THE HERITAGE OF WOLLO
By “Wollo,” we mean the Ethiopian province with the administrative boundaries as they had existed for two generations in 1942-1991:
Wollo then comprised 12 Awraja (some with provincial status in 1935 lost out—Wag, Lasta, Yeju, and Sayint).
After 1991, four districts (Alamata, Raya and Azebo, Wefla, and Ende Mehari) were forcibly annexed into Tigray Regional State, and smaller districts were ceded to Afar Regional State.
Wollo is one of the most culturally and physically panoramic regions of Ethiopia. Wollo’s historical pedigree, which reflects the contests among its major population groups, remains remarkably vivid today:
· On the seedbed of the Agew, Wollo has successfully assimilated the Amhara, the Oromo, the Tigre, the Argobba, and the Afar to produce the iconic Ethiopian we call Wolloye characterized by:
· plow culture in the highlands and pastoralism in the lowlands,
· refined cuisine,
· classical music (Anchihoye, Ambassel, Bati, and Tizita),
· iconic Orthodox Christian and Sufi Muslim praise chants, and
· world-class Geez-Amharic literature still define modern Ethiopian high culture.
We affirm our pride in Wollo and its enviable legacies:
The inheritor of the Axumite State, the Zagwe Dynasty of the Agew of Wollo preserved the best of the Axumite legacies, and bequeathed us a UNESCO-designated World Heritage site in Lalibela.
Wollo is also home to the successor neo-Solomonic dynasty which made Haiq Estifanos (as well as Roha-Lalibela and Amba Gishen) the epicenter for the diffusion of Orthodox Christianity to Gojam, Shewa and Enarya.
Following a vigorous Islamization in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Wollo (especially Worre-Himeno and Argobba) also became a premier center of Islamic learning in the country.
The People of Wollo
National census data consistently show that Wollo today is:
· about half Christian and half Muslim.
· By mother tongue, over 98% of the population speaks Amharic.
· When asked to self-identify in cultural and psycho-social terms, well over 95% of the population called itself Amhara.
Among the 8 million Wolloye today (9 million if we count those residing outside Wollo itself):
o inter-faith solidarity is exemplary;
o pride in and identification with Wollo is strong; and
o Ethiopian national identity is unassailable.
We, Ethiopians hailing from the historic region of Wollo, hereby establish a global civic organization for the common cause of:
· promoting the culture and history of Wollo,
· fighting poverty, illiteracy, and social inequality, and
· advocating for the rule of law as well as respect for human and civil rights.
The Society’s mission embraces four core values, principles, and identities:
Provincial: to promote the deeply distinctive historical, cultural and regional identity of Wolloyennet and the unity and self-government of its people at home and abroad. This mandate includes support for the cultural, educational, health, and economic development of the Wollo region.
Post-Ethnic: to promote the shared cultural and historical identity and to defend the collective interests, among both Christians and Muslims, of Amharannet without any prejudice to anyone else.
National: to promote pride the national identity of Ethiopiawinnet and to defend the indivisible unity of the Ethiopian people and the territorial integrity of Ethiopia. We reject any “political identity” based on primordial cultural identity such as ethnicity or religion as inherently divisive.
Global: to embrace responsible citizenship by upholding and advancing the internationally-recognized human, civil, and political rights of all Ethiopians and all humanity.
Neither democracy nor development will take root in Ethiopia without an active and responsible engagement of its citizens.