The “Oromo problem” continues to trouble Ethiopia. Although the Oromo are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, never in their history have they maintained political power. During the period of European colonialism in Africa, the Ethiopian highlanders undertook an intra-African colonial enterprise. Many ethnic groups in the present state of Ethiopia, such as the Oromo, were subjected to that colonialization. Conquered ethnic groups were expected to adopt the identity of the dominant Amhara-Tigrean ethnic groups (the national culture). It was illegal to publish, teach, or broadcast in any Oromo dialect until the early 1970s, which marked the end of Haile Selassie’s reign. Even today, after an ethnic federalist government has been established, the Oromo lack appropriate political representation.
Variations on this design occur. In the town of Lalibella the walls of many houses are made of stone and are two-storied, while in parts of Tigre, houses are traditionally rectangular.
In more urban areas, a mixture of tradition and modernity is reflected in the architecture. The thatched roofs often are replaced with tin or steel roofing.