Let me admit from the outset that I’m still in the process of deciphering news from propaganda, we have a source in Ethiopia who is chasing down leads and verifying information on the ground so that we can arrive at an objective conclusion about the events that unfolded yesterday. It is imperative that we do not jump to any inferences without knowing as much of the facts as possible.
Too often, what is initially reported is nothing but disinformation in the rush for various players to control narratives. I am taking a wait and see approach before arriving at any judgment about the actors and their motives associated with the outbreak of violence in Bahir Dar. I urge all Ethiopians and people who support Ethiopia to take the same cautious approach or else risk inflaming emotions that could have devastating consequences.
Until we get more concrete information, I want to take this opportunity to relay a message of hope and solidarity to all Ethiopians back home and abroad. I do not write this to be hyperbolic nor is my aim to add fuel to the ethnic tension that is currently gripping Ethiopia. To the contrary, I write this to urge all Ethiopians—irrespective of the dialects, beliefs or regions that separate us—to take a moment of reflection and value our shared interests. Our homeland is under siege at this moment; we are letting tribalism and hidden agendas drive our country towards an implosion. If we keep this up, Ethiopia will end up like Yugoslavia at best with the country broken apart along ethnic lines and Ethiopia erased from existence.
It is on this front that I must first lay down a marker and clear the record. What is taking place in Ethiopia is not occurring in a vacuum; our nation has been under the influence of foreign powers for a very long time who have every interest in seeing our nation shattered. Although outside influence has been going on in Ethiopia for a very long time, it reached its apex during the London Conference in 1991 when the tribal based TPLF was chosen by western bureaucrats while other voices were marginalized. The TPLF was chosen for a purpose, they were charged with inducing tribalism in Ethiopia and to turn Ethiopians against one another.
The TPLF and their foreign masters succeeded beyond their wildest imagination. They started off by planting that Satanic pentagram on our sendek alama (flag) and then plunged our nation head first into a neo-Apartheid by implementing Ethnic Federalism. The very purpose of Ethnic Federalism was always to splinter Ethiopians down sectarian lines; instead of elevating our common identity and fostering Ethiopianism, the Ethiopian government went about fracturing us based on our differences.
What is taking place in Ethiopia at this precise moment is the manifestation of a plan that was initiated the minute European powers realized they could not defeat us on the battle field. After a failed colonization attempt at the Battle of Adwa and taking another bite of the apple in the late 1930’s, underhanded diplomats, educators and missionaries swarmed Ethiopia with the aim of dividing us in order to eventually let our own leaders conquer us. They could not colonize us by force, so they colonized us through puppet despots and the chimera of a democracy that was never meant to represent the voice of Ethiopians. There are many politicians and actorvists in Ethiopia who speak for the interests of globalism, sectarianism and selfishness, all Ethiopians desperately wait for a leader who will speak for Ethiopians!
I take no joy in stating this, but I realize now that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is no agent of change, he is a continuation of the status quo. He was ushered into power by the very forces that imposed the TPLF upon Ethiopia; instead of taking steps to empower Ethiopians and give the struggling masses agency, he made us homeless in our own country. Outside of photo ops and talking points, he has not implemented one policy that would further the interests of Ethiopians. Instead he is selling off Ethiopia’s pride by giving away 49% of Ethiopian airlines to corporate interests. He could have done something different, he could have allotted 49% of Ethiopian Airlines to be purchased only by Ethiopians and reversed the brain drain that is killing our nation by promising to give Ethiopians abroad free shares of Ethiopian Airlines if they resettle back home. Instead, he decides to give away the store to the very global capitalists who are plundering Africa and the rest of the world.
It is a sign of abject negligence for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to address Ethiopians in full military regalia. I remind Ahmed that he is not the head of Ethiopia’s feared security state that he headed when he founded the Ethiopian Information Network Security Agency, he is someone who purports to be a civilian charged with leading all Ethiopians. Commander-in-Chief does not mean commandant of Ethiopia. It is a sign that Ahmed is reverting back to his intelligence officer days and leaning on his experience as head of EINSA, it smacks of psychological warfare to dress up in military uniform and address a nation that is reeling under the weight of instability.
Moreover, shutting off the internet yet again is not a sign of progressive leadership but a practice of regressive autocrats. What occurred yesterday was not a coup d’etat, by its very definition a coup is an overthrow of the head of state, there was no attempt to dislodge the Prime Minster yesterday. Imagine America declaring there was an attempted coup d’etat because of the shootings in Parkland or in Sandy Hook. Setting the narrative that there was an “attempted coup” is a complete fabrication that calls into question the honesty and motives of the Ethiopian government and who the real instigators of the violence were yesterday. The whole narrative sounds fishy and seems like something an ex-intelligence officer would cook up. Ethiopians are not fools, we know a power grab when we see it.
I say this directly to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, you swept into power promising a new day of Ethiopiawinet, if you are not able to deliver on that promise and instead have aims of being a soft dictator who leverages rhetoric and staged campaigns that are symbolic in nature and have zero substance, Ethiopians will not fooled too much longer. We do not need a photo op prime minister, we need a leader who is able to speak on behalf of all Ethiopians and protect our interests, if you are not capable of doing that, please set aside and spare our beloved nation the anguish of disintegration. Though you are loved by the foreign press, history and all Ethiopians will judge your actions going forward.
To be sure, Prime Minister Abiy is not the only problem facing Ethiopia. Opposition parties, who are likewise on the dole of foreign powers, are continually pushing factionalism in order to attain power. They would rather light Ethiopia on fire if that means they own a demolished nation rather than cooperate to mend us. The events that unfolded yesterday were another step in the direction of total chaos. In 1994, Rwanda was set asunder by ethnic strife that witnessed the death of more than a million Hutus and Tutsis as myopic leaders and foreign mercenaries loosened hell upon Rwandans. Today, Rwandans don’t focus on their tribe, ask them about their differences and the common refrain is “One Rwanda”. It took a genocide of historic proportion for Rwandans to realize the value of love, unity and inclusive justice.
I pray every day that Ethiopia doesn’t undergo the trauma that visited Rwanda before we realize the value of “andinet” (oneness). I beseech all Ethiopians to stop focusing on tribe and seek our common identities. Our differences are not even skin deep; if I lined up ten Ethiopians right now and asked you to identify their “tribe” without giving you their names and or without hearing them speak, it is virtually impossible to differentiate who is who based on ethnicity. We are a people who have always prayed together, ate together, danced together and mourned together; I plead with you from the bottom of my heart to not forget these things and to not let politics and bitterness nullify what has kept us together for thousands of years. This is not to deny that past injustices have taken place, but we should address those issues with the aim of healing instead of seeking vengeance.
To Oromo people, I understand very well the history of exclusion and systematic bigotry that has been waged against your community for a very long time, I stand in solidarity with you in your quest to be heard. However, I ask you to not be vindictive and to not resort to the very tactics that once kept your community oppressed. There are some who say “it is our turn now”, inferring that Oromos have a right to dictate policy and to ramrod their aspirations. These are the very things you fought against centuries; is it injustice only when it is done to you but justified when you are doing it to others? Consider these things for those who rule through force instead of consensus are cursed to revisit the sins of their decisions upon their children.
To Ahmara people, there are some who have taken to the idea that it is time for Ahmara people to rise up and “defend ourselves”. This line of thinking is exactly what the status quo and foreign instigators want for Ethiopia. There was a clear consensus that tribalism was wrong when it was being practiced by the TPLF and that ethnic based liberation movements are an anathema to the very meaning of Ethiopiawinet. So how is it then justifiable for Ahmaras to go about the same bankrupt tactics of the TPLF and to only look out for the interests of one “tribe” instead of standing up for all Ethiopians. You are playing into the hands of people who want to see Ethiopia become sectarian ghettos of. Do you really want to take part in the breakup of Ethiopia among tribal lines? Do you really want to be remembered as purveyors of Ethnic Federalism? Think on these things before you further the aims of tribal chieftains who want to see Ethiopia splintered.
To Tigray people, though I have always been against the TPLF, I was never against Tigray people. In addition to my lineage that traces directly back to Atse Tewodros II, in my veins courses the blood of Tigray nobility like Ras Gebreyohannes and Selas Gebreyohannes; I have nothing but love for all Ethiopians including our brothers and sisters in Tigray. I take no joy in what is happening to your community at this moment, I have always called for a movement of inclusion and a coalition government during the era of Meles Zenawi and Desalegn Hailemariam. No Ethiopian should be left out of the conversation and anyone who tries to demonize Tigray people for the sake of political expediency is an opportunist who is putting his interests ahead of the interest of Ethiopia. I am not blind to what took place last year, “medemer” was never fully extended to Tigray people. This is the time of gamesmanship that is tearing apart Africa as a whole and Ethiopia specifically. We need leaders who speak to all of us instead of politicians and minsters who speak from the pulpit of tribalism and exclusion.
To all Ethiopians, I ask you to refrain from reverting to taunts, silly insults and petty politics in a time that calls for calm and unity. There are many who preach revolutions and instigate violence; these people are the Ebola of Ethiopia, they are getting paid to induce bloodshed. Revolutions always seem fun until the bodies start dropping like flies. The mercenaries who are inciting violence and factionalism in Ethiopia will be safe and sound in their western sponsored villas and condos; it will be our children, mothers and fathers who will die by the thousands if Ethiopia devolves into ethnic violence. I ask you to reflect on these things and pray for our nation in this time of uncertainty. May Egziabher continue to keep and protect enat Ethiopia.
Zelalem tinur Ethiopia::
Let us not forget what kept us united and prosperous for thousands of years, let us return to the roots that our ancestors sacrificed for and left for us.
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.