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Do Not Let an Extremist Amhara Wing Hijack the Fanno Movement

Yonas Biru, PhD

This is a follow up to my article titled “Fanno in Need of Strategic Direction and Clarity of Endgame.” Let me start with four incontrovertible to set the stage for a candid conversation.

First, the Amhara tribal land has extremist cabals that I have in the past called Amhara-Shene. Every political group has people with different opinions across the political continuum, running the gamut from extremists on one side to ultra-liberal on the other. Different shades of moderates fill the middle ground. Only an extremist or a high-octane fool will question the presence of extremists in the Amhara tribal land.

Second, Amhara has been and continues to be politically suppressed, economically disenfranchised, and socially annihilated.

Third, Amhara has the right to defend itself by any means necessary. But it is neither prudent nor necessary to adopt a self-defeating or quite frankly stupid political position. The question is what is the most rational, strategic, and sustainable defense and offense.

Fourth, the current Fanno movement is the result of the betrayal and savagery of Oromo-PP led by hate-driven Oromummaa cult.

The momentum for the Fanno movement is immense. If properly managed fundamental political change is inevitable. The disruption it will cause is bound to open the political space and create a conducive environment for peace and stability. If it is mismanaged, it can lead to a civil war between Amhara and Oromo and push the nation into an irreversible civil war and disintegration.


The Never Learning Political Class

Soon after the National Movement of Amhara (NaMA) was established, in August 2018, I flagged two critical points, highlighting the need to: (1) broaden their support base and not to be beholden by extremist cabals, and (2) transform themselves from grievance-fueled to strategy-driven party.

In another article in the same month of August 2018, I stressed Amhara must organize as an Amhara party to defend itself, but its agenda must be a nationalist one, not a tribalist one. Organizing as an Amhara has robust advantages in terms of organizational efficacy, trust, cohesiveness, and sustainability. In the meantime, there is nothing that Amhara would lose by adopting a nationalist agenda. In fact, it has enormous advantage to build a broad-based coalition. There are no human or civil rights that cannot be protected by a broad-based nationalist agenda. Nothing.

I wrote in 2018: “We are bearing witness as NaMA forges ahead trying to bring itself to full speed with the principles of narrow tribalism of the TPLF brand and, in the meantime, looking back and trying to cling to its historic role as the anchor of Ethiopian nationalism. This is a political optics that some of its followers dance to. The substance is different. The vexing question to the leaders of NAMA is: Can Ethiopian nationalism and Amhara tribalism coexist under a conciliatory arrangement? The answer is a resounding no.”

I continued: “Christian Tadele Tsegaye, a NAMA hardliner, wrote why the Amhara needs to organize itself. One of the points he underlined was ‘የአማራ የሆነን ሁሉ መጠቀም (ከአማራ ያልሆኑ ነገሮችን አማራጭ ካልጠፋና የግድ ካልሆነ በስተቀር አለመጠቀም).’ This is a direct quote not a paraphrase. This is not a fringe sentiment. His Facebook blog was shared and liked by over 1000 people. If other ethnic groups also follow this blueprint, the future of Ethiopia will be scary.”

I went further in my August 2018 post: “The danger with tribal politics is that it is based on grievance, often presented as a survival question anchored in ‘us’ against ‘them’ mindset. As Tadele Tsegaye put it in the above noted blog, ‘አማራ አማራ ነኝ በማለቱ ከፈርጣጭ ብሔርተኞች እስከ ሐሳዊ የኢትዮጵያ አንድነት አቀንቃኞች አንድ ጎራ ሆነው እየዘመቱብን ነው። የሁሉም ጩኸት ምንጭ ደግሞ ለአማራ ያላቸው ለከት የለሽ ጥላቻ ነው።’ The alleged “ለአማራ ያላቸው ለከት የለሽ ጥላቻ” is marketed to frame the Amhara political narrative as a survival question. This has brought the worst tribal (indeed primal) instinct in the rank-and-file consumers of such hate and counter-hate politics.”

I was marked as Amhara enemy number one. Amhara-Shene clowns running Ethio-360 had a 40-minute clip on me labeling me as “the most dangerous man in Ethiopian politics.” Tewodros Tsegaye had a similar but shorter (15 minutes) diatribe attacking me as an Enemy of NaMA. Today both Tsegaye and Ethio-360 see NaMA as an enemy. Similarly, on a VOA program Shaleka Dawit criticized me for criticizing NaMA. At the time he considered NaMA as “the hope of Amhara and Ethiopia.”

Fast-forward to 2023, I stand firm with my position because it is based on principle and political insight. But the Shaleka, Ethi-360 and Tsegaye all have changed their tune – in tone and tenor. They all have downgraded NaMA from the hope of Amhara or Ethiopia to the curse of Amhara and Ethiopia.


Do Not Let Extremist Elements Hijack the Fanno Movement

The very extremist souls who were gung-ho about NaMA in 2018 and 2019 want to use the same model for Fanno. The Shaleka and his people are busy trying to hijack the Fanno movement. I have no problem if extremist elements are part of the Ethiopian political discourse. Indeed, they need to be. That is what broad-based means.

My problem with them is their misguided belief that they are the chosen defenders of Ethiopia and anybody who does not dance to their tune is an enemy. That is what led to the massacre of Dr. Ambachew and his team. Utterly stupid.

The organization that Shaleka Dawit and company are putting together consists of people of the same belief system echoing Shaleka Dawit and Eskinder Nega. This is dangerous and will end up squandering the organic Fanno movement that has burst spontaneously onto the Amhara and indeed onto the Ethiopian political scene.


For the Record

Some extremist people are spreading false information about me. They say my reference to Shene-Amhara was a reference to Fanno. That is false. Read my article titled “The Accidental Rise and the Foreseeable Fall of Abiy Ahmed in the Land of Two Shenes.” It is a Google search away. You will not find the term Fanno in it.

Yes, in the past I have criticized Zemene Kassie as an individual. My problem with him was he went into confrontation without first building a power base behind him. When the government went after him, it took him but a week or two to send Christian Tadele as አማላጅ to surrender peacefully. In the end, he was captured hiding in Bahir Dar not in a battlefield.

The current Fanno movement needs broad-based political support. The movement needs matured and seasoned people who seek a win-win outcome. The demands that Eskinder Nega released lack strategy, nuance, and provision for mitigating the onset of a civil war. If the goal is to overthrow Amhara-PP, use your leverage to force a recall of Amhara-PP leader and elect new people. Avoid a civil war.

Ethiopians have seen Eskinder over a span of four years. He lacks maturity, strategy, and vision. He is driven by emotion. His positions are erratic. Remember he promised to win 100 percent of the Addis Ababa council seats and delivered zero. This is fact!



Fanno in Need of Strategic Direction and Clarity of Endgame

5 thoughts on “Do Not Let an Extremist Amhara Wing Hijack the Fanno Movement”

  1. Yonni,

    You’ve lost credibility among the Amhara because all your write-ups and media talks attempt to discredit anyone who steps-in to speak on behalf of the Amhara and their movement which is gaining momentum as I write this brief note. For you, everone from Shaleka Dawit to Eskinder, from Christian Tadesse to Zemene Kassie, all Amharas who articulate Amhara political interests are enemies that should be rejected even fought against. So, who should lead it? You? Why not? You write and talk a lot, but when it comes to direct involvement, you’re no where to be see. It appears to me the whole thing is academic exercise for you. How about taking a brake from writing and talking to attack people who make the effort to change the lives of the Amhara for the better? Maybe teach in a college somewhere.

    What’s sad is you use buzz words similar to what Oromo-PP use – “extremist” to shame and blame Amharas who make the effort. Affected by your silly label “extremist”, if Amhara movement reject people who speak for it, it’s then easy for you and your likes to say Amhara has no leaders. That’s what Oromo-PP, OLF and all promoters of Oromummaa like to see. Not long ago, you claimed to be partly Oromo which makes me wonder about a divided loyalty you clearly manifest all alongt to the detrement of Amhara interests. At this stage, Amhara movement has no place for guys like you with divided loyalty attacking people who speak for it.

    I urge you to retract all the labels you use and dessist from muddling in Amhara affairs.

    As a good bye, I invite you two Fanno songs played by two notable Amharas – Kassa Tessema and Ketema Mekonen. Lean back and enjoy. and

  2. Good but not outstanding. The generalization on Eskinder is actually baseless. I rather found Eskinder very insightful and deliberative. Do you have any ulterior motive to work against Eskinder and Co.?

  3. Yonas,

    It makes me sad to be reminded how I read an article you wrote a while back and felt it was the most insidious thing I ever read, actually I meant to write an article against what you were going on then.

    That was a while back, now, you have been writing a few articles that I thought were sensible, and supported these articles, but you have come up now with this rubbish, going back to your root.

    This article is insidious, unsupportable, immature and stupid, downright stupid.

    First of all we have a lopsided struggle with a government armed to its teeth, with the whole resource of a country behind it, setting out to destroy a group poorly armed, with very, very little resource behind it, and you thought it is the time now to come out and raise doubts about these group, by giving air to some unfounded allegations of extremism and other stupidities.

    Where is your sense, what side are you on and are you set out to cripple the FANO, you couldn’t, but if you could, is that your objective? Even if there is such extremism, what would be its possible nature compared to the extremism, Tigray and Oromo extremism that we have already been and continue to be subjected to, have you considered that, or you just like the sound of your voice, want to toot toot, I am wise, I insightful, or some such nonsense.

    What you going on about Eskinder is also very shameful. Very shameful. What, you wrote a few articles, in a language that very few Ethiopians use or understand, suddenly, you have such an inflated sense yourself.

    What price have you paid, you have no stature to say much about Eskinder, you are the last judge of maturity, or strategy or vision – a man such as yourself who goes out and writes such an article at this juncture in the struggle, doesn’t have any these things, maturity, or strategy or vision, but plenty of narcissism, that is all!

    While your article might have some undeniably true statements in it, it more like a broken clock being correct twice a day than something sustained, your article actually shows you cannot sustain anything. I am disgusted by the tone of your article, would like to say much about it in due course.

  4. Easy for the likes of you and me who are comfy and far far away in the land of opportunity to pass judgement on those that are staring Goliad in the eyes yet have the courage to face the inferno head on. I honestly was following your scribbles with zest but no more. “Wot eregetu” Mr. Yonas.
    Typical of a crab to pull those who attempt to escape the shackles of oppression by any means necessary. Funny, you said that Amhara should free itself by any means necessary which I translate as shene Amhara inclusive. Besides, it is the Shene Oromo and Sheme government that is killing and trying to annihilate Amhara so why not extremist Amhara? Amhara’s agenda should be Amhara first and everything else is secondary. The Amhara people have been bleeding since time eternal for the Ethiopian/Ethiopianism cause with nothing to show for it primarily because of “gotegna” and narrow minded leaders that brainwashed their specific group to selfishly think only and only about their own kind (Eriterians, Tigres, Oromos…). Gotegnas worked and still work hard to tear apart Ethiopia. Having the cause and concept of one Ethiopia to be a long term achievement, Amhara should and must worry about the people of Amhara, the sovereignty of the land they occupy, and the freedoms they must have for now…by any means necessary.

  5. people like, who thinks they are intellgient, assualt simply the amahara ppl. and try to bring division among them.
    unlike you, shene Yonas Biru, these ppl are fight for their existence.
    If there is an amahara shen, then it oiis you. STOP YOUR BASELESS NONSENSE accusation. everyhwere you are dirstributing.
    Eskinder and Zemaéne are working on the ground, while you are barking. Last time you named meskerem abera as an extrimist.
    You are back again to you root, your hate on amhara and the the ethiopian nationalists.

    IF there is an Amhara Shene, the YONAS birru is Amhara SHENE !!!!!!

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