Pioneers of Change in Ethiopia
Title Details

256 Pages

21.6 x 13.8 cm

20 b/w. Illustrations

Series: Eastern African Studies

Imprint: James Currey

Pioneers of Change in Ethiopia

The Reformist Intellectuals of the Early Twentieth Century

by Bahru Zewde

  • Description
  • Reviews
Bahru Zewde, one of the foremost historians of modern Ethiopia, has constructed a collective biography of a remarkable group of men and women in a formative period of their country's history.
Ethiopia's political independence, won in part by adaptation to modern forms of warfare at the end of the 19th century, allowed it to control, more than any other contemporary African state, its further economic and political engagement with the West, and to chart for itself its own patterns of modernization.
Under Menilek's direction and encouragement a steady stream of Ethiopians was sent around the world to study in many different countries. They returned with the skills of their new education in Europe and America, and at home they began to lay the foundations of a new literature and political philosophy. Intellectuals were not just the servants of the state under Menilekand his successors, but increasingly they were its critics. Their numbers were decimated by the Italian reprisals after the Graziani massacre in 1937; the surviving intellectuals formed the nucleus around which Emperor Hayla-Sallase rebuilt his administration after the Italian defeat in the Second World War.

North America: Ohio U Press; Ethiopia: Addis Ababa U Press (PB)
"Students of history will be aware of late nineteenth and early twentieth century reformist groups such as the Young Turks or Young Italy, youthful intellectuals in their respective societies, of strong nationalist inclination who recognized the need for change if their nations were to survive and thrive in the modern world...Less well known is the group of intellectuals known as the Young Ethiopians. Pioneers of Change in Ethiopia seeks to enlighten us on this important group of young men. ...Until now, information on this group has been scattered and rather sketchy...Bahru contributes organization, definition, and clarity to this data, and by doing so, brings new perspective to bear on the politics and policies of emperors Menilek II and Haile Sellassie I. Bahru is intrepid, to say the least, in his quest for documentation ...Bahru produces a masterful analysis. ...He is to be congratulated on a work well done, and one deserving wide readership. -" Charles W. McClellan, H-AFRICA
"This is one of the most important books on Ethiopian history to appear during the last couple of decades. ... This study is the first to attempt to convey the full sweep of early twentieth century intellectual history, and that in that role, it will no doubt become foundational for Ethiopian studies. But it could be argued that Bahru's work has, as well, a relevance far beyond. Scholars of Africa and of South Asia may not be able to understand colonialism fully without pondering the contradiction that Pioneers of Change describes.Sometimes, it is only an absence that illuminates certain aspects of a presence. -" Donald L. Donham, JOURNAL OF AFRICAN HISTORY
"Filling a void in the study of Africa in general and of Ethiopia in particular... -" T. Natsoulas, CHOICE
"Zewde does a remarkable job of analyzing the rich literary material produced by his subjects, some in the form of books and other creative works and others in the pages of the Berhanena Salam weekly. The portrait presented is that of a group of modernizing intellectuals who attempted, directly and indirectly, to prod the aristocracy to modernize Ethiopia. ... this splendid history is well worth attention of serious students of Ethiopian and African intellectual history. -" Edmond J Keller, AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW

Paperback

9780852554524

October 2002

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Title Details

256 Pages

2.16 x 1.38 cm

20 b/w. Illustrations

Series: Eastern African Studies

Imprint: James Currey