Adama is worth celebrating in view of the experience in the past two decades but there should not be complacency about it.
Warm reception for Gonder City (Fasil Kenema) soccer fans in Nazreth (Adama), as seen in the picture, brought about much excitement among Ethiopians and pictures from the reception have gone viral on social media. For a reason.
Unity has been a cherished value for Ethiopians for many many generations. Perhaps the reason why Ethiopians tolerated, if not liked, Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam’s government, with all its gruesome human rights records in the ensuing years to the 1974 Ethiopian revolution, is primarily related to its firm stand on the question of Unity.
With the introduction of ethnic politics after the collapse of the military regime, the value that Ethiopians essentially used to take for granted was vilified, denigrated and relentlessly attacked. It was framed as “neftegna” mantra. The propaganda from the regime that is still in power made it appear as if Neftenas’ were privileged from Unity and everyone else was not.
Concomitant to the attack on what Ethiopians value most, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) propagated, and regulated, about the importance of political mobilization along ethnic lines as an ultimate expression of “freedom.” The regime sold it a measure of progressiveness and revolutionary character. Not just that, ethnic based political ideology was given legal, constitutional and administrative support.
Theoretically, as they say, ethnic ideology and administrative support structures as political necessities was predicated on the assumption that they grant, “People’s, Nations and Nationalities”, as described in the constitution, a measure of autonomy. In reality, it was understood by Ethiopians from the outset that it was meant to be a political configuration to help TPLF consolidate and maintain a hold on power.
But the combination of legal ground and administrative support was not strong enough to totally weaken centuries old values entrenched in the Ethiopian society. For that reason and to deepen division, at times the regime had to manufacture what it thought to be manageable conflict inciting violence along ethnic and religious lines. Overtly, the pioneer, Meles Zenawi, bragged about his political invention as an ideology that “unified” the country.
Practically, meaningful autonomy for regions was never fulfilled either as regular intervention (in social, economic and political forms) of TPLF has become an important hallmark of its administration for the last twenty seven years. On the other hand, the ethnic ideology and various manufactured conflicts as a means maintain TPLF supremacy damaged relations between Ethiopians and many lives have been lost as a result of it. Amhara and Oromo relation was not an exception. In fact, it was damaged severely.
It is not disputable that Amhara and Oromo are the most intermingled Ethiopians. But the new generation in Oromo region of Ethiopia (Qubee Generation) was deliberately misinformed by politicians (both in the government and opposition) about the inseparable and deep relations between the two language speaking groups of Ethiopians.
Lately Ethiopians, including in Oromo region, woke up to the fact that the hatred incited and propagated by TPLF is not only baseless but also harmful. In the past few months alone, the party had to try to engineer conflict between Amhara and Oromo again and again in different forms but it did not work out this time around although the violence in pocket areas caused deaths of innocent civilians.
What happens there after is a bit astonishing. The hate that TPLF, for the most part, tried to initiate between Amhara and Oromo backfired and now the rope is on the neck of TPLF and its supporters.
Over the past few months, signs of the new reality that TPLF is losing from ethnic politics has become clear although the new development is understood differently within the party and among its supporters. For the party and supporters, it’s not a natural end result of the ideology but an outcome of sabotage to jeopardize the system.
But this die hard support for the regime is making Tigray vulnerable for ethnic violence. And their relation with the rest of Ethiopians is basically broken. For supporters of TPLF to have good prospect of mending relation that TPLF damaged, they will have to let TPLF go or demand that the party reinvent itself in a way to accept new reality; that it cannot anymore lead with its ethno-supremacy policy and attitude. There is no more patience for that. But the party is still pursuing that goal by inciting conflicts
As we speak, ethnic violence has become, unlike before, the primary threat for the existence of Ethiopia. It is happening in villages with no history of ethnic violence before. It is happening in University campuses. And it is happening in stadiums and soccer pitches. Government admitted, through Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegne – when he made televised speech yesterday-who is seen as TPLF puppet, that the country is facing a threat but it did not want to admit how we got here and that ethnic violence is an outcome of ethnic politics.
It is in that light that Adama (Nazret), rejuvenation of relation among most extensively intermingled language speaking groups in Ethiopia, Amhara and Oromo, has become a cause to celebrate for many Ethiopians. In it, we see a beginning that it can be transformed further with a revolutionary fervor and it can be a model to bring the rest of Ethiopians together again to live the values of unit. While what is achieved so far is positive, there is no need to be complacent about it as not much is done.
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