SOAS University of London

Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS)

Ayele Kebede Roba


Roba Ayele - CCLPS PHD IMG - 485 186 56
Ayele Kebede Roba
Email address:
Thesis title:
Voices in/from the Margins: Marginalisation and Resistance in Novels in Oromo and Amharic (Ethiopia)
Internal Supervisors


I am a PhD candidate in the Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies. My research contributes to the Horn of Africa strand of the research project “Multilingual Locals, Significant Geographies” (MULOSIGE). I contribute to the MULOSIGE website, where I published a short story in Oromo as well as a report of my fieldwork experience in Ethiopia. For MULOSIGE, I am also co-organising an international conference to be held in Ethiopia in December 2019.

I have a BA from Ambo University and an MA from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. Prior to joining SOAS, I worked for six years as a Lecturer in English Language and Literature at the University of Bule Hora, Ethiopia. At Bule Hora, I have been the recipient of a number of research grants to study the oral literature, sociolinguistics, and cultural traditions of the Guji Oromo in Southern Ethiopia. I am also a member of the Oromo Writers Association.

PhD Research

My doctoral thesis, provisionally titled “Voices in/from the Margins: Marginalisation and Resistance in Ethiopian Novels in Oromo and Amharic”, is one of the first comprehensive comparisons between Ethiopian novels in Oromo and Ethiopian novels in Amharic. The literary traditions in these two indigenous Ethiopian languages have been historically at odds with each other. Literature in Amharic has been treated as “Ethiopian” and “national”, while literature in Oromo is perceived as “local” and “parochial”. My thesis refutes this exclusionary and hierarchical narrative and explores instead the networks connecting the two literary traditions. It analyses literary power relations in Ethiopia, showing how certain traditions and authors have been historically silenced and marginalised by monolingual policies. My objective is to retrieve those marginalised voices, and build a more inclusive scholarly picture of Ethiopian literature through comparative and multilingual approaches.


  • (co-authored with Sara Marzagora), “Literary networks in the Horn of Africa: Amharic and Oromo intellectual histories”, Routledge Handbook of African Literature, edited by Moradewun Adejunmobi and Carli Coetzee (Forthcoming)
  • (co-authored with Bokko Gurrea Roba) “Analysis of Morphophonemic Patterns of Gujii Dialect: An Insight from Optimality theory, Sociolinguistics and Psycholinguistics in Determination of Peculiarity of the Dialect”, International Journal of Language, Literature and Gender Studies, vol. 5, no. 2, 2016, pp. 36-49.
  • “A Feminist Reading of Hawwii: An Oromo Novel by Isaayaas Hordofa, The Journal of Oromo Studies, vol. 22, no, 1, 2015.


Selected conference presentations:

  • “Towards literary multilingualism: Representation of linguistic diversity in novels in Amharic and Oromo”, Orientale University, Naples (Italy), 11-12 April 2019.
  • “The Problems of the Literatures in Indigenous Languages: The Case Oromo Language in Ethiopia”, World Languages Institute, SOAS University of London, 21 February 2019.