Viewpoint

Why did Ethiopia’s Prime Minister blame African Americans for their victimization?

African Americans’ ongoing struggle for equality should be seen as an inspiring lesson for other subjugated peoples.

Abiy Ahmed, the prime minister of Ethiopia, who came to power primarily as the result of the Oromo youth protest movement known as Qeerroo, has talked about cultural attitudes behind different communities’ relative success twice in the last two years by comparing the development of Jewish Americans and the underdevelopment of African Americans.

Abiy argued that Jews have become prosperous and powerful Americans by forgetting their past oppression, while Blacks have caused their own suffering and underdevelopment by focusing on their past victimization.

The 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner asserted that American Jews collectively decided to avoid dwelling on their past mistreatment and to look forward to their future achievement. On the contrary, he said, by focusing on their racial oppression and exploitation and by ignoring their future, African Americans have remained at the bottom of U.S. society.

Presumably to try and encourage Oromo to look forward and not backwards, this is a translation of what Abiy said in Afaan Oromo on 30 October 2019 a town hall meeting in eastern Oromia following violence earlier that month:

“70-80 years ago, in the United States, two groups of people were discriminated against: the Jews and the Blacks. The Jewish people used to be tortured, imprisoned, and denied jobs. The Blacks faced the same fate. You know the Germans killed the Jews and many of those who survived fled to America. Israel did not exist then, and they [Jews] were scattered all over the world.

The Jews made a decision as a people: they said ‘yesterday we were tortured, oppressed, and discriminated against. If we merely continue to talk about the past, we won’t go far enough. We need to have a winning vision so that we will be equipped with better knowledge and wealth than the Whites, who have been victimizing us, and then ruled us.’

On the other hand, the Blacks continue to sing, and complain about being oppressed and tortured, saying the Whites did this and that to us. To this day, they [Blacks] have not gotten anywhere. What about the other guys [the Jews]? The media belongs to them; the banks belong to them; everything belongs to them! While sitting there [in the U.S.], they [Jews] protect and support the small country Israel. Every policy of the United States on Arab countries [Middle East] is entirely decided by the Jews because they have so much power.”

The premier also made similar comment in Amharic when he spoke to a group of artists in Addis Ababa on 27 June 2018:

“During the long American system of [racial discrimination], the most victimized segments of the society were the blacks and Jews. Both were tortured, oppressed, imprisoned, and denied the right to work and acquire properties.

The difference is, after the civil rights movement, the songs, poems, films, and dramas of the Jews became forward-looking; they became about conquering the world and economic empowerment.

Blacks, on the other hand, simply lamented about their history of torture, murder, and so on.[audience smile and chuckle]; making the current generation [of blacks] to live in the past. While the Jews made their people live for tomorrow.

Less than fifty years later, Jews became prosperous and powerful while Blacks became freed poor- they are granted freedom, free to sing, but unable to get out of poverty.”

Leaving aside Abiy’s employment of anti-Semitic tropes, did American Jews really develop by looking to their future and forgetting their past? Have African Americans victimized themselves by perpetuating their own underdevelopment through focusing on their past victimization as the prime minster claimed?

To understand the relevance of Abiy’s argument, one needs to understand that the Ethiopian empire-state he leads has a history of colonialism, slavery, terrorism, genocide, and racism against which the Oromo, Sidama, Somali, Qimant, Agew, Wolayta, and others are struggling while narrating their past and present victimization.

In his speeches, the prime minister implicitly discredited the narratives of these colonized and victimized groups in order to rationalize and legitimize the crimes of the Ethiopian government through inventing a false narrative about African Americans.

Being discriminated against in their home countries, Jews began emigrating to the U.S. in the mid-17th century. The first group of Jews came from Brazil and settled in New Amsterdam, New York, in 1654. Most of these Jews were merchants and established businesses in American colonial ports such as New York, Philadelphia, Charleston, and Savannah.

In addition, in the 1840s, German Jews responding to social upheavals began emigrating to the U.S. in significant numbers, and at the beginning of World War One their number reached 250,000. After 1880, pushed out by overpopulation, oppressive systems, and poverty, Eastern European Jews started to emigrate to the U.S..

Between 1880 and 1924, more than two million Jews from locations including Austria-Hungary, imperial Russia, and Romania arrived and settled in the U.S.. Overall, since they were not enslaved in this country, American Jews were able to maintain their history, culture, language, psychology, identity, and religion, which have been the foundation of their survival as a people, as well as the engines of their sociocultural, economic, and political development.

In contrast, beginning in 1619, the ancestors of African Americans were merchandized by European slavers and their African collaborators and forcefully brought to the 13 colonies that later became the U.S.. Overall, between the early 17th and the last decades of the 19th century, European slave traders and their African collaborators sold and transported between 13 and 15 million Africans to the Americas.

African-descendent slaves lived under bondage and terror until 1863-1865, when the system was defeated in the process of the American Civil War. Black people in America were stripped of their identity, culture, history, languages, names, and religions and forced to take those of Anglo-Americans during racial slavery.

After the legal abolition of racial slavery, racial oppression and exploitation continued by another name—segregation or Jim Crow laws—until the mid-1960s. These injustices were enforced by U.S. governments, paramilitary groups such as the White Citizens’ Council, the American States Rights Association, the National Association for the Advancement of White People, the Ku Klux Klan, as well as a white society practiced torture and lynching, which were forms of terrorism. These criminal acts were committed to maintain a racial hierarchy and white privilege.

During racial slavery and segregation, millions of African Americans were not allowed to use the fruits of their labor to accumulate wealth but were forced to enrich the white capitalist class and white society which emerged as a hegemonic world power in the mid-20th century. They suffered in ‘the belly of the beast,” while acting as its backbone and helping to make it the richest and the most powerful country in the world.

They helped build the country through suffering, deprivation, and by working day and night. In the systems of racial slavery, which was an ultimate denial of human freedom, and racial segregation, African Americans were forced to enrich white slave owners, and later white society, and contributed to the development of the U.S. for almost three and a half centuries.

In contrast, American Jews arrived in the U.S. as businesspeople and free workers. In this way they maintained control over their wealth and labor. Despite the fact that they were discriminated against because of their religion and ethnic identity, American Jews were allowed to achieve generational and intergenerational upward mobility by culturally and structurally assimilating into white society through open access to political and economic opportunities because they were not slaves and they were not black. They never faced racial segregation like African Americans in this country.

Formal racial segregation continued in the U.S., mainly in the South through the 1960s; white establishment and society excluded most African Americans from the cultural, political, and economic resources of the country.

During racial segregation, African Americans were terrorized and lynched by terrorist organizations such as KKK, which were allowed by the U.S. federal, state, and local governments to dehumanize and kill Black Americans in order to maintain a racial hierarchy and white privilege. The situation began to shift when African Americans engaged in the Civil Rights Movement and the black liberation struggle to change their deplorable conditions.

Collective grievances of racial slavery and segregation, migration from rural to urban areas, community and institutional building, and the emergence of Black intellectuals and organizations during the first half of the 20th century mobilized Black people to resist oppression and to collectively struggle for their cultural identity, civil rights, and the total transformation of U.S. society so they could achieve true equality. They also struggled to transform American apartheid democracy to a multicultural democracy.

Abiy, because of his ignorance or political opportunism, scoffed at these acts of endurance, defiance, courage, and ultimately liberation. He claimed that African American nationalism has perpetuated the suffering of Black society, when in fact this nationalism has empowered them to begin the process of dismantling U.S. racial discrimination, which denied Blacks equal access to political, cultural, economic, and social opportunities within U.S. society. In reality, Black nationalism and the struggle of African Americans resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and subsequent laws.

These laws were great achievements of Black struggle and empowerment.

Realizing that these laws did not change the condition of the Black masses, the revolutionary elements of the Black community struggled to develop the entire community, which was not acceptable to the white establishment. Then, the U.S. government started to use a double-edged policy: First, the white establishment allowed the integration of reformist Black elites into white institutions by providing them some access to economic and political opportunities. Second, the white establishment engaged in the repression of Black revolutionary elites and the Black masses through violence and imprisonment. During this period, revolutionary leaders such as the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X were assassinated. The former was assassinated in 1968 and the latter in 1965.

The repression of the revolutionary aspects of the Black struggle in the 1960s and 1970s resulted in the creation of the ‘New Jim Crow’. This new system invented the ideology of “colorblindness” and has perpetuated the underdevelopment and victimization of the African American masses.  Consequently, racial discrimination, poverty, and police brutality have resulted in a disproportionate Black prison population.

Currently, African Americans represent only 12 percent of the U.S. population, but 33 percent of its prison population (many leaders and activists refer to this prison-pipeline system for Black Americans as “modern day slavery”).  In addition, the killing of Blacks by police officers has continued unabated. Blacks are furious and frustrated over the killings of Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others. Recently, the public ‘lynching’ of George Floyd by a white police officer and his three colleagues became a global event.

On 25 May 2020, when a convenience store clerk called 911 and informed four Minneapolis police officers that George Floyd had bought cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill, the officers overpowered and brought him under their control. With the support of the three other police officers, Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, put and kept his knee on the victim’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds rendering him unconscious and unable to breathe. He died under Chauvin’s knee. This ‘lynching’ took place while the public was videotaping and watching what happened. Across the world, Floyd’s murder ignited protests in which diverse peoples, including whites, demanded police reform and racial equality.

Similarly, the assassination of the famous Oromo singer and activist Hachalu Hundessa on 29 June triggered the Oromia-wide civil unrest that involved killings. The Abiy government used brutal force, killings many and imprisoning thousands, and blocked the internet to suppress the popular uprising of the Oromo. The Oromo diaspora in Europe and North America have also been protesting for many weeks demanding justice for Hachalu and for the imprisoned Oromo political prisoners all over Oromia.

The government used the pretext of the killing of Hachalu to imprison prominent Oromo political leaders and ordinary Oromo nationalists that are members of the Oromo Liberation Front and the Oromo Federalist Congress. Although it is difficult to know at this time exactly how many Oromos were killed and imprisoned by the government, it is estimated that several thousands of Oromos were imprisoned and hundreds of them were killed. Officially, the government claims that it has imprisoned more than 9,000 people from the Oromia Regional state.

Many Oromos believe that Hachalu was murdered because he fiercely criticized Emperor Menelik II—the principal architect of the modern Ethiopian Empire, and the neftegna system he created—during his recent interview on the Oromia Media Network that the Abiy government subsequently shutdown. The neftegna system (also known as the neftenga-gabbar system) was created by Menelik II in the late 1880s, when he established a form of settler colonialism over the Oromo and other peoples.

In other words, the Abyssinian (mainly Amhara) colonialists conquered the Oromo and others by using guns (nafxi) and established a system of controlling them by dispossessing their lands and exacting their labor and agricultural products. The colonial settlers—soldiers , clergymen, and administrators (all known as neftegnas)—exploited gabbars (semi-slaves or serfs) who were coerced to provide them with food, labor, tribute, and tax revenues both in cash and kind.

A ras (a head of a group) or dajazmach (a war leader) could receive 1,000 gabbars, a sub-governor 200 or 300, a fitawrar (another war leader) 300, a kangazmach 150, and ordinary soldiers, depending on their ranks, 20, 15 or 10. The gabbars were also coerced to work on estate farms and building roads and other construction projects. When they failed to pay tributes or services, their children could be sold as slaves. The Amhara colonialists were the main neftegnas, and they also created intermediary neftegnas in Oromo lands and other conquered societies.

They settled their fellow habeshas (Amhara and Tigrayans) in Oromia to perpetuate their dominance. The Amhara-led colonial government claimed absolute rights over three-fourths of the Oromo lands and provided portions of it for its officials and soldiers in lieu of salary. One-fourth of the land was granted to the Oromo collaborators, who became the agents of the neftegna state by engaging in the exploitation and oppression of the Oromo people.

Despite the fact that some changes occurred in the Ethiopian empire-state during 1974, 1991, and 2018, the neftegna of all kinds, including the Amhara, Oromo, and Tigray, who have come to power have continued to protect the same system by promoting the Amharic language in particular and Habasha culture and institutions in general. As the Tigrayan-led neftegna government enriched Tigrayan colonial elites and their OPDO collaborators, the neo-neftegna regime of Abiy Ahmed is engaging in protecting the neftegna institutions, the Amhara language and culture, and enriching the nafxanyas at the cost of the Oromo and other conquered peoples.

The current regime is characterized as the “neo-neftegna” government by its critics because it tries to modernize the Ethiopian state by glorifying Menelik II and other leaders. It is trying to continue the nation-building project initiated by Menelik II and continued by Haile Selassie. Of course, this projected is rejected by the Oromo and other colonized and dominated peoples.

Most Oromo and other colonized peoples consider Menelik II and the institutions he created their enemies. He established the neftegna system and was, according to the account of historian Harold Marcus, involved in the slave trade by merchandising the Oromo and others in order to enrich himself and his collaborators. The participation of the colonialists in the slave trade and in the scramble for Africa during the last decades of the 19th century encouraged habesha elites to associate themselves with European and the Middle Eastern peoples rather than Black Africans. Menelik II terrorized and colonized the Oromo and others with the help of France, Italy, and England to obtain slaves and commodities such as gold, ivory, coffee, musk, hides and skins, and lands.

He also controlled the slave trade (an estimated 25,000 slaves per year in the 1880s), while economic historian Richard Pankhurst said he owned together with his wife 70,000 enslaved Africans.  The New York Times reported on 7 November 1909 that Menelik II became one of the richest capitalists in the region and the world: “The Abyssinian ruler had extended the range of his financial operations to the United States, and [was] a heavy investor in American railroads … with his American securities and his French and Belgian mining investments, Menelik [had] a private fortune estimated at no less than twenty-five million dollars”.

Abiy and his collaborators try to create a false narrative about the habesha leaders and the Ethiopian Empire, which the subjugated peoples totally reject.

When Abiy articulates the greatness of Ethiopia and its leaders, the colonized peoples mainly remember about Ethiopian state terrorism, hidden genocide, gross human rights violations, and recurrent famines. Furthermore, for Abiy, racial slavery, segregation, continued racial subjugation, and police brutality that have been brutalizing African Americans for more than five centuries have nothing to do with the underdevelopment and poverty of African Americans.

According to him, American Jews have ignored their historical mistreatment and have become one of the most powerful groups in the U.S. and the world.

His historical and sociological ignorance, intellectual naivety, or political opportunism, and his search for parallel to attack Oromo nationalism and the Oromo national struggle have influenced Abiy to blame African Americans themselves for their continued struggle, rather than to acknowledge the effects of systematic racial repression and forceful societal subjugation.

In fact, African Americans must be admired and respected for struggling with and surviving from all these systems of racial victimization for many centuries rather than be vilified by individuals like Abiy. The Prime Minister should apologize to African Americans and all freedom loving people for his comments. The Oromo and other colonized peoples who are struggling for social justice, self-determination, and democracy can learn a lot from the accumulated experiences of African Americans.

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Main photo: Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed; 4 June 2019; PMO.

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About the author

Asafa Jalata

Asafa Jalata is a Professor of Sociology and Africana and Global studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. His newly published books are The Oromo Movement and Imperial Politics Culture and Ideology in Oromia and Ethiopia; and, Cultural Capital and Prospects for Democracy in Botswana and Ethiopia.

38 Comments

  • Unfortunately the author showed he is functionally illiterate to a political end.

    He could have done a better job to show his ethnic apartheid preferance and argue it’s merits than find African Americans as boogie to assult the PM.

    Coming from a learned man, it is a cheap shot.

  • Most statesmen would not comment on issues that affect other countries. The last time I checked Abiy has not studied American history. His peddling this unfounded theory based on no grain of knowledge only exposes his ignorance is only surpassed by his arrogance.

    With the abundance of his naivety, Abiy clearly exemplifies what is inherently Abyssinian racism.

    I agree with Professor Jallata’s balanced informative analysis. His article is well supported with evidence, unlike Abiy’s ill informed diatribe parroted at every juncture.

    For anyone interested in statesmanship, here is what Winston Churchill said about history – “Study history, study history. In history lies the art of statecraft”.

    In short, those who tell to forget your history are in a way telling us not to thing about our future. For there is no future without the past.

    Let me leave you with quote by William Faulkner: “The past is never dead. It’s not even the past”.

  • Having said that, I call upon that young and visionary PM Abiy to go on a counteroffensive and clarify what he said. It is clearly a snippet from what he talked that day. He and his advisors and those at the embassy here in DC should make sure what he said is not misconstrued. These bigots are having field days to seed anger as they always do by trying to feed on raw emotions. African Americans have had unwavering love for our old country. They have shown that in the 1890’s, 1930’s and all years since then. These ‘republic’ dreaming bigots and orphans of missionary canteens and universities can be seen spreading their poison using the same redacted comment from the PM speech. I’m not worried about our brother and civil rights advocate The Reverend Jesse Jackson. By now he knows who this young PM really is. He knows Abiy is as black as any black man in America. Just look at all these ‘fiefdom’ dreamers’ social media accounts and postings. This is their new toy now. They are all saying PM Abiy is a black KKK, Neo-Nazi and Proud Boys combined into one. It shows they are desperate to be noticed when they are all bringing up something the PM said more than a year ago. It looks like they planned it together and someone among them said ready, steady and go!!!!! I wonder what this author himself was doing in the old country during the Mengistu regime at the height of the Red Terror. Just wondering. Had he heard about a group of Mengistu’s Red Cubs hand picked from the Oromia region called ‘Caayaa(Chaya) Oromo? Many members of this group are said to go on and constitute the core of the OLF. They were said to be some of the most ruthless facilitators of the terror and their main targets were those Oromos who they labeled ‘Amhara/Neftegna huggers/Neo-Gobenas’ and other non-Oromos who they called diehard ‘Neftegnas’. One of those ‘Amhara Huggers/Neo-Gobenas’ was one of my young cousins from Western Hararghe. To this day, where they dumped his Allah Blessed body is not known. That happened in 1977-78. I was told that if one of these demons took you for interrogation, there was one in billion chances you would come out alive, which is fat chance. They were bigots then and they are still bigots now. The only difference is they are here, in Europe or Oceania at missionary canteens and orphanage at university campuses. They used to repeat ‘Down with Imperialism!’ after Mengistu then and now they have settled for calling for the ‘destruction of Ethiopia’. They were committed communists and anti everything Western democracy stands for then but now they are self acclaimed champions of it!!!

  • I don’t think the PM comment about the problems facing the African American community is any different to what the Urban League has been saying for decades. Prominent civil rights and community leaders have been telling their constituents the same for more than a century. African American film makers have made movies bemoaning the climate in their communities. What was the message behind Do The Right Thing? How about Chi-Raq, New Jack City and similar others? What I think the author is trying to do is to woo the African American community and wean them off from the deep rooted love they have for that gem of the colored. I think he should try a different rouse if any.

  • Speaking of Harar, what happened to the beautiful Harari people (Aderes) who were the historical inhabitants of Harar. They have been so marginalized under the Meles regime and an undue Oromo hegemony has dominated the region. Dire Dawa, once among the more advanced industrial cities of Ethiopia, more cosmopolitan in some aspects than even Addis, has been so neglected and robbed of her dignity in the past 30 years. The gracious and hospitable people of Harar and Dire Dawa, well known for their inclusivity, easy going attitudes in life, for their beauty, for their impressive multi- lingual skills (it was not uncommon to find Harar and Dire Dawa people conversant in Harare (Aderegna), Oromo (somewhat distinct dialect from Showan or Wollega Oromo), Arabic, Amharic, Somali, some Italian, French and English as well) are all now marginalized and left in poverty. This is thanks to the ethnic-federalist looting system of EPRDF that envied the industrial status of Dire Dawa, dismantling its textile, cement factory, breweries , hotel and tourism sector, trade sector to make Mekele the beneficiary.

  • For Americans or Ethiopian-Americans to respond to this highly important timely call “Calls on the Government of Ethiopia-Washington Update ” .. https://www.ethiopoint.com/calls-on-the-government-of-ethiopia-washington-update/ .. PLEASE contact your congressperson or representatives

    GO TO TO THE WEBSITE ” GOVTRACK.US ”

    ENTER YOUR RESIDENCE ADDRESS

    THEN THE. https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members WEBSITE WILL TELL YOU YOUR RESIDENCE AREA’S REPRESENTATIVE’S (CONGRESSPERSON’S) WEBSITE ADDRESS , YOUR REPRESENTATIVE’S PHONE NUMBER AND YOUR REPRESENTATIVE’S DETAILED OTHER CONTACT INFORMATIONS.

    https://www.govtrack.us

    https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members

  • It seems to me there is a little bit of cultural context that the prime minister did not understand with respect to the challenges faced by African Americans and Jewish Americans. I used to think along similar lines as well while I lived in Africa. After I moved to the USA it took me a number of years to really understandd the cultural and institutional context associated with the discrimination faced by various groups including African Americans, Hispanics, Jews, LGBTQs, women, etc..

    The prime minister is trying to encourage Ethoipians from all walks of life to focus on creating a better country for ourselves and our children. His message is:

    “We can not change history. Let us learn from it and try not to repeat the same mistakes made by prior generations. Let us not chain ourselves to the past and forgo the ability write a better future. Let us work towards creating a better future for all of us.”

    I support this message.

    As to the author of the article: It seems to me the author dislikes the prime minister on many levels. There is nothing wrong here. However I thought the manner in which the author tried to discredit the prime minister’s credentials were petty. In fact it showed the author is really a third rate scholar affiliated with a third rate institution.

  • The writer used the Prime Minister’s speech as a spring board to dive into the baseless and unverified narrative about Minilik II. The writer may have some areas of expertise in sociology. But, his assertion about Minilik II is contrary to recorded history. At least the author must be ashamed of accusing Minilik II of collaborating with the Italians.

    The author tried to misinform and miseducate readers implying the Oromos have been peaceful who suffered at the hands of the Abyssinians from time immemorial. Again, recorded history shows that Oromos forcibly assimilated other ethnic groups and dispossessed other ethnic group properties and cattle. So, the Oromos are as bad as the Abyssinians if not more savage. The savagery is still lingering and it reared it ugly head recently in Shashemene when the wanton group so called Qeerroo hanged an innocent man upside down. Later, the same group destroyed Shashemene its entirety and massacred Amharas and Christian Oromos. This is a recorded fact that the author chose to see other way.

    The author painfully whined about the arrest of OLF and OFC leaders. These individuals include Jawar Muhammad (An American) and Bekele Gerba. These opposition leaders allegedly committed crimes and they are charged for the alleged crime. They allegedly instigated and coordinated the barbaric massacre in the eastern and southern Oromia regions following the death of Hachalu Hundessa. In these areas of Oromia, Islamic terrorist Qeeerroos massacred Amharas for their ethnicity and Christian Oromos for their religion. This crime is ethnic cleansing and genocide. Astonishingly, the author didn’t care about those who lost their lives and/or those who lost loved ones. He excruciatingly suffered about the arrested political leaders. This is glaring callousness and shameful hypocrisy.

    The above mentioned massacre happened in Muslims dominated Oromo areas such as Arsi, Bale and Harar. On the contrary, the Christian dominated Oromo areas in Showa and Wolga were peaceful even if the assassinated musician was from Ambo, Showa. Yes, there was havoc in Ambo that the arrested individuals instigated when they snatched the dead body of the musician from the mourning family.

    Since 2018, the Muslim Oromos have been more unstable and violent toward other ethnic groups. For instance, when Mr. Jawar Mohammed cried: “ I am surrounded” back in 2019, it was in those areas that 86 innocent Amharas and Christian Oromos were massacred. So, these Muslim dominated Oromo areas have been Jawar Mohammed’s operating areas. It was Jawar who bragged saying: “ Should a Christian raise his head in our Oromia, we shall cut off his head with a machete”. True enough he made it happen and he is charged for his role. I hardly understand the author’s pain for Jawar’s arrest given Jawar’s recorded crime and threat. By the way, it has been official that Mr. Jawar’s bank account has been frozen. The amount of money in the account is shocking. Jawar had whopping 500 million Birr ( $15 million). The source of this money is under investigation. This is one evidence that Jawar had enough financial resources to create havoc and recruit young Muslim Ethiopians for terrorist acts. One of his charges is for recruiting young people and sending them to Egypt for military training. The author chose to say nothing about the charges.

    The only thing I agree with the author is that the Prime Minister had not and should not compare African Americans and Jewish Americans. The comparison even in the prime minister’s context is oxymoronic.

  • It is the height of hypocrisy for the Oromo extremists and their TPLF masters of today to exploit the peaceful struggle of African Americans for equality and justice, fight against institutionalized racism and integration for cheap political score and hegemony over all Ethiopians. This shameful political shenanigan must be called out every time and each time relentlessly, for it cheapens the true history and just cause of a people by shameless political opportunists and cadres in Ethiopia today.

    They say those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. From the 1500s, the unmitigated Oromo expansion and invasion inside Ethiopia had resulted in the forceful assimilation, human enslavement and cultural and linguistic domination of many ethnic groups and territories by the Oromo. These whole scale societal assimilations and annihilations by the Oromo include the invasion of Bale in the Southeast, the total annihilation and enslavement of the Dawaro, further expansion into former Adal territories with forced homogenization, linguistic and cultural domination of the Hararis and Somalis. To this day, these historical antecedents can be traced to the displacement, subjugation and marginalization of the various ethnic groups for whom Oromo extremists of today do not even show an iota of consideration for the loss of the humanity and dignity of others.

    Astute reader, you are here advised to identify and call out the unscrupulous Oromo political elites, who together with other opportunists from all coroners of Ethiopia, want to usurp state power for personal enrichment, mass exploitation, taxation without representation, mass extinction, genocide and crimes against humanity. You are reminded of the infamous dictator Mengistu Hailemariam (half Oromo on his mother’s side and from the South on his father’s side) who was responsible for the massacre of tens of thousands of Ethiopian youth and for a famine that perished and displaced millions of Ethiopians on a scale over 10 times of what occurred a decade earlier. His right hand help in the red terror included people like Kelbessa Negewo (an Oromo henchman of the Mengistu era originally from Wollega) who was responsible for the massacre of many youths. Of course, Oromo extremists of today do not mention a word about these victims since that would require an effort to analyze their blind belief and inherent biases of the complex history of Ethiopia. They repeat the mantra of of one language, one people, unitary etc. from the slogan book of Oromo extremists and TPLF ethnofanatics , yet fail to even grasp the irony that this supposedly unitary system has remarkably kept over 80 nations and nationalities with their own dialects and languages nearly intact well into the 21st century. Oromo extremists and other political opportunists, would you be kind enough to explain how this became possible in Ethiopia while in a truly federal system like the USA, the official working language is English, despite the US being the melting pot of many people from all over the world with as many as over 200 languages and from all parts of the globe? Dear reader, please remember that Amharic has been the official language of the courts, trade and communication since the 12th century. This is a historical incident; an antecedent which Oromo or Tigre (TPLF) ideologues cannot blame on their usual scapegoat, Emperor Menilik. Prior to Emperor Menilik, Emperor Yohannes IV too used Amharic language as the official language of government.

  • Thank you professor Asefa for such elegant and factual article you wrote on Abiy Ahmed’s comments. I am proud of you for nailing down on the empty head of Abiy Ahmed. Abiy Ahmed is a man who try to manage his life by deceiving others.If the African American did not fight for the freedom we are enjoying to day here in America we couldn’t even be here as a black people including his family who stayed here for eight years.Instead of thanking them he choose to insult them. He should apologize for degrading the African American and freedom loving people for his baseless comments.

  • Ignoring and vilifying real history of African American and praising history of politically, economically, socially, and culturally unoppressed Jews by Abiy Ahmed is like comparing day and night equally.

  • Think for a second why an Oromo led team decided to abandon the grievance agenda upon taking power in 2018. Maybe he realized that getting stuck in that mode isn’t helping anyone. Maybe he is right that black Americans could have done much better if they focused on the positive instead of expecting apologies for the past. Looking forward to your grievance comments.

  • I couldn’t say more. I was flabbergasted when i heard him accuse blacks for being far behind because they eye stuck in the past injustices. Jews were persecuted because they were economically shroud besides them being immigrants. Nonetheless, blacks were denied any kind of economic access. Dr. Abiy sometimes confuses me with his dabbler perspectives.

  • I heard Professor Asafa Jalata is the scientist who invented the chip that was used in the first portable computer. IBM used his invention to put together the first personal computer that we take for granted these days. I am proud of you dear professor/scientist and as an Oromo I am even more proud. My friend and I were having coffee about three weeks ago here in St. Paul and he told me about your invention. That was the best coffee I ever had. There must be a lot more Oromo scientists who invented so many technologically advanced products but were never given the due recognition. He also told me how you caught IBM using your invention without your permission and it ended up paying you for damages in millions of dollars. You are my hero!!!

    Those of you who are attacking Professor/Scientist Asafa Jalata don’t know this man. You are not even qualified to tie his bootstraps.

    • Please do not tell false stories. Dr. Asafa studied social science, he is also a good historian but not a scientist. Who ever told you about IBM computer and Asafa’s involvement is lying to you. Let ‘g give credit for what he wrote but don’t add false information that could discredit him by professionals in similar field of study.

    • Obbo Tafasa,

      It upsets me when I see many of our Oromos being taken for granted by evil minded people around us. This professor is not or has never been a scientist let alone an inventor. He may not even know how boil water. He is a person who talks about sociology all year long because that is what he only knows. When your friend told you that did you try to Google the inventions of such society changing technology yourself? You just thought what you heard was all true. Didn’t you? You are not alone and such lies are not uncommon in our community. We heard stories how Obbo Jawar was asked by the UN Secretary to mediate the conflict in Kosovo and how he did solve it. As soon as someone told me that ‘tale’ I immediately went into researching myself. There was no such story. None whatsoever!!! I was livid and confronted the person who told me that. Such lying messengers think ordinary Oromos like you and me are so dumb we believe everything good we are told about other Oromos. It shows how they take us. To them we are some obtuse individuals just because we are the other Oromos, not them. The discourtesy they have for Oromo women like me is unfathomable.

  • Abiy Ahimad should be ashamed of himself. He should Apologize to African Americans people. It’s because of the price they had paid Abiy families stayed in America for 7 years. He is very shameless person.

  • A well written peace that compares and contrasts Abiy’s move to hold on to power under a false pretenses.

    Thank you so much Dr. Asafa and encourage others to read to get some insights of false narratives of Ethiopian History, and as well how African Americans are spoken about by Abiy in a non realistic and objective ways….. To me, is an insult towards African Americans and will leave rest to readers to way in.

    • I was flaberggasted to hear such undiluted rubbish peddled by a PM of 100 million people from a black African nation.What a shame to his people and the black people of the world.A PM with such a deformed and twisted mentality couldn’t be a good local leader let alone a country which hosts the African union head quarter.Shame on him.

  • Well written article , excellent analysis, and timely. Abiy is advocating this in order to ignore Justice for Oromo nation. He is the comander in chief of genocide against Oromo nation and other nations in the empire of Ethiopia.

  • May God bless you! You nailed it perfectly! This habesha people are too ignorant. Their grandiosity is unexplainable. They rushed to tell you their myths of 3000 story and denied yours of 100 history. They claim I knew your history for you,let me tell yours and that what you know about you is false. They go out not to accept any reality on the ground even what they see or doing. Only they reality is real if they approved it. We can’t help them any more. They stand for and support all the past regime and their prejudice,terrorism,crime,slavery’s,gabbar system as the right thing and best ever democracy.

  • It’s so sad that you the writer of this article are called a professor! You are propagating hate and prejudice among our wonderful people by writing such a baseless and false article! We now have the best opportunity to pull together and work for the betterment of our people! Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed is a wonderful and smart leader with bold visions for our beloved ancient country and has an overwhelming support of the vast majority of our people! In just two short years, he and his administration have done a lot of good things such as letting in all opposition groups from around the world, freeing the media, freeing most if not all political prisoners, development projects like in Addis Ababa, the GERD and others around the country, etc! This article reflects you(the writer’s) point of view not facts! You sound to be full of hate and Inferiority! What’s useful and the right move for our ancient country is to work together, love each other as one wonderful ancient proud people and march forward! I have full faith in our great people that they keep on rejecting backward and hateful individuals like you who are bent on dividing and creating chaos in our country! Do use your time to do something that is useful and is of general good to people!

    Wonderful and united ancient proud Godly Ethiopia 🇪🇹 forever!

    • You are the one telling a lie here.The PM has said all that has been reported by the writer.It is true transilation of the Amharic version of what the PM has said it in public.It was all over social media repoted by all.And all those who could understand Amharic can see it.It would have been a good post it with this article to shut people like you from telling lies.If you have any sense of truth you should be ashamed to have a prime minister to rule your ancient country with such deformed mentality. All those developments you have mentioned were vanity projects that are not priority to the nation.The Abay dam was not his project.The PM was responsible for the killing of its top engineer and belittling the dam right after he took power.He has proved himself a useless one to his people.

  • No doubt for colonel Abiy Ahmed to be exposed in such a manner that Prof. Assefa did. By winning a Nobel peace price in 2019 Abiy put himself as one of the prominent international political figures. He had been a global talk at one moment as the saying goes before the cat was out of mat. But no more now because Abiy is simply a naftanya propagandist, promoting Menelik’s century old repressive ideology and has also become a champion in leading the killing squads deployed in Oromia to kill the Oromo people.

    His efforts of critising and despising our compatriots the black people of America was to indicate his solidarity with D. Trump who also has similar view on the black and meanwhile to gain support from the current White House to continue to repress the Oromo people.

  • Did he it again? It is baseless, naive, self-demeaning and an outright racist premise and flawed idea for any black leader to utter repeatedly such nonsenical, infantile and offensive things in public. When I first came across it in TV interview this obnoxious believe few months I was shocked to say least. How date he? The guy has either some kind of inferiority complex, cognitive deficiency or he is into deep shit of an evangelical and vulture capitalism psychosis and mess , if not in serious intellectual crises of modern history, economic and socio-political state of the world. Nuff said

  • The conclusion sums up the spirit of the article, – “The Prime Minister should apologize to African Americans and all freedom loving people for his comments. The Oromo and other colonized peoples who are struggling for social justice, self-determination, and democracy can learn a lot from the accumulated experiences of African Americans.”

    How can anyone disagree with this?

  • Asafa Jalata a longtime OLF propagandist really got crafty in his pretentiously puzzled inquiry “Why did Ethiopia’s Prime Minister blame African Americans for their victimization?” As Ethiopians familiar with all OLF’s cascades of concocted history of victimization , and knowing well Obo Asafa Jalata’s background as originator of these concoction, the question itself serves as a good indicator where he is gone end up with it . As the saying goes “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all “.Without reading the middle and the conclusion of the piece, one can be sure that Abo Asafa Jalata going to find a way which in the end the victimization of African American history is going to be tightly tied up with that of Ethiopian Oroms. None related and exagreted stories of victimization are made for propaganda, as senior OLF propagandist Obo Asafa knows how best to employ it. The Ethiopan Prime Minster, an Oromo himself, by advising the Ethiopian communities to pull themselves up by their bootstraps instead harking on their past history of victimization was taken out of context by Obo Asafa jalata portray the prime minster as condescending to African American. What Abo Asafa Jalata conviniatly avided to look at is that African Americans have been arguing in support of self-initiated community development since the end of slavery . Here is one of the icon of civil right movement Malcom X making the same point.
    “The only minority in America that’s asking for integration is the so-called Negro, primarily because he is inferior, not inherently inferior, but he’s economically, socially, politically inferior. And this exists because he has never tried to stand on his own two feet and do something for himself. He has filled the role of a beggar.”
    Had the Ethiopian Prime Minster Abiy said anything different – not a bit? But as they say that a leopard never changes its spots , the same goes to OLF propagandist .
    Here the gentleman Obo Asafa Jalata never learning from his past still concocting anew mixture of history and a lot of propaganda for unsuspected. Just to have a glimpse of what Obo has been writing about Ethiopian history her what Prof. Feqadu Lemessa had to write in 2013
    “Most fictional accounts of ‘Oromo history’ blindly accepted as facts by some misled people are manufactured by former politicians turned Pseudo-historians like OLF writer Asafa Jalata, who is renowned for abuse of paraphrasing, often with out-of-context citations. For example, while quoting the 19th century Russian Alexander Bulatovich (who provided an ‘educated guess’ of annihilation of almost half Ethiopian population by disease, famine and war, including internal conflict between Oromo clans and with Abyssinians), the OLF-writer Asafa Jalata infamously claimed half Oromo population was killed by ‘evil’ Amharas. This was purposely done by Mr. Jalata to create a foundation for ethnic hatred between Oromos and Amharas. Ironically, even Mr. Bulatovich himself never had the capacity nor the legitimacy to do a reliable census, as he spent just a couple of months walking around Oromia and hunting elephants in 189
    Jul-28-2013 19:21
    History 101: Fiction and Facts on Oromos of Ethiopia
    Prof. Feqadu Lamessa for Salem-News.com
    (a guide for foreign journalists on Oromos and Ethiopian history
    I rest my case .

    • in the INTERNET and easy communication age brainwashing the population is easy. Promoting hatred and war is easy. We ask God to protect us🙏

  • Very enlightening article. In fact, Abiy Ahmed’s derogatory comment on Black Americans has been translated to English and can be found on a request. I wish the clip is added onto this article

  • Every group you have mentioned here has been the OPPRESSOR during the past 50 yrs in Ethiopia. Truth be told. We have had oppression by Mengistu against minority tigre and Amhara. We have had minority tigre oppress everyone else. And now YOU an EDUCATED man are telling us that these injustices have to go on?

    ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. we need to grow up at some point and have a bigger vision than taking a turn in oppressing each other. There is an end for everything, even power is a fool man’s tool

    It is a totally uncalled for analogy. It is wrong at many levels. While I understand Abiy’s intentions. The African Americans are far more generous people and we should give more respect . They are helping humanity to stand on the side of justice.

  • At a time lies fills the social movement of Ethiopia professor asefa jalet, heavely hammered Abiy’s “Empty mined” talk.
    I called it “hited when heated”.

  • The eloquently written article which is so smooth, clear, articulate, coherent, powerful, and positively expressed statement-fact-based.

    Attentions: Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed has come to power by deceiving the public and now attempting to stay in power by restoring the old Machiavellian tactics. He has a megalomania attitude with an obsessive desire for becoming the 7th King of Ethiopia; he is a restorationist of the feudal-monarchical power through the act of betrayal to the Oromo youth, Qeerroo, and other youths in the country who have opened the door of opportunities to him by scarifying their precious lives.

    When Abiy Ahmed blaming the African American, he was playing Victorian imperial poetry called the “White Man’s Burden” which is corresponding to an old belief that the British Empire was the Englishman’s “Divine Burden to reign God’s Empire on Earth”; and celebrates British colonialism as a mission of civilization that eventually would benefit the colonized natives. His ignorantly arrogant plays and his beliefs are telling implicitly Menelik II and his neo-neftengas, Abyssinians, that lead by Amhara elites had given a divine role or burden to keep the Ethiopian Empire and continue the mission of assimilation or Amharization.

    Also, Abiy Ahmed seems to hold a secrete. He is using politics to achieve his religious goals. His philosophy of the Prosperity Party is based on Pentecostal philosophy often called Prosperity Theology of Prosperity Gospel. The words or phrases in his speeches most of the time with prosperity gospel preachers who preach positive thinking. His effort of windows depressing including the Sheger Project, beautification of Addis Ababa, perhaps aimed to attract religious tourism.

    The grain of truth:
    “The Abyssinian (mainly Amhara) colonialists conquered the Oromo “controlling them by dispossessing their lands and exacting their labor and agricultural products. The colonial settlers—soldiers, clergymen, and administrators (all known as neftegnas)—exploited gabbars (semi-slaves or serfs) who were coerced to provide them with food, labor, tribute, and tax revenues both in cash and kind.

    They [Menelik’s warlords] settled their fellow habeshas (Amhara and Tigrayans) in Oromia to perpetuate their dominance. The Amhara-led colonial government claimed absolute rights over three-fourths of the Oromo lands and provided portions of it for its officials and soldiers in lieu of salary. One-fourth of the land was granted to the Oromo collaborators, who became the agents of the neftegna state by engaging in the exploitation and oppression of the Oromo people.”

    As the author concluded, the Oromo and other colonized peoples who are struggling for social justice, self-determination, and democracy can learn a lot from the accumulated experiences of African Americans.

    Finally, I concur with the author that Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed certainly owe an apology to the African Americans and freedom-loving people.

  • Interesting that Dr. Jalata links Abiy’s reprehensible comment on African Americans to the neftegna system. However, history is not as black and white nor as conveniently situated in a morally simplistic realm within which this article places its thesis. For one thing slave ownership was a common practice throughout Ethiopia including by those termed as subjugated peoples – the slaves of Abba Jifar are but one example. Secondly, settler colonialism in Menelik’s empire is an idea that has yet to receive acceptance amongst historians and scholars. It is a highly problematic supposition given the complex nature of the socio-political landscape of the time, moreover it assumes that Menelik initiated an expansion for conquest when in fact his predecessors by many centuries had settled, lived with, fought and co-existed with the people in Shoa and those further South.
    Thirdly, the article completely obscures the fact that centuries of contact (including by force) between the people living in this land have inter-married, adopted and exchanged practices and customs and together have forged common social and religious beliefs. Historical events and processes regardless of their rightness or wrongness create realities. This is the same reason that Dr. Jalata and myself learned English – it’s not because we are promoters of neo-colonialism. These are the realities that we are faced with but can mold to navigate in accordance with our particular worldviews.
    Fourth, Abiy’s state building is as the author rightly stated based on a false narrative but narratives change, people change, political parties rise and fall. The endeavor here is not to counter one false narrative with another but to forge fair, practical and beneficial solutions.
    Even to this day the racism inherent in Ethiopian society is palpable – consider the term ‘barya’ which is still used to refer to those have dark skin. These attitudes may not dissappear soon but only laws and enforcement of laws can guarantee the end of any type of discrimination based on ethnic background. These are basic human rights issues and should always be fought for until achieved. This is the framework under which a state can be built and move forward. Laws are the first step in rooting structural inequalities and reforming political and social institutions. This can create the common ground for all those committed to human rights to unite and achieve the desired gains.

  • This true, Black Americans are not comparable with American Jewish, and neither Oromo is comparable either with back American or American Jewish .

  • It is because Abiy Ahmed was a mercenary for hire killing black Africans fighting for white Americans in a proxy war he is always quick to blame blacks in support of whites .

    PLUS PROSPERITY GOSPEL DOCTRINE IS A WHITE MANS’S PHILOSOPHY / RELIGION WHICH ABIY FOLLOWS .

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