Return to the Source: Asres Yenesew and the West
The opposition of traditional scholars to the proliferation of modern schools is a fact known to all those who are familiar with the difficult beginning of Ethiopia’s modernization. Besides the opposition of the nobility and the church hierarchy, traditional clerical scholars known as debteras had used all their influence to convince the country of the perilous nature of Western education. Emperor Haile Selassie and those who supported him often had to battle energetically to neutralize their opposition. To the youngsters sent to Western schools before and soon after the Italian invasion of 1935, the opposition of the debteras appeared as a pathetic attempt to stop what was unstoppable, namely, the march of the long-awaited modernization of Ethiopia. They easily figured out that the debteras’ ignorance of the modern world and the anger over the loss of their traditional influence aroused the resistance. Some such defense of the traditional schooling betrayed the most stubborn form of traditionalism, which was nothing else but a wrongheaded endeavor to shield Ethiopia from the benefits of modernization in the name of tradition and the status quo.
Copyright © 2014, International Council for Philosophy and Humanistic Studies
Kebede, Messay, "Return to the Source: Asres Yenesew and the West" (2014). Philosophy Faculty Publications. 42.