Viewpoint

Nostalgic Ethiopianists threaten national unity

The threat to national integrity comes from those who fantasize about the past, not from those who promote the rights of groups that overcame repression.

On 29 June, activist musician Hachalu Hundessa was murdered, triggering protests and unrest that killed at least 239 people, and a heavy crackdown by security forces that has since seen more than 9,000 people detained and internet services shutdown for almost three weeks.

Hachalu’s place within the collective Oromo consciousness was as a cultural icon and once-in-a-generation performer. He was cherished by millions of Oromo as an artist that captured the melancholy surrounding their struggle for freedom and equality. That very struggle helped bring Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to power in 2018.

Unsurprisingly, Hachalu’s killing evoked strong sentiments of anger similar to how graphic police brutality recently elicited similar reactions in the U.S. and elsewhere. One tragic result was Oromo mobs targeting ethnic minorities and businesses in the Oromia region. Despite criticisms against the government for its slow response at preventing looming human and economic devastation, a heavy crackdown ensued.

Opportunism

Rather than looking at these unfortunate events as an opportunity to unify a deeply polarized society and instill trust and legitimacy in disregarded law enforcement and judicial institutions, the government chose to exploit the tragedy for political gain.

Hachalu could have been given a dignified memorial worthy of a freedom fighter here in Addis Ababa similar to General Seare Mekonnen, or legendary singer Tilahun Gessese, while still respecting the family’s wish of Ambo as his final resting place. It too could have put its security apparatus on alert to prevent the gruesome violence we have seen in Oromia.

But it instead chose to use the opportunity to settle political scores and aggravate an already tragic situation. It engaged in finger pointing, insinuations, and media campaign to ‘poison the well’ before formal investigations or public debate could even begin.

These same law-enforcement agencies which claim to have uncovered a deep external-internal web of conspiracies against the state have yet to resolve any of the high-profile killings from the last two years.  That being the case, any further lack of transparency and due process is set to erode whatever trust remains in the government and state institutions critical for democracy.

Backsliding signs

We are at a crossroads facing a multitude of fundamental problems that need meaningful answers. Yet all that the Abiy government can offer is empty slogans and pseudo-profound rhetoric that will set back the quest for a multinational, federal democratic state.

Two years into a high-stakes and high-expectations transition, the jailing of high-profile opposition figures, cracking down on protesters and journalists, mass arrests, mistreatment of prisoners, dubious judicial processes, and a lack of broad national dialogue still persists. For a transition to succeed, you need a government and a democratic process of which elections are not only a minimum requirement, and which are rooted in legitimacy and transparency. None of that is enjoyed by the incumbent.

The misgivings clouding a once-in-a-generation opportunity for a progressive, democratic dispensation are numerous; the government’s heavy-handed response to the unrest in the wake of Hachalu’s death, the documented killings and abuses in Oromia and Amhara, crackdowns on opposition, a looming constitutional and security crisis due to PP-TPLF standoff, the indefinite postponement of elections, and the Abiy government’s unwillingness for dialogue or compromise.

If these events are anything to go by, it is eerily similar to the toxic political climate following the 2005 election. I remember the suffocating political heat of those days like yesterday.

Road to nowhere

The odds for a triumphant transition to democracy were already bleak, since the subject of reform is the ruins of an archaic imperial state with its own social, cultural, and historical burdens.

An ethnic plutocracy in the form of the TPLF, hell-bent on political, economic and ideological domination, was the main obstacle to reforms in the last three decades. However, it is an intolerant, and often impetuous, hodgepodge elite that includes the ruling party, opposition parties, activists, civil society organizations, diaspora groups, online and broadcast media outlets flexing to dismantle the current multinational federalism that are the biggest spoilers to a smooth democratic transition.

Their preferred label is as ‘Ethiopianists’, however, their detractors dismiss them as ‘Neo-neftegnas —an assortment of people nostalgic for the regressive imperial era, who despise the current multinational federalism, and attribute the recognition and autonomy granted to the nations and nationalities to be the source of all our social and political ills. Multiple studies have found that they are predominantly urbanites, ethnically Amhara, and disproportionately dominate levers of power: government bureaucracy, media, and finance. They pursue this as a zero-sum game, and to the detriment of historically marginalized communities.

Regardless, this current fight is one for the soul of this nation; what it should embody and envision for this generation and the ones that follow. And it is only beginning.

These faux unitarians and their counterproductive ways are baffling. They call themselves ‘Ethiopianists’, and claim to stand for unity. But it is hard to see anything especially Ethiopian or unifying about them, their approach, their historical narratives, or the society they envision.

They claim ultimate guardianship over the Ethiopian state, and are determined to delegitimize and criminalize the legitimate ‘question of the nations and nationalities’ and their struggle for justice and equality. Nonetheless, the more their historical suffering is ignored, the louder the echoes of imperial drums grow. And, the more their aspirations deferred, the less likely we are to realize a nation that is at peace with itself.

What I like to call ‘Ethiopia’s original sin’—the violence, the subjugation, the oppression, and the subsequent marginalization of the Nations Nationalities and Peoples upon which it was founded—are still too raw and intense to simply wish away.

For example, the story of Menelik II and his violent Zemechas, or conquests, has a different meaning for me and my ancestors than those who still hold him in high esteem as a godlike figure. There was no love lost between Menelik II and my great-grandfather’s generation. Being the Somali tribes along the Jigjiga Valley, they were the first to try to stave off Menelik’s incursions, but unfortunately fell prey to them and his better armed crusaders in the likes of Ras Mekonnen, Dejazmach Benugise, and Kenyazmach Basha-Basha.

As Major H.G.C.S Wayne  documented in his book; Seventeen Trips to Somaliland and a Visit to Abyssinia, when he trekked northern Somali territories and eastern Ethiopia in late 1890s, Menelik II’s mistreatment of the Somalis was equal to their unforgiving mistrust towards him. So much so they were willing to live under British rule, as documented by Major Wayne, with some semblance of order, rather than the humiliation and degradation of a true despot.

Baseless

It is Abiy’s alignment with these neo-imperialists and Derg remnants that is the biggest hurdle for the transition. They sit at the crux of political, cultural, economic, military, security and media vessels that were left rudderless by the abrupt retreat of TPLF, and are determined to crush everything and everyone they see as a threat.

This does not bode well for a smooth transition.

Moreover, there are a range of controversial figures that bear the banner of the ‘Ethiopianist’ camp. This includes exposed xenophobes, to former Derg generals like Fisseha Desta, Mengistu’s second-in-command, and Kassaye Chemeda who even called for violence on national television. These figures are either in the Prime Minister’s inner-circle, have influence on policy, or are praising him on state television.

The biggest threat to our societal cohesion and the continuity of the state does not lie with those pushing for greater autonomy and recognition for nations and nationalities. Rather, it lies with those fantasizing about the past, with their preferred cut off for the ‘good old days’ being prior to the EPRDF-era.

Continued bullying of anyone refusing to buy their outdated, out of touch dogma into silence by hurling demeaning and crude reductionist insults such as ‘treasonous mercenaries’, ‘savage extremists’, ‘tribal nativists’, ‘terrorists’ will not bring peace and unity.

Exit strategy

In his inaugural speech, Abiy called for national reconciliation, forgiveness, and the closure of our dark past, promising ‘‘to forge ahead to bright future through national consensus’’.

For someone who came to office on a platform of unity and dialogue, it is worth emphasizing the only way forward is by backing out of the current quagmire. It is equally worth noting that any genuine attempt at national dialogue and reconciliation starts with the immediate release of all political prisoners as part of aiming for a comprehensive settlement.

If our Nobel laureate Prime Minister can embrace the last true despot in the Horn of Africa, President Isaias Afwerki, as a force for peace and development, finding common ground with his detractors here at home shouldn’t be too hard.

However, it is hard to guess if Abiy has come to terms with the reality that no one can rule Ethiopia in peace, and longevity, while making a career out of angering the only tent that can provide a viable governing coalition. Abandoning his natural constituency, the Oromo, neglecting Somalis and the issues they care about, feuding with the Sidama, clashing with the Wolayta and suffocating Tigray is not a good place to start if the goal is to reach peace and unity, and underwrite state continuity.

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About the author

Mohamed Olad

Mohamed is a former Media and Communications Advisor to Somali Region acting president Mustafa Omer. Follow him on Twitter @oladmohamed or email him at mohamedolad88@gmail.com

39 Comments

  • This is just another piece aiming at confusing the gullible and giving cover for the real and current day mass murder that is being carried in present day Ethiopia. The burning of towns and cities and slaughtering of innocent civilians because of their perceived “otherness” is way more than what Minilik might have done while trying to restore the country of his forefathers.

    The Federalism that is currently in existence is nothing but a mechanism to dehumanize minorities living in different Regional states. The only Federal state with a real sense of the system is the Amhara Region which allows self administration and autonomous status to every minorities in that Region.

    Addis Ababa is super majority Amharic speaking population City but administered by henchmen appointed by the Oromo administration. The grand corruption and unhinged land garb in the City together with the social re-engineering of the century are testaments as to what the ethnic elites are up for.

    The Oromo extremists murdered Hachallu hopping to incite communal violence that could propel them to oust the power at arat killo and control everything to the determent of the very existence of the country. TPLF/OLF hegemonic aspirants are only after a total control of the state power to exploit the resources of the country. They always pull the Minilik Card which is based entirely on fabricated truth for political expediency by ethnic politicians. Short of the total annihilation of what they call “neftegnas” Amharas, they will never be satisfied.

  • Ethiopia is more than enough for all of us! Germany and Israel are strong friends, declaring Hitler as a historical criminal! We Ethiopians need to recognize #minilik as a historical criminal!

  • Yes there is a big problem in Ethiopia. The morally bankrupt and decayed TPLF is once again exploiting Oromo extremists to dismantle Ethiopia and burn her to the ground. Innocent people are targeted based on their ethnicity and religion to be slaughtered in the clan and party domination and power struggle among the Oromo elites themselves. Your claim of Amhara elites keeping silent is ridiculous. Who said “yeoromo dem yenem dem naw” in the hundreds and thousands. And who you said, immediately after coming to power, “Amhara settlers, Menilik safaris” and who claimed “Addis Ababa kegna”.Who displaced thousands of Gedeos, who created the massive turmoil in the Somali region, in Metekel area, who orchestrated the Bahir Dar drama? Were not your beloved Lemma, Jawar, Bekele Gerba all at the forefront of all these controversies. Speak the truth for once. Ethiopians loved Lemma as their own brother but he went around and stabbed them in the back and wanted to be brothers of only the Oromo. Ethiopians fought for the release of Bekele, only to see him shamelessly advocating for Oromos not to marry other races, not to do trade and worst of all went back and sat to dine with his TPLF torturers. As for Jawar,his message always has been “mencha, extermination, ethnic and religious cleansing”. Yes there is a big problem in Ethiopia: it is ethnic fanaticism, it is a sickness that TPLF brought in 1991 or so.

  • There is a big problem in Ethiopia. You all are educated enough to know on which side of the political sphere you when someone like Trump says ‘Make America Great Again’, and a lot of these ethnic nationalists wrap themselves flag and country and use similar privileged rhetoric with ‘immiyyee Menelik’ and the sort. Everytime people of the Ethiopian federation plan a better way forward for coexisting with 80+ ethnic groups through federalism the detractors keep attacking it and I am sad that it will be the reason why this nation will fall apart. Because rather than burying the atrocities of genocidal maniacs, building and defending a monument to a majority of Ethiopia’s suffering is a non starter. Using dog whistle racism towards marginalized communities to get the support of Amhara politicians who are today silent to the imprisoning of Oromo youth will continue this divide, all while encouraging sectarianism. Amhara PP will be in prison very soon when he is done using them, just like Lemma. But at the end of the day, people have had enough, and maybe article 39 is a good place to atone for the sin of our nation’s past. That way we can build a more genuine unity in East Africa.

  • Dear Mohamed:

    Selam/Nabad!

    I read your piece and wanted to let you know that I was very happy with your reasonable articulation of the other side of the story and how, if we want to sustain a pluralist, democratic and diverse Ethiopia, we need to have consensus on how to address the past and build a country that allows everyone to have an equal say in the country’s future. I also share your concern on the backsliding and regression of the Abiy government and his rather alarming tendencies to appeal to a narrow Unitarist section of the country that, as you say, have very wrong and nostalgic thoughts about Ethiopia that is not shared by all its nations, nationalities and peoples.

    To some extent, that nostalgic element is as wrong-headed as Trumpist in the US that want to appeal to the never-existed America that was never (and to some extent has not yet been) great to all.

    I was born in 1970 and grew up and came of age in Addis during the Derg where we were so uninformed and blinded to the historical injustices and it was during my college days at AAU and taking part in the transition between 1991-1995 that my eyes and perspectives were open. I have always argued with my friends and family – I am very proud of my Amhara and Ethiopian heritage but I am not that insecure to impose it on others.

    Keep up the great work and the future belongs to you and the generation that is more diverse, critical, analytical and does not take what it is fed by those nostalgic folks. 😀

  • I am glad you are no longer Mustofa Omar’s media advisor. With people like you his on his side, I don’t he would have become a man of the people and a beloved and true Ethiopian that he is now. Who would want a media advisor like you who concocts stories just to keep his head above the water in the vast sea of trouble makers? Deep down you know that you are lying. Aren’t the Oromo controlling the banks and the tanks now? I think the only thing that could satisfy you and your likes is gulping down the blood of Amharas. Nothing can deter you, not even your religion from lying and misleading others. How come you don’t talk about the innocent people who were recently murdered in Shashemene in detail instead of talking about Menilik who died more than a hundred years ago? Your venom got to stop.

    • OS,
      Just to add to your point, is it true that over a million Oromos were displaced from the Somali region before Abdi Ille was removed? I wonder why these hellbent anti-Amhara forces point their fingers to Minilik II when they have witnessed horrifying atrocities as a result of the TPLF rule?
      Why regurgitate the ills that allegedly happened 150 years ago, when innocent people are being slaughtered because of malicious politicians?

      The author must understand that Ethiopians are happy to make Mustefe Omer as their leader given the opportunity. The so called federalists are bloodsucker leaches who have a terifying proclivity for violence against other minorities who live in their respective ethnic based states. This is an established fact for everyone to confirm.

    • Ethiopia is more than enough for all of us! But ignorance of major historical events is an obstacle to a common understanding! Israel and Germany are strong friends, declaring Hitler as a historical criminal!

  • It is quite obvious who is stuck in perpetual wallowing and self pity over an Emperor that died over a hundred years ago. When your anachronistic historical comparisons of self righteousness are questioned and challenged by bringing your twisted and fabricated delusions with the comparable historical incidents, you start to cry foul. It is a historical fact the Oromo expansions and invasions of the 1500s, resulted the total annihilation, enslavement and forced cultural and linguistic domination of the Dawaro. It is also a historical fact that the Barentu Oromos conquered the independent forcefully assimilating the native Somalis and Hararis. These are only a fraction of the historical antecedents. Nobody has any right to make a selective reading of concocted history for political expediency. The term Nefetegna has become a favorite “pejorative” of Oromo extremists when losing an argument. If that fails their other code word is debtera. One thing you all just need to remember is that at least the debtera knew how to read and write when the majority of the population was utterly illiterate. So, rest assured that is in no way an insult to anybody, just bringing a smile and a sigh for not elevating the level of discussions.

    As far as the claim of nefetegnas not belonging in Addis Ababa, the answer is: what are you talking about? You claim to promulgate democracy and a just society, right? Addis Ababa belongs to the tax paying citizens that live in Addis Ababa. That is what taxation with representation is all about. The fake federalism of TPLF has been proven to be a smokescreen of deception and theft. In the past nearly 30 years, has the Somali region received the federal funds proportional to its territorial size and population? If the answer is no, then there was no fiscal federalism, and thus highlights the fact TPLF just used the facade of ethnic federalism to disproportionately amass and loot the national resources of the country. If in the past 30 years, the once vibrant industrial town like Dire Dawa, and the beautiful city of Harar have crumpled to dilapidation and neglect, then the facade of ethnic federalism has brought nothing but despair and poverty to its residents, highlighting its failure and fake lip service to federalism. It is also plainly obvious that the majority of proponents of ethnic federalism do not even have a basic understanding of a truly federal system. It is also a sad and deplorable fact that a good portion of ethnic federalism proponents just one to capture state power to loot and amass power and fortune just for themselves and their cronies. Had they truly cared for the people they want to govern, they would have asked and discussed, debated and demanded ad infinitum basic questions about water, electricity availability, food security, health services delivery and so forth.

    The 1974 revolution in Ethiopia claimed it would end religious, ethnic, class and wealth divisions. Proponents of that movement in the end caused and got embroiled in massive social upheaval, inter party clashes that resulted in the massacre of tens of thousands of youth during the white and red terror periods, civil war that lasted nearly 17 years, a war with Somalia, loss of generations of educated young men and women, seasoned professionals and irreplaceable technocrats, mass displacement, emigration, and worst of all the loss of hope and dream of creation of a prosperous and peaceful Ethiopia. The TPLF regime that was born from that era, then came to power and resulted in the dismantling of the little left intact, and like its predecessors looted, imprisoned and killed. Ethiopians need to be free from cadres once and for all. Ethiopians cannot and should not be any longer the guinea pigs every political experimenter and lunatic who claims to be a liberator of this ethnic group, that marginalized society, this religious minority. The motherland is tired of carrying these unproductive, conspiring, uninspiring, looting, murdering, and dysfunctional deadweights. Every Ethiopian needs to learn to say no to cadres from any corner of the country. If a cadre wants to make money, he or she can do it the old fashion way: LEARN TO WORK. Ethiopia and hardworking Ethiopians cannot be your suckling mother from birth to your grave. You are not even thankful to her. You, the cadre, are the ungrateful son and daughter that debase the motherland, give her a thousand cuts, disrespect her in front of the world, debase her children, envy her successful few, poison the well from which her offsprings drink, and turn over the table where her children sit to eat and throw the little food they have away.

    .

    • Perfect & Tangible critics on pseudo federalist groups and their hidden agenda to create weak and divided Ethiopia, which are backed-up by TPLF, OLF & Other affiliate extremist groups.

    • KM,
      If we have to tell all the truth, the Somali, Gambella, Benishangul Gumuz, Afar and Harari were light post holders at the big dinner table of the TPLF lead EPRDF for nearly 3 decades. Is the author missing that picking leftover breadcrumbs at the TPLF table? I just asking.

  • Thank you Mohammed for the concise and soul searching piece. The sole objective of Abiy Ahmed is power and thinks the neo-neftegnas as good companions. He is trying to resume the failed project of assimilation, but in vain.

    He celebrated last year what he called ”the victory of Karamarra” with his neo-neftegnas. Our brethren Somalis were slaughtered at Karamarra by the Derg soldiers and now Abiy calls it a victory rubbing our wounds with salts. Nothing is more painful than living under such agony.

  • Kudos to Mr. Mohammed Olad – Abiy is an illiterate nafxanya with lumpenish values or ethics – a product of the Amhara debteras’ culture of deception and intrigue. He is a fraud and a bootlicker. Always has been, always will be. He is a “Mehayim”, “elite wanna be. Devoid of a good upbringing (left home at 14 and lived as errand boy during his teen years with no role model to emulate) an all encompassing training, one should not be surprised if he acts the way he does. Add to this, a prick of conscience he suffers from constantly he will never ever be a classy person. Gadi galoon gadi galoodhuma.

    • All that trash talk only explains what you’re good at rather than facts on the ground. Ethinonatinalism is limiting, narrow in every sense of the word, and dangerous. Maybe, just maybe when you come to the 21st century’s thinking you will find all the answers to your questions.

  • After some 30 years of war and revolution in Ethiopia, two things became quite clear. Eritrean secession was irreversible, and the demand especially by the Oromos and the Somalis to forge their own identity and self-rule had to be addressed. TPLF and its coalition implemented ethnic federalism to accommodate this new reality and awakening of identity politics. In that sense, TPLF acted in good faith to prevent endless civil war in Ethiopia. In my opinon, TPLF should have no regrets about ethnic federalism and its noble acts of commitment to the people of Ethiopia in those 27 years of nation-building. However, now Abiy has created a situation in which TPLF/Tigray is the target of revenge and animosity, defamation and vilification, political imprisonment, and threats as well. At the same time Abiy and Isaias have created a siege aimed at Tigray at the Eritrea border. But no matter, TPLF has resolved to defend Tigray and defend regional self-rule within the existing federalism, without subordination to Abiy/PP. All in all, the situation in the country between Abiy and TPLF, and also Abiy and the Oromo leaders in jail and house arrest is a matter that requires political wisdom to avert further crisis.

  • Unless identity politics is removed from Ethiopian politics, we can forget the dream of equal co-existence within us.

    For those who want to know its meaning, it is all about using politics to fight for the absolute truth, equal rights, and freedom of everyone even if it means criticizing your own group. But when you use politics with the ultimate goal of securing only your own group’s benefits while going as far killing your opponents, you are not practicing real politics. Sadly it is identity politics.

  • KM

    I read a book long time ago, decades ago as matter of fact, written by a seasoned
    UN diplomat of Ghanian origin about a discusion he once had with PW. Botha, the supreme leader of the South African Apartheid government and it went something like this: “I’m truely a man of peace, justice and honor, equality and empathy as long as our cherished, shared way of life and remarkable history and thus the status quo left undisturbed or left intact unmolested in South Africav” Ditto, see how this guy was also a genius rational. He believes he was living in a perfect world of Ethiopia empire with exampliry history. If only left alone, if not emulated. He has nothing but contemp for those who still struggling for equality, equity and dignity. The point is this guy examplfies a typical hard-liner and bunker mentality of trurly naftegna motto: everything was and will be perfect, nothing had happened in past , if not the contrary is true, and so on. He condescendes, belittles,twists the facts, fabricated things and history even going back as far as the rule of Ahmed Gragn , as if he was foreign or worse than Menilik. And he even goes after Somalia’s Ziad Bare to intimidate and the writer and his background and to show his place in the Ethiopian empire context. He lectures on how their backyard , where plunder, murder, incarceration, unemployment, illiteracy and mass starvation of the people were too common are yearning for the past. Really you can’t fix old bigot.

  • You nailed to the point! Those who who proclaim that ‘we are more Ethiopian than other ethiopians’ are on their way to dismantle the country. Obviously Ethiopia is a country of about 80 nations and nationalities with their respective language, cultural identities and religion. The old day Ethiopia suppressed these identities under one language (Amharic) and one religion (Orthodox Christian) used as a card for ethiopianism. With all its challenges, the EPRDF that came to power through armed struggle (different nations and nationalities united) recognized and gave right for exercising ones own identity, religion, culture and language. Moreover, federal administrative system – where each self governing region has its own administrative structure paved a way for self-administration.
    The current government under Abiy Ahmed is looking backward than taking the country forward through democratization; it is so sad that Abiy Ahmed is fond of the Imperial region where the people are the subjects of the king. The neo-neftegna system is supported by a few Amharic speaking (not necessarily Amhara ethnic) people who don’t want to see the diversity of language, culture, religion other than their own language and culture.
    Today, the Oromo people and other nations and nationalities are struggling to get equal representation in administration, and maintain their identity. The neftegna system is know for using administrative manauver to take upper hand in Economy, cultural identity and governance by oppressing the majority using gun power. This system has gone for good through the Whole Ethiopian people struggle but Abiy and his comrades are trying to bring back such rotten system; that is why we observe #Oromoprotest in many part of the world.
    The neo-neftegna system supported by Abiy Ahmed (1) is suspected for the killing of a prominent Oromo singer Hachalu Hundessa, who opposed the system, but they are using the mass media they own to persuade the people that the singer was killed by opposition political parties like OLF
    (2) Put most members of the major opposition political parties to control everything without opposition
    (3) The legal system is highly control by the government and not free
    (4) Nowadays government is the major killer in Ethiopia, any opposition results in imprisonment and killings by government militaries.
    (5) Fake news and reports are used as a weapon to demonize Oromo people as radicals and opposition parties as dividers…….this is a tactical move by neftegna system. For instance, in recent clash during protest 146 Oromos killed at their home without going no where for violence but their media never speak of this truth….rather demonized Oromo. Overall, unless equality is ensured enabling all the citizen to use their languages, expressing the identity, culture and taking fair share in Economy co-existence is challenged.

  • The main objectives of the neo-nafxanayas and their collaborators are to continue disempowering the Oromo people by dispossessing their lands and other resources and by keeping them in the status of colonial subjects, who are disorganized, easy to be terrorized and dominated. But the flourishing of Oromo nationalism and the consolidation of Oromo unity as demonstrated by the recent Qeerroo/Qarree movement have revealed the potential of Oromo society to bring about fundamental transformations in Oromia, the Ethiopian Empire, and the Horn of Africa.

    Since the ideological and intellectual victory of the Oromo national movement has disturbed the colonial settlers and their neo-nafaxanya government led by Abiy Ahmed, the enemies of the Oromo people are worried that they cannot successfully implement their grand plans of dismantling Oromo nationhood by fragmentating it into local and religious identities, dividing Oromia again into colonial administrative regions, imposing Habasha culture and the Amhara language, pitting the Oromo against other nations, and impoverishing them by dispossessing their resources and transferring to themselves and their cronies. The OLF and its chairman, Mr. Dawud Ibssa, have become the main obstacle to these grand projects when some Oromo organizations and former activists are willingly becoming the agents of the neo-nafxanaya government to satisfy their personal interests at the cost of the Oromo nation. Therefore, Abiy and his government are trying to remove the resolute and independent leadership of the Oromo people and the OLF and replace it by the leadership that they can easily manipulate and cannot defend Oromia’s national agenda and interest.

  • Mr Mohammad Olad

    I am calling you a clever deliberate obfuscator of truth. Yes a LIAR.

    “Unsurprisingly, Hachalu’s killing evoked strong sentiments of anger similar to how graphic police brutality recently elicited similar reactions in the U.S. and elsewhere. One tragic result was Oromo mobs targeting ethnic minorities and businesses in the Oromia region.”

    What happened was no spontaneous outburst.

    No, sir.

    It was premeditated act by those who had lists of names and addresses. They were nonlocals that were bussed in. They targeted specific ethnic and religious minorities – especially members of the Orthodox Christian faith. Local law enforcement refused to be involved, or stood aside, arrived too late, or even reportedly participated.

    The sheer horror of the acts perpetrated were deliberate, and meant to elicit outrage and horror in those who would witness or hear of the act.

    By definition, this was terrorism pure and simple. Acts of violence on innocent civilians for the purpose of fulfilling political aims.

    This was no spontaneous mob.

    This was a well organized, well financed, well politically protected ethnic cleansing operation.

    Mr Mohammad Olad, we have an Interahamwe like organization in Ethiopia. It appears to either be opportunistically using unrest to perform acts of ethnic cleansing. Or God forbid, it would trigger such unrest through targeted assassinations and the like.

    “Ethio-Nostalgia” is not killing people. It is not destroying entire cities.

    That is all in your fantasy addled mind sir. It was a fashionable position to hold to be considered a legit revo maybe 30 years ago, but today it just reveals people stuck to frames of reference that are 50 years old.

    Sir, if you are truly concerned about what has recently transpired, can you say a few words more about the victims than the mealy-mouthed “unfortunate”?

    Is your expectation that genocides and ethnic cleansers should have advocates for them in the public space, while the victims should get a dimissive shrug of the shoulder?

    Amde

    • It is the neftegna ideology of not admitting the past injustices and continuous ‘rubbing of salt on the wounds’ of those affected by the discriminate and utterly racist idols Menelik II and co that fuels hate. We can not forget past injustices as long as you hail those and it will be difficult to coexist peacefully

    • Clearly you are one of the neo-nafxanayas bent on villifying the 50 million Oromos. You and the likes of you are peddling lies, deception and hate for the Oromo. If you are Oromophobic regardless of the choice on our part to ignore your prejudice (and your phobic gestures, and your attempt to exclude and oppress), all for the sake of co-existence (albeit asymmetrically), then we can’t help you. No one is going to babysit you until you outgrow your habits of prejudice, hatred, and hubris. We will let you bear the cost of your phobia. Surely, you shall bear the price of your hatred. For your hatred is YOUR problem, not ours, not anyone else’s.

  • Kudos to you Mr. Olad. Now you are talking unlike your previous missives. I know you are diplomatically, intellectually and politically inclined or correct persona unlike my types who prefers scribbling down a rousing and no holds barred rhetoric due to the early formative years and exposure to Somali struggle for their rights and freedom. But that is okay. These divergent roles are complementary in a sense. Keep the good job bro.
    If the die-hard of the Dergists of the likes of Gen Desta, Gen. Chane and Major Dwit et al. afforded to even the slightest attention by the PM office and its policies, God knows what the future holds for federalism system, expected democracy dispensation and rights of the marginalized communities and nations such as the Somalis, Oromos, Afard and so on. It’s now or never to stand their God-given rights and expose the conspiracy evil scheme.

  • It is a sad fact and deplorable state of affairs in Ethiopia today that nearly 30 years of TPLF intellectual dishonesty, moral corruption and decay of values have created a populace that has lost the sense of balance and even semblance of a modicum of truth in historical recall. The writer condemns one of the great Ethiopian rulers, Emperor Menilik, a frequent scapegoat and target of TPLF cadres and Oromo extremists. The historical facts on the ground, however, point to the “loss of no love” to use the writer’s own words, between even current generation of Ethiopians, nearly 500 years later for Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi (Gragn Ahmed) for his distraction, burning, looting of villages and churches and massacre of thousands of Ethiopians is forever etched in history. A statue of Gragn Ahmed stands in Mogadishu as a symbol and can give the writer of the article, a solace every time he sees someone else’s heroes statutes elsewhere. Nor is there any love lost between any generation of Ethiopians and Jaalle Mohamed Siad Barre and his war of aggression against Ethiopia. The fact of the matter is that biases in historical recall, anachronistic analyses for retribution, mass condemnation of an entire ethnic group, religious intolerance and blanket accusations will serve nobody any good. The historical analyses better be left for the professional historians.

    A perusal of the Mr.Olad’s article quickly reveals that we cannot even agree on the facts on the ground of events that happened just a few months ago. Who killed Hachalu? Who prevented his peaceful and respectful burial against the wishes of his own family? Who were the political opportunists who conspired to use this tragic event to catapult their own hidden political agenda? Can Mr. Olad expound?

    The ethnic federalism as practiced in Ethiopia by TPLF in the past nearly 30 years has nothing to do with federalism. I encourage Mr. Olad to investigate if the Somali region in Ethiopia did receive federal funds proportional to its population and land size for improving the standards of living of the people living in that region. It is not necessary, in fact, quite detrimental to posit every question in terms of ethnic and tribal pictures. It is not by accident that the centralizing forces from Emperor Tewdros’ time emerged on the ground, as such owing to the disintegrated and centrifugal structure of the Era of Princes and Warlords.

    Many Ethiopians are multilingual. People that were born in the Harar, Diredawa areas in the 1900-1940s/1950s were adept at speaking Aderegna, Oromogna, Amharic, Somaligna, with some mastery of even Arabic, French and Italian, reflecting to the aftermath of foreign influences in the region. These amazing and unique skills in these diverse, beautiful culturally interwoven society has only witnessed dilapidation and ruins and disintegration in the past 30 years. Mr. Olad need to elaborate why a region as sophisticated and integrated into generations of peaceful coexistence has been dealt such a blow and neglect just in one generation? Where are the promised benefits of true federalism in that region, how much federal funds did the region get during TPLFs rule ? What happened to the vibrant industrial town of Dire Dawa? What happened to its roaring factories? These are the types of questions we should be asking and investigating in depth. With the reformulations of our questions away from ethnic and identity obsessions that are destructive and do not hold those responsible accountable, the current generation can emerge as true representatives of a given area demanding its appropriate share of the resources it deserves through a true fiscal federalism and taxation with representation of every citizen regardless of ethnicity, religion, language etc. When the ground work for individual rights is established on the bedrock of true protection through a valid constitution then the peace, security and liberty of each and every Ethiopian will be respected. Till that day becomes a reality, the struggle continues.

    • On the contrary, TPLF showed intellectual clarity and honesty in assessing the political dilemma in Ethiopia at that time: a nation of some 80 ethnic groups, with about 17 liberation fronts spreadout around the country, the two larger armed groups being the Oromos and the Somalis. Ethnic federalism with regional identity and self-rule was a political accommodation the warring groups found acceptable. Having thus settled the political dilemma, TPLF turned its attention towards the other pressing problem: the need for economic developement to lift the county out of poverty. TPLF did so for 27 years of nation-building.

      • Kudus Yared, TPLF is in the foxhole where it deserves to be for the right reasons. TPLF is the worst thing that happened to Ethiopia. If you have a modicum of respect and dignity for yourself, please stop arguing on behalf of TPLF. If you are or have been a member of the TPLF, use your right to be forgotten in peace.

        • Actually I have plenty of respect and dignity for myself and for TPLF as well. At the core of ethnic federalism in Ethiopia is the anthropological truth, that Ethiopia is made up of some 80 ethnic groups. Over time, this gave rise to a political awakening and a surge of ethno-nationalism, especially the Oromos and Somalis. Ethnic federalism had a dual purpose – to address ethno-nationalists demand for regional identity and self-rule, and thereby hold the nation together under a federal order. TPLF implemented ethnic federalism in good faith considering the political conditions at that time. It worked for 27 years, and it is generally understood that there are more who support federalism than are opposed to it.

          • To WF – Regarding your comment today, I could probably say the same things about you, but it is pointless. So, don’t flatter yourself.

    • KM,
      Thank you for resilience defending your stand. I think those who support the author’s point of view and arguing against your argument are products of “Dingay mamrecha” – the college where TPLF hatched low grade cadres while it was holding the reigns of power.

  • I can not stop wondering the moral behind to judge others believe comes naturally for peoples like you while forgetting that you will also be judged.
    Just one question what will be the fate of Ethiopians who can not claim a single ethnicity? Maybe they are the majority of these troubled nation.

    • That’s part of the problem of ethnic federalism. It forces an ethnic identity on you, which is also a violation of basic rights. A person should be free to not identify with any ethnicity, religion, or any other form of identity if they choose to do so.

  • Abiy Ahmed was a Guerilla warfare fighter at an early age in the 1980’s , since then off and on for most of his life he fought guerilla warfare to get to power, he won and became a PM.

    Abiy the volunteer slave of Meles Zenawi treats every event that occur while he is a PM as an opportunity to cling to power. He turned the recent events into an opportunity for him to cling to power. Ethiopian people of all ethnicities are hard workers for cheap wages , any person who lead them can easily gain fame and fortune since there are 120+ million Ethiopians who work hard for cheap wages.

    Abiy Ahmed is setting Ethiopia on fire to bring himself more personal fame and fortune, he is clinging to power by force while routinely reshuffling his criminal cabinets such as Adanech Abebe , Takele Uma and Lemma Megersa . Currently once again he waged Guerilla warfare against Ethiopians while detaining close to 10,000 Ethiopians in inhumane detention centers / concentration camps.

    The only solution is too fight back the aggressor. Abiy Ahmed is another Meles Zenawi.

    CNBC › 2019/05/07 › report-et…
    Web results
    Report: Ethiopia’s garment workers are world’s lowest paid – CNBC.com

    https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_countries_result.jsp?country1=Kenya&country2=Ethiopia

  • Thank you, Mohamed, for your insightful article. As an outside observer, I have struggled to clearly understand the grievances experienced by many who have taken issue with the current government. But you have described this is a good way.

    You have provided a number of sources in your article, however I had a question about the following paragraph:

    “Moreover, there are a range of controversial figures that bear the banner of the ‘Ethiopianist’ camp. This includes exposed xenophobes, to former Derg generals like Fisseha Desta, Mengistu’s second-in-command, and Kassaye Chemeda who even called for violence on national television. These figures are either in the Prime Minister’s inner-circle, have influence on policy, or are praising him on state television.”

    I was wondering on what you cite as reference for your claims that these figures have influence on current policy or the the PM himself?

    • Yes there are grievances. Yes, people have been oppressed including the rural dwellers in Amhara and Tigray. But ask yourself this question. How much of the TPLF’s looting benefitted people in Tigray? How much benefit did regular Gondarines, Gojjames and Wolloyes get from centuries of rulers from their regions? The Amhara region ranks 9th out of 11 in terms of living standards. When are we going to understand that all this talk about the rights of nations and nationalities is just smoke. It’s a cover. The rights of the Welayta are not different from the rights of the Oromo, or the Afari, Somali or anyone else. They are human rights. Everyone can agree on that. That should be the law. Moreover, those rights should apply to wherever you live in a country. Unfortunately, tribal thinking wants to lump everyone in their own groups (as if the group was homogeneous), as if everything about our culture is so perfect. As if people that look and talk like us cannot oppress their own people. Our struggles should be based on principles of merit and human rights. Yes, the current government is doing terrible things but we don’t need to counter with our fantasies and tribal thinking. We need to be logical and think about the welfare of all people because whether we like it or not we are linked. What hurts one hurts the other

    • They are either one of above mentioned, so you determined is only “influence on policy ” and you want by any means should provide a reference or this guy is done.

    • Thanks for kind words, Edward. To get back to your great question, Ethiopian politics is an extreme manifestation of access politics – anyone with unique access to power tends to enjoy a disproportionate chance to influence policymaking directly or indirectly. Just to give a bit of a context for some the material I cited for that paragraph includes a man named Deacon XY – a close advisor of the prime minister and the leader of an orthodox religious organization called Mehbera Kidusan, Bible Society in English, who is also known for his racist xenophobic rants against Muslims and Oromos. He enjoys a unique closeness to the prime minister due to his extensive network and connections with the Ethiopian Diaspora in the US, especially in the West Coast. The other examples if these questionable characters that are staunch allies of the prime minister include Generals Fisseha Desta and Kassaye Chemmeda, former Mengistu VP and a top Derg military general implicated in the war crimes against Eritreans during the liberation wars there respectively. And both these generals are frequent guests on well-choreographed political programs on national tv which doesn’t happen without the blessing of top leaders.

      In the case of Gen Chemmada, a good example of how they came to have an influence on policy is when a delegation of former Derg generals and the 1977 war veterans met with the PM Abiy and DPM Demeke Mokkenen in which they lobbied for official commemorations, celebrations and the building of a memorial for the ‘fallen heroes’ of the Battle of Karamara of the Derg–Somali war of 1977. Since that meeting, the state position on the Derg and the Karamara battle started to shift and glowing official statements, celebrations, memorial events and even the talk of a memorial monument spread like fire on state and social media. That particular stance has created a huge backlash within the Somali region and cemented the overwhelming view the Somalis have as of today about Abiy Ahmed and his allies as the reincarnation of the Derg and all the brutal regimes that preceded it.

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