Tuesday, April 16, 2024
HomeOpinionWill Fano Fail ? Fano in the Mirror of Adwa

Will Fano Fail ? Fano in the Mirror of Adwa

Fano - Ethiopia

By Tesfa ZeMichael, B.Phil.

Dr. Abiy has  defeated the TPLF and has transformed the Oromo PP into his political tool and a cover for death squads. If Fano is defeated,  there will be no countervailing political force left to challenge Dr. Abiy’s power. He will have a free hand to finesse his ethnic divide-and-rule and become a full-fledged dictator wearing the mantle of framed elections. Thus, the defeat of Fano will be a political catastrophe.

How could Fano ensure that it will not be defeated?  To answer this question, I will draw on some elements from the Adwa Victory and from the philosophy of “enlightened catastrophism.” 

Enlightened catastrophism: The “method” of enlightened catastrophism “consists in projecting oneself” into the “day after” the catastrophe, the defeat of Fano in our case, and “in retrospectively seeing in the latter an event at once inevitable and avoidable.”  If one is to prevent a catastrophe, “one needs to believe in its possibility before it occurs.” The point of imagining a future catastrophe is to “predict the future in order to change it.” The anticipation of this future catastrophe generates signals toward the past that would trigger actions that would keep the catastrophic future from being realized. 

Given the imbalance of resources between Fano and Dr. Abiy’s regime, the defeat of Fano is a possibility. To evict this possibility, we have to consider the defeat of Fano as “inevitable.” Seeing it as “inevitable” forces us to see how we could prevent the inevitable from happening. We assume that this “inevitable” future is causally produced by the acts and non-acts of Fano in the present that is the past of the “inevitable and avoidable” defeat of Fano. Such a retroactive reflection “raises awareness and spurs actions” in the present so that the defeat of Fano does not take place in the future. 

Fano and Adwa: To see how Fano can prevent its “inevitable” defeat, I will look at Fano in the mirror of Adwa. One could set up an analogical relation between Fano and Adwa. Both express the struggle against domination: Adwa against external domination, and Fano against internal domination. In a sense, Fano continues the work of liberation that started in Adwa. Since Adwa eliminated the possibility of external domination, it could provide lessons to Fano’s struggle against internal domination via our retroactive reflection from the site of the “day after” its “inevitable” defeat. 

I will leave aside the subjective issue of courage, for the combatants of Fano are as courageous as those of Adwa. I will thus concentrate on the relevant objective parameters of Adwa’s victory to see how Fano could make its “inevitable” defeat impossible. The parameters are the following three unities: a) unity of purpose, b) unity of organization, and c) unity of leadership. Consideration of these three units is important, given that Fano is made up of several autonomous groups located in various areas of Amhara.

These three units contributed decisively to the victory of Adwa. Hence, the interest in analogically applying the experience of Adwa to the Fano struggle. However, given the differences in the historical contexts of Fano and Adwa. These three units need to be unpacked contextually. I deal here with these units only as they pertain to the issue of avoiding the “inevitable” defeat of Fano. 

A. Unity of purpose. Fano must clarify the “purpose” of its struggle. Is the goal of the struggle to overthrow Dr. Abiy’s regime? Or to force him to enter into negotiations? If so, negotiations for what? Transitional government? Power-sharing? Re-writing the Constitution? Amhara Autonomy?  Or some of these? And so forth. Where there is no clarity and unity of purpose, the likelihood that different groups of Fano could pursue divergent or contradictory purposes cannot be excluded. Consequently,  Fano will have weakened itself and opened itself to defeat. Hence the importance of clarifying the proximate and distal goals of the struggle and forging a unity of purpose in order to give a consistent focus to the struggle. 

B. Unity of organization. A unity of purpose is empty if it is not reflected organizationally. That Fano arose as a dispersed grass-roots resistance movement does not logically preclude unity of organization, as the history of successful liberation movements shows. A unity of organization does not necessarily mean creating a monolithic organization that erases the identity of Fano groups. Unity of organization could be conceived democratically as the creation of coordinating mechanisms. Such mechanisms ensure that the various Fano groups do not put spokes in each other’s wheels because of lack of coordination. They also ensure that the success achieved by one Fano group will become a trampoline for other Fano groups for larger actions and successes. 

C. Unity of leadership. A unity of leadership does not necessarily mean having a single leader. Given the present scattered presence of Fano all over Amhara, unity of leadership is best understood at the present stage as unity arising from a collective leadership. Creating a collective leadership is quite challenging, but it is necessary to save Fano from the risks that are inherent in a fragmented leadership. A fragmented leadership could provide Dr. Abiy the opportunity to infiltrate the movement and co-opt some members, thus weakening Fano. 

The above three unities are interdependent. Each enhances the other; the absence of one weakens the others. The relevance of these three units could be reaffirmed were we, conversely, to look at Adwa in the mirror of the current Fano and reason once more retroactively. If the battle of Adwa were conducted under conditions that characterize the current Fano struggle—equivocal purpose, fragmented organization, and fragmented leadership—the outcome of the Adwa battle would have been a catastrophe. 

Thus, looking at Fano in the mirror of Adwa and at Adwa in the mirror of Fano provides lessons that could enable Fano to avert its “inevitable” defeat. Adwa is a living lesson that cannot be fossilized in a museum.

Moreover, these three units will indicate to the Ethiopian people that Fano is an organization that has the capacity to collaborate effectively with other Ethiopian democratic forces and to contribute decisively to the creation of a democratic alternative to the tyranny of Dr. Abiy. It will attract the support of an increasing number of Ethiopians. The signs of this support are the increasing defections to Fano of members of Dr. Abiy’s defense forces. The accomplishment of the three units could accelerate these and other defections and sap Dr. Abiy’s regime from within.

Conclusion: Currently, there is a competition of claims of success among Fano groups. The risk in such a competition is that it opens the door for rhetorical inflation of local victories, giving rise to misleading optimisms, delusions, and miscalculations, all detrimental to the long-term success of Fano. The above three unities offer a rampart against a competition of overblown claims of success among Fano groups and averts the damaging effects of this counterproductive competition. 

Obviously, working out the three units requires a lot of discussion among Fano groups. Such discussions could be fruitful only if Fano members and supporters discard the pernicious habit that has poisoned political discussions among modern Ethiopians; to wit, the practice of spicing up one’s ideas with demeaning words directed at those who have different views. 

Derogatory words directed at those with whom one disagrees are verbal fragmentation grenades that harm all of us. They make dialogue impossible. They are a gift to Dr. Abiy to whom quarrels within the opposition are music to his tyrant ears. Views with which we disagree, even if they are beyond the pale of reason and evidence, should be criticized in terms of logical or evidential criteria and not with demeaning terms.

Here also Adwa offers a priceless lesson. The architect of the Adwa Victory, Menelik II, is known for his avoidance of polemics and his practice of dialogue that one could describe in the words of Rami: “Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”  Then dialogue bears fruits.

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


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  1. The Fano Movement both by its nature and design is highly decentralized and also non-reversible. The abiy regime arrogantly and duplicitously waged a war on the Amhara people who saw massive displacement, evictions and massacre of the Amhara in so called oromia zone, especially Wollega.

    At first, it was believed that all these atrocities were the actions of the ousted TPLF, and indeed many times the loquacious fabricator and loud mouthed abiy ahmed intimated that all these chaos was due to the “evil TPLF”.
    When the smoke cleared, and the abiy mania and fever died in Ethiopia, Ethiopians suddenly woke up from their stupor only to discover to their horror, the killer, genocide organizer and shameless thief and embezzler was none other than abiy ahmed himself. The boy-king drenched in the blood of the innocent millions, has no roadmap himself.

    The war of attrition against the dictator will continue till the end goal of removing the despot. Whether there is a centralized Fano, a decentralized Fano, a Fano with explicit political manifesto or no manifesto, abiy ahmed, the butcher will be removed from power.

    This political calculus is not new to Ethiopia. It was only a little over thirty years ago the derg crambled to pieces. During its ascension to power, the derg had an almost nationwide popular support especially from rural Ethiopia. The derg had a much more integrated and well trained professional army. It was armed to the the teeth with previous US armament from Emperor Haile Selassie’s era and was rearmed to the teeth with Soviet armaments subsequently. It had a well functioning civil service sector with competent bureaucrats and mid level management teams and very seasoned and trained diplomats compared to the luckless abiy. The derg was very successful in containing inflation and with command economy was able to curb exorbitant price rises. Furthermore swaths of Ethiopian territory were under the firm control of its security apparatus.

    Come forward 30 years, abiy ahmed, has none of that. Mengistu was often dressed in soldiers uniform and where as the military echelons indeed enjoyed some level of comfort and preferential treatment, embezzlement, out right public resources usurpation and theft were frowned upon and not tolerated then.

    abiy ahmed has none of that unity. The boy king was able to manipulate millions of gullible Ethiopians through fake jingoism, demagoguery and shiny pet projects. Meanwhile Ethiopians are starving by millions. There is too much social unrest, imbalance of power and ethnic tensions everywhere.

    The Fano Movement is an underground insurgency that now involves the largest Amhara population in all regions of Amhara land (so called killing) and the boy king is very disliked and despised there. He is not popular in Tigray, Somali region and Afar land either. In fact, there are many who do not like him in his own oromia.

    Everyday is hell for the despot. The massive economic problems both macro and micro in nature are all ticking time during disasters that can set off any second. Fano will continue its decentralized structure by necessity and the war of attrition will continue. The demise of the oromumma grandeur of delusion is an agonizing and slow death by thousand cuts.

    The end result is one and only one!!!! The defeat and dismissal from the Ethiopian psyche of the impostor and sociopath who has only himself to blame for his arrogance, hubris, over estimation of his prowess, duplicity, Machiavellian, sociopathic and psychotic megalomania that brought his downfall and total rejection by the majority of Ethiopians. Good Riddance!!!

  2. Let’s say the incompetent army of abiy ahmed manages to massacre all Fano members in parts of the Amhara region. What will be the next outcome? There will be 10 times the initial Fanos that theoretically got wiped out by the goon and his troglodytes.

    This is an insurgency dispersed on massive territorial spread with a population of tens of millions. The insurgency will grow and glow each day, each minute and every second. It is the result of the unjust, unethical, murderous zealot who wants to kill and torture everyone that dares to challenge his asinine and preposterous illusions and delusions.

    Where is the parliamentarian Christian Tadele? In prison. Why? Because he told the thief in chief that the office of the pm, including the goon masquerading as pm of all Ethiopians should be audited. Let an independent auditor audit the pm, we dare you to accept this challenge. It won’t happen on his watch because he is a thief, and his entire pp members are embezzlers.

  3. Because you started out with the premise that Fano is Ethiopian and the rest of the country (as represented by Abiy) is a foreign invader, your argument ended up in a ditch. You need to drop fast the pernicious lie that Amhara/Fano is invincible. It appears you and the crowd you associate with are incapable of drawing lessons from Tplf. I hope you are not insinuating that memorializing an event, such as Adwa, is tantamount to “fossilizing” history. What consumes Abiy at night is consolidating power in himself, not silly superhuman Fano fiction. Same applies to Oromo/Tigray. Please do me and yourself a favor. Show me a single Amhara “scholar” currently presenting a perspective dissimilar to what you and the rest are writing. No Amhara is courageous enough to stand up to the tide of pure belligerence and outlandish histories saturating the airwaves. Dialogue and strategic thinking should replace Akaki zeraf culture to make a dent in the current impasse.


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