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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Lists Of Acronmys
Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Background of the Study
1.2 Statement of the Problem
1.3 Objectives of the Study
1.3.1 General Objective
1.3.2 Specific Objective
1.4 Research Questions
1.5 Significance of the Study
1.6 Scope of the Study
1.7 Limitations of the study
1.8 Organization of the Study
Chapter 2: Review Of Related Literature
2.1 Overview of the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation
2.1.1 Ethiopian Radio
2.1.2 Ethiopian Television
2.2 Brief Political History of the Ethiopian Nations, Nationalities and Peoples
2.3 The Relationship between Media and Meaning Making
2.4 Theoretical framework
2.4.1 Discourse Theory
2.4.2 Framing Theory
2.5 Political Economy of Media
Chapter 3: Research Methodology
3.1 Research Method
3.2 Data Source
3.3 Research Population and Sample Size
3.4 Sampling Techniques
3.5 Data Collection Tools
3.5.1 Textual Data
3.5.2 In-Depth Interview
3.6 Coding the Data
3.7 Data Collection Processes
3.8 Data Analysis Procedures
Chapter 4: Data Presentation, Analysis, And Discussion Of The Findings
4.1 Data Presentation and Analysis
4.1.1 Framing Analysis
4.2 Discussion of the Findings
Chapter 5: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The principal aim of this study was analyzing the discursive construction of nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration by the Ethiopian broadcasting corporation (EBC). Discourse theory, framing theory, and political economy of mass media were used as theoretical frame works to make sense of the research questions
The study employed critical discourse analysis with framing as a strategy to analyze the three documentary texts of the Ethiopian broadcasting corporation (EBC). The findings showed that EBC employed attribution of responsibility frame to discursively construct nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration. In this regard, EBC discursively constructed nations, nationalities and peoples’ day as a forum of displaying their cultures and mobilizing them for development. EBC portrayed the past Ethiopian regimes as abusers of human and democratic rights of nations, nationalities and peoples. In contrast, the current regime was portrayed as democratic that ensured equality of religions, equality of languages and equality of all kinds of identities of the Ethiopian peoples. The study also revealed that some important narratives about nations, nationalities and peoples were marginalized in EBC’s commemorative discourse. The findings of the study concluded that EBC’s portray of the past regimes and the current system is a misrepresentation
I wish to acknowledge those who have supported me throughout my study. First and foremost, I would like to express my gratitude to my thesis advisor, Dr. Abdissa Zerai, for his kindness, guidance, and encouragement. He has always respected my ideas and my work. I will be forever thankful for the wisdom and time he gave me to help me reach my goals
I also would like to thank my parents, siblings and other family members for their moral and financial support. They have always been an unconditional source of love and support throughout my life. I am thus so grateful to all of them. Finally, I am thankful to workers of the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation for their time and willingness to give interviews for this study
Lists Of Acronmys
illustration not visible in this excerpt
Chapter 1: Introduction
This chapter introduces the topic, establishes the background, and states problem of the study in detail. It also presents the objective, research questions, significance, scope and organization of the study.
1.1 Background of the Study
Ethiopia started commemorating nations, nationalities, and peoples’ day in 2006 to celebrate the day on which the current constitution of the federal democratic republic of Ethiopia was adopted. The country celebrated the 1st, 3rd, and 5th nations, nationalities and peoples’ day in 2006, 2008, and 2010 respectively in the capital Addis Ababa. Similarly, the country celebrated the 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th nations, nationalities and peoples’ day in 2007 (Hawassa), 2009 (Diredawa), 2011 (Mekele), 2012 (Bahirdar), and 2013 (Jigjiga) in that order.
With regards to the commemorative practice of nations, nationalities, and peoples’ day, there are two extreme positions in Ethiopia’s political discourse. One is the government position and the other is that of the opposition parties. According to the government position, the day has been serving as a forum to promote the cultures of nations, nationalities and peoples, to create trust among them and to share indigenous knowledge and experience (Hibre Biher annual magazine, publication of 2006, p. 5). Former Ethiopian president Girma Wolde-Giorgis is one of the government officials who share this position, as evidenced in the following excerpt:
I believe that nations, nationalities and peoples’ day will consolidate the unity of this country, because it has the capacity of introducing our people to one another. This will intern enrich exchanges of views among them. The event will have also paramount significance to all ethnic groups to realize that they are people who have been committed to live together and form economically and politically united coherent society. Above all, the day will bring different nations, nationalities and peoples together and help them to exchange experiences. Thus, it will strengthen the basis of unity, and enhance cooperation among nations, nationalities and peoples in the effort of ensuring development, and fighting poverty. Finally, it will create trust among different ethnic and helps them to respect one another in their struggle to develop their respective states.
Former speaker of the house of federation ambassador Degife Bula is the other high ranking government official who shares this argument. According to him, the nations, nationalities and peoples’ day has significant role in strengthening the culture of tolerance among different ethnic groups, (Hibre Biher annual magazine, publication of 2006, p. 6).
The day has huge significance for all nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia. It will enable all ethnic groups to realize that their unity within diversity has been maintained. The current Ethiopian constitution has created favorable socio-economic and political environment for nations, nationalities and peoples of this country. So, we are celebrating the day to strengthen our unity more than any time before and to join our hands for better development. Finally, nations, nationalities, and peoples’ day is a crucial day in which we reaffirm our commitments to build strong country where different ethnic groups and religions live together in peace, love and unity by strengthening the federal system
In contrast, some opposition parties argue that the nations, nationalities and peoples’ day has been serving the government as an instrument of achieving its political goals rather than being public forum for serious and sober reflections upon the hitherto experiences with regards to achieving the aspirations of nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia. Behailu Shemekite is a member of coalition for unity and democracy party. Regarding, nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration, he said the following in a televised election debate of 2015 in EBC’s studio:
Nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia have been gathering annually to show only their cultural dances. They were not discussing major problems they have been facing in their localities. They were not also discussing about their lives and aspirations for better tomorrow. So, nations, nationalities and peoples’ day is nothing more than the presentation of dance performances.
Despite these two extreme positions, Ethiopia has continued celebrating nations, nationalities and peoples’ day on a yearly basis. But, we have not yet identified whether the two positions were equally addressed in the EBC’s commemorative discourse. So, this study will analyze three EBC documentary texts that were produced in connection with nations, nationalities and peoples’ day in this regard.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Media play a crucial role in constructing reality. Hall (1982) illustrates the process of constructing reality with the observation that the reality as presented in the media is no longer a combination of given facts, but rather a result of the construction of them in a specific way. That is, the media do not simply represent reality, but play an active part in defining reality and conferring meaning upon it. As such, reality is something that is understood, rather than exists objectively, and it is the media that are indispensible in filtering this reality to us.
Framing is one of the technique in which media discursively construct reality. Using this technique, they influence our concepts of reality. Supporting this argument McQuail (1994, p. 331) stated that media influence individual’s concept of reality in a predictable and patterned way. That is through its techniques of selection (who/what to show), emphasis (how much to show), and exclusion (what not to show) (Billings, 2004). Through selection and emphasis, media directs the attention of audience to particular aspects of a reality (Entman, 1993). But through exclusion, the media limit the alternative knowledge that the public is exposed to (Entman, 1993).
Now, it is clear that media have the power to construct reality and influence our decision through framing techniques. Thus, it is important to examine the practice of the Ethiopian broadcasting corporation in constructing reality about nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration. To do so, we have to ask questions like who have the access to media and use it to achieve its socio-economic and political goals. EBC has been controlled and run by the Ethiopian government (Abel Kinfe, 2001). Since, it has been controlled and run by the government; it wouldn’t be difficult to hypothesize whose interests this media has been serving. Chomsky and Herman (1988, P.61), noted that “in countries where the levers of power are in the hands of a government bureaucracy, the monopolistic control over the media makes it clear that the media serve the ends of dominant elite”. So this study will see how media ownership of
So, researcher of this study wants to examine how the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation has been discursively constructing nations, nationalities and peoples’ day using framing over the past years. To do so, I will be asking questions like; did EBC frame the day in particular way to influence the interpretation of its audience? Did EBC emphasize the repressions and atrocities committed by the past regimes against nations, nationalities and peoples in its commemorative discourse? Did EBC present only the government position which says the day has been serving as a forum to promote the culture of nations, nationalities and peoples, strengthen their unity, and trust among them? Did EBC ignore the position of opposition parties and other critics that say nations, nationalities and peoples’ day has been serving the government as a tool to achieve its political goals?
As far as the knowledge of the researcher is concerned, there are no local research works on the discursive construction of nations, nationalities and peoples’ day. So, it is both a challenge and blessing for me to conduct research on this topic. It is a challenge because, the researcher have no much references to enrich the topic, and it is blessing because I am contributing something new for the first time which is what every researcher aspire to do. Thus, this study will contribute a new knowledge rather than filling the existing research gap.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
1.3.1 General Objective
The study aims at analyzing the discursive construction of nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration in Ethiopia.
1.3.2 Specific Objective
The specific objectives of the study are to:
1. Find out how the nations, nationalities, and peoples’ day commemorative occasion was framed by EBC.
2. Analyze how each nation, nationality, and people was interpelatted in the new political dispensation.
3. Examine what narratives about the nations, nationalities and peoples in the new dispensation were marginalized
1.4 Research Questions
In line with the above mentioned objectives, this study addresses the following research questions:
1. How did EBC frame the nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemorative occasion?
2. How did EBC’s commemorative discourse interpellate nations, nationalities and peoples in the new political dispensation?
3. What narratives about the nations, nationalities and peoples in the new dispensation were marginalized in the EBC’s commemorative discourse?
To answer these research questions, the researcher has examined three EBC documentary texts that were produced in connection with nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration. These documentary texts were produced in 2009, 2011, 2013 with the title “Jewels of Ethiopia”, “Book of the covenant” and “Progress in development” respectively.
1.5 Significance of the Study
To the knowledge of the researcher, there are no researches that have been conducted in the area of media and nations, nationalities and peoples’ day. This study examines how the Ethiopian broadcasting corporation framed nations, nationalities’ and peoples day. As such, the study will be of significance for Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation as it will show the margin in which issues of nations, nationalities and peoples are framed. The research mainly aspires to assist EBC to improve its framing of nations, nationalities and peoples since it will address the strong sides, and indicate their limitations.
Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation will benefit most since the research will provide the organization with adequate information on how to promote the culture and other identities of Ethiopian nations, nationalities and peoples. It will also serve as a springboard for those who might be interested in undertaking research in a similar context.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The Ethiopian broadcasting corporation has a documentary sub-department that produces different documentaries on various issues. In connection with the celebration of nations, nationalities and peoples’ day, it has produced eight documentaries over the past eight years. However, this study considered only three of them. How and why they were selected will be explained in chapter three of this study. But for clarity the three documentary texts were explained here.
The first documentary text considered by this study was produced in 2009 and its duration is 38’31’’. The title of this documentary text was ‘Ye Ethiopia fertoch’ literally meaning ‘Jewels of Ethiopia’. It was produced to portray that Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-color nation. The second documentary text considered by this study was produced in 2011. The total length of this documentary text is 40 minutes and 12 seconds. The story mainly focused on how Ethiopian federalism came into being, its current status and the way forward. The title of this documentary text was “Yekalkidan Metsihaf” literally meaning “Book of the covenant” in Amharic. And the third documentary text targeted by this study was produced in 2013. Duration of this text is 51’24’’ and the story was about the overall development progress in Ethiopian Somali region as a result of durable peace achieved in the past few years. The title of this documentary text was ‘Esbedal’ literally meaning ‘change or progress in Somali language. Thus, the scope of this study is limited to the analysis of these three documentary texts.
1.7 Limitations of the study
This study focused only on how the Ethiopian broadcasting corporation discursively constructed nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration over the past years. Even though the researcher has tried to make the sample representative, the findings of the study might not still represent how the Ethiopian media discursively constructed nations, nationalities and peoples’ day. More insight could be gained by including more samples from private owned news papers and radio stations in the future. The findings of this study are more applicable to the Ethiopian broadcasting corporations (EBC).
In addition, this study focused only on analyzing the oral text (Narration of the reporter and sound bites of the interviews). That means, visual contents were not part of the study. Thus future studies should focus on image as object of analysis to enrich the findings of this study.
What is more, this study depended only on textual data and in-depth interview text. It did not included exclusive interview of representatives of nations, nationalities and peoples. It would have enriched the argument of this study.
Despite such shortcomings, this study brings to light several important points in connection with nations, nationalities and people’s day commemoration in Ethiopia.
1.8 Organization of the Study
This paper was presented in five chapters. The first chapter starts with the background of the study, and statement of the problem. The objectives, research questions, significance, scope, and limitations of the study were also discussed in this chapter.
The second chapter discusses literature and relevant theories with the core concept of diversity management, framing, and media discourse. In view of this, the issues of Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation, and how it frames commemorative occasion of nations, nationalities, and peoples’ day is at the center of discussion.
The third chapter deals with methodological issues. It attempts to justify why critical discourse analysis and some strategies of qualitative framing analysis were selected as a research methods. This chapter also presented explanation of why textual data and in-depth interview were opted as a data collection tools by describing their relevance to the core research questions of this study.
Chapter four is reserved for presentation, analysis, and discussion of the collected data through a critical discourse analysis of texts and in-depth interview. Then, theoretical arguments from chapter two were analyzed along with the major findings of this study. The thesis ends with drawing conclusions in chapter five.
Chapter 2: Review Of Related Literature
This chapter provides extensive review of literatures and researches related to the topic under investigation. It begins with overview of the Ethiopian broadcasting corporation. Brief political history of Ethiopian nations, nationalities and peoples was also highlighted. Finally, Discourse theory, framing theory and political economy of mass media which serve as theoretical framework of the study were discussed in detail.
2.1 Overview of the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation
The Ethiopian broadcasting corporation is a national broadcaster. It is accountable to the House of Peoples Representatives. The highest decision making body of the corporation is the board, which comprises political parties, religious organizations and other sectors of the society.
The Ethiopian broadcasting corporation (EBC) was established under a proclamation number 858/2014. Before having this corporate establishment, EBC was known as the Ethiopian radio and television agency (ERTA). Some of the factors that necessitate the transformation of ERTA to EBC were the growing technology and the need to generate its own revenue among others.
The Ethiopian radio and television agency (ERTA) itself had that structure after merging the former Ethiopian radio and Ethiopian television in 1995. Before their merging, both Ethiopian radio and Ethiopian television were two different media institutions with separate management, human-power, and material resources. The time and political context in which they were founded was also different having their own nature and characteristics.
To fully understand the current Ethiopian broadcasting corporation, it is worthy to have a look at how, when, and in what context the past Ethiopian radio, and Ethiopian television were founded and have been functioning ever since.
2.1.1 Ethiopian Radio
The cornerstone to establish Ethiopian Radio was laid down by emperor Hailesellase in 1931 and started broadcasting in 1935 from Addis Ababa. At that time, its coverage was limited to the capital due to financial, technological and skill problems in the country. The Italians who invaded Ethiopia for the second time in 1935 took control of the station to transmit its propaganda (Mekuria, 2005, P.10).
After the withdrawal of Italian troops in 1941, the Ethiopian government took control of the radio and used it to disseminate news, government statements, declarations and music (Basic Information’s of Ethiopian Radio and television Agency, 2000, P.4).
To inform local and international community who had been living in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian radio began broadcasting news and programs in different languages including Arabic, English, and Somali, in addition to Amharic in 1942.
In 1963, the station began external service to inform Ethiopian Diaspora living abroad and foreigners who wanted to know about the socio-economic and political advancement in Ethiopia. According to unpublished document of EBC (1993), for example, Ethiopian Radio for the first time had started broadcasting news in English to West Africa, Europe, in French to the Middle East, East and North Africa, and in Arabic to the Middle East audiences.
Following the installation of powerful transmitter in 1964, Ethiopian radio undertook huge expansion which enabled it to cover most parts of the country and start quality external service. As a result of this expansion, the name of the station which formerly was known as “Addis Ababa Radio” was changed to Ethiopian radio in 1966. Two years later in 1968, Ethiopian radio was merged with Ethiopian television to form Ethiopian radio and television agency.
The Derg regime which came to power in 1974 once again changed the name of the station from Ethiopian radio to “the voice of revolutionary Ethiopia”. The change was made to fit the revolutionary wave that swept the country at that time (Mekuria 2005, P. 10). When EPRDF came to power in 1991, the name Ethiopian Radio was restored.
During the reign of the Derg , the coverage of Ethiopian radio had reached around 40% and served as one of the most influential sources of information in major towns and rural villages of the country under the direction and guidance of the then Ministry of Information. Today this radio station broadcasts in Amharic, Afan Oromo, Tigrigna, Afar, Somali, Arabic, English and French.
2.1.2 Ethiopian Television
Ethiopian television is the other influential electronic media in the history of the country’s broadcast journalism. It was introduced to Ethiopia in 1963, when the then organization of African unity (OAU) was founded in Addis Ababa by African leaders.
The idea of starting television service came into being when the 33rd anniversary of the coronation of Emperor Haile Sellassie took place in 1963 (Basic Information of Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency, 2000, P.19). A year later, on November 2, 1964, the Ethiopian Television officially started operation by a technical support of British media firm named Thomson Television International Limited.
ETV started its service in two languages, namely Amharic and English. After EPRDF came to power in 1991, it added Afan Oromo to serve people living in Oromia regional state in a language they can easily understand (Leykun, 1997).
Right after the beginning of the new Ethiopian millennium in 2007, ETV has once again added Somali, Afar, French and Arabic languages to reach different local and international audiences. Using these local and international languages, ETV has been covering various issues in the areas of socio-economic and political sectors.
Today, one can access EBC news and programs on its website, live streaming, and satellite broadcasts. Shouldering a motto heralding the Ethiopian renaissance, EBC has been playing a notable role in reaching many local and international audiences who are living in and outside Ethiopia. In 1995, the two separate news media merged and formed the Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency. The goal was to commonly use the Agency’s human and material resources. In June 2014, ERTA once again reformed as EBC with the aim of generating its own revenue and adjusting itself with the growing technology.
This study does not analyze how the Ethiopian radio (one wing of EBC) has discursively constructed nations, nationalities, and people’s day. Rather, it critically analyzes how the Ethiopian television (the other wing of EBC) has been discursively constructing the day on a yearly basis. As part of this effort, the researcher will analyze what content was emphasized and marginalized in the EBC’s documentary texts and what interpretation this media content was seeking to promote through the coverage of nations, nationalities, and peoples’ day.
Who owns and controls the Ethiopian broadcasting corporation is the other important issue that has to be discussed, because it has significant impact on how journalists frame nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration. Thus, the following section attempt to address the issue.
EBC has been owned and controlled by the government (Abel Kinfe, 2001). This fact has been influencing journalists which story to cover and leave out, which part of the story to emphasis and de-emphasis. For instance, during the reign of emperor Haileselassie, both Ethiopian radio and Ethiopian television had been glorifying the king and the nature of his power by blood relation, while the Derg emphasized socialist ideology. In the current regime, EBC has been mainly focusing on news and programs that promote government policies and strategies on development.
The major advancement in media ownership and control came into being after the current constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia was ratified. Both Article 19 of the 1995 Ethiopian Constitution, and the 1999 Broadcasting Proclamation allowed private ownership of media in the country. However, unlike in the print media, progress towards private-sector involvement in the broadcast sector has been insignificant. More specifically, the television sector has remained in the hands of the government both in terms of operations and content regulations. The Ethiopian television is controlled by the federal government while the regional television stations are controlled by regional governments.
Regarding the radio sector, there are some progresses. One can witness few radio stations owned by private and mostly operating in the capital Addis Ababa. But still, government owned Ethiopian radio is a dominant radio player in the country. Unlike privately owned commercial radios, the “state” owned media has a responsibility to cover different ideas and opinions in a balanced manner. This responsibility was highlighted in article 29(5) of the current Ethiopian constitution. Here the question is as a “state” owned media, has EBC included all narratives about the nations, nationalities, and peoples in its commemorative discourse? Does the ownership of EBC influence its journalists to structure their story in certain ways? How does EBC create meaning in its commemoration discourse?
2.2 Brief Political History of the Ethiopian Nations, Nationalities and Peoples
Ethiopia is one of the largest countries in Africa, occupying an area of approximately 1, 098,000 square kilometers. Its population is 88 million according to the CIA’s 2010 world fact book. In its recent history, Ethiopia has had successive highly centralized governmental systems, under both the reign of emperor Haileselassie (1930-1974) and the military dictatorship (1974-1991). The two regimes had yielded a legacy of armed conflict, civil strife, recurrent famine and abject poverty at their time (a publication of forum of federations, December, 2010, P.18).
As a result of the triumph of national liberation movements, spearheaded by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the military dictatorship was overthrown in 1991. And the collapse of the Derg regime paved the way for a major political and constitutional transformation in the country: the devolution of political power among Ethiopia’s ethno-linguistic communities.
When the Derg military regime collapsed in 1991, there was concern that Ethiopia may disintegrate like the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. In fact, it was a legitimate concern, because what was happening in Ethiopia had many similarities with what was happening in the former Yugoslavia and the former Soviet Union. Asked about this matter in 2010, the late Prime Minster Melese Zenawi said that the possibility of disintegration of the Ethiopian entity was more than a theoretical possibility. He further explained that in Eritrea, there was a very strong desire on the part of the people of Eritrea to establish their own independent state, and many feared that this would have a knock on effect on the rest of the country.
But all these fears had proven otherwise. The country moved from a command economy into a market economy and from a one-party system to a multi-party democratic system. According to the official proponents, the primary reason why Ethiopia did not disintegrate like the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia was that the country was able to design a system that could accommodate diversity (ethnic, religious, gender, and others). That system is the federal democratic system.
On the other hand, opponents of the new system have argued that the federal democratic system has significantly emphasized the ethnic composition of the federation and has jeopardized national unity and on the sense of Ethiopian identity.
The fear of disintegration was not without merit. More than 17 armed groups were demanding the right to self determination and secession before 1991 (Assefa Fiseha, 2007). The late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who was one of the few master minds in the process of designing the federal system, repeatedly said that they have addressed and accommodated those long standing questions adequately in the new Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is home to more than 80 nations, nationalities, and peoples with different cultures, languages and religion. Except in few urban areas, such as the capital Addis Ababa, most of Ethiopia’s ethnic communities are concentrated in distinct geographic areas. So, there is a large element of continuity between ethnic groups and regional geographic divisions. According to the proponents of the new system, ethnic based federalism would enable the people to be on top of their own local affairs, to manage their resources, to use their own language, develop their own culture, and to participate in the common federal political activities on an equal basis. It goes beyond that and allows every ethnic group in Ethiopia the right of secession.
Expressing the concept of new Ethiopia and Ethiopian identity, the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said “the new Ethiopia is based on the freely expressed will of its peoples to live and work together. The new Ethiopia is an expression of the mosaic of cultures, languages, and religions-it’s a composite. And we are now creating, revitalizing the Ethiopian identity on a new basis, on a more diversified, on a more equitable basis for all of the component parts of the Ethiopian identity” (a publication of forum of federations, December, 2010, P.21).
Generally speaking, new government, new system, and new Ethiopia that recognizes equality of nations, nationalities, and peoples of the country came into being after the fall of the derg regime. They were being able to promote their language and culture.
2.3 The Relationship between Media and Meaning Making
Any media across the world has been engaged in the business of producing meaning through discourse. In the process of meaning-making, they select certain aspects of an event over others and make some aspects of a perceived reality more salient than others. In other words, media do not present reality as it is for their audiences. Rather they construct certain reality. Stuart Hall (1982) noted that reality is not simply what we watch on TV or listen to it on radio; it is the result of a particular way of constructing reality. This shows that two media organizations could construct two different realities from the same event. Citing Hall Abdissa explained that media construct reality the way they want to win credibility and legitimacy. He added that the process of constructing reality in this way involves marginalizing, down-grading or de-legitimating alternative constructions.
On the other hand, there have often been debates over the relationship between media and audience as to which of the two plays a greater role in the meaning-making. Advocates of reception theories believe that although media owners have the power to craft media texts with certain messages, it is ultimately the audience who determines what a text means or how it is relevant to their own lives. On the other hand, Grossberg (2006, p 47) claims that “making is the primary activity of media: making money, making meaning, making reality…” Other communication scholars such as Gerbner (2009, p 235) also suggested that media controls our lives. According to them, none of our modern theories weave in the idea of media creating identities and realities for the mass audiences, which would mean that the media makers play a greater role in meaning-making than the audience does.
This study is not concerned about the role of the audience in the process of meaning-making. Its concern is analyzing how the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation constructs reality for its audience by controlling the narratives about nations, nationalities, and peoples’ day commemoration through its framing strategy.
2.4 Theoretical framework
The most relevant theoretical frameworks that help to make sense of the research questions of this study are discourse theory, framing theory and the political economy of the mass media. Accordingly, this subsection starts with discourse theory and is followed by framing theory, and the concept of political economy of the mass media.
2.4.1 Discourse Theory
The theoretical starting point of discourse theory is the proposition that all social phenomena and objects obtain their meaning(s) through discourse (Lacla, E and Moffe, C. (1985, P. 254). So, the overall idea of this theory is that social phenomena are never finished or total. Meaning can never be ultimately fixed and this opens up the way for constant social struggles about definitions of society and identity, with resulting social effects.
Many communication scholars have tried to define discourse over the past many years. Yet, no single definition has risen to the top and become the standard. In 1990, Van Dijk defined discourse as ‘text in context ‘(P.164). Almost twenty years later in 2009, Van Dijk states the following:
In my view, it hardly makes sense to define fundamental notions such as ‘discourse’, ‘language’, ‘cognition’, ‘interaction’, ‘power’ or ‘society’. To understand these notions, we need whole theories or disciplines of the objects or phenomena we are dealing with. Thus discourse is a multidimensional social phenomenon. It is at the same time a linguistic (verbal, grammatical) object (meaningful sequences or words or sentences), an action (such as an assertion or a threat), a form of social interaction (like a conversation), a social practice (such as a lecture), a mental representation (a meaning, a mental model, an opinion, knowledge), an interactional or communicative event or activity (like a parliamentary debate), a cultural product (like a telenovela), or even an economic commodity that is being sold and bought (like a novel). (2009: 67)
Although discourse includes all the dimensions he mentioned in this definition, some of them are more relevant for this study. For instance, an action, a form of social interaction and practice, a mental representation, and an interactional or communicative event are few to mention.
Discourse has been used differently within broad fields of humanities and social science disciplines including applied linguistics. In linguistics, it refers to spoken or written ‘text’, but with emphasis on interaction, that is, on the situational and contextual relationship between sender and recipient, on the purpose or function of the text, as well as on the processes pertaining to the production and interpretation of this text (Fairclough, 2007: P. 3). Within sociology, discourse refers to culturally determined structures of knowledge and social practice which are manifested in language use, and which ‘construct’ and ‘position’ social identities in power relationships within the social world (Fairclough, 2007: 3).
This definition is rooted in semiotics, where cultural phenomena (such as language and language use) are studied as signifiers and signifieds – or as signs and representations (Zardar/Van Loon, 2007: 10). Language thus consists of signs and codes that are given meaning and significance through representation – what they refer to, their ‘mental associations’ (Zardar/Van Loon, 2007: pp. 10-13).
Similarly, Laclau and Mouffe (1985, p.105) described the concept of discourse as a structured entity formed as the result of articulation which in turn is viewed as “any practice establishing a relation among elements, such that their identity is modified as a result of the articulatory practice”.
As the above definition indicates, the articulation of discursive elements plays a vital role in the construction of the identity of objects, individual or collective agents. According to Sayyid and Zac (1998, P. 263), identity in turn is defined in two related ways. First, identity is defined as “the unity of any object or subject”. This definition links up with Fuss’ (1989) definition of identity as “the ‘whatness’ of a given entity”. A second component of the definition of identity arises when social agents can be identified and / or identify themselves within a certain discourse.
On the other hand, cultural theorist Stuart Hall(2000, p.19) defined "identities as points of temporary attachment to the subject positions which discursive practices construct for us. Thus, identity emerges as individuals take up - or resist - the subject positions which are made available in the discourses surrounding them in the course of their social life.
In this study, discourse theory is used to understand how nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration was discursively constructed to create certain meaning.
2.4.2 Framing Theory
22.214.171.124 Concepts and Definitions of Framing
The major premise of framing theory is that media tell people both what is important in the world around them and how to think about the events and people who inhabit that world (Brown, 2002). This theory suggests that the way media present certain information enormously influences media consumers. People’s interpretation of these messages depends highly on how the information is presented to them by the media (Tewksbury & Scheufele, 2009). To refine the framing concept, a number of definitions have been proposed by scholars of different disciplines like Gamson and Modigliani (1989), Pan and Kosicki (1993), Iyengar (1990), Edelman (1993), Entman (1993); (2003), Cappella and Jamieson (1997), Reese (2003), Tankard (2003), Semetko & Valkenburg (2000), Gitlin (1980), Goffman (1974), De Vreese (2005), Hallahan ( 1999) and McCombs (2004).
For instance, Gaye Tuchman (1978, p.193), defined framing as the process of “organizing everyday reality”. In this definition, the phrase “organizing reality” indicates how the act of making news is the act of constructing reality rather than a picture of reality. According to Tuchman (1978), the reality of an event depends on the extent of the event that has been seen and understood by journalists. So, journalists construct reality for the audience by the amount of exposure given to a story, where it is placed, the positive or negative tone it conveys, and its accompanying headlines, photographs, or other visual and auditory effects.
Gamson and Modigliani (1989, p. 11), James Tankard (2003), and Tankard, Hendrickson, Silberman, Bliss and Ghanem (1991) defined framing as a “central organizing idea” which provides meaning, supplies a context and suggests what the issue is through the use of selection, emphasis, exclusion, and elaboration. Scholars like Hertog and McLeod (1995) also share the idea. Erving Goffman (1974) and Reese (2003) view frames as organizing principles that are socially shared and persistent over time, that work symbolically to meaningfully structure the social world.
Similarly, Gitlin (1980, p. 7) views frames as “persistent patterns of cognition, interpretation, and presentation, of selection, emphasis, and exclusion, by which symbol-handlers routinely organize discourse...” His definition lays the emphasis on the routine organization that transcends any given story and is “persistent” over time (resistant to change). In dealing with information, frames enable journalists to “recognize it as information, to assign it to cognitive categories...” (Gittlin, 1980, p. 21).
For Pan and Kosicki (1993), framing is an effort of classifying, organizing and interpreting a social life experiences, and placing information into a unique context. Other scholars who defined framing from audience point of view noted that framing refers to the process through which people develop a certain conceptualization about an idea or they reorient their thinking as it pertains to an issue (Chong & Drockman, 2007).
There are still other scholars who focus to the aspect of selection and salience of particular information, at the same time ignoring other crucial information (Knight, 1999); (Chyi & McCombs, 2004) (Watson and Hill, 2000), (Diana (2005) (Cappella and Jamieson 1997), (Iyengar 1990), and (Mc Combs 2004). According to these scholars, media emphasize some ideological perspectives over others and manipulate salience by directing people’s attention to some ideas while ignoring others. In other words, journalists using framing technique draw a viewer's attention to specific parts of news story by de-emphasizing other parts, and leaving out some aspects completely. So, any issue which is not on news media is out of frame. Although many different definitions of framing have been proposed over the past many years, Entman (1993, p.52) provides one that is more widely accepted. According to him “To frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communicating context, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation for the item described”. For Entman (1993, p.53) frames are information processing schemata that operates by selecting and highlighting some feature of reality while omitting others. Throughout this study, framing is defined as a way of selecting some aspects of perceived reality and making them more salient in a communication text to provide useful meaning.
126.96.36.199 Process of Framing
According to Entman (1993), the process of framing essentially involves two aspects, selection and salience. Selecting information that calls attention to particular aspects of a reality logically implies that attention will be directed away from other aspects (Entman, 1993).
After selection, the next critical aspect of the framing process that Entman (1993, p. 53) described was salience, which he defined as making a piece of information "more noticeable, meaningful, or memorable to audiences". He noted that, by highlighting certain aspects of information, they are elevated in salience.
Reese (2001) stated that the process of framing becomes active when journalists choose which elements to include or exclude in their stories. Media agents become selective not only about the stories they cover but how they cover them and present the final message to the audience (Baylor, 1996).
Entman (1993) described the communicator, the text, the receiver, and the culture as components integral to a process of framing that consists of distinct stages: frame-building, frame-setting, and individual and societal level consequences of framing (d’Angelo, 2002; Scheufele, 2000; de Vreese, 2002). As cited by Scheufele ( 2000) frame-building refers to the factors that influence the structural qualities of frames. Factors internal to journalism determine how journalists and news organizations frame issues (Shoemaker & Reese, 1996). Equally important, however, are factors external to journalism. The frame-building process takes place in a continuous interaction between journalists and elites (Gans, 1979; Tuchman, 1978) and social movements (e.g., Cooper, 2002; Snow & Benford, 1992). The outcomes of the frame building process are the frames manifest in the text.
Frame building process leads to another process called frame setting, which now considers media frame as inputs or independent variables (Scheufele, 1999). According to this scholar, frame-setting refers to the interaction between media frames and individuals’ prior knowledge and predispositions. Frames in the news may affect learning, interpretation, and evaluation of issues and events.
188.8.131.52 Types of Media Frames
Identifying different types of media frames is helpful to understand when and why different frames are at work. Having this in mind, De Vreese (1999, 2001) typified media frames into two major parts, generic, and issue specific. Issue-specific frames are those that are “pertinent only to specific topics or events” while generic frames are those that “transcend thematic limitations and can be identified in relation to different topics, some even over time and in different cultural contexts” (Entman, matthes, and pellicano (2009, p.54).
Other scholars identified five generic frames which were most often used on news media. These include conflict, human interest, economic consequences, morality, responsibility, and political consequences (Valkenburg & Semetko, 1999) as well as human impact, powerlessness, and moral values (Gamson, 1992; Graber, 1988; McManus, 1994; Newman et al., 1992). Still other scholars like Gerhards and Rucht (1992) suggested three types of generic frames: diagnostic (identifies a problem and attributes blame), prognostic (suggests what needs to be done), and motivational (calls for action).
In terms of research, a study on issue specific frames examines events or issues across different media and news outlets (Newman, Just, & Cringler, 1992; Semetko & Valkenburg, 2000). Good examples of this type of frames include coverage of two international airline accidents (Entman, 1991) and specific electoral processes (Mendelsohn, 1993; Neijens, 1999). Issue specific frames are detailed and difficult to generalize (De Vreese, 2003).
In contrast, research on generic frames examines campaign news (Cappella & Jamieson, 1996, 1997), crisis (Iyengar, 1991), and framing in different news outlets (Newman et al., 1992). Compared to issue specific frames, generic frames are easier to generalize and compare (De Vreese, 2003). Generic frame also presents collective or general evidence about issues. While generic frames allow standardized and consistent categorizations that different studies can use, several scholars have criticized this type of frame. Carragee and Roefs (2004, p.217) said that studies that reduce frames to story topics, attributes, or issue positions “divorce media frames from the context in which they are produced”.
Pan and kosicki (2001) criticized the frames used by Iyengar (1991) as less substantive because they do not fully represent a frame while Reese (2001) said that a frame is just more than a stance or dominant themes. De Vreese (2005) on his part noted that studying issue-specific media frames allows analysis which is more detailed for more certain topics. The author listed several studies that employed issue-specific frames, such as the framing of women’s movement by Terkilidsen and Schnell (1997), labor disputes by Simon and Xenos (2000), public perceptions of US national budget deficits by Jasperson and colleagues (2002).
According to Matthes (2009) and Borah (2011) framing studies mostly use issue-specific frames. This is because scholars find generic frames as irrelevant and issue-specific frames as having more practical values (Matthes, 2009, P.360). However, issue-specific frames are beleaguered with concern of generalization and comparability since they could not be reliably used in other studies. Borah (2011) recommended that future studies using issue-specific frames should aid in the theoretical and methodological development of framing research as well as bridge the gap between issue-specific and generic frames. Matthes (2009) also called for a less descriptive strategy in examining media frames by incorporating hypothesis testing methods in firming up framing’s theoretical development.
184.108.40.206 Methods of Identifying Media Frames
Though various types of media frames are identified, it has been difficult to find clear cut guidelines as to how to identify the indicators of those frames. Framing exists through observation to certain subtopics ranging from size, space for story items, narrative presentation or intonation and depth of media coverage (Miller, 2000). According to Entman (1993, p.52), the presence of frames can be manifested in “key words, stock phrases, stereotyped images, sources of information and sentences that provide thematically reinforcing clusters of facts or judgments”.
Similarly, Gamson and Lasch (1983), and Vang Gorp (2005, p. 486) outlined frame indicators as metaphors, catchphrases, selection of sources, graphics, depictions and visual images, exemplars, lexical choices, stereotypes, and dramatic characters”.
Media frames can be found in four areas of the communication process (Entman, 1993). First, frames can be found with information communicators who are influenced by their own frames and schemas when deciding what information to publish and highlight.
Secondly, frames can be found in the presence or absence of certain attributes within the actual text. The simple placement or repetition of certain frames in a text is enough to increase the likelihood that an individual will store it to memory.
The third location in the communication process where frames can be found is with the receiver. Frames can affect the thoughts and insights generated by the public by determining what information they are exposed to and confirming or disconfirming previously stored beliefs.
Lastly, today’s culture is overwhelmed with frames commonly shared and accepted by the social majority (Entman, 1993). Many of these frames have been spread throughout society due to the consistent exposure and omission of information in the media. One reason media frames have become so common within social culture is because they can be found in all levels of the communication process.
Political frames can easily be identified in stories where the protagonist is a controversial personality (Birkland & Lawrence, 2009). Controversies always cause a wide variety of reactions from the public. Some people approve of and others condemn the individuals involved.
220.127.116.11 The Role of Journalists in Media Framing
Space and time is one of the biggest resources for any media organization in the world. They always face the shortage of space and time. Therefore, decisions must be made by media professionals as to what information to include and leave out.
Journalists also use framing as a way to reduce the complexity of the story. In other word, they use media frames as guidelines in helping them select what information to spotlight and what to ignore. Journalists do not necessarily utilize media frames to purposely misrepresent or manipulate the public, but instead to concisely and effectively report a story using a limited amount of space (Nelson et al., 1997).
Members of the media use familiar frames to help the public make sense of the information they are being given (Bronstein, 2005). Frames allow the media to report a story that requires little or no effort by the public to comprehend because the consumers automatically recognize the commonly used frames, which prevents journalists from having to explain new or unfamiliar information. In the process of selecting newsworthy stories, there is decision making bias among journalists. Such bias is sometimes attributed to the motivations and mindsets of journalists themselves who allegedly produce the biased content.
The media’s decision biases operate within the minds of individual journalists and within the processes of journalistic institutions, embodied in (generally unstated) rules and norms that guide their processing of information and influence the framing of media texts.
According to Robert Entman (2003), journalists do go through some strategic thinking in deciding how to frame their stories. He said, they seek to produce “good stories” that protect and advance their careers and that accord with their self-images as independent watchdogs who must provide a degree of balance to stories.
To do so, journalists use words and images highly salient in their story to make it noticeable, understandable, memorable, and emotionally powerful. Therefore, through repetition and reinforcing associations with each other, the words and images that comprise the frame render one basic interpretation more readily discernable and memorable than others (Entman, 1991). As a result, it will evoke desirable thoughts and feelings in large proportions of the audience (Entman, 2003). Ilija Tomanic Trivundza (2004) also notes that journalists often resort to frames in order to set particular events within their broader context through their stories and pictures, as a visual proof of events.
18.104.22.168 Factors Affecting Media Framing
According to Scheufele (1999), five major factors potentially affect how journalists frame a given issue/event. These factors include social norms and values, organizational pressures and constraints, pressures of interest groups, journalistic routines, and ideological or political orientations of journalists.
Frames are most often set by a combination of factors, though research has focused on factors involving organizational and individual pressures (Barrett & Barrington, 2005; Gans, 1979; Hoffman & Wallach, 2007; Scheufele, 1999).
Gans (1979) referred to organizational routines and organizational pressures as primary influences, which impact the selection of frames as a result of aspects such as the political orientation of a news outlet. When content is subjected to organizational routines, it is often an accentuation of the characteristics of an initial selection bias ( McQuail, 2005).
Similarly, McLeod, and Kosicki (2004, p 125) indicated that framing of social and political issues/events can be affected by journalists’ individual values, ideological constraints, and market forces. According to these scholars, when journalists highly depend on politicians, interest groups and other experts for quotes and analysis, news media is doing nothing more than serving as a pipe for individuals and interest groups who are eager to promote their perspectives (Nelson, 2004 P. 125). Furthermore, the type and political orientation of the medium can also influence framing.
22.214.171.124 Effects of Media Framing
Fuyuan Shen (2004) noted that media frames have significant influences on how audiences perceive and understand issues and can change public opinions on ambivalent and controversial issues. In doing so, the news media can increase the relevance and newsworthiness of issues or events to the audiences.
Chong & Druckman (2007) indicated that framing effect occurs when changes in selection, organization or presentation produce a change in opinion. Strengthening this idea, Entman (1993), Reber & Berger (2005), and Scheufele (2004) noted that it is how information is framed that can affect how citizens define problems, diagnose causes, make moral judgments and suggest remedies.
Understanding the power of framing in influencing public opinion, the media uses framing for a variety of reasons including commercial and political interest, knowing that the audience is often unaware of the frames contained in media messages. Supporting this claim, Entman (2007) suggests that framing plays an important role in the application of political power, especially if the audience is offered multiple frames. A particular political issue that is presented in multiple ways has a higher probability of influencing people on how they think about that issue (Terkildsen & Schell, 1997).
Especially, if individuals perceive that at least one of the portrayals presented is aligned with their own personal point of view, they will pay more attention to the message and as a result, they will be more influenced by it. To do so, news media increase salience in its story and it will influence the audiences’ personal opinions regarding a given issue by making it more likely. At the end the audience will process and store it to memory for long (Scheufele, 2000; Entman, 1993).
Given that frames bring to light portions of reality while burying others, public opinion frequently associates political framing with negative connotations. One of the biggest causes for this hostility is because framing theory implies that “distribution of public preferences are arbitrary, and that political elites can manipulate popular preferences to serve their own interests” (Chong & Druckman, 2007, p. 120).
Similarly, Brewer & Gross (2005) noted that frames provided by the news media can serve as a mental tool to help focus an individual’s disparate thoughts and attitudes into a coherent opinion, but they can also narrow the way an individual considers an issue, thus eliminating or making less likely certain opinions
In contrast, Gamson (1992, p. 4) suggests that when engaging in political talk, “People are not so passive, they negotiate with media messages in complicated ways that vary from issue to issue”. He notes that mass media is a very important tool in framing an issue, but not the only tool, as some communication scholars might like to believe. To him, there are other kinds of knowledge, including experiential knowledge and popular wisdom, which people integrate with media discourse to form a “frame” of understanding about an issue.
Similarly, Zaller (1994) suggests that for most people, opinions do not truly exist; instead, individuals have a range of ambivalence on an issue. Thus, while an individual is not likely to swing from one extreme of opinion to the other, some variation in opinion will occur within this range of ambivalence. Therefore, rather than consistent attitudes, opinions are more accurately described as an amalgamation of ‘considerations’ that are uppermost in the mind at the time the opinion is given. The balance of considerations, and thus reported opinion on a given issue, can be affected by frames used in describing a policy issue (Nelson & Kinder, 1996).
The implication of the arguments above is that the way Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) frame nations, nationalities and people’s day commemoration have significant impact on its audience’s belief and attitudes.
2.5 Political Economy of Media
Carragee & Roefs ( 2004, p. 219) noted that studies in media frames have neglected the broader relationship between media frames and the political economy of the media. They claim that many studies neglect “the degree to which journalistic discourse is shaped by external sources, including elites, advocates and movements”.
Framing research tells which issue has been given importance over others but it fails to tell why some aspects of a text are more salient while others are ignored. Even though journalists might be unintentional or deliberate when framing, different researches have explained the ideological bias of media institutions (Herman & Chomsky, 1989; Gans, 1979; Street, 2001). Therefore it is worth looking at the political economy of media.
The term ‘political economy’ in media research has a broadly ‘critical’ signification, often associated with macro-question of media ownership and control, interlocking directorships and other factors that bring together media industries with other media and with other industries, and with political, economic and social elites. It commonly looks at processes of consolidation, diversification, commercialization, internationalization, the working of the profit motive in the hunt for audience and/or for advertising, and its consequences for media practices and media content.
Mosco (1995) offers both a narrow and a more ambitious definition of political economy. In its narrow sense, ‘political economy is the study of the social relations, particularly power relations that mutually constitute the production, distribution, and consumption of resources, including communication resources’. But in its ambitious form it is ‘the study of control and survival in social life’.
The theory of political economy in mass media argues that "the structure of the industry influences content"(Andrejevic M, 2007). The presumption of the theory is that media content is influenced by a combination of media owners (individuals or corporations), advertisers, competitors/other media, government regulations and viewers or readers. In the case of media ownership, "Private individuals decide what information should be provided to the public based on what earns them the most money"(Andrejevic M, 2007).
Though, the importance of media and media systems has grown over the past two centuries, how political economy of media proceeds is somewhat more complicated. It is a field that endeavors to connect how media and communication systems and content are shaped by ownership, market structures, commercial support, technologies, labor practices, and government policies. The political economy of media then links the media and communications systems to how both economic and political systems work, and social power is exercised, in society. McChesney (1999) argues the central question for media political economists is whether the media system serves to promote or undermine democratic institutions and practices. Ultimately, the political economy of media is a critical exercise, committed to enhancing democracy. It has emerged and blossomed during periods of relatively intense popular political activism, initially in the 1930s and 1940s, and then decisively in the 1960s and 1970s.
The political economy of media is often associated with the political Left, because of its critical stance toward the market, and because some of its most prominent figures were and are socialists. Changing the media system goes part and parcel with changing the broader economic system to produce a more humane and equitable society. According to McChesney (1999), media do not explain everything, but understanding media is indispensable to grasping the way power works in contemporary societies.
Government is one factor that influence or shape how events are portrayed in the media by constraining media content production and distribution. McChesney (1999) noted that the state role is larger than ever. He explains that important decisions about digital communication and internet are being decided by the government and those decisions will affect which company will succeed in the internet sphere and which will not. Since political economy of mass media has huge impact on the text production, this study will analyze how the Ethiopian broadcasting corporation has been framing nations, nationalities and peoples’ day the way it has been framing.
In this chapter, I have presented three theories in detail. But discourse and framing theories are the main theoretical frame work for this study.
Chapter 3: Research Methodology
This chapter deals with the methodological issues considered in this study. It begins with research method. In the research method sub-topic, attention is given to defining critical discourse analysis and explaining why it is appropriate method for this study. The chapter also deals with data sources, research population and sample size, sampling techniques, data collection tools, coding of the data, data collection process, and data analysis procedures in that order.
3.1 Research Method
This study has adopted critical discourse analysis as a method to analyze the discursive construction of nations, nationalities and peoples ‘day commemoration in Ethiopia. The reason why critical discourse analysis is selected as a method is that it offers not only the description and interpretation of discourses in social context, but also an explanation of why and how discourses work (Rogers 2004, P. 2).
According to Rogers (2004, pp. 3-8), critical discourse analysis takes the view that texts need to be considered not only in terms of what they include but also what they omit, alternative ways of constructing and defining the world. Hence, the critical discourse analyst’s job is not to simply read political and social ideologies onto a text but to consider the myriad ways in which a text could have been written and what these alternatives imply for ways of representing the world, understanding the world and the social actions that are determined by these ways of thinking and being (Rogers 2004, pp. 3-8). Similarly, critical discourse analysts want to make “the reciprocal relationship between discursive action and political and institutional practices (ibid: P. 9)” transparent by using a methodologically pluralistic approach (historical, socio-political and linguistic perspectives). This is based on the concept of context that allows to go beyond mere analysis of written text and to also take in consideration of different sets of data from discursive practices like posters and brochures, psychological factors and motives of speakers and their environment.
Critical discourse analysis emphasizes that the scholarly enterprise is part and parcel of social and political life, and therefore the theories, methods, issues and data selection in discourse studies are mostly political (Japanese discourse Volume .I, 1995, pp. 17-27). It primarily studies the way social power abuse, dominance, and inequality are enacted, reproduced, and resisted by text and talk in the social and political context. So, the major goals of CDA are to “critically analyze those who are in power, those who are responsible, and those who have the means and the opportunity” to deal with social problems (Japanese discourse Volume .I, 1995, pp. 17-27).
Within the broader framework of critical discourse analysis, the study employed framing analysis as a strategy to analyze how the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation has been framing nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration. According to Matthes (2009, p. 230), media framing can be studied using qualitative method to look at smaller samples in greater depth in an attempt to determine framing and their meaning for society. Stephen Reese (2001) on his part noted that a qualitative analysis looking for the most dominant frame in a story is an important method for studying frames. To complete qualitative study, a researcher should have frame(s) he/she is looking for before beginning, but must be open to new frames being discovered as the texts are analyzed (Hertog, J.K. and McLeod, D.M., 2001). Accordingly, this study used one predominant frame known as the ‘Us’ and “Them” frame. The researcher has been open to new emerging frames such as conflicts, human interest, economic, and attribution of responsibility in the process of analyzing the text.
3.2 Data Source
As it is indicated above, the main source of data for the study was the three documentary texts produced by EBC in 2009, 2013 and 2013. In order to strengthen the information gathered from the textual data, interviews with selected journalists of Ethiopian broadcasting corporation were conducted.
3.3 Research Population and Sample Size
Samples are very important in research because it is not feasible for a researcher to study the whole population. Supporting this idea Kothari (2004) argued that “it is not possible to examine every item in the population, and rather it is possible to obtain sufficient and accurate result by studying only part of the population”. Thus, it is necessary to study small number of items from the total population to undertake successful research in a very easy way.
Over the past eight years, the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation has produced eight documentary texts in connection with the nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration. As it could be too bulky to analyze all these documentary texts in one year, the researcher analyzed only three documentary texts. This is because; the considered documentary texts are too much relevant to the subject under investigation. For instance, the first documentary text focuses on how nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia have been developing their languages, promoting their cultures, and preserving their history and religions. The second documentary text deals with how different nations, nationalities and peoples of this country have been benefiting from the current constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. And the third documentary text talks about the overall development progress in Ethiopian Somali state using the right to self-determination. These are the factors that pushed me to select samples.
Moreover, in the documentary sub-department of the Ethiopian broadcasting corporation, there are 11 producers. But the researcher decided to take 3 editors, and 3 producers who have produced documentary programs on nations, nationalities, and peoples’ day commemoration as a sample. The researcher selected these samples because they have better knowledge on the subject under investigation. This is because; they have been involved in the production of the three documentary texts as a producer and editor. The researcher believed that this sample size is representative of the total population.
3.4 Sampling Techniques
To select the required sample, this study employed purposive sampling technique, because it was believed to enable the researcher to examine most relevant sources of data. Describing the importance of using purposive sampling technique, Creswell (2009) noted that purposive sampling allows the researcher to purposefully select research participants or textual data that will best help to understand the problem and the research question. Similarly, Morse (1994) wrote that purposive sampling helps to find research participants, who have accumulated knowledge and experience on the subject under investigation, who are capable of giving sound reflection, are articulate, have time to be interviewed and are willing to take part in the research.
In this regard, purposive sampling technique was used to select the three documentary texts, because they are most relevant to the research questions and objectives of this study. In other words, the three documentary texts are the perfect data sources to answer how EBC framed nations, nationalities and people’s day, how each nation, nationality and people was invited to the new political dispensation, and what narratives about them were marginalized in EBC’s commemorative discourse. The three documentary texts were exceptionally structured in certain way to influence the decision of audiences compared with the other five. The researcher has also used purposive sampling technique to select 3 program editors and 3 journalists who have produced documentary texts over the past eight years. The reason why they were selected was that they have enormous knowledge on the subject under investigation, because they have been involved in the production of the three EBC documentary texts. These three editors and three producers were contacted for interview after their names were identified in the credit caption of the documentary programs.
3.5 Data Collection Tools
As it has been indicated earlier, the researcher used textual data and in-depth interview to gather necessary information for the realization of this study. The reason and relevance of the two data collection tools for this study are explained as follows:
3.5.1 Textual Data
With the aim of obtaining necessary information for this study, the researcher has collected three documentary texts on nations, nationalities, and peoples’ day commemoration from EBC’s audiovisual library. The documentary texts were produced in 2009, 2011, and 2013. Their titles are Ye Ethiopia Fertoch (Jewels of Ethiopia), Ye kalkidan Metsihef (Book of the covenant), and Sibadal (change in Somali language) respectively. Duration of the three documentary texts was about 130 minutes in total, and all of the documentaries were produced in Amharic, the official working language of the federal government.
Being at EBC’s main office, the researcher has previewed the three documentary texts. After a careful preview, the documentary texts were analyzed based on Fairclough´s three-dimensional model of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to achieve necessary information for the research. The reason why Fairclough’s model was selected is that it provides multiple points of analytic entry.
The Fairclough’s model for CDA comprises three inter-related dimensions of discourse. The first dimension represents the discourse fragment (object of analysis including verbal, visual or verbal and visual texts) (Janks 1997, P. 26). The second dimension can be described as the aspect of context, or even the place where struggles over power relations in discourse happen. And finally, the third dimension of discourse could be described as ´power behind discourse` or as social practices, because it is containing “the socio-historical conditions that govern these processes of production and reception” (Janks 1997, P. 26).
According to Fairclough, each of these dimensions requires a different kind of analysis: for the first dimension text analysis (description), for the second dimension processing analysis (interpretation), and for the third dimension social analysis (explanation). All dimensions are interdependent and therefore it does not matter with which kind of analysis one begins. They are mutually explanatory. In their interconnections, the analyst finds interesting patterns and disjunctions that need to be described, interpreted and explained. Fairclough’s dimension of discourse and discourse analysis is shown in the following figure.
illustration not visible in this excerpt
(Janks 1991, p .27)
3.5.2 In-Depth Interview
In addition to textual data, the researcher has used in-depth interview to collect important data for this study. It is believed that this technique helps to increase the information and broaden a point of view.
Explaining the strength of in-depth interview, Newcomb (1991, p. 93) noted that, “The primary strength of in-depth interview is its capacity of generating multiple perspectives on a given topic.” Similarly Berger (1998) noted that by using in-depth interview, “you often obtain unexpected information that other forms of research method might not discover.” In this regard, in-depth interview was held with EBC journalists working in documentary sub-department.
3.6 Coding the Data
Coding is the process of organizing and sorting the raw data. Codes serve as a way to label, compile and organize the data. They also allow the researcher to summarize and synthesize what is happening in the data. In linking data collection and interpreting the data, coding becomes the basis for developing the analysis.
As I have already mentioned, this study was intended to analyze the discursive construction of nations, nationalities and people’s day by EBC. To do so, three EBC documentary texts were taken as a sample. Six EBC journalists were also considered to strengthen this textual data. The entire raw data of this study (documentary texts and in-depth interview texts) were organized and coded under different themes such as blaming the past, inhumanity of the enemies, oppressive constitutions of the past vs. the democratic constitution of today, policy vacuum of the past vs. sound policy of today, the dawn of equality, unity within diversity, and the bestowing of self determination. The coding sheet has two parts. The first part describes each documentary text in brief. And the second one deals with how each documentary text portrayed the current and the past Ethiopian regimes in relation to nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration.
Table 1: Coding sheet
illustration not visible in this excerpt
3.7 Data Collection Processes
The researcher of this study went to the audio-visual library of Ethiopian broadcasting corporation to make sure that the documentary texts which were desired to be analyzed exist. At that time, the researcher came to understand that some of the documentary program files were either displaced or deleted. Thus, the researcher took the latest documentary texts produced by EBC in connection with the commemoration of the Ethiopian nations, nationalities, and peoples’ day as a sample.
With regards to the in-depth interview held with the producers and editors of the three documentary texts, the researcher has briefed them the purpose of the study before the interview. This was to avoid any possible mistrust between the researcher and the interviewees on the outcome of the study. The other reason of briefing the journalists was to inspire them to think critically and respond to the questions accordingly.
3.8 Data Analysis Procedures
As already mentioned, Norman Fairclough has designed a three dimensional framework for critical discourse analysis consisting of text analysis, processing analysis, and social analysis. Text analysis is the first step in the three-way-method. Fairclough (1995, P. 38), believes that texts should be analyzed at different levels. These levels pertain to analysis of vocabulary, grammar, semantics, etc., but more importantly is that they “must not be considered to be profound and of direct significance in themselves; rather it is the function that such elements serve in the moment of their use that is of interest. But the focus of this study is not on the linguistic analysis part.
Processing analysis is the second step in the three-way method. This step is where the situational context of producers and the production is carefully sketched out as part of interpretation process. Who are the producers, what are their objectives, and what is the context of the production are relevant questions to ask at this step of data analysis.
Social analysis is the final step in the three-way method. Fairclough (1995) noted that social analysis of particular event can be done at different levels. For example, the analysis may involve its immediate situational context, the wider context of institutional practices the event is embedded within and the culture. In short, social analysis seeks to answer questions like: with what kind(s) of discourse(s) or social practices is the object of investigation interrelated?
Norman Fairclough acknowledges that all the components of the model should not necessarily be used in every research project, as the nature of the research questions and the scope of the research vary from one research project to another. According to him, one might focus on one, or two aspects of the framework based on the nature of particular research work. Using flexibility of the model as an opportunity, researcher of this study decided to focus only on the text and social analyses aspects. In other words, I will not be dealing with the processing analysis (the production and consumption of media texts) as it is beyond the scope of the study.
In the process of data analysis, the researcher has described the three EBC documentary texts on nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration one after the other. The in-depth interview texts of the three producers and three editors were also described along with the textual data. In addition to describing texts, the researcher has thoroughly analyzed the relationship between discourses and object of analysis. For that reason, the researcher focused on identifying the kind of discourses or social practices the objects of investigation were interrelated.
To fully address the research questions of this study, the researcher has imported the concept of frame analysis as an analytical strategy from Robert Entman (1991, 1993, and 2007). This strategy will be instrumental to analyze how the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation has been framing nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration. The researcher focused on framing devices such as word choices, metaphors, descriptions, and arguments to identify dominant frame that the three EBC documentary texts discursively constructed. And dominant frame identified in this way was presented and analyzed with the support of quotes taken from scholars in the field journalism and communications.
Guided by framing and discourse theories, the researcher has also analyzed what narratives about nations, nationalities and peoples in the new political dispensation were marginalized in the EBC’s commemorative discourse. After data presentation and analysis, the findings were discussed with the results of the in-depth interview to strengthen results achieved by critical discourse analysis and framing as a strategy.
Chapter 4: Data Presentation, Analysis, And Discussion Of The Findings
This chapter deals with the presentation, analysis and discussion of the collected data through critical discourse analysis and framing as a strategy. It begins with data presentation and analysis, and followed by discussion of major findings.
4.1 Data Presentation and Analysis
As already mentioned, this study targeted three EBC documentary texts on nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration, and six journalists who were involved in the production of the texts as producers and editors. The documentaries were produced in Amharic language for the deeply heterogeneous societies in terms of culture, language, religion and other identities. They were aired in the December month of 2009, 2011, and 2013.
The first documentary text was produced to show the diversities of Ethiopia. Its story starts with short montage comprising sound bites of four individuals from different ethnic and professional backgrounds. Mahlet G/giorgis was ethnic Tigray musician, but seen performing ethnic Kunama song in the text. The model was ethnic Agnuak, and the 3rd interview highlighted in the montage of that text was ethnic Mezengir, both from Gambela regional state. The forth individual was Andreas Eshete, political elite and former president of the Addis Ababa University. The sound bites used in this montage was very memorable and has the power to catch the wavering attention of viewers. It was written in green, yellow and red colors accompanied with background music which celebrates the beauty of Ethiopian nations, nationalities, and peoples. The current map of Ethiopian was displayed while background music and title of the program goes on for about 20 seconds. Inside that map representative of different nations, nationalities, and peoples were displayed. But all of them were female models wearing traditional clothes of different ethnic groups.
The second documentary text begins by describing how countries around the world have been created over the past many years. It gave Switzerland and Yugoslavia as the two extreme countries in terms of their experiences in federalism. Switzerland is exemplified as strong and successful country in exercising and implementing federalism. According to this text, the Swiss people live together in a dispersed way under Alps Mountain. This geographical location strengthened their psychological proximity. They Speak French, German, and Italian languages, however, they didn’t aspire to join countries like German, France, and Italy, which have relatively high number of population. The Swiss wanted to remain the way they are, they didn’t want to be French, they didn’t want to be German, and they didn’t want to be Italian. The culture and language differences among them have never stopped them to create a strong country, because they have developed genuine and viable system of federalism in their country (EBC documentary text). In contrast, former Yugoslavia was symbolized as an unsuccessful country in exercising and implementing federalism as a system of governance. Their system of federalism failed because they didn’t manage to create the sense of belongingness among people of the then Yugoslavia and such feeling has become the main reason for the country to disintegrate eventually.
This documentary text also narrates that Ethiopia welcomed system of federalism after the end of cold war and the disintegration of former Yugoslavian federation. As it was stated, Ethiopia was at cross roads, either to disintegrate like former Yugoslavia or to sustain its unity like Switzerland by rectifying its past mistakes. But to sustain its unity like Switzerland, Ethiopia had to search for the lowest common denominator for all nations, nationalities and peoples. Eventually, the country was lucky to come up with the federal system, constitutional system, and democratic system, and called itself the federal democratic republic of Ethiopia (EBC text). These three words: the federal, democratic and republic were purposely given as a name hoping that Ethiopia will be federal and democratic country. The text argues that federalism is the only system of governance that can solve the longstanding questions of Ethiopian nations, nationalities and peoples. It is really impossible for the country to reclaim feudalism or unitary system of governance. The basis of this argument was that federalism offers the right of self determination to nations, nationalities and peoples, one of the fundamental questions not addressed in the past regimes. Indeed, this system of governance has satisfied the interests of all political parties who have been operating in the name of nations, nationalities and peoples (EBC text). The other reason why Ethiopia deeply needs federalisms is that this system is guided by principles of the constitution (EBC text).
The third documentary text pays particular attention to the development progress in Ethiopian Somali state. Most of the shooting including interviews with Somali people, regional government officials and location shooting were taken in the region. Some federal government officials were interviewed in Addis Ababa. Though the documentary focused on Ethiopian Somali regional state, it represents the bigger picture of Ethiopia.
The story begins by describing the cultural and historical ties between camel and Ethiopian Somali people. According to the text, the Somalis are famous for herding camels not only in Ethiopia, but also in the horn of Africa. For Ethiopian Somalis, camels are everything, the expression of peace, development progress, and economic power. Any Somali who have large number of camels is said to be rich in his/her locality. They use camels for transportation and food purposes (ERTA documentary text)
4.1.1 Framing Analysis
In this section, the researcher analyzed how the Ethiopian broadcasting corporation has been framing nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration over the past years. To do so, the researcher has paid particular attention to identifying dominant frame that the three EBC documentary texts discursively constructed. After that, the researcher examined why EBC employed that frame in its commemorative discourse.
Media can employ various frames in isolation or in combination to shape how we think about certain issues (Valkenburg, De Vreese & Semetko, 1999). But the analysis of this study shows that EBC employed one predominant frame known as attribution of responsibility to influence our concept of reality on nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration.
The attribution of Responsibility Frame
Attribution of responsibility is a frame that focuses on the responsibility of a situation or a problem to a person, institution or government (Camaj, 2010). This frame suggests who is to be blamed or credited for particular events (Hallahan, 1999, p. 219). It also suggests what measure should be taken in order to solve the problem (Kensicki, 2004, p. 56). Close examination of the three documentary texts shows that, EBC framed nations, nationalities and peoples’ day in two different ways. First, it has blamed the past Ethiopian regimes for their undemocratic approach to nations, nationalities and peoples. Second, it has praised the current regime for its constitutional system that has ensured human and democratic rights of the citizens. Under this predominant frame, the researcher has examined the following theme.
126.96.36.199 Blaming the Past
As portrayed in the three EBC documentary texts, all sorts of problems that nations, nationalities and peoples had faced in the socio-economic and political spheres were attributed to the past Ethiopian regimes. The following excerpt shows the scale of the problem:
The past Ethiopian regimes had committed serious repressions and atrocities against nations, nationalities and peoples. During those times, they don’t have the right to use their languages, promote their cultures and preserve their religions, history, and other identities. Above all, they don’t have the right to self rule and determination. There were no active participations of nations, nationalities and peoples in socio-economic and political spheres. Peoples were mistreated and alienated for their political views. Economically, members of different nations, nationalities and peoples were not equally benefitted from the country’s economic growth. Let alone equally benefitting from the country’s development endeavors, they were not even treated as a human in some extreme cases. DT-1
EBC through its documentary texts suggested who should be blamed for unequal treatment of Ethiopian nations, nationalities and peoples in the past political system, as evidenced in the following excerpt:
The past Ethiopian regimes were unable to recognize the diversities of nations, nationalities and peoples in terms of cultures, languages and religions. Their failure to recognize these diversities as wealth, beauty and the source of unity eventually led to political instability and civil war. Nations, nationalities and peoples did not have the right to promote their cultures, develop their languages and protect their religions. Socio-economic and political participation of women was also absent. In short, all Ethiopian nations, nationalities and peoples were not equally recognized and treated before the law. DT-1
The three EBC documentary texts shows that there were recurrent conflicts between the past Ethiopian regimes and armed groups that represented Ethiopian nations, nationalities and peoples. In its commemorative discourse, EBC emphasized what type of relationship had existed between the past Ethiopian regimes and various ethnic groups as follows:
During the reign of emperor Minilik, the autonomous and semi-autonomous administrations of different nations, nationalities and peoples were disintegrated by war that was waged to make them live under one strong central government. Such territorial unity campaign had caused several conflicts in different parts of the country that eventually led to human and democratic rights abuse, and loss of many lives. DT-1
The other EBC reporting that shows unhealthy relationship between the reign of emperor Hailesellasie and different nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia is the one which talks about the resistances of peasants and university students against the regime. An excerpt taken from the documentary texts notes:
There were conflicts between the Hailesellasie government and various nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia. But no one gave consent to such oppressive and dictatorial regime that abused human and democratic rights of nations, nationalities and peoples of the country. As a result, significant numbers of anti government protests were made across the country mainly by Ethiopian farmers in Bale, Tigray, Gojjam, Sidama, Somali and others to topple emperor Haileselassie from power. The university students joined political struggle lately holding a famous slogan “Land to the Tiller”, because they understood that the Haileselassie government was not ready to answer the long standing questions of farmers. Indeed, those movements were not fruitful, because they were not well organized and coordinated. After 1970s, the student movement especially that of the Addis Ababa University had continued along with anti Hailesellasie protests in the towns. When public protests that demanded land to the tiller, the right of self determination, and equality of religions had intensified in different parts of the country, the rule of emperor Hailesillasie came to an end. DT-2
EBC continues showing unhealthy relationship that had existed between the Dergr regime and different nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia. As portrayed in the three documentary texts, there had been serious conflicts between the government of Mengistu Hailemariam and peoples of this country. The following excerpt concurs with this statement:
The expectations of Ethiopian people to see democratic government was very high when the reign of emperor Hailesilasie came to an end. However, the Derg regime which came to power in 1974 transformed itself from the feudal system to military dictatorship in a very short period of time. It was through the 1955 written constitution in which the feudal system came to an end and a new republican system formed. That new system was dictatorial in nature which was based on the military force. Opposing human and democratic rights abuses of the Derg regime, many peaceful protests were made in the towns. When things got out of hand, significant numbers of organized armed groups were formed. DT-2
In its commemorative discourse, EBC highly emphasized the case of Ethiopian Somalis, because the repressions and atrocities against the people were more serious compared to other nations, nationalities and peoples of this country (EBC text). For that reason, EBC blamed the past Ethiopian regimes, especially, the reign of emperor Haileselassie and that of the military Derg, as stated in the following excerpt:
The two regimes did not consider the Ethiopian Somali region as part of Ethiopia. Their main interest was the land rather than the people. There were serious human and democratic rights abuses at that time regardless of age, sex and other backgrounds. Like other nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia, the Somalis were deprived of their right to promote their culture, protect their religions, use their natural resources, and benefit equally from the country’s economic growth. In general, they didn’t have peace, development, and democracy, especially, during the reign of emperor Haileselassie and the military Derg. DT-3
It doesn’t stop there. The three EBC documentary texts blamed the past Ethiopian regimes for hurting the interests of Ethiopian Somalis to unite and stay with Ethiopia. As portrayed in the texts, Ethiopian Somalis have been loyal to the nation even at the time of difficulties and great confusions. However, the central government of that time did not trust them, as indicated in the following excerpt:
The loyalty of Ethiopian Somalis to the nation was highly demonstrated by magnificent story happened immediately after the Second World War, the story of kali. It is a story in which the British authorities and army generals of that time requested Ethiopian Somali people to join its colony of British Somali land. There was no single Ethiopian government structure in Somali state at that time. It was the British that was administering that region and offered them a lot of incentives such as schools, health centers, roads and etc. In this line, the British requested Ethiopian Somalis to join its colony. Although there were many incentives from the British, the decision of the Somalis was no. Nobody coerced them when more than 700 elders came together in kali and decided they belonged to Ethiopia, and they didn’t go anywhere. The feudal regime of the time, which had been serving the very few people at the top at the expense of the majority, still did not trust the Ethiopian Somalis. At the time, when the Somali regional state territory was in the hands of the British, time and again the Somalis were asking the emperor why that territory was simply left within the administration of the British. The reply from the central government was “aha… don’t trust them, forget them and they totally rejected it”. Such deep rooted suspicion of central government doomed their hope to be part of Ethiopia. The government associates this Ethiopian Somalis with Mogadishu Somalis who invaded Ethiopia. The then government officials did not see what the feelings of this Ethiopian Somalis were; they simply saw the blood and tribal relationship between them. So they had concluded that they all were the same. DT-3
The three EBC documentary texts portrayed that the undemocratic approaches of the past regimes towards the Ethiopian Somalis people have affected the way they had reacted to the current government. EBC blamed the past regimes for such bad happening and prolonged suspicion. Stressing the impact of that suspicion on Ethiopian Somalis, and the way they have reacted to the current government, especially, in the early 1990s, EBC reported the following:
Ethiopian Somalis were skeptical of the new system and have asked critical questions including the right to secession. The root cause of such suspicions was actually attributed to the discriminatory policy and anti democratic policy of the feudal regime and military regime which Ethiopia had in the past before EPRDF took power. Ethiopian Somalis were alienated, persecuted, looted and massacred. After the fall of the Derg regime, they felt that the same policy might continue, because they did not know EPRDF, they did not know what type of government system would come. So they were so much skeptical and at least the Ogaden clan of Ethiopian Somalis was pushed towards opting for secession.
Similarly, EBC blamed the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) for the underutilization of natural resources and lack of peace and stability in Ethiopian Somali regional state. In justifying this argument, EBC stated the following:
This state has got huge natural resources including vast unutilized agricultural land, livestock, and water resources. The under utilization of these natural resources are attributed to the long time problems of peace and stability in the region. Of course, the problem was started during the time of emperor Hailesellasie. But after 1991, the role of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) was very high in destabilizing the region.
Concurring with the above quote, the current president of the Ethiopian Somali regional state Abdi Mohammed Umar has said the following in the EBC’s documentary text:
The damage caused by ONLF was much severe than the repressions and atrocities committed by the Derge military junta on Ethiopian Somalis. This anti peace element calls itself the Ogaden National Liberation Front. However, its brutal action is more severe on Ogaden clan than others. So, its name and claim is quite different from its action. DT-3
EBC has also blamed the Eritrean government for training and arming ONLF members to destabilize Ethiopia. As depicted in the three documentary texts, the Eritrean government has been sponsoring ONLF for long years and engaged in the works of damaging the country’s good image. In explaining how the Eritrean government has trained, armed and oriented the ONLF members, EBC stated the following:
Former ONLF members were captured by Ethiopian military force while they tried to cross the country’s border with the aim of killing innocent civilians in Ethiopian Somali region. The insurgents were trained and armed by the Eritrean government to cause political instability in Ethiopia. The captured ONLF members described that the Eritrean government oriented them to go to Ethiopia and kill their own families first to realize the struggle. They were also oriented to destroy all types of basic infrastructures and development institutions in the region saying it is not helpful to any Ethiopian Somali. In addition, the Eritrean government oriented them how the Ethiopian government handles any armed force operating against its political ambitions in the country. However, they were not killed or badly treated by Ethiopian government as they were informed in Eritrea. The Ethiopian peacekeeping force and people of Ethiopian Somali region treated their wound in a special way. Finally, the insurgents realized that the Ethiopian military force and regional special police force are their own brothers rather than their enemy. They also realized that Ethiopia is nice country to live in and it is not a country in which human rights abuse take place as it was said. Realizing the booming of basic infrastructures and other development activities in the region, the insurgents promised to themselves to fight back and destroy ONLF and its false propaganda from Ethiopian soil. DT-3
Moreover, EBC blamed some officials of regional administration, some intellectuals, some elders and some contractors for lack of peace and development in Ethiopian Somali regional state after the government change in 1991. In describing why and how the Somali state lagged behind in terms of peace and development compared other states of Ethiopia right after 1991, EBC stated the following in the third documentary text:
There were many factors for lack of peace and development in Ethiopian Somali regional state after 1991. One of the reasons was that the political powers who believed that Somali regional state did not belong to Ethiopia and who believed that the new system is not a solution came to power at the beginning. The other reason was that the regional administration was very weak, and to make it worse it was infiltrated by “anti peace and anti-development elements”. The regional state budget was being looted for the benefits of anti peace armed forces. Contactors were also taking contracts and paid in full without implementing the contracts they got. So, some contractors, some intellectuals, some local elders, some officials of regional administration and some anti peace foreign forces had made an alliance to take this destabilization as a source of income, as a source of political power and leverage, and as a source of perpetuating anti Ethiopia and anti unity politics. DT-2
It was identified that some officials of regional administration, some elders, some intellectuals, and some contractors were responsible for lack of peace and stability, and underdevelopment in Ethiopian Somali region compared to other states of the country, especially in the early 1990s. EBC, through its documentary texts suggested core measures that have been taken to ensure peace and development in Ethiopian Somali regional state, as it can be seen in the following excerpt:
All these problems were studied and evaluated thoroughly by the task force led by the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. In this line, the military strategy of counter insurgency was set and implemented to make sure development is talking place in the region. This effort was strongly connected with local community elders, local militia, and local police for the common goal and common interests. Accordingly, peace and stability was managed to be maintained in Ethiopian Somali regional state over the past four years through the joint efforts of the federal government, regional government, and local people. The reason why local people were so supportive of the prevalence of peace in the region was that they themselves saw the insurgents and anti peace elements destroying basic infrastructures such as roads, health centers, and schools. The existence of peace was complimented by federal government infrastructure developments which include the constructions of roads, local airports, telecommunications, and power networks. This advancement gave hope to the people that development is coming. Consequently, they have started comparing their region with other states that have been enjoying durable peace and better development since the down fall of the Derg regime. DT-3
The other action was persuading Somali people to unite and stay in Ethiopia as they have wished and hoped to be in the past. Describing the efforts of EPRDF in persuading Ethiopian Somalis to stay in Ethiopia, EBC stated the following in its third documentary text:
The contribution of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi who was the president of the transitional government after the fall of the derg regime was very high in this regard. What Meles did was he went all the way to the Somali region to the Ogaden area to the town of Gode where the elders were supposed to wait for him with the aim of discussing and persuading them to stay in Ethiopia, and to ask them see for themselves whether the then new government was discriminatory or not. On the occasion he argued that all Ethiopian people were repressed in the same way, and the new government was not going to repeat such repression because that was not the purpose he fought for. He somehow persuaded them to wait and see for the new constitution which he promised would guarantee the right to secession and would work for equal participation and equal benefits of all peoples of Ethiopia. So after serious debate, an open frank debate, they trusted him and they said okay. They hoped that the new system may give them the chance to stay in Ethiopia and be treated equally. DT-3
188.8.131.52 Inhumanity of the Enemies
In its commemorative discourse, EBC showed inhumanity of the past Ethiopian regimes and armed groups that have been opposing the current government for their undemocratic approaches to nations, nationalities and peoples of this country. This was done by emphasizing the situation of individuals and groups who were affected by the problem. For instance, it used women and children as victims ONLF attack. The assumption is that the audience feels too much pain, when they see the suffering of such helpless segment of the society. In describing the crime committed by ONLF, EBC stated the following:
In Ethiopian Somali regional state, ONLF had been causing many troubles to peaceful civilians. They had no peace and stability in their locality, innocent people were killed, tortured and humiliated regardless of their age, sex, and religion. By this evil act, children have lost their parents, woman were raped, tortured and looted, and many regional police forces were attacked and physically disabled. These all are the brutal crime that ONLF has committed against Ethiopian Somali people over the past years. DT-3
Similarly, EBC used the migration of Ethiopian Somalis to show the magnitude of the problems. The regime of Mengistu Hailemariam committed serious repression, persecution, violence, and even looting against Ethiopian Somalis, as EBC stated in the following excerpt:
It was very difficult for Ethiopian Somalis to live in peace during the time of Derg and as a result significant number of them had left their home country to live in many different countries of the world. The Siad Barre government used the Ethiopian Somali refugees as members of the army to repress their own people. The refugees hated there too and they suffered both ways. DT-3
184.108.40.206 Oppressive Constitutions of the Past Vs the Democratic constitution of Today
In its commemorative discourse, EBC has also emphasized the oppressive constitutions of the past and the democratic constitution of today. The three documentary texts portrayed that the past Ethiopian regimes had restricted human and democratic rights of nations, nationalities and peoples through their written and un-written constitutions. Explaining how the reign of emperor Haileselassie had mistreated different ethnicities through its constitutions, EBC reported the following:
The feudal system that the country had in the past had divided people of the country into subject and royal family. The 1931 constitution was the first Ethiopian written constitution. However, the constitution gave ultimate power to the king rather than the people. According to that constitution, the king and royal family was elected by divine power. The emperor had included one article in his constitution which stipulated that the land, the people, the law and everything that the country owned belonged to the king. In addition, the constitution has restricted political participation and decision making rights of the people at all levels. DT-2
In contrast, the three EBC documentary texts portrayed that the new political system has given unlimited human and democratic rights to nations, nationalities and peoples through the country’s first “democratic” constitution. It seems that too much emphasis has given to diversities in this political system. Concurring with this statement, EBC reported the following:
The major pillars of the current Ethiopian constitution are equality of nations, nationalities and peoples, equality of individuals, and equality of religions. It gives unlimited rights for nations, nationalities and peoples including the right to secession. The constitution underscored that nations, nationalities and peoples are the sovereign power of this country. DT-2
To increase the acceptability of the current constitution of the federal democratic republic of Ethiopia, EBC raised several points in the three documentary texts. One of such points is the participation of different stakeholders in the process of formulating and adopting the constitution. According to the texts, the constitution was adopted after sober discussions of citizens across the nation. Explaining that process, EBC noted the following:
One month after controlling the whole country in 1991, EPRDF had organized a transitional conference in which many political parties and institutions had taken part. The conference was aimed at identifying major problems of that time and forwarding possible solutions on how to govern the country. The open and frank debates of this conference helped the country to draft transitional charter. And that charter in turn helped to form transitional government and the committee that drafted the constitution. Finally, the current constitution of the federal democratic republic of Ethiopia came into being on December 8, 1994. Both home works were done as it was needed. DT-2
The three EBC documentary texts have also explained the unique features of Ethiopian constitution comparing with that of other African countries. Stressing the need to officially recognize the diversities of nations, nationalities and peoples, the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had said the following in EBC’s documentary text:
Our constitution is different from that of the other countries including South Africa, because it mainly focuses on group rights rather than individual rights. Many African countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda do not officially give recognition to popular questions of nations, nationalities and peoples. However, their politics revolves around these questions. That means they are indirectly answering the popular questions of different ethnicities in their respective countries. I believe, nations, nationalities and peoples should be officially recognized rather than beating around the bush. Officially recognizing the questions of nations, nationalities and peoples will prevent the chance of disintegration in advance. So, Ethiopia prevented the chance of disintegration like former Yugoslavia by officially recognizing the questions of nations, nationalities and peoples. DT-2
The three EBC documentary texts argued that the current constitution has answered the long standing questions of Ethiopian nations, nationalities and peoples.
There were many political agenda that had been set by university students in the 1960s. Those agenda included the question of land to the tiller, freedom of expression, equality of religions, equality of nations, nationalities, and peoples, the right of assembly, and the right to elect and be elected. These questions were adequately answered by the current constitution. At the same time, the constitution has rectified the past mistakes and bad relationships among peoples of the country. DT-2
According to the text, democratic nationalism and thinking have been growing in Ethiopia after the adoption of the current constitution. The evidence given for this claim was the long tradition of Ethiopians in defending their country from foreign aggressors, their culture of sharing what they have during good and bad days, their strong spirit of working hand in hand for better development, and their democratic culture of respecting the cultures, languages, religions and other identities of each others.
220.127.116.11 Policy Vacuum of the Past Vs Sound Policy of Today
Policy vacuum of the past regimes and sound policy of today was the other area of emphases in EBC’s commemorative discourse. It was depicted that the past Ethiopian regimes have no clear economic and development policies that can advance socio-economic and political interests of the country. According to EBC’s documentary texts, the country had been under the poverty line prior to the fall of the Derg regime. Explaining how lack of clear economic and development policies had affected the country, EBC stated the following:
The ill policies of the past regimes were the major cause for the collapse of Ethiopia’s ancient civilization. They had formulated assimilation policies that had endangered the cultures, languages, religions and other identities of nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia. This unfair treatment of diversity eventually led to deadly civil war and political instability. Consequently, Ethiopia’s ancient civilization that once upon a time one of the top 10 incredible civilizations in the world was collapsed. DT-1
In contrast, EBC portrayed that Ethiopia has been registering fast and double digit economic growth over the past 10 years. In its documentary texts, EBC used the reporting of international media such as Reuters, BBC, Africa journal and others to convince that the country has been registering fast and double economic growth. Ambassadors of other countries who have been living in Addis Ababa have also commented about Ethiopia’s economic growth. Explaining major factors that have enhanced the country’s economic growth, EBC stated the following:
Ethiopia has been registering fast and double digit economic growth over the past consecutive years. Many people ask how Ethiopia has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world without having oil fuel. The answers were one, clear government policies and strategies, two, durable peace achieved under the new political system, three, the joint efforts of nations, nationalities and peoples in the development activitie, and four, the current constitution that has enabled all government structures to utilize the talent of each and every citizen in the development efforts. DT-2
The three EBC documentary texts have also depicted that economic and development policies of the government have been improving the livelihood of all nations, nationalities and peoples by ensuring development across the country. Showcasing Ethiopian Somalis, EBC reported how the livelihood of each and every ethnic group in this country has been improving, as evidenced in the following excerpt:
Ethiopian Somalis have started living stable life getting rid of nonstop search for grazing land and drinking water for their animals. The qualities of their life have been improving due to commune program which changed their life style from pastoralists to semi pastoralists. Pregnant women were used to die and their cattle were also used to be eaten by wild animals while they relocated in search of grazing land and drinking water in the past. Ethiopian Somalis living in different parts of the region said they are now supplying their agricultural products to the markets in addition to producing for their home consumption. The commune/resettlement program which was implemented in the region over the past three years has started ensuring good governance, democracy and food security as well as providing access to electricity, education and health care service to the people. Up to now, over 150 thousand households were resettled in various parts of Ethiopian Somali regional state. DT-3
The three EBC documentary texts have also portrayed that nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia have reached consensus on the issue of ensuring development across the nation. It was also depicted that they are desirous to work together and develop together more than any time before in Ethiopian history. The following excerpt from the documentary texts illustrates this argument:
The effort of Ethiopian government to ensure the overall development across the nation is not yet a fully completed project. There is a long way to go so as to improve the livelihood of each and every nation, nationality, and people of this country. The commitment of all ethnicities to grow together in development has been very high. The grand Ethiopian renaissance hydro-power dam is one example of development projects that shows the growing national consensus among nations, nationalities and peoples of this country regardless of their cultures, languages and religions. DT-2
Following research questions of this study, I have addressed how the Ethiopian broadcasting corporation has been framing nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration. Now, I will make an attempt to analyze how EBC’s commemorative discourse has been interpellating nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia in the new political dispensation.
18.104.22.168 The Dawn of Equality
As we have already seen, nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia have been treated differently in the past and current political systems. EBC portrayed that nations, nationalities, and peoples did not enjoy equal benefit from the country’s development endeavor in the past political systems. Their languages, cultures, history, and religions were totally marginalized in favor of forming one language, one culture, one history, and one religion that represented Ethiopia at national and international stages. Former Addis Ababa university president, Professor Andreas Eshete, has said the following in the EBC’s documentary text:
For so many years, Ethiopian nations, nationalities, and peoples were forced to hide or totally deny their identities to fulfill the criteria of being Ethiopian. To be a member of the national family, they have to hide or completely deny their individual/ common local name, culture, language, and religions. In other words, it was a must to accept the identities supported by the monarchical system, unless otherwise it was impossible to be Ethiopian. Still, it is very hard to understand the scale of hurts, shame, and psychological damages caused by the past regimes to form one language, one culture and one country by denying the identities of nations, nationalities and peoples. For a new generation, such repressions and atrocities against Ethiopian nations, nationalities and peoples might seem myth or mere slogans of political parties or leaders fabricated today. Therefore, it is very important not to forget that public protests happened in Ethiopia demanding for equality, freedom and the right to preserve their identity in the past regimes. DT-1
But in the new political system, nations, nationalities and peoples of this country were discursively constructed as equal in many aspects. That means, they have the right to develop their languages, promote their cultures, and preserve their religions. To demonstrate how this system has benefited various ethnic groups, EBC has showed elementary school students learning in their own mother tongue, people getting legal service at court in their languages, and print and electronic media operating in the languages of nations, nationalities and peoples. EBC attributed all these advancements to the current Ethiopian constitution. Appreciating what the current constitution did for nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia, president of Civil Service University College, Dr. Hailemichael said the following in EBC’s documentary text.
Before 1991, nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia had no right of self determination. They didn’t have also the right to develop their languages, promote their cultures and maintain their religions. The past regimes didn’t recognize equality of diversities at all level. But, the current constitution solved all this problems. It gave recognition for the equality of nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia with all their identities such as languages, cultures, and religions. Unlike the past systems, the new system gave recognition for all kinds of diversities and it was granted by the constitution. Under a new system, the right to self determination has also got recognition. DT-1
Representatives of different ethnic groups who participated in the nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration also share this claim. For instance, one representative from the southern state said the following in the second documentary text.
The new constitutional system has been benefiting us in many ways. We have got basic infrastructures like schools, health centers, electricity, telecommunications, and access to drinking water in our respective states. We have been administering our-self at local structure. We have been also exercising the right to develop our language by using it as working language in schools, judiciary, and other working places. DT-2
Comparing with the past generations, EBC portrayed nations, nationalities and peoples of present time as lucky one, because they are getting media information in their own languages in the new political system. In doing so, EBC showed local journalists while they present TV and radio news in Somali, Afan Oromo, and in Harari languages. The shooting took place in Dire TV studio which is located in Dire Dawa, Oromia radio and television organization in Adama, and Harari radio station in Harar. It was also intended to show how the local media have been expanding across the nation. Representatives of Ethiopian nations, nationalities and peoples who have participated in the nation’s day commemoration have expressed their happiness of obtaining news information from media institutions presenting in their own languages. For example, one representative from Oromo nationality said the following in the EBC’s documentary text.
Members of different nations, nationalities and peoples will have choice if media operating in different local languages. Obviously, some of them will obtain information in their own languages. For example, the Oromos are watching TV news transmitted in Afan Oromo, the Amharas in Amharic, the Somalis in Somali languages and etc based on their interests. Moreover, in the past, we consider it just like seeing Picture, because the airtime was very short, especially TV airtime. But now you can listen and watch significant numbers of Radio and TV news and programs transmitted from various stations across the nation. DT-1
The three EBC documentary texts have also constructed nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia as beauty, strength, and source of wealth for the country. It was depicted that the culture, music, dances and history of each ethnic group is the wealth of the nation. In other words, the culture, music, dances, and history of one ethnic group is no longer limited only to itself. Supporting this argument, the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had said the follows on the first nations, nationalities and peoples’ day:
In the past, all of us were owner of one language, one culture, and one history. But today all of us are owner of more than 80 different languages, cultures, and dances. This shows that we are owner of many languages, cultures and history. Using this resource as a tool, we can create a strong unity which is much stronger than steel in the years to come. In fact it has to be through the will of nations, nationalities and peoples, through their consultation, and democratic discussion among them. The economic status we have today is not fit with the rich history, culture and languages we have. So, this is a day in which all of us commit ourselves and make promise to work hard in order to avoid poverty and backwardness using durable peace created in the country. The rights of nations, nationalities and peoples have acquired legal recognition in the constitution. They have to coordinate their common history and cultures to rebuild very strong democratic unity in Ethiopia. DT-1
Under a new political system, Ethiopian Somalis were portrayed as a people who have been promoting its culture, protecting its religions, utilizing its natural resources and benefiting equally from the country’s economic growth (EBC documentary text). It was also indicated that people of the region have been getting basic infrastructures such as schools, health centers, roads, airports, telecommunications, electricity, media and drinking water facilities. Comparing the achievements of his government with that of the Derg, President of Ethiopian Somali regional state Abdi Mohammed Umar said the following:
During the time of the Derg regime, there was only one high school in Ethiopian Somali regional state. At that time, the opportunity to join high school was very rare for the Somalis. But now there are around 100 high schools. You can imagine the difference. Elementary and junior secondary schools which run from grade 1-8 were less than 40 during the Derg regime. The chances to join these schools were very less for Ethiopian Somalis here too. But under the current regime, there are 1110 elementary schools which run from grade 1-8 in Ethiopian Somali regional schools. DT-3
22.214.171.124 Unity within Diversity
A close examination of the three EBC documentary texts shows that nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia were portrayed as good partners in ensuring peace, development, and democratization process. There were many points that validate this argument in the EBC’s documentary texts. It was depicted that nations, nationalities and peoples have managed to live together peacefully by strengthening democratic unity among them. Stressing this point, former speaker of house of federation Ambassador Dagefe Bula said the following in the EBC’s documentary text:
Respecting human and democratic rights of nations, nationalities and peoples have strengthened good relations among them, created conducive environment to know each other’s culture and helped them to learn how to respect each other. This in turn created democratic unity which is much stronger than steel. I can see that this democratic unity is deepening its root among nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia in the new political system compared to that of the past regimes. Today, nations, nationalities and peoples consult with each other on their common matters at local and federal structures. These all progresses have strengthened their spirit of living together more than any time before in Ethiopian history. DT-1
The three EBC documentary texts strengthened this claim by emphasizing the growing trend among Ethiopian vocalists in singing modern and traditional songs of different nations, nationalities, and peoples. It was depicted that they have been singing either in a language of one ethnic group or by mixing two or three languages of them in a single music clip. Mesonagaya, a traditional music of Hamar nationality in southern state, Agabuyo, a modern Afar song by Tadele Roba and Hussein Ali in Amharic and Afar language, Omni Dawoda, a traditional Kunama song by Mahlet G/Giyorgis were showed as an example in the documentary text. To strengthen this argument, the producer has directly quoted Mahlet G/Giyorgis as follows:
Ethiopia has more than 80 nations, nationalities and peoples. The history, cultures and languages of some ethnicities were not yet celebrated through music. Therefore, we have to promote their cultures and languages as much as possible. There are varieties of melodies in Ethiopia from south to north to east to west. For example, I sung Kunama in their language. The melody of kunama song is so unique and beautiful. Since there is less number of vocalists especially, female vocalists, we need to reflect their culture. I have started singing their song and I hope others will follow my footstep until ethnic Kunama vocalists significantly start promoting their culture to people of the world through music. DT-1
The three EBC documentary texts have also portrayed that the culture, history, identity, artifacts, knowledge and, the beauty of each nation, nationality, and people is represented as huge asset of Ethiopia at national and international stages. It was depicted that nations, nationalities and peoples of this country were not equally represented at national and international stages in the past regimes. In connection with this matter, it was explained that the beauty contests were limited to major towns and certain light color Ethiopian tribes in the past regimes. But under a new political system, models from any kind of ethnicities whether they are from rural or urban, dark or light color all represent Ethiopia at national or international stages. Chuna Obok is ethnic Agnuak and from Gambela regional state in Ethiopia. She was the champion of Miss Ethiopia beauty contest in 2009. EBC purposely included her in the first documentary text to discursively construct that Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic and multi-color nation represented by all its nations, nationalities and peoples in the new political system. Chuna Obok said the following in her own words:
In the past, Ethiopia was known as a country of light color people to the outside world. Foreigners did not even imagine that there were dark color people like me in this country. When I was in Namibia for continental beauty contest in 2009, many people were asking me are you really from Ethiopia? How come this kind of color from Ethiopia? They were asking me so many similar questions even though a number of photographs were with them in advance. Indeed, it was my first objective to change such wrong perception of foreigners and even some Ethiopians about color diversity in this country when I started participating in that beauty contest. I told them that Ethiopia has diverse colors such as light color, dark, brown and so on. This diversity of peoples’ color shows the beauty of Ethiopia. I am so proud to be Ethiopian and being Ethiopian by itself is a beauty for me. When I tell them all these stuff, they were so surprised. DT-1
As depicted by the three EBC documentary texts, new Ethiopia is not a ruling class as it was the case in the past regimes. New Ethiopia is a country of all nations, nationalities and peoples regardless of their geographic locations, administrative boundaries, religions, languages, and sex. So, Ethiopia is home to multicolor people that represent how each and every citizen of this country identifies himself/herself in terms of languages, cultures, religions, history, and way of life. Related to this is the issue of Ethiopian unity. It was portrayed that that the past Ethiopian regimes have created unity of this country by force. But, under the new political system, Ethiopian unity is maintained by the free will of its nations, nationalities and peoples (EBC texts). The late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi once said that Ethiopian identity is something that each citizen chooses to be by its own will understanding its value as a source of pride. He had added the following in the EBC’s documentary text:
After now, Ethiopia will be a country that we build together by our joint efforts. The time in which anybody was forced to be Ethiopian was over. Being Ethiopian or Ethiopian sense is not such a sour thing that our people have to be/feel by force. Rather, it should be such a sweet thing that everybody aspires and whishes to be.
According to Berger and Luckman (1991), Barthes (1969), and Jenkins (2008a; 2008b), national identity and ethnic identity are forms of social identity that are based on discursive reproduction of categorization and self-identification during processes of interaction. The three EBC documentary texts discursively constructed ethnic identity and national identity as supportive to each other. That means the two are not competing with each other. To be Ethiopian national, you don’t have to deny your ethnic identity. One can be good Ethiopian national and at the same time good member of his/her ethnic group.
126.96.36.199 The Bestowing of Self Determination
The three EBC documentary texts portrayed that nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia have been benefiting from self-rule right in the new political system. For instance, the third documentary text showcased Ethiopian Somali as one of the nine regional states that has been significantly benefiting from the right to self determination. Regarding this issue, EBC emphasized the following points in its documentary text:
In Somali regional state, the official language is Somali language. The government uses that language as a working language. The judiciary and elementary schools have been also using Somali language as a working language and medium of instructions in the region. Like Ethiopian Somalis, nations, nationalities and peoples of this country have been administering themselves, promoting their cultures and developing their languages under a new political system. They have been also developing their localities using the democratic rights given to them by the constitution over the past two decades. The federal system has solved the deadly civil war that the country had in the past and brought durable peace. The existence of peace in turn leads to free and fair election, political stability and fast economic growth. DT-3
Several Ethiopian Somali nationals were seen talking about the right to self rule in the EBC’s documentary text. For instance, lecturer of civil service university college Dr. Mohammed Abdullahi Hussein said the following:
Who have been administrating Ethiopian Somali regional state since the fall of the Derg regime? They were the Ethiopian Somalis, who were born and grown up in those very localities, who speak Somali language, who knows their own culture, who feel what the people feel. These are some of the fruits of self rule & self determination. After the fall of the Derge regime, the Somalis have started demanding schools, health centers, and etc. In the past regimes, these questions were not even in the minds of the people. DT-3
According to EBC documentary text, Ethiopian Somalis were denied the right to self administration and political participation at federal structures in the reign of emperor Hailesilassie and the military Derg. Regarding the right to self administration, Ethiopian Somali scholar and lecturer of civil service university college Dr. Mohammed Abdullahi Hussein said the following in EBC documentary:
Administrators were assigned from the centre who did not know about their Somali culture, who did not know about their language, who even felt that this people did not belong to this region or this territory. One can simply look at the communication between local government and central government at the time. You will see a lot of historical communications where the administrator assigned from the centre would says that this people did not belong to Ethiopia, they didn’t have any kind of Ethiopian sense. DT-3
In this chapter, we have already seen how the Ethiopian broadcasting corporation has been framing nations, nationalities and people’s day commemoration over the past years. We have also seen how EBC’s commemorative discourse has portrayed nations, nationalities and peoples in the new political dispensation. Now, the researcher will address what narratives about nations, nationalities and peoples in the new dispensation were marginalized in the EBC’s commemorative discourse.
In the process of previewing, organizing and analyzing the three EBC documentary texts, the researcher has identified several discourses that he believes vital in the discursive construction of nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration. However, the discourse of “Us” and “Them” is the superior discourse that embraces others in EBC’s documentary texts. According to this discourse, the past Ethiopian regimes had abused human and democratic rights of nations, nationalities and peoples in favour of one language, one culture, one religion and one country. Similarly, the armed groups that have been opposing the current government were constructed as anti-peace, anti-development and anti-unity forces working for the interests of other countries like Egypt and Eritrea. In contrast, the current regime was constructed as very democratic in ensuring the rights of nations, nationalities and peoples without any limitation. From this explanation we can understand that the “Us” category is the current regime while “Them” are the past Ethiopian regimes, and armed groups opposing the current government. Jorgensen and Phillips (2002, pp. 50-51) noted that the analysis of “Them” is always hand in hand with the creation of “Us”. The two scholars added that the analysis of “Them” can disclose what a given discourse about “Us” excludes, and what social consequences this exclusion has. Similarly, Laclau and Mouffe (1985, P. 112) noted that discourse is formed by the partial fixation of meaning around certain nodal points. Such fixation of meaning is done by the exclusion of all other possible meanings that the signs could have had. Thus a discourse is a reduction of possibilities.
A close examination of the three documentary texts shows that EBC marginalized some narratives about nations, nationalities and peoples in the new political dispensation. These narratives are the one that have been promised in the current constitution of the federal democratic republic of Ethiopia. For instance, article 39 sub article one (1) of the federal constitution states that every nation, nationality and people in Ethiopia has unconditional right to self-determination, including the right to secession. They are also entitled to a full measure of self-government including their own institutions within their territories and representation in regional and federal governments (Article 39.3). Although there are such extensive constitutional devolution of power to nations, nationalities and peoples in Ethiopia, the government holds a firm grip on political affairs in the country. Oppositions, academic scholars and other critics argue that through the centralized party organization of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), regional and local autonomy is undermined. The controlling measures that federal police undertook to stop the recent Oromo students’ protest in several universities and towns located in the state of Oromia can be mentioned as one example of the federal government interference in the affairs of local government. At that time, the federal government disarmed Oromian police fearing that they might be on the side of the students. In 2013/1014 Ethiopian budget year, the federal government collected one billion birr tax from Gambela region representing local government. Similarly, in Afar and Somali regional states, the federal government has been undertaking development activities such as water, roads, and other crucial infrastructures representing them. This is against article 89 sub article 4 of the constitution which says government shall provide special assistance to Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples least advantaged in economic and social development. Providing special assistance to les advantaged regional states and doing development activities by representing them are two different things. These examples demonstrate that there are notable involvements of the federal government in the affairs of regional states.
According to the Constitution, all regional states have the power to run their own affairs and to implement their own policies. They have executive, legislative and judicial powers too. But their powers are severely restricted by the fact that the regional states are totally reliant on federal grants to perform their duties. Another factor restricting states autonomy is that the regional governments must follow national standards on health, education and development, which are formulated by the federal government, according to article 51 sub article three (3) of the constitution. Therefore, it is difficult to conclude nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia are fully exercising their constitutional rights of self rule and self determination. Such a narratives were absent in the EBC‘s commemorative discourse.
The other narrative marginalized by EBC’s commemorative discourse is the one that argues about the institutional and financial capacity of nations, nationalities and peoples of this country to promote their cultures as stated in the constitution. It is true that nations, nationalities and peoples have been exercising the right to develop and promote their own culture at their locality. However, many of them including the Oromo (the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia) have no strong cultural institutions that help to promote and develop their culture at national and international level. Especially in Addis Ababa, nations, nationalities and peoples have no cultural centers and theater houses where they can showcase their films and other cultural performances.
News papers, magazines, and Books are the other most influential media that helps to promote culture in addition to transmitting educational and entertainment information. But, there is no single private owned newspaper or magazine which has been published in the language of nations, nationalities and peoples in a regular basis. Regarding fiction books, many members of different ethnic groups have no financial capacity to publish. Even when they are published they may not have book distributor and sellers. Under its cultural objectives, article 91 sub article one (1) of the constitution states that the government shall have the duty to support, on the basis of equality, the growth and enrichment of cultures and traditions that are compatible with fundamental rights, human dignity, democratic norms and ideals, and the provisions Constitution. Therefore, in addition to organizing cultural festivals such as nations, nationalities and peoples’ day, the government has to facilitate the way in which different ethnic groups can develop and promote their cultures. All these arguments were marginalized in the EBC’s commemorative discourse.
EBC’s commemorative discourse also marginalized an argument which states Ethiopia should adopt more federal working languages. Article five (5) sub article one (1) of the federal constitution states that all Ethiopian languages shall enjoy equal state recognition. Again in sub article two (2) of the same article it states that Amharic shall be the working languages of the federal government. Compared to the past regimes’ language policy this is really a remarkable achievement. However, many critics say that it is not enough. They argued that the country should adopt more federal working languages so that members of each nation, nationality and people can get job opportunity in many federal government institutions.
The other controversial narrative excluded by EBC’s commemorative discourse is the one which argues land should be subject for sale or other means of exchange based on the will of nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia. It was the other narrative which argues land should not be subject for sale or other means of exchange that was included in EBC’s commemorative discourse. Indeed, the later narrative was highlighted in line with what was wrote in the constitution. Article 40 sub article three (3) of the current federal constitution provides details of land ownership in Ethiopia as follows:
The right to ownership of rural and urban land, as well as of all natural resources, is exclusively vested in the State and in the peoples of Ethiopia. Land is a common property of the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia and shall not be subject to sale or to other means of exchange.
The issue of press freedom which could have huge contribution in the proper implementation of human and democratic rights of nations, nationalities and peoples was also marginalized in the EBC’s commemorative discourse. There have always been hot debates in connection with freedom of press. Scholars believe that if there is no vibrant press, there would be no strong democracy. In the absence of strong democracy, the possibility of abusing human and democratic rights of the citizens is always there. That is the reason why people argue Ethiopia must have vibrant press so that it can ensure human and democratic rights of its nations, nationalities and peoples. In addition, media helps nations, nationalities and peoples of this country to express their ideas, thoughts and comments.
In addition, EBC’s commemorative discourse marginalized a narrative which argues ethnic and language based federalism could lead to political tensions and conflicts. It is known fact that Ethiopia adopted ethnic and language based federalism with the aim of stopping recurrent civil wars, restructuring the country in a democratic way, enhancing political participation of citizens, and giving ethno-regional rights to the previously oppressed nations, nationalities and peoples. Indeed, it has contributed a lot in mitigating conflicts among nations, nationalities and peoples. It has also corrected bad relationships and mistrust among them to some extent. However, there are still rising ethnic tensions, mistrust and antagonism among different nations, nationalities and peoples. For instance, the sense of antagonism and mistrust between Woleyta and Sidama peoples in southern state, Nuer and Agnuak in Gembela , Burji and Guji Oromo in southern part of Ethiopia, Amhara and Tigre over Welkait-Tsegade and Humera areas, and even the historical mistrust between Amharas and the rest of Ethiopians can be mentioned as a case in point. The eviction of ethnic Amhara farmers from Gura-Farda area of Benchi Maji zone in southern Ethiopia is the other living testimony of the increasing ethnic tension in Ethiopia. EBC marginalized such tensions in its commemorative discourse.
Scholars in the field of federalism argue that federal system based on language and ethnic identity downgrade national feeling and the country’s unity. This narrative was excluded by EBC’s commemorative discourse. Similarly, the argument which states ethnicity was more emphasized than other types of identities in the new political system was excluded by EBC’s commemorative discourse. Common argument in theoretical discussions of federalism states that when ethnicity is the only acknowledged identity, other identities such as religion, gender, and professional backgrounds are subsequently downgraded.
Similar to this is the issues of common citizenship and state ownership. The current Ethiopian constitution states that nations, nationalities and peoples are the owner of the state. The assumption is that each citizen in this country belongs to nations, nationalities or peoples, and defines itself along that line. But the question is, if somebody was born from two, three or four ethnic groups, how can he/she define her/himself in terms of ethnicity and how can they become the owner of this country? So, it is difficult to claim purely Ethiopian or mixed-ethnic identity to become the owner of this country. This also shows the scale of emphasis given to individual rights compared to group rights in Ethiopia. The priority has been given to group rights particularly the rights of nations, nationalities and peoples.
Finally, what I want to stress in this section is that there were several emerging frames in EBC‘s commemorative discourse. These emerging frames include conflict, human interest, and economic consequences. EBC employed these frames under the predominant attribution of responsibility frame. For instance it has employed conflict frame to show the type of relationship that had existed between the past Ethiopian regimes and armed groups that represented nations, nationalities and peoples of this country. Conflict frame is a frame that emphasizes the conflicting nature of the issue by accentuating the division between people, groups, institutions or ideologies (Camaj, 2010). Linda Putnam (1990) also noted that conflict frames define how disputants view their interactions: not only what their conflict is about, but also what their relationship to one another is and what kinds of interactions are appropriate.
To show how policy vacuum of the past Ethiopian regimes negatively affected the country’s economic growth, EBC employed economic frame in its commemorative discourse. As its name indicates, this frame focuses on financial consequences of issue, event or problem, on groups, institutions, nations or individuals (Semetko and Valkenburg, 2000:p.96). Government programs which deal with health or other problems are particularly expressed within this frame (Neuman et al., 1992). To show inhumanity of the enemies, EBC has used human interest frame in is commemorative discourse. This frame was use to show the magnitude of the problem (Semetko and Valkenburg, 2000, p. 96). In this regard, EBC employed human interest frame.
4.2 Discussion of the Findings
The findings of this study showed that EBC discursively constructed nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration as an important public forum in which different ethnic groups display their cultures, languages, history and other identities to people of the world. In doing so, EBC employed one predominant frame known as attribution of responsibility frame. In the documentary narratives, there is one dominant discourse known as the “Us” and ‘Them” discourse. Here, the “Us” category refers to the current regime while the “Them” refers to the past Ethiopian regimes and armed groups that have been opposing the current regime in many ways.
It was observed that EBC constructed the new political system (the “Us” category) as democratic to Ethiopian nations, nationalities and peoples. It was portrayed that equality of cultures, languages, religions and other identities of nations, nationalities and peoples were adequately ensured under the new political system. EBC’s commemorative discourse also portrayed that all ethnic groups are committed to live and work together with their astonishing culture of tolerance. The knowledge and understanding of nations, nationalities and peoples about themselves have been increasing under the new political system as depicted by this media. This is to legitimize that trust among nations, nationalities and peoples have been increasing from time to time compared with that of the past political systems.
The findings of the study also showed that EBC constructed nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia as beneficiaries of the right of self-determination without any limitation. In the EBC’s commemorative discourse, the self-determination right was illustrated by school age children studying in their languages, court-procedures in local languages and self administration of each regional state.
The results of the study indicated that EBC constructed the Ethiopian economy as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. This fast and double digit economic growth was attributed to the concerted efforts of nations, nationalities and peoples of the country. EBC, in its commemorative discourse also emphasized that all ethnic groups have been benefitting from the country’s economic growth in fair and equitable manner. This economic growth in turn has been increasing Ethiopia’s acceptance at international level and strengthens its economic and political diplomacy more than ever before.
The findings also revealed that EBC depicted the new political system as a system that has managed to stop recurrent civil wars that had been the case in the past regimes. So, under a new political system, Ethiopia was constructed as a country in which free and fair election is conducted every five years, peace and stability has been adequately maintained, and fast and double digit economic growth has been registered over the last decade.
Here, the question to ask is why EBC portrayed the current political system the way it has portraying in connection with the issues of nations, nationalities and peoples of this country? The findings show that EBC was interested to influence the decision of the people to act as the government prefer. This argument collaborates with the Van Dijk’s definition of hegemonic power. According to Van Dijk (1997, P. 17), hegemonic power makes people act as if it were natural, normal, or simply a consensus. And, for Antonio Gramsci, hegemony is the ideological dominance of society, the position in which an ideology favorable to the dominant class is agreed upon by the society as a whole. The subordinate classes are persuaded to hold views and values which are consistent with the continued economic and social dominance of the ruling class (Downing et al, 1995, P. 485).
The findings of this study also showed that EBC discursively constructed the past Ethiopian regimes as abusers of human and democratic rights of nations, nationalities and peoples. Explaining how the past Ethiopian regimes had been seeing nations, nationalities and peoples of this country, EBC stated the following:
During the reign of emperor Minilik the second, nations, nationalities and peoples were seen as a curse rather than as a blessing. Emperor Hailesellasie who came to power following the footstep of emperor Minilik had been also seeing nations, nationalities and peoples in the same way. The emperor had purposefully destroyed all kinds of identities so as to create a country that has one language, one culture, and one religion, which are similar to that of the ruling class. The regime of Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam had been also abuser of human and democratic rights of nations, nationalities and peoples. His administration came to power without the will of the people, using leadership gap created by public protests at that time.
From this excerpt the researcher observed that EBC has been engaged in the business of favoring the new political system and derogating the past Ethiopian regimes. This argument concur with Van Dijik’s concept of ideology which states ideologies often appear in polarized thought, opinions, action, or discourse. This suggests that prejudicial discourse will be characterized by a positive representation of the self (‘Us’) and by a simultaneous negative characterization of the other (‘them’). The following excerpt taken from EBC’s documentary text also enrich this point:
The past Ethiopian regimes had no clear development policy and strategies that advance the country’s socio-economic and political interests. As a result, nations, nationalities and peoples have suffered a lot from absolute poverty. Thus, the ill policies of the past regimes on nations, nationalities and peoples were a major cause for the collapse of ancient Ethiopian civilizations.
The findings of this study also showed that EBC discursively constructed the war against the past Ethiopian regimes especially that of the Derg regime as a just war to bring peace, democracy and equality of nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia. Describing how different resistance arose against the regime of Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam, EBC stated the following:
There was serious human and democratic rights violation against Ethiopian nations, nationalities and peoples during the reign of emperor Haileselassie and the military Derg. To overcome such repressions and atrocities, more than 17 armed groups were organized. Most of them had been demanding equality of nations, nationalities and peoples that flamed mass struggle to topple the military Derg. Finally, after 17 years of civil war the reign of communist Mengistu Hailemariam came to an end.
This excerpt shows that there were two groups in the past regimes, one is dominating and the other is the dominated groups. In this case, nations, nationalities and peoples are the dominated group and the past regimes were dominating group. This is what we call power abuse or domination. Regarding this point Van Dijk (1997, P 24) noted that power is being exercised primarily in the interest of the powerful, and against the interest of the less powerful. From experience we know that domination usually leads to resistance and struggle to overcome inequality and oppression. As soon as members of dominated groups no longer accept such ideological grounds and they have the material conditions to act, counter-ideologies will arise. And that was exactly what happened between the past Ethiopian regimes and nations, nationalities as stated in EBC’s report:
Opposing the Derg regime, many armed groups were formed. The Tigray people’s liberation front (TPLF), the Amhara national democratic movement (ANDM), lately the Oromo people’s democratic Organization (OPDO) could be mentioned as a case in point. These three armed groups formed the Ethiopian people’s revolutionary democratic front EPRDF. Their goal was toppling the anti-people government of the Derg and establishing a democratic system which is comfortable for all. After 17 years of civil war, the reign of Communist Mengistu Hailemariam came to an end.
The findings of this study also showed that EBC discursively constructed armed groups such as ONLF, OLF, and Ginbot 7 as-anti peace and anti-development elements that have been working to damage the relationship between Ethiopian government and nations, nationalities and peoples of this country. EBC argued that these “anti peace and anti development” elements do not have their own agenda other than that of realizing the interests of other countries, such as Eritrea and Egypt. To delegitimize the progress of these anti-peace elements, EBC portrayed them as colliding forces that has already started disintegrating in line with their religion and clanship.
There is no agreement among ONLF members and this disagreement led to the creation of several factions based on their clan line. The captured former ONLF went on to say that they had developed doubt after observing fierce disagreement among ONLF members, and as a result many members left the struggle. Now, ONLF is a force that can’t defend even itself. For instance, these former ONLF members were captured by Ethiopian military force in a very easy way after very little gunfire.
The other factor that influenced EBC to frame nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration the way it has been framing was the political economy of the mass media. Communications scholars believe that the relationship between media institutions and the political and economic institutions of the society should be seen in detail when we talk about political economy of mass media. The political economy perspective sees the media as being locked into the power structure, and consequently as acting largely in tandem with the dominant institutions in society (Curran, et al., 1982, p.21). The media are said to reproduce the viewpoints of dominant institutions not as one among a number of alternative perspectives, but as the central and obvious or natural perspective (Curran, et al., 1982, p.21). While presenting and analyzing the three EBC documentary texts on nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration, the researcher found two excerpts that support this argument. The first excerpt shows how news media of the past regimes had been functioning:
During the past regimes, media had been functioning as the mouth piece of the government. Their main purposes were extending the lifespan of groups in power. That means, media was not serving as a public forum for serious and sober reflections about the experiences of nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia. Members of different nations, nationalities and peoples did not have the right to speak, write and publish anything about their culture, history and religion in any form of media platform.
The second excerpt states how the news media of the current regime has been functioning in the following words:
News media of the current regime mainly the one owned and controlled by the government are the voice of all nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia. The expansion of local media across the nation are helping all ethnic groups to use their languages, promote their cultures, and tell stories about their religion, democratization process, development activities and other social matters.
Media ownership is another area that demands serious examination, because their patters have huge impact upon media discourse. A common argument in theoretical discussions on media ownership is that when news media is owned by government, it will be the mouthpiece of that government. Since EBC is a government runs media, it is required to celebrate nations, nationalities and people’s day commemoration in line with the government policies and strategies. Six EBC journalists who were involved in the production of the three texts said that they have crafted the messages of the documentaries in line with each year’s commemoration. While holding in-depth interview with researcher of this study, producer and editor of the first documentary text said the following:
This documentary program was produced to show the presence of equality of nations, nationalities and peoples in the new political system. We have expressed equality of nations, nationalities and peoples in terms of their rights to use their languages, promote their culture, and preserve their religions. We have also showed the growing new trend among nations, nationalities and peoples in wearing traditional clothes of each other. They have been also listening to the music of each other more than any time before in Ethiopian history. Vocalists have started singing songs in different languages of nations, nationalities and peoples. These trends show the growing understanding that each nation, nationality and people have about one another. And we have reflected these in our documentary. The government has been promoting the cultures of nations, nationalities and peoples more than ever before and consequently such remarkable changes have come. The other thing we needed to include was that Ethiopia has been represented by all its nations, nationalities and peoples at national and international stages. In other words, it was designed to show that Ethiopia is represented by sons and daughters of the Ethiopian nations, nationalities, and peoples regardless of their colors, languages, cultures, ethnicity and religions.
The producer and editor of the second documentary text have also said that they have designed the message of their documentary in line with the government policy on nations, nationalities and peoples. Their reply was summarized as follows:
This documentary text was designed to show major achievements in the areas of peace, democracy and development over the past two decades owing to the current Ethiopian constitution. It tries to answer questions like whether the existence of peace helped people of the country to lead a stable life; the extent to which the prevalence of peace enhanced the country’s development; and the extent to which the ensured development has helped the country to build strong democratic system. So, we have emphasized how people of the country understand and sense major successes in the areas of peace, development and democratization process. We have also narrated how the current constitution has ensured equality of religions and that of nations, nationalities and peoples. We have argued that all nations, nationalities and peoples are equally benefiting from the country’s overall development and economic growth.
The producer and editor of the third documentary text have also said that they have crafted the message of their documentary in a way it can fit the interest of the government. What they told me during the course of in-depth interview was summarized as follows:
This documentary was aimed at showing how the current constitution helped Ethiopian Somalis to live peacefully and equally with other nations, nationalities and peoples. It was also intended to show how Ethiopian Somalis have been benefiting from the country’s economic growth. To do so, we have showed major successes in the areas of good governance and basic infrastructure including roads, health centers, and schools in Ethiopian Somali regional state. Taking Ethiopian Somali regional state as a show case, we have showed how other less developed states such as Afar, Gambela, and Benishangul-Gumz are interconnected in infrastructures with relatively “developed” regional states. By addressing such big points in the documentary text, we have glorified the day on which the current Ethiopian constitution was adopted and the success of new political system.
The findings of this study also showed that EBC has been framing nations, nationalities and peoples’ day as a forum of mobilizing people of the nation towards alleviating poverty and backwardness. In the EBC’s documentary texts, government officials were seen requesting members of each nation, nationality and people to contribute what they could in the effort of making Ethiopia a middle income economy in 2030. Representatives of different nations, nationalities and peoples were also seen reaffirming their commitments to alleviate poverty, and contribute what they could to assist the country’s effort to bring about sustainable development. Showcasing development progress made in the Ethiopian Somali region, EBC urged members of each nation, nationality and people for more success, as evidenced in the following excerpt:
Today, the Ethiopian Somali state tells totally different story in terms of peace and stability. The prevalence of peace has created fertile ground for development activities. And many development projects have been started across the state and they have already started producing practical results. Now, there are schools, health centers, roads and other infrastructure developments in the state. As a result, the Somalis have started thinking how to sustain the unity of this country rather than separating their home region from Ethiopia as they used to think. If development is ensured across the country, all our problems will be fixed soon. The contribution of all members of Ethiopian nations, nationalities and peoples is highly needed to achieve this ambition. Thus, everybody should work to that end.
The findings of this study also showed that EBC framed nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration as a forum of building unity of the country in democratic way. To do so, EBC stressed the need to stay together as a single strong country, explaining the significance of having large population size for trade, investment and other development activities. At the same time, EBC emphasized the need to protect the rights of nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia to use their languages, promote their cultures, and protect their religion and equally benefiting from the country’s development endeavor. Commenting on the need to stay together as a single country and protect the rights of nations, nationalities and peoples, former Addis Ababa university president Professor Andreas Eshete said the following in the EBC’s documentary text:
Ethiopian nations, nationalities and peoples have been together at good and bad times. They have shared many cultural, historical and religious heritages in common. When the identity of each ethnicity is recognized and starts to shine, the heritages we share in common through borrowing will also grow up and develop. Unity based on equality and will of the people results in mutual trust, caring for others, and sustainable brotherhood. If priority is given to victims of the past systems in the process of minimizing poverty, and all nations, nationalities and peoples equally benefited from the country’s development, strong friendship and brotherhood among people is inevitable. When the suffering of one nationality is a threat for all nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia, and the success of one is a pride for all, our brotherhood will have guarantee. Similarly, when peace, freedom and equality are ensured in the country, areas and towns populated by various nations, nationalities and peoples will increase and the importance of identifying oneself based on boundary and ethnic line may decrease. To further promote identities of the people both in group and individually, the victory we achieved today can serve as a foundation.
This shows that there is a strong need to build democratic unity at national level. The assumption is that, members of different nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia have been more concerned in their own regional affairs rather than what matters to them at national level under a new political system, Accordingly, nation, nationalities and peoples’ day as been used as a forum of interaction which helps to build a social solidarity, fabric of humanity and new directions for the future.
Chapter 5: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
This chapter deals with conclusions of the findings, and some recommendations. It begins with conclusions, and followed by some possible recommendations that the researcher believes would help media industry and academic world particularly in the fields of journalism and communications.
As already mentioned in chapter one, the major objective of this study was analyzing the discursive construction of nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration. Under this general objective, the study addressed how the Ethiopian broadcasting corporation has been framing nations, nationalities and people’s day commemoration. The findings of this study showed that EBC framed nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration as a forum of displaying peoples’ cultures, and mobilizing them for development. EBC’s commemorative discourse attributed all problems that nations, nationalities and peoples had been facing prior to 1991 to the past Ethiopian regimes.
From EBC’s commemorative discourse, two distinct features were observed. First, EBC discursively constructed the past Ethiopian regimes as abusers of human and democratic rights of nations, nationalities and peoples in many ways. This move was aimed at delegitimizing the action of the past regimes particularly that of emperor Minilik, emperor Hailesellasie, and Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam. Second, EBC discursively constructed the current regime as democratic that respected human and democratic rights of nations, nationalities and peoples. The move is to legitimize the actions that the ruling EPRDF as government has been doing over the past 23 years. As part of this move, it was portrayed that nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia have been using their languages, developing their cultures and preserving their religions under a new political system. EBC has also emphasized that the relationships among nations, nationalities and peoples have been significantly improved over the last two decades owing to the new political dispensation. It is also true that nations, nationalities and peoples have been participating in the country’s socio-economic and political activities, both at local and national levels more than ever before compared to the past. They have gained the right to self rule and self determination. Their sprit of living and working together for their bright future has been also very high under a new political system. It has been true that the current constitution has enabled the country to register fast and double digit economic growth for the past consecutive years. Nations, nationalities and peoples have been benefiting from this development endeavor. Regional states are working to enhance their development, with varying scale. However, despite such changes in the everyday lives of nations, nationalities and peoples under a new political system, the genuineness of their equality, self-determination, and their participation in socio-economic and political activities are still under question.
The findings of this study also showed that some narratives about nations, nationalities and peoples were absent in the EBC’s commemorative discourse. For example, the right of self determination which nations, nationalities and peoples have fought for in the past was not fully exercised. In other words, there have been interferences of the federal government in the affairs of regional states. This concern was not boldly discussed in the EBC’s commemorative discourse. The other important discourse excluded in EBC’s commemorative discourse was the institutional and financial capacity of nations, nationalities and peoples to develop their languages, promote their cultures, and preserve their history. Without cultural institutions and financial capacity, it would be difficult for them to exercise these rights. That is why the disparities between what were promised in the constitution and the realities on the ground have attracted the attention of many critics. As a national media, EBC would have to create a favorable environment to discuss these issues in detail using nations, nationalities and peoples’ day as a public forum. Instead of doing this, EBC marginalized this part of the story from its commemorative discourse.
The controversial issues of land ownership, and press freedom were also absent in the EBC’s commemorative discourse. Moreover, the issues of ethnic tension which naturally emanates from ethnic and language based federalism were out of frame. What is more, a narrative which says ethnic and language based federalism eventually downgrade national feeling and unity were marginalized as revealed by this study.
In short, the discourse of nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia as constructed by EBC mainly focused on how the current and the past Ethiopian regimes have/had been approaching them to signify the magnitude of the problem in the past. In doing so, it has excluded the issues I have tried to mention above. Those concepts are equally important to understand the issues of nations, nationalities and peoples in detail.
The findings have also showed that the discursive re-framing of nations, nationalities and peoples’ day commemoration is a means of building national unity, cohesion, and democratization process which has been started 23 years ago. In General, the data (Even though limited) reaffirms how texts were used to uphold and foster particular ideologies to maintain power and dominance.
The findings of this study have showed that the Ethiopian broadcasting corporation has been emphasizing some aspects of reality about nations, nationalities and peoples while ignoring other crucial information about them. The media portrayed that nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia are extremely benefitting from the new political system. Based on these research findings the following recommendations were forwarded:
- EBC has to present all sides of story about nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia in its commemorative discourse. That means the positions of parties and that of the government on nations, nationalities and peoples should be included
- It is true that nations, nationalities and peoples have gained remarkable achievements in a new political system. However, EBC has to include all narratives about nations, nationalities and peoples both from the opposions side and that of the ruling party side to further promote their culture, devolve their languages, and preserve their history.
- EBC has to include the voice of opposition, academic scholars, and other professional who has critical views about the issues of nations, nationalities and peoples
- Through its commemorative discourse, EBC has to set agenda to influence the country adopt more federal working languages, so that more nations, nationalities and peoples will become beneficiaries.
- EBC has to present fair story about the past Ethiopian regimes in addition to feeding dry facts about their mistakes.
- Researchers have to work on this area by including data from private owned newspapers and radio stations.
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The following interview questions were designed and asked in the process of making in-depth interview with six EBC journalists:
1. As you know, Ethiopia marks nations, nationalities and people’s day every year to celebrate the day in which the current Ethiopian constitution was adopted. Since you have produced one of the documentary programs over the past years, tell us a few things about it?
2. I understand that the theme of each year’s commemoration occasion varies. But what were the key messages that you intended to achieve through your documentary texts?
3. How do you construct the meaning or particular interpretation that you want to promote through your documentary texts?
4. How do you interpellate the identity, culture, and language of each nation, nationality and peoples of Ethiopia in your documentary texts?
5. While producing those documentary programs, have you selected and highlighted some aspects of nations, nationalities and peoples’ day while ignoring others?
6. How do you decide what part of information to include or exclude?
7. In your documentary, what kinds of words, video images, and sources of information have you used?
8. What piece of information about Ethiopian nations, nationalities and peoples did you make more noticeable, meaningful, or memorable to audiences?
9. Ethiopian radio and television agency is owned and controlled by the government. Did this fact put influence on you to emphasize some part of your story by de-emphasizing other parts and leaving out some aspects completely?
10. Do your social norms and values, organizational pressures and constraints, pressures of interest groups, journalistic routines, and ideological or political orientations has affected the way you frame the Ethiopian nations, nationalities, and peoples day?
Informant 1 Genanaw Lesegese- Editor
Informant 2 Meskerem Getachew –Editor
Informant 3 Derskedar Mebratu
Informant 6 Eyob Eshetu Producer
Informant 4 Belay Yihdego-Producer
Informant 5- Nebiyou Wonedwesen-Producer
illustration not visible in this excerpt
- Quote paper
- Hailu Mideksa (Author), 2016, The discursive construction of "Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Day" by the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/321939