Abstract

Under the motto Zǝgǝğu! (Be prepared!), Ethiopian Boy Scouts attempt to become part of an imperial, national, and global community. Since its formation a century ago, the movement changed its character and served different ends. By looking at the foundational period between the 1920s and 1950s, this article investigates to what extent the Ethiopian movement provides a lens through which we can examine the notion of citizenship. Because scouting has a militarized connotation, this article probes the possibility of applying the concept of the “soldier-citizen” as a temporary, yet specific, form of citizenship. The article argues that during the 1920s and 1930s the Ethiopian movement had a clear militaristic aim. It functioned to train cadets, not serving citizens. In the postliberation context, the movement relied on ideas about taming and disciplining young men by channeling their energy towards building a modern nation. Through its inclusion in the newly established Department of Physical Education within the Ministry of Education and Fine Arts (MoE), scouting became an integral part of the educational system. The article argues that it provided a specific kind of citizenship training at a time when other volunteer organizations (e.g., the Young Men’s Christian Association [YMCA]) were also developing the notion of citizen into an aspirational category.

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