A Kenyan friend of mine, a lawyer and a keen observer of Ethiopian affairs, pointed out that the outcome of the February 3, 2023, Halala Kela meeting between the PM and Getachew Reda, General Tsadkan Gebretensai, and General Tadesse Werede, Commander-in-Chief of the Tigray Defense Forces was weird. It is as if the TPLF was the victor and Ethiopia the defeated.
Why do you say so? I asked him..
He replied: Your PM transferred millions of dollars to the TPLF, though he has yet to deliver significant aid to the Amhara and Afar regions that the TPLF devastated. He intentionally closed his eyes to the TPLF’s manoeuvre to keep its modern weaponry and its professional defence forces. It seems that Abiy and the TPLF have silently agreed that the handing over of old weapons and the disbanding of TPLF recruits is enough to fool Ethiopians into believing that the TPLF has disarmed.
Ah! continued my friend, if naïve Ethiopians are waiting for the formation of the transitional administration that was supposed to replace the defeated TPLF government, they may have to wait until the Second Coming. Abiy has given his tacit consent to the TPF to sideline pro-Ethiopian forces in Tigray and rename the old TPLF, after some cosmetic changes, as the transitional administration of Tigray.
Then he added, if you Ethiopians cannot see this strange emergence of the TPLF as the victor, you live in a Kafkian universe. He looked at me quizzically and said, since Ethiopians are too poor to live in a Kafkian universe, a privilege that is accessible only to those who do not have to worry about the next meal, the only plausible explanation must be that Ethiopians are too prude to see that Abiy is in bed in an ethnic heaven, making love with the TPLF.
What do you mean? I asked, surprised by the idea of Abiy and the TPLF making love in an ethnic heaven.
Well, he replied, the love making between the two involves the foreplay of banishing from their ethnic heaven the “devil” they fear most, the one who does not understand that there is no other love but ethnic love: the Amhara. The Abiy-TPLF love makings in ethnic heaven, he said, are punctuated by the ecstatic cry, “neftenga, neftegna, neftegna” when they reach their climax.
What ? I exclaimed. My friend who is a very erudite lawyer told me that the conjunction of ethnic love and Amhara hatred during the Abiy-TPLF romantic tryst generates what psychoanalysis calls “surplus enjoyment.” The climax of their frolicking, he said, becomes even more intense when the hatred of the fantasized Amhara is injected into it.
You are talking over my head, I told my friend, and asked him, to explain.
Don’t you see, he said, Abiy is trying hard to create a “free love” relation between Tigray and Oromia, a free love that gives intense pleasure only when it mobilizes hatred to crush the Amhara. What for? I asked. You fool, he said. To prevent the Amhara from continuing to be the symbol, the thinkers, and the motive force of Ethiopian peace and unity.
I protested and told him that he is being carried away by his loathing for Abiy. I will readily grant you, I said, that Abiy has a dictatorial side to him. But you cannot deny he loves Ethiopia. Just listen to his speeches. They are full of affection for Ethiopia, for her history and unity.
As usual, my friend sprang on me one of his lawyerly Latin sayings: “Acta non verba.” Words are leaves, and deeds are fruits. Look at what he does and not at what he says.
Not only is he treating the TPLF as a victor and Ethiopia as defeated, said he, Abiy has also made his own the TPLF hatred of the Amhara. He lets the Amhara be massacred systematically in Oromia. He is tacitly cooperating with ethnicist forces to make Oromia, as the Germans would say, “Amharafrei.”
What does this word mean? I asked. He sneered at me and said, you have never heard of that evil term, “Judenfrei”? Shame on you. Check it out yourself.
But, let me help you see the issue clearly, he said, with a shadow of sadness in his eyes. In the case of Ethiopia, “Amharafrei” means cleansing the ethnic kilils of Amharas by all means necessary. Look, he said, not only Abiy has tacitly consented to make Oromia and other kilils “Amharafrei” by killing and displacing Amharas, he is also quietly supporting the arch-ethnicist Shimelis Abdissa and Adanech Abeibei’s scheme to make Addis Ababa “Amharafrei” by preventing Amharas to travel to Addis Ababa. Likewise, he is preparing the ground to deliver Wolqait and Raya to the TPLF.
Ask yourself, my friend continued, why is Abiy not raising a finger to liberate the hundreds of Amharas captured during the war and are still kept in horrendous conditions in TPLF prisons, despite the Pretoria Agreement? Why does Abiy still allow the continued occupation of Aber Gele and adjacent Amhara areas by TPLF forces? Why does Abiy try to disarm the Amhara Special Forces despite the continued presence of TPLF forces in eastern Amhara, while allowing the TPLF to keep almost intact the Tigray Defense Forces? Because, for Abiy and the TPLF, every opportunity to create an “Amharafrei” Ethiopia is not to be missed.
And my friend added: As if all these were not enough, Abiy is now testing the ground to create an “Amharafrei” Orthodox Tewahido Synod, thus splitting the Church ethnically.
C’mon, I shot back, you are being paranoid, my friend! In the case of the Church conflict, contrary to what you just said, Abiy helped bring the renegade bishops back into the Church. You may be cynical, but you cannot deny the fact that Abiy helped the Church gain its unity.
You fool, retorted my friend, with some impatience in his voice. You should study Roman history to understand the evil schemes of politicians. “Celari vult eius coniuratio Abiy,” he said in his lawyer’s Latin again, with a wicked glint in his eyes. Do you seriously believe as some gullible souls do that Abiy facilitated the resolution of the recent conflict within the Church? How naïve some well-meaning Ethiopians are!
What do you mean? I don’t understand your Latin mumbo jumbo, I fired back.
Ok, he said. Let me explain. To start with, Abiy had an invisible hand in the making of the crisis in the Church. You could conclude this from his condescending lecture to his cabinet ministers during which he legitimated the ethnically motivated actions of the renegade bishops. Abiy intentionally sowed the seeds of ethnic division in the Church. But to hide his duplicity, he played the role of the conciliator because he knows that the ethnic grains of division that he has sown within the Church will now germinate, sprout, flower, and then bear fruit. It is just a matter of time.
And that will be the end of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church as you Ethiopians know it, giving Abiy and the TPLF more latitude to pursue the independence of Oromia and Tigray. Puzzled by his explanation, I asked my friend what would be the pay-off of this machination for Abiy?
Self-evident! declared my friend with a touch of triumph in his voice. The demise of this old institution that symbolized the unity of Ethiopia not only spiritually but also, and more importantly, historically, will facilitate the demise of a united Ethiopia. Abiy’s dream of an independent Oromia frolicking with an independent Tigrai, united in their hatred for the Amhara will come true. Abiy and the TPLF would have succeeded then to reduce the Amhara to an impoverished ethnic group that will forever be under the political and economic heels of independent Oromia and Tigrai.
Indeed, he added with a laugh, we Kenyans may yet get a piece of the Ethiopian pie after Abiy and the TPLF have successfully finished the demolition of your country.
Well, my Kenyan friend, I said, you should study Ethiopian history. We Ethiopians have overcome all the miseries and obstacles our enemies have thrown in our way. So, stop dreaming about Kenya getting a piece of my country. Who knows, Ethiopia may even absorb Kenya in the future, for there was a time in history when the territory you now call Kenya used to be part of Ethiopia.
Keep on dreaming, he said mockingly, bid me farewell, and left for his law firm.
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