If we are to move forward and restore hope for Ethiopia, we must first start by acknowledging the pains many harbor in their hearts and the injustices that have been visited upon various communities. I am loath to use the word tribe or ethnicity, we are a nation of diverse groups but we are Ethiopian first. However, I understand why some people feel a sense of deep grievance and seek a path of separation, throughout our history, Ethiopians who spoke certain dialects or had certain complexions have been marginalized and made to feel like second class citizens.
Recognizing these truths and admitting past mistakes is not a sign of weakness, we must get over the toxic pride that prevents us from saying yikirta (sorry) and seeking forgiveness. Our country is at a crossroads; in a lot of ways, our inability to listen to one another and egos that are metastasizing daily is leading Ethiopia towards disintegration. What we need more than ever is a conversation with a spirit of compassion and to listen to one another without assigning collective guilt and blaming all for the excesses of a few.
Sadly, we are headed in a different direction as more and more people have made the woeful mistake of seeking justice through the blinders of tribalism. Our national identity is being frittered away on a regular basis as ethnocentric ministers preach anger and their followers drink from the poisonous well of vengeance. As more people breathe in this cancerous air of vindictiveness egged on by separatists, the more rational people decide to become irrational and join the caravan of resentment that is sweeping across Ethiopia.
What started off with ethnic politics has slowly crept into every facet of our nation. “Ethnic federalism” was a veiled attempt to divide and annihilate Ethiopia, a plan drawn up by outside forces who realized a long time ago that the only way to destroy our homeland was by turning Ethiopia’s children against each other and eventually convincing them to decimate their own mother. We are witnessing before us the manifestation of this plot; demagogues who are being paid by foreign actors are conditioning us to devalue and dismantle our nation. What would-be colonizers could not accomplish at Adwa and fascists were not able to achieve in the 1930’s, we are being indoctrinated to do to one another.
Brother against brother and sister against sister, what we are witnessing is a biblical prophecy of a nation that is in the process of ruin. This slow rolling dissolution of Ethiopia did not start 27 years ago or even 44 years ago, the minute leaders made the decision to chase modernity at the cost of our history and heritage, we allowed a demonic force of darkness into our land. Once global powers with hidden agendas gained a foothold through the auspices of diplomacy and false charity, they slowly conditioned us to hate our culture and to chase validation from strangers.
A nation that was the cradle of Christianity started to import paintings from other religions and worshiping icons that had nothing to do with Eyesus. A people that were kept free of colonization by leaders who had a covenant to the church and to the citizenry made a foolish decision to eradicate an entire institution and accept exotic ideologies that turned Ethiopia into a beggar nation. Piece by piece, the very essence of Ethiopiawinet was dismantled as we started calling each other habesha for the sake of conformity and renamed our sendek alama to an Italian word that our forefathers fought against.
From the frying pan, we are now about to be thrown into the fire. Lacking leaders who have the courage to speak against the mob mentality of zeregnenet (tribalism), into the vacuum step a pack of zealots who tread on the pains of various ethnic groups not to heal wounds but to leverage human suffering for their own benefit. When you see people like Jawar and his ilk preaching disunion and stoking emotions, they are not worried about the plight of “their people”, they are just deploying a business plan. The key to fame and riches in Ethiopia is to cultivate a tribal following, demonize other Ethiopians and raise funds through ethnic politics.
Though Jawar is the most extreme example of this viral strain of ethnocentrism that is fracturing Ethiopia, he is far from the exception. There are others within the Oromo, Amhara, Tigray, Sidama and other ethnic groups who have their own tribal chieftains. The only reason why people keep falling for the deceptions of these ethnic extremists is because they are too blinded by acrimony to see the difference—passions get in the way of common sense. Instead of offering solutions and leading movements of redemption, zealots are leading their followers to the wasteland of strife and destitution.
To Ethiopia’s greatest dismay, Abiy Ahmed—who swept into power through medemer—has made a strategic decision to coddle OLF/ODP extremists and vilify other ethnonationalists. Abiy’s intentions became clear the minute he embraced a system of ethnic apartheid that is sold as federalism, instead of reforming Ethiopia, he decided to give government by segregation a facelift. In Ethiopia, leadership means emulating the mistakes of your predecessors and social activism means screaming bloody murder about injustice still a preferred tribe seizes power. Ethnic strife in this way serves the interests of the government and opposition alike, instead of addressing festering issues like poverty, hopelessness, joblessness and addiction, politicians on all sides would rather ghettoize us behind the walls of ethnicity and unleash social strife. It serves the interests of grievance peddlers and ethnic ministers for the suffering masses to forget about their commonalities of pain and instead focus and fight about our differences.
As most of the world seeks to forge coalitions and people around the globe realize the power of collaboration, Africa is alone in seeking separation instead of uniting for the greater good. This germ of “go at it alone” has inundated Ethiopia as more and more people seek self-segregation. We have been sold a bill of goods, world powers play us like a chess as they finance “liberation fronts” while colonizing us economically. Instead of creating an African Union that can compete on a global scale, we are doubling down on failures as we shatter Ethiopia. Creating Oromostan, Amharastan, Sidamastan and Tigraystan on the grave of Ethiopia will lead to nations of panhandlers owned by globalists who will profit from our disunion.
There is another path, we do not have to stand by and watch as our country is burned to asunder by ethnonationalism. The way to address past injustices and ensure shared prosperity is not through separatism but through consensus, compromise and solidarity as Ethiopians. These three principles will not be arrived at through politics but through spiritual connectedness. Whether one reads the bible or the Quran, it is undeniable that Ethiopia is a land of faith. Instead of emulating the world and chasing secularism, let us return to our roots and turn our hands quickly back to God and the humility that once kept us.
Christianity, Islam and Judaism all teach the same thing when it comes to being led with a spirit of love and having compassion for others. Instead of politicizing our churches and forming religions based on tribalism, let us follow the teachings of Eyesus who advised us to love our neighbors like we love ourselves. Instead of being vengeful, let us reflect on the lessons of the Prophet Muhammad who noted that the greatest jihad (struggle) is to fight evil within ourselves.Let us not return anger with antipathy but restore #Ethiopia with fiker (love) and andinet (unity). Click To Tweet
Pay attention to the message in this music video, it tells of the path forward for Ethiopia and the way we can restore our homeland.
Lij Teodrose Fikremariam is the Chair of Ethiopians for Constitutional Monarchy. He is the direct descendant of Atse Tewodros II, the once Emperor of Ethiopia who united a fractured nation during Zemene Mesafint (age of princes) and imbued Ethiopia with a sense of togetherness that enabled them to eventually defeat Italy at the battle of Adwa. Lij Teodrose was born in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia but grew up in America. He has a Bachelor of Arts from George Mason University and an Masters of Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. Lij Teodrose believes in one Ethiopia and that a nation can only be judged by the wellness of the least among us.