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A Glimpse into the Amhara Awakening | by Messay Kebede

Mesay Kebede
Mesay Kebede

Let me begin by sharing my surprise at the dazzling nature of Amhara open resistance and determination in the fight against the government and the repressive forces of the TPLF. Of course, the wide but subdued discontent of the Amhara was quite obvious for anybody with a minimum sense of observation. But nobody expected that, within a short period of time, an active and confrontational form of resistance will engulf the whole Amhara region, whose consequence is the exposure of the depth of the popular discontent as well as of the vulnerability of the regime after 25 years of tight dictatorial rule. As a matter of fact, those who follow my online write-ups know that, at the peak of the Oromo unrest, I posted an article urging the Amhara to join the protest. At the same time, I was confronted with some articles explaining the Amhara reluctance by the fear that secessionists are leading the Oromo protest. According to the articles, to support the protest under this condition would be tantamount to endorsing the secession of Oromia.

How, then, is, one to explain this sudden and massive uprising of a people that many, especially the ruling clique, had considered as decisively beaten and resigned to a second-rate citizenship? And what happened to the fear of Oromo secession for the Amhara to rise so massively and all of a sudden against a demeaning ruling elite that they were allegedly tolerating in the name of peace and the unity of the country?

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I think an understanding of the uprising transpires if we start our analysis from the fact of a wide and deep frustration of the Amhara. This frustration is not only due to the lack of economic opportunities and the dictatorial methods of the government, but also to the TPLF’s systematic policy of humiliating and marginalizing an ethnic group with impressive records of leadership and achievements in the past as well as in modern Ethiopia. Perhaps the psychological frustration of humiliation at being both degraded and demeaned is even stronger than economic deprivation and youth unemployment.

File Photo
File Photo

Add to this already intense frustration the dispute over the identity of the people of Wolkait-Tegede and the government’s recourse to force to deal with the dispute. Without doubt, the violent response was, as the saying goes, the final straw that broke the camel’s back. As a cumulative process, frustration has a boiling point which, when reached, changes qualitatively into open rebellion. When frustration reaches such a heightened level, fear vanishes in the face of an anger that is no longer containable.

Some such explanation leaves us still perplexed: true, anger explodes, but for that reason it is also short-lived and cannot by itself alone feeds on a prolonged resistance because very soon the fear of repression and violent death sets in, reviving the previous attitude of quiet resentment. To all appearances, however, the Amhara uprising has gone beyond the explosion of anger: it is changing into a political movement, which can no longer defeated, even if it is possible to intermittently muzzle it by means of harsh and indiscriminate repression.
It is here that the importance of the Oromo uprising comes into play. The precedence of the Oromo rebellion achieved two interrelated results. First, it created the sense of the Amhara and Oromo being both victims of the same ruthless and discriminatory rule. This common condition became not only the basis of a rapprochement, but also ushered in a vision in which both will have their proper places in a truly democratic Ethiopia. Secondly, in addition to decrease the fear of disintegration, the Oromo rebellion exposed the fundamental weakness and vulnerability of the regime. The mobilization of army units to crush a popular rebellion is not a sign of strength; it is the proof that the regime has lost all legitimacy so that it can only govern by force and intimidation. Such a regime is at the mercy of incidents, not to mention the inevitability of internal divisions and even of a coup d’état.

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When you combine intense frustration with the vulnerability of the existing regime, you have a revolutionary situation, exactly as Lenin describes it. To quote him, “for a revolution to take place it is not enough for the exploited and oppressed masses to realize the impossibility of living in the old way, and demand changes; for a revolution to take place it is essential that the exploiters should not be able to live and rule in the old way. It is only when the ‘lower classes’ do not want to live in the old way and the ‘upper classes’ cannot carry on in the old way that the revolution can triumph.” Indeed, for the Amhara as well as for the Oromo, the TPLF can no longer rule in the old day and they themselves do not want to be ruled in the old way: change is in sight.
Last but not least, the other triggering factor was the impact of what can be called “the appeal of the hero.” I have in mind the inspiring reaction of Colonel Demeke Zewdu to the illegal attempt to arrest him by TPLFite hitmen. His determined refusal and his self-defensive measure had a deep resonance on the Amhara soul, all the more resoundingly as they brought back to memory the glorious past from which the modern Amhara wandered away, at least since the Italian occupation of Ethiopia. In showing the example, Colonel Demeke both exhorted the Amhara to rise to the level of their historical legacy and injected a bitter dose of shame at their resignation to be humiliated by TPLFite renegades, who indeed did not even hesitate to throw away Tigray’s long-standing and zealous commitment to Ethiopian integrity.

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12 Comments

  1. At least Dr. Berhanu is doing something memorable to his friends, family and himself. Though what he essentially does is drink vodka, live on a third world food, sleep on a camp cot, work out to slim down and have fun with Asmarino shurubes, he has become a formidable pain in the ass for TPLF.

    Unlike Dr. Berhanu, what are his friends in N. America doing right now?

    They are simply writing and talking about the stuff a regular high school drop out from Ethiopian or diaspora can tell you more eloquently than they do. They cannot get down from the ivory tower of academia up high in the clouds and humble themselves as Dr. Berhanu did. They just can’t do it because it is not for them.

    To know how these scholars have made themselves irrelevant, surf some of the Ethiopian diaspora opposition web sites. You’ll find so many of their recent write-ups.

    In a few days difference Drs. Mesay K. (philosopher), Asseged H. (leadership expert), Minga N.(accountant) and Al Mariam (lawyer) had postings on the same issues they had been recycling for years. TPLF-EPRDF did this and that. Oromos and Amaras did this and that. The same shit again and again.

    Mostly they get facts wrong and mislead the few that read their write-ups or listen to their speeches.

    Take Dr. Mesay’s write-up publishes above. I’ll take few lines to make my point.

    Dr. Mesay says TPLF’s repression common for the Oromo and Amara “became not only the basis of a rapprochement, but also ushered in a vision in which both will have their proper places in a truly democratic Ethiopia.”

    This is simply a wishful thinking. Oromo and Amara protests are not coordinated to talk about “rapprochement” beyond common victimhood. In fact, the Oromo protest slowed down and came to a halt as the Amara uprising picked momentum. Oromos have Amara rule- anxiety and were not sure where the uprising was taking them and the country. They might even get a relief from TPLF crack down in the region.
    Except sporadic expression of solidarity from individual Oromos, we have not seen the multitude share Amara outcry. The same is true from the other side.

    The other misleading point from the above quote is the claim for Oromo – Amara common aspiration for democratic Ethiopia. Until recently, demands in both régions were local which have not been raised to the level of country issues. The fact that the uprisings one time took place simultaneously does not mean the uprisings have the same point of departure and destination such as democratic Ethiopia. That is to be seen yet.

    It is not clear what Ethiopian scholars in diaspora want to achieve by writing the same thing ad infinitum, ad nausium, ad mortum?

    It is nonsense if their write to raise the level of consciousness of the oppressed masses or to bring the “ignorant” diaspora to its senses. The people and the diaspora know enough about what is going on in the country. As we saw above on Dr. Mesay’s write-up, they get reality observable to nake eyes terribly wrong.

    The worst thing about the scholars is they don’t even seem to worry if people read what they say; they simply write for writing sake and dump it in the public space.

    We call their bluff and ask them to be somehow useful. Unlike what they think and do, they will be useful if they contribute in the areas of their expertise. Say, the “philosopher” studies the fundamental nature of the Ethiopian pshychi that enhance or undermine the realization of democracy; the “leadership expert” goes to Eritrea and help the opposition organize and lead the struggle; the “accountant” report on present and future books of accounts of Ethiopia with special reference to her balance of payment and the “lawyer” takes the criminals whom he accuses all the time to court.

    Unless these notable but shadowy scholars come to their senses and make themselves useful in their areas of expertise, the diaspora media should deny them access to their Humpty- Dumpty and mumbo-jumbo .

    If they want their write-up published, they should at least join Dr. Berhanu for vodka and third world food for a few weeks. In doing just that, they will raise TPLF’s fear and bring it to its senses. If they do that, we’ll tolerate the dumping no matter what they put in it.

    By the way, what happened to Vision Ethiopia? It was supposed to register in one of the states in the U.S. and emerge a platform for a fresh move forward in diaspora politics.

    Suggested topic for next conference: “The place of Tigres in Ethiopian political evolution”

    (P.S. Note that there is no such thing called “Tigrean” as there is no “Amarian” or “Oromian”. A common mistake anong asshole Ethiopian intellectuals)

    • Dear Segitu
      You are making the point. Thanks for your response. These people like Messa, Al Mariam etc are just useless people. We ignore and undermine their stupidity but they never listen.

  2. Guys!!! The Amharas and Tigrai has held their region firmly. No other ethnic involves on their land. If Oromos asks his land to take over which was taken by the past regimes, is that wrong??? The Amharas, Tigrai and Guragies were the top ethnics holding the Oromo’s land. They must get out of the region!!!

  3. Mr Segitu;

    I am sure TPLF will be honored in your diatribe, have you ever heard the expression truth to the power, well there is your “ad infinitum, ad nausium, ad mortum”, the peaceful movement will go on, gaining momentum every day, taking shape as it goes.
    You think it is a wishful thinking, well, even you can’t deny the inevitability of freedom from the minority tugs.
    Every one may not have the same analytical capability like some few, trust me, they know how to help this freedom movement and they are, that is right, it is a movement now.
    As for Tigres, they are also the victims of this cabal, which portrays the rest of Ethiopians are all out to get them, have you seen Addis recently, you know what I am talking about, the proof is every where, a lot of Tigres are not the beneficiary of these regime, but some are more, I mean more equal than the others, get it?, that is the problem.

    Two of the three leg is out, the third leg will be out, when Tigres realized the rest of Ethiopians are not out to get them and when they can stand
    with rest of us, that will be the day, but, that is not going to be easy for them,because they were the first victims, and we understand.

    This regime is divisive, cancerous, corrupt and greedy, it need to go.

    It is imperative not to ruin the relation ship of these people who lives for thousands of years side by side, but as they saying goes, the ball is in TPLF’s court, seeing how ruthless these guys are, I wouldn’t be surprised if the outcome is other wise.

    The future is about equal representation in all sectors, it is all against Apartheid, the long awaited cat is out of the bag.

    I was appalled and dismayed, just looking at the beginning, I hope it is not too late, this regimes demise is eminent, some body give them a dosage of reality, they have lost the legitimacy, why don’t you do that, you obviously seems to be in cahoot with them.

    Down with Apartheid!!!.
    Ethiopians will prevail and shape their own future.

  4. Guangul,

    What expression is “truth to the power”? I tried but couldn’t make a head or a tail out of it. It is another mumbo-jumbo thrown around to silence free thinkers me.

    If your intention is to say “truth is power”, it is not always the case. One can have the truth on her side but remain powerless. “Truth” and “power” have different dynamics operating in them and rarely align to give a desired positive result. Mostly power overrides truth and it takes a lot of effort to make them feed each other.

    Like the scholars, you’re saying since we have truth, we shall win. You do not strike me as one of the erudite professors I mentioned above, but you are a day dreamer like them. What else other than “truth is power” do I want to identify you as a day dreamer? Rather than seek comfort from an empty sloganeering, you need to do something to combine “truth” and “power” for real change. That’s what the scholars failed to do while dragging everybody to a dead-end where they happily abode for decades.

    I am for “peaceful struggles” which I agree is gaining momentum despite some trying to muddy it with violence. I doubt if any of the scholars you defend are for peaceful struggle, though. Take Dr. Mesay for example. In one Vision Ethiopia conference he openly said “it is only violence that corrects repression” which was followed by applaud by all present on the podium and the audience. So, the scholars and you are on different boats surfing in different directions because they are for violence while you are for peaceful struggle. As a result, there is no way you can agree and work together.

    Unlike the scholars, you are saying “Tigres are also the victims of the system”. Again, this is a point where you differ with scholars. The scholars are talking about Tigre ethnocracy which puts every Tigre as the enemy since ethnocracy is about an ethnic group ruling other ethnic groups. Ethnocracy as a concept was developed in the Jewish and Arab relations in Israel without any parallel in our country. You yourself say that Tigres are victims but if there is Tigre ethnocracy, no Tigre will be a victim. But that’s not what we see in Addis or elsewhere.

    I am saddened by your misuse of the word “apartheid” in our context. Misuse of this word is not unique for you, many of the scholars also commit the misuse. If you are patient enough to surf the web, you will find thousands of entries explaining “apartheid” and easily rule out aparthied in our country.

    One problem of our scholars is their deficieny in analying the political situation in our country. They begin with a biased conclusion and look for reasons to justify their conclusions. I hate that. That’s why I always look at what the people directly engaged in the struggle say and do rather that waste time with ignorant scholars.

    Ethiopians will definetly prevail, but not if they ralley under the wrong slogan (such as down with Tigres and apartheid).

    • Mr Segitu;

      When I say truth to the power, take it in the context of “realization to the fact”, because in the predicament we are in, realization of the truth it self (that we are under Apartheid unless you are Tigre) is the turning point, hence “POWER” implies as afore mentioned.
      I can elaborate, but no need, the evidence is every where.
      That is exactly the perception imparted by TPLF, they did a great job at that, a man of your perception can’t miss all the social engineering that went in to it, Alas!to TPLF, 70% of the population is estimated under 30, look who is out there being sacrificed for the regime change, that is the proof of miserable failure.
      It is quite a shame even the diaspora Tigre are not condemning the death of unarmed Amharas and Oromos, Amharas don’t get to fly Ethiopian, if they are displaced.
      Peaceful struggle is a preferable choice, if the leaders listen, but that is pertinent upon the illegal government’s(TPLF)corrective action.

      Let me draw you a parallel as for Ethnocracy, Israel is a more cohesive society in the world, how did they get to that, there are several factors, one of them is being surrounded by hostile nations to there existence, this fact only is enough for every Israelite to be absolutely obedient and loyal to their government without any question.
      Does that surprise you this government is actually creating similar scenario to strengthen it’s power base(“Victims”), as it did create a wedge between Oromos and Amharas.
      There are already considerable followers to this sick ideas, you might have seen the fruit in you tubes recently, the young and corrupted clue less young girl, hence your proof the government is promoting Tigre ethnocracy, I can provide you statics, but you know that already.

      I am sorry you hate that word “APARTHEID”, but the rest of us, non Tigres have no illusion about it, what kind of government contract a foreign army to slaughter its own citizen as a target practice(Gondor), because they peacefully protest and are Amharans.
      What kind of people after leaving for thousands of years leaving side by side support this fascist regime against their own brethren.

      Be part of the solution.

      We will prevail against all odds and Apartheid!!!.

  5. Dear Dadi
    this is astounding response. I am in support of your meaningful explanation. Look what the opponent, named Gangul said “I am sure TPLF will be honored in your diatribe”. When you are bringing a different view, they label us “you are TPLf” or bla bla. There is no such stupidity and blindness. These are the people like ” Messay” who view the ethipian politics in a wrong way and mislead people. One thing I understand about such people is they listed to themselves and their view is not based on understanding our grasping the underlined problems out there in the people. They have failed and and are failing us and will fail us.
    These are bunches of hypocrites who have no deep sense of identifying the root causes of our problem. Most of them look the audience to applaud what they say and what they write. Their hidden motive might be attention instead of standing with real cause.

    When you argue them, they regard you as “Tigre or TPLF Group etc”. This is really awkwardness. Imagine some of them we see their comments are holding a rank of Prf within tertiary education but sounds to me that that is because they need the job and not that they are professionals.

  6. Prof. Mesay writes:

    “This frustration is not only due to the lack of economic opportunities and the dictatorial methods of the government, but also to the TPLF’s systematic policy of humiliating and marginalizing an ethnic group with impressive records of leadership and achievements in the past as well as in modern Ethiopia”.

    So, the reason for Amhara “awakening” is the zeal to regain a lost privilege and upper hand in Ethiopian politics, as they had “impressive records” of leadership and achievements…..

    Let me also ask you dear Prof. Mesay. What is the achievement of the historical Amhara leadership?..Could it be making Ethiopia the poster child of famine?

  7. The best response I have ever read to this so called “Prof.” Messay! Many of us don’t forget what he did to many students of the Philosophy department at AAU.

    Thanks Segitu Dadi!

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