Ethiopia Should Return to Its Source | By Daniel Teferra (PhD)*

6 mins read

Ethiopia under TPLF does not resemble a unified country with a national purpose. The national unity and pride that Ethiopia once enjoyed, especially under Emperor Haile Selassie, have disappeared. Ethiopia has finally become a collection of isolated and vulnerable ethnic enclaves that are fighting among themselves over land.  The fears we all claimed are playing out now.    
Looking back to history, Ethiopia was a loose federation of regional kingdoms within a dynastic empire. These regions had vied among themselves to control the State and appropriate the economic surplus. The most successful region was Shawa, which led Ethiopia’s development in the modern world.
Since the early 18th century, Shawa had been able to make a considerable progress, expanding its frontiers under a series of kings. There were two major factors that contributed to the remarkable success of Shawa.
First, Shawa was able to focus on its own development for a long period of time. This was possible because Shawa, cut off by Wello, stayed away from the internecine rivalry that consumed the north during the Era of the Princes, especially.
Second, Shawa was a natural strong-point for access to the rich Sidama/Oromo regions and lucrative trade routes. Consequently, Shawa was able to amass wealth and military might, linking the north with the south through its prosperous Addis Ababa market.
Hence, except for few interruptions, Ethiopia saw a long period of unprecedented unity and prosperity under Shawa. Western education was introduced for the first time, the bureaucracy was modernized and infrastructure was built. Foreign trade and investment were promoted.
However, there were important measures that Shawa did not undertake. Primarily, Shawa failed to free land and the peasantry and to democratize the State. There were major errors made too.
For instance, annexing Eritrea unnecessarily, Shawa spread itself thin. Consequently, it squandered its wealth and awesome military, fighting rebels in Eritrea and Tigre for thirty years. In the end, Eritrea broke away and Tigre controlled the State in Addis Ababa.
What does Tigre’s control mean for Ethiopia’s progress? First, Tigre, unlike Shawa, is a poor region, located farther north, lacking close ethnic and cultural ties with the south.  Therefore, its rise to state power was purely a result of military victory.
Still, instead of building on the achievements of Shawa, Tigre turned the clock back. It divided the country ethnically in its own image, thereby planting the seeds of its own demise. For instance, today, TPLF officials and their associates are no longer welcome in “Oromia;” and consequently, they are compelled to rule the entire country by a Martial Law.
Oromia was carved out arbitrarily by TPLF and Oromo nationalists, negating the historical Oromo regions of Arsi, Bale, Wellaga and Illubabor. Oromia is now claiming Addis Ababa as its capital, renaming it Finfine, and as a result threatening the existence of Ethiopia.
On the other hand, tens of millions of multiethnic Ethiopians have been denied equal citizenship in their own country. They are now fighting back for their democratic rights, rallying behind the original flag of Ethiopia, and thereby sending the Tigrean rulers and their associates a strong message.
For instance, it is not unusual to see in Addis Ababa and rural towns, a taxi or truck displaying openly a decal of the original flag of Ethiopia. Some stores in Addis Ababa carry Emperor Haile Selassie’s pictures and copies of His book, “My Life and Ethiopia’s Progress.”  From Addis Ababa to Gondar, protestors against TPLF rule are rallying behind the original flag of Ethiopia.
Among all the protests, The Gondar Resistance poses a major threat to the rulers in Addis Ababa. Gondar may not be suppressed easily. First, the people of Gondar are united by a common culture and national hero.  They are fiercely independent and proud people.
Second, Gondar had been the seat of Ethiopia for a long period of time in the past.  Consequently, patriotism is deeply rooted there. In addition, Gondar could form an alliance with Gojam, Wello and Shawa, to counter effectively Tigre’s dominance.
Such an alliance, if successful, could give the rulers in Addis Ababa an incentive to return Ethiopia to its source, abiding by the traditional boundaries and democratic rights of all the historical regions of the country. Then there will be a new Ethiopia of equal citizens with freedom for development of all individuals, groups and interests.
*Emeritus Professor of Economics.

Read Aloud:   Address Oromo issues to make Ethiopia a true democracy


  1. Ethiopia cannot go back to the era of Haile Selassie. The Habeshas can not have their hagemoy more in Oromia. The integrity of Oromia including Finfinnee will be untouchable. The Oromo nation has been fighting injustice and subjugation in it’s  homeland, Oromia in order to regain it’s human dignity as one of the great nations of East Africa. We can only build a new democratic Ethiopia on the will of the subjugated peoples.  But the children of the new and old neftegnas have no the moral and mental capacities to tell us what to do.
    You can keep crying like a mad. You cry and insulting will not bring back the inhuman eras of the rotten neftegnas Menliki (the Hitler of Africa), Haile Selassie and Mengistu. They have gone for good. Be sure it will not came back again. That of the TPLF era will follow soon.
    You used to say that your ancestors came from Israel. Even sometimes you claim you are not Africans. But now you claim that you are an ingenious of East Africa. You are like a ship without navigation devices. You are suffering under double standard. 
    You try to undermine the power of the great nation of East Africa. The principles and the value of the great Oromo nation can not fit your values of debterism. All your nonsense writings are an indication of your desperation. How poor you are!
    It doesn’t matter what you claim and preach. No one will stop the aspirations of the Oromo nation for peace, dignity, freedom and prosperity. Enough is enough! You cannot turn back the wheel of history.
    My advice to you is: The empty akakii zeref will not help you. The ghost of Minilik also cannot help you. It is better if you accept the realities of your time and work on the democratic principles so that you will embrace with dignity and respect the future multinational democratic Ethiopia without suffering under inferiority complex. Don’t forget also you and your ancestors having been suffering a lot as Gojames and Gondares under those inhuma systems of that empire state. From those systems you have inherited only pseudo prides, bad mentality and cultures under which you are still in custody. I wish that you will become free from that mentality as a good cultured human being.
    The flag of those inhuman systems of your forefathers will be prohibited in the future Oromia and in the southern part of that country like the banners of Nazis and apartheid whether you believe it or not. Already it is underway. The Qubee generation don’t like even to touch it.
    The true multinational democratic Ethiopia will have its own flag and banner which will be decided democratically so that it will reflect the reality of that country.
    Whether you like it or not we will build a new multinational democratic Ethiopia which will embrace all it’s citizens equally. We will assure that the Gada democratic principles will work in OROMIA and beyond that.

  2. Neftegnas Hateful war Won’t tear us apart as a response to Dr. Daniel who dreams to bring back the already dead and buried for ever. The Neftegnas and “unity protectors” think if they cannot rule the empire let it it Goes on Yugoslavia way. True it is the culture of the Neftegnas and their blessings Church who used to preach Let the Grass never grow after my death which is a greedy backwardness and affects our society at large. Mr. Daniel grew up in such mentality even living in a developed sociiety – Sick!!
    As Obbo Gammadaa put it correctly, Oromos have a historical responsibility for the true Democratic Ethiopia, however if retarded Neftegnas and their co continues as such in polorazing way, No power on earth can stop the Oromo nation from their national destiny!!

  3. This is a rather indecent and dishonest proposal. This is the last thing that Ethiopia and Ethiopians want. Deep in his heart, the author knows very well that there is no remote chance that the old administrative regions would be reconstructed. Any effort to do so would amount to sprinkling fuel on an a flame. If you really want Ethiopia remain united, then just stop this kind of divisive propaganda. As an individual you have every right to keep romanticize the past, an era of zero sum game, when a few like you roamed throughout the empire and the large majority felt second class citizens in their own villages. I grew up in the heartland of Oromia, in Shawa, about 100km from Finfinee. When I was taken to my elementary school I did not have a single word in Amharic vocabulary. And yet, I had to start my education in Amharic. Upon mastering the cumbersome alphabet, I could join the letter to form words but I did not know the meaning of the worlds, e.g. no idea what “bet” meant, if it was “baatii” I would not have any problem. So my education was a torturous journey. Of course, Daniel, you did not have any problem of that kind. You do not have the intellectual honesty to even empathize with such situation. And now you have the audacity to tell us that we need to go back. This has nothing to do with Ethiopian unity, you are concerned with your own greed, a place comfortable for people like you. Please speak for yourself, leave alone Ethiopia and the rest of Ethiopians. Keep on hallucinating about “your golden era”.

  4. Gammadaa, menew endefela shero denefaheben. You better first defeat the terrorist tplf it is useles to attack those people who fought those people who saccrifei their life for their country ethiopia. It is a well known fact if the people of ethiopia could not defend that land ethiopia the probablity of having the culture and language of oromo in its original form in the present time would be impossible. But people like u are not grateful for the achievement of old generation. I doubt that the qube generation will defeat the tplf as long as u fight against the people of amara and addis ababean.

  5. Why did you long for a system that did not work. Oromos won’t accept the old system. We should strive to bring new arrangement that upholds the rights of all ethnic groups and also keep Ethiopia united. This may entail adopting or modifying or incorporating language,cultural and economic policies, attitudes, and practices. One such change will be making afaan oromo Federal language. Most important is letting people free to tap their potential to grow. Encouraging Ethiopians to be multi-lingual will foster understanding.

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