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The Amhara: Understanding the Call (Zelalem Eshete, Ph.D)


Zelalem Eshete, Ph.D.

I have seen several negative articles and comments in response to my recent article entitled: “Ethiopia Anew: A Call to Amhara Ethnic People”. These articles/comments have too many deficiencies for me to respond directly. Let me explain why:

First, the articles/comments are off topic: instead of dealing with my article, they discuss other people.  I don’t understand why I have to speak for other people. I invite my opponents to reconsider my article and objectively present their case against it.

Second, the article/comments missed the mark: instead of challenging the merit of my article, I am simply asked to choose one of the two camps: the government or the opposition. It is sad how we rush to labeling instead of having an intelligent conversation on the subject. It seems an independent voice has no place in the current polarized debate culture.

Third, the articles/comments reveal a deficiency in understanding my article. I found this to be the most important for a healthy dialogue. Therefore, I will attempt to aid understanding by quoting from my article to show how the arguments against my message are flawed.

Flawed Argument 1: A single ethnic group shouldn’t be a target

Understand my article, I quote: “This is a call to Amhara ethnic people from an Amhara ethnic individual. This is a about looking at ourselves inwardly first than looking at others outwardly.”

In reconciliation, we focus on ourselves to give an account. When each ethnic group does self reflection, then healing comes in to view. I disclosed my ethnic group so that I speak for my own. The alternative is to defend ourselves and demonize the other in order to come over as the winner. Reconciliation is not about winning alone, it is about winning together. For that, we put our feet in shoes of the other and seek to understand.

If you don’t like my approach, then answer this: what did you benefit in majoring on others and forfeiting self-reflection? Is the status quo acceptable to you so long as your pride is not compromised? What do you choose: in humility find peace and healing or keep on marching to the same old tune and perpetuate the antagonism forever?

Flawed Argument 2: Amhara is the victim recently

Understand my article, I quote: “Unless we move ahead with a new wholesome identity, we relive the mistake of the past reformatted differently that even makes us a victim today.”

Unless we deal with the root problem via reconciliation, we continue to be the victim. Pride always works against us. In humility we not only should ask forgiveness for our mistakes, we should also take the lead in forgiving others for all wrongs against us even if they are not asking for it at the moment. We caused the pain first, and we should be the first to extend forgiveness to others as well.

Flawed Argument 3: Most Amhara peasants are innocent

Understand my article, I quote: “It doesn’t matter if we personally do not have a prejudice against another ethnic group. The debt of past tragedy needs to be settled. It is real and grave.”; “We need to teach history to our kids so that they too stand in the gap and become a part of this historic healing process by acknowledging the shame.”

That may be true, but by itself doesn’t negate the need for standing in the gap. Again, self-righteousness doesn’t take us far. We lose if we treasure the illusion of being right. We need to stand in the gap and take responsibility for all the past generation for the benefit of attaining reconciliation for the future generation. It takes innocence to take on the ills of the past generation. Those who are oblivious to the past ills may be the ones who entertain prejudice against others even to this date.

Flawed Argument 4: The mistakes of Amhara are not presented / Amhara has done no harm

Understand my article, I quote: “There is nothing more tragic than considering and treating another human being as sub-human because they are of a different ethnic group.”

To say there is no grave humiliating discrimination against other ethnic groups is to insult the hurting people once more. It is like telling them that they are liars for crying out. No wonder the saga continues. What good this denial has gotten us so far? Why are we so obsessed to be right to the point that we are losing our brothers and sisters? How can we speak of loving Ethiopia and such absurd denial using the same mouth?

Flawed Argument 5:  Amhara has nothing to confess

Understand my article, I quote: “The Greek word for “confess” is homologeo which means: “to say the same thing” and then “agree, admit, acknowledge”. It is time we say the same thing as the truth.”

Confession is not going to the clergymen to speak of our mistakes. It is simply to say the same truth that the hurting ethnic people are speaking against Amhara. It is about speaking the truth so that all the people of Ethiopia are on the same page. It is about creating harmony in our discourse. It is about putting our defense to rest and instead opening our harms to embrace those who have something against us.

Flawed Argument 6: The past is past, talk about the present

Understand my article, I quote: “Lack of repentance (change of thinking), forces us to perpetuate the ills of the past right into the future.”

The fact that we are against repentance shows we are no different from our past generation in our view about other ethnic groups. Defending the past generation reveals that we have the same prejudice against those ethnic groups who suffer. In light of this, the mistake of the past is still alive taking different forms and formats.

In conclusion

There is no other way for all of us to continue as one people other than we bow down to reconciliation with enthusiasm. Otherwise, we continue to give flesh to the spirit of the past ills to continue haunting our Ethiopia into the future. Please provide an alternative pragmatic solution to our problem at hand instead of discrediting the message and/or the messenger using hate words.

Other writings of Dr. Zelalem Eshete can be found at https://zehabesha.com/?s=+Zelalem+Eshete+can&x=5&y=4




  1. Dear Zelalem,

    I really admire your intellectual farsightedness and integrity. I like your statement that it is really absurd to love Ethiopia and hate Ethiopians at the same time. And yet this has remained a unique characteristic trait of jingoistic Ethiopian nationalism, a which in my mind is nothing more than pseudo-Ethiopian nationalism.

    We are yet to have it, but genuine Ethiopian nationalism will emerge by following the line of argument you have advocated. In the end. I hope that more and more Amhara intellectuals, who have been standing firm blocking the way for emergence of inclusive Ethiopian nationalism, will eventually begin to share your vision.

    Having read the harsh criticisms, I was very worried that you, and reasonable Amharas like you, may be discouraged. I am glad to see your patience and perseverance. In the end your idea will prevail, above all it is rooted in knowledge and reason. On the contrary, your critics are largely equipped with ignorance and dogma.

    Keep it up.

    • What about the oromo and tigray intellectuals? Do you have reasonable argument point or just advocating your hate politics of the amharas?

      • Getaw,

        The difference is this – there are a good number of Oromo intellectuals who are moderate and genuinely and tirelessly working to create a united democratic Ethiopia.

        They are sandwiched between two hardliners – (a) the entire Amhara intellectuals who belong to extreme right wing spectrum of political thinking, seeing nothing but the domination of their ethnic group on the rest; (b) hardline Oromos who see nothing else but separation from the rest of Ethiopia simply because they are so upset by the behavior of the extreme right wing Amaras.

        Now I challenge you, please tell me if there is a single Amhara thinker who can think outside the box to empathize with the status of non-Amhara population in Ethiopia?

  2. You smell like a shit! You think u have an answer to current problem by blaming Amharas.Go to hell! you got nothing! you can be anyone including PHD, it stinks. Amharas has nothing to lose if Ethiopia disintegrate! That is what u and the son of bands wants. ur idea smells rotten egg! you r playing GOD. you appear as if -i know-all-problems-of Ethiopia, it -comes-from-Amharas. burn with ur hate for amhara people. sad you u feel u have answer, how much are you paid by tplf? you are not the only one paid by tplf, noble peace prize winners were also paid by tplf. coward!

    • I second your comment! The guy is either ignorant or a hired agent of Weyane. I support reconciliation, but Zelalem is not talking about it but rather he is engaged in hurling blames against Amharas using weyane propaganda style language.

      Dr Zelalem is a wolf wrapped in a sheep cloak.

  3. Zelalem’s suggestion reminds me what the late linguist Hadis Alemayehu wrote, “wetader siyatefa balager yikisal.” I do not think this guy is a real person. He is a created personality after the disgrace of Alemnew Mekonen. The o called cousin that criticized Zelalm was trying to validate his existence too. Even if Zelalem is real, he is in deep identity crisis. so let us not waste our time responding to Zelalem. I think Zelalem is berhanu damtie (Abamela of pal talk civility)

  4. In support of Dr. Zelalem: Edited from a source

    Mere repetition doesn’t beautify the deformed, exalt the mediocre or rectify the false. So numbed have I become by the endless replay of this one argument in regards to historic injustice, I thought I should lift the needle off this broken record before the originators start to think they are playing an irresistible piece. The argument is often in a rhetorical question form:

    Why Should I take responsibility for what my ancestors did in the past?

    Well, the aura and evocation of pride in a nation’s past doesn’t not emerge from individuals’ personal involvement in what was done in the past either, but rather from a communal affiliation in the category of actors in the past. When a sense of national identity is associated to the actions of one’s ancestors, and where it is widely known that these ancestors committed injustices, it follows that collective guilt becomes significant constituent of that very national identity. To reframe this as a rhetorical question – if you, a person of the 21st century, are happy to inherit the political, social and moral assets of your forefathers, should you not also accept the political, social and moral debt of your forefathers? If you are calling people to forget the injustice in the past, are you willing to disregard the things you uphold so dearly as being the achievements of the past? Wanting the sun shine on the threshing floor, while it rains on the turnip field?

    The notion of collective guilt enmeshes every person who stands in alliance with the wrongdoers and who retains alliance with them after the facts of historic injustice have been brought to light. You don’t even have to individually engage in an active justification or rationalisation of past injustice. Rather, inactively, national identification is one such practice of alliance- this is what the German Jurist and writer Bernhard Schlink terms as the construction of a ‘community of responsibility’.

    The apathy, rationalisation and often denial my generation shows about historical injustices in Ethiopia and the pain and resentment it has caused is quite puzzling to me. The refusal to take responsibility to remedy historical injustices as individuals or as collective agents is an act of injustice in itself. Our indifference to the untreated trauma is an active participation in its reproduction. If an individual or a group neglects or rejects the confronting reality of its past, then the accountability that gives the lives of individuals or groups in their allegiance to a community or a nation any moral significance has already lost its defense.

    Our interest in the past is not because of what it meant to the people involved in its making, rather it is because of what it means in the present to us who have a relational engagement with it. One can only talk about the past relationally, to the present or the future. In the very relational logic that defines the past, we have a choice to decide on how to relate to the past. History after all is refining our thinking of the past-embedding present in order to have a well-functioning community. The notion of “community” carries symbolic references for a sophisticated depiction of time. It allows human beings to hold the belief that they are persons of immortal values that defy the limited self and the threat brought by the distinctively human sentience of one’s own mortality. So the tired proverbial “why should I take responsibility for my ancestors?” or “we can’t turn the clock back” is too simplistic – under what looks like an apparent truth it overlooks the fact that communities live entire lives.


  5. Home come this stupid so-called Dr. continue to blame Amharas for all the ills of the country while Amharas are in such a predicament? He says “Amharas are the first to pain others,” but he does not offer any proof or explanation about this outrageous claim. How can you attribute all the mistakes of the previous regimes on Amharas?

    Before Dr. Zelalem tried to speak about a solution or reconciliation, he should have attempted better t understand the root cause of the problem Ethiopia is facing. Weyane and its likes have been blaming the Amharas for everything that went wrong in the country. To this date, Weyane blames the Amharas after it has been in power for 23 three years. These evil groups continue to blame Amharas in order to continue to dominate the country and avoid potential political threats from Amharas.

    This so-called Dr is vomiting what he was fed by TPLF weyane.

    Again Dr. Zelalem, please try to understand the problem first before you attempt to suggest solutions. When you suggest solutions, please try to think whether your solution is fair, credible and reflective of the reality of both the past and the present. Otherwise, you will waste your productive time and that of your audience.

  6. First they came for our land, then they evicted us from all corners of the country while killing and our people and sterilizing our sisters. Now they came for what is left of us, our dignity and pride.
    TPLF has employed many strategies to attack Amhara. They are Hagoses to rule over us in their apartheid system. They become Alemnew Mekonnen and Zelalem Eshete to strike us from from within.

  7. If we look at history from the perspective of classes/system most of the confusion in these heated debates would clear up. The perpetrators of the atrocities of the past are elites from across various ethnic groups by soldiers from various ethnic groups.

    The notion of the “Amara” as united force committing injustices against other ethnic groups is wrong. In the groupings of pre-20th century Ethiopia there never was a homogeneous “Amara” group. It was always Gonder, Gojam, Wollo, and Shoa with their respective Kings. Fascist Italy was the first to lump these regions as one “Amara” region. The same is true for the Oromos. There were the Jima Abajifar, Leqa Leqemtie, etc. So for the pre-20th century Ethiopia it will be far fetched to state that the Amara group as a unit is responsible for any atrocities that occurred.

    These atrocities can be broadly categorized in to two. One is the killings that are direct results of battles fought to defend oneself or for supermacy over the other. The other is that committed by armed people on civilians for various reasons; for the purpose of inducing fear or cooperation from the people, historical feuds, over grazing lands, or just revenge for something that was done to the group, as a mere show of manhood, or as a ritual of some belief. In the latter case the killings were very difficult to account for, especially after the passing of such a long time.

    I think the apology being suggested is in connection with the former. Acknowledgement of these unfortunate events will certainly help prevention in the future. But it will be dishonest and unfair to ask a children of a whole group to apologize for something that is done by a class of multi-ethnic composition.

    Tired of continuous propaganda and display of animosity among the elites who are acting as proxies to the people on both sides of the debate one may be tempted to say “apologize already and lets get it over with”. This attitude is dangerous in that it distorts history and gives opportunity to those with evil intention of vengence. Even with out the benefit of such justifications people are being targeted and vengeful actions are being taken on the Amaras as we speak.

    The way forward can only be securely paved on evidence based history and unfettered dialogues that are free from such entrenched positions the current debates are occurring from.

    • Thank you Gecho! This evil moron headed so-called Dr. is mindless or agent of Weyane like Asamenew. He is just another enemy of Amhara. How can again Amhara take responsibility for the ills caused in the country? Amhara is a big victim as we see it now in our time, and we know there is more ax on a fallen tree.

      All Ethiopians, could this evil scheme motivate us to rise up for our dignity and democratic right? Dr. Zelalem is vomiting his shit against the Amhara people thinking that the Weyane darkness will continue. In fact, a day will come when we will see full light.

  8. From GETACHEW REDA (Editor Ethiopian SAemay)

    Dear Zehabesha Editors;

    Would you please let us focus on other issues that to let us waste our time with this OLF writer pretending himself ‘Amhara’ with a child and undeveloped mind. We have asked him several times myself and others to explain to us what he is talking about and the responsibility of the people of Amhara if needed to apologize him and his likes. He failed to do so. He is masturbating to himself. So please brothers and sisters, leave this child alone. I have no idea where he got his Degree, to me he is laughable creator I have not seen before comparing with some ill-informed elements of his like. This guy is the worst dull mind of all so far. One suggested he is an Engineer. It sounds about right. He better stay with his machine than to deal with some complicated human politics required some years of experience in the filed. Mr. Dull! please do not be a laughing stock. You are in inside a tough jungle called politics, you are not talking to some mini machine, you are talking to sharp minded people. If I were you, I would not come back seeing the comments and reactions written against your dull mind. What grade are you in politics anyway? I know many PhD holders who are not better than any elementary student, but you, but, you, but you, ….a laughing stock of all the unshaped PhD. Please do not comeback to waste our time will you? Sad, to see this world is full of dull elements calling themselves PhD.God have mercy! Comeout as OLF, you do not need to hide yourself as Amhara. Most of all, please describe your points without coming only with a title that needs a detail description to your title. I have seen OLF complaints though they do not hold water, they are better than yours regardless they want to hide their crime against humanity. At least they tried. But you, you showed us nothing. stay with children than to deal here with adults. I know you will have some criminal cult puppets that might support you, but do not encourage with such. They too are victims of OLF themselves, though they act real, they are a walking dead.
    Getachew Reda

  9. I think this guy is a decoy, If not, he must be a self hating Amhara with a prefix defecating as a world class idiot and masquerading as an intellectual. I found It disturbing by the word he used “sub human” of which the Nazis used to describe Jews. The late senator of New York Daniel P. Moynihan once wrote “defining deviancy downward” that will describe you best of our seventies student movement generation for a conundrum we are in. If we go back to our recent past
    of Italian occupation, the disproportional majority of the 675,000 Ethiopians died are majority Amharas. We owe them for the air we breathed let alone drugging their sacrifice through mud. Please stop this infantile idiocy.

  10. why the sleeper agent particularize the Anharas or the Amhara individual ? if he wants to apologize let him do for himself . i remember a guy by the name Mehari yohannes(am not sure his name ) and his likes and bunch of few other woyane recruited opportunists so called Amharas did travel to Asmara ,woyane leading the group, to apologize the Shabia:s .i think Dr could be one of those who succumbed to the call of woyane’s tactic to undermine and demoralize the high spirit of Ethiopianess which is the anti thesis of parochial Ethnicity equally sound to that of Apartheid . Please !!Zelealem if you feel your proposal is worth while ,just put it into practice for yourself. But to us the solution hings on wiping the woyane out and establish a democratic government where all Ethiopians ,regardless of Ethnicity,gender .colour equally represented. It would be in that conducive situation where we can review our history in quite sober manner and rectify all historical mistakes , Not in a situation like today where you have the woyanes trying to exploit the situation for their narrow political ends.

  11. Dr. Zelalem Eshete: I did Show your national reconciliation Document. that is fare. but the Ethiopia problem is not only Amhara problem. all over Ethiopians Promlem. your Proposal is national Issues or not? if not the Ethnicity, ethical popularity,one ethnicity which is the same the TPLF or 18th to 19th sanctuary thinking. we are thinking abut all over nations. that is reconciliation. that your Ida is will Support, we work together. also we had have Nobel Ida Reconciliation, mediation Institution base on Washington DC. established back home Ethiopia.that our Institution is independent, non Political, Institution. If you are join to as we will with you. please contact me, will be talk at my Call 202-281-0319

    thank you

  12. Stupid article !! Read Ethiopian history before coming up with this ridiculous notion. Why would a man from wollo who suffered famine under the hegemonic leadership of showa (the stronghold of ama-oromos) apologize for whatever current ignorant politicians distort out of their ass ??

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