Doctor of Ministry

Year Approved


First Advisor

Klem, Herbert


This thesis project explored the root causes of the ethnic conflicts in the Gambella region of Ethiopia. It examined the issues of ethnic, social, political, and historical conflict occurring at the regional level, which are vital to comprehensively understanding the nature and outcome of the local conflicts. These are embedded in geopolitics, the politics of established administrative agencies established in Gambella by different empires and governments, militarization, ethnicity, socio-economics, deprivation, inequality, marginalization, discrimination, racism, and the undemocratic institutions of the region, as well as the absence of effective mechanisms for national and sub-regional dispute resolution. The lack of implementation and application of a true democratic administration in the region causes painful grievances in the hearts of the indigenous people of Gambella. These grievances germinated in their hearts during the incorporation of the Gambella region into the Ethiopian state at the end of the twentieth century, when new categories of people, largely of Amhara and Oromo origin (Ethiopian highlanders), were introduced. Since then, there has been a history of conflict, civil wars, authoritarian rule, the exclusion of minorities from government, socio-economic inequality, and weakness of the Ethiopian government, which has not been able to manage normal societal conflict in a stable and consensual way. These conditions create a security vacuum that the ethnic groups and individuals seek to fill through the use of violence, sometimes in an organized and sustained manner, and at other times a spontaneous and sporadic manner. All these problems and conflicts among ethnic groups of Gambella have been detrimental for centuries, yet the central government of Ethiopia, knowingly or not, has failed to thoroughly investigate, study and research the root causes of the problematic Gambella conflict. The researcher found many documents on this conflict. It is clear to him that much research has been done by Ethiopian highlander scholars and some students from the indigenous ethnic groups in Gambella. But he has not seen any research on a solution to the conflict in Gambella and the causes of indigenous grievances. The researcher has done a comprehensive exploratory study that provides data crucial to tackling issues of forgiveness, non-forgiveness, revenge, anger, and the possibility of reconciliation and restoration of peace in Gambella. The findings in this study are highly relevant for any intended assessment of the correlation of different ethnic groups’ emotional grievances according to the degree of the hurt, pain and agony in their hearts.

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

Document Type

Doctoral thesis