Today: June 12, 2024

Resolving the Wolkait Debate Peacefully and Justly Matters for All Ethiopians

June 13, 2023

You do not have to be a historian to understand that Wolkait, Tegede,Telemt and Raya have never been part of Tigray. Foreign and Ethiopian historians provide indisputable documentary evidence that the regional state of Tigray, Ethiopia shares a border with Begemdir/Gondar at the Tekeze River.

From at least the time of Emperor Zara Yacob (1434-1468) up to the forcible annexation of these lands by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front in the 1970s and 1980s, with the culmination of TPLF taking power in 1991 and declaring occupied lands as “Western Tigray,” this strategic land mass has never ever been part of Tigray.

This fact is confirmed in “Ethiopia: the lands,its people,  history, culture” by Yohannes K. Mekonen, editor; “The World through maps: a history of cartography” by John Short, “Tructatus tres historia-geographic,” by Emmanuel Bereda, 1634, “Travels to discover the sources of the Nile,” by James Bruce and so on. A compelling and evidence based history of the land mass by Achamyeleh Tamiru and my own research findings more than a decade ago that took 6 months to compile and and present in Amharic provide testimonials.

At the time of Emperor Tewodros, Wolkait, Tegede, Telemt and Raya were under Begemdir/Gondar. This geopolitical and border designation was affirmed later by Emperor Haile Selassie,  Christopher Clapam affirms this designation in his book, “Transformation and Continuity in the New Ethiopia.”

As important, Tigrean-Ethiopians like Leul Ras Mengesha Seyoum, TPLF founder Dr. Aregawi Berhe, Engineer Gidey Zeratsion and numerous others affirmed that TPLF fought and annexed the territory with the intent of opening a security corridor with SUDAN. The ultimate goal on the part of TPLF is to re-annex and incorporate the fertile and resource rich land mass into Greater Tigray and, perhaps, declare independence.

My suggestion in terms of the way out is for TPLF and the federal government of Ethiopia to acknowledge and accept Wolkait, Tegede, Telemt and Raya as part and parcel of the Amhara region and reinstate budget support quickly.

The Amhara region must, on its part, entertain the idea that Tigrean Ethiopians who have been displaced from the region can return, resettle and work as peaceful members of the community.

The viable way out is no longer war but constructive dialogue and conversation among Amhara and Tigreans, especially civilians who have to live together as they have done for thousands of years.

In the long-term this principle of any Ethiopian living and working in any part of Ethiopia without fear must be the political, cultural and legal norm in Ethiopia.

In this connection, I would like to bring to your attention a lively conversation on the pro-TPLF and anti-Amhara report on the so-called “Western Tigray” by Human Rights Watch, a conversation sponsored by and managed by Journalist Reeyot Alemu of Mingiziem Media. She posed challenging questions to economist and activist Tsigereda Mulugeta and to me that we tried to address with passions and intellectual integrity.

I thank both for the opportunity and urge you to listen to, assess, share and critique this timely conversation (below).

Dr. Aklog Birara

June 12, 2023


  1. The Welkait question is a no brainer. Get rid of Article 39 along with the ethnic-apartheid political system and you would solve the problem. Hang on to Article 39 and the political system designed to enable ethnic entrepreneurs to create independent republics and there will be resistance against the annexation of Welkait, Rayya etc. into a prospective breakaway Greater Tigray Republic. Before the plans for an independent self-sufficient Tigray were concocted, Western Tigray was Shire and Adyabo east of the Tekezie River. The Western Tigray of TPLF is even worse than Western Somalia: the Ogaden annexation scheme of Siad Barre. At least in Western Somalia, the ethnic group living on the land is Somali. In TPLF’s new “Western Tigray” invention, the annexed people refuse to be called Tigrayans. They have always been Begemidres and choose to be identified with Gondar and the larger Amhara people.
    They have been treated worse than slaves by TPLF and its administration and refuse to willingly go back to that arrangement.
    It seems that Welkait has been coveted by Ferenji long before TPLF set its eyes upon it. No wonder the Americans are brazenly trying to force the slavery of the TPLF back on the Welkait people. It seems to be more than trying to get TPLF a corridor through which they could supply it with weapons of war. It is even more than trying to contain the Eritrea of Isayas Afewerki. More seems to be involved than meets the eye.
    Say no to a repeat of MAIKADRA!

  2. Guys,

    Let this issue rest for good so that we all can focus on other things. Your historical claim might be based on some truth, but we do not live in the past forever. All these contested areas including Welkait had been part of Tigray for the last thirty or so years. The Amhara regional constitution which the regional parliament has not amended still taks about the region bordering i=to the west west to Western Tigray. You don’t respect your own constitution? On top of that The Pretoria agreement (PA) clearly specifies that Tigray will be restored to its territory which existed prior to the last civil war. So, both Amhara and Tigray constitutions and the PA have tied the hands of federal and Amharal authories. No choice but to hand over the contested areas to Tigrayin – in a silver platter. Give it up!

  3. “You don’t respect your own constitution”?
    That would be a question for Amharas under the age of five. Let alone the constitution of the TPLF-OLF created Amhara region, the TPLF-OLF drafted constitution of Ethiopia is not a constitution of/for the Amhara people. Rather both are contracts on the Amhara people. The Amhara were not represented in any shape or form during the drafting or ratification of the constitution. TPLF’s non-Amhara puppets acting as TPLF viceroys accepted the Amhara Region’s constitution.
    TPLF invaded Welkait a decade before it came to power. The pretext it used was that it was fighting the EDU. That excuse was used to eliminate a lot of seasoned Welkait, Tsegede and Tselemt people. Next it used the excuse of fighting with the EPRP to rid Welkait etc of more Amharas. Finally, the TPLF declared an intense military campaign against Derg and its supporters in the area, and used the pretext to do more ethnic cleansing of Amharas.
    All along, no one suspected that it was preparing to annex the Amhara land into its prospective Greater Tigray Republic.
    Therefore, any talk asking the Amhara people to abide by the decrees of the outlaw with respect to their rights is not only unjust but also outright ludicrous. The Amhara regional constitution as well as the constitution of Ethiopia were crafted by TPLF to guarantee its keeping of the annexed territories.
    The so-called Pretoria agreement is as good as the Wuchale Treaty as far as the Amhara people are concerned. Only a slave would allow others to negotiate over his future. No self-respecting human will willingly submit to slavery.
    Yes! Justice to the victims of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

  4. Until this twisted notion of ‘this is my land and not yours’ is not rendered very wrong such silly wrangling will be around over there wreaking havoc with one mistreating the other. There is more than enough over there for everyone to share and leave in peace. Such violently concept that emanated from the evil scripture of Marxism/Leninism/Maoism is wrong and has been deadly to the innocent and natural born harmonious peoples of that gem of the colored. Unless such demonic misconception is dealt with frontal attack and rendered corrupt it will continue to be the cause deaths and displacement of millions. This is also an issue between the Oromia and every southern region that share this commie concocted fake borders. Talking to my relatives who live in the capital the other day they told me that there were several shootouts in areas between Oromia and Sidama regions because of this stupid notion of ‘this is mine, not yours’. Many have died on both sides and most of them were innocent unarmed citizens. I hope they give it up and give it up soon. Again, there is more than enough out there for every one to share and live in peace as cohabitants/neighbors.

  5. Ahun,

    You guys keep hardening positions saying it’s all mine. What do you want to do? Go to war again and destroy yourselves before our eyes? NO. But the feds have done it for you because you were unable to settle it peacefully by yourselves. Have you heard about “winner takes” principle? Maybe not. The winner takes all the contested areas. Who’s that winner? TPLF. It has won diplomatically the feds hands down It has U.S., A.U, E.U., Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, Israel, etc. on side. In their turn, the feds have tightened the noose on Amhara regional authorities. It’s over, man.

    The best option for Amhara is to work for “win – win ” solution by avoiding possible war with Tigray region. “Win – win ” solution? Yes. How? By agreeing to a joint ownership and exploitation of the contested areas or split it in to two so that each will have its piece.

    What do you say?

    • Chuuchuu Daagaafaa,
      I say go hang yourself. I am an Amara, I don’t give an inch of my land to miserable foreign slave called woyane. not now, not ever.
      I think you’re trying to be funny, for your info we can handle the lousy woyanes and your relative Onegs as the same time. Do we care if the whole west is beside them? Not at all. We Amaras always won against all odds. We may be patient, but once we rise up we can show you wonders in the war front. What do you say? you ask. Well I say, buy a popcorn and watch the war movie, enjoy.

  6. You see, some of us here among the Diaspora think it is our duty to urge the gullible youth back there to start another murderous and destructive conflict where thousands possibly millions will perish and millions others will be left homeless. We do that from our safe and comfy homes. I see it not only as something irresponsible but also outright bigotry. That country has more than enough to share for its people if there is peace, stability and prudent planning. If all of its resources are harnessed it can be the bread basket of all of its neighbors. Until this twisted attitude of ‘You Amhara! You don’t belong here’, ‘You Oromo! You don’t belong here’, ‘You Tigre! You don’t belong here’ that country will continue to go through the cycle of deadly and destructive violence until it is no more. Sad but that is true. Okay bigots! Get this! Wolkait is Not solely owned by Tigres or Amharas but to all Ethiopians. Oromia is not the sole property of Oromos but it belongs to all Ethiopians. Amhara region is not the exclusive property of Amharas but every Ethiopian on the deed granted by The Almighty Our Creator. So goes for every region. If you don’t like this clear clarion statement find yourself a lake and jump in the deep end section not come up ever!!!!


    • Your solution is very nice but it required Constitutional amendment and Oromo Politicians are so happy with the big chunk of land awarded in 1991 by TPLF for the sole purpose of checking Amhara. If TPLF loosed Wolkaite I think your solution will be agreeable to them too.

  7. Know-It-All from the East Coast just shot me an email and told me what Menelik said this to his wife ‘Hey, Europeans are colonizing Africans. I will colonize Africans too’. Then he went south and west and colonized. That is why there is no sense of citizenship in Ethiopia. Best example is when citizens there are bombed and raped nobody wants to talk about it. But in my Eritrea the sense of citizenship is so strong that citizens were never bombed, raped or arrested by their government. That is why they’re never been nation state or a sense of citizenship in Ethiopia. In fact Ethiopia never existed and does not exist even now. Some people just use that name illegally’.

    Then Af-mishar from the West Coast shot me an email and told me how Menelik did his colonization. He said ‘Ethiopian rulers can mobilize a huge army just like that. Menelik was able to mobilize more than 600,000 men and overwhelmed native people including my Somalis, Somali Abos and Somali Hararis. I have the list of names of those 600,000 men Menelik mobilized in 1880 and again in 1896. You know what he did to the Italians in 1896. He massacred 35,879 innocent Italians at Adwa that year who were there on humanitarian mission from the Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières(Doctors Without Borders) and Amnesty International. He just murdered them. I have the list of names of all those 35,879 innocent Italians massacred by Menelik at Adwa in 1896. I am planning to file a lawsuit against Menelik for that crime alone at The Hague. My Somali Abo college professors from Minnesota, Georgia, Virginia, Michigan and Gourdie from Down Under will be there to support me when I file the lawsuit. Hey Menelik! You’re toast!!!’.

    I have been crying rivers for those innocent and unarmed Italians killed by Menelik at Adwa in 1896. I propose the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Af-mishar.

  8. I wish these two and others like them will rather go into retirement so they can spend precious moments with their families and grandchildren if they have any. Every time they open their mouths they are putting my relatives who still live in Chercher region of Western Hararghe, The bulk of my kin and kit do still live there as farmers, business people and government employees. Go and retire folks because your grand kids are waiting for you to show them the world.

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