On behalf of Ethiopians for Constitutional Monarchy and the Executive Council, I send my condolences to the family and friends of Ambachew Mekonnen, Brigadier General Asaminew Tsige, Ezez Wase, Major General Gize Abera, Migbaru Kebede, General Seare Mekonnen and the countless other victims we lost over the past week with lesser name recognition but of equal value to our Creator. We did not lose members of a tribe or believers of divergent ideologies, we lost fellow Ethiopians and human beings. We mourn the passing of men who loved their country and had mothers, fathers, wives and children who will dearly miss their departed kin. May their souls rest in eternal peace and may Egziabher heal the hearts of loved ones who grieve in their absence.
As Robert F. Kennedy once noted upon the occasion of Martin Luther King’s assassination, now is not a time for politics but of a somber reflection. The senseless slaying of our fellow Ethiopians is a reminder that our nation is headed towards a perilous path; each day that passes is one that hardens our hearts towards others who share the same hopes and struggles as we do. Yet, sadly we are letting our differences overcome our commonalities; where we once ate together, celebrated together, mourned together and prayed together, politics and tribal grievances is shattering our nation.
All too frequently, monopolizing pains has become the new norm. Instead of working together to mend our injuries, we would rather bicker apart as our wounds fester. Everyone wants to be heard but few want to listen; in this paradigm, the fire of indifference keeps increasing while the essence of Ethiopianism lessens. We are headed towards a collective lekso (funeral) as too many highlight the injustices that were committed against them only to turn around and diminish the distresses others faced. This vicious form of tribalism has turned our greatest asset into a weakness; the diversity of our country has been reduced by the flames of factionalism.
We can do better than this, we are a land that is deeply spiritual—Ethiopia is the intersection of all three major faiths. Yet how can we say we are Christians if we rebuke the teachings of Eyesus and refuse to love our neighbors because they happen to speak a different dialect? How can we claim to be of Judah if we don’t follow the footsteps of Yosef and forgive those who hurt us? How can we claim to be Muslims if we don’t adhere to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and abstain from harming others with our tongues and hands?
We should really think twice about these things and ponder the future we are leaving our children. What seems impossible today can morph into a gruesome reality if we keep letting animosity and vindictiveness calcify our spirits. Too many of our people back home are already beset by hardship and hopelessness, why must those of us who have the better stations and circumstances in life insist on making the lives of the less fortunate even more difficult by stoking the amber of hatred?
It saddens me to no ends to hear Ethiopians present human suffering through the lens of tribe. Doesn’t an Oromo child who goes to sleep at night hungry suffer the same as an Amhara child who is famished? Doesn’t a Tigray mother who sheds tears anxious wondering how she will provide for her family struggle the same as a Somali dad who has to negotiate between shelter and security as he tries to protect his family? Why must our sympathies be dictated by similarities? We are all Ethiopians and we are humans above that; should we not have compassion for anyone who is enduring adversities?
Aybekanem? How much longer will we remain divided and let anger fuel our desires? How much longer will we smile and pretend everything is perfect while we are overloaded with sorrow? When are we going to let go of the pride and secrecy that keep guiding us towards malice and prejudice? Ethiopia is our mother yet we are reducing her each time we refuse to acknowledge the suffering of someone based on their last names or the region they come from. Zerenet is the death of nation; if we do not put away decades of pent up grievances, on our watch a biblical land will become a relic of the past. We have a choice, bicker and see Ethiopia splinter or treat each other with compassion and witness our nation rise and prosper.
ኢትዮጵያ ቤታችን እና እናታችን ናት። እናክብራት፣ በጥንቃቄም እንያዛት። ካልሆነ ስናጣት እናለቅሳለን።
I don’t write these things to be pious nor is my aim to preach from the mount, I know first-hand the perils of being bitter and seeking vengeance. My life was turned upside down three years ago as I found myself destitute and alone. Without a penny to my name and a future that seemed bleak, my first reaction was to lash out at others who I thought hurt me. The more I gave my hand to wrath, the more I became wrapped in the netela of sadness and indignation. It was not until I learned to forgive my trespassers and I begged God to forgive me of the people I trespassed against that my life turned around. Within a year and a half, I went from being homeless to discovering a purpose, finding true love and two weeks ago God blessed me with life’s greatest treasure.
My life is not an outlier but a testimony, I believe in my heart that what God did for me He will do for Ethiopia and all our people back home and throughout the world who suffer greatly. But if we don’t pivot away from antagonism, we will never be in a position to receive blessings. Ethiopia has an abundance of natural resources and intellectual capital, we have enough to feed the entire continent and have prosperity that is shared by all. If we learn to work together instead of bashing one another, we would no longer be the charity cases of foreigners and instead we would feed our own children.
“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.” This is one of my favorite quotes in the bible; a verse from Isaiah 61:7 that gives me comfort that renewal is possible no matter how dark the moments. The first time I read this quote was when I was in a shelter in Colorado, I cried instantly because in my heart I knew that this passage was about my homeland Ethiopia.We have suffered for too long, let us quickly turn our hand back to love or else risk seeing our beloved nation #Ethiopia disintegrate before our eyes. #EnatEthiopia Click To Tweet
Let me take this moment to extend an olive branch to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. There was a time where I was an ardent supporter and wrote glowing articles about you, especially when I saw you embrace Tamagne Beyene and humble yourself for the sake of unity. Over the past few months, I have become an outspoken critic of your administration. You had the golden chance to lead Ethiopia away from the failed tribal politics of Ethnic Federalism and squandered it by embracing the status quo. However, where we make mistakes God gives infinite chances. I ask you to please look into your heart and become the change agent that guides us towards inclusion instead of appeasing hardliners in your camp.
I pray for the country that gave birth to me and pray for every Ethiopian without bias to their tribe or ideology. I’ve been away for thirty seven years yet there is not one day that goes by that I do not think about my people back home and the memories I left behind when I was seven years old. No matter how challenging the circumstances are before us, Ethiopia is worth fighting and living for. I plead with every Ethiopian reading this, please let go of tribalism and embrace the love that is in all of us. May God protect and keep hagerachin, zelalem tinur Ethiopia::
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.