By Tesfaye Kebede*
Not sure what to make out of this gibberish (read here: http://zehabesha.com/amharic/archives/5735) from a certain Bewketu Seyoum writing about the ongoing Oromo and Southern cultural revolution; each of his sentence is constructed to deliberately use the rarest Amharic word/phrase possible (even those words used only during ESLCE Amharic exams) – all the energy is wasted to make the sentences flowery, but their meanings remain meaningless. Ya-Qaalaat Daadaataa only. His conclusion is that the ongoing cultural revolution is a sign of backward and stagnant mentality. Not sure why he wasted all these words and phrases, instead of just saying that in point-blank.
1) He refutes the thesis that the Ethiopian state was formed as a result of conflicts among three main actors: the Oromo, the Amhara and the Tigreans. His thesis is that the Ethiopian state is not a result of conflicts, but of cooperation. By doing this, he negates the major pillar of the Ethiopianist’s argument (his camp’s major pillar) that no country has ever been created without violence. His Ethiopianist colleagues say this to rationalize the genocide perpetrated on the Oromo and the South by Menelik as a virtue whose end, but not means, was justified. Why did Bewketu view the genocide unleashed by Menelik’s Abyssinian/Amhara army on the Oromo and the South as “a peaceful cooperation among the South, the Oromo and Menelik/Amhara to create the Ethiopian state”? There were no signs of cooperation, but conflicts.
He simply cites the support Yohannes IV received from the Rayya/Wollo Oromo and the Afar against the Khedivate of Egypt as an example, but he deliberately misinterprets this coalition among neighbors with equal sovereigns (i.e. the Tigray-led Abyssinian state, the Rayya/Wollo Oromo state and the Afar Sultanate) as if it had been done under one sovereign kingdom, the Abyssinian state. Is it not true that the Afar Sultanate exists even today (with limited power due to the Abyssinian state’s takeover of the Afar sovereignty)? And, what about the Rayya/Wollo Oromo sovereignty? Wasn’t it Yohannes IV who crushed the Rayya/Wollo Oromo sovereignty and placed it under the Abyssinian state domination – guess at which place? … Boru-Meda! – the very name of Bewketu’s blog. Isn’t this what having affection for words/phrases without knowing their true meaning do to you? In addition to taking over the sovereignty of the Rayya/Wollo Oromo state, Yohannes IV also forced Wollo Oromo leaders (Imam Mohammed Ali and Imam Amade Liben) to be converted to Christianity with names, Ras Mikael (with his Godfather being Yohannes IV), and Ras Hayla-Maryam (with his Godfather being Menelik), respectively. There were no signs of cooperation, but conflicts.
2) A note to squash his “word borrowing as integration” – thesis. It’s said that some 30% of the English words are from the French language originally. However, neither the English/British nor the French claim that they have created an “integrated nation” out of this borrowing of words/phrases between the two languages. Citing that some Afan Oromo words (however many they may be) have been borrowed into Amharic, and to conclude that an “integrated Ethiopian nation” of the Oromo and the Amhara has been created is a wrong conclusion. The Ethiopian nation, if it even exists, is still the replica of the Amhara/Habesha culture, language and Orthodox worldview. By the way, Amharic has borrowed words from Arabic also – is Bewketu going to claim that the “Ethiopian national identity” also represents the Arabs? Keldun Tewew.
3) On the Oromo worldview: Bewketu fails to really see the essence of the Oromo Ateete while calling it “Zar” and “Wukabi” – understanding the Oromo worldview as an Amhara is not easy. Ateete is neither “Zar” nor “Wukabi,” but those with no understanding of the Oromo worldview are prone to misinterpret it. Saying the Oromo gave the culture of “Zar” and “Wukabi” to the Amhara is rather insulting the Oromo culture and worldview. There are many scholarly articles available online on Ateete to learn about it from the Oromo itself, instead of referring to a racist and bigoted view of Ateete from Debtera Desta Teklewold.
4) Bewketu on Oromo land: he says, “??? ???? ???? ??? ???? ??? ????? ???” – here, the keyword is “???” – this is another Oromo-phobic view of the Ethiopianist camp. They still have to acknowledge the Oromo-land (Biyyaa Oromoo) as the Oromo people’s country. To conveniently throw the poisonous word, “???,” is only done to alienate the Oromo people from their land. ESAT also uses this term to support their thesis that the “Oromo invaded Ethiopia from the Indian Ocean, Madagascar, … and so on.”
5) Bewketu’s view on the ongoing cultural revolution in Oromia and the South. Yesterday, the fashion of the day among the Habesha elites was to insult the Oromo and the South as “culture”-less, “history”-less and “language”-less peoples. Today, he’s criticizing the Oromo and Southern peoples for embracing their identities by reviving their lost cultures, histories and languages. To show his phobia for this cultural revolution, he insults the miskin Gabi saying “Gabi can’t be pride.” … Gabi melbesem endezi anadotal ende! Gud bel, Borena.
6) Bewketu’s remark from Ato Afework Gebreyesus is encouraging only if he can discern its true meaning: – “A generation that cannot be better than its predecessors should be considered unborn.” That’s why this generation of the Oromo, the Qubee Generation, is upholding the Oromo identity and cultural heritage much better than its predecessors since the occupation of Oromiyaa. Like the Sankofa bird, this generation is reclaiming the past for the future. Oromo’s past was violently deleted from the history books by the successive Abyssinian regimes, it is the task of this generation to reclaim the past and chart the future based on the findings.
7) By his own admission, Bewketu began his article saying the “Ethiopian state” was a result of the cooperation among the major actors, the Oromo, the Amhara and the Tigreans. Here, the keyword is “cooperation.” And, he concludes his article without telling us what will happen to this “Ethiopian state” in a situation where its “founding principle of cooperation” among the major actors no longer exists – as it’s evident today. Instead, he raises his left arm to shout a familiar slogan, “Andinet Weyim Mot” – that’s the summarizing notion of his last paragraph. Bewketu, “Andinet Weyim Mot” yalut, yet deresu?
* Tesfaye Kebede can be reached at TesfayeKebedeLives@gmail.com