Dr. Haile Lorebo is history researcher. In an interview with SBS Amharic, he shares a narrative that rather deconstructs mounting ethno-nationalist narratives, mainly from radical Oromo nationalists, that tend to see the history of Ethiopia as a history of ethnic oppression.
What emerges from historical account and/or interpretation by radical Oromo politicians, which is highly circulated, is entirely negativism. For this group, Amhara is an oppressor and Oromo has been a victim of it. Self-proclaimed analysts and theorists from this quarter went the extent of equating Ethiopia with colonial power over what is now called Oromia region.
Those are the narratives that Dr. Haile Lorebo busted boldly. In an effort to give context to the current crisis in Ethiopia, which is what one of the questions in the interview is about, he stretched back to the 1960’s Ethiopia and the students’ movement. Confused about absorbed left leaning political theories, Dr. Haile seems to think, the student movement wanted to subject the then situation in Ethiopia to Marxist analysis and the narrative of oppression of nations and nationalities emerged from it as a by-product. For Dr. Haile, nations and nationalities oppression is something fictitious. There was no such thing as oppression of nations and nationalities by Amhara. And he reminds us of that all neftegnas were not Amhara; there were neftegnas from other ethnic groups.
When asked if he would see oppression in Ethiopia’s past as “national oppression,” he demonstrated a good measure of reservation to use the description “national oppression.” He rather opted for employing the phrase administrative problem. There was an administrative problem and it was not limited to the central government. Regional administrations, he is implying of course different ethnic groups, did have problems as well.
Regarding the notion of Ethiopian colonialism, he seem to think that it is work of European colonialists.
He sees continuity about Oromos as key players in government in the 19th and 20th centuries. During the latter period high ranking officials being people like Ras Abebe Aregay and Geresu Duki. Of course, Oromo involvement in Ethiopian politics goes back to what is known in history as Gonderine ra. Recently, protesters in Gonder claimed that spilled blood of the Oromos is their blood although it may not be understood that way.
In short, Dr. Haile Larebo has a point when he claimed that Ethiopian history is manipulated by politicians in a way to suit their political agenda. He seem to be very optimist that Ethiopia will survive this turmoil
Question is Will there ever come a time when young Ethiopians wake up and say enough is enough to ethno-nationalists?
Audio and Photo credit : SBS Amharic