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The concept of nationalism was emerged in Europe when freedom from religious restrictions led to the enhancement of national identity in the mid-15th century and was intensified by the French Revolution of 1789 where the sovereignty passed from the hands of an absolute monarch to the French citizens and  strengthened by American Revolution of 1765-1783  where Americans revolted against British colonialism and claimed that all men are created equal, they have God-given rights, and all legitimate authority must come from consent. Nationalism-in-Ethiopia.jpg

The term nationalism presumes the very existence of “nation”. Black's Law Dictionary defines nation as “A people …. inhabiting a distinct portion of the earth, speaking the same language, using the same customs, possessing historic continuity, and distinguished from other like groups by their racial origin and characteristics, and generally, but not necessarily, living under the same government and sovereignty”.  Nation is the collection of individuals who have common bondage and nationalism is a sentiment or belief that produces loyalty and devotion to one’s nation. According to Merriam Webster online dictionary, nationalism is “a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups”.  Per this definition, nationalism is characterized by the promotion of the interest of specific group (nation, nationality, or people) as opposed to that of others. The objective of nationalism is developing and maintaining national identity based on the common characteristics such as language, culture, race, history, religion, political goal, territory, or belief in common ancestry and making the group which has the common characteristics free from unwanted interference.  According to Indian historian Dr. Hareet Kumar Meena “The term nationalism is essentially a sentiment of unity arising among a number of people usually of the same territory, sharing a common language, similar history and traditions, common interests with common political association and common ideals of political unity. The presence or absence of any one or more factors does not necessarily imply the presence or absence of a spirit of nationalism. What is important is the will of the people to live together free from all external control” (Meena: 2016). The key points here are “common characteristics”, “to live together” and “free from all external control”. For nationalism to exist, the existence of common characteristics is important. For example, the Black Nationalism in America has centered on race and color. In his famous speech “The Ballot or the Bullet”, Malcom X who was one of the leaders of Black Nationalism requested African Americans to leave their differences such as religion at home and unite around the political, economic, and social philosophy of Black Nationalism where black man and woman should control the politics and politicians in their own community (self- administration); to unite against the enemy who is common to all of them. He argued that blacks are attacked not because of being Christian or Muslim or nationalist, but because of being black. He further argued that African Americans suffered from the same political oppression, economic exploitation, and social degradation from the same enemy ( ) because of being black. The objective of Black Nationalism was to unite blacks around their color and race which are their common characteristics to struggle for their rights.  Other nationalisms may focus on other common characteristics such as language, culture, history or territory.  Eritrean nationalism for example united Eritreans based on common territory and common history; Oromo nationalism is based on common ancestry, common language, common culture, and common history. In countries like the United States of America where migration created diverse communities and no visible sense of homogeneity, the idea of citizenship is dominant than being a member in specific nation or nationality.

Types of Nationalism

Nationalism can be divided into various types based on different factors and considerations. In this article, we will see only limited types of nationalism. Based on its foundations, nationalism can be divided into three main types: — Ethnic nationalism is a sentiment or movement that creates a sense of belongingness, loyalty, and devotion based on ethnic group’s common culture, language, history, territory, or race.  It focuses on the preservation of the identity, solidarity, and tradition of the ethnic group and respect of the right of that ethnic group. Ethnic nationalism is mainly expressed on the basis of “given” factor such as common descent, or ken connection, or blood ties, or race and considered as having exclusive nature. It is also called biological or organic nationalism.

-This is a nationalism based on a sentiment of social and cultural ties rather than common descent. In this type of nationalism, outsiders or immigrants can join the social or cultural group by assimilating themselves into the culture, by complying with their living standard, and integrating into that society.

- This is a nationalism of state including all citizens of the state irrespective of their ethnicity and cultural identity. It is expressed in term of loyalty to the state or patriotism. It is usually taught at state level by government agencies. Official/state nationalism takes national sovereignty and territory/place of birth as an outstanding value. According to Dr. Assefa Tefera Dibaba, Medemer (unity in diversity or integration) which aims to reintegrate the culturally and socio-politically divided ethnicities and ethno-nations in Ethiopia is a “neo-official-nationalism”( Assefa Tefera Dibaba July 30, 2018). Some of nationalisms such as Oromo and Amhara nationalisms have the combined characteristics of ethnic nationalism and civic nationalism because they accept anyone who integrates himself or herself as part of that group. They are not pure biological or organic nationalisms.  For example, OLF used to have non-Oromo members and fighters who were integrated into Oromo national movement. Oromo’s inclusive cultures such as guddifacha, moggasa, harma hodha, and michu made Oromo nationalism to cross the boundary of ethnic nationalism and enter into civic/social nationalism. Therefore, Oromo nationalism can be categorized as civic/social nationalism.

Based on its objective, we can divide nationalism into two:

- Oppressor/ Expansionist nationalism is an aggressive form of nationalism that aims at extending its group hegemony to others and incorporating autonomous territories or recovering what it claims “formerly owned” territories by force. It forcefully imposes its cultures and values on peoples who live in the occupied/incorporated territories. It is also called chauvinistic nationalism because it seeks to disparage the other nations and nationalities whilst glorifying its own distinct nation. Oppressor/ expansionist/ chauvinistic nationalism was a problem in Ethiopia in the past and in the process of resurfacing once again.

- This is the nationalism of the oppressed group and its objective is to reject or challenge the oppression.  They oppose the domination by the more powerful ones who denied them their rights. According to Dr. Meena (2016), Indian nationalism arose basically to meet the challenge of British’s foreign domination.  He argues that the British rule facilitated the growth of national sentiment among the Indian people. Dr. Asafa Jalata argues that Oromo nationalism is the nationalism of the oppressed emerged in response to Amhara nationalism that aimed at expanding to others’ territories, controlling and dominating other ethnic groups. Oromo nationalism is aimed at defending the Oromo nation from external oppression and preserve Oromo identity, culture, language, history, and values ( ).
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