Having explained what I thought to be indisputable contributions of Menelik (against the backdrop of the fight against colonialism), I told him that I do have high regard for Emperor Menelik although I have more affection for the revolutionary like Emperor Tewodros. The view made him restless and angry right away and told me that I would have been “…stabbed to death had the discussion was somewhere else and with someone else.” For him, Menelik should not be viewed as a hero as he was the “Hitler of Africa” and that Menelik at one point turned down request for help from a black activist from Haiti on grounds of claim for “Caucasian identity;” points which I never heard before until they reappeared in the article “The Dark Side of Teddy Afro’s fame and Fortune.” Of course, for the ideology Ibsa seem to espouse, there is “historical evidence” for that and the “evidence” is absolute. The wish to stab to death someone merely for having a different account of history fits well with violent radicalism. It fits well with Jawar’s ‘mencha’ mobilization too.
The ranting from the neo-radical quarter in the diaspora is not, as such, much of a concern. What is bothering is if the radicalism which is being manufactured is replicated in Ethiopia. In fact, it is hard to tell with certitude if the neo-radical movement is not undertaking clandestine mobilization for radicalism at home. If that is the case, there is no mistaking it; in plain language what is ahead is ugly ethnic conflict of higher magnitude.
What are we supposed to do about the neo-radicalism?
Identity politics could be positive and transformative rather than destructive. Disenchantment about the past and the desire to reorganize the Ethiopian society in a way to redress past grievances is something that any rational activist is supposed uphold with no hesitation. Such a principle is not supported for the sake of political correctness. It is supported for the sake of justice. In that case, no single advocacy group could or should claim monopoly of advocacy for the rights of Oromo simply by virtue of speaking the language.
In the interest of truth, it has to be clear that the neo-radical advocacy group cannot take credit for creating identity politics consciousness and consume it for dual purpose; building a populist image and broadening the social base of radicalism based on language (possibly religion too). The 1974 revolution was not all about doing away with the then land tenure system. Class oppression, cultural and linguistic identity issues were part and parcels of the causes of the revolution in one way or another.
And who in the right mind could deny that the revolution did reject the past; in fact very brutally and indiscriminately. It is in that light that the tendency to claim near monopoly in the creation of identity politics consciousness is inaccurate, at least. Expressed tendency to paint a picture that no political elites from other language speaking groups care for oppressions against other language speaking groups in the past is equally wrong. (Please continue reading on next page)