Oromo Self-determination Need, Obsolete or Inherent!  

Oromo Self-determination Need, Obsolete or Inherent!  

By Gizaw Tasissa (PhD), November 2, 2020

Self-determinationSelf-determination is popular but seems challenged by counter parts of itself, i.e. alien determinants. Some argue that self-determination is obsolete and thus a threat to the state/s. Some of these arguments advocate for states under which self determination is in demand.  

In this article, I argue that self-determination is not obsolete, but basic human need that no alien force can stop it. To show this, I adhere to the theory of self-determination for the wellbeing of human being and its implication to the self-determination of the Oromo people. The spring bord of the theoretical analysis is the work of Ryan and Deci (2018) posited as basic needs of competence, relatedness and autonomy. The discussion is divided in two parts; tenets of theory of self-determination and theory of self-determination and the need for self-determination of the Oromo people. At this juncture It is beyond the scope of this bit to discuss self-determination in terms of international human rights law, which I will address in the series to follow in  close observation to Oromo nationalism.

Tenets of Theory of Self Determination

Self-Determination Theory (SDT) represents a broad framework for the study of human motivation and personality. It is a theory that grew out of researchers Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan’s work on motivation in the 1970s and 1980s. Although it has grown and expanded since then, the basic tenets of the theory come from Deci and Ryan’s seminal 1985 on the topic.

SDT articulates a meta-theory for framing motivational studies, a formal theory that defines intrinsic and varied extrinsic sources of motivation, and a description of the respective roles of intrinsic and types of extrinsic motivation in cognitive and social development and in individual differences. Perhaps more importantly, SDT propositions also focus on how social and cultural factors facilitate or undermine people’s sense of volition and initiative, in addition to their well-being and the quality of their performance.  According to Ryan and Deci (2018), conditions supporting the individual’s experience of autonomy, competence, and relatedness are argued to foster the most volitional and high-quality forms of motivation and engagement for activities, including enhanced performance, persistence, and creativity. In addition, SDT proposes that the degree to which any of these three psychological needs is unsupported or thwarted within a social context will have a robust detrimental impact on wellness in that setting-the society.

SDT is plainly described by Deci and Ryan that SDT begins with the assumption that people are active organisms, with evolved tendencies toward growing, mastering ambivalent challenges, and integrating new experiences into a coherent sense of self. These natural developmental tendencies do not, however, operate automatically, but instead require ongoing social nutriments and supports. That is, the social context can either support or thwart the natural tendencies toward active engagement and psychological growth, or it can catalyse lack of integration, defence, and fulfilment of need-substitutes. Thus, it is the dialectic between the active organism and the social context that is the basis for SDT’s predictions about behaviour, experience, and development. Within SDT, the nutriments for healthy development and functioning are specified using the concept of basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. To the extent that the needs are ongoingly satisfied, people will develop and function effectively and experience wellness, but to the extent that they are thwarted, people will more likely evidence ill-being and non-optimal functioning. The darker sides of human behaviour and experience, such as certain types of psychopathology, prejudice, and aggression are understood in terms of reactions to basic needs having been thwarted, either developmentally or proximally.

Basic Psychological needs and Self-determination

Theory of self-determination emanates from the empirical study of human development, which focuses primarily at the psychological level. It differentiates types of motivation along a continuum from controlled to autonomous. It is concerned with how social factors hold up or thwart people’s effort through the satisfaction of their basic psychological needs for competence, relatedness and autonomy, which the satisfaction of these means holistic wellness; the ultimate state of the art.

These psychological needs substantiate the difference between human being and other organisms. Theory of self-determination show that human being possesses inherent development process called organismic integration (Ryan and Deci, 2018 p.29). According to Ryan and Deci, individuals are thought to possess an inherent, active tendency toward the extension, progressive transformation, and integration of structures, functions, and experiences. They also explain that by continuously stretching their capacities, expressing their propensities, and integrating new skills and knowledge into existing structures, people develop in the direction of greater effectiveness, organisation, and relative unity in functioning. This leads to a coherent vital sense of self and integrity which is based on regulation of action by synthesising experiences and values.

Many theories of cognitive and social development (Piaget, 1971; Werner, 1948; Greenspan,1979; McAdams, 2001) emphasised the integrative tendency as an endogenous feature of mind. In education for example, learner centred (Mentessori, 1967; Rogers, 1969, progressives like Dewey.1938 and constructivists -Phillips 1995) assume an inherent curiosity and interest, a natural orientation to actively explore, create, learn and connect integrity ( I will avail a separate article on this).

Despite its innate appeal, there are strong reasons to be sceptical concerning any assumed tendencies toward progressive transformation and integration in development and personality functioning. Some social-cognitive approaches ( Bargh,2008; Markus & Nurius, 1986;  Mischel & Shoda,  1995) portray personality not as self-unifying system but rather  as a collection of selves or self-schemas that are activated by environmental cause . Ryan (1995) unveil that personality is viewed as a store-house or “handbag” of identity related schemata.

Basic psychological needs, healthy development and wellness

Various theories have considered the concept of human needs. Some have focused on needs that are based in physiological process that underlie drive states, whereas others have focused on needs that are conceptualised in terms of psychological process. For the purpose of this , I will concentrate on the later. This follows core psychological needs posited by Ryan and Deci (2018) in line with self-determination theory. According to them, needs are defined as nutrients that are essential for growth, integrity, and wellbeing. Accordingly, basic physical needs pertain to nutrients required for bodily health and safety, include as oxygen, clean water, adequate nutrition, and freedom from physical harms. Along such physical needs, there are also basic psychological needs that must be satisfied for psychological interest, development, and a whole wellness to be sustained. Before looking into these psychological needs let me explore wellness; the ultimate requirement by human beings.

Wellness: The ultimate needs satisfaction of human being is wellness. The criteria for wellness are debatable. Some psychologists (Kahenman, Krueger, Schkade, Shwarz , 2006) have equated the idea of wellbeing with happiness. According to this hedonic (sate of being pleased) approach, wellbeing is primarily defined the presence of positive affect and absence of negative affect. Diener (2000) in Ryan Deci (p239) added to this combination of affects as a cognitive or evaluative element of life satisfaction and described as subjective well-being (SWB).

Other scholars ( Delle Fave, 2009 Ryan & Huta, 2009) argue that subjective happiness and satisfaction alone do not constitute a full or appropriate definition of wellbeing. Underpinning this Aristotle (1869) considered hedonic happiness as a life goal to be a “vulgar” ideal, making humans slavish followers of desires. He posited instead that “true happiness “is to be found in the expression of human excellence and virtue-that is in the doing well of what is worth doing. He described this as eudaimonia. According to him eudaimonia is a basic human goal that is both happy and expressive of what is truly worthy.

Concurring with the idea of eudaimonia Ryan and Deci (2018) assert that wellness is more than merely subjective issue. They view happiness as symptom of wellness, because it typically follows from eudaimonic living and is associated with basic need satisfaction and growth. Thus, wellness is thriving or being fully functioning rather than merely by the presence of positive and absence of negative feelings. Thriving is characterized by vitality, awareness, access to, and exercise of one’s human capacities and true self-regulation. According to Ryan and Deci, fully functioning individuals enjoy a free interplay of their faculties in contracting both their inner needs and states, non-defensively perceiving the circumstances in which they find others and themselves. This type of essential functioning reflects what Perls, Heffered, and Goodman (1951) described as creative adjustment-an ability to be open, welcoming of novelty, and reflective-able to integrate inner or outer inputs into coherent actions. Thus, wellness is a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing.

On average, when people are functioning in a healthy way, they will also tend to report happiness or SWB, as well as other signs of wellness, such as lower symptoms of anxiety or depression, greater energy and vitality, more sense of coherence and meaning, less defensiveness. Because they are fully functioning, they will have deeper relationships, greater clarity of purpose. Thus, wellness is best captured by looking at multiple existential, social and clinical of full functioning. The capacity to fully functioning is determined by factors including biological (i.e. temperament, physical disabilities, intellectual capacities), social, political and economic factors. (Ryan, Deci, Vansteen Kiste, 2016).

Internal and external conditions necessary to support human flourishing and to avoid harms and sustain wellness are one of the main concerns and questions of psychology. This issue is addressed by considering basic psychological needs. There are some properties that distinguish living things from inanimate entities. Among these distinguishing properties is that living things must draw from their environment the resource and necessities that allow them to preserve, maintain, and enhance their existence. By the same token, Ryan and Deci (2018,p.80) assert, living things have needs that , when , fulfilled sustain and fortify their persistence and thriving for better life. This take account of physical and psychological needs. Self-determination theory suggests that people are motivated to grow and change by three innate and universal psychological needs. This theory suggests that people are able to become self-determined when their needs for competence, connection, and autonomy are fulfilled.

Basic psychological needs

As stated earlier, the core psychological needs like physiological needs are universally essential for optimal functioning, regardless of developmental epoch or cultural setting. Ryan and Deci assert    needs are specifically defined as nutrients that are essential for growth, integrity, and wellbeing. With the understanding that basic physiological needs pertain to nutrients required for bodily health and safety, including freedom from harm physical harms, along such needs are also basic psychological needs; needs that must be satisfied for psychological interest, development and human wellness to be sustained.

There are specifiable psychological and social nutrients which when satisfied within the interpersonal and socio-cultural contexts of an individual’s development facilitate growth, Integrity and wellbeing. Conversely, when these psychological need satisfactions are frustrated or thwarted, there are serious psychological harms. Ryan and Deci refer to these necessary satisfactions for personality and cognitive growth as basic psychological needs. The ultimate goal of these needs is human wellness.

The satisfaction of basic psychological needs is essential to optimal development, integrity, and well-being.  Failure to satisfy any of these needs will be manifested in diminished growth, integrity, and wellness. In addition, need frustration due to thwarting of these basic needs is associated with greater ill-being and more impoverished functioning. Ryan and Deci (Ibid) identify the needs for competence, relatedness and autonomy as three basic psychological needs, to which I turn now.

Competence: Competence is one of the basic psychological needs of human being. Competence refers to our basic need to feel effectance and mastery (Ryan, Deci 11). People need to feel able to operate effectively within their important life connect. The need for competence is an inherent striving, manifested in curiosity, manipulation, and a wide range of epistemic motives of reflectance. White (1963:185) says, “reflectance motivation concerns natural active tendency to influence the environment, from which we drive the feeling of efficacy, this is, “the satisfaction that comes with producing effects”. To develop a true sense of perceived competence, people’s action must be perceived as self-organised or initiated; in other words, people must feel ownership of the activities at which they succeed (Deci &Ryan,1985b).  Competent activity that is unstable, that results from controls, does not have the important positive effects that develop from feeling satisfaction and motivated at an activity that is autonomously initiated or endorsed.

Motivation and satisfaction occur when there is a challenge for the success. As Flavell (1977) states, succeeding at a task is not enough to maintain vitality and excitement if the task demands nothing of the person, because intrinsic motivation is a growth function. It is manifested in circumstances in which people have the opportunity to exercise and stretch existing capacities or skills. Situations in which people have mastered a skill are thus ones that would yield high rates of success, but would not typically provide opportunities to growth; they neither stretch nor exercise people’s competencies.

Relatedness: Relatedness is about feelings connected to social environment. According to Ryan & Deci (2014a ,p.11),people feel relatedness most typically when they feel cared for by others. Yet relatedness is also about belonging and feeling significant among others. Thus, equally important to relatedness is experiencing oneself as giving or contributing to others. Relatedness pertains, moreover, to a sense of being integral to social organisations beyond oneself. By feeling connected to close others and by being a significant member of social groups, people experience relatedness and belonging, through contributing to the group or showing benevolence. Reis (1994) asserts that, “the core of relatedness across many varied forms of social interactions involves having others respond with sensitivity and care, conveying that one is significant and appreciated.”

The need to relate or belong is especially critical for understanding people’s tendencies to internalise values and behaviours from their cultures. Because of the need to feel connected, people take interest in what others believe and do, what others expect of them, so they are in position to behave in ways that ensure acceptance and involvement.  Ryan & Deci (2018 p.96) also state that, people can behave in ways that they think others would like in order to feel connected to those others, but unless the people feel somehow personally acknowledged and affirmed for their actions the relatedness will not be fulfilled. They further assert that, like the idea that people’s competence must be ‘owned’ to enhance self-esteem, it is not merely being admired that counts. Rather, people must have perception that others care for them unconditionally rather than conditionally and that they are accepted for who they are.

Autonomy: Human beings are best motivated and kin to function when they are able to regulate their action based on their interests and needs; that is when they are autonomous. As some scholars ( de Charms, 1968; Friedman, 2003; Ryan, 1993; Shapiro, 1981) on this matter assert , autonomy is a form of functioning associated with feeling volitional ,congruent and integrated. Ryan and Lynch (1989) in Ryan and Deci (2018,p10) further explain that , autonomy considered  as this sense of voluntariness is therefore not the same as independence (or self-reliance), as people can be  either autonomously or heteronomous dependent , independent, or interdependent depending  on the context  and behaviour entailed. The hallmark of autonomy is instead that one’s behaviour is self-endorsed, or congruent with one’s authentic interests and values. When acting with autonomy, behaviours are engaged wholeheartedly, whereas one experiences incongruence and conflict when doing what is contrary to one’s volition.  Ryan and Deci stipulate that , only some intentional actions are truly self-regulated or autonomous-others are regulated by external forces or by relatively non-integrated aspects of one’s personality. As such, a person may behave without a sense of volition or self-endorsement of her or his actions. Self is, in this sense, not synonymous with person. People’s behaviour and expression of values can be initiated and/or regulated by internal or external pressures that either overrule or bypass true self-regulation.

It should be understood that these basic human needs are inclusively co-dependent. the following figure summarises basic human needs discussed above in line with self-determination.

Fig 1: Self-determination theory and the role of need satisfaction in motivation /self-determined

These basic needs of competence relatedness and autonomy are identified functionally because they serve well to integrate the results of behavioural experiments concerning the effects of environmental events and interpersonal contacts on intrinsic motivation and the internalisation of extrinsic regulations. Ryan and Deci (ibid p, 242) view all people as affected by the satisfaction of the basic psychological needs for competence, relatedness, and autonomy. They posit that greater basic need satisfaction will result in enhanced wellness and greater need and greater need frustration diminishes wellness. The satisfaction and frustration of these psychological needs vary within persons over time, context and social interactions. Failure to satisfy any of these basic needs will be manifested in diminished growth, integrity and wellness.

SDT approach to identity formation

Identities are self-representations that refer to the significant roles, activities, passions, and self-concepts that people hold and engage with during their lives. Viewing this from SDT perspective, Ryan and Deci (p385) state that, the formation of identity can be understood in terms of the concepts of basic psychological needs and organismic integration. People develop identities in attempt to satisfy their needs for relatedness, competence, and autonomy, and the degree to which they experience need satisfaction while forming identities has a strong influence on both the content of those identities and the way they are anchored in the people’s psyches. Since identities are formed under the dual influences of individual diversities and cultural affordances, the form and degree to which they are internalized also vary. These variations are expected to be a function largely of the basic need supports and satisfactions that individuals experience while exploring and endorsing new identities.SDT approach to identity formation

SDT assumes that there are numerous identities. One has multiple identities that are more versus less integrated within a single self. Along with this assumption is the view that identities also tend to be dynamic and fluid, especially during formative years. Although identity is often thought of as an enduring aspect of persons, a person’s ownership   of varied identities is expected to vary among social contexts, precisely because of the varying relations between the person’s self-presentation and the experienced supports or thwarts to need satisfaction that pertain to those various contexts. People conceal certain identities and personal characteristics or highlight them as a function of the interpersonal context they happen to be in.

At the centre of the process of accepting identities are people’s inherent desires to experience relatedness to individuals, groups, or cultures. By accepting the values, mores, missions, attitudes and behaviours of others, people feel a sense of connectedness rather than loneliness. They feel part of a group, experiencing relatedness to others and belongingness within the social order. Further, identities can also support the need for competence. Often people orient toward identities-perhaps being a painter or a physic, for example-that require skill acquisition, offer optimal challenges, and allow them to be feel effective. Finally, the formation of identities can fulfil people’s need for autonomy. If they engage the relevant activities as an expression of their values and interests and experience a sense of choice while doing so. Concisely, people tend to settle toward those identities that allow maximal satisfaction of their basic psychological needs. It is worth noting that there are anchoring identities within the self, due to intrinsic inclinations.

However, considerable social contexts are controlling, rejecting or branding of certain identities, values and roles. This may end up with adopting identities that have a less authentic fit, in this case is darker and self-destructive nature. Identities and their associate value systems can serve a defensive function, being pursued simply in order to appear worthy and gain social acceptance from others or to compensate for insecurity or thwarted need satisfaction

Autonomy and Heteronomy in Relation to Self

As noted earlier, Autonomy literally means “self-governing” and connotes, therefore, regulation by the self. Its opposite, heteronomy, refers to regulation by an “other” (heteron) and thus, of necessity, by forces experienced as other than, or alien to the self (Ryan Deci 2018 p.53). The human capacity for self-consciousness renders human able to transcend our experience, and ultimately to confer value on objects and aims, including values arrived at through the application of reflection and reason. In this view, it is one’s choices that ultimately affirm or disaffirm features of objects that may attract or repel us, allowing for autonomous actions ( Korsgaard, 2009).  According to Ryan and Deci (ibid), these acts of consciousness and choice allow us to reflect on, organize, and prioritize our inclinations, aversions and values. This very process is synthetic in the sense that through it action becomes unified, with the associated experience of integrity.

Brento (1973) and Husserl (1980) distinguish between self-determine acts, those that reflect one’s will, and acts that result from other forms striving or motivation. Acts of will are experienced “precisely not as an occurrence caused by a different agent but as an initial act of the “ego centre itself.” (Pfander 1967:20). In his view, even one’s action is initiated by stronger inner impulses or by external demands, it can still be self-determined insofar as the action is characterized by an endorsement of the behaviour by the self, or in his terms, one’s “ego centre”. In contrast, non-self-determined actions are those perceived to be compelled by forces outside the self with which one does not concur.

Ricoeur (1966) in Ryan and Deci (ibid :54) further examined the complexities of will and self-determination. He highlighted that self-endorsement of an action need not imply a literal absence of salient external cues or even stronger pressures to be acting. People at times can be volitional and “free” even under such pressures, provided they concur with the behaviours being mandated. The issue of autonomy thus lies in the true ascent to the authority and the sense of its legitimacy. Accordingly, Ricoeur understood that self-determination can apply not only to spontaneous self-initiated choices but also to acts of wilfully consenting to, or being truly receptive of external obligations or legitimate demands and moral responsibilities. At the same time, because we can reflect on our possibilities and our valuing of things, choice is possible.

Collective versus individual self-determination and the support of diversity

In ideal social world, individuals exist in collective human settings. These collective settings provide support for human development and sense of belonging and purpose. Ryan and Deci (ibid) identify two kinds of groups; those that are elective and those people that “fall into” by birth, nationality or cultural assignment. In connection to this, Appiah (2005) assert that human groups, particularly the most powerful of the nonelective varieties attempt to constrain human choice, diversity and autonomy in the service of ensuring continuing group identification and cohesion, or in the service of maintaining the status quo relation of power.

Many of those who most strongly object to individual autonomy do so because they see individual autonomy as representing a threat to the traditional cultural, ethnic and religious groups and to agreement with their practices. However, trends include an increased global trend for recognising the rights and freedoms for previously oppressed or stigmatized groups of people and calls for acceptance and greater expression of human diversity (Frankm, 2001).

The major issue here is how diversities and identifications are regulated both within groups and within the nation’s housing them. There is invariantly a tension between the very natural diversification propensities inherent in human genetic and cultural evolutions and the inherent tendencies of existing groups and institutions to maintain continuity and cohesion, groups and institutions can address this tension either by accommodating and supporting diversity or by suppressing variations and mandating conformity. Ryan and Deci (Obcit) assert that, when group marginalizes or suppresses quite natural variations of humanity, basic psychological needs are likely to be thwarted.

It is apparent that considering the boundaries between natural and merely constructed values and propensities of humanity is philosophical. Rather, SDT posit that this is more clearly an empirical question, it will not be answered simply by duelling ideologies or belief systems, but by the actual analysis of functional outcomes of basic human needs including basic psychological needs, that are met or unmet by particular cultural practices and the consequences that follow from them.

Throughout history, pressure toward specific roles and norms has meant that individuals have often had to turn away from compelling interests, attributes or concerns that appeared incompatible with domination religious or cultural authorities. As people are given room to find fitting identities, and as they perceive tolerance (both pervasive and proximal) for expressing them, they will move toward more matching identities and heighten wellness ( see Lagate, DeHaan, Weinstein & Ryan 2013). Self-determination theory (SDT) suggests that humans flourish with support for diversity more than they do when they are constrained to ignore or suppress authentic aspects of their own nature.  Indeed, it is one thing to have the right to pursue what one values, but is quite another to have the capacity and resource to do so.

Political Impacts on Basic Needs Satisfaction

As stated earlier, Self-determination is the process of defining own destination or level of autonomy. In terms of political needs, Megret (2016) states that “Self-determination will be understood as encompassing the search for all kinds of political arrangements that further the ability groups to govern themselves, including the search for autonomy…In other words self-determination is a much broader notion than secession”. Thus, one can say that self-determination is a means to satisfy needs; but is not an end.

People are entrenched within political and economic contexts that shape how they view the world. This includes what they value, what they are concerned about, and how they conceptualize their own power and place within the system around them.  According to Ryan and Deci(ibid) Political and economic systems are pervasive social influences experienced by individuals or systems as givens, and the behaviours elicited by these pervasive elements considered as normative. They may not perceive the impact of experiencing these pervasive experiences and have little awareness of alternatives.

Ryan and Deci stated, the relationship of political system and psychological needs satisfaction and wellness is a process through which political and economic forms become anchored within the selves of the individuals who live in them, and impacts of political systems on basic psychological need satisfactions and thus on people’s wellbeing and full functioning.

As noted in Ryan and Deci (ibid) Aristotle saw political structures as essential to a healthy societal life. In his view political system exists ideally to advance the wellness of all its citizens- that is, the system should work for the enhancement of the common good. May (2010) further argue that, Aristotle saw the effective state as supplying a legal ecology, which, although external to the individual is essential in promoting his or her flourishing. In May’s analysis, this legal ecology includes support for individual’s freedom and competence to pursue multiple possible selves, conducing to autonomy and self-concordance.

Stated in Curren (2013), Aristotle viewed the role of citizens as being active rather than passive. In this conception, human are political animals, and ideally, they are engaged participants in their society’s system of laws, justice and the general maintenance of the social order. That is, optimally, citizens are not just subjected to governments, but rather they identify with and autonomously participate in them. For its reciprocal part, governments would aim to enhance the common good and to govern through consent rather than force (Curren, 2013).

Regrettably, both past and present-day realities underline that governments have not often gripped to these ideas.  Throughout human history people have been ruled by dictators in many parts of the world. The idea of broad participation in governance has only recently become prominent. Even contemporary political systems vary widely in whether people are treated as participants in, or objects of state power.

As pervasive influences, political systems influence individuals’ behavioural regulation and psychological wellness directly and indirectly. Governments create and enforce laws and policies that directly attempt to regulate, constrain, and or channel human behaviours through external regulations. Governments also regulate behaviours indirectly through normative massaging, information discrimination, policy justifications, and media control. Ways in which governments design, promote and enforce mandates and regulations can all affect how well the laws are internalized and thus why people obey them (Tyler:1990) . Process for creating law can be inclusive or exclusive; they can also be transparent or secretive. Strategies and procedures of enforcing laws can minimally coercive and respectful of individuals’ rights or draconian and fear inducing some governments maintains themselves through persuasion and attempts to cultivate autonomous public support, whereas others do so through power, prisons, and police, fostering controlled motives for compliance. These regulatory approaches obviously affect basic need satisfactions, as people experience more voice versus self-silencing and more empowerment versus fear (Deci &Ryan, 2012).

As to the questions, are people motivated to accept and obey the government and its laws, and if so why, and the question is compliance with policies or laws autonomous or controlled ; Ryan and Deci (2018) assert that  “… one would expect the quality of behavioural adherence and satisfaction with laws to be positively associated with a sense of voice, choice, inclusiveness, and fairness in decision making and enforcement” (p.594). On the other way of process, the more totalitarian a government the less common is autonomous internalization in the populous, and thus the more important are force, fear, and threat to regime maintenance. Among the tactics, totalitarian governments rely heavily upon to mobilize compliance in the masses are the suppression of free expression, controlling followers with privileges and rewards, and conjuring threats by external enemies. Conversely, the more democratic the society is, the more governmental stability and functioning must rely on autonomous internalization and active, informed participation. Such democratic society enhances more integrated forms of internalization and autonomous participation. This is because democracy functions best when an informed public freely exercises its rights and privileges and thus more fully follows the regulation and mandates of the system.

Regarding the relationship between political regulation of behaviour and autonomy, Deci and Ryan (2012) say: “People will be more likely to autonomously comply with government regulations to the extent that there is perceived legitimacy  to those regulations” In so far as individual citizens accept the legitimacy of a government or its policies, they are internalizing and integrating its laws and then acting more volitionally in carrying them out” (p.595).

Legitimacy is a psychological rather than merely a legal concept. Infarct, what is legal may not be perceived as legitimate. The experience of perceived choice has a multiple positive effect consequence in more proximal social context. Allowing people to make meaningful decisions facilitate their experience of choice and enhance their intrinsic motivation (Patall, Cooper, & Robinson, 2008); an effect presumably mediated by enhancing a sense of autonomy. Autonomous support and provision of choice have also been shown to facilitate internalization of extrinsic motivation (e.g., Deci, Eghrari,, Patrick 1994).

DeCaro and Stokes (2008) in their literature review suggested that, regulatory initiatives promoted through primarily non-autonomy-supportive tactics (such as to avoid economic fines or to secure economic rewards) are less motivating than those endorsed for autonomous reasons. This means, providing for democratic participation in management, inclusiveness in decision making with stakeholders and respectful, non-coercive are means through which government system can be successful.

Authoritarian political systems that use centralized power and force to regulate social are common. A regime is more authoritarian to the extent that its predominant style of ensuring compliance relies on external control and force. Controlling political systems are often precariously anchored in their subjects’ psyches and rarely integrated. However, this does not mean that these systems are necessarily ineffective, or that some subjects may not become “true believers”, but rather that the nature of external controls in authoritarian contexts will more generally foster a lower level of internalization and belongingness.

Moghaddam (2013) suggested that, within dictatorships and totalitarian governments, it is the masses who are largely kept obedient through external regulation. Because of their reliance on controlling strategies develop shallow internalization of citizens within authoritarian regime.

In this section I showed that self-determination is defined in terms of basic psychological needs of competence, relatedness and autonomy that these self-determination needs are a continuous human propensity. I discussed that natural and social conditions facilitate or thwart the satisfaction of these needs and thus wellbeing of the individual and the group. In the section to follow I will show how these needs apply to the Oromo need for self-determination.

Theory of Self-Determination and The Need for Self -determination of the Oromo People

In the earlier section, it has been argued that self-determination is an inherent human need that should be met for the wellbeing of humanity. In this section, I will show how Oromo quest for self-determination is a human inherent propensity in line with competence, relatedness and autonomy human needs discussed above.

Competence is one of the basic needs that should be met for the welling of humanity, individual or collective. Member individuals make up the Oromo people. The fact that these individuals live intact with their fellow Oromos, they need to feel able to operate effectively in their important life within the Oromo society. The Cohesive shared value and skill of the individual members make up the Oromo a collective and cohesive human entity, a nation. Hunting skills like marksmanship, navigation (follow and detect where animals hide) and shooting skills are individual as well as collective competences that boost satisfaction. The skill is collective because hunting is a collective duty like duty of an army.   For instance, the one successful in hunting is welcomed by the society and acclaimed, but there should be group of people who witness and affirm this. He expresses his bravery by poetry song and gentle dancing, people around him celebrating this in collective. This has implication for Oromo collective competence that such heroes in the society boost the competence of the collective to protect their territory. They also value protecting and effective use of natural resources. They demonstrate metal and gold smith, pottery, tannery and leatherwork, textile, home economics, agricultural and social communication skills. The value they place on safeguarding their surrounding from harm, protect their nation, exercising their rituals and egalitarian and distributive leadership, valuing names that reflect their culture are some manifestations of their competences. Traditional games such as “Kolle or Qille” (Hockey), Geengo (the ability to passing hard sharp stick through  fast rolling ring  from arranged distance and hook to the ground and stop it from rolling) and ( Otaalcho (jumping). Also are dancing and singing skills like Shaaggoyye, “Gello” , Shubbisa etc. Some of these are inherent values and skills while others are constructed. To distinguish between the two is possible but, beyond the scope of my intention now. These are inherent with curiosity and volution without alien determination the Oromo people used to manifest.

Despite the Oromo people need to satisfy these basic needs for their wellbeing, they are thwarted if not destroyed by alien forces or heteronomous, like the introduction of Islam, Christianity and   the colonial Abyssinians/Ethiopians. The role of the Abyssinian rulers is premium in this regard. By denying this ,the Ethiopianists consider colonialism as a no-touch notion in Ethiopian context. However, by way of showing Abyssinian Menelik’s colonization, Bulcha (2016, p294) is right when he says, “To say a problem which was experienced by a sector of its polity in the nineteenth century will cause the disintegration of   a state in the twenty-first century is to admit that the problem has remained unchanged.”  Since the western defined colonialism in the way they colonized the rest of the world, the Ethiopianists tend to attach colonialism to the capitalists, thus to the white people or to the west only, whereas black-black colonization is evident in Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular.

Relatedness is another basic human need for self-determination.  This is about feelings connected to social and physical environment for care for themselves and for others as well. They bring their propensity of competences and skills they already have inherited and developed to interplay with others. The Oromo people start this from the very vicinity of living together described by their language “Ollaa” (neighbourhood). The Oromo value behaviour that endures any social problem and live with one’s neighbour peacefully. Ollaa could be an immediate neighbour or neighbour nation. In the latter case the Oromo respects and values the right of others in the same way they need their rights and values to be respected and valued. One of outstanding skill and team work of Oromo tradition pertaining to relatedness is “Dabo” or “ Jigi”. This is a collective labour to help each other. It could be on prorated bases or help an individual who couldn’t complete what he is expected to do without rota. The rota is determined by the stakeholders. They also value to be related with people other than their ethnicity and care for them if for any reason the foreigner wants to be in their territory. They call this “Hammachisaa” (Embrace). The socio-political meaning of this is to receive the foreigner as a member of the society and provide them with what they need equal to an Oromo citizen. This is also an Oromo inherited tendency to engage minorities into their socio-political life. This practice is to the extent that there is belongingness and cared by others and that there is a feeling significant among others, as asserted by Ryan & Deci above, people feel relatedness most typically when they feel cared for by others. The value of Hammachisaa underpins collective settings provided to support human development and sense of belonging and purpose and the interplay of individual and collective vales as wells diversity theory of self-determination pointed earlier. As I described above, the Oromo feel integrated and ownership when they participate with the egalitarian institution, Gada system they produced volitionally. The Gada system is an inclusive and caring system from the very beginning of the birth of an individual to   life time. By feeling connected to close others/nations and by being a significant member of social groups, the Oromo experience relatedness and belonging, through contributing to the group or showing benevolence.

While this is their relatedness need, it is questionable if others within or alien to the Oromo people have responded with care and mutually to this.  Regarding this, Ryan & Deci (2018 p.96) are right when they say, people can behave in ways that they think others would like in order to feel connected to those others, but unless the people feel somehow personally acknowledged and affirmed for their actions the relatedness will not be fulfilled. The Oromo people instead of being appreciated for this relatedness need and act, these needs are coerced and even destroyed, at some cases, by alien forces, Abyssinian colonizers/ Naftegna again. This subjugation which emerged in the 19th c is still persisting in a very systematic and sophisticated way. The values, culture, and competences they used for relatedness not only thwarted but exterminated in some cases. With the intention of assimilation of the subject Oromo people, they changed Oromo semantic personal names to Amharic semantic personal names. This assimilation was coordinated with coercive Orthodox church. They take turn to use biblical name but in Amharic semantics and a name that suits Amhara semantics and culture. Among millions, with no further reference, I and my siblings are victims of such personal name without our interest and knowledge. This was rampant until 1991 where the Oromo started to reclaim their identity and name their offspring accordingly. Read Bulcha (2016),  Jalata (1998) for  further details in this regard. With the intention of assimilation, this didn’t stop with changing personal names, but  place name like Ciro to Asebe Teferi, Ambo to Hagerhiwot, Finfinne to Addis Abeba, Adaama to Nazereth, Bishoftu to Debrezeit etc were also renamed. Though the Oromo renamed these places, still the Naftegna call them either or.  As it stands the Oromo people   perception that these alien forces care for them unconditionally rather than conditionally seems very slim and in question.

Autonomy is another human need; the Oromo deserve to. The Oromo were able to regulate their action based on their interests and needs, that means they were autonomous. The homogeneity of the Oromo nation is sanctified by Hammachisaa or embracing the minorities as pointed above. This inherited vale and skill signifies theory of self-determination that rectifies the importance of considering individual rights while addressing collective rights and that of the international human rights law.

The Oromo were autonomous to use their indigenous language, Afaan Oromo, regulate their territory and resource, practice their culture and elect their leadership until the colonization in 19th c mentioned above. After this time, however, they were not able to do so.  The gunned persons/ Naftegna who were meant to implement colonizer’s policy took the Oromo land, dismissed their institutional establishments mainly the Gada system and replaced with the colonizer’s system, values and beliefs. Jalata (1998) stipulates that “Oromo culture, history and language have been despised and repressed by Ethiopians as primitive, background and inferior…since maintaining an Oromo identity has blocked access to goods and services and self-improvement, the Oromo intermediate class sacrificed their culture and identity and allowed themselves to be Ethiopianised and humiliated” (p3). I would say this humiliation is a colonial mentality that is internalized attitude of some Oromos who feel their cultural inferiority as a result of colonization, i.e. as a result of being colonized by the Abyssinians.  It corresponds with the belief that the cultural values of the Abyssinians are inherently superior to one’s own, that some hesitate even to identify themselves saying “I am Oromo” and prefer to say “I am Abasha”. (I recommend farther research on this issue).

As shown earlier, competence, relatedness and autonomy are basic psychological needs that the Oromo people deserve for ultimate satisfaction and motivation and thus self-determined. Despite this, these needs are thwarted and coerced by external forces and thus the need for self-determination as shown by the following figure.

Fig. 2. Oromo need for self-determination and basic human needs

The Oromo people need for competence, relatedness and autonomy is nurtured by the natural and social environment they lived and still living. These needs and values were self-determined practices for some time until they were coerced by colonisers. Thus, the coercion turned social and political. With this, they lost the power of controlling and satisfying their inherited self-determination needs.

It should be well understood that the need for self-determination is not merely a right but a need, that any alien force can’t ever stop from being materialised. By the same token, politically motivated colonizers and the prevailing imbalance of power may restrain the need for self-determination provisionally, but cannot stop the Oromo people and others from marching for self-determination, even at individual level. Scientists Ryan and Deci, (2018) stipulate that, movements toward rights and freedom at the political level are thus assumed to enhance opportunities for autonomy, competence and relatedness satisfactions at a personal level.

On the other hand, fuzzy thoughts that self-determination is obsolete is a common-sense predisposition and is counterfeit. Morss (2016 p184) is right when he says, the claim that self-determination is obsolete could be said to reflect the privilege of the powerful states that have long ago achieved independence still aspired to by other populations. It might therefore be a matter of cultural and geographical hegemony to define that aspiration as out-dated.

Some proponents of obsolesce refer to the ambiguity of domestic and international laws in this regard. However, laws are only arrangements and agreements to implement the need for self-determination.   If obsolete, however, it is this arrangement and agreement, i.e. the law, not the need for self-determination.  It is neither the law nor alien forces that determine the status qua of self-determination of Oromia, but the Oromo people exclusively.

Let me conclude by Ohlin’s (2016) assertion that …the right of self-determination belongs to a cluster of legal rights, including the right to be free from aggression and genocide, which emerge from natural rights: the right to exist and resist autonomy-threatening attacks. Thus, the Oromo people have the right to exist and resist anti self- determination forces until the need is met.



Will be provided in the article to follow

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.