Home Opinion Rethinking Confederation to Keep the Nation in one Piece and at Peace

Rethinking Confederation to Keep the Nation in one Piece and at Peace


Editor’s note : views in the article reflects the writer’s view, NOT that of borkena.com


By Samuel Estefanous 

We have come a long way to contemplate Confederation. I badly want to be proven wrong. Nothing makes me happier. 

But the way I see it, the seams are beginning to bust at the ends. We shouldn’t have taken the territorial integrity of the Nation for granted in the very first place because contrary to popular perception it is yet in a state of formation with fragile tendons keeping it in one piece.

Just about everybody is hacking at the tender joints of the Nation mercilessly- with blind rage smoldering savagely in his/her eyes. And ironically we expect the Nation to endure. If we are hacking at it, it is sure to disintegrate and not hold together.  Let us face it, for whatever reason we have reached a state where a segment of the society wildly celebrates the death of a member of the Defense Forces on the hands of his brethren. 

The essence of the Nation is sapped and so weakened that it won’t be able to support its existence any more. It is no use trading blames. Because in politics no party is in the wrong as long as it garners a sizable, significant and meaningful support. 

It is neither the fault of TPLF, Fano, Prosperity nor Shene. They wouldn’t have come into being and wield so much power had the factors constituting the essence of the Nation been strong enough to resist their respective existence and sustenance. We need to accept the hard, cold truth staring us directly in the eyes.

At the end of the day we have perfected the fundamentals of zero sum game. Major existential agendas are being set by forces whose interests are defined against the loss of the other. When interests fail to converge, Nations fall. It is as simple as that. Again it has to be underscored in bold letters- it isn’t the fault of any one group, just that the dynamics of state formation and disintegration are at work.

I mean just randomly tune in to make sense of the political activists and interest groups in action. They are in a state pitch fever -thrusting for the blood of their presumed fellow countrymen. 

Fated to find ourselves in this quagmire, what we need to do is try damage control. Thank God there are millions of educated folks with commendable temperance willing to assume the duty pro bono. 

1-We Assume Wrong

Indeed, there is the possibility of Unity in Diversity when we are pro-actively working to attain it. When we cease to exert the positive effort to prop up the hypothesis, chances are diversity begins to breed hostility. Just look at what is happening to the incumbent, in just under six years it is able to create a hysterical opposition that is ready to strike at anything that moves in the government Camp fueled by rage, hatred and vengeance.  

Looks like, in politics there is no higher wisdom but interest to pursue at all or traded cost. You cannot prove Fano or Shene politics is wrong judging by the intellectual caliber of their respective leaders. Actually the lesser the academic distinction the better they fare.   Otherwise the Decembrists of Imperial Russia could have done much better than Pugachev. To mobilize meaningful political support sometimes being a Pugachev is by far more effective than being a Prince Sergie Volkonsky (who has a propensity to compose poems about the struggle than appeal to the primitive instincts of the peasants).

At the end of the day when all these blind rage subsides and the unquestioned self and other consuming hatred ebbs, we stand adrift on the ruins of the Nation and murmur…we assumed the Nation would endure to eternity and a sober voice at the back of our head coldly whispers “well, you assumed wrong…”   

2-The Dictatorship of the Nationalities

I have never read Bakunin. But his words quoted by a number of authors relative to the ultimate consequences of the dictatorship of the proletariat amuse me quite a lot. I mean it came to pass exactly as he had predicted in the infancy of the concept. What good would it do to the common man if he is being clubbed not by a capitalist or a monopolist but in the name of the society by a Marxist ideologue? He had fairly contended that Marxist regimes were going to do exactly what a dictatorship is supposed to do-oppress and exploit, only in the name of the broad mass. 

Let us admit it, when we graduated from protecting the rights of Nationalities to uniquely bestowing exclusive Sovereignty on them, we have gambled recklessly. As long as a TPLF style linearly centralized government is in power the danger is kept at bay but the moment that structure crumbles the country is going to find itself in a state of free fall.    

With the 1995 Constitution, we had hoped for ‘Accommodation of Ethnic Diversity’ but ended up settling for ‘Competing Ethnic Nationalism’ (both titles of published Ph.D. theses by local scholars). The incumbent has fused these two extremes in the name of synergy and is suffering the full wrath of disorientation. By nature, Synergy is a quick-win medium not a philosophy of governance.   

3-The end of history

In the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Fukuyama wrote that Western liberal democracy had triumphed and society had reached the pinnacle of social evolution and had hit a dead end.  Trust me, I am not being simplistic or something but that was it. He became a sensational writer, an idol of neo-conservatives and liberals alike; the thing was before the scholars were done writing their ‘rave reviews’, society was proving Fukuyama wrong already, so much so that he had to write a rebuttal to his own thesis a couple of years later.

But there is indeed an end to a history of a given system of government in a given country. Increasingly, Federalism made in Ethiopia is edging towards hitting a dead end.

In the event, you aren’t aware of it, Tigray is on the verge of completing its evolving into a de facto Confederate state. Propelled by the regrets of accumulated and oppressed sense of identity, Amhara nationalism is slowly but surely drifting the Region away from the rest of the polity and fortifying its boundaries. This state of affair suits Oromo nationalists quite perfectly.

Let us not forget, Amhara Nationalism was midwifery in the first place by the excesses of the Keroo. 

Once the three Regions are marked off, the rest of the Nation follows suit. Most probably, as  the political potency of these parts of the Nation are yet to be tapped, firebrands like Mustafe and Farah end up being the ultimate arbiters among the feuding tribal chiefs of the Confederacy. This way the periphery becomes the center. The Nation’s political center of gravity shifts to the South or South East, naturally attracting Nations like Somaliland and Puntland.  

After all, Ethiopia is not a stranger to Confederacy. Maybe it would come to the rescue.  

God Bless.          

The writer can be reached at : estefanoussamuel@yahoo.com

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


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  1. can you name a single country with a confederation form of government at this point? If ethnic federation is not working, what reason would make ethnic confederation work ? How about restructuring existing federation on the basis of region, if it is not possible to remove it altogether?

  2. Excellent question, Sir.
    You sound like you are familiar with the concept as you have come up with the first question traditionally tabled for debate when discussing Confederacy a la Western model.
    But we are unique even in Federation. As you know what distinguishes Federation from Confederation is basically the question of Sovereignty. Confederated States are Sovereign unlike Federated States. That is why Canada and Belgium are denied the de jure nomenclature of Confederacy.
    But we are different- Nation, Nationalities and People are ‘Sovereign’ under the Constitution in Ethiopia- hence logically we are already a Confederation of Nationalities -so to speak.
    Besides, Western models are increasingly becoming irrelevant. Africa has always been a collection of Confederacies in one way or another- like the Confederation Shanan Gibe, for instance.

  3. I would rather opt for a region with its own banking, telephone, internet, water, and electricity facilities under direct control. You ca call this arrangement confederation if you want. Key is I do not want Abiy Ahmed Ali to shut off these facilities at will. I also want a regional army to protect the region. I do not want Abiy to send his wanton soldiers and security forces to intimidate my innocent people. What good is a federal system if a region is administered through colonial-style viceroys like Temesgen Tiruneh and Arega Kebbede? The proof of the pudding is in the eating. We do not want Abiy’s style of federation. What is he doing in Amhara? Amharas are better off under Zemene Kassie or Eskinder Nega. If Abiy wants to be king for life, he can inherit that of Aba Jifar.


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