Tsega Etefa

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Tsega Etefa

Professor of History and Africana and Latin American Studies

Department/Office Information

History, Africana and Latin American Studies
316 Alumni Hall

BA (1992), MA (1997), Addis Ababa University; PhD, University of Hamburg (2006)

Years Institution
2006 - Present Colgate University, New York
2002 - 2006 University of Hamburg, Germany
2000 – 2001 Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
1997 – 2000 Bahir Dar University, NW Ethiopia
1992 – 1997 Addis Abba University, Ethiopia



Book cover of The Origins of Ethnic Conflict in Africa

The Origins of Ethnic Conflict in Africa: Politics and Violence in Darfur, Oromia, and the Tana Delta. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019. Series: African Histories and Modernities.

Drawing on a transnational study involving Darfur, Oromia, and the Tana Delta this book argues that the origins of ethnic conflict are poorly understood and that political grievances are the most important culprit. The underlying factor for the Arab and non-Arab wars of the 1980s and the 1990s in Darfur, the Gumuz and Oromo clashes in Western Oromia, and the Oromo-Pokomo conflict in the Tana Delta since 1991 was neither land nor climate change, despite the fact that most ethnic armed conflicts manifest in natural resources usage. The major historical problems include the non-inclusive political system, manipulation of ethnicity, chronic marginalization and neglect, monopolization of state resources, and exclusion coupled with lack of any democratic mechanism to address them.


“In this book, focusing on three sets of conflicts in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Sudan, Tsega Etefa effectively demonstrates that identity conflicts are caused by grievances rooted in political exclusion, economic marginalization, and social neglect of particular identity groups. The book's strength lies in its comparative approach and its scope of coverage. It is rich in historical detail and nuance, demonstrating the author’s impressive knowledge of the region of East Africa and the identity group dynamics therein.”

Wanjala S. Nasong'o, Professor of International Studies, Rhodes College, Memphis, USA

 “This is a very impressive book. Tsega Etefa marshals an incredible amount of historical detail, bringing together three, seemingly disparate cases from different political contexts and uncovering the similarities between them. The result is a powerful contribution to the study of ethnic conflict in Africa.”

Stephen W. Orvis, Professor of Government, Hamilton College, USA

Book cover of Integration and Peace in East Africa

Integration and Peace in East Africa: A History of the Oromo Nation, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012


“A beautifully crafted history of the Oromo of East Africa that contributes significantly to an African understanding of peace, social cohesion, and communitarian politics. A seminal work that will remain a must-read for historians of Africa and Africanists—indeed a must for those studying the Oromo, Ethiopia, and the Horn of Africa.”

Mario Aguilar, director of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics, St. Mary’s College, University of St. Andrews.

“Occasionally, an inspiring book emerges that captures our imagination through the richness of its sources, the depth of its analysis, the freshness of its interpretation, and so eloquently expressing the unique role the Oromo population played in the history of Eastern Africa. Such is Dr. Tsega Etefa's Integration and Peace in East Africa: A History of the Oromo Nation. The publication of this book will enrich, expand, and widen our understanding of the dynamic role the Oromo nation played in Eastern Africa, which hitherto has been neglected in the literature on Ethiopia and Kenya. This is an invaluable book on Oromo history and will remain in demand for years to come.”

Mohammed Hassen, Associate Professor, Department of History, Georgia State University

Book Cover of Inter-Ethnic Relations on a Frontier

Inter-Ethnic Relations on a Frontier: Mätäkkäl (Ethiopia), 1898-1991, Wiesbaden Germany: Harrassowitz, 2006. Series: Aethiopistische Forschungen





Journal Articles

"Slaves to Scholars: The Contributions of Former Oromo Slaves in Eastern Africa," The Journal of Oromo Studies 24, no. 1&2 (2017): 13-36.

A Great African Nation: The Oromo in Some European Accounts,” The Journal of Oromo Studies 17, no. 1(2010): 87-110.

Pan-Oromo Confederations in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries”, The Journal of Oromo Studies, 1, no.15, (2008), 19-40.

“Christian Influences on Shinasha Oral Traditions”, Hamburger Afrikanistische Arbeitspapiere (HAAP) 3, Hamburg, 2005, 1-12.

Book Chapter

Protestant Mission Activities and Persecutions in Bahir Dar: A Chronicle, 1968-1994”, Ethiopia and the Missions: Historical and Anthropological Insights, Verena Böll et al (eds.), Munster, 2005, 209-220.


“Ras Tesemma” Dictionary of African Biography (2011

“Leeqaa,” Encyclopaedia Aethiopica III,Siegbert Uhlig (ed.), Harrassowitz Verlag:Wiesbaden, 2007, 541-542

“Meedhicha” (with Dr. Paul Baxter),Encyclopaedia Aethiopica III,Siegbert Uhlig (ed.), Harrassowitz Verlag: Wiesbaden, 2007, 907.

“Machakkal," Encyclopaedia Aethiopica III,Siegbert Uhlig (ed.), Harrassowitz Verlag:Wiesbaden,2007, 615.

“Ras Mesfin,” Encyclopaedia Aethiopica III,Siegbert Uhlig (ed.), Harrassowitz Verlag:Wiesbaden,2007, 832-833.

”Nejjo,” Encyclopaedia Aethiopica III,Siegbert Uhlig (ed.), Harrassowitz Verlag:Wiesbaden,2007, 1113-1114

“Gebre Sellassie” (Biftu Anno), Encyclopaedia Aethiopica II,Siegbert Uhlig (ed.), Harrassowitz Verlag:Wiesbaden,2005, 2005, 627-628.

“Ateetee,” Encyclopaedia Aethiopica I,Siegbert Uhlig (ed.), Harrassowitz Verlag:Wiesbaden, 2003, 391-192.

Public Scholarship

“Sudan created a paramilitary force to destroy government threats – but it became a major threat itself,” The Conversation

"What's causing the violence in western Ethiopia," The Conversation

"Darfur: how historical patterns of conflict are haunting current violence," The Conversation

"Darfur: tracing the origins of the region's strife and suffering," The Conversation

"Explainer: tracing the history of Sudan's Janjaweed militia," The Conversation

Summer Peacekeeping Institute, June 2006, World Learning, School for International Training, Brattleboro, Vermont; University of Hamburg Research Assistant in Ethiopian Studies; University of Hamburg selection of my dissertation for publication in a prestigious series Athiopistische Forschungen of the University; Fritz Thyssen Stifung travel award for research at Durham University; Berghof Stiftung Research grant award; DAAD Scholarship award for PhD research; Organization for Social Science research in Eastern and Southern Africa Research grant award