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HomeOpinionThe Amara People’s Future: Leaving the Ethiopian Federation

The Amara People’s Future: Leaving the Ethiopian Federation

Gebru Tensay

In 1989, the Tigrayan Liberation Front (TPLF) created a party known as the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Party (EPRDF). In 1991, it seized power and imposed ethnic federalism in Ethiopia after defeating a military group known as the Derg. In spite of this, pan-Ethiopianism remained a popular concept within the Ethiopian political landscape up until 2005. This can be easily proved from past political records, including that of the CUD. The CUD party, led by the late Hailu Shawel, received much more votes in Oromiya during the 2005 national election than the much-touted Oromo People’s Congress, led by Marera Gudina.

Following a decisive defeat in the 2005 election, the TPLF-dominated EPRDF reversed election results by force, jailed opposition leaders, and promulgated repressive laws that suffocated political space for opposition parties to function. Soon after, development became the slogan of the ruling party instead of democracy and good governance. The EPRDF continued to claim it received 99% of the votes in the 2010 and 2015 national elections. TPLF managed to keep its supremacy within EPRDF under the guise of democratic centralism principles, where Tigrayan elites hold the party’s leadership apparatus.

Notwithstanding the TPLF’s success, circumstances were not in favor of a minority ethnic group remaining in power forever. The Ethiopian constitutional order was more like a confederal arrangement, and it gained unprecedented ideological strength over time. Elites within the various regions of the confederation saw themselves as the sole players in the political landscapes of their regions. The TPLF’s decision-making authority, which glued Ethiopia together from 1991 to 2017 by force, through democratic centralism, gradually got eroded and started to crumble by the end of 2017.

Two critical phenomena happened that changed the Ethiopian political landscape. In 2016, the TPLF-led EPRDF faced eminent armed resistance in Gondar when the Tigray government sent its police and militia to arrest Cornel Demeke Zewdu, who was the leader of the Wolkayit Amara movement. In this incident, the EPRDF, which was once seen as a strong and feared party, was no longer seen as an impossible organization that could not be defeated. That incident became the cause for critical supporters of the TPLF to leave the city of Gondar in thousands for fear of their lives and believing that they have no future in the Amara region despite assurances from their neighboring Amaras. The second facet of the resistance came from the Oromos, who were inspired by the Gonder episode. In towns and cities, Oromo rights activists and their foot soldiers became increasingly organized and provided furious opposition to the Ethiopian government led by Hailemariam Desalegn by torching factories, blocking roadways, and interrupting supply lines. Tigrayans inside the EPRDF were perplexed and unsure what to do, and Hailemariam Desalegn finally decided to resign as Prime Minister in March 2018, and he was replaced by Abiy Ahmed.

The 2018 political change that brought Abiy Ahmed to the helm of power in Ethiopia, which was much admired and got the support of all Ethiopians, not only lost its trail within a few months, but it completely changed its direction by 180 degrees. Today, let alone to aspire for a fair and free election, it is practically impossible for Pan-Ethiopian political parties to make an election campaign in Tigray and Oromiya. Neither democracy nor good governance is possible in today’s Ethiopia. Oromiya, Benishangul, and some parts of the South Ethiopian localities have become meat grinding machines against Amaras.

There is no doubt that the continuation of Ethiopia (with a population of 120 million people) as one entity is advantageous to every citizen or ethnic group in Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s political prominence and economic competitiveness will grow, and its position as Africa’s gateway and mediator will undoubtedly be recounted by every major force on the planet.  However, that role for Ethiopia has started to become a thing of the past because of tribalism. Ethiopia’s future is to fragment into ethnic enclaves and create a coalition of the willing. While all ethnic groups are motivated to be masters of their respective ethnic groups, Amaras political elites are detached from reality. The reasons behind this continued narration of Ethiopianism by the Amaras are many, some of which are the following:

Amara’s wishful thinking

Amara elites think that all Ethiopians believe that all Ethiopians love Ethiopia and each other, including Amaras. As a result of this imaginative and unrealistic wishful thinking, ordinary Amaras are paying a high price, including their lives. If one makes a quick scan of the social media Ethiopians participate in, the general consensus among the various ethnic group elites is that they are only concerned about their own respective ethnic enclaves. They are highly motivated to be the sole owners of their villages, zones, and regions without other ethnic groups coming to them. As a result of three decades of institutionalized propaganda by the TPLF, unfortunately, the Amaras are seen as people who believe in one centralized country, one language, and one religion. This has taken deep root in the minds of many of the elites of various ethnic groups in Ethiopia and is particularly a common talking point among the Oromos and Tigrayan elites. As we know, political order in society  is ultimately decided by the elites and die-hard fringe elements, and more so in the Ethiopian governing experience.

Reality Amaras do not want to accept

The concept of Ethiopianism before being an Amara has caused tremendous damage to Amaras, and Amara elites do not seem to grasp this reality; Ordinary Amaras with little or no political understanding are being dispossessed of their properties and, dearest of all, their lives. This is done by none other than their own non-Amara Ethiopians as a result of political agitation and misguided political beliefs. The reality is that Ethiopia does not exist in the minds and hearts of non-Amara Ethiopians. Amaras should understand and realize that their dear Ethiopia is a figment of their imagination, and they are left hanging in the clouds with no country or land to call their own. The Ethiopian case is closed, and if it needs to be saved from death, it is up to the non-Amaras to put up all the necessary efforts.

Democracy had been the burning question for Amaras for six decades. They were at the forefront of activism against any form of suppression or injustice. Amara teachers and students have gone to the extent of supporting the confiscation of the properties of their own parents for the sake of equality and justice Despite all of Amaras’ sacrifices for the good of all Ethiopians, Amaras should recognize that the rest of Ethiopia does not treat them fairly.

What Amaras need to focus on

Democracy and justice can only happen when there is a common understanding in society. There must be consensus to remove bad leaders from power in the event of corruption, mismanagement, and political suppression. Ethnic federalism and democracy are mutually exclusive. Under such governance, political leaders are not accountable. Rather, ethnic profiling, attacks, and dictatorship are the norm rather than the exception. That said, there is, however, a way for Amaras to escape one of the problems they suffer from: ethnic suppression. Who wants to be forever marginalized and attacked by ethnically based bad governance? Amaras should learn very valuable lessons from the sacrifices they have made for over 30 years. By clinging to the idea of Ethiopianism, Amara elites have failed ordinary Amaras, who carry the burden of mass displacements and killings.

It is time for Amaras to think for themselves, reject wishful thinking, and accept reality. When they accept reality, the solution is clear: claim their ancestral and historical territory, as indicated in Figure 1  and start their own state, either within Ethiopia or as an independent country. If non-Amaras honestly want Ethiopia to survive and put effort into it, Amaras will accept their invitations with unconditional acceptance of Article 39 of the current Ethiopian constitution, which allows Amaras to declare independence from Ethiopia.

Democracy in Ethiopia is a lost cause. The Amaras can build a prosperous Amara land without having to be part of Ethiopia. Its hard-working farmers, strategic location, vast water resources, attractive scenery and historical resources for tourism, and fertile agricultural land give Amara a competitive advantage to do that. In 2022, the Netherlands, with one-quarter the size of Amara land and half the population of Amara, generated 49.6 billion euros from agricultural exports alone. Amara State, with its hardworking farmers, can make hunger and malnutrition history in just two years if they opt to build their own state. What Amaras need to focus on is making alliances with countries such as Russia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Djibouti and regions such as Somali, Afar, and selected ethnic groups in South Ethiopia for normalized relations, security, and trade.

Time to move on

Now is the perfect time for Amaras to claim their territory and establish an Amara state (Fig. 1), at a time when they are aware of the intentions of non-Amaras and state actors whose main objective is to wipe out all Amaras from the face of the earth. The choices for Amaras are either to get wiped out or fight back for survival. It is also time for Amaras to stop being the guardian of Ethiopia; they sacrificed too much, and that should be enough. Amaras must understand that their failure to think ethnically is the primary cause for the defeat of the Derg by the TPLF and for Abiy Ahmed to come to power.

We call on all Amara intellectuals to start the discussion on how to realize a prosperous Amara nation, if not democracy. We encourage Amara experts to put up a plan of action that is required to lay out the framework towards that goal. We encourage engineers of all disciplines, resource specialists, economists, and financial officers to start organizing a policy document that will help experts compile a master document to lay the foundation for a free Amara state.

God Bless Amara!!!

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of borkena.com 

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20 COMMENTS

  1. First of all, the map that you present does not reflect the current subdivision of Killils. I am not sure under which regime was Ethiopia was subdivided as in the map that you provide. Secondly, “Ethiopiawinet” is not an exclusive ideal that only Amharas are supporting at this time. There are countless non-Amhara that find meaning and point of pride in the ideal of Ethiopiawinet. Thirdly, even if many are constantly harping on past grievances, they cannot deny that no single ethnic enclave (i.e. Killil) has the resources, material or otherwise, to survive on its own. Ethiopiawinet is our destiny whether we love or hate it. That is unless we decide to fail together!

    • Addisu: you forgot one critical point the writer mentioned. The Netherlans which one-quarter the size of Amara land, and half the population of Amara is a rich country. And so Amara can be. Who cares about the rest of Ethiopia?

  2. What a new perspective which no one has thought of before! It may be worth discussing to stop the ever mounting hatred and killing of Amharas everywhere in the so-called oromiya and satellite places. God save the Amharas!

  3. Dear Ato Gebru (If it is not fake name)
    Had you have few idiot Amharas, You would have wedged war between Amhara and Oromo. I am 50% Amhara and 50% Oromo. If I take your venom as it is, I am going to fight with my self. I don’t know how much grade you have scored in Ethiopian geography (if you have ever attended college ) Because of your evil feeling to the Oromos, you made them Amharas. On your fake map the size of oromia and Gambela together is much less than the size your great Amahara. DoYou teach this to your children?

    • Do you also believe that Minlik Killed 5 million Oromos in 1880s as Oromo intellectuals claim falsely even though the entire Ethiopian population in the 1880s was less 3 million? Because the called Oromo educators have lied to you about the size of the imaginary Oromo territories you think they are right. What a joke. In what language did Oromos wrote their history and territorial boundaries? bring your proof. Of course, you have none since you dont have a written language.

  4. I think this is going to be more mainstream going forward. The way the Federal gov’t is marginalizing the Amhara people is obviously pushing the people to consider all options including leaving the federation. A country that marches against the people who died for its sovereignty time and again isn’t a healthy sign. Ethiopia is fast becoming a country where being Amhara is considered as a crime. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Amhara Country is becoming a reality any time soon. .

  5. That is fine with if the Amharas want to go on their own as a separate republic. It won’t bother me if some few among my Oromos are having fits to establish a separate republic. I don’t care if all others want to do the same but with a caveat. I must create and declare the following republics firsc t.
    1st) The Republic of the Black Mane Lions
    2nd) The Republic of The Colobus Monkeys
    3rd) The Republic of The Ethiopian Dwarf Mongoose(Well known for their diplomatic maneuvers)
    4th) The Republic of The Ethiopian Wild Ass
    5th) The Republic of House of Connivers and Thugs
    The 5th one consists of all these smart aleck college professors and association leaders.
    See! It is that easy in the hands of experts like…!!!

  6. Good luck with: “The Amara People’s Future: Leaving the Ethiopian Federation” The majority of Amaras left the Amara Zone [AZ] long ago for better life in the other zones!

    According to Worldometer, Ethiopia’s Population [May 10, 2023] is ≈123.6 million. According to the 2023 CIA Fact Book, Amaras make 24.1% [≈30 million].

    So, more Amaras [≥21 million] live outside AZ: ≥15 million in Oromia alone; ≥3 million in Addis; ≥3 million in other zones. [Besides, ≈90% of them is from Gojjam & Gonder.]

    So, that leaves ≈9 million Amaras in the AZ. How do you want to leave the federation? With or without the ≥21 million? How would you repatriate the ≥21 million to the AZ?

    There is one more problem: To my knowledge, AZ doesn’t even generate 20% of the Ethiopian GDP. Isn’t it in the last two years that Amara farmers received ≥1,500 tractors?

    The real option is eradicating the Amara Supremacy Resurrection Zombies [ASRZ]. The ASRZ erode inter-ethnic harmony, get Amaras hated, and trigger anti-Amara animosity.

    Most ASRZ are beneficiaries of former regimes who let Amaras starve. Now, they wear the Ethiopian flag as Ethiopia/Amara Activists to use the same Amaras as cannon fodder & springboard to come back to power! #NoMoreAmaraCannonFodder!

    • Amharas 15mil in AZ? That fig. was in the last census, 2007. To be exact 15,747 800. Thats in 2007. Oromos in Oromia zone was 23mil.

        • Mognu, you did not see the map the author prepared? That is where Amharas supposed to stay in. Any Amhara outside of that area, should come back to their historical place (marked in yellow colour).

  7. This map is crazy, just like “Amara” mindset. It was better when we advocated for andinet, even though we were hated for that too.

    The reason why these politics are evil is because it never ends. We will always fight over territorial borders. The current Amhara region is actually bigger than it should be, which was done so for TPLF’s agenda.

    To be honest, we should reconnect with our roots and become Agaw because “Amara” is not real.

  8. The author is absolutely correct. A separate Amhara state will also solve the aspirations, ambitions and bone of contentions of the Oromumma and TPLF clique. With a separate Amhara state, they now can govern tehir respective Oromia and Tigray lands as separate ethnic entities in their own languages.

    The Amhara are now finally ready for this eventuality. They accept your conclusion that Ethiopians as you define them do not have any common history, culture and unifying identity. The Amhara have finally understood your decades of calls for separation, secession and self determination.

    A splinter of what you call the Ethiopian empire into at least 4 separate countries is a very reasonable political solution for a lasting peace. To facilitate the process and ensure peaceful political deconstruction, geographical demarcations and fiscal divestiture, the past experiences of similar empires who met the same fate Ethiopia is about to face can be revisited, including the former Yugoslavia. The UN, of which Ethiopia is a founding member can play a pivotal role in the controlled break up of what the Oromo and Tigrian elites refer to as the Ethiopian empire into at least 4 countries.

    With a population of about 32 million and territorial area of at least 60,000 sq miles ( roughly 1.5 x the size of South Korea) the new Amhara country will be founded as a separate nation, with its own constitution, and build up on its history from antiquity to present.

  9. Humble Commentary with Idiocy
    Why not divide Ethiopia into twelve (12) pieces:
    With twelve flags
    With twelve languages
    With twelve beliefs
    with twelve dreams
    with twelve roads, avenues
    with twelve extraordinary toilets with automatic flashing!!!
    with twelve ………… I think of some thing more, in due course
    And miraculously the GLOBE will be better off !!!!

  10. With secession and self determination of the new Amhara country as stipulated by the author and following the ancestral and historical boundaries of the Amhara people should ensue without any further bloodshed and interference from the abiy oromumma regime.

    The fate of the new oromia for which abiy, shimeles, adanech and their cohorts have advocated lies 100% in their hands. The abiy regime will be 100% responsible for the peaceful coexistence of the new oromia country with its neighbors. It must peacefully settle its Oromo territorial claims against the former Harraghe province. The Somalia region in Ethiopia which comprises somewhere 1/ 6 of the land mass in Ethiopia has been marginalized by both the former tplf and current pp regimes. The Hararis (Aderes) and Somali Ethiopians who have maintained their beloved Harar and Dire Dawa cities as major metropolitan centers both during the Emperor Haile Selassie’s era and even during dergs time have been marginalized by oromo expansionist greed and lustful drive for hegemony of the region. Furthermore, the territorial rights, aspirations and self determinations up to secession of the Guraghe, the Wolayta, Kembata and etc of the over 68 ethnic groups forcefully lumped under SNNPr must be peacefully resolved by the new to be oromia pm, abiy ahmed, the oromia president shimeles and the new to be constructed oromia capital city mayor, adanech.

  11. Amharas 15mil in AZ? That fig. was in the last census, 2007. To be exact 15,747 800. Thats in 2007. Oromos in Oromia zone was 23mil.

  12. Shewan,

    1). In his 2019 interview with Simeneh [Walta TV], Christian Tadelle said: “…≥15 million Amaras live in Oromia…” Ref.: youtu.be/0HjNFtaav14?t=2318

    i). These Amaras still live there and may even have children and grand children. So, the number of these Amaras could be much higher. Cf.: No Oromo lives in Amara Zone!

    ii). Wollega only makes ≤20% of Oromia and the Amaras in Wollega make ≤2% of the Amaras in Oromia. So, ≥98% of Amaras live in peace/harmony in the rest of Oromia.

    iii). ኦነግ ሸኔ has killed thousands of Oromos & displaced millions of them. Unlike ኦነግ ሸኔ victim Amaras, these Oromos have nowhere to go, no one to turn to and no one to cover their horror stories. Amara Thugs in Fanno Hats also kill & loot these Oromos.

    2). Amaras & Hospitality: Most Amaras in Oromia are from Gojjam & Gonder [G&G]. During my sojourns in G&G, I noticed that MOST Ethiopians are UNWELCOME. Yet, Whites & Arabs get Royal Red Carpet Treatment. That’s humiliating & insulting to me!

    PS: I only know the Shewans in Addis & never been to Wollo. So, I can’t say much about Shewa & Wollo Amaras!

  13. የኦሮሙማ ካድሬ ግብስብስ እንደደርግ ካድሬግብስብ በህዝብ ፍትሃዊ ትግል ከኢትዮጵያውያን ትከሻ ላይ ተሽቀንጦሮና ተባርሮ ይወገዳል!!!!!! የኦሮሙማ ካድሬ ግብስብስ እንደደርግ ካድሬግብስብ በህዝብ ፍትሃዊ ትግል ከኢትዮጵያውያን ትከሻ ላይ ተሽቀንጦሮና ተባርሮ ይወገዳል!!!!!!

    I_Mognu, the quintessential PP cadre always justifying the barbaric and murderous crimes of the Nazi wannabe copycats of the Abiy oromumma gang, always attacking the marginalized and defenseless non oromo ethnicities, always justifying the looting and embezzlement of the resources of the non oromo, Ethiopians by his bosses who are thieves and kleptomaniacs.

    According to I_Mognu, “ No oromo lives in Amara zone”.

    Great. If the number of Amharas living in so called oromo zone is at least 15 million and there were only 23 million oromos then, thanks for proving the fact that the oromos are not the majority in Ethiopia by head count. The 10 million plus Amara living AZ will make that figure 25 million Amara vs 23 million oromo.

    No Amhara with a thinking brain and no other true Ethiopians, except the tplf and oromumma cadres of the past 30 plus years are gonna waste time on the stupidity and lies of these garbage hoodlums and thugs. The beautiful thing here is the pre TPLF, Ethiopian statistics authority ( when phds were real phds not 7ኛ ጨ) has done excellent population census and detailed data collection, statistical analyses and documentation. It does not take that much effort to disprove the lies of these ignoramus neanderthals by simple statistics and basic maths.

    We have bigger fish to fry and leave the poorly educated or uneducated but fake degree holders to wallow in their cesspool of filth, lies, illogic and venom. Just like the millions of derg era marxist leninist cadres disintegrated and disappeared from the Ethiopian political arena, the oromumma cadres of abiy ahmed too will disintegrate and disappear before our eyes very soon, if not sooner.

    የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ የበሰበሰውን የኦሮሙማ የካድሬ ግብስብስ እና ከሰራተኛውና ታታሪው የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ ጉሮሮ ተነጥቆ በተወሰደ ገንዘብ ከርሱን የሚሞላው የኦሮሙማ ምንደኛ ጉግማንጉግ ሁሉ ለአንዴና ለመጨረሻ ግዜ የሚገላገልበት የአርነት ቀንና የሰው በሰውነቱ: በዜግነት ተከብሮ የሚኖርባት ኢትዮጵያ ትንሳዔ እሩቅ አይደለም::

    • Show me WHERE even JUST ONE Oromo lives in the Amara Zone! I used to travel to Gojjam & Gonder [G&G] to visit my friends’ relatives & noticed that MOST Ethiopians are UNWELCOME! However, G&G are the best at rolling out the Royalty Red Carpet treatment for Whites & Arabs! Yet, ≈90% of the Amaras in ALL regions are from G&G!

      The ONLY Oromos I know are the OLF-IFLO Oromos who attacked me at the university I went to. They mistook me for You & Co. [the beneficiaries of former despicable tyrant regimes who starved Amaras and made Ethiopia Synonymous with “The World’s Poster Child of Famine” making these two songs “The World’s National Anthem for Ethiopia”]:

      1. Tilahun Gessesse’s: “ዋይ! ዋይ! ዋይ!” – ሲሉ – “የረሃብን ጉንፋን ሲስሉ…”… [Circa 1975]
      2. American Artists’ appeal for Ethiopia Famine: “We are the World…”… [Circa 1985]

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