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Rethinking Ethiopia's Choice of Working Language

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Afaan Oromoo is the third largest indigenous language in Africa and the leading mother tongue in Ethiopia. In spite of its significance as a language of wider communication, until very recently, it has been one of the suppressed languages in Ethiopia. The FDRE Constitution too has selected Amharic as the sole working language of the federal government of Ethiopia. This work substantiates that the choice of the working language of the federal government including Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa is no less than discriminatory in its consequences and hence flawed for it utterly neglected the other competing languages, such as Afaan Oromoo. The selection of Amharic as the exclusive working language in all federal jurisdictions has adversely affected access to employment opportunities, mass media sharing, choice of medium of instruction in schools, services in courts and hospitals and ultimately the survival of the Oromo national identity in those areas. Thus, this work examines the choice of the federal working language of Ethiopia and its implications for non-Amharic languages in general and Afaan Oromoo and its speakers in particular.


Author: Milkessa Midega