Intercultural Communication Barriers Associated with Political and Historical Discourses in Ethiopia: Interethnic Conflict between the Afar and Amhara Ethnic Groups in Focus

  • Ayele Anawetie Gessese
  • Jemal Mohammed
  • Kalewongel Minale
Keywords: Ethiopia; Intercultural communication; Interethnic conflict; Prejudice; Stereotype


This study examined the adverse effects of intercultural communication barriers in the utilization of intercultural communications to prevent and manage ethnic-based conflicts between the Amhara and Afar people. A qualitative research approach was used, with a case study as the research design. Data was collected through focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, and observation. Purposive and snowball sampling techniques were used to select participants for the study. During the focus group discussions made, the elderly, religious and cultural leaders, victims, women, and youngsters were all interviewed. Discourse and thematic analysis were utilized as analysis tools. As per the findings, both the Amhara and Afar ethnic groups practiced a variety of ethnic-based stereotyped attitudes that led to intercultural communication barriers. These intercultural barriers are mostly caused not by a lack of cultural knowledge and skills. Instead, these are associated with some historical and political discourses of the ethnic groups under discussion. In addition, the findings suggest that these barriers impede interethnic communication between the two ethnic groups and efforts given to prevent and resolve inter-ethnic conflicts. Therefore, well-designed and informed intercultural communication was missed by the two ethnic groups in their practice of preventing and managing ethnic-based conflicts. As a recommendation, the problem behind intercultural communication barriers here would be resolved by providing training in the way that the historical and political orientations could not be infused with the possibly practiced, experienced, and talented intercultural communication skills which could play pivotal roles in the prevention and management systems of conflicts.

Author Biographies

Ayele Anawetie Gessese

Bahir Dar University, Department of Journalism and Communications

Jemal Mohammed

Bahir Dar University, Department of Journalism and Communications; Associate Professor of Media, Journalism and Communication

Kalewongel Minale

Bahir Dar University, Department of Political Science and International Studies; Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies

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