Yesterday afternoon Debretsion G. Michael, the vice president of Tigray Regional State and the Chairman of the TPLF, went on a public forum to accuse the Amhara Democratic Party of fostering “chauvinist forces” and demanded that the ADP should apologize to the Ethiopian people for radicalizing society. There is only one word that can describe the TPLF’s statement: Chutzpah.
There is a certain level of cognitive dissonance needed for the same oppressive party that ruled Ethiopia with an iron fist for 27 years and radicalized the Ethiopian population by introducing tribal politics by way of Ethnic Federalism to demand another party apologize for the radicalization they birthed. Before Ato Debretsion accuses the ADP of being subversive, he should really look in the mirror and admit the TPLF’s failed era of repression and ethnic favoritism is the prime reason why Ethiopia stands at the precipice of disintegration.
Sadly, Ato Debretsion has decided to go the opposite route. Instead of being a voice of unity and reconciliation, he is pouring fuel on the fire by encouraging yet more separatism and a further erosion of Ethiopia. By endorsing southern regions’ demands for statehood based on ethnic lines and arguing for an even greater focus on ethnicity and weakening nationality, Ato Debretsion is basically arguing for the “greater Tigray” that some of the most radical voices within TPLF were agitating for during Meles Zenawi’s era.
What we are witnessing are forces within Ethiopia slowly abandoning a national identity and embracing ethnic ideologies. Though there is much to criticize Abiy Ahmed about, the TPLF’s gambit should be seen for what it is; a malicious attempt to weaken the central government in order to consolidate more control within Tigray. Ato Debretsion is effectively willing to burn Ethiopia down if his tribe is not the one sitting at the helm of power.
It is imperative that the people of Ethiopia assess these political developments with a clear and sober eye and for everyone to put aside their ethnic fidelity and inspect the underlying motives of these politicians. Over the coming months, as we near the federal elections slated for next year, various tribal parties from ODP, TPLF and ADP will jockey for position and attempt use the ongoing turmoil in Ethiopia as leverage to gain more influence.
Though all these self-serving political parties will pretend to speak for “their people” and will be crying crocodile tears for their tribe, they should all be discounted as opportunists and ethnic demagogues whose vision for Ethiopia is for our country to become the next Yugoslavia. Politicians who do not disavow ethnic federalism and instead advocate for an even greater focus on ethnicity above a national identity—though they are given media megaphones and have attained a large following from Ethiopians who have been conditioned by 27 years of TPLF ethnic politics—should be understood for the peddlers of death that they are.
It is easy to succumb to tribal instincts and to fall for the snake oil that ethnic based movements offer, tribal politicians and narrow-minded propagandists give a voice to your seething anger and your resentments. But understand this one thing, people who speak to your fears and angers instead of counseling forgiveness and forging a path towards unity are the cancers who are going to lead to Ethiopia’s lekso (funeral). 27 years of the TPLF pretending to be fighting for the liberation of Tigray people only led to the impoverishment of most Tigray people and the enrichment of a few Tigray “elites”. Sadly, the OLF/ODP, with the active encouragement of the hatemonger Jawar Mohammed, are about to lead the Oromo people down the same path of ethnic nihilism. This same path is being offered to other communities, how many Ethiopians will drink from this poison well of tribalism before it is rejected as the work of the devil?
I encourage Ato Debretsion to lead by example and publicly apologize for 27 years of breaking Ethiopia apart along ethnic lines, to apologize for terrorizing Ethiopians and killing our brothers and sisters to maintain power, to apologize for impoverishing the Ethiopian people while “developing the economy” for foreign interests and to apologize for being silent while all Ethiopians—including our Tigray brothers and sisters—were being oppressed during the era of Meles and Hailemariam. If you demand accountability Ato Debretsion, be accountable for your actions first.
As for all Ethiopians back home and abroad, if you value Ethiopia and have a fear of God in your heart, please pause and pray before you pour more fuel on the fire of tribalism that is about to burn our homes. We are a country that has survived intact for thousands of years. Let us not turn our greatest strengths, our unity based on our diversity, into a weakness. Let us listen to one another and stop trying to monopolize pains. We have all suffered in the past, there is no need to diminish the wounds others feel in order to have your injuries heard.
In the picture below, how many of you can point out who is Amhara, Oromo or Tigray? Even though we have our unique traits and customs, we are all children of God who are united by the same blood we have in our veins. There is no pure tribe in Ethiopia, we are all a mix of many heritages and communities. I myself am part Amhara and part Tigray, if I inspect even further in my bloodlines I am sure I have other “tribes” in me as well. Ethiopia is not made of up of nations, she is made up of communities who are bound by one God, one country and one love that resides in our hearts. Let us realize and appreciate these wonderful aspect of Ethiopia before we lose all of it.
There is only one way we can walk out of this morass of ethnic federalism that is suffocating Ethiopia and that is through honest conversations that lead to meaningful reconciliations. Though it is important to condemn atrocities and be truthful about the past, we should have in mind that reconciliation requires forgiveness at the end of the day. Above all, do not be prideful, instead be full of love. Don’t let your ego prevent you from saying yikirta, apologizing is not a sign of weakness but an indication of leadership and wisdom.Let us all pray for enat #Ethiopia, may she emerge from the shadows of tribalism through the redemptive power of love. Fiker yashenifal, love will win. Zelalem tinur Ethiopia:: Click To Tweet
Take a moment and watch this video, there are messages in it that I’ve written along with visuals that is embracing forgiveness and our national identity. Please walk away from tribalism and embrace unity and love above all.
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.