By Ojulu Abala
‘’America has become a nation of polarizing groups, each with their own agenda and no regard for well-being of whole country.’’ (John Hagee, 2013)
This article written with some sort of exigency for minority ethnic groups in Ethiopia in general and people of Gambella Regional State in particular to come together, to ponder of their future by adopting ‘Hedgehog Method’ to simplify their complex world, to be aware of bogus political objective of some oppositions political parties while urging EPRDF to move faster with its retrospection and renewal at its all echelons, and to denounce lethal demagoguery of the oppositions that will infect unity of Ethiopian Peoples. I am so crestfallen for the death our benevolent citizen who died in mournful stampede and protest.
From religious perspective, Pastor John Hagee condemns immoralities, crimes, social inequalities, disenchanted social stratums and mistrust in America caused by racism and discrimination practices; and he also so critic on weak American foreign policy that unable to foil terrorists’ activities. Hagee seems to be cautious about problematic future of America which seems to be inconceivable to many of us. I share the same affinity but for pragmatic and warlords’ future Ethiopia as hatred, ethnicity, and profanity against tribes has become a ways of politic today. I believe we are heading there but ours will be the worst ever perhaps like of Rwanda, Somalia, and South Sudan to mention few, since ignorance will contribute its own part. Is it really not preposterous for unionist to stream venomous hatred messages mostly through partisan Medias, social Medias and political forums for this itself a fragmentation process unless one proposed to attain hodgepodge nation? Please listen to Dr. Tolosa Dunia.
In line with this, segregation and ethnicity politic are cogent parochial political views that evaporate enthusiasm for unity into more cynical disillusion, and contribute to collapse of political leadership that materialized. Generally these are catastrophic and oppressive political tactic that produce transient result particularly in modern era for those were in ‘longanimous’ have already aware of their right and have lost patient. Obviously, ethnicity politics is a dangerous political game that tears apart social fabric of the nation. Once unscrupulously it introduced, notably in a wobbly pluralism system, it harm minority group the most and it more likely to become inexorable social horrendous for which requires devise and epigrammatic approach to counter it.
Therefore, abhorrent approach – hatred, ethnicity, mudslinging – of the oppositions who term the status quo system of Ethiopia as schismatic that have weakened social cohesion of the people of Ethiopia is flawed and far from panacea. What these traducers don’t know is incessant and sensitivity of the issue they puerile play with, and impasse ahead of them when they will be challenged likewise.
In contrast, ethnic-base federation of Ethiopia was deliberately established by EPRDF to devolve legal, administrative and fiscal responsibilities to the regions; to ensure political diversity and to succor despaired ethnic groups access to resources, and to introduce democratic system in Ethiopia. However, this is a precarious system as Solomon Negussie asserted: ‘’generally, the success of a new political structure will largely depend on how carefully it is designed and with how long a time it can meaningfully be implemented.’’ Therefore the complacency and remiss of EPRDF to handle this fragile system is reprehensible.
Gambella Regional State and its Peoples
Gambella is one of Regional States of Ethiopia; fertile and untapped region endowed with natural resource, arable land, and lush greenery land. It could be one of the bread baskets of Ethiopian. However it is backwater region inhabited by indigence indigenous ethnic group namely – Anyuak, Komo, Opuo, Majang and Nuer. Even though it has witnessed considerable development since EPDRF took power, it still doesn’t controvert suffering and negligence of these penurious indigenous people. Kurimoto, Eisei argued:
‘’Up to now for many Ethiopian highlanders who claim Semitic origin the Gambella Region appeared as a remote hot lowland rampant with malaria and other tropical disease, occupied by black African ‘tribes’ with whom the highlanders share little cultural and historical traditions. Even now when the Nilotic peoples of Gambella – mainly the Anywaa (Anuak) and Nuer – come to the highland, they often suffers the insult of being called Shankala (‘black’ or more properly translated ‘nigger’) and baria (slave).’’
Truly, it was only after the advent of Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) these peoples respite from socio-politico economic injustice, when their democratic right that has granted them to govern themselves in their region enshrined in the Constitution of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) in 1995 G.C, though devise program aim to fully transfigure these penury peoples is yet required.
Diaspora Ethiopian Government Oppositions
The diaspora oppositions are slipshod groups compose of acquisitive individuals and of obdurate members of old political parties who have no national political agenda other than personal financial gain and ethnocentrism respectively. These parties include: Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP), Tigrian Liberation Front (TLF), Ethiopian Democratic Union (EDU), Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), and Provisional Military Administrative Council (PMAC) – ‘Dergue’, an old Amharic term means committee. With no exception, all of these parties were obliterated in skirmishes by Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) during freedom struggle for having illiberal political agenda for the people of Ethiopia. Undoubtedly, no less than this eclectic multifarious rancor becomes political motive of these groups wail with tirade against TPLF.
More importantly, these are covetous sternly poignant for quietus of their own ethnic supremacy and are the people have seen Nation, Nationality and Peoples of Ethiopia (NNPE) as brood of viper hatched by conniving TPLF. Furthermore, groups view the Constitution as a political stratagem to outwit them in the game of power usurpation. Thus, the struggle of these oppositions for meritocracy system and nationalism is ploy. If these are erroneous assumptions, one must answer the questions: why they detest and burn Placards Signify NNPE? And why they stomp on national flag for the star represents NNPE and calls it the symbol of devil? And why they always disseminate ethnic politics if they are really nationalist advocates? Why they don’t listen to opposition leader like Mr. Lidetu Ayalew?
The Evolution of EPDRF / TPLF
The student upheaval of 1974 was not improvised. There was ubiquitous resentment of social-economic deprivation felt by the people of Ethiopia. Mostly by the people of Tigray province, the Oromo people, the separatist people Eritrea who already in arm struggle, Amhara people who infuriated by devastative drought that claimed thousand lives. All of these had become the indignation to students’ convulsion that put Emperor under house arrest, later transferred to prison where he finally died. This turbulence somehow was impetuous to some extend for missing leadership vacuum in its equation. The absence of strong well-defined political party or civic organization at that time, combined with the resignation of cabinet ministers of the Emperor include PM Akililu Habtewold had indeed created political leadership vacuum. There were some gimcracks civic organization had dissipated into public with trepidation.
Sadly, it was disciplined and organized army moved cautiously and methodically for takeover. Accordingly, young junior commander formed PMAC. Lest public inferno, Dergue – military committee in old Amharic term – took control of radio station and others media outlets through which they frequently communicated their communiqué, demanded the surrender of old generals and ministers who were obstacles in their way, and conspired their death. Here; bear in mind history will repeat itself if current system torpedo into prevailing odium and higgledy-piggledy riot.
Since Dergue, the scourge regime started butchering people right after it assume power, the seven members of Tigrian University Students’ Association (TUSA), a fulcrum association on which students’ upheavals leverage resided lost hope in Dergue attitude, therefore they unobtrusively convoked in Café shop in Addis on February 14, 1974 when they laid down guidelines and foundation of the profound movement – TPLF for self-determination of the people of Tigray and future democratic Ethiopia. (Berhe, 2009) On February 18, 1975 these students set foot to Dedebite, ‘remote hills of Western Tigray’ to initiate arm struggle whence they successfully launch vigorous ethnic-based mobilization to capture interest of those to whom the movement put at their disposal. They had no experience of living in backcountry but have strong conviction for freedom struggle to eke in outback and bleak area, and relayed only on the thought of Marxist revolutionary and its guerrilla warfare theory based on Maoist’s principle that successfully put to the test in Vietnam, Cuba, China, Algeria, and elsewhere as exemplar. (Berhe, 2009) Their thirst for future democratic Ethiopia never quenched after they liberated Tigray region. Thereby, they configured other forces to form a formidable army, EPDRF to realize this noble vision. Obviously, EPRDF that later joined by Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM) after a decisive arm struggle, was a collation of TPLF and two other nominal parties such as Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (EPDM) that later became Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) and Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO). It was founded in May 1988 and it overthrew Dergue in 1991.
As a result of TPLF’s exertions federal constitutions that accommodate diversity was adopted in 1995; Federal Government ‘’with ethnic-based regional governments as its units’’ was purposely established as it only the option to resolves ethnic tensions and to balance resources distribution. The right up to secession and to develope culture and language of these ethnic-based regional governments enunciated. This is an exemplary, flawless and well-organized arm struggle of good cause. Though these are the feat of TPLF-EPRDF, it has forgotten the foes have been lurking to materialize any opportunity. In fact, lack of good governance exhibits by TPLF-EPRDF has been used to rift the relationship between the Government and grass-root and to incite the prevailing public wayward.
As I already mentioned above, this article neither to rebut indecency, nor to prevent minority ethnic group to join the comity of those insatiably hankering to revive their ethnic supremacy, but to apprise them about cryptic political agenda played in semblance of nationalism; so they should not be underwhelm by their druthers at the end.
Alas, these diaspora opposition organizations are haphazard, deluders whose cause of struggle promoted by eclectic hatred and who avail citizen’s torments and other gimmick to gain support. Truly, these calumny speeches against the Constitution of FDRE, National flag and EPRDF-TPLF in esoteric rhetoric might be rousing because of high magnitude social injustices have put many citizens in quandary wherefore some of them bluntly support to overthrow Government of FDRE. We must know this chancy rhetoric and these derogatory remarks about National flag for the star represent ethnic diversified Ethiopia can only predict despotism and ethno-czarism system to come. Unless something is done with it, whether we like it or not, the new system will abrogate the vestige of article 8, 39, 43, and 47, and put Ethiopia back into thirteen provinces. This mean the right of NNPE to develop their cultures and languages and to rule themselves in their respective region will be invalid. In other way, the new system will create anarchism, pogroms and disintegrated Ethiopia which secludes some regions like Gambella who will later coerce to join oppressive system under which it will drink another biter superfluous cup. Please listen to euphemism of the dabster Jawar Mohamed on VOA.
- Asfa, T. (2008). Digest of Ethiopia’s National Policies, Strategies and Programs. Addis Ababa: Forum for Social Studies, European Union.
- Berhe, A. (2009). A Political History of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (1975 – 1991). Elias W.
- Collins, J. (2001). Good to Great . New York: HaperCollins Publisher Inc.
- Fanon, F. (1963). ThE WRETCHED OF THE EARTH
- Getachew, M. (1977). Munger Africana Library Notes Issue #39 , An Inside View of Ethiopian Revolution. California : Institutes of Technology.
- Gsbre-Egziabher, T. A. (2007). Decentralization in Ethiopia. Addis Ababa: Forum for Social studies.
- Hagee, J. (2013). Four Blood Moons. Brentwood, Tennessee: Worthy Media.
- Kurimoto, E. (1992). Natives and Outsiders:the Historical Experience of the Anywaa of Western Ethiopia. Tokyo: Journal of Asian and African Studies No. 43.
- Measheimer, J. J. (2001). The Tragedy of Great Powoer Politics. New York: Maple-Vail book Manufacturing group.
- Negussie, S. (2008). Fiscal basedFederalism in the Ethiopian Ethnic-based Federalism System. Netherland: Wolf Legal Publisher.
- Stigitz, J. E. (2012). The Price of Inequality. New York: Courier Westford.
- The Constitution of The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Note: please listen to videos clips and rad documents highlighted in the text also