Latest News in Ethiopia (Feb. 21)


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By CDE

Mo FarahFour-time Olympic champion Sir Mo Farah made the famous Oromo gesture in protest against the government of Ethiopia as he crossed the finishing line in the 5,000m Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix on Saturday.

The legendary British athlete who have just returned from Ethiopia to break the European record at the event (pictured), swapped his ‘Mobot’ signature celebration with a show of solidarity for the Oromo people.

In Rio Olympic, hundreds of millions of people watched Ethiopian silver medallist Marathon winner Feyisa Lilesa hold his arms over his head, wrists crossed, in support of members of his Oromo ethnic group against the Ethiopian ruling party.

The Tigre ethnics group (TPLF) of the country’s leaders have been repeatedly accused of human rights abuses and of discrimination against the Oromo, the country’s largest ethnic group, comprising about 35% of the country’s 100m population.

Recently, the #Oromo community in the United Kingdom had written to the British government urging it to halt with immediate effect, its assistance to the government of Ethiopia which they accused of systematic repression that included the torture, killing and harassment of school children in #Oromia, a regional state of Ethiopia.

Since October 2016, the TPLF government declared a state of emergency, giving security forces and the army new sweeping powers.

The government blocked mobile internet, restricted social media, banned protests, closed down broadcast and print media, and imposed draconian restrictions on all political freedoms.

In its recent report analysing the effect of the emergency, Human Rights Watch described the measures as the securitisation of legitimate grievances.




By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency

Washington D.C., Feb 16, 2017 / 10:44 am (CNA/EWTN News).- One member of Congress is hoping for a “serious policy review” by the Trump administration of the United States' relationship with Ethiopia, citing human rights abuses by the government there.

“To truly stop violence abroad, Ethiopia must stop violence at home,” Rep. Chris Smith, chair of the House subcommittee on Africa and global human rights, stated at a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday.

“Since 2005, untold thousands of students have been jailed, have been shot during demonstrations or have simply disappeared in the last 11 years,” Smith stated Feb. 15. “Ethiopia’s next generation is being taught that the rights that democracy normally bestows on a country’s citizens don’t apply in their country.”

Smith and Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) introduced a House resolution (H. Res. 128) Wednesday “highlighting the crisis in Ethiopia due to government violations of the human rights of its citizens,” Smith stated.

“With this resolution, we are showing that the United States remains committed to universal respect for human rights, and that we will not tolerate continued abuse of those human rights by Ethiopian security forces,” Coffman said.

There has been a “steady erosion” of democracy in Ethiopia since 2005, the congressmen maintained.

Government dissidents have been jailed, citizens have been tortured and killed by the government's security forces, and freedom of the press has been infringed upon. Ethnic groups have been the victims of violence perpetrated by the government.

Peaceful protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions of the country were met with hundreds of killings and tens of thousands of arrests by security forces in 2016, Human Rights Watch said in its recent report on the country. Citizens released from jail claimed they were tortured while in custody.

“Instead of addressing the numerous calls for reform in 2016, the Ethiopian government used excessive and unnecessary lethal force to suppress largely peaceful protests,” Felix Horne, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, stated in the report released in January.

One protest in the Oromia region resulted in the police using tear gas, rubber bullets, and rounds fired into the air to break it up, claiming that the crowd was getting out of hand. An ensuing stampede killed 50. The Inter-religious Council of Ethiopia, on which Catholic leaders sit, called for prayer and peace amid the protests and asked government leaders to listen to the people.

The recent protests in the Amhara region of the country have showed a sense of “identity” on the part of embattled citizens, and their “need to survive,” Tewodrose Tirfe of the Amhara Association of America, a refugee who came to the U.S. in 1982, noted.

“The U.S. and the West cannot sympathize with a government that kills people,” Seenaa Jimjimo, a human rights advocate who was born and grew up in Ethiopia, insisted in her statement at Wednesday’s press conference.

Amidst protests, a state of emergency was declared by the state in October and is “being used as a method to crack down even further on basic human freedoms,” Coffman said.

Thus, the resolution is the “first step by our representatives to let the Ethiopian government know that the U.S. policy is changing, that their continued human rights violations on innocent civilians will not be tolerated,” Tirfe stated.

“We invoke the Global Magnitsky Act,” Gregory Simpkins, staff director of the House subcommittee on Africa, said on Wednesday of the law which enables sanctions against specific “entities and persons who violate the human rights of people.”

Ethiopia has acted as a key ally in fighting international terrorism, Smith noted, but if it fails to protect human rights at home then extremism could fester within its own borders.

“What Congressman Smith and I are asking is for the Congress of the United States to join together and pass this resolution condemning the Ethopian government for its human rights abuses,” Coffman stated.

“And I think it’s important for all Americans to care about human rights to encourage their member of Congress to co-sponsor this resolution so that we can pass it in the Congress.”

By ESAT

Two Ethiopian journalists say they have fled their country and have sought refuge in neighboring Kenya after unrelenting threats and persecution by Ethiopian regime security.

Publisher and managing editor of “Yegna Press,” Ermias Seyoum and its editor-in-chief, Mesfin Zeleke told ESAT on the phone that they decided to leave the country after security forces threatened them with imprisonment if they did not leave the country.

Ermias said security forces had stopped the printing of their newspaper at the press several times and he had been in and out of prison three times since he began the newspapers five years ago.

“Every time we publish stories about the anti-government protests or stories about opposition political parties or dissidents, they come to our office and threaten us not to do the same again,” Ermias said on the phone from Kenya.

“Security forces came to our office one day and took away everything saying they needed to audit us. Then they told us that we didn’t pay enough taxes and took us to court,” said Mesfin.

A leading jailer of journalists, the Ethiopian regime had a dozen journalists behind bars, while hundreds of other journalists have been forced into exile.



Ethiopia: Peaceful Protest to Armed Uprising

By Graham Peebles

What began as a regional protest movement in November 2015, is in danger of becoming a fully-fledged armed uprising in Ethiopia.

Angered and exasperated by the government’s intransigence and duplicity, small guerrilla groups made up of local armed people have formed in Amhara and elsewhere, and are conducting hit and run attacks on security forces. Fighting at the beginning of January in the North West region of Benishangul Gumuz saw 51 regime soldiers killed, ESAT News reported, and in the Amhara region a spate of incidents has occurred, notably a grenade attack on a hotel in Gondar and an explosion in Bahir-Dah.

In what appears to be an escalation in violence, in Belesa, an area north of Gondar, a firefight between ‘freedom fighters’, as they are calling themselves, and the military resulted in deaths on both sides. There have also been incidents in Afar, where people are suffering the effects of drought; two people were recently killed by security personnel, others arrested. The Afar Human Rights Organization told ESAT that the government has stationed up to 6000 troops in the region, which has heightened tensions and fuelled resentment.

Given the government’s obduracy, the troubling turn of events was perhaps to be expected. However, such developments do not bode well for stability in the country or the wider region, and enable the ruling regime to slander opposition groups as ‘terrorists’, and implement more extreme measures to clamp down on public assembly in the name of ‘national security’.

Until recently those calling for change had done so in a peaceful manner; security in the country – the security of the people – is threatened not by opposition groups demanding human rights be observed and the constitution be upheld, but by acts of State Terrorism, the real and pervasive menace in Ethiopia.

Oppressive State of Emergency

Oromia and Amhara are homelands to the country’s two biggest ethnic groups, together comprising around 65% of the population. Demonstrations began in Oromia: thousands took to the streets over a government scheme to expand Addis Ababa onto Oromo farmland (plans later dropped), and complaints that the Oromo people had been politically marginalised. Protests expanded into the Amhara region in July 2016, concerning the appropriation of fertile land in the region by the authorities in Tigray – a largely arid area.

The regime’s response has been consistently violent and has fuelled more protests, motivated more people to take part, and brought supressed anger towards the ruling EPRDF to the surface. Regional, issue-based actions, quickly turned into a nationwide protest movement calling for the ruling party, which many view as a dictatorship, to step down, and for democratic elections to be held.

Unwilling to enter into dialogue with opposition groups, and unable to contain the movement that swept through the country, in October 2016 the government imposed a six-month ‘State of Emergency’. This was necessary, the Prime Minister claimed, because, “we want to put an end to the damage that is being carried out against infrastructure projects, education institutions, health centers, administration and justice buildings,” and claimed, that “we put our citizens’ safety first”.

The extraordinary directive, which has dramatically increased tensions in the country, allows for even tighter restrictions to be applied – post an update on Facebook about the unrest and face five years imprisonment – and is further evidence of both the government’s resistance to reform and its disregard for the views of large sections of the population.

The directive places stifling restrictions of basic human rights, and as Human Rights Watch (HRW) states, goes “far beyond what is permissible under international law and signals an increased militarized response to the situation.”

Among the 31 Articles in the directive, ‘Communication instigating Protest and Unrest’ is banned, which includes using social media to organize public gatherings; so too is ‘Communication with Terrorist Groups’, this doesn’t mean the likes of ISIS, which would be reasonable, but relates to any individual or group who the regime themselves define as ‘terrorists’, i.e. anyone who publicly disagrees with them.

The independent radio/TV channel, ESAT (based in Europe and America) as well as Oromia Media meet the terrorist criteria and are high up the excluded list. Public assembly without authorization from the ‘Command Post’ is not allowed; there is even a ban on making certain gestures, “without permission”. Specifically crossing arms above the head to form an ‘X’, which has become a sign of national unity against the regime, and was bravely displayed by Ethiopian marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa, at the Rio Olympics (where he won a silver medal).

If anyone is found to have violated any of the draconian articles they can be arrested without charge and imprisoned without due process. The ruling regime, which repeatedly blames so called ‘outside forces’ for fueling the uprising – Eritrea and Egypt are cited – says the new laws will be used to coordinate the security forces against what it ambiguously calls “anti-peace elements”, that want to “destabilize the country”.

Shortly after the directive was passed, the government arrested “1,645 people”, the New York Times reported, of which an astonishing 1,220 “were described as ringleaders, the rest coordinators, suspects and bandits.”

All of this is taking place in what the ruling regime and their international benefactors laughably describe as a democracy. Ethiopia is not, nor has it even been a democratic country. The ruling EPRDF party, which, like the military, is dominated by men from the small Tigray region (6% of the population) in the North of the country, came to power in the traditional manner – by force; since its accession in 1992 it has stolen every ‘election’.

No party anywhere legitimately wins 100% of the parliamentary seats in an election, but the EPRDF, knowing their principle donors – the USA and UK – would sanction the result anyway, claimed to do so in 2015. The European Union, also a major benefactor, did, criticise the result; however, much to the fury of Ethiopians around the world, President Obama speaking after the whitewash, declared that the “elections put forward a democratically elected government.”

Government Reaction

Since the start of the protests the Government has responded with force. Nobody knows the exact number of people killed, hundreds certainly (HRW say around 500), thousands possibly. Tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, have been arbitrarily arrested and detained, probably tortured, definitely mistreated; family members of protestors, journalists and opposition politicians, are intimidated and routinely persecuted. And whilst 10,000 people have recently been released, local groups estimate a further 70,000 remain incarcerated and the government has initiated a new wave of arrests in which young people have been specifically targeted.

Amongst the list of violent state actions – none of which have been independently investigated – the incident at Bishoftu, which many Ethiopians describe as a massacre, stands out. On 2nd October millions of ethnic Oromos gathered to celebrate at the annual Irreecha cultural festival. There was a heavy, intimidating military presence including an army helicopter; anti-government chants broke out, people took to the stage and crossed their arms in unity. At this democratic act, security forces responded by firing live ammunition and teargas into the crowd.

The number of casualties varies depending on the source; the government would have us believe 55 people died, though local people and opposition groups claim 250 people were killed by security forces. The ruling regime makes it impossible to independently investigate such incidences or to verify those killed and injured, but HRW states that, “based on the information from witnesses and hospital staff…it is clear that the number of dead is much higher than government estimates.”

A week after the Nightmare at Bishoftu, the ruling party enforced its State of Emergency. Another ill-judged pronouncement that has entrenched divisions, strengthened resolve and plunged the country into deeper chaos. Such actions reveal a level of paranoia, and a failure to understand the impact of repressive rule. With every controlling violent action the Government takes, with every innocent person that it kills or maims, opposition spreads, resistance intensifies, resolve grows stronger.

Enough!

The Ethiopian revolt comes after over two decades of rule by the EPRDF, a party whose approach, despite its democratic persona, has been intensely autocratic. Human rights declared in the liberally worded constitution are totally ignored: dissent is not allowed nor is political debate or regional secession – a major issue for the Ogaden region, which is under military control.

There is no independent media – it is all state owned or controlled, as is access to the Internet; journalists who express any criticism of the ruling regime are routinely arrested, and the only truly autonomous media group, ESAT is now classed as a terrorist organization. Add to this list the displacement of indigenous people to make way for international industrial farms; the partisan distribution of aid, employment opportunities and higher education places; the promulgation of ethnic politics in schools, plus the soaring cost of living, and a different, less polished Ethiopian picture begins to surface of life than the one painted by the regime and donor nations – benefactors who, by their silence and duplicity are complicit in the actions of the EPRDF government.

People have had enough of such injustices. Inhibited and contained for so long, they have now found the strength to demand their rights and stand up to the bully enthroned in Addis Ababa. The hope must be that change can be brought about by peaceful means and not descend into a bloody conflict. For this to happen the government needs to adopt a more conciliatory position and listen to the people’s legitimate concerns.

This unprecedented uprising may be held at bay for a time, restrained by force and unjust legislation, but people rightly sense this is the moment for change; they will no longer cower and be silenced for too much has been sacrificed by too many.



TPLF’s Land Claim Follows Trails of Tigrean Temporary Farm Workers and Settlers.



By now every Ethiopian and Eritrean citizen knows that the final goal of the Tigrai peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) is to secede from Ethiopia as an independent "Republic of Greater Tigrai". The implementation of the 1976 TPLF manifesto that advocates for Tigrai Republic had two important stages: First annexing land from regions in Ethiopia and a second acquiring land and sea outlet from Eritrea. In fact, the 1976 TPLF Manifesto clearly indicates the areas that need to be incorporated to Tigrai so that it becomes a viable republic. What is surprising is that all the areas that were mentioned in the Manifesto are the areas that currently have become the sources of conflict with regions inside Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea. What is also true that, when investigated thoroughly, it is not difficult to see that those TPLF land claims follow Trail of Tigrean Temporary Farm Workers and settlers. Such truth can easily be found in TPLF’s land claim against Eritrea and Ethiopia’s Amhara administrative region that includes formerly known Begemider. Other TPLF Land claims against Wollo also exhibit such trends. Let’s see each TPLF land claim and examine its inherent characteristics.

Wolkaite Tsegede.

Before 1991, Wolkaite Tsegede was known as part of the Begemider administrative region bordering Tigrai. All evidence, including those came from previous Tigrai region administrators, indicate that Wolkaite Tsegede had never been under the administrative region of Tigrai. The fact that the land was vast farm area, commercial farmers from Begemider and neighboring Eritrea use to own large farms that often required additional labor. Again Tigreans use to cross to Wolkaite Tsegede and work in those large farms.

Historical records also indicate that through time some of the temporary Tigrean farm workers have settled in the area. Moreover, after TPLF started the struggle for the liberation of Tigrai it continued to pacify the area from rich Amhara farmers and increased the number of Tigrean settlers. When TPLF came to power in 1991, in the pretext of the realty that was established by Temporary Tigrean farm workers and settlers, it used the language card to snatch the Wolkaite Tsegede area from Begemeder and merge it with Tigray. Since language often crosses administrative boundaries, the claim that boundaries should be demarcated based on language is nothing but a weak argument to achieve previously set hidden agenda to give Tigray vast farm land and land access route to Sudan.

Raya including Ashengie Alamata and Kobo.

Following the logic discussed above, TPLF annexed Wollo’s Raya including Ashengie Alamata and Kobo. Raya Azebo was known to be the bread basket of the Wollo administrative region. Although it is prone to seasonal draught, during some good rainy season, farmers in the area can produce a significant volume of crop that could supply the regional markets for more than a year or even more. Moreover, the area is known to be a drought season grazing area for cattle coming from southern Tigrai as far as Mekelle. Hence it is clear that due to over used land in the Tigrai region, Tigrean farmers and seasonal workers often migrate to areas in neighboring regions that exhibit better farm productivity and grazing land. On that account, TPLF claim to incorporate these areas in to the Tigrai region is as a result of such historical seasonal migration of Tigrai farmers and Temporary farm workers.

Badme.

As confirmed by the Ethiopia-Eritrea Border Commission (EBBC) the Eritrean colonial maps that were drawn based on the agreement between Italy and former Ethiopians rulers show that Badme is well inside Eritrea. Moreover, historical records, that were obtained from the Badme village administration, indicate that before the 1998-2000 war more that 90% of the Badme area residents were Eritreans. The few Tigreans who established residence in Badme came to the area as Temporary farm workers. It is also true that currently TPLF is trying to establish a new realty in the area, mainly by bringing new settlers from other parts of Tigrai. However, such action does not change the fact that Tigrean residents in Badme are either Temporary farm workers or settlers who were brought after the 1998-2000 border war. Hence it is plausible to conclude that TPLF’s Claim against Eritrea followed Trail of Tigrean Temporary Farm Works and settlers.

Conclusion.

It is true that TPLF has given up some land in the Afar region. However, the reason for that temporary sacrifice of land is because it was considered as part of the second plan. After TPLF finishes annexing land from other Ethiopian administrative regions, the next stage was to give Tigrai access to the sea through the Afar region. That means to get access to the sea, TPLF will need to annex land from the afar region. Hence TPLF’s argument that it gave land to the afar region to implement the language based demarcation is a simple ploy to implement the first stage of the 1976 Manifesto. Had the TPLF 1998-2000 war to annex Assab succeeded, the second stage, that advocates for the Tigray republic with its gates to Sudan and the Red Sea could have been a realty. Fortunately, due to the strong resistance of the Ethiopian and Eritrean people now such TPLF ploy seems to be a reason for its downfall.

The current Crisis in Ethiopia is rooted on TPLF agenda to annex land from administrative regions in Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea using the pretext that follows the Trail of Tigrean Temporary farm workers and settlers so that economically viable Tigrai republic could be established under article 39 of the Woyene drafted Ethiopian constitution. Hence it is important that TPLF future activities be viewed under such context and the Ethiopian and Eritrean people align their struggle against the TPLF hidden agenda accordingly.



Latest News in Ethiopia (Feb. 3)




Four regime soldiers killed in western Ethiopia

By ESAT News (February 3, 2016)

Four regime soldiers have reportedly been killed while several other injured in Benishangul Gumuz region, western Ethiopia. A source who spoke to ESAT say the soldiers were ambushed in Sherkole, a gold mining area, by armed groups who call themselves freedom fighters.

The source said two of the soldiers were identified as Lieutenant Werawi Abreha and a soldier who goes by his first name Halefom.

There have been reports of attacks and counterattacks between regime soldiers and armed groups in the gold mining region of Benishangul Gumuz where Tigrayan army officers had uprooted traditional gold miners and took over the lucrative business. According to the sources there were several deadly clashes between the locals and the army officers in the process of the takeover of the gold mines.

The source also said the army officers operate under the banner of MIDROC, a company owned by an Ethiopian born Saudi tycoon with close ties to the regime.


By Desta Heliso

Over the last few weeks, I have been following a debate relating to ethnicity, shared national identity and particularly certain people groups in Ethiopia having a common origin. The debate, based on literature produced in different forms, seems to be very heated and emotionally charged. In this brief article, I would like to share my thoughts, for what they are worth, in relation to shared national identity and contribute to the debate. My thesis is very simple: Ethiopia is one and all Ethiopians are sisters and brothers. But to arrive at this deceptively simple proposition, one should accept that Ethiopia as a nation is a political construct and being Ethiopian is a state of mind. Ethiopia, as a nation, was created from different people groups through promotion of ideals that unite these groups and help transcend differences without necessarily dissolving distinct identities and their expressions. This resulted in what we now refer to as shared national identity under a nation-state called Ethiopia. This important construction was achieved over many generations and reinforced by the overarching narrative of Ethiopianness.

Very often, this narrative goes back to references to Aithiopis in Homeric poetic legends and Herodotus’ writings. References are also made to the Bible where Ethiopia represents the end of the earth in the extreme south. The Hebrew Bible uses Cush and the Greek Aithiopis. But nominal expressions of Cush or Aithiopis do not represent the status of Ethiopia as we know it today. What the Old Testament refers to as Cushcould include Nubia and the Arabian peninsula. The classical writers’ use of Aithiopis, instead of Cush, may not necessarily negate this. For the Greeks, Aithiopis is ‘a far-off country of a black race who lived by the fountains of the sun’ and Ethiopians were most un-Greek in appearance because they were ‘black and smitten by the sun’. We cannot be absolutely certain as to how the Greeks came up with this name and these expressions. But we know that names are coined to a group of people on the basis of their geographical location, their religious persuasion, their social roots or even their skin colour. It is possible that the ancient Greeks came up with the name Aithiopis because of the skin colour of the ancient Ethiopians. Whatever the case, how many of the people groups in today’s Ethiopia this name represented from the time of Homer to the Roman period, we simply don’t know.

As the Greeks portrayed, ancient Ethiopia may well have been a respectable state with well-organised and courageous army. And ancient Ethiopians may well have been freedom- and justice-loving people. The portrayal of Ethiopians by the Jewish historian Josephus, in his Jewish Antiquities, is even more intriguing. He talks about Ethiopia’s prominence as an independent state of considerable military power, the marriage of a beautiful princess of Ethiopia called Tharbis to Moses, and the admirable and wise Queen of Sheba becoming Queen of Egypt and Ethiopia. Josephus’ story of the Queen of Sheba in particular has undergone extensive Arabian and other elaborations. It was further elaborated in a unique manner in the 14th century Ethiopia in a document called Kebra Nagast. According to these elaborations, Yemenis, Egyptians, Ethiopians etc could claim that the Queen of Sheba was their Queen. Then, which territories did Sheba represent? I don’t think we can say that it represented only the present political and geographical Ethiopia. I met a Kenyan who argued that ancient Ethiopia included some parts of Kenya. He may or may not be right. All this leads one to conclude that we cannot know with any degree of certainty as to how much of the land and which groups of people of the present Ethiopia were part of that ancient Cush, Sheba or Aithiopis.

What we can safely claim, however, is that a nation-state called Ethiopia was created and recreated, defined and redefined. From the history of Ethiopia, we know that the goal of creating and recreating, defining and redefining Ethiopia – as we know her today – was politically and economically motivated. It was achieved predominantly through bloody battles, political manipulations and imposition of certain ideals. We have moved from disparate kingdoms – whose vassals were loosely connected to the Suzerain – to T’eqlay Gizats under Emperor, then to Kifle Hegers under President, and now to Kilels under Prime Minister. Goodness knows what kind of administrative arrangements the next generation will come up with. All this shows that the concept of ‘nation’ is not a fixed one.

Prof Kwame Anthony Appiah in his BBC 4 Reith Lectures 2016 – titled Mistaken Identities(with special reference to Creed, Country, Colour and Culture) – argued that the idea of national sovereignty has ‘an incoherence at heart’ and that a nation is defined and redefined and political unity is never underwritten by some ‘pre-existing national commonality’. I agree with Appiah. Ethiopia’s singular nationhood is dependent not on pre-existing national commonality but on previously disparate people groups with their own autonomous or semi-autonomous territories accepting ideals believed to transcend differences without dissolving certain particularities; associating themselves with shared historical and cultural values and aspirations; developing national consciousness; and committing themselves to a shared national identity under a shared narrative of Ethiopianness.

Ethiopianness is a unifying state of mind developed by people of different ethnic groups, cultural backgrounds and religious persuasions. It is a mental disposition shaped by ‘history’ and ‘traditions’ of Ethiopia. It is something that is so deeply embedded in the societal psyche that it is almost unconscious. It is an inner passion for and emotional bond with the country, which can be described as love for Ethiopia. Through music, arts, sport and national anthem, this passion is rekindled and commitment to the uniting symbols is renewed. The whole thing can at times border on the irrational and can even be dangerous if it is not kept in check through rational reasoning. One cannot explain it comprehensively but it is a reality.

In Britain, a concert called BBC Proms is organised every year. It takes place in the Royal Albert Hall. In the final night of the Proms, one of the final songs refers to Britain or England as the Land of Hope and Glory. Another one is the well-known Rule Britannia. Many young people would wrap themselves with the British flag and sing these songs with incredible enthusiasm and tears in their eyes. The reference in the songs is to the colonial Britain, about which they are often embarrassed, and is of no relevance to the Britain they know and live in today, but it still seems to emotionally charge and strengthen their sense of Britishness and their love for Britain. This feeling is not always explicable but it is there for good or ill.

Similarly, Ethiopianness is something abstract, mentally constructed and emotionally strengthened. It is a unifying narrative that is shared by more than eighty people groups who have happened or chosen to live on a piece of land and share God-given resources together. These groups also voluntarily share common values, common cultural heritage and expressions, and uniting symbols. Through this, the vast majority of them have come to recognise and love this country called Ethiopia. Shared narrative has resulted in shared identity, so they have become – to use a metaphor – children of the same parent. That is, they have become sisters and brothers. Like all sisters and brothers, of course, they engage in sibling rivalry (sometimes in a rather unhealthy and deadly manner). But they could still love that Ethiopia with her symbolic motherhood. What they actually love is not that geographically determined land of beauty and serenity or that incorporeal political construct. What they actually love are those women and men whose lives and historical destinies are tied up with that of a country called Ethiopia. It is, therefore, unhelpful or even futile to attempt to prove that certain people groups in Ethiopia (to the exclusion of others) have a shared origin and identity. We should all declare in unison that Ethiopia is one and all Ethiopians are sisters and brothers!


Latest News in Ethiopia (Feb. 2)