Article published in:Memory and memorialization
Edited by Eliezer Ben-Rafael and Elana Shohamy
[Linguistic Landscape 2:3] 2016
► pp. 275–290
Linguistic Landscape as standing historical testimony of the struggle against colonization in Ethiopia
Ethiopia is Africa’s oldest independent country and its second largest in terms of population. Apart from a five-year occupation by Italy, which is considered as a war time, the country has never been colonized. The Linguistic Landscape (LL) of Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia and the seat of the African Union, prominently depicts that important history. Erected in the main squares of the city, the various monuments serve as standing testimonies of the struggle, victory and important figures pertaining to Italian fascist invasion of Ethiopia. Moreover, there are different institutions (schools, hospitals) and infrastructures (bridges, streets) officially named after significant historical moments. Visible in the central locations and squares of the city, monuments, statues, and the naming of streets, bridges, schools, and hospitals, keep the peoples’ memory about the struggle against the Italian invasion and the victories obtained. Symbols of the Lion of Judah, cross and national flags are also part of the public exhibit marking identities, ideologies and references to the country’s history. This study aims at showing how the LL serves as a mechanism to build the historical narrative of Ethiopia. It overviews how the LL in Addis Ababa via its monuments depicts the anti-colonial struggle and the victory over Fascist Italian forces. The monuments considered are: the Victory Monument, The Patriots Monument, The Abune Petros statute, and the Menelik II Statue. After presenting background aspects, this paper tackles Ethiopians’ memories of the Italian invasion as expressed in Addis Ababa’s LL and their identity construction and reconstruction. The last section discusses the findings and draws concluding remarks. Methodologically, digital Figures of the monuments were collected coupled with interview. Ethnographic approaches to the LL are used to analyze the selected memorial objects. As Creswell (2003) indicates ethnographic designs like qualitative research procedures, aims at describing, analyzing, and interpreting a culture-sharing group’s patterns of behavior, beliefs, and language. Semi-structured interviews were carried out in 2014 with a sample of 15 pedestrians, males and females, of different ages and educational categories who were standing in front of the monuments waiting for buses. The interviewers wanted to know what people think of the significance and relevance of location of the monuments in the public space. Most of the interviewees tended to support the views of the prevailing popular interpretations. They strongly relate the monuments with memories of brutality of Italian invaders on the one hand, and the strong resistance, patriotism and heroism of the Ethiopian people. The interviews agree that this unique victory needs to keep being celebrated and glorified as part of the history of Ethiopia.
Keywords: linguistic landscape, statue, history, monument, memorial
Published online: 03 March 2017
Ben-Rafael, E., Shohamy, E., Amara, M., & Trumper-Hecht, N.
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