Thursday, April 25, 2024
HomeOpinionZemene Mesafint vs. Zemene Banda: Ethiopia's Contrasting Eras and Paths 

Zemene Mesafint vs. Zemene Banda: Ethiopia’s Contrasting Eras and Paths 

Mikael Wossen _ Ethoipia _ Zemene Mesafint
Mikael Wossen

Mikael Wossen, Ph.D.

Speaking on the future of Ethiopia, Dr. Kissinger recommended in 1972 that “the US policy should be to keep Ethiopia in perpetual internal conflict, using such vulnerabilities as ethnic, religious, and other divisions to destabilize the country” (Vestal,188).

Much like on the eve of the 21st century, the 19th century found a  fractious Ethiopia in which there was no national cohesion, and no stable central authority. The Imperial center was moribund, and the country was in the throes of civil wars. During the latter part of the era, the provinces were virtually independent, and fought against each other constantly. The era witnessed twenty-eight reigns, according to Henze (p.119, 2000). At issue was the balance of power between the regional nobilities, princes and kings versus the imperial realm. It boiled down to the question of who should rule supreme. Several of the provincial rulers had also developed various foreign policies/contacts of their own. Others even corresponded with European governments independently. The latter poured firearms at an increasing rate, to fuel the conflicts.

Amid the intensified rivalry among mainly Amara, Oromo and Tigre warlords, the country was at a serious risk of paralysis and fragmentation. This era is known as Zemene Mesafint (Era of Princes) in the history books. It began with the death of Iyasu in 1755, and ended with the triumphant crowning of Emperor Tewodros In 1855. Ethiopianism was finally reinstated.

There are, however, significant differences between the two eras noted. In the Zemene Mesafint past, the colonizing mission of the West was in motion. It was pulling and coaxing the country in various centrifugal directions, thereby aggravating the internal political and dynastic struggles. Yet, the ties and values that held the country together were neither questioned nor broken. The Church and Mosque continued their services. The people’s loyalties to the country and their respective leaders remained intact.

The present state of decentralization is different. Kilils or so called “separate but equal” development, ethnic “federalism” and lack of a vigorous and credible central authority, is mainly self-inflicted, and Constitutionally mandated. This condition summarizes what I call the Zemene Banda era (Era of Collaborators). It is personified by Meles Zenawi & Sebhat Nega (Son & Father of the ethno-fascist TPLF), and currently their Oromo stepbrother Abiy. It is a result of a planned political and constitutional policy dynamic orchestrated by the EPLF/TPLF and OLF since 1991. In this arrangement of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the US played the maestro’s role. Article 39 of the Banda Constitution states that, “every nation, nationality or people in Ethiopia shall have the unrestricted right to self determination up to secession.” This conditional set up structurally implements the Kissingerian dictat (above), and his “Committee in charge of running the world “

The self-styled “Marxist-Leninist” Bandas are proxies of US imperialism. They are anti-Ethiopia and Amara-haters to the core. They have maligned and distorted Ethiopia’s shining legacy. They have divided, robbed and abused Ethiopia’s people and history, and tarnished its proud political and religious legacy, for more than a half a century. They have inaugurated a contentious and genocidal political field. Still, a coastless Ethiopia persists, as a legacy of the Tplf.

Whereas in the 19th century Ethiopia had been politically fragmented for nearly a century, most of the provinces and their people continued to share a common aspirations.  Fortunately and unlike other African countries, Ethiopia was not a country “of a mere conglomeration of tribes”at that time (Henze, 119, 2000). The Chistian church and monarchy were unscathed, and Oromos played a significant role in imperial politics. Ethiopia had access to the sea. Memories of the country’s great and glorious past were never forgotten by the people. The great majority yearned for the return of normalcy, unity, peace and prosperity, rather than self-determination through secession. 

The current chronic tribalism and political amnesia regarding national solidarity was engineered by the Eprdf ethnic regime; and was normalized by its apartheid education system. It was enhanced by the vile Agoraphobic propaganda, unleashed by the TPLF regime and its allies. Their ideological efforts were aided by a bulging youth population with hardly any knowledge of history, or memories of past unity and achievements. In fact, a majority of the ideology-fed population was instructed to read and write in the Latin alphabet, and to regard the Ethiopic script and Tewahdo faith as colonial impositions. For the treacherous and ignorant Bandas, the Ethiopic script is more “colonial” than the Latin one! The nine or ten so-called “nationalities”  are enclosed in their respective “killils” and speaking their own language among themselves. There are said to be five national language, according to the “convince and confuse” policy of the Oromo leadership. This presents us with a dim view of the possibilities for cross-linguistic communication among Ethiopians. These casualties were performed along with the destruction of the perfectly well-unified and developed lingua franca of Amharic. Bandas consider it falsely as a language of the colonizer/oppressor, and are vying to extinguish Amara’s national identity altogether. Amaraness is regarded as a key pillar of Ethiopianism. Consequently, Cannibalism and necropolitics have surfaced in the Oromo brutality against Amaras. As we write, the Amaras are living under military occupation.

The Ethiopian political left has adopted the divisive Italian fascist maxim “divide et impera” as a secular religion. It is leading the country towards a disastrous destination. It is, therefore, not surprising that octogenarian atheist Sebhat Negga refers to the anti-Amara-secessionist Constitution as his party’s Bible (Dereje Desta).

The “weaponization” of ethnicity, language and faith, is combined with half-baked Marxism and Pentecostalism. This brew is leading towards a furious escalation of the armed contest for territory, values and resources among Ethiopia’s ethnic groups. The leadership’s political nihilism has, as its goal, the destruction of the national system and common language/heritage on which all our history, prosperity and future is based. It goes without saying that the carved ethnic enclaves (killils) will not amount to much by way of “development” or “democracy.” Eritrea and South Sudan serve as good templates. Democratization is an unlikely outcome, in my view, given the massive illiteracy, inequalities and injustices inherent in the existing territorial and resource partitions of the country. Besides, history shows that secession often leads to a dictatorship, one imposed in the interest of the “liberation front” that fought for it.

The so- called reformist ‘medemer’ ruling “philosophy” amounts to dancing to the same old song, with the OLF in command now. Within barely a year in office, PM Abiy’s preachy leadership of love, forgiveness and tolerance had evaporated, giving way to Qeerroo-inspired thug type terror and authoritarianism. The Qerro’s expatriate leaders (activist) are pampered and escorted with the government’s armed soldiers. The Shene killers are payed and armed by Abiy’s so called Prosperity regime. The displacement of citizens, the robbery of banks, the abuse of oppositions etc.and daylight attacks, rape and killings of “other” ethnic groups continues in Wollega and in all corners of the country. The dead are routinely hauled into mass graves. These state-enforced atrocities occur with impunity, and without resolving any of the ruling contradictions. Farmers are denied fertilizer, while food deprivation is escalating. The economy is in chaos. Amara women are exported to the Middle East for slavery. Moreover, there is a claim that Addis Abeba (the capital) belongs exclusively to Oromos. The authorities have encircled the capital with another city known as Sheger. They have displaced over 100,000 and imprisoned some 30.000 Amaras in Addis Abeba alone. Amaras are not allowed to enter the capital and are displaced by the millions around the country. Their homes are demolished with families in them. Atrocities and cruelties of this kind against Amaras abound. Fabricated lies and incriminating references to/about the Amaras and their leaders are commonplace. Very few, outside the Oromos in the Abiy-Shimeles leadership circle and opportunists/actors, can actually claim that nowadays things have improved for the masses.This has turned the national mood of the people for and against the Abiy-OLF “reforms.” Their betrayal of the nation is a popular rallying cry.

Thus, in contrast to the 19th century, the arc of history is bending in the opposite direction. In plain language, Abiy is moving the country to lawlessness and in a  backward direction at an alarming speed. He is more interested in creating a greater Oromia, and the Geda system of bloodletting, rather than establishing Ethiopianness and democracy.

While the first attempt in the direction of reunification and modernization (post-Zemene Mesafint) of the ancient realm was made by the far-sighted patriot AtseTewodros II (1855-1868),  there is hardly such a leadership in sight today. The emergent Amhara Popular Front and Fanos are the best bet for citizens to cross the problematic Zemene Banda era of darkness. This challenge to end the prevailing chaos has fallen on the APF and Fanos. Since violence is the only language understood by the powerful, Amaras have declared an existential Amara struggle. It is to be waged alongside a national liberation struggle.

Henceforth, our silence will be cowardly. For all Ethiopians to live in freedom, every one of us must be responsible for safeguarding our personal liberty and national destiny. That is, we must all become Fano and nurture the Popular Front. Democracy implies that the liberty of the individual must be enshrined as sacrosanct in the struggle for a new post-TPLF/Olf Constitutional order.  This principle is at the core of the growing insurrection of Amaras for Ethiopianism. It is currently in the process of uprooting the ruling ethno-fascist structures from its region. Abiy’s baseless Prosperity officials are responding by abandoning their posts, and leaving the country.

A cohesive national consciousness of Ethiopiawinet is taking hold in the popular imagination. More Ethiopians must start to follow the armed calls for Amaraness and Ethiopiawinet!  Defined simply by HIM (His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie) in 1941, Ethiopianism refers to ”that optimum combination that people of Ethiopia themselves have fashioned to serve the fulfillment of their national destiny.” All said,  Amaras have finally fashioned a popular armed resistance movement to safeguard their survival, one leading to national sovereignty.

In this way we can finally transcend the pitfalls of archaic tribalism as politics. We can begin to secure our common national solidarity that was interrupted over the last half a century. We must stand up as free subjects, and contemporary citizens all at once. We need to flip the national paradigm to initiate an individual-based politics. Citizenship must underpin the practice of democracy. This is when the international system will begin to respect us.

We can no longer just sheepishly partake in the promised tribal “elections,” and continue rubber stamping the politics of the herd. There are militant ways to effectively safeguard our threatened survival and cultural/political rights. Mere ballots do not constitute democracy, as the quality of our democracy is ultimately tied to the extent of our individual liberty.

Democracy highlights and respects the value of individual worth and beliefs, within the wider national context of recognizing the impact those values may have for and on other compatriots. This is where equality, and the ‘rule of law’ come in. The new era of democracy is now literally in each of our hands. We must each conscientize and re-educate ourselves politically and historically, to navigate the coming storm.

Victory to the Amara Popular Forces and Fano Fighters.

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


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  1. Your point of view is completely contradictory. Your problem is that you want to dominate Ethiopia in the name of the Orthodox religion and the Amhare community, while you take democracy and multiculturalism for granted.
    If you really love the country, why won’t you accept that Ethiopia be run by another community without religious intervention?
    Ethiopia’s survival has always depended on the valiant Afars, not the Amhars or the Tigrayans, so stop propagating false stories and as long as you do not recognise the Afars and their role in Ethiopian history, everything you tell and will tell will be out of date and timeless.

    • In total, 30,000 to 40,000 Fanno and amhara militia have been killed in Alamata, Raya and Gashena.
      45,985 fannos have been wounded .
      Fanno media outlets are believed to be endowed with lies , name calling propaganda and defamation.
      Fannos are still on the run.

      Viva ENDF !!!!

  2. 1). Wouldn’t it be a Travesty of Justice to bring back any Former Regime [FR]* that made Ethiopia synonymous with “The World’s Poster Child of Poverty & Famine”? [FR*: Feudal Monarchy Era, Derg/Meison/EPRP Era, Egypt’s Proxy TPLF-EPLF Era]

    There was famine, wasn’t there? Do you remember these Famine-Appeal Songs?
    i). Tilahun Gessesse’s: “ዋይ! ዋይ! ዋይ!” ሲሉ – “የረሃብን ጉንፋን ሲስሉ ….” [Circa 1975].
    ii). “We are the World!” – Circa 1985 – “The World’s national anthem for Ethiopia”]

    2). Why blame Abiy when The Enemy Within [TEW*] wreaks havoc to wrest power or to hand Ethiopia over to Egypt WSW*? [TEW*: Proxies of Egypt/WSW/FR in Ethnic Activist Hats or Amara Fanno Hats /// WSW*: White Supremacist West]

    3). Abiy has been trying to transform Ethiopia from “World’s Poster Child of Poverty & Famine” to “World’s Poster Child of Prosperity & Greenery” – – – Against all odds [Economy↓ Famine↑] and despite drought/locust/IDPs/COVID; Egypt/WSW’s Proxy Wars [TPLF/ኦነግ ሸኔ/etc.]; WSW-forced Birr devaluation & loan/aid/trade repeal, etc.

  3. You are entitled to your vision and opinion but I’m not sure if that would lead to a better altermtive outcome. As a matter of it won’t lead to anwhere as far as for the need of holistic unity, equality, democracy, security issues and stability are concened. One partcular ethmic arming itself
    wagging war and imposing its will on others is nothing new. It would no be much different than the erstwhile TPLF ethnic group or from the current PP’-OP of Orommuma poltical platform.

  4. Oromia is the gift of Tigray to the Oromo people. Independent Tigray and independent Oromia will cooperate and become friendly countries. Long live Oromia and Tigray.

  5. What a fashion plate! I don’t know how Dior, Dolce Gabbana and Armani missed this guy. At least Jason Wu should have noticed you. Don’t worry. It was their loss. All of it.

  6. There are a thousand tribes in Africa. But there can’t be a thousand countries. There are over 80 tribes in Ethiopia, you got the idea. In theory it would be nice to have over 80 language regions, but that is impossible. MZ once said “what is Axum for Welayita….” which was quoted often. What he meant was Tigray was more ‘civilized’ than Welayita and deserved its own KILLIL but Welayita does not b/c it is not ‘civilized enough’.

    Axumite ’empire’, which Sebhat Nega said doesn’t even include Enderta, was gone for centuries and Tigray was the poorest province in 1991. Tigre people were everywhere in Ethiopia b/c of the devastating poverty there. Rains were less and less frequent in Tigray and the land was eroded and not good for farming anymore. The top soil was all but gone. Welkait, Tegede, Tselemt and Raya (WTTR) are right next door to Tigray province. And that is where a lot of Tigre people went to when the rains failed to come. WTT were never ‘west Tigray’ and neither was Raya ‘south Tigray’. But hey, Tigre people were bringing the ‘superior’ Axumite civilization to WTTR with them and now those places should belong to Tigre. TPLF claimed those Amhara territories for Tigre and annexed them couple years before it wrote the dysfunctional constitution.

    There were a lot of Tigre people from Tigray proper in Asmara city, too. But TPLF didn’t annex Asmara. Mainly b/c Eritreans had a lot of guns.

    The biggest minority in almost all Amhara towns are the Tigre. The oldest church has a lot of Tigre clergy. Tigre priests and monks migrated to everywhere Ethiopia. And there is nothing wrong with that. What was wrong was the preaching done by TPLF. Three decades is a very long time but the preaching had started much earlier. But since 1991 there was evidence of Tigre-exceptionalism paying off. ETV led the choir, singing the bravado of TPLF with endless and boring propaganda docs. Ethiopians tuned out and got addicted to British soccer and foreign soap operas on TV. TPLF totally forgot it was EPLF’s tanks that brought it to Addis. Also forgot the Ethiopian Army would’ve crushed it like a bug if there was no war to fight in Eritrea.

    At some point TPLF realized Ethiopians were not watching ETV when MZ spoke. So during the mid and long distance runs at the Olympics and World Championships, it disrupted transmission to broadcast taped MZ speeches.

    Tigre youth were the only ones that believed the fake bravado on ETV docs. And they paid very dearly for it since Nov 2020 after TPLF attacked ENDF and massacred Amhara civilians in Mai Kadra all in the same week. The entire country turned against TPLF and fought back. The internationally orchestrated and very loud propaganda to bring TPLF back to Menelik’s palace fell on deaf ears. Even Zambia called back her two citizens in Addis through CNN and BBC. But again Samantha P of USAID was in Lusaka to give gov’t of Zambia 40 M USD.

    History can be dangerous sometimes. That’s all I’m trying to say.

  7. TPLF was in Debre-Sina but Addis was ready with over a quarter million volunteers to defend the city. Diaspora came home in droves and artists went to the war fronts to sing to the combined forces of Ethiopia. Nobody flinched and that stunned the IC. Amb Herman Cohen finally tweeted “Ethiopians really hate TPLF”. And then it happened. TPLF was being killed in tens of thousands on its run backwards. And then there was a pause. TPLF didn’t learn and launched yet another round of war against Ethiopia. This time the Ethiopian troops showed up from unexpected direction and totally devastated TPLF. The tone changed. And it changed very dramatically.

    Meanwhile the PP came up with a document called YEDIL SHIMYA. The whole world has seen the devastating war unfold. Eritreans, Afar, Amhara and a lot of other volunteers had helped ENDF fight against TPLF. The war was won at the battle front. TPLF was totally defeated and on its knees. TPLF fought by itself for the first time lost very badly. Even the foreign TPLF’s staunch supporters on Twitter raised the white flag. The guns went silent. It was all over. Or was it?

    TPLF didn’t deserve the DDR in Pretoria, but it wasn’t that bad. Redwan Hussen being the chief negotiator should’ve raised a red flag. That Redwan character owes everything to TPLF. When he was assigned ambassadorship in Asmara the president of that country didn’t recognize him personally for a reason. The spoiled Redwan said “I was doing my PhD in Ireland and sacrificed my education for you” forgetting he was sent to Ireland to be Ambassador and not go to school. The other negotiator was the biggest disappointment since he joined the cabinet bc he didn’t deliver on anything. Nothing at all. People only saw Gideon Mathias on TV sitting unusually too straight and taking notes from the PM like a teacher’s pet The Gov’t seemed to be embarrassed for him and tried to throw Gideon a bone in the form of giving him the podium in declaring that he had caught some people stealing a few thousand dollars. That was it. Nothing before and nothing since.

    Redwan appeared in parliament and talked like chief negotiator of TPLF. The old and hated EPRDF rhetoric was back in full force. A few weeks later Redwan was shopping for shoes with Getachew Reda in Amsterdam. Unlike the PM, Redwan has a real degree or two. And he is the special advisor to the PM. If it was him who told the PM to quote from Mark instead of Marx, more than once, he did it on purpose to embarrass his boss. But it was probably the other advisor called Deacon Daniel who did that.

    Redwan was spotted on TV by MZ and Bereket Simeon back in the early 1990s when he was arguing for separation of his tribe. Redwa’s mother was caught red-handed stealing over 50 pieces of plots of land in Addis and was about to go to jail. That news was on papers. Thanks to TPLF the mother never went to jail. Redwan’s tribe was allowed to split the tribe into two. And the splitting was more b/c of religion than culture. Redwan had declared his tribe was a remnant of Ahmed Gragn from the 16th century on his FB page. That by itself wasn’t too bad but his hatred towards one particular tribe in Ethiopia was a bit disturbing. The fanatics in his original village continued to burn down churches for no apparent reason. And more recently, not only they burnt down more churches but they also beat up university students; supposedly to show their solidarity with Muslims in Gondar. And when that piece of news hit the YouTube channels, Redwan Hussen, in his capability as Board Chairman of Media, announced there was a nice doc coming up about his village on ETV, in an effort to make people forget what the emboldened fanatics in his village just did. And he shouldn’t have been in that board in the first place b/c the current laws of the land don’t allow it. The weak EZEMA protested his appointment EZEMA-style at that time, very weakly, and only once, and went back to sleep.

    The curious thing is the few fanatics in Redwan’s village didn’t say anything when Muslims in Wellega were slaughtered like chicken. They didn’t utter a word when Muslims in Anwar Mesjjid were shot down while peacefully protesting against the demolishing of mosques in ‘Sheger’ mirage town. And as in everywhere else, the fanatics are a well organized tiny minority who scare the hell out of the peaceful majority. There was even a mosque in that village that was dubbed the 45th TABOT for standing by Christians and for fighting against the zealots.


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