Lij Nebyat A. Demessie
I have been a strong proponent of fostering national dialogue and reconciliation through my volunteer work in ‘think tank’ groups prior to PM Abiy Ahmed’s ascension to power. I was among the first to raise and consistently stress the importance of Ethiopia reconciling with the truths in history, as part of recommendations to achieve lasting peace and stability. I also partook in closed meetings, where I have made policy recommendations to Ethiopian, high ranking US officials and African Union (AU) Leadership on the need and importance for the Ethiopian Government to 1) Disband ethnic-based politics including the security and paramilitary apparatus’ organization along ethnic lines and/or; 2) Transition existing ethnic-based structures into multi-ethnic ones such as ethnic based special forces and militias.
Ethiopia must be governed with the multiplicity of her ethnicities incorporated into a unified Ethiopian structure, which allows for and creates the necessary, inherent checks and balances to control and mitigate against ethnic-based discrimination and targeted, mass killings. The dire need for such systemic reform was most evident during the height of the Oromia protest movement, when several accounts were reported of Oromo police officers turning a blind eye to egregious crimes committed primarily against Amharas and Orthodox Christians. These crimes were committed in the very name of upholding the ‘rule of law’ under an ethnic-based, federalist system, which allocates and partitions land on the basis of ethnicity. I would be remiss not to mention that such crimes were also rampant during TPLF’s twenty-seven years of ruling the Ethiopian people with an iron fist.
It is important to comprehend that Ethiopians have been at the brunt of a coordinated psychological warfare campaign, which traces its origins to the victory of Ethiopia against Italy in 1896 under the leadership of Emperor Menelik II at the Battle of Adwa. This psychological warfare was launched by the West, and went as far as even portraying Emperor Menelik II as a Caucasian in European publications. This was due to Emperor Menelik playing a leading and instrumental role in defeating a European colonial power, and debunking the false notion of White Supremacy.
In a very cunning manner, while Europeans were portraying Emperor Menelik as a white man to the rest of Europe, they were disseminating propaganda within Ethiopia ridiculing Emperor Menelik and the Amhara people at the same time and encouraging non-Amhara people to rise up against the Amhara people and Ethiopian Monarchy. Unfortunately, to this day there are still Ethiopians aligned with anti-Ethiopianist ideology who opine that Emperor Menelik and the entire Amhara population are thieves and traitors. These people and organizations seemingly pride themselves off of the vilification, marginalization, uprooting, disenfranchisement and genocide levied against the Amhara people. It should also be noted that while Amharas are primarily and systematically targeted by anti-Ethiopianism, non-Amhara Ethiopians are not spared from such ethnic based crimes against humanity, as has been witnessed since the inception and imposition of ethnic federalism against the will of the Ethiopian people.
Ethiopia’s ethnic-based, federalist system was implemented by the TPLF pursuant to Eritrea’s secession, and the late Prime Minister (PM) Meles Zenawi’s decision to make Ethiopia a land-locked nation. In utter defiance, and even against the recommendations of Western countries involved in the brokering of the breaking up of Ethiopia, Meles decided to concede both Assab and Massawa to Eritrea. This left Ethiopia landlocked despite Ethiopia’s rightful historical claims and access to the sea. Moreover, it should also be noted that, under the auspice of the late PM Meles Zenawi, the TPLF led transitional government, voted for a referendum enabling Eritrea to secede from Ethiopia in 1993. This decision was made with the intentional exclusion and absence of ethnic representation from the Amhara people, officially now the second largest population in the second most populous nation on the continent of Africa.
Subsequent to Eritrea’s secession from Ethiopia, a constitution that changed Ethiopia’s historical flag and rendered Ethiopia an entity of peoples, nations and nationalities was ratified. Article 39 of the Ethiopian Constitution which grants the right to self-determination up to and including secession was incorporated into the Constitution in a manner consistent with the wishes and aspirations of European colonialists and anti-Ethiopianists such as Roman Prochazka, author of the book, Abysinnia: The Powder Barrel. In his book, Prochazka encourages non-Amharas to rise up and revolt against the Amharas and Ethiopian Monarchical System as a tactical move with the intent and purpose to dismantle Ethiopia as a nation state.
Ethnic federalism is a manifestation of anti-Amhara psychological warfare unleashed with the intent of separating the Ethiopian people from its dynastic origins and glorious history which stretches back thousands of years. It is this very same system and the psychological fixation of ethnicity over nationality and group rights over individual rights which has and continues to serve as the source of conflict in Ethiopia, pitting one ethnic group against the other with the intent of keeping Ethiopians in a state of perpetual ethnic conflict and civil war.
PM Abiy Ahmed has inherited this very same anti-Ethiopian system from his TPLF predecessors along with their Constitution, their anthem of nations and nationalities and their flag which serves as the symbolic representation of anti-Ethiopianism and a psychologically self-colonized and defeated people.
Unfortunately, as the propaganda and misinformation campaign against Ethiopia by the West continues, Ethiopianist voices have been hijacked by people who look Ethiopian but do not know Ethiopia! These people and organizations, political or otherwise, have contributed to the anti-Menelik and anti-Amhara narrative albeit, ironically, in the name of Ethiopianism and freeing Ethiopia from TPLF rule. There are millions consciously aware of this, in addition to the vast majority of Ethiopians of mixed heritage with an Ethiopianist orientation, that are diametrically opposed to the backward, ethnic-federalist psyche, system of mental slavery and oppression.
Understanding what Ethiopianism is, therefore, also must begin with an understanding of what Ethiopianism is not! We, therefore, must begin national dialogue and reconciliation with the understanding of the origins and socio-political manifestations of anti-Ethiopianism to have clarity on the definition of Ethiopianism and how we chart a path forward.
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