It breaks my heart to write this; I wish I could use my writing abilities to highlight the beauty, diversity and history of the land that gave birth to me. However, given the events taking place in Ethiopia at this moment and the virus of tribalism that is breaking the foundation of our nation, I can’t put on a mask of indifference and walk away from a hopeless situation nor can I don a veil of false optimism and paint a rosy picture when, in reality, my homeland is rupturing.
The reality is stark indeed. Considering the upheaval that is taking place in Ethiopia at this moment—as tribal politics by way of Ethnic Federalism is loosening sectarian strife upon my birthplace—we have to start thinking of the prospect that Ethiopia will be no more. It is no longer beyond the realm of possibility that Ethiopia could splinter along the very ethnic lines that the EPRDF imposed at the behest and insistence of western mercenaries; Apartheid 2.0 could spell the end of a nation that survived intact for more than 3,000 years.
Though I hope and pray for saner minds to rise up and for Ethiopians to turn away from bigoted demagogues who preach from the pulpit of exclusion, each time I read the latest news emerging from Ethiopia and observe Ethiopians being radicalized, my spirit becomes more and more disenchanted. I feel helpless to do anything about it; once the tide of fanaticism and tribalism grip a nation, the only way the fever breaks is when the unthinkable happens. It took the genocide of more than a million Rwandans before Hutus and Tutsis walked away from tribalism and embraced “One Rwanda”.
The same dark forces of separatism and sectarianism that led to a genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1992 have been unleashed in my birth land. Extremist chieftains and self-serving politicians on all sides are agitating for conflict knowing that it will not be their families who will perish if regional strife breaks out into social bloodshed. Given this paradigm and bearing in mind that the public mood has shifted towards zeregnenet (ethnocentrism) and away from nationalism, the question must be asked: is Ethiopia worth saving?
I know the thought of Ethiopia dissolving and being replaced by ethnic homelands is one that seems impossible to imagine. I am telling you to start imagining it and to stop living in the bubble of denial. Taking Ethiopia for granted or praying for the wellness of our people without active involvement to better our nation can one day lead to the birth of countries like “Oromia”, “Greater Tigray”, and “Amhara Proper” etc, each one built on top of Ethiopia’s grave. Prayer without work is dead, it is time for Ethiopians to hope for the best and work to restore our nation or else lose her forever.
The silent majority who have been sidelined for more than 44 years by ethnocentric loudmouths and fanatical bullies to stand up and have our voices heard. Tenesu! We are children of jegnoch and arbegnoch, how did we let ourselves go so much that we are watching from the sidelines as our country is infected by sectionalism and observing helplessly while Ethiopia is being administered by tribal ministers? We have let firebrands like Jawar Mohammed, Birhanu Nega and Debretsion G. Michael hijack the microphones, the hour has arrived for the defenders of Ethiopia to reclaim our time from the peddlers of hate.
If you believe, as I do, that Ethiopia is worth saving, it is time for us to rise up and be heard and marginalize tribal firebrands. Do not let people who pretend to be speaking for others fool you; though ethnic instigators play on people’s emotions and traffic in grievance, they have no interest in bettering the lives of the people they are leveraging as billboards. Do not fall for their lies; pain in Ethiopia cannot be monopolized. All Ethiopians—irrespective of ethnicity—have felt the weight of suffering and exclusion; no one group can claim that they alone are the ones who have hurt.
Instead of competing over who has it worse, isn’t it better to work together so that we can all mend and do better? For the sake of our children and future generations, I ask you to put away anger and vengeance and breathe in a spirit of love and andinet (unity). Why fight over stale dirkosh when we can own the entire injera factory? Why let short-sighted greed get in the way of a united Ethiopia that can feed all of our people and lead to collective prosperity. Why compete over barren lands instead of collaborating to nurture our people and make our homes fruitful?
What I write to Ethiopians, I write the same to the world as well. Let go of antipathy and seek unity; the only road to peace is through collective justice. As long as we are conditioned to fight among each other, the status quo will never change and iniquities will only worsen. We’ve had enough of revolutions led by ideologues with guns who come promising a new day only to deliver a new era of hardships and inequalities.What humanity needs desperately is an evolution of our hearts and minds, the awakening of our better angels and a collective rebuke of insidious souls who purvey factionalism. #Ethiopia #FikerYashenifal Click To Tweet
As for the womb that gave birth to me, Ethiopia is not only worth saving, Ethiopia is worth emulating. The Ethiopia I know is not the one that we see splashed on TV screens and on social media, the Ethiopia I love is one where her people share in in good times and in moments of grief. The Ethiopia I know is where we say “enebla” and offer food to strangers when they walk into restaurants. The Ethiopia I adore is one where we value the beauty and diversity of our people but put the struggles and sacrifices of our ancestors first by saying we are Ethiopians above everything else.
Though our challenges are many and the frictions multiply on a daily basis, the inherent love we have for Ethiopia and the humility we have before God will win out in the end. Ethiopia has been through times of difficulty in the past, our ancestors stared down would be colonizers at Adwa and won in the end. A chemical holocaust was committed against Ethiopia by Mussolini and his fascist military in the 1930’s but we came back stronger. We. Do. Not. Give. Up. Ethiopia shall not go silently into the night, my people will not perish. Zelalem tinur hagerachin::
” Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.” ~ Isaiah 61:7
Watch this video carefully, observe the visuals and the messages contained in it, where others share videos of hate and violence, answer their call with this message of love.
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.