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The Contradiction in Unitary (Ethiopiawinet)

April 27, 2014

By Zelalem Eshete, Ph.D.
There seems to be two diverging thoughts on the matter of Ethiopia. On one hand there is ethnic centered thought while on the other hand there is unitary or “Ethiopiawinet” thought. The first advocate for an ethnic group, whereas the latter struggles for “one Ethiopia”. This article is not about investigating which of the two philosophies is right for Ethiopia. Each of the two systems of thoughts has its respective arguments to defend its own way of thinking. That too is not the scope of this this article. Here is an independent voice to explore the congruency between value and action in their respective stand.

Ethnic Based Thought

The value system of such a thought is taking care of an ethnic group that went through adverse history. It declares that the neglected and abused ethnic group needs to address the past and embrace equality in the 21st century. The action that comes out of this value system is to put the ethnic group in question as a center of dialogue. One can debate the legitimacy or validity of the ethnic thinking, but one thing is clear: that the action of such thought is congruent to its value system in place. This is truer when the unitary group does not empathize with the concern in display.

Unitary (Ethiopiawinet) Thought

The central theme of such thought is unity of the several ethnic groups in Ethiopia. It doesn’t like the division along the ethnic lines. It values one Ethiopia where each citizen is free and calls the whole Ethiopia its own hometown. One can debate the legitimacy or validity of such unitary thought in Ethiopia, but that is not the scope of this paper. One thing is clear that this thought has a contradiction between its value system and its actions towards manifesting its value system. This is because such group is ignoring the ethnic based group on the assumption that it is operating on a higher moral ground. By doing so, it is alienating the people that make up the one Ethiopia thereby contradicting the one Ethiopia value system.

The value system of unitary thought demands that its first priority should be to listen and understand the ethnic thinking and address the issues at hand instead of giving deaf ears. It should start talking the language of such a group towards making conversations. It is the burden of the unitary group to win over all towards the true one Ethiopia unseen before. Otherwise, it will be on the losing side for nothing can keep Ethiopia united other than the power of love. After all, it is the unitary group that is shouting louder for a united Ethiopia.

The failure of the unitary group to acknowledge the pain and cry of the ethnic group galvanizes the cause of the ethnic based thought even more. That is why the unitary thinking is in need of resolving the conflict between its value system and the action that attempts to realize the value system. That is, if the true one Ethiopia ever going to happen soon.


Dr. Zelalem Eshete may be reached at: one@EthioFamily.com

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