The Imperial Policies in Land Reform and the Conditions of Peasants in Highland Gimbi, Western Wallaga, Ethiopia (1941-974): Historical Perspective

Bijiga Gerba


Land has been an economic and political basis in the history of Ethiopia.The feudal governments since the time of Minilik II measured, confiscated and redistributed land to those politically important individuals. The objective of this study is to assess the imperial policies in land reform and the conditions of peasants in highland Gimbi, Western Wallaga from 1941 to 1974. This study has used both primary and secondary sources to examine the imperial government land reform and the conditions of peasants in highland Gimbi from 1941 to 1974. Archival sources from Wolde-Mesqal Archival center at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa University, and oral sources[1] collected through in-depth interview are extremely important in this regard. Under the imperial government in post-liberation period, land reform and its grants to officials and others concentrated land in few hands whereas the number of the landless peasants highly increased. Even though, the 1952 imperial order theoretically enabled the landless farmers to get half gasha of land, in Gimbi no grant was made to the landless peasants. Land privatization was aggravated under the restored government. Above all, with the intensification of coffee cultivation, in highland Gimbi the price of land was exacerbated to the extent that only the well-to-do class members were able to buy land at the expense of the majority of the peasants. Overall, the study of the imperial policies in land reform and its impacts on the population at the grassroot level enable us to have a better historical perspective towards land tenure system and the peasants whose livelihood directly tied to it.

Keywords -Land tenure, land reform, land measurement, landless peasants, Gimbi

DOI: 10.7176/HRL/52-03

Publication date: December 31st 2020

1Informants were willing to share their views on the issues they were interviewed, but some asked for confidentiality of their identities. So, instead of mentioning their name the researcher prefer to indicate them by number in reference

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