May 17, 2023
Letter to the Ethiopian Community
It is claimed that during the previous US election, Ethiopian votes have swung the vote in Virginia in favour of the Republicans. I have no means of verifying its accuracy. It may be true. But if the Biden Administration needs the support of the Ethiopian community in the USA, it would have to check and re-check its facts on Wolcott and Tsegede, which, unfortunately, it still calls ‘’western Tigray.’’ It is far from being western Tigray. Here are the historical facts:
Ethiopian Emperor Zara Yakub (1434-1468) appointed the Bahre Negash, “Ruler of the Sea,” and gave him authority over the northern provinces of Ethiopia, including the Dahlaque Islands of the Red Sea, Massawa, Tigray, Shire, Hamassien, Akele Guzaie, and Seraie and named the region Medri Bahri [land of the sea], and that the Tekezie River be the administrative boundary between the domain of Bahre Negash and the Amhara provinces to the south. [Crawford,1958]. The Tekezie River, therefore, has served as the administrative boundary separating Begemider/ Semein/Gondar Province from Tigray for a long time. Emperor Sertse Dingil [1550-1592] re-affirmed in 1563 Zare Yacob’s Declaration. The Chronicles of Susneyos [1607-1632], too, state that the Tekezie River has been for a long time the southern boundary of Tegre [[Huntingford 1989].
According to Plowden, the region of Tigray consisted of all Christian regions north of the Tekezie River. The sub-divisions were Hamassien, Seraye, Akele Guzay, Agame, Tigray Proper, Shire, Adiabo, Tenbien, Wajrat and Shilabo [Plowden, 1848].
Similarly, Christopher Clapham, the well-known specialist in the history and politics of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, has the following to say: Wolkait-Tsegede which is separated from Tigray by impressive natural barrier of Setit Tekezze River, has never been governed as part of Tigray at any period in the past, but has come under Gondar and Semien. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front needs to define Tigray in such geographically most appropriate ways of doing so, by claiming a corridor to the Red Sea at Tiyo or Mers Fatima on the one hand, or to the Sudan between the Gash and Setit rivers on the other. Both are out of reach for the TPLF, because they form part of Eritrea. The TPLF has, therefore, instead, claimed part of northern Gondar, asserting entirely fictitiously that for a couple of years in the early 1940s, it was governed as part of Tigray. It has also claimed Wag in northern Wollo on the same grounds [ Clapham,1988]. The TPLF invented the fiction because its outlet to the Sudan through Eritrea was blocked by the EPLF. It therefore needed Wolkait for contacts with the Sudan to import arms. Furthermore, Clapham observes: The Tekezie River is 608 kms long. The canyon which the river has created is one of the deepest in the world. In some areas, it can be 6,562 ft deep. During the rainy season, the river is not even passable for six months of the year [Clapham [ 2015, 2017]. Since bridges on the river were constructed late in history, how did those who claim Wolkait as their traditional home-land, cross the canyons in the past to go from Tigray to Wolkait?
Given its fertile imagination, the TPLF leadership now claims that 1.4 million Tigreans have become refugees. Do the TPLF leaders know the population of Tigray? How many Tigreans live in the rest of Ethiopia? How many of them are internally displaced? How many Tigrayan refugees are there in the world today? How many were killed in the recent war that the TPLF leadership launched against the provinces in northern Ethiopia? Do the TPLF leaders remember the 250, 000 refugees from Wolkait, Seedhead Tselemt ? What about the mass graves at Humera, Mai Kadri, and elsewhere? The TPLF can invent figures. The question is, since its technicians were busy burning churches and mosques, libraries, universities and colleges, clinics and hospitals, government offices and homes, raping helpless old women and children, killing people and cattle left and right, when did they get the time to count populations?
The Abiy Ahmed Ali government which released Sabha Nega from prison, a known criminal who committed so many crimes against the state, and yet, allows him to travel abroad, but refuses to permit General Tefera Mamo – a military officer who was wounded in line of duty, to allow him to travel abroad for treatment recommended by medical doctors, must have its head examined.
The TPLF leaders are yet to see their days in court. That may be a duty for the next government. The good thing is, other Tigrayans of integrity, decency, and broad mindedness are organizing to take over the leadership. We wish them good luck.
Welkait, Ethiopia: Geo Strategic importance and the Consequential Annexation by TPLF