The Ethnic and Civic Foundations of Citizenship and Identity in the Horn of Africa


  • Redie Bereketeab

    1. Nordic Africa Institute
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    • * Redie Bereketeab is a researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala, Sweden. He holds a Ph.D. in sociology from Uppsala University. An earlier version of this article was presented in 2008 to the Horn of Africa Conference in Lund.


The article seeks to analyse the ethic and civic forms of citizenship and identity in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia and to some extent Sudan are pursuing the ethnic model. While Eritrea and Djibouti pursue the civic model, Somalia represents a special case. Ethnic citizenship may guarantee equal rights, self-rule, and self-fulfilment; however, it could also be a cause of division and irredentism. Civic citizenship could create unity and cohesion in polyethnic societies; it could also lead to majority domination. The article contends that both models are relevant where the national level could be served by the civic model and the sub-national is served by the ethnic model. The article concludes that the politics of domination are the main obstacle to the equal rights of citizens, and therefore politics of domination should be replaced by the politics of rights.