There are some quarters within the Ethiopian community who question the wisdom of restoring the Ethiopian Monarchy. “You are living in the past”, they say, “why not move forward with the “democracy” we have in Ethiopia?” The answer to this question is evident; the events of the past 44 years where 17 years of Marxist brutality was followed up by 27 years of EPRDF chauvinism have shown that governance that is dictated by tribal affinity is a roadmap to disintegration.
There is no need to be coy and beat around the bush, what we have in Ethiopia at this moment is not democracy but apartheid rebranded as “ethnic federalism”. The EPRDF regime installed the heinous policy of segregating Ethiopians based on ethnicity in order to rule through division. What Meles Zenawi initiated, furthered by Desalegn Hailemariam and currently being perpetuated by Abiy Ahmed has nothing to do with self-determination, Ethnic Apartheid is social nihilism.
If not Ethnic Apartheid, then what? The solution, we believe, lies not in the present but what kept us safe from colonization and made us respected around the world. The Ethiopian monarchy, the oldest in the world, governed Ethiopia not through tribalism but through Ethiopiawinet. Though there have been instances of abuses and injustices in the past—we have every intention of leading that dialogue in the near future—leaders like Atse Tewodros, Atse Yohannes, Emperor Menelik, Etege Taitu and Emperor Haile Selassie were infinitely better than the current crop of leaders who are more worried about tribal loyalty and self-enrichment than they are about the wellness of Ethiopia.
As broken as the current system of governance is in Ethiopia, there is another reason we are pushing to restore the Ethiopian monarchy through a constitutional framework. As much as Ethiopians love our history and heritage, the truth is we have lost our way as a people. The virus of ethnocentrism has been unleashed upon our nation; Oromos, Amharas, Tigray, Sidamans, and Somalis join a growing crowd of separatists who believe that the way to prosperity is through Balkanizing our country and aborting a biblical nation.
Too many institutions are either complicit in this slow unraveling of Ethiopia or have decided to say nothing. Radicals and tribal fundamentalists like Jawar Mohammed, Birhanu Nega and Debretsion G. Michael have stepped into the vacuum and started inciting Ethiopians into states of anger and retribution. This is a very dangerous path that demagogues are leading Ethiopians on; instead of calming tensions, opportunists all around are preaching antagonism and hatred. We are but one incident away from social strife; simmering tensions could soon boil over into a civil war.
Given this urgent state that Ethiopia is in, we believe that a fundamental change is needed in order to avoid carnage. A constitutional monarchy is not some radical proposal, some of the most prosperous and vibrant countries in the world—from Norway, Japan, United Kingdom to name a few nations—are governed through constitutional monarchies. Monarchs in these nations don’t have absolute rule, they instill a national identity and think of the long term wellness of society instead of being caught up in the day to day horse race that is politics.
The Ethiopian monarchy can provide these same benefits to Ethiopia and sooth tensions that are threatening to shatter our country. It is counterproductive at best and criminal negligence at its most basic form for ethnic politicians to stir Ethiopians into frenzy of grievance and animosity.The pure folly of it all, there is not one Ethiopian who is pure #Oromo, #Amhara, #Tigray or any of the other 88 tribes. Over thousands of years, #Ethiopia|ns intermarried with various communities—we are all byproducts of mixed… Click To Tweet
Here is what I believe, Ethiopia is not only a country but a vision where community was a vital component of society, collective prosperity was sought more than individual materialism and unity kept us free from colonization. Sadly, over the past two generations, we have turned away from this vision that served Ethiopia well and turned towards tribalism and ethnic friction. It is imperative that we return to what made us a nation among nations, if not for ourselves than for the sake of future generations. Ethiopia can offer the world the araya (examples) of how communal empowerment and connective justice benefits all irrespective of our differences. Or we choose differently and choose separatism and suffer apart as a consequence.
Let us not turn our national strength, our diversity, into a weakness by fighting over who suffered worse. Let us instead work together so that all of us can suffer less. The return of the Solomonic monarchy is not an ends but a means, if we want transformational change in Ethiopia, not only do we need leaders who think about long term visions, we need all Ethiopians to put aside our differences and work together for the betterment of our nation. We need a voice that can lead this type of paradigm shift; this is the reason we advocate for the return of the Ethiopian monarchy.
What we need in Ethiopia is not more anger but more forgiveness and fiker. Watch this video that is one part homage our past and a way forward away from the path of destruction that Ethiopia is walking on.
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.