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In the Oromo-Amhara Intellectual Barren Land Resides Ethiopia’s Burial Ground

Yonas Biru, PhD

A while back, a good friend of mine, who wants to remain anonymous, told me “Ethiopia does not have intellectuals.” He said, “what we have is trained manpower.” Indeed, we have brilliant engineers, accountants, and doctors with international repute. Seemingly, in anything that comes with manuals such as refrigerator repair, accounting, engineering, and medicine we tend to be remarkably competent. Politics requires intellectuals who are open-minded and amenable to realism, neither of which our intellectual class values. If we accept my friend’s observation, we can understand why our refrigerators function, but our politics does not.

In my opinion there is more to the phenomenon why Ethiopia’s political landscape has become an intellectual barren land. The last time Ethiopia has actively sought the guidance and counsel of intellectuals and subject matter experts was during Emperor Haile Selassie era. PM Abiy, like PM Meles, often sneers and scoffs at intellectuals and subject matter experts.

Let us take the current PM at his words. Let us also judge him by his actions. How many times has he met with his “Economic Advisory Council”, since he established it as an independent entity over a year and a half ago? The number is zero. We can also mention the Privatization Advisory Council and Independent Boundaries Commission. Ethiopians and people of Ethiopian origin teach at every Ivy League US University and serve in many influential multilateral institutions as well as technology firm at high positions. They are award winning authors and sought-after international advisors. But the PM has done little to nothing to involve them in their country’s affairs.

Ignored, and sneered at, seasoned intellectuals tend to stay clear from the Ethiopian political arena. As a result, the ሸንቁጤs and ጎንጤs of YouTube cranks have taken over the Ethiopian intellectual space. Ethiopia exists at a cross between an intellectual barren land (where enlightened intellectuals are muted) and blasted heath (where activists with intellectual and moral handicap run amok).

This is a follow up to my earlier article titled: “The Solution to Ethiopias Crisis Resides in PM Abiy and the Amhara Tribal Land.” It is divided into five parts. The first part deals with the inherent conflict between the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Team Jawar, and the Oromo wing of the Prosperity Party (PP-Oromo). The second part addresses the irreconcilable differences between Team Jawar and TPLF. Understanding these two dynamics is critical to understand the conflict between PP-Oromo and PP-Amhara, which is covered in part three. Part four tackles the race to the bottom between Amhara and Oromo extremists. The last part presents the Oromo-Amhara intellectual barren land that poses an existential threat to the integrity of Ethiopia.

  1.  The Clash between OLF, Team Jawar and ODP (PP-Oromos Predecessor)

For nearly 50 years, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) was the Godfather of Oromo politics from whose tenets and hymns grew the Oromo liberation theology and a toxic grievance culture of condemnation of Emperor Menilik as an invader and genocider. The number one objective of OLF and its spinoffs was expunging the Ethiopian identity and history from the Oromo tribal land.

In 2018, Abiy Ahmed and Lemma Megersa stormed the Oromo political scene with a new paradigm, spinning OLF’s political axis out of orbit. Lemma declared “ኢትዮጵያዊነት ሱስ ነው” (Ethiopian identity is addictive). PM Abiy shattered the anti-Menilik culture, stating: “አጼ ምኒሊክ ኢትዮጵያን ከወራሪ መከላከል እና ቴክኖሎጂ በማስገባት እትዮጵያን ያስረከቡን ታላቅ መሪ ናቸው” (Emperor Menilik is a great leader who kept Ethiopia free from outside invaders and introduced technology to our nation).

The new political narrative served as a tranquilizer of sorts for OLF’s grievance-driven Oromo liberation theology. Marketing OLF’s victimhood politics became a difficult undertaking with the newly minted PM of an Oromo construct. In the meantime, Oromo activists saw the PM’s nationalist agenda as a threat to their dream of creating Greater Oromia.

Sensing the end of OLF’s era and fearing the dawning of a new political season, a young Oromo activist by the name of Jawar Mohammed tried to seize the moment with a three-pronged strategy.

The first prong focused on pushing the OLF and its old guards off the cliff. The young activist, who, in the past, has written a screeching criticism of the OLF’s “failure to deliver,” stepped up his attack on the OLF President, Dawud Ibsa. On December 31, 2018, he accused him of failing to rein in the extremist elements within his organization, most particularly the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), also known as Shene. On January 21, 2019, he went further on his official Facebook page, stating “ዳውድ ኢብሳ መታሰረ ያለበት ይመስለኛል” (In my opinion Dawud Ibsa needs to be arrested).

The second prong focused on undermining the Oromo Democratic Party (ODA), led by PM Abiy. Jawar’s strategy involved polarizing and unleashing his Qerro foot soldiers to make the Oromo region ungovernable as a bargain strategy to win political concessions from the PM. Jawar told Tsion Girma of the Voice of America that Qerro was well organized with proper chains of command all the way down to every nook and cranny of the Oromo tribal land (interview part 1 and part 2).

In another interview with the Oromo Media Network (OMN), Jawar bragged “the real power resides with Qerro and that Qerro is able to takeover Addis Ababa within 24 to 48 hours.” Yet in another interview, he reaffirmed this stating “If war (“ግብግብ”) is needed, that is easier for me because all I need to do is incite Qerro and tell them let us finish the job we have started.”

He made the Oromo tribal land ungovernable and capitalized on the chaos, accusing the PM of losing control of the nation. When the government accused him and his media outlet (OMN) of inciting unrest, he said “Activism and the media are not causing fire, their advocacy and reporting is just fueling a fire lit up by the action and inaction of the political parties and their leaders.”

Despite his admitted “fueling a fire” supposedly lit by government action or inaction, he still presented himself as an agent of peace, stating: (1) “There was no political leader I have not tried to persuade on the need for a transition roadmap”, and (2) “I was busy traveling across the country to help stabilize a population that was left with no laws and enforcement mechanism.” Balancing the dual role of a stealth conflict peddler and a heralded peacemaker was his modus operandi.

Jawar’s third-prong strategy aimed at creating a political force between OLF’s liberation theology and ODP’s agenda that he considered to be leaning toward a nationalist agenda. He understood that if he found a way to democratize the current tribal system, he could give Oromo a structural advantage to rule Ethiopia for generations to come. His strategy was introducing a seismic shift from Oromo liberation theology to Oromo domination enterprise, under the rubric of democracy.

In reality, he was not prepared for a democratic Ethiopia. What he wanted was to create a hegemonic Oromo tribal land while giving lip service to democratic principles. For example, on the issue of tribe-based vs. other forms of federalism, in July 2018, he warned the PM on his twitter handle, stating “Multinational federalism engrained in the current constitution is here to stay. It is not up for discussion let alone negotiation.” This was not an off-the-cuff slip of the tongue. In September 2019, he followed it up with  an ultimatum to the PMs party, dictating the ODP could not go to the elections before it accepts ethnic federalism as a sacrosanct position of the Oromo.

He stated: “We must build a consensus and have a united front behind the current ethnic federalist system… We cannot allow ODP behave like a ship that has lost its compass… They cannot tell us this is their party, and they can do what they choose to do. We will not allow that.”  He added: If the PM strayed away from Jawar’s vision he will receive Ethiopia’s “expiration date.”

The PM ignored the ultimatum and established the Prosperity Party (PP) that aimed to bring tribal parties under an umbrella of a nationalist party coalition. The gloves were taken off for a match down between Oromo’s two most popular leaders: Abiy v. Jawar.

  1. The Conflict Between Federalist Parties: Team Jawar v. TPLF

 

In 2019, when TPLF was trying to establish a coalition for federalist forces, Jawar neither joined nor supported the effort. There are two reasons. Jawar who pushed OLF leaders of the cliff to consolidate his leadership of the Oromo political space, was not going to play second fiddle to TPLF in a federalist coalition. Today, Jawar is trying to create a coalition for federalist forces, and TPLF is not in the initial list. TPLF’s sense of Tigrayan exceptionalism and superiority would not allow it to play second fiddle in a Jawar led federal coalition

 

There are also irreconcilable differences between the two parties. TPLF’s agenda was and continues to be using the Constitution to empower itself. Its interest is having a voting right over and above its population weight. Its demand is to get the same voting rights with Oromo and Amhara tribal lands, following the EPRDF template. This conflicted with Jawar’s agenda aimed at creating an Oromo dominated Ethiopia. This effectively downgraded Tigrayans from Alpha Tribe (አውራ ብሄር) to Subordinate Tribe (አጋር ብሄር) in the national politics.

 

Wearing the አጋር ብሄር garb that TPLF tailored for other minority tribes did not sit well with the Tigrayan mindset of Axumite superiority. TPLF understood that having lost its monopoly over Ethiopia’s economic enterprises and given Tigray’s lack of natural resources, if its voting power is limited by its population size, it will be permanently in Ethiopian national politics. This intractable political realism came on a head-on collision with the TPLF’s fanatism of Tigrayan supremacy in November 2020. The civil war that TPLF triggered was primarily the result of the conflict between Ethiopia’s political reality and TPLF’s unmitigated fancy for tribal superiority.

 

Just like Jawar’s ultimatum led to his spectacular implosion, the civil war rendered TPLF utterly irrelevant. On all counts, Team Jawar, OLF, and TPLF saw their stars dimming and the reservoir of their followers’ fervor and militancy dwindling. One would think that PP-Amhara and PP-Oromo would celebrate the turn of events to advance the grand PP agenda, but that is not happening. The question is why?

 

III.  The Hatch-Patch Nature of Prosperity Party (PP)

 

Initially, the Prime Minister’s plan was to go from tribal parties (ODP, ADP, SDP, etc) to a nationalist Ethiopian Prosperity Party (EPP) in one swoop. However, the “E” was dropped after tribalist elements within the ODP resisted the planned quick transition. The consensual solution was to adopt a halfway-house strategy akin to using a bike with training wheels. Under the arrangement, each tribal land was allowed to tag its name to PP. As a result, it was agreed to use PP-Oromo and PP-Amhara for an unspecified grace period until members of the ODP get used to the idea of ኢትዮጵያዊነት as the party’s overriding identity.

 

In principle there was a general agreement on the endgame as publicly stated by the top leaders.

  • “መፍትሄውየኢትዮጵያን የፌዴራል አደረጃጀት ከብሄር ማንነት ማላቀቅ ነው” ~ Abiy, Chair of ODP)
  • “የኢትዮጵያዋና የደሕንነት ሰጋት የብሄር ፖለቲካ ነው” ~ Temesgen Truneh, President of Amhara.
  • “The Way to go forward would be to transform EPRDF from a front into a one party”~ Mustafa Omer, President of the Somali tribal land.

 

In practice, tribalist elements in PP-Oromo resisted the idea of abandoning their training wheels. The patching of PP-Oromo and PP-Amhara proved to be a marriage of convenience rather than a merger of souls. The marriage was complicated and fraught with anxiety and ambivalence from the day they made their “till death do us part” matrimonial vows on the altars of the Prosperity pulpit. The question is: What caused the anxiety and ambivalence?

 

There are historical, psychological, and cultural reasons. To start with, PP-Oromo is an amalgamation of members who run the gamut from extremist tribalists to genuine nationalists. Officially, all members profess their allegiance to the tenets of PP-Oromo. In private, some of them pledge their allegiance to OLF, Jawar or even Shene Oromo, while enjoying the spoils of power as members of PP-Oromo. There are also those who are committed to PP’s tenets in principle, but their mind set remains hostage to OLF’s grievance politics. They control the levers of power but lack the psychological adaptation necessary to manifest the temperament, and mindset of a leader.

By no means is the tug of war between PP-Oromo and PP-Amhara limited to the psychological paralysis of PP-Oromo leaders. The conflict is also rooted in divergent priorities and expectations. PP-Amhara wants to see the current tribe-based PP structure to dissolve and give way to a truly integrated national PP, as envisioned when the party was established. Some members of PP-Oromo seem to be bent on throwing sand in the political process to undermine the PP agenda.

The PM’s challenge was to strike a balance between PP-Amhara’s impatience and PP-Oromos aversion to change. His failure to rein in PP-Oromo made it difficult for moderate members of PP-Amhara to fend off growing assaults from extremist factions within the Amhara tribal land.

Moreover, the recent purging of members of PP-Amhara such as Gedu Andargachew and Yohannes Buayalew from the PP party leadership and government power structure provided both spark and fodder for Amhara resistance. The lack of transparency about the purging of two PP-Amhara high-level officials created a feeding frenzy for the YouTube community.

ተቃዋሚን ማሰር መሸነፍ ነው

 

ተቃዋሚን ማሰር መሸነፍ ነው” is a phrase popularized by PM Abiy. Loosely translated it means “to arrest opposition members is to admit defeat.”  In framing a popular political narrative and winning the hearts and minds of the Amhara people, the government lost to fast-talking third-tier YouTubers. Embarrassingly, they ran circles around the government’s public relations machinery.

 

The claim that leaders of PP-Amhara are sold-out agents of PP-Oromo gained traction with a dizzying momentum. The negative propaganda narrative became a staple of mainstream news. In the meantime, both the government and state government public relations officials remained alternatively in deep-sleep and clinical coma, to put it rather generously.

 

The governments’ response was mass arrest to the tune of over 4500 activists, extremist, and moderates alike. Of these, the PM alleged 3500 are members of the Amhara special force who fled their duty stations with their weapons. That means about 1000 of the arrested were activists and others. The very PM who, in 2018, promised the people of Ethiopia “እያጣራን እናስራለን እንጂ አስረን አናጣራም” told the Parliament at this week’s speech “የታሰሩት እየተጣራ ይለቀቃሉ.”

 

Alas, the democratic reform has been aborted. Political prisoners whom several judges have ordered to be released on bail are often kept in jail in violation of the rule of law. As the French say, justice is like virginity. Once assaulted, it will never remain intact.

 

  1.  The Race to the Bottom between Amhara and Oromo Extremists

 

The tension between PP-Oromo and PP-Amhara and the PM’s failure to rein over them have grave consequences. The inter PP party conflicts has led to a race to the bottom between Amhara and Oromo extremist elements. The problem is more pronounced in the Amhara tribal land. At best, the Amhara public considers PP-Amhara’s patience and judicious efforts to resolve inter-party conflicts as a lack of resolve. At worse, the public sees it as a betrayal of the people of Amhara in the face of assumed and/or real assault from the PP-Oromo camp.

 

Speaking of triggering a race to the bottom, let us start with Shimeles Abdissa. He is the President of the largest tribal land both by population and a high-level official in PP-Oromo and PP-National. One would think self-interest would oblige him to position himself to be the next PM. This would presume showing leadership in keeping the governing status quo stable. Sadly, his political utterances are often aimed at either appeasing Oromo extremists or dissing the Amhara and, therefore, feeding fodder to Amhara extremists who are itching for a fight.

 

The fact that he has been delivering polarizing and inciting statements both in private meetings (“convince and confuse”) and public gatherings makes it difficult to give him the benefit of the doubt. It is harder still to overlook the fact that his speeches are often designed to tarnish the Ethiopian national identity and inventing and embellish a unifying Oromo identity.

 

At the 2019 Ireecha Festival in Addis Ababa, he delivered a soaring speech before tens of thousands of people that was televised across the nation.

 

“This is where the Oromo people were broken. This is where the humiliation began. This is where Tufa Muna and other fighters of that time were broken by the Neftegna system. Today we have broken and rooted out those who broke us. Oromo is honored in its humiliation place. You won Oromo”!

 

It warrants noting that Neftegna refers to arm-carrying invader-settlers. The term is often reserved to Amhara, accusing them of being settlers who occupied Oromo lands by force. What makes the Oromo tribalists peculiarly deranged is that they talk with pride about Oromo invasion of Amhara lands and argue Amhara lands that Oromo invaders won and occupied generations ago should be considered as native Oromo lands. But Oromo lands that Amhara won and occupied generations ago should be considered as a genocidal crime.

 

Oromo tribal intellectuals are best approximated by a spoiled toddler whose strategy of getting other toddlers’ toy is by screaming loud, screaming even louder when he/she is told “no.” Leaving the Oromo toddler psychology aside, Shimeles must have forgotten that PM Abiy was voted into office in 2018 with a unanimous support of Amhara representatives.

 

Apart from being a punch in the gut to the Amhara representatives that elevated PP-Oromo to the highest office, the 2019 Ireecha hoopla was designed to make it a unifying Oromo identity. The fact that it is a religious ritual that involves covering big trees with butter, did not sit well with devoted Oromo Muslims and Christians who see Irrecha as an affront to the tenets of their religion. The overwhelming majority of the Oromo community that does not celebrate Irrecha scorned it off as a political shenanigan that it was.

 

In a recent twitter message (May 25, 2022), Shimeles shifted from marketing Irrecha to touting Geda, another Oromo culture practiced in small enclaves of the Oromo tribal land.

 

“The Future of Ethiopia: back to our origin Gada system is a holistic and deep philosophy with thousands of years practice in human life and strong institutions. We are working to use this rich social capital and philosophy to transform our society in all aspects.” (Shimeles Abdissa, President of Oromo Tribal Land, Twitter

Let us add the school debacle where some public students in Addis Ababa are required to sing the Oromo tribal anthem and stand in formation when the Oromo tribal flag is raised. This is happening even though “የኦሮሞ ተረኛነት ፖሊቲካ” narrative is getting traction not only among Amhara extremists but also among the general population. It is one thing to see opposition forces instigating conflict for political benefit. It is mind boggling to see a high-level member of the governing party to do it. One would think Shimeles would avoid unnecessary confrontation when the nation is increasingly inching toward a civil war. What he is doing is the opposite.

 

One cannot see Shimeles’ actions in isolation. The recent Adwa celebration debacle is another case in point. The debacle was triggered by the government’s decision to move the celebration venue to a new location. This was done by Kejela Merdassa, Minister for culture and sports, (OLF member) and Adanech Abebe, Mayor of Addis Ababa (PP-Oromo member). The motive behind the decision to change venue was to disassociate Adwa from Menelik.

 

Ethiopians cannot forget Lencho Bati’s official statement that “Oromos will dominate Ethiopia for the coming 3,000 years” at the graduation of Oromo special forces, in February 2020. At the time, he was a Senior Advisor to PM Abiy. And then there is Taye Dendea, who has made a hobby out of spewing polarizing tribal nonsense. Some of the PP-Oromo leaders ቀን ቀን የሚያወሩት በፒፒኛ ሲሆን ሌሊት የሚያልሙት በኦነግኛ ይመስላል::

 

The Prime Minster addressed the school issue with a futile effort to split the blame between those who protested it and those who triggered it. Criticizing the protesters, the PM stated such experience is not unique. Wrongly, he suggested international schools such as French, US, and British schools do the same thing in their respective languages without objection or protest. First, this is patently false. Second, these are private schools, not public schools. Unfortunately, he also suggested the protest reflects hate towards Oromo when in fact the protest is justified.

 

In the meantime, he criticized the Oromo government for engaging in “ብሽሽቅ ፖለቲካ” referring to both the language and Geda issues. “ኦሮሞ ምንም እንኳን ጫና ቢደረግበትም ቋንቋውንና ባህሉን ማቆየት የቻለ ህዝብ ነው::. ከእናንተ አይፈልግም እሱን:: ማንም ቋንቋውን አልነጠቀውም አቆየቶታል በራሱ ባህል።  የገዳ ስራትም ማንም አላፈረሰውም ቆይቷል እኮ:: አለ::” The PM added, Oromos have become like a new convert evangelist “አካም አካም አካም አካም የሚል በዝቷል::” To use one’s language is a human right. To be proud of it is a human nature. To politicize it is utterly stupid. Tribalism is like Ebola. It kills its carrier.

Ethiopians in general and the Amhara in particular note that those who are triggering conflicts are high-level PP-Oromo officials, including Shimeles, Lencho, Adanech and Taye. This leads them to dwell on the following questions:

  • Are Shimeles Abdissa, Adanech, and Taye running a faction within PP-Oromo to sabotage the PM’s reform agenda and PP’s ultimate objective of becoming a national party?
  • Are their efforts to calm extremist Oromos, while judiciously working with the PM to advance the PP agenda?
  • Is the PM faking it when he talks about building PP as a national party, working instead with extremists to ensure the PP ultimate agenda will not materialize?

The answer to the three questions is simple: It should not matter which case is true. Only greenhorn analysts and lazy intellectuals focus on motives. Once you start from motive, there is no need to defend your assertions with rational analysis. Often, such analyses start with assigning sinister motives and cutting and pasting scavenged slogans and quotes in lieu of political analysis.

Let me explain this phenomenon with a historical example. In 1991, when TPLF and the Eritrean People Liberation Front (EPLF) took over Addis, they had a long-established agreement on how they will run Ethiopia. Ethiopians dubbed the agreement “the Grand Conspiracy” (ታላቁ ሴራ). Allegedly, the “grand conspiracy” had plan A and B. Plan A was to keep Ethiopia weak and exploit her natural resources to help build Eritrea and Tigray. Should this fail, plan B was to form a new country (“Agazi”) and leave a disintegrated Ethiopia behind. Every political analysis of the time revolved around this.

Every political utterance from the Tigrayan and Eritrean space was twisted until it confessed the Grand Conspiracy was real. Ethiopian intellectual ተብየዎች spent their days and nights scavenging quotes uttered by EPLF and TPLF operatives and counting the number of Tigrayans and Eritreans taking high-level government positions to prove the Grand Conspiracy was being implemented.

In 1994, I wrote a 14-page article arguing: “Regardless of the nature of the original common agenda that Meles and Isaias may have established, the Ethio-Eritrean political reality has developed its own dynamism. What has started as a common agenda has become a shared burden of the two leaders. Far from controlling the agenda, they are frantically struggling to deal with its side effects.”

There were signs of conflicts between the two leaders. In 1998, months before the Eritro-Ethiopia war, despite signs of conflict between TPLF and EPLF, Ethiopian analysts and activists were huffing and puffing about ታላቁ ሴራ. From 1991 to 1998, the political class was defending Ethiopia from ታላቁ ሴራ that was long dead under the weight and torrent of fast changing political dynamics.

Six months before the 1998 Ethio-Eritrean war, I published an article titled “Sacred-Sin: Beyond Political Razzle Dazzle,” signaling the looming war and encouraging Ethiopians to have a strategic position. The intellectual class continued to regurgitate ታላቁ ሴራ and accused me of distracting them from the real issue: ታላቁ ሴራ.

The war broke as I predicted. Members of the Ethiopian intellectual class sat dumbfounded in political paralysis with the center of gravity of their brain splattered on their laps. It was a Shakespearean tragedy with a Kafkaesque twist.

Fast forward to 2022, the Amhara tribalist force is repeating the same mistake fixated on PP-Oromos “convince and confuse” ሴራ to Oromize Ethiopia. They fail to see the political dynamics, including the intractable conflict between OLF, Team Jawar and the PM.

There are significantly more Oromo prisoners than Amhara prisoners under PM Abiy throughout the last four years. In recent months, the campaign against Shene Oromo has been raging with thousands of Oromo dead. One would expect seasoned Amhara politicians to focus on the political dynamics and develop appropriate strategy. This is not happening. They still see the PM in the same lens they see OLF and Shene Oromo. The question is why?

The problem is attributable to two primary factors. The first factor emanates from a sinister wish of Amhara extremists to polarize the Amhara-Oromo conflict for political profiteering. The second factor is the Amhara paranoiac mindset with chronic mistrust and suspicion of others and their archaic culture and mythological identity. I have addressed the second factor in an earlier article titled “Ethiopias Political Problems Reside in Its Mythological National Identity.” Therefore, I will address only the first factor here.

This is an area that demands a thorough and careful treatment. The players are many including Amhara business oligarchs who are financing both local and diaspora conflict peddlers and hate traders (ጠብ ጫሪዎች እና ጥላቻ ቸርቻሪዎች). There is also the most dangerous Ortho-Amhara phenomenon. This is the marriage of fundamentalist Orthodox followers and Amhara extremists. For lack of space, I will focus on three specific examples.

One of the most morally corrupt political claims that Amhara extremists spread is that Dr. Ambachew (the President of the Amhara tribal land and Chair of ADP) and General Asaminew (a Hero to the Amhara extremist universe) were killed by the Abiy administration. The indisputable truth is that Dr. Ambachew was killed at the order of General Asaminew. This was not a surprise. Before his coldblooded murder, the Amhara extremist community was accusing Dr. Ambachew of serving the Oromo and calling for his execution. The evidence that General Asaminew perpetrated his murder includes a taped admission by the General himself before he was killed by a mob.

In an audio clip taped by an Amhara journalist, General Asaminew admitted that his team has taken action against Dr. Ambachew and members of his management team. Soon after, Amhara extremists started spreading rumors that (1) the Prime Minister was the one who had both Ambachew and General Asaminew murdered, and (2) the audio tape was fake.

In July 2019, Dagnachew Teshome of Los Angeles, California hired one of the best American digital forensic companies in Los Angeles (Digital Forensic Experts) to determine the authenticity or lack thereof of the audio. Dagnachew paid for the forensic investigation out of his own pocket. As part of the investigation, he gave Digital Forensic Experts two video and audio clips of General Asaminew giving public speech to compare them with the audio clip shared by the above-mentioned journalist.

The final report reads in part: “It is the professional opinion of Digital Forensic Experts that: (1) the audio has not been manipulated; (2) there are no tell-tale signs of editing, including crossfades, inconsistent waveforms, clips of other anomalies; and (3) the speaker’s [the General’s] voice in the reporter recording and the two sample recordings [provided by Dagnachew] match.”

Dagnachew was discouraged by Amhara activists not to reveal the truth, since it will disprove the false claim by Amhara activists. Dagnachew said the President of Vision Ethiopia (Dr. Getachew Begashaw) was among the people who tried to discourage him from releasing the report. Dr. Getachew himself is one of the people spreading the false claim both before and after the claim was proven wrong. I am sharing this with the permission and confirmation of Dagnachew.

The second example is the genocide claim Amhara extremists peddle against the PM. We know Oromo tribalists have effectively used false genocide claims to polarize tribal politics. TPLF is doing the same, alleging Tigrayan genocide committed by the Amhara to polarize and galvanize people in support of its political agenda.

Nearly a year and a half ago, an Amhara extremists group led by Shaleka Dawit Woldegiworgis collected $405,255 to file a formal genocide complaint with the international criminal court in the name of “በኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋህዶ ቤተክርስትያን የዘር ማጥፍት መከላከል ድርጅት (OTAGE).” The group that included reputable Amhara lawyers, including Shaleka Dawit, who is a graduate of Columbia law school, claimed they had evidence to make their case. The money was supposed to be used to hire an international lawyer.

 

Genocide is the gravest crimes against humanity. If indeed there is a genocidal crime against Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, the Church has adequate resources and support both at home and externally from other Orthodox institution to file a formal complaint. Why would the Ethiopian Orthodox Church rely on Shaleqa Dawit with a communist background to file a genocide claim on its behalf outside of the Church’s institutional architecture? The answer is: This is the work of the Ortho-Amhara group.

 

Leaving the question of legitimate representation aside, 18 months after the Go-Fund me imitative, no formal genocide complaint has been filed with any credible international organization, leave alone proven. The leaders of the genocide claim, and signatories of their petition are still peddling the false claim after they failed to make their case before the court of international justice.

 

There are also those who condemn PP-Amhara as being a part of the alleged genocidal crime against the Amhara. One of the Amhara extremists peddling this is Meskerem Abera. On April 13, 2022, she divided PP-Amhara into two camps: Those who want “ብአዴን በአሽከርነቱ ተጠናክሮ ህዝባችንን በማሳረዱ እንዲቀጥል” and those “ከብአዴን ጎራ የሚያፈነግጡ መሪዎች.”

 

As part of “ከብአዴን ጎራ የሚያፈነግጡ መሪዎች” she mentioned Yohannes Buayalew, who was voted out of PP-Amhara leadership and later purged from his government position by the Prime Minister. On April 28, Meskerem congratulated Yohannes on her Facebook page for speaking up for Amhara in the “አማራ ጠሉ አገዛዝ ስርዓት ውስጥ.”

 

Yohannes’ view on PP-Amhara is starkly different from that of Meskerem. In an interview with Abbebe Gelaw, he attributed PP-Amhara’s problem to two factors. First, he expressed frustration and disappointment with the lack of progress in transforming PP to a unified national party. Second, he attributed PP-Amhara’s relatively weak position vis-a-vis PP-Oromo to lack of support from the people of Amhara.

 

At no point did Yohannes accuse the PP-Amhara leadership as enemy of the Amhara, much less accusing PP-Amhara of “ህዝባችንን በማሳረዱ.” Nor did he accuse the PM or PP-Oromo as “አማራ ጠሉ አገዛዝ ስርዓት.” The fact remains PP-Amhara is weak not because of PP-Oromo or the PM, but because of Amhara extremists. More recently, the National Amhara Movement (NAMA) has become a target of Amhara extremists. The extremists are not building their own organization. They are busy cannibalizing PP-Amhara and NAMA.

 

  1. In the Oromo-Amhara Intellectual Barren Land Resides Ethiopias Burial Ground

The Oromo and Amhara extremists have one thing in common. Their hate for PM Abiy. As far back as the summer of 2019, Oromo tribalists were bold and loud in their attack of the Abiy Administration, calling him “A Menilik Wannabe on a mission to continue the Amharization of the Oromo.”  At the same time, Amhara tribalists were increasingly getting belligerent and unhinged, accusing the PM of being the lead architect of the Oromoization of Ethiopia.

Understanding the dynamic that is fueling the Oromo-Amhara cross-fertilization of self-destruction requires having a grasp of two interacting factors: (1) the Oromo psychological deficiency that emanates from its perpetual victimhood politics, and (2) the Amhara paranoiac frame of mind and mistrust of others. The interaction of the two factors signifies the antithesis of political enlightenment without which no one can enter the kingdom of modern democracy.

The challenge the PM faces to bring the nation together is daunting on two fronts. To start with, he cannot deal harshly with Oromo extremists when Amhara extremists are raging with ቀረርቶ and performing a war dance. Add to this Oromo tribalists who are quick to blame him of trying to continue Menelik’s legacy. The Amhara and Oromo tribalists have the PM in a chock-hold.

On the second front the PM’s challenge is to get the support of the people outside of the PP confine both in the Oromo tribal land and outside of it. This requires relying on a robust PR ecosystem and creating a platform for supporters of a transformative change. Sadly, the PM’s PR office is braindead and the need to build a platform for a support group is outside of his radar screen. That is why I have been saying he is a phenomenal visionary and a brilliant strategist but an utterly poor executive.

More than the inflation that is ravaging the economy, PM Abiy’s face that showed fatigue, and his angry demeanor spoke volumes about the state of our nation. His repeated reference to Oromo and Amhara indicated what is keeping him up at night. His speech and angry tone are reminders of a speech he gave when Eskinder Nega’s Addis Ababa movement was at its peak. This week’s speech came after the extremist Amhara movement gained traction and picked momentum. Today, as then, he threatened action against his critics and opponents. Who was the one who said “ማሰር መሸነፍ ነው and መግደል መሸነፍ ነው?” He forgot to add “ማስፈራራት መሸነፍ ነው”.

 

  1. Concluding Remarks

 

My April 25 assessment that “The Solution to Ethiopias Crisis Resides in PM Abiy and the Amhara Tribal Land” stands valid. Important developments that have happened since then give credence to my observation. For the Ethiopian center to hold the Amhara tribal land and the PM must take several critical points into consideration.

 

First, no meaningful solution can be attained until the silent majority in the Amhara tribal land counters the negative energy that its extremist elements are creating.  This cannot happen by accident. It takes a robust PR work from the Amhara government. Arresting extremists is not the answer. Beating them in the war of ideas is the solution. In the meantime, the Amhara people must reject political cannibalism in the Amhara tribal land. If extremists have something positive to contribute, let them create a third party, rather than destroying PP-Amhara and NAMA.

On the PM’s side there are two critical points that he must address. First, he needs to rein in PP-Oromo and its leaders.  Second, he must create a space for seasoned intellectuals and subject matter experts. If Ethiopia is left in the hands of intellectually diminutive and morally malnourished Amhara and Oromo tribal activists, the outcome would be existential. Political enlightenment does not happen by accident or prayers. It requires deliberate efforts to create a conducive environment to bring public intellectuals to the fore. This is where the PM has failed himself and Ethiopia.

As I have written before, the PM’s visionary reform is like a Ferrari driven by a Volkswagen Engine. His vision is grandiose. Ethiopia’s political terrain is torturous. Even in the best of circumstances it would take the best of the best to implement his vision. There is no point in sugar coating the problem. Most of his appointees are a notch or two below mediocre. The PM cannot govern an ungovernable nation with idiotic political leaders and a sub-par bureaucracy.

The PM can learn a lot from South Korea and China. There is one common element that helped the two nations to grow in relative piece. They relied heavily on their intellectuals as opinion leaders and their subject matter experts as the backbones of their bureaucracy. For example, China’s success in its geopolitical engagement is attributable to the relationship between its Epistemic Community and government policy makers. The Epistemic Community refers to a plethora of network of intellectuals and professionals with subject matter expertise and international repute. The debate between government officials and members of the epistemic community is often lively. They develop consensus around viable alternative policy options for the leaders’ consideration. In the US there are 1777 think tanks. The US government relies on them heavily. This is how successful nations are run.

 

As I have stated in an earlier article titled የጠቅላይ ሚኒስቴሩ እንደ ስላሴዎች አንድም ሶስተም እየሆኑ የመምጣት አደጋዎች”, PM Abiy አግር ገዢውም (executive branch)፣ ህግ አውጪውም (legislative branch)፤ ህግ አስፈሳሚውም (judicial branch) እሳቸው ናቸው። I forgot to mention ልሂቁም (public intellectual) እሳቸው ናቸው:: I guess that makes the PM “አንድም አራትም”, a notch above ሶስቱ ስላሴዎች:: Until Ethiopian and the PM understand this and address it, “shit is bound to happen” to use a fitting American lexicon.

 

As my grandmother used to say, God protects the blind and Ethiopia. Indeed, he does. He has granted the PM and the Amhara tribal land time to change course. Both are best advised to remember that God’s patience has limits.

4 thoughts on “In the Oromo-Amhara Intellectual Barren Land Resides Ethiopia’s Burial Ground”

  1. Dr. Yonas:
    I wonder what kind of logic is that? Comparing the fascist women and children killer oromos with Amharas who are not even able to defend their children and wives who are dying in hundreds every now and then in the the land of the SATAN-wollega.

    Sad!!!!

  2. Despite all the concerted efforts of local and international actors, the extremist Amhara has not yet been born. We all know that and let us not fool each other. You are trying to equate the perpetrators of genocide with people that do not even stand up for self-defense? Which extremist group would allow ten thousand civilian members of their ethnic group to be massacred with impunity or without any retaliation or repercussion?

    Like they say in Addis, Tourist Bila.

  3. Ewnetu Yishalal

    Why is all this cover-up for Jawar being done? Jawar has explicitly stated that his aim is to create an Islamic Oromo State rule by Sharia. He publicly told Amjhara Moslems so years ago, before he learned, from Abiy Ahmed, to wear a mask to disguise his real intentions.

  4. Digital Tigraway

    The writer among other things tries to negate the superiority of the Tigrayans and goes on to incriminate them in the ongoing crisis in Ethiopia. On the other hand, the genuine Oromo politicians like Bekele Gerba do not deny this fact and acknowledge the liberating role of the Tigrayan forces and self ruling Oromia came to be a reality thanks to the Tigrayan forces.

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