Cambridge Core – African History – A History of Modern Ethiopia, – by Bahru Zewde. A History of Modern Ethiopia – by BAHRU ZEWDE Oxford: James Currey; Athens, OH: Ohio University Press and Addis Ababa: Addis Ababa. Download Citation on ResearchGate | On Jan 31, , Ferede Wuhibegezer and others published Bahru Zewde (). A History of Modern Ethiopia.

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Bahru Zewde, “Pioneers of change in Ethiopia: The reformists intellectuals of the early twentieth century”. In this new work, Bahru Zewde gives the oof a deeper insight into the process of Ethiopia’s modernization than in his earlier book A History of Modern Ethiopia In effect, he has enriched his earlier work and taken it a notch higher.

The book focuses on sewde Ethiopians who, in one way or another, were exposed to the West in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A minuscule breed, they tried to gently steer their country into the mainstream of world history.

Hence their reformist stance, unlike their progeny of the late s and early 70s.

The latter’s ideological inspiration was Marxism-Leninism and their declarations and actions were determinedly revolutionary. The first chapter discusses the popular but complex term “modernization” and arrives at a working definition of it.

Further, the book’s subtitle regardless, the chapter has an interesting “Antecedents” sub-section on the predecessors of the reformist intellectuals of the early 20th century. They were modernizers in their own right and quite colorful characters.

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The author groups them according to how and where they got exposed to the modern world: The last three chapters briefly discuss the intellectuals’ careers and writings, and their social and political impact. Both through his academic formation preparation of an index of Berhanena Selam as an undergraduateand through his career directorship of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, generous academic visits and fellowships in foreign universities, chairmanship of the History Department of Addis Ababa Universitythe author has been well-positioned to pursue the topic in relative ease.


Berhanena Selam, the Amharic weekly of the s and 30s for which he prepared an index, served as an informal organ of the reformist intellectuals in question. As professor at Addis Ababa University’s History Department, his familiarity with the undergraduate theses of the History majors over the years enabled him to consult them ethio;ia.

A History of Modern Ethiopia, – · Ohio University Press / Swallow Press

His foreign visits not only helped him to. The result is a remarkable work of synthesis on a subject which had not been treated earlier in an integrated and holistic fashion. The book has many surprises. It is heartening to learn from the discussions in the book and from the bibliography that nodern of the major characters like Hakim Worqeneh, Bejirond Tekle Hawaryat, and Kantiba Gabru kept diaries or wrote their autobiographies, and that these or their copies are deposited at the Library of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies or some other local library.

Of the major intellectuals, the one who is least known and little remembered in Ethiopia but who figures prominently in this book is Melaku Bayen, the founder in the U. His spirited and effective agitation against the Fascist Occupation of Zedwe, especially among the Black American community, led him, at one point, to brand Marcus Garvey, zewdr “Black Moses” and romantic visionary as an instrument of “Fascist and Catholic propaganda”. The intellectuals discussed are many in number.


Yet, the book is not as large as its subject matter warrants. The author might presumably have trimmed the subject to meet a pre-conceived size.

If that indeed were the case, it is regrettable. On the one hand, bahgu reader’s interest is aroused by impressive narrative skill and substance. On the other hand, that curiosity is left only partially satiated. One hopes that either Bahru himself will come up hiatory an enlarged edition in the future, or that others will take it on where he left off. The relatively rare photos clustered together at the beginning of the book are excellent and show a discerning selection.

A history of modern Ethiopia, – Bahru Zewde – Google Books

The narration’s authencity is enhanced by the inclusion of some of the original Amharic passages, with translation, written by the intellectuals themselves. The use of archival sources, diplomatic reports, unpublished manuscripts, old newspaper issues, etc. All these have contributed to make Bahru’s work an extremely readable historical narrative. The book should, thus, be on the shelf of every Ethiopian with intellectual claims as it should find hisstory equally on the shelves of Ethiopianists anywhere.

The reformists intellectuals of the early twentieth century” [compte-rendu] Hailu Habtu. His foreign visits not only helped zedwe to 1 consult foreign archives, governmental as well as missionary, but even to visit the alma mater of some of the intellectuals disused as well as to use archival material on them.