Prophetic Discourses and Power Shift in Ethiopian History: A Critical Discourse Analysis

Prophetic Discourses and Power Shift in Ethiopian History: A Critical Discourse Analysis

Alelign Aschale Wudie (Addis Ababa Science and Technology University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/IJSS.2018070103
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The main intention in this article is to critically analyze the role of prophecy for power shift in Ethiopia in history. Data collected from archives, traveler accounts, and history documents were critically analyzed. Critical historical discourse analysis was used as a framework and methodology of analysis. Interpretation, symbolization and operationalization of dreams, prophecies, and “told spiritual accounts” by prominent mystics and interpreters had been the critical turning-points of Ethiopians in history. Their role was consequential and influential. Royal families used to “invent, disseminate and operationalize” dreams, prophecies, and superstitious practices. Consequently, their instinctive wish for abundant fulfillment and power grant had been gained by “revelations” and “connections” of each interpretation with supernatural powers. To scale up the benefit, ecclesiastical intervention had been badly sought out. The prophetic discourses and ideologies had been very instrumental in Ethiopian theopolitics, sociocultural practices, and power use.
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2. Background

In Ethiopia, key prophesies, dreams, and superstitions have been manufactured and interpretatively applied for countless functions. Each dream that was seen at night could have been interpreted and propagated in a next day or year to gain acceptance in the society. A prophetic text would be produced in convincing contenders, supporters and mediators. It was also intended to make people submit to countless dreams manufactured as a theological and sociopolitical propaganda. Divine power has been embedded into each dream, prophesy, or revelation. The people would also be agitated to reject or activate a huge revolt against a dominating prophesy. The prognostic discourses which were “made” and disseminated by faith-based institutions had been interpreted and operationalized for individual, group or institutional functions. Each credulous discourse has played vital roles in shaping the ideology and power of Ethiopian politics, sociocultural practices, religion, and history. Jesman (1963) once said:

Ethiopians are being seen fiercely independent and xenophobic, Christian and yet too Judaic, black and yet Semitic, with written culture and yet with no literature, deeply religious and yet superstition-ridden. (p. 10)

It is vital to underline that Ethiopians are deeply religious and yet superstition-ridden. This dichotomy of Ethiopian characters and actions triggered political actors, groups, institutions, relations and systems to indulge into using “prophetic” discourses and their connected interpretations as powerful tools. Utilization of prophetic discourses built political values, attitudes, and actions. To take or abide by political actions, prophetic discourse had been extensively utilized in Ethiopia through the millennia. It is also important to note here that prophesy in this article refers to both religious and traditional (cultural) channeling of “sacred” ideas in the world. It shall also be known that dream is intended to represent ideas revealed during night time or day time sleeps (at full or partial sleeps). Revelations are the channeled systems of thoughts and actions by hermits, nuns, monks, and sacred people that are deemed to happen at a certain point in time. Superstitious interpretations are the cultural interpretations of oracles and occult symbols.

Religious canons repetitively presented fundamental accounts of both positive and negative prophesies and experiences of each. In resume, there has been key prophesies about Ethiopia in the Holy Bible. These Christian prophesies have shaped the practices of “things” and the development of identities in Ethiopia. Many people acted for or against each prophesy. For example, in Muslim communities, Ethiopia is understood as “a secure haven” because of the frequent prophesies seen and told by chosen people (Hisham, 2000). Once Prophet Mohammed said to his beloved family (a Muslim prophesy), “Yonder lieth a country wherein no one is wronged: a land of righteousness” (quoted in Hisham & Isḥaq, 1967; Blyden, 1888; Perry, 2006). This has been one of the resonant texts that immensely contributed for peaceful coexistence between the Muslim and the Christian community in Ethiopia. These days, many Muslims see that Ethiopia is the prime among the holy places in the world.

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