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Diffusion and delusion tactic on Adowa : From victimhood to vindictive mentality (Dereje Yimer)

By Dereje Yimer

The political horizon of Adowa 

The victory of Adowa is a critical juncture in the course of mankind’s history.  Its impact goes beyond the horizon of Africa. Those who traced their origin from Africa and lived in North America and Caribbean used the victory as a means of boasting their black identity.   The indomitable spirit of black consciousness has laid its foundation on Adowa.  The prominent black nationalists, Marcus Garvey, came up with the motto of” one aim, one God and one Destiny” for all blacks with the thought of invincibility  in front of a formidable foe. The genesis of invincibility begins its chapter from the history of Adowa. In such a context, Garvey torched a light of consciousness to break the mental slavery uploaded by the imperialists.   

Had it been our forefathers succumbed to the power of colonial invaders, the prevailing heterogeneous cultures and values would have lost in the thin air.  The country might be fragmented into tiny banana republics. Without having smashed the colonists, it would be unthinkable to get the present large territorial size and undiluted indigenous cultural values. It is an undeniable fact that Ethiopia was born as independent and sovereign countries in the womb of Adowa.  

However, the victory lost its grace and was tarnished by the ethno-centric political orientation after TPLF/EPRDF captured the state power in 1991. The TPLF/EPRDF led regime was predominantly known for corrupting history for political sake. The political group had put forth its narrative with the intention of inculcating the supremacy of “Tigrian” in the Minds of the rest of Ethiopians. In addition, the meta-ethnic fabric in the course of history was disregarded and instead the oppressed and oppressor dichotomy had overwhelmed the political realm. To re-write history in favor of TPLF, the state apparatus had been engaging fully in uplifting   Ginbot 20 at the expense of Adowa.  The so-called nation nationalities and peoples were forced to commemorate the day as Independence Day in which all ethnic groups would have become free from the colony of Amhara. 

 In short, the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s infamous dictum “የአክሱም ሃውልት ለወላይታ ምኑ ነው” can be considered as a footnote of the last three decades narrative with respect to history. Cutting the social fabric with other ethnic groups; re-creating history in the context of ethno-national map; hyperbolizing once own identity in the course of history are the dominant tactics employed by the former ethno-centric clique.    

The incumbent OPP/PP led regime holds the track of TPLF’s political scheme different from the classical Oromo elites’ colonial thesis. The new Oromo elites in PP are able to revitalize a little bit the OLF’s historical account. As we all know OLF was enveloped in a victimhood mentality in interpreting history. This would jeopardize the psychological make-up of Oromo elites and lead them to get trapped in the defeatist camp.

The parochial elites from the Oromo tribe have already disentangled themselves from the pride of Adowa. After having reprimanded Adowa, they would have created the political narrative that fit for alienation and marginalization. Those Brave patriots from the Oromo tribe, who demonstrated heroic stamina in front of the invader force were considered traitors. This was the gist of classical historical accounts for the last five decades.  OPP/PP employs another toxic scheme to liberate the elites from the Melancholy state of mind. 

The OPP/PP tactical move

The OPP/PP elites have become away from the classical naïve judgment. It designs the new conspiracy scheme to erect hegemonic political power using fabricated narrative like TPLF did. The new fabricated scheme follows two patterns:  first, it has constructed a diffusion mechanism. The prime intention is to disband Adowa from the emperor Menelik’s figure. In light of this, the epicenter for celebration, Piassa Menelik Square, has been contested for the last three years. Meskel Square and Adowa Bridge were added as an alternative avenue to meet the diffusion mechanism. OPP’s deliberate move is intrinsically connected with its clandestine project against the emperor. 

Second, OPP/PP has constructed a delusion tool: Like TPLF employed bogus narrative on Aksum civilization; OPP plagiarizes the same tactic to claim hegemonic role on the Adowa victory. To make the tactic effective, the brave war leader’s ethnic identity has singled out deliberately.  For instance, the Gurage identity in Balcha Aba Nefeso and Habtegiorgis is totally ignored for the sake of bogus monopoly. Thereby, Balcha Aba Nefso was designed to be the sole figure during the day to quench the thirst of the extremists.  

The new Adowa Museum pursues both diffusion and delusion tactics. The Menelik statue erected in the Adowa museum is graceless: it doesn’t take into account the glory contribution for the war. It’s purely an extension of the diffusion project. Shifting the center of attention from the architect of the victory is utterly unacceptable in the eyes of history. Adowa would have been mission impossible without Emperor Menelik’s diplomatic and leadership skills.  

Delusion tactic is also visible in the museum while observing the statue of twelve warriors.  Some brave warriors designated a new Oromo name to fit the OPP/PP conspiracy scheme. Fitawerarri Gebeyehu and Ras Mekonnen W/Michael’s grandfathers have been changed into Gurmu and Gudisa consequently .It is a blatant lie. No historical account testifies the designated name. We find their grandfather’s name as Yegdemework(የግድምወርቅ) and weldemelekot (ወልደመለኮት) in all historical documents, instead.  

Adowa is beyond the ethno-nationalists’ frontier  

Ethno-nationalists tend to draw an artificial primordial boundary on history for the purpose of fulfilling their parochial goal. Adowa is one of the victims in this respect. The Tigray extremists tried to cast shadow on it before. Now the Oromo extremists start disseminating doctored- narrative from the prevailing ethno-centric politics point of view. Readjusting the identity of brave patriots in the context of ethno nationalism emanates from a vindictive mentality: corrupting the historical episode then claiming exclusive ownership on it.  It is purely the opposite version of victimhood mentality.  

If we look back to the cultural identity of those 12 brave patriots, more than half of them were mixed. In addition, their political identity is far from the frontier of ethno-nationalism. The king’s egalitarian approach helped the nobilities and war lords to hold key positions in the state apparatus from the heterogeneous cultural background. So the political DNA was characterized by meta-ethnic. The Meta-ethnic political posture (Ethiopianism) won on the battlefield. Hence, no single ethnic group is entitled to claim the victory exclusively. 


The Spanish philosopher George Santayana says that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. We should use history properly to get the desired reward. Otherwise it could retaliate against us severely. Therefore, what matters is the right interpretation, not the actual historical episode. History could not be an end by itself. The way we use it, makes it great or not. 

The success in the remote past can be used as a locomotive of nation building process like the western power did. Yet, this grand project could be successful, when history is liberated from narrow minded ethno-centric elites. Bearing in mind, the pitfall that we observe in commemorating the victory of Adowa is resolved once and for all, when enlightened intellectuals hold the driver’s seat and shed the light on it. Otherwise we would end up circulating in a vicious circle.

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


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  1. I had said the following celebrating the victory at Adwa many years ago and it still sits with/in me.
    Hello Dear Countrymen!!!!

    You know me by now that I have nothing but love for you. I am here to let you hear from me something that is very special for me both as your dear countryman but also as a man of color. That story and the day I am sharing with you is that glorious day etched in stone never to be concealed or left forgotten. It is that day that sends megawatt volts of pride all over my high mileage body every time I think or read about it. It is that glorious day, that day my and your grandparents marched into the hills, ravines and fields of Adwa knowing that it would be their last day on this good earth. They did that because no one had to tell them that it was their Allah given rights to defend their Allah bestowed domiciles from murderous bigots. No one had to tell them that heavily armed ‘KKK thugs’ were there to shoot and hang every ‘nigger’ in sight. They were in complete understanding that the enemy they were facing at that place on that day behooves them to be calculating and also well prepared. They understood very well that a vast network of intelligence must be in place to play that heathen on their doorstep. And they played him very, very well. It was written that the mad as hell patriotic chief from Tigrai was sending ‘secret’ messages to Baratieri his intention to defect to his side and he was waiting for the Italian chief to fire the first shot. It was also written about the ‘secret’ messages the emperor’s cousin Mekonen along with chiefs Haimanot and Mika-il(Ali) were urging him to come and kill their common enemy, the emperor. It was written that they were ‘telling’ Baratieri that the emperor army is getting thinner and fewer by the day that he was thinking about cutting and run for his life. They pondered!!! They lured!!! They lured and lured the monster from Rome until he was well inside their compound. When their single and double envelopment war plan is firmly on the ground they lured him again to fire the first shot. Dabormida might have sent a message to his wife that the very next day he would shoot a photo of him surrounded and being served by 3,000 ‘niggers’. What he did not know was the fact my Barentu ‘grand uncle’ and his Amhara, Tigrai and many other ethnic groups were watching his every move and primed to show him and his partners-in-crime how lethal an Ethiopian could be when his pride is touched by outsiders and ready to teach him a lesson or two how to conduct a conventional warfare Alula style, Mekonnen style, Taytu style, Haimanot style, Mika-il(Ali) style, Balcha style, Dinagde style leaving him no counteroffensive option! None! None except for Baratieri to cut and run like a scared witless rabbit or rather like a high noon bank robber chased by blood smelling vigilante mob!!!! But for my niggaz information or rather misinformation was part of the game. You think that misinformation was started by KGB and CIA during the cold war. No!!! It was my and your grandparent who perfected and used from the bottom of the deck to their advantage. They painted themselves as if they were deserted, far and few when their rank was swelling by the day!!! They presented themselves as people who love to run naked or have naked and did not have any clue what warfare is or how it was supposed to be conducted as an organized army. They even sent him fattened cattle, honey and milk to make him think they were still like his Neanderthals ancestors who were incapable of distinguishing friends from enemies. By now the Baratieri’s ego was so built up and emboldened by the news of potential desertion at the outset of war ordered the commencement of the battle. But his worst nightmare was awaiting him. His worst nightmare, a nigga with a Hotchkiss gun on his lap was all around him even before finishing his recital to the Roman gods. He could hear that thunderous scream of that fire spitting woman named Taytu admonishing those soldiers of the fainted hearts who tried to withdraw prematurely from the battle fronts!!!! He could hear her telling them that she did not bring enough skirt for them to wear!!!! And he could hear them telling that roaring Taytu like ‘Don’t talk to me like that, woman! I am going back!’ Baratieri saw those incensed men turning into killing machines, their fainted hearts gone in a flash!!! Now the earth and sky were laminated all around him with little leeway for folding back or escape. Now my Barentu grand cousin and his comrades in arms started playing the complicated mancala game in the middle of the battle. On one of their moves their led the arrogant Dabormida and his entire battalion plus army right into the welcoming arms of my Barentu grand cousins. When the carnage was over Dabormida was dying squealing like untidy pig. Now arch angels Jibril and Mika-il were in the mix. They were in the mix because that land of Maryam Magdalene and Bilal ibn Rabah was being desecrated by ruffians. They were in the mix because that land and its people were put together there by Allah at the beginning of times no matter the numerous and unabating travesties they had to go through. It is because it was the land where the two major religions, Christianity and Islam, had taken foothold there without the need of an all out battle. The battle Baratieri started on that day did not even last the entire length of the daylight. For intents and purposes it was over by the mid day. At 12 high noon, it was over. Now Baratieri turned around and ran like a scared deer from the Chercher Mountains!!! One of my grand cousins along with his Tigrayan and Amhara friends were in hot pursuit after him. But his horse was still fresh and not like their battle fatigued ones. But they stood on top of one the hills and told him who he really was. Oh Boy!!!! They were telling him using all kinds of words in their profane dictionary. No, I am not telling you what they yelled at him. No, no this is a family show. But I can tell you one so mildly. All three of them thundered at him like ‘You, the son of a thousand biscuits!!!!’ It seems he heard it all slammed into his bigoted ears carried by the drifting wind. How do I know that? You may ask. That is because I was teleported to that day!!!! I saw that thunderous lady Taytu telling off the retreating soldiers!!! You should all read more about her. Now some of you misogynistic pigs may doubt her role just because she was a woman. I highly suggest that you don’t say that around Lia bin Tadesse, Alemtsehay bint Wodajo, Birtukan bint Mideksa, Meaza bint Ashenafe, Muferiat bint Kamil, Aisha bint Mohammed bin Mussa and others in their posse who have been giving chauvinists like you that deadly stare of death. For now this high mileage, beyond-repair Afro-Ethio-centric nigga has been having a serious bout of an attitude since yesterday!!!!!


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