“Remember that all through history, there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they seem invincible. But in the end, they always fall. Always,” wrote Gandhi in his autobiography. Abiy and the Prosperity Party (PP) think they are invincible, but in the end they will fall. But Ethiopians have to ensure that Abiy & PP’s are not replaced by another ethnic clique in power.
To ensure that Abiy & PP’s names will be forever associated with the crimes they have committed against Ethiopians, their innocent victims and the fallen combatants of FANO must continue to live actively in our memories and history. This means that those who have the means and have the knowledge of events on the ground should record the name, age, and locality of every woman, man, child, and youth who have been killed by Abiy & PP’s army, security forces, and secret police, as well as the name, age, and locality of every FANO fighter who has fallen defending the freedom of Ethiopians. Such a recording of names is a preliminary step to give them the place they merit in our collective memory and in Ethiopia’s history.
However, remembering them is more than recording the names, age, and locality. The traditional way of remembering is building monuments, naming streets, buildings, parks and other public venues after the victims and heroes, erecting in the relevant localities memorial walls on which their names are carved, and holding yearly public commemorations. Let me call this traditional way “passive remembering.” The traditional way is important, but is not applicable as long as Abiy & PP are in power. Nor is it sufficient to make actively present in our collective memory Abiy & PP’s victims and the fallen FANO combatants.
Thus, we need to go further than “passive remembering” and engage in “active remembering.” Active remembering is making the innocent victims of Abiy & PP’s criminal violence and the martyred FANO combatants a living presence in our lives. This we can do by making them live in our songs, music, novels, poetry, novellas, plays, shows, children stories, movies, festivals, short stories, cartoons, paintings, and other forms of art. Active remembering is something we can start doing right now. It does not have to wait for the fall of Abiy & PP.
The dead do not die as long as we remember them actively. Conversely, the dead die a second time when we forget their names. We cannot let this second death happen to those who gave their lives to defend our freedom and to those who were killed because they were Amhara, or non-Oromo, or Oromos opposed to Abiy & PP’s anti-Ethiopianism.
Active remembering makes the victims of Abiy & PP and the fallen FANO combatants live in our hearts and mind, in our metaphors, similes, allegories, examples and symbols, and in our myriad cultural, literary, and artistic works and activities. It will make them household names. Active remembering transforms into living immortals the innocent victims of Abiy & PP and the fallen FANO fighters. The inevitable effect of active remembering is the consignment of Abiy Ahmed and the Prosperity Party to the detritus of Ethiopian history as the most ignominious and murderous politicians Ethiopia has even known.
Active remembering has two advantages over passive remembering. First, passive remembering cannot commence before a democratic regime is established. Active remembering, on the other hand, could start immediately. Ethiopian writers and artists could start evoking right now the victims of Abiy & PP and the FANO martyrs in their songs, music, novels, poetry, novellas, plays, shows, children stories, movies, festivals, short stories, cartoons, paintings, and so forth. Second, we can practice active remembering even if, due to the disproportion of weapons, FANO is defeated, a possibility any serious thinking must consider. We can thus keep alive the flame of freedom until it bursts again into a fire that burns to the ground the tyranny of Abiy & PP.
It is crucial that passive and active remembering should not conflate Abiy & PP with the Oromo people. Abiy & PP are the corrupt, power-hungry and criminal minority branch of the Oromo elite. The Oromos are as Ethiopian as the Amhara, they have contributed enormously to Ethiopian culture and the making of Ethiopia, and have shed their blood in the defence of Ethiopia. Oromos and the anti-PP Oromo elites are also victims of Abiy & PP. Both passive and active remembering should always take this into account.
The battle for freedom and the struggle to throw out Abiy & PP from power is a battle that transcends ethnic identities. It is a fight for the freedom of each and every Ethiopian. That’s why the FANO flame must be kept alive if, because of imbalance of forces, FANO is defeated. Remember, FANO is not fighting to gain power nor to dismember Ethiopia. As the FANO maxim indicates, it is fighting to defend the freedom of all Ethiopians. When an ethnic clique is in power, whatever its ethnicity, all Ethiopians cannot be free. Only active remembering could keep alive the flame of freedom if FANO is overwhelmed by the drones and tanks of ethnic tyranny.
In actively remembering the victims of Abiy & PP’s tyranny and those who have fallen to defend our freedom, we create a community of free Ethiopians—the innocent victims of Abiy & PP, the combatants who have fallen, and we the living—bound together by the blood of the innocent victims and the sacrifices of those who stood up against ethnic tyranny.
Active remembering will always make us vigilant that another Abiy Ahmed, another Prosperity Party, and the likes of them will never make it to the gates of Ethiopian politics and history.