple digit but yet to beg alms for survival. Don’t worry brother he is right now busy with that mission. He is certainly reading but unable to formulate a quick answer he badly lacks the basics, as a paid agent he definitely is here more than 2/3 of his time

  2. “[ሕወሓቶች]… እኛን እርስ በእርስ አባልተው ሊገነጠሉ ነው” – ጀዋር መሐመድ”

    …ሕወሃት አስቀድሞ በማስተር ፕላኑ ማስፋፊያ ስም የኦሮሞን መሬት ለመዝረፍ ያወጣውን እቅድ ተግባራዊ ለማድረግ ያወጣው አንዱን ከአንዱ ለማጋጨት ሆን ብሎ ያቀደበት የኦሮሞ ልዩ ጥቅም የተከበረ አስመስሎ ያጭበረበረበት እንጂ በአዋጁ የኦሮሞም ሆነ የአዲስ አበባ ሕዝብ ጥቅም አልተከበረም…አፋን ኦሮሞ በአዲስ አበባ ብቻ ሳይሆን በአገሪቱ ከአማርኛ ጋር የስራ ቋንቋ እንዳይሆን የሚቃወመው ሕወሓት ብቻ ነው ይሄ በአዲስ አበባ በኦሮሚያና የመማር በሕገ መንግስት ለዜጎች በአፍ መፍቻ ቋንቋቸው እንዲማሩ የተፈቀደ መብትን ልዩ አስመስሎ ማቅረብ ማጭበርበሪያ ነው…

    1. Unless Wedi Afom needs to learn how to implement constitutional rights, what’s it’s like to debate ideas, answer questions without jailing them, this is domestic issues only between brothers addressing article 49 of our beloved mama Ethiopia constitution, last time I checked Jawar, Eritreans aren’t part of this discussion. As for tegaru, we pledged allegiance 3000 years ago not to ever betray that land. He must have confused us with the cousins, it’s been proven when enemies came and proven during sad days and proven to be part of the lasting solution. Green yellow and red is what we drink and eat.

      1. Hummmm how about red with yellow star? Huh?….finfine huh? Interesting…dehan gize nikhulu keriena yu..fentahtah tiblu lekhum….amlakh dea nety hizby rieu selam yihabo…nisikhum emo hawy kitwiliewa ekhum.

      2. You tell Eriterians first. Why 15 million real Ethiopians starving???Hello Miss Sentiko/sheger addis/ Ethio/Balance/My thinking / dan / A Hero from Amhara (TPLF Agent !!! ) I don’t know what kind of nick name you’ll get tomorrow .Anyways!!! Why are you here???????????/ The funny thing you responding on your comment .Do you really think you going to hoax Eritreans, stupid dam!!! This is for you! “የብዙዎቹ ምናልባትም የሁሉም በሽታዎቻችን መሠረቱ ድህነትና ማጣት ናቸው፡፡ የገንዘብ ድህነትን በማግኘት ይላቀቁታል፤ የአስተሳሰብን ድህነት ግን በምን ይገላገሉታል? ችግር ነው፡፡ First of all don’t google to much get fact ok!!! Before answer this question go and feed those kids dam .,

      3. Are you Nut ,they are talking about Hwehat NOT about PIA.Balance did you have Ear infection and you can’t Balance .IQ61 please listen .It is your habit to not Understand ?Like Adhanom said Can you repeat the question I really don’t understand Your dr Adhanom.?????????/

  3. How poor malelit gangs are, they think giving carrots to Oromo and believe to calm down the inner mess they found in? In amharic they call enqu-qulesh..kullu denkoro mesiluwom.

  4. Tom is completly wrong. The question is not about who controls Addis or what the official language is. The question is: who controls ethiopia. Ethiopia is right now under complete control of tigrians. Amharas and oromos are not going to accept it any longer. They have been telling weyane to share Ethiopia equally without regard to ethnicity or religion. But weyane is too arrogant/ignorant and trys to fool ethiopian by giving empty promises . They are too arrogant that they think their minority people can rule over the 95 million non tigrian Ethiopians without any resistance; weyane is dead wrong. Ethiopians have been tolerating weyane until now for the simple reason that they were too tired of the Derg and hoping that weyane will come to its senses.

  5. We have been benefiting every economic opportunities after dismantling eritrea from ethiopia. Don,t forget ,during referendum we had presented two options for eritreans who had been living in ethiopia <>
    So that we could do our home work as soon as possible.after two decades ,tigray has been transformed in to northern star and over taking the timely frozen eritrea.
    I have never seen any person from tigray who was disappointed of the divorce except amhara and other ethincs.tigray would be extremely unchanged and poor if eritrea was remained part of ethiopia.we tigrians are proud of being part of ethiopia and we will live with brothers oromo ,amhara and other ethincs forever.we will never repeat a mistake again and our destination or fate will be towards the south only.

    1. Ewuyyyyy himam!!!!!! Atum sebat emer do tiuyat ekhum?
      “tigray would be extremely unchanged and poor if eritrea was remained part of ethiopia”

      Please wash yourself of this infiriorty complex….we are all poor and Tigrai is dirt poor. There is nothing in the “northern star” you coul pour money on it and nothing will change.

      But this simple fact for econonics reason that tigrai is geographically isolated from the rest of Ethio and close to Eritrea is lost in the dedebit grads such as you. Yiur future prosperity is dapendent on when you wash your backward self from any type of complex and make peace with us and come to terms that Ere is here to stay so work for peace….dumb malelit.

      1. Why bother explaining? The likes of Berahne, Abel, Ballance etc have contracted a disease called ‘inferiority complex’. Let them figure out the cure for them selves, they won’t learn if told!

    2. በደቡብ ጎንደር የተጀመረው ትጥቅ የማስፈታት ዘመቻ ከሸፈ

      (ኢሳት ዜና – ሰኔ 30 2009) – በደቡብ ጎንደር እብናት ወረዳ የህውሃት አጋዚ ጦር የገበሬውን ትጥቅ ለማስፈታት ያደረገው ሙከራ መክሸፉ ተነገረ ። በሰሜን ጎንደር የተጀመረው ገበሬውን ትጥቅ የመፍታት ዘመቻ ወደ ደቡብ ጎንደር ተሻግሯል ።

      የኢሳት መንጮች እንደገለጹት በደቡብ ጎንደር እብናት ወረዳ ባሉ ቀበሌዎች ትጥቅ ለማስፈታት የአጋዚ ጦር በከፈተው ተኩስ 3 ሰዎች ቆስለዋል ።

      በእብናት ወረዳ ሰፍሮ የነበረው የህውሃት አጋዚ ጦር በሚንጦች ፣ መልዛ ፣ ጨጨወ አቦ ፣ እና ወፍጮማ በተባሉ አካባቢዎች ዘምቶ በታጠቁ ገበሬዎች ጥቃት ደርሶበታል ተብሏል ። በዚሁ ጥቃት የተበሳጨው የህውሃት ጦር አዛውንቶችን ህጻናትንና ሴቶችን እየደበደበ ወደ እስር ቤት እያስገባቸው መሆኑን ምንጮቻችን ገልጸዋል ።

      በሰሜን ጎንደር የተጀመረውን የትጥቅ ትግል ማስቆም ያልቻለው የህውሃት ጦር ሶስት ስልቶችን በመከተል በህዝቡ ላይ ጫና እያደረገ መሆኑን መዘገባችን ይታወሳል ። የህውሃት አጋዚ ጦር በስሜን ደቡብ ጎንደር ህዝቡን ትጥቅ ለማስፈታት የሚጠቀምባቸው ሶስቱ ስልቶችና ዘዴዎች የሃይማኖት መሪዎች እንዲገዝቱ መላክ ፣ በገንዘብና በማባበያ መደለልና የሃይል እርምጃ መውሰድ የሚሉ ናቸው ።

      በአማራ ክልል ህዝቡን ትጥቅ ለማስፈታት የተጀመረው ዘመቻ ሊሳካ ያልቻለው የእካባቢው ህብረተሰብ ከሁሉም በፊት ጦር መሳሪያ የነጻነቱ ዋስትና አድርጎ ስለሚወስድ ነው ተብሏል ። በሰሜንና ደቡብ ጎንደር ያሉ የነጻነት ታጋዮች በጎበዝ አለቃ እየተመሩ አካባቢውን እስካሁን ተቆጣጥረውት ይገኛሉ ።

      የግንቦት ሰባት አርበኞች የተለያዩ ጥቃቶችን በመፈጸም አገዛዙን እያዳከሙ እንደሚገኙም በተደጋጋሚ መዘገባችን ይታወሳል ።

  6. A city with no owner– is it Addis Abeba or Finfine? In any event, the AU thinks that the city ain’t Oromo’s. How in the hell would AU wants to erect monuments for Haileselassie and Meles then? Why not an ‘Odaa’?.

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