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A Ph.D.

Statement of the Purpose

BY Melese Ejara
Submitted to Graduated Committee
August 22, 2019
I am writing this statement of purpose to apply for a Ph.D. program in History at Addis Ababa
University. I earned my Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in History from Wollega University in
June 2015. Soon after that, I started pursuing my postgraduate studies at Jimma University and
graduated with an MA in History in June 2017. My MA thesis is titled “Land Tenure System in
Selale, North Shewa, and 1941-1991.”
Now, I am an instructor at Mekdela Amba University, South Wollo. In addition to teaching and
conducting research, I also have been serving as Head of the Department of History and Heritage
Management since September 2017. I am enthusiastic to pursue doctoral studies in History at
this pioneering and prestigious University in Ethiopia. This is because obtaining a Ph.D. in
History would allow me to be conversant with the historian’s craft at the highest level which also
would enable me to be a competent instructor, a good researcher and advisor of both under and
postgraduate students.
Pertaining to the area of interest for my dissertation, I have been contemplating to conduct my
terminal degree research on “Land and An Agrarian History of Selale, North Shawa since
1941.’’The present topic came to my attention five years ago while I was an undergraduate
student at Wollega University. At that time, I came to recognize that sufficient attention was not
given to the land and agricultural history of Selale as an academic pursuit. Moreover, while I
produced my MA thesis, I have the chance to become better acquainted with the land tenure
system. Hence, I strongly believe and confident that the proposed Ph.D. dissertation will advance
the horizon of our knowledge pertaining to the impact of land tenure on agrarian development,
collectivization of farms, disputes, and litigations over land ownership and women’s access to
land. In addition, it will advance the prospect of our knowledge relating the expansion of tenancy
which led to the eviction of a considerable number of peasants, and of course the responses of
peasants to the tenancy system especially through rich oral songs which often have been
considered as the hallmarks this specific locality.
I have been well informed about the proposed topic and area in general. I have been acquainted
with the existing literature and sources including of course the rich corpus of oral history. In line
with this, I read the works of different writers, mainly from the fields of History. To mention but
a few of them, the work of Bairu Tafla entitled “some Aspects of Land-Tenure and Taxation in
Selale under Ras Daarge 1871-1900,” published in the Journal of Ethiopian Studies. Bairu made
an immense contribution to the history of land tenure in Ethiopia in general and Selale area in
particular. However, this journal article mainly focuses on the period before 1900. Relatively the
most important scholarly work that we have to date on the history of Selale area is an MA thesis
produced by Tsegaye Zeleke (a graduate of Addis Ababa University) titled “The Oromo of
Selale, A History, ca. 1840 -1936…” Apparently, Tsegaye thesis is lucid and important; yet
again most of his discussions focus on the political history of Selale beginning from 1840 to the
coming of the Italians. Another scholarly work, which is relevant for my proposed thesis, is H. S.
Mann’s monograph titled Land Tenure in Chore (Shoa): A Pilot Study, Monographs in
Ethiopian Land Tenure. H. S. Mann demonstrates the classification of land tax and how this was
associated with taxation in Selale awuraja. However, Mann did not discuss in detail how land
tenure was associated with the socio-economy live of the society. Nevertheless, the
aforementioned scholarly works would immensely help me to reconstruct a background history
of the area under consideration. Hence, an attempt will be made to reconstruct and fill the
existing research gap by documenting “Land and An Agrarian History of Selale, North Shawa
since 1941.’’ Unlike previous studies, this study will explore some aspects of environmental

history, land, and agrarian development during the imperial era, (1941-1974), disputes and
litigations over land ownership, collectivization of farms, (1974-1991), women’s access to land,
(1974-1991) and the post-1991 agrarian developments.
Concerning my degree of preparation for research in the area of interest, there are two main
reasons why a study of “Land and Agrarian History of Selale, North Shawa since 1941” may be
of particular relevance in this case. The first reason for which I believe myself the best person to
undertake this topic is that reconstructing the history of one of the least studied themes in
Ethiopian history demands a diligent and systematic collection and analysis of the available data.
Nowadays, archives are found to be the most reliable and relevant historical sources. Regarding
this topic, various types of primary and secondary historical evidence are available. Besides, the
theme under study is a subject of the modern era for which there are abundant written data
especially archives. Likewise, oral sources have now become more prominent for historical
reconstruction of any society. The second reason is that land is one of the basic resources without
which agriculture and economic development are impossible. Nevertheless, the literature on the
subject lacks either temporal or spatial emphasis. Sufficient attention was not paid to land and
agrarian history. Therefore, in light of this evident gap, a twofold opportunity exists to further
knowledge in this field and will be carried out in the study. In my role as a researcher, I have the
knowledge of the geographical area including the language of the society. In this case, I have
published an article entitled “Oral Songs in the Cultural resistance of Selale Oromo” in the
International Journal of Advanced Research. Besides, I have published the book entitled the
Political Economy of Land Tenure Dynamics in Selale. I have also presented research papers in
national and international conferences related to the proposed topic in one way or another.
Beyond that, my active participation in academic writing entitled Reconstructing Historical
Heritages of Mekdela Amba and its Environs prepared me for Ph.D. level studies.

In line with this, Ph.D. studies in History at Addis Ababa University would be valuable to me in
several ways. First, your teaching assistantship program would provide me with the teaching
experience I am eager to acquire. Additionally, earning a Ph.D. from Addis Ababa University in
history would advance me to improve my abilities to understand and solve problems, increase
my confidence and make myself a better writer. It would also offer me to be an independent
researcher committed to the discipline of history to tackle the problem of the society using the
potentials and possibilities embedded in the profession. Likewise, it would also advance me to
have well-versed knowledge in various aspects of the past, especially of Ethiopia and the Horn of
Africa (environmental, political, economic, social, ethnographic, dynamics and intricacies in the
region). In particular, my existing academic and professional work demonstrates an ability to put
forward ideas clearly and concisely. I hope that these areas of my strength will further develop
early in my doctorate. Nevertheless, I am not at all times good in all circumstances, as I would
like to be. I want to discourse this as part of my training and hope to take the improvement of
lessons and progress opportunities early in my doctorate. This part of my expectation emanated
from the fact that one of the goals of the program in history at Addis Ababa University is to
produce scholars who can undertake research through checking and counter checking the sources
that would address the problem of the society in Ethiopia and the horn. In conclusion, I now wish
to continue my academic career with a Ph.D. in history, and I cannot envisage a better place to
study this than the history at the Addis Ababa University as its research interests are an excellent
match for my academic background.