By Yilma Gebru
It seems Ethiopia is on the verge of collapse. The people who claim to bring reform are now in disarray. It doesn’t look like ODP and ADP are working together. EPRDF is almost nonexistent. Each party is operating in its own way. Especially, TPLF which is the creator of all, is tainting the reform dark. The question is how did we get here?
To start with, ADP which is considered to be one of the main players of the reform, is entangled in a serious of issues. Before even the loss of its high-ranking officials in June it was heavily criticized from its own region activists for not getting the highest posts in the federal government as it deserves. From outside, it is bombarded from its rival regions for being incapable of controlling the region. The June calamity crippled the party further.
SEPDM, whose existence is negligible during the reform, is about to dissolve as many of its members’ zones are seeking statehood. And some Oromo extremists are involving in dissolving this party to facilitate their own interest. They are becoming more vocal than the concerned people themselves.
But the main problem lays with ODP. This is the party on whose shoulder the reform rests, yet it is not up to the job. When the reform was declared, this party and its leaders were very popular in most places in Ethiopia. People were auspicious by what they heard from the leaders; however, the leaders seem to have poured cold water on their fans’ expectation.
TPLF was believed to be resistant to the reform though it claims it is the opposite. It is still arguing that it was the key player of the change. Of course, it never concealed its concern for the collapse of the federation.
In any case, ODP betrayed the nation. It reneged on its promise to create a democratic Ethiopia that treats every citizen equally and that is where the reform becomes a fiasco. Look, like I said, ODP doesn’t seem to work with ADP, the problem is not only this, the biggest problem is the fact that willingly or unwillingly, it handed over power to Oromo extremists. This the extremists themselves are not only saying it every day but they are practically demonstrating it. Passing power to Oromo extremists is tantamount to allowing ISIL to rule Syria. As we know, ISIL wherever it controlled territories the first step it takes is destroying historical sites and obelisks. Why? Because it believes that they are anti-Islamic and pro- westernization. By the same token, Oromo extremists are championing for the destruction of Semitic especially Amhara norms and cultures from what (I wouldn’t say), Oromo territory, but they think to be Oromo territory.
People who were organizing a rallying support for the Prime Minister are jailed for asking their right, but a conceited Jawar appears in his own media and speaks angrily, then the government changes the policy. Addis Ababa’s youth are thrown to dungeon for peaceful demonstration, the ‘quero’ demonstrates with machetes, knives and clubs gets escort. In a broad day light Jawar incites ‘ejito’ the Sidama youth movement for violence, he is left free but those who are believed to lead the violence are jailed.
Now what makes the future gloomy, these extremists are irresponsible, we don’t know which direction they want to take the country. TPLF as we know, as long as it is not ruling Ethiopia, it doesn’t care if it is erased from earth. Extremist Oromo activists don’t bother about Ethiopia’s existence at all. TPLF is now aligning itself with these militant activists. In the name of rescuing the federation, they are destructing the country. Both are exerting their efforts on undermining ADP. Why? I think that it has something to do with their phobia namely fear of Amhara domination. Both complain of Amhara region falling in the hands of Amhara extremists. They are focusing on the Amhara region and orthodox church, because that will speed up realize their dream. Their relationship is mutual. For TPLF, should Oromo extremists get the upper hand; the Amhara region will be weaker so it won’t face that much challenge. Oromo extremists as they don’t care for Ethiopia’s existence, and as they think that there isn’t that much linking them with Tigray, a weaker Amhara region won’t hinder them from achieving their bullshit dream.
Now the question is how nationalists may salvage Ethiopia from destruction. I think that first, they have to examine their weakness. Look, so-called federalists are getting stronger, why are they (nationalists) getting weaker? I would say, not only because of their strength, partly, it is because of nationalists’ weakness. Therefore, examining the past mistakes and working towards solving that is crucial.
Why was TPLF this much stronger? Was it only by its work? Not really. True, TPLF is a militant tribal group, yet extremist nationalists are equally accomplice for everything that happened. Every time TPLF worked assiduously to rally Tigranes, instead of thinking how nationalist may make Tigrayans shun TPLF, unwittingly they cooperate TPLF by disparaging Tigrayans categorically.
Some extremist nationalists seem to generalize by putting one entire ethnic group in one box. This is wrong. There are thousands of Oromos, Tigrayans that prioritize their nationality.
First, we have to understand that having an influential devil by itself is a challenge. When he rises to prominence, if he uses it to lure flocks wrongly, whether we like or not he will achieve it. I mean he will get thousands of flocks. His flocks believe him, accept him, follow him. In trying to keep these flocks away from him, the means shouldn’t be the same means he applies. The main thing we have to understand that this kind of people are few and they are not representative of the people they claim to represent.
I think that to make folks shun evil activists, the first thing is building trust to approach these folks. The evil activists are orators; therefore, most of the time they have the ability to make their audience a prey. For instance, during the TPLF dominated administration, every time one opposes a government policy, TPLF and its stalwart supporters rush to correlate it to Tigrayan hatred, likewise, you oppose some idea from any Oromo activist they rush to correlate it to Oromo hatred. Here is where one must be cautious. If a nationalist is as bigot as tribal extremists, there could be no room for discussion, hence no chance to attract flocks of a tribal extremists to the nationalistic side. First, concede that buying extremists idea is a right, therefore be frank to discuss the idea with him by making yourself friendly. When you do this, you get a chance to explain your reasons as to why you are opposing his idea. The other thing that a nationalist need to consider, once you have the chance to sit with your rival, instead of being confrontational, try to put your ideas logically and coherently without distorting the facts.
The main thing is building trust. Trust, trust, trust, I think that this was and still is the biggest problem some nationalists have. For instance, let alone all Tigrayans, there are hundreds of TPLF members who are positive thinkers, who do wish to play a role in building democracy in Ethiopia, but the problem is power falls in the wrong hand. Those who grab power are few in number, albeit very powerful to destruct. We can take TPLF. Who are those leading the TPLF? They are a handful of people that can be counted in fingers. It is the same with Oromo activists. What complicates matters is I think, at least partially if not fully, the nationalists’ unwitty approach whenever they respond to tribal extremists’ provocation. To build trust like I said, above let alone those who say they oppose ethnic activists from their own ethnicity, nationalists should be willing to talk to those who share the views of their ethnic activists. However, some fanatic nationalists detest even to see people if they are from the same ethnic activists they oppose. Some are judgmental; therefore, whenever they approach someone from the ethnic activist they oppose, they express their cynicism, even before they speak to them. I think that this is what benefited TPLF.
There were many from former TPLF veterans who express their opposition, but how many nationalists did dare to approach them to resolve the problem Ethiopia is facing? So-called nationalists instead of trying to see a glimpse of opportunity from them, rush to deconstruct the TPLF veterans’ approach. If they say they oppose that is one step. As a citizen they should be given opportunity to express their view; therefore, nationalists before expressing their skepticism, they need to speak to these people. In this regard, I would say some nationalists are as dictator as TPLF and Oromo activists. The problem is being a nationalist and a dictator at the same time is not advantageous for nationalists, but tribal extremists. As a nationalist, the more you are a dictator, the more you shun ethnic groups.
Tribal militants are a handful of people and they don’t represent the people they claim to represent, but they are powerful to ruin a country unless they are technically contained. Their ploy is divisiveness, but if nationalists outwit them their evil effort can easily be nullified. When they deafen their fans with false accusation, it is up to the nationalist to persuade it is otherwise. For instance, the core issue they raise is they are pro-federalist, but nationalists are unionist who strive to build one language and one culture. This is far from the truth. There cannot be such a thing in today’s world. The effort is to create a prosperous country that shares the country’s resource equally. One problem Oromo extremists claim to have is language. Nationalists should convince them even that can be resolved round the table not by the gun. It is good if we have multiple national language as a nation, but that can be achieved through dialogue.
Ethiopia is collapsing sooner rather than later; responsible citizens need to do something. All parties involved should take part to salve it. Ethnic extremists can be defeated easily, should everyone from all ethnicities shun the extremists. Extremist nationalists, too, need to change their attitude. They shouldn’t think they are the only ones caring for Ethiopia. Especially, they have to refrain from generalization. If somebody expresses his difference, whatever his base maybe he should be given the chance to share his view.