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Demographic Anarchy?

Demographic Anarchy?

By Mitiku Adisu
Lemma Guya
Ask five Ethiopians the religious composition of their country you will most likely get six points of disagreement. Demographic data have become the means for locking others into an inferior position and, conversely, accord oneself a dominant status even when the facts militate against the assertion. Thus is perpetuated a jaundiced view of self and society before the watching world.

Some don’t bother to acknowledge the presence of a sizable evangelical Christian population (at least 19 million) outside the mainstream Orthodox Church. “In relation to religion,” says one presenter, “the population constitute 51% Orthodox Christian, 33% Islam and the rest 16% are other religious sects.” [Italics added]

Those who engage in numbers game are in the main the educated elite who tend to harbor nationalistic and cultural biases. The economist Dr. Berhanu Abegaz in his analysis of the 1994 Population and Housing Census of Ethiopia chose to paint Protestant believers as "insurgents." The majority simply echoes figures that suits its present agenda. Is it any wonder then that we continually fail to comprehend or adequately address our enduring dilemma because we are in denial or choose to live in illusions?

Expatriates are not immune to bending facts either. Some simply pick information that best support the story line they write on. “Islamic fundamentalists are on the rise” shout the fear mongering; others make similar statements to raise funds or take a simplistic approach to a very complex situation. Few others have not the interest or the time to check their sources; the fact that their careers are not on the line often means they get away with degrading a people’s image.

To be taken seriously cartographic censuses ought to meet basic international standards. Ironically, few bother to access published census data. Here then for your perusal are samples of what we mean by demographic anarchy.

. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (does not recognize existence of “evangelical” Christians): Muslim (40-50%); Ethiopian Orthodox Christian (35%-40%); animist (12%)

· CIA World Factbook (perhaps one of the most cited sources, until very recently had, Muslim 45%-50%, Ethiopian Orthodox 35%-40%, animist 12%, other 3%-8%. [It is now corrected to Christian 60.8% (Orthodox 50.6%, Protestant 10.2%), Muslim 32.8%, traditional 4.6%, other 1.8% (1994 census)

· Christian Science Monitor (CSM): “the country's Orthodox Christians, …make up just over half of the population …nearly 50 percent Muslims – and others … share neither faith” [Italics added] (September 11, 2007).

· Library of Congress: [Info supplied by Ethiopian government, April 2005]
"No reliable statistics exist on religion in Ethiopia... Orthodox Christianity and Islam... each constitute perhaps 40 to 45 percent ... Protestants number perhaps 11 million, constituting perhaps 10 percent of the population..."
. U.S. State Department: “An estimated 40 to 45 percent of the population belongs to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) …approximately 45 percent of the population is Sunni Muslim. Christian evangelical and Pentecostal groups continue to be the fastest growing groups and constitute an estimated 10 percent of the population.”

. MSN Encarta: "Orthodox Christian (Ethiopian) 36 percent; Muslim 30 percent; Protestant 14 percent; Indigenous beliefs 12 percent; Other 8 percent..."

We’ve found the following factors contributed to the persistent confusion.
1. Some simply do not trust information governments put out and prefer rather to quote foreign sources, which often are no more than educated guesses or recycled from similar or even outdated materials.
2. In the case of CSM and others the desire to project fairness appears to have forced them to avoid facts that could be contentious and take “near-half and half” measures.
3. Neighboring countries (Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, and Al Jazeera and Middle Eastern sources) tend to prefer an Islamic majority, and so on.

Whether from projections or from actual censuses, it is fair to state that the Christian-Muslim population ratio in Ethiopia is about 2:1. [For analysis of census data see here]


Ras Neftegna said…
Hey If you dont mind I will like to share this article. I have been looking for this issue for ages.Hope you dont mind.
Sure, you may share the article with others. But please quote "as is" and also indicate the source. God bless.
Anonymous said…
hi, after reading your blog, i started looking for other stat and all of them are the same. i am sure there will be more data that are not accurate will emerge as well. i think data should be un-baisd, should only reflect the fact not fiction. thank you.
Dear Anonymous,
You need to be specific. What data are you looking for? Which data are fiction? Please respond so others will learn from your input. Thanks.