Amhara-Tigray intellectuals had a second round of discussion in Addis Ababa with the aim to foster the relations between people from the two regions. It could be a promising project.
February 25, 2020
Contest for power has been an integral part of Ethiopian history, as is the case with other societies in Africa or otherwise.
Regional lords in what is now Amhara, Oromo, SNNP, and Tigray regions of Ethiopia were all part of the contest for power. However, no history of enmity between the ruled in all those regions is recorded.
After the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) took power in 1991, the contest for power demonstrated a break from the past. Unlike in history, power between the elites started to be contested in a way that affects the relationship between Ethiopia to the extent different language speaking groups, at least in a considerable number of cases, developed skepticism to one another.
The problem or rather an apparent problem between Tigray and Amhara could be seen in that context. It is essentially a manufactured problem with the use of legal instruments, including the dividing constitution and administrative apparatus.
When TPLF lost power, it clung on the practice of perpetuating the conflict. It went further. It created, through intensified propaganda, an image that enemy forces encircle Tigreans. Security incidents that happened in the Amhara region and the Oromo region of Ethiopia following the “political change” helped foster TPLF’s propaganda by creating a sentiment that the later’s political extrapolation about the threat that Tigreans will face is real.
Last week, TPLF celebrated its 45 anniversary. Some notable former combatants did not attend it although they got invitation. The turn out to the event was considerably significant. The anniversary celebration itself was exploited for purposes of warlike propaganda and mobilization. Chairman of the organization, Debretsion Gebremicael, went to the extent of calling for the independent Tigray Republic, which some former combatants, like Aregash Adane, called it “rhetoric meant to serve as a hiding place for the mistakes they did.”
Left unsolved, the relation between people of the two regions could take a dangerous path unless the existing militarization and hate propaganda are averted.
Seen from that trajectory, the effort of intellectuals from the two regions to reconstruct the damage done to the shared history of people in those regions is a respectable one, although it remains to be seen whether it is the right approach to the problem.
In the consultation held in the capital Addis Ababa on Tuesday, they discussed how to foster the relations between the two regions. And this is the second round of consultation in less than a year.
More so, the move to explore legal and political grounds of the problem as part of the search for a solution is a good move.
The relationship between the two people stood the tests of time for hundreds of years, and a 45 years old narcissist and delusional political organization should not stand in their way to divert them to unending conflict.
Fortunately, some of the former combatants seem to have the wisdom to see that the path TPLF is talking about is dangerous. And one of the things they could do to help Ethiopia and the people of Tigray is to approach TPLF leaders and radicalized youth in the region to avert impending undesirable conflict. And True, TPLF itself, as an organization, needs to be part of the conversation.
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