Elections 2021 Insights

EIEP Podcast: Amhara nationalism’s rise

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On 7 June, Amhara nationalism at the polls in Ethiopia was published on Ethiopia Insight for the Ethiopia Insight Election Project (EIEP).

In this episode, the EIEP’s Tobias Hagmann asks Hone Mandefro Belaye, an activist, and commentator, to reflect on issues raised in the EIEP’s ‘Amhara nationalism at the polls in Ethiopia‘ and his understanding of Amhara nationalism. Hone is a Ph.D. student at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, and the advocacy head of the Amhara Association of America. He did not author the EIEP Amhara article but he did provide analysis for it.

[powerpress url=”https://www.buzzsprout.com/1807908/8948433-eiep-amhara-interview-with-hone-mandefro-belay.mp3″]

A-PP campaign posters in Injibara, Amhara; May 2021; Ethiopia Insight

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Ethiopia Insight Election Project Podcasts are interviewee’s reflections on the in-depth reported pieces from across Ethiopia that analyze issues related to this year’s polls.

Main photo: Amharas in Raya Kobo protesting the killings of ethnic Amharas in various parts of the country; April 2021; amharagenocide.net.

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Ethiopia Insight


  • Samakaab Cali Nuur, do you really understand Ethiopian history? Confederation of states or republics or whatever you want to call it is not new to Ethiopia, either. The Era of Princes was one of the worst periods in Ethiopian history. Not a single “state” or to use your favorite term “independent republic” achieved a single land mark or quotable moment in history during the Era of Princes. The rise of Emperor Tewodros II, considered, one of the greatest Emperors in Ethiopian history, as a centralizing, and modernizing centripetal force arose out of the disintegration of the nation that resulted from the warlords of that time period. Ironically, you want that destructive era to comeback to ?? full scale, this means you have a hidden agenda not articulated behind your facade. Can you advocate for the break up of Egypt or the Sudan as well, both countries are under strict military dictatorships? Hey what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.

    Everybody knows Ethiopia is not one state or one ethnic group. In fact, that is what Ethiopians have been telling TPLF for the last 30 years. The fact that Amharic became a working language of government by historical antecedents starting in the 12 th century does not mean Ethiopia equals Amhara. Everybody knows that, nothing new.

    During the Derg regime, Mengistu Hailemariam was of Oromo line on his mother’s side and of Southern Ethiopia descent on his father’s line. Debela Dinsa was from Wollega, the defense minister was of Tigrean ancestry etc. Just because they used Amharic as an official language, you want to call that Amhara government, unitary, blah, blah. The fact that Ethiopia is comprised of many diverse ethnic groups intertwined by history, culture, religion, languages, inter marriages, migration is not something the tribalist junta suddenly discovered in 1991. Prominent Oromo culture, Harare culture, Wolayta culture and songs have been shown on tv, theaters, arts for decades before the closed minded juntas rise to power.

    It is obvious that the unity of Ethiopians from all corners upsets you and worries you. Why is that?

  • “United??people” means with freedom & fair, it’s not about an oppression & unfair, whereby two or three tribalists groups take or steal everything for themselves, that’s not a government for all. its a gov. should be changed immediately. *Regime change is the solution??now* to Sovereign *Confederation??Nations* of Ethiopia?????????Peace @ EastAfrica??
    Ethiopia isn’t couple regions, Amhara??Tigrey??or Oromo. Ethiopia is bigger than 2 states that’s why even military forces is resists to fight for 2 tribalists killing each other for greedy & power. Flankly, this war nothing to do with democracy & betterment of Ethiopia??.
    In 2021 Ethiopia is already a fragile state??or even a failed??nation that needs new solutions to prevent bloody disintegration or total civil war. Current solution of Ethiopia??is Confederation or 10 free independent Republics. Reasons, Yugoslavia disintegrated was misunderstood of its reality of Confederation or Serbs’ Centralism that resulted bloody war & forced 7 Republics, including??Kosovo??(Harar)??at last.?????????

    • Hello Samakaab,

      What do you think – how many support the „idea of 10 free independent Republics“? What would be there importance and standing with the other parts of the world comprising it with modern Ethiopia? Do you really want a second Yugoslavia in Ethiopia? Could you imagine Germany desintegrates just because the multiple ministerpresidents have different ideas? Or because the people have different history and culture? What would be the standing of that small republics after they are not more called Germany? It must be hard to escape tribalism, when lived it for a long time. But that is the only way to prosperity for Ethiopia – united and strong! This didn’t change through the ages and is still valid today. Accept that you are Ethiopian first and foremost and than Oromo, Amhara, or else. Than you did the fist step in the right direction.

  • What is the purpose of this article and the provocative picture. It may be recalled that in the past few weeks, a call for all regions to support the Ethiopian National Defence force and to support the territory integrity and sovereignty of Ethiopia was made. Similar to the photo picture posted above, all regions not only in Gonder, Bahir Dar, but also in Afar, in Jimma, Dire Dawa, Gambela and many other big cities came en masse. After 30 years of ethnic hatred and sleep, the Ethiopian youth of every ethnic background finally WOKE up from their deep sleep. For the first time inter generational and intra and inter regional understanding, a rebirth of purpose, lost and forgotten by trivial tribal squabble came alive. Is Ethiopia multi ethnic and multi lingual, yes she is. It is nothing new. Every Ethiopian knows it. Every Ethiopian can look around no further but right around and find many interwoven stories and human triumph and love. Ethiopia is a country where a high ranking Orthodox Clergy member can count 3 or 4 generations back and find a great Sheikh or Imam to be a grandfather or great grandfather. It was not uncommon in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980 s Ethiopians who spoke Afaan Oromoo, Somalian, Harare (Adaeregna), Amharic with some Italian, French and Arabic in the beautiful cities of Harar and Dire Dawa without an accent. The Amharic language itself has over the last 400 years also expanded to include and absorb as much as 30% or so Afaan Oromoo and other linguistic influences, highlighting the melting pot nature of this complex country whose history and evolution defy simplistic analyses by others and whose cultural depth is unique, original and of indigenous construction.

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