Today: June 15, 2024

Standing Against Fano’s Bravery Is Selecting Slavery Over Liberty!

July 19, 2023

By Belayneh Abate

The history of Fano is the history of liberty, dignity and sovereignty. Like language, religion, and culture,  the spirit of Fano might have originated from certain regions, but this spirit has no ethnicity, religious affiliation or geographical demarcation.

In order to appreciate how the spirit of Fano hold the heads of the series of Ethiopian generations up, please read at least the relatively new book “*Empireland” by a British Indian author, Sathnam Sanghera. Mr. Sanghera’s book is one of the most scholarlily written, and profoundly researched, I have ever read on the ever-lasting scars of colonialism. Almost one third of the book is a list of references.

Empireland teaches details how the British empire colonized and mistreated its colonies, especially the Indian subcontinent for more than 300 years. The British Empire colonized the Indian subcontinent after it established all methods of control through a mischievous trade tool called the East Indian Company. The empire sent 250, 000 soldiers to India and it fooled the Indians that they were guards of the East Indian Company. (page 32). In addition to the arms control, the empire used India’s diverse ethnicity, religion and Cast system to divide and rule and make them fight each other while it looted their national treasure.

Once the empire controlled the Indians, the Indian men and women were treated as subjects, not as people with dignities. The empire forced Indian men to fight the Empire’s world war I and II. During world war II, 1, 440, 500 of the British troops were drawn from India. (page 198). Similarly, the empire used their women and men as slaves and soldiers during the scrabble for Africa and other colonies.

Although the Indians were serving the empire in every capacity from cleaning their dirt to becoming soldiers for their colonizer’s global expansion, their colonizers were treating them as subhumans. For example, one of the empire generals used to label them as ” a kind of dumb, almost animal, servility in his letter to his parents (page 29). Another colonizer general dismissed Indians as indolent, luxurious, ignorant and cowardly and blamed them for the famine that killed about 10 million Indians in 1770. (page 129). In 1860, it was a common encounter to call Indians as niggers (page 39).

As the Empire used a trade company to colonize the Indian subcontinent, it utilized piles of Bibles to colonize Africans. As Chinua Achebe stated in his “Things Fall Apart” novel and later Desmond Tutu used it in his speech,  when the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and Africans had the land. The missionaries said, ‘Let us pray.’ Africans closed their eyes and prayed. When Africans opened their eyes after praying, they had the Bible in their hand and the missionaries had the land.

After the empire colonized Africans using the Holy Bible as a weapon,  it started selling them like raw materials. Between 1660-1870, the empires shipped around 3 million slaves to America. As the book Empireland described the journey, “the slaves were kept shackled to each other or to the deck to prevent mutiny during the middle passage, stacked in tiers with no space to stand or turn…”.   The empire generals used to say “negros are made on purpose to serve the whites as the black ants are made on purpose to serve the red ants” (Page 159).

Furthermore, when one of the colonizer generals ordered blacks to be killed, he used to say, “niggers mean nothing to me, it was like killing dogs”. (page 163). In Kenya, disobedient slaves used to be “roasted alive” (page 206). In Gambia, one colonizer whose African wife had given a birth to a black baby accused her of infidelity and crushed the infant in a mortar and fed it to a dog” (page 215).

While the empire was colonizing subcontinent India through a trade company and Africa through piles of Bibles, it appears that it had cordial relationships with Ethiopian Fanos, such as Fano Tewodros. In fact, Fano Tewodros had a pistol gift from Queen Victoria. (page 60).

However, the pistol gift gesture was to test the water of the Fano’s mender (village), which has been hostile for invaders perhaps since man was created or the progenies of Lucy evolved to humans. Assuming the cordial relationship was genuine, Fano Tewodros requested the empire craftsmen to assist in establishing a national weaponry plant. However, the empire sent him several missionaries, who actually were spies.

Understanding the intention and the plan of the expanding empire, Fano Tewodros was unable to stand this betrayal and treachery like his ancestor Fanos who had been defending the liberty, dignity and sovereignty of their country for thousands of years. As a result, he imprisoned these spies, and this bold action irritated the empire. The irritated empire assigned general Napire, who was credited for crushing the Sikh army during Sikh Indians uprising (page (page 60).

General Napier organized 13,00 thousand soldiers, and 26, 000 camp followers. (page 60). As usual, the empire used Indian and other colony soldiers to invade Ethiopia. As we know, the empire also seduced and used our own traitors to betray Fano Tewodros and fight other Fanos. Since life and death with dignity is the hallmark of Fano, Fano Tewodros took his own life after the well-equipped British army had the upper hand over unprepared traditional Fano fighters who were also fighting with indigenous traitors otherwise known as BANDAS.

After Fano Tewodros took his own life for his dignity and the honor of the nation, the invaders were still loathed and rejected by surviving Fanos. The invading Imperial soldiers left after looting the country, especially the treasures of the Ethiopian orthodox church.

According to Empireland, the British scholars have had “intense fascination” for Ethiopian orthodox Christianity, and during the invasion they sent a team of religious experts with the soldiers so that they would effectively loot the church assets (page 59).

The war against Fano, and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church dates many thousands of years back. Unlike subcontinental India, Africa and Latin America, Ethiopian Fanos and the Ethiopian religious scholars have been instrumental in anticipation and early recognition of the intention and plan of the expanding European or other Empires. These empires were unable to use the bible as a tool because Ethiopian was the land of the Old and the New Testament way long before the European Empires. They could not use trade or missionary as a tool because of the three-dimensional culture of Fanos and church scholars.

As history demonstrates, the culture of Fanos is highly tied to liberty, dignity and sovereignty. The spirit of FANO has reserved the unique physical, cultural and religious independence of Ethiopians since the ancient nation was established.  Later, the spirit of FANO did shine like the rainbow at Noah’s ark to declare and spread freedom in Africa, Middle East, Asia and Latin America.

Therefore, please abstain from your ill-spirited intentional or ignorance-related reckless propaganda against Fano. Please think at least a hundred times before you speak against the former, the current and the future Fanos, who were and are willing to scarify everything for liberty, dignity and national integrity.

Standing against Fano’s bravery is selecting dishonor over honor,  preferring subjugation over independence and choosing slavery over liberty.

*Empirelalnd by Sathanam Sanghera, 2021 Edition

The writer can be reached at abatebelai@yahoo.com




  1. IMHO there should be a common restart point in Ethio politics. 1974. The failed popular uprising. Students. Worker’s unions. The army. The decaying monarchy and aristocracy. The feudal lords. The absentee feudals w/o portfolio.

    I grew up in relative luxury. By sheer accident. All the land and two extra houses were bought with the help of bank loans. I was told. It took years to get back the biggest house. The FERENJ renters finally left and I was born in that house. The mortgage was still waiting. Since income was more than 250 birr/month there was no compensation coming.

    Despite being from minority religion wise parent don’t remember being discriminated against. The city was the center of politics. Father married privilege. Uncle was best friend until father took advantage of friendship and lured his younger sister. My birth stopped the family feud. Grandmother named me after the father of religion. The marriage was illegal. But mother was a rebel. The city legalized it. Father supported the ELPA team. Uncle was St George fan. They argued constantly since fourth grade. Family was used to that and ignored them. They died the same day thousands of miles apart. Of natural causes.

    Tewodros was a very common boys’ name in my school. Solomon and Mohamed were the others. Those kids needed to remember their fathers’ names. Or their home room teachers and monitors had to. The only one thing my father and my uncle seemed to have in common was Tewodros II. They both admired that emperor. For different reasons. Tewodros was somehow crazy but in a good way for one. For the other it was the most just emperor with a dream. What did he expect when he imprisoned the Europeans? After all his big gun SABASTOPOL named in memory of Russian loss in Crimea fired only one time. But it is the idea that counts. Why Russia though? Was it b/c of Orthodox Christianity? That is none of your business. You know Tewodros didn’t invent Orthodox Christianity. It came from Palestine. Like yours didn’t? Okay why was he thinking of freeing Jerusalem from Muslims when he hadn’t had total control of Ethiopia? That was some AZMARI and not him. I bet crazy Tewodros would’ve been a crusader if he had his weapon factory at Gaffat was successful. How many times did I tell you not to call him crazy? But he was. No he was not. Berhanu Zerihun in YETANGUT MISTIR wrote that Tewodros killed over a hundred soldiers of his own just b/c they complained about carrying his dead wife’s body in a rainstorm for days unnecessarily, that is crazy. Like Berhanu was there, that was a fiction book. But it was based on true story. Okay Ok Berhanu Zerihun was like matusala, you win.

    In 1974 Ethiopian nationalism was in the air. What kind of Ethiopianism was that? Better yet, what is Ethiopian nationalism? Both my father and uncle loved Ethiopia their own ways. Uncle loved the bottle and wasted a lot of money in his youth. Father didn’t even like beer b/c it reminded him of the rival st. George team. My grand father gave some property to his children and my uncle’s share went to st george beer or something along with his first marriage. My cousin was the only kid they had but they were still in the family and she was the most beautiful girl I knew. She took after her mother. Her mother is still a very beautiful woman. She loved my uncle but was tired of his women on the side and won’t give him another chance. Whenever his ex wife showed up my uncle ran away. Grand father once told him he would die a whore monger. Uncle liked beer and the girls a bit too much. And he claimed he was once a star footballer but my father didn’t agree with that claim. My uncle was a bully. But a bully with a sense of justice. Some kids were ganging up against my father when they were in fourth grade. That’s how the friendship began. It lasted a life time. Family was sure my uncle would die young with all the drinking and smoking. All her life my cousin was raised by her beautiful mother. But she loved her absentee father more. And he loved his daughter back and spoiled her rotten. She got married to a guy he didn’t like. She had introduced them a year ahead but he didn’t want to say anything. He took me for a coffee here and it turned out the place sold beer too. He warned me. It is going to be my fault. What was he going to do? I was in my twenties and not six any more. ANTE MELATTA he started. I thought I had a full head of hair. At that time anyways. Why did you let a guy like that date your only sister? She is his only kid but not my only sister, but I didn’t tell him that. Do you even know the guy? I think he is a nice guy and he seems to like her a lot. Of course he will pretend to love her until he gets what he wants and then….And then he paused. Reality sinking in. He knew his daughter. She is a bully like him. She always picked her own friends ever since I can remember. And all her friends were boys. Not even one girl. She used to say girls hated her. I could see why. My mother never had daughters. And she spoiled her only niece, too. Mother gave up after five. Boys were too much to handle. Anyways uncle found out his son-in-law was a quitter. That had screwed up three different academic scholarships. And a narcissist. At some point my cousin was supporting him while he got into some weird far eastern philosophy ‘to find him self’ and needed time. But all it took was the birth of their first son. Our brother in-law worked hard from home while she put the bread on the table. He graduated with a 4.4 but declined six figure salary offers. He wasted her money trying some new stuff. She trusted him and so did we. The arrogance was gone. It was like he had a face lift or something. And yet he was not making any money. Uncle was at their one bed room apt on a visit. I thought he would kill him. Instead he was impressed. My mother urged me to check on them as often as I could. Like she was going to pay for gas. But she didn’t need to worry. That guy loved his newly born son very much. And then he sold something he created to some big company and got rich overnight. He was sued by a Mohammed and a Solomon who claimed to have helped him create that thing. They settled out of court after thousands of dollars were wasted on both sides. The Mohammed and the Solomon graduated at the top of AAU class in math many moons ago and that’s why my brother-in-law needed them. Their math was better than his. The Solomon from Gondar and the Mohammed from QERA were total bullies for nerds. I am ashamed to say I got involved in that fight. Months later my cousin casually parked the car at a diner for a coffee. She wanted me to swear on the name of the angle George that I won’t turn down her offer. The child in her was a girl. We knew that already. Besides I was still a bachelor. Kind of. My girlfriend at that time wasn’t even Abesha. She couldn’t be asking me to be her child’s godfather. Religion was the most avoided topic in the family. But it was none of the above. She was going to write me a check. I was insulted. It was my cut, she said. My mind scrambled to remember which mafia movie I saw that in. This is the most beautiful woman I adored and was scared of at the same time. I almost lost an eye for her b/c the gods of eyes were watching out for me when we were teenagers back home. Is she thinking that I’m a failure and needed financial assistance from relatives? I’d already decided not to take her check. The rest of it was a blur. We had had our share of fights before but this was our first in USA. At family weddings she often said All she needed was to call me to get her dose of self confidence bc I told her I would marry her in a heart beat if we weren’t related. I honestly don’t remember that. I’m not even sure phones were invented back then. Or phones were locked up at the number three hole so that you can’t dial all the way. TEQ-TEQ was a way of communication like in the WWI movie telegrammers or something. Parents had only one phone in the living room beside the fridge and why was the fridge in the living room? You TEQ-TEQ once for one and nine times for nine, you get the idea. The girl was waiting with her nose almost touching the huge phone and she picks it up before it rings. You were with her all day but there was always something more to say. Michael Jackson and the already dead Bob Marley from far away lands like Whiney Houston and Sade that were still alive back then. And the songs of MuluQen, Astuka, Gash Mahmoud, Kuku, king Tilahun, GiGi, Mr. Alex, Getachew Kassa, Menelik Wosnachew, Netsanet Melese were discussed in detail over the phone, I guess because girls didn’t even want to hear about Maradona or Haile Kasse and Mulgeta Kebede for that matter. They purposely tire you out when you get into talking about sports and start to yawn. Sometimes you get lucky and hook up with the girl of your dreams and then realize she wasn’t all that but you still won’t let her go bc you don’t want another guy to get her. Girls are from another planet and they are like your own shadow. They won’t let you go if you are leaving. But they won’t let you have them either if you follow them too strongly. My bully sister cousin and I had a lot of arguments on that subject growing up. I was sure half of the boys that were her best friends were stuck in the friend’s zone. They won’t let any other boy in that circle. When we were juniors in high school Abdurahman of the national soccer team asked me some random questions about her. I grew up admiring that guy. He was built like a greek god. He wasn’t in the national squad at that time yet. I wouldn’t have approved but still I was proud. I am not even sure what I was proud of. To this day. Casually I mentioned that to her but she brushed it off. I thought she won’t notice if I repeated that. BEQEY KARD YEWETTAW AYDEL? she said. But that was years ago. Abdi is a gentle giant who probably started to play soccer in his mother’s womb. And that was probably the only red card he got in his entire football career. Probably probably. Me and my cousin looked at each other. She told me he was too old for her. With her eyes. My childhood football hero must’ve tried to get to her through other people. I could’ve had a couple of world class footballer nephews by now. It wasn’t meant to be. I realized I had to have my own footballer kids. Where are the Brazilian single women?

    Atse Tewodros was what I wanted to write about. What about him? I’m not gonna waste or edit

  2. Atse Tewodros was an amazing emperor. He didn’t have the ‘right’ birth line to claim the crown. Still he made it. His story should be told with his TIME in mind. He was meant to be a clergy man and not even a soldier. The monastery he was studying at was burnt to the ground. Dej Kinfe(?) of Qwara was closely related to him. Qwara is at the border with Sudan. At that time the seat of Eth Gov and the capital city was Gondar. But the empire was at its weakest. The families of the monarchy were always in jail. That was done to prevent bloodshed. Claiming the crown always turned bloody. A puppet king was needed to control power by many king-makers. Life must’ve been like hell on earth back then with the constant wars. So all of them with a legit blood line to the crown spent most of their lives in prison. This went on for about 80 years.

    For those 80 years the YEJJU were ruling Ethiopia from Gondar. That Yejju dynasty started with Ras Ali and ended with another Ras Ali. They were Muslim. None of them became kings or claimed the crown. As a result there was practically no central authority in Ethiopia. Regional and local RASs and Chiefs had stopped paying taxes.

    Tewodros is not his birth name. His name was Kassa Hailu at birth. His mother is said to be from the working class and not royalty. He was at Qwara with Dej. Kinfu, probably un uncle of his father. At the border there was a constant war. Lij Kassa proved to be a great warrior and military leader. His fame grew by hips and bounds. The last Ras Ali of Yejju dynasty at Gondar managed to make peace with him. Kassa got married to Etege Mintewab/Tewabech and settled down in ancient Gondar city. Mintiwab is Ras Ali’s grand daughter. The ruling was done by Ras Ali’s strong minded daughter. Menen. She didn’t like the ex rebel Lij Kassa at all. When he was sick in bed she sent him some low-rated piece of meat instead of the traditional whole bull. That was disrespectful. It was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Or may be the pre-text Kassa was looking for. He became an outlaw again. Other rebels joined him very quickly and in great numbers. Some say he was like Robin Hood in his sense of social justice.

    Kassa defeated each and every war lord at different battles. Dejazmach Wube of Wolkait and Semen, too. And he married his daughter. Etege Tirunesh got him a son, prince Alemayehu. He was crowned. Became Tewodros II. He was known for losing his temper too often. Again this was in mid 1800s. At the end he lost control. Even most of Gondar. The aristocracy there never liked him anyways. He was in Debre-Tabor most of the time.

    Berhanu Zerihun was a famous writer. So was the poet laurate Tsegaye G/Medhin. Both wrote about Tewodros II in their own unique styles. Tsegaye’s play was seen by the royalty and the radical students for the first time in the same hall. The poet was called to the palace the very next day. It was not his first time. Later on he found out the emperor read everything he wrote. The same emperor was the one who knew Tsegay was going to be a great man and he was only 15 at the time. A student in Ambo town. He got through the emperor since then. Tsegaye’s education was extended through academic scholarship of UNICEF. He corrected the rumor of the king financing it. Wrote he saw former patriots being hanged for rebelling again in peace time. In Ambo. They cursed out the emperor in their last breath. In their native Afan Oromo. That was way before the emperor saw his very first school play. Tsegaye was both Amhara and Oromo. He was sent to his Amhara grandparent’s village in some rainy seasons. That’s where he perfected his Amharic. He was fascinated with Tewodros’s legend. Tsegaye admitted he was kind of weird kid. He wrote more plays. Originals. Always crossed the red line. Called to the palace again. Emperor had a soft side for him and he got away with a lot. The radical students were fascinated with him. EPRP named one of its ideologs after him or named himself after him. The late journalist Mulugeta Lule used his name at TOBIYA magazine in the 1990s. But Tsegaye was still alive in those days. Young people of the 1960s named their sons after that emperor a lot. There were four of them in my class. I don’t remember their parent’s ethnic back ground. But I’m sure those four Teddy’s didn’t name themselves. They were the only ones whose father’s names the monitor knew of for some reason. For the rest of us they were Teddy Qetchtchaw, Teddy Baricho, Teddy Michael J and Teddy Guragew. The one before the last danced for us to our cheers and to our monitor’s annoyance when he felt like it. The last one wasn’t Gurage but always won bets and talked too fast. All of our parents grew up in the 60s and told us their time was much better. As if we were responsible for TEFF and gasoline rationings. Money was around but not much to buy. Corruption might have been at the minimum. And yet I had to wash my father’s very old car that still looked dirty with rust on Saturdays if I wanted to go see my football heroes at Kambolojo on Sunday afternoons. QEBELLE or no QEBELLE I wished the days were longer. Teddy Guragew took my money even when it seemed like I won the bet. But he explained how I lost very convincingly. And he taunted me for being a loser. Teddy always had a group of kids around him but he had two left legs at the pitch. He had no talent in anything. Teddy was the first to call Ms Sophie ANCHIE instead of ERSO. He didn’t do his homework and was trying to get away with it. Beautiful Ms Sophie never punished us physically. She talked to us like we were adults. Not surprisingly we scored unusually high in her class. She didn’t have to tell us to be quiet either. She was a drop out from AAU. She only went there for a semester. Ms Sophie took evening classes. We could be graduating before her, she joked. She was rather harsh on Adem though. She knew many of us were copying from him bc we all got the same wrongs with him. Adem was younger than rest of us by a year or two. He had a habit of jumping classes until his mom Etyae Kedijja complained. W/ro Kedijja was tired of seeing bruises on him even though he won’t tell who did that to him. There was an unwritten code of conduct. He graduated from Gondar at the age of 21. I was working at 7/11 and still putting off school or trying to decide between Yale and Harvard when I was 21. The only time I remember beating Adem up was when he refused to fall in love with Ms. Sophie like the rest of us. We were nine and he was seven at that time. When do you all plan to marry her, he asked. By the time we turn 18 of course. Let see, he said adjusting his glasses. Ms Sophie is 24 now and she’ll be 48. We believed him but hated him at the same time. He deserved that beating for shattering our common dream. Many years later at his sister’s wedding here Dr. Adem told me I should see him for THAT. I wasn’t going. What if he suddenly remembered our childhood and me beating him up? He can prescribe me a medicine that kills, in revenge. Don’t be silly said the lady I met in community college where I got Bs for first time in my life, with her help of course. Adem’s sister was like a mother to him and now she was getting married. I remember her insisting we gave Adem more playing time whenever he went back home sad in the middle of the day. She stayed and watched her little brother watching the goal and being happy. As soon as she left he was back on the bench next to Teddy wishing we lost the match, only there was no bench to seat on. And now she was getting married to some guy from Dire Dawa with a dozen sisters that looked exactly the same. And they swore like a truck driver over nothing. How is Dr. Adem going to be able to tell his sister-in-laws apart? The lady with me found him again. She wanted to know if there was a cure for baldness. I shaved my hair but I wasn’t bald. Women! He was so happy he took her to the dance floor to dance to some extra long wedding song. I needed some beer but couldn’t remember the code word. But I think the parents knew we could not be drinking that much soda. I met Gash Tedla on my way to the forbidden beer store. He seemed a lot shorter than I remember. He remembered me. But he didn’t remember me and his son crashed his car when we were 13 or 14. May be he never found out. To my horror he was trying to hitch me up with his daughter Lilli. She was probably drunk. Too relaxed and too happy. She was supporting her face with her left hand on the table. Lilliyae was a feisty little girl and now she was a woman. In junior high she was my best friend. She always wanted to know what I did with girls but wanted to know details. I lied the best I could. She loved my lies. She told one of my old fictional stories to her dad right in front of me. That was disrespectful. She sanitized it but still. Worst yet she was the girl in the story the way she told it. Now I have to get two beers. Lilliyae had enough already. Gash Tedla won’t look at me. I didn’t mind. My lady arrived at the table very happy and gave me a kiss on the wrong place before I had a chance to turn my face to the side. She grew up here to the most part and keeps forgetting our culture. She bent down and gave Lillyae a kiss, too. Lilliyae didn’t move a muscle. I remembered the password for beer at that moment. The band was on a break. A tape was playing equally loud if not louder. The groom’s identical dozenipple sisters were still on the dancing floor. I wasn’t sure if they were fighting or adjusting their hairs. Nobody cared. Another sister was in charge of rationing the forbidden beer. May be there were 13 of them. She was probably the youngest. I could see her thick hair grow. I forgot the code again. She looked at my head before I had the time to throw it back so she couldn’t see. She asked me how many. 13 I said. What? I mean just one. She found that funny. Her whole body shook when she laughed. I noticed an accent. Her Rs were too soft. We kept talking like we knew each other for long. Me in Amharic and she in American Amharic. Happy people came and went. Lillyae appeared. And then my lady. They started to talk like girls. I tuned out. Moved on. They didn’t notice me leaving. I noticed I forgot my beer at that station. I wasn’t going back. I didn’t want to see no hair no more. May be it’s my diet. What did my ancestors eat? Organic for sure. Teddy Afro’s song that had nothing to say about weddings was on. Teddy was not in the building. That was years before his other hit song about that emperor’s SHURBA. That deservingly famous artist and his father were named after the same king at birth. Was I a little jealous? Teddy Afro might have a full head of hair but I am taller. I started to walk taller but nobody was looking at me. I bet MIDRE-HABESHA born here and at home would rush up to me if I had a full head of hair, I mean if I was Teddy Afro. How old was Atse Tewodros when they cut his hair off and took it to England?

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