The soul of Adwa is still in us, it has just been beaten into a state of comatose by decades upon decades of tribal politics and the ghettoizing of Ethiopia at the hands of despots and their foreign enablers. The zeregnenet (ethnonationalism) that is rampant throughout our country is a manifestation of plan to fracture Ethiopia that was developed once would-be colonizers realized that they could not defeat us as long as we are united.
It was precisely this spirit of jegnoch (heroes) that Abush Zeleke tapped into when he shed tears on behalf of Ethiopia and pleaded with our people to walk away from ministers of hate. As if the song “Tamenal” was not powerful enough, he followed up his moving anthem on behalf of Ethiopiawinet with an emotional interview a couple of days ago where he made it a point to remind us of our common roots.
Where politicians make it a point to traffic in divisiveness and turn people against one another, artists have a way of creating a space for healing conversations. Music is a most powerful medium for this reason, one song by Abush about solidarity drowned out the hateful speeches of demagogues like Jawar Mohammed and his fellow tribal extremists.
Songs have a way of capturing the mood of the moment and offering new paths forward, that is precisely what Abush was able to pull off in his latest single. “Tamenal” means we are sick, the song opens up with some “professor” advising Abush to line up with his ethnicity. What Abush was presenting at the beginning is the prevailing message of ethnic politicians who are intent on building themselves up on the grave of Ethiopia.
Professors who don’t teach, doctors who don’t heal, Ethiopia is being led by a gang of myopic “intellectuals” who have zero vision beyond catering to ethnic zealots who think they can thrive through tribalism. While most of the world is realizing the value of forming unions and prospering through collaboration, Ethiopians are being hoodwinked by bandas who are paid to sow strife and sectarianism.
We are indeed gripped by sickness as a society, we have allowed grievances and bitterness turn us against one another. At a time like this, cowardice breeds emulators who opportunistically jump on the bandwagon of ethnocentrism in order to get more followers on social media and gain likes on their vitriolic videos. It takes true courage to speak against the mob and be about love when many are screaming about anger. Abush made the choice to be different instead of parroting fools who are drunk on empty pride and hollow power.
There is only one way for us to heal as a people and that is through love of country and more importantly love for one another. Dividing ourselves based on identity and hiding behind kilil and the prison of ethnic apartheid will only lead to further poverty and eventually destruction. The man we are taught to hate because he speaks a different dialect and the woman we are taught to despise because she prays differently are fathers and mothers too, they too hurt as we do so why compound the problem by fighting each other?
The cultural diversity and beauty of Ethiopia should not be a source of friction but a source of strength of our nation. True enough there have been injustices in the past and many communities have felt the heat of oppression, but know this, suffering is not unique to any one “tribe” or ethnic group in Ethiopia. All of us bear the wounds of loss and death within our hearts, not one family escaped the pains of persecution nor does being born of one identity ensure wealth and privilege. Oromo, Ahmara, Tigray, Sidama, Somali and beyond all are struggling.We are not each other's enemies, we are each other's brothers and sisters who will only do better if we believe in andinet and Ethiopiawinet beyond political slogans. #Ethiopia Click To Tweet
As Abush noted in his song, our forefathers were able to defeat Italians at Adwa and remain free from colonization because they thought about humanity before ethnicity. It is time for us as Ethiopians to break this fever of malice and speak against tribal politicians who sell the snake oil of ethnic supremacy. We are one people united by ONE nation, we will either mend together or we will remain sick divided by our differences. Here is to Abush and his wisdom, he is offering us a way to redemption through music. Let us listen to his songs instead of heeding the hateful rhetoric of racists.