March 2, 2021
In service of our country many of our ancestors or martyrs have devoted themselves to protect and preserve the present Ethiopia. The blood sacrifice given to one’s country is an ultimate sacrifice and noble contribution of oneself which praised as patriotism. Words like patriotism, sacrifice, heroism and courage cannot define what our martyrs scarified for the existence of our country defending from external threat of scramblers of colonialism, of invasion and of warmongers. The act of dying for some noble cause is sometimes regarded as justifiable. But in the minds of many Ethiopians it is not only justifiable but was a pride or a noble death and sacrifice for the country is a shared vocabulary.
Heroism: Dying for the Nation
Heroism and scarification for their country is an inborn character of many Ethiopians. Despite their internal differences and struggle for power, Ethiopians are one towards defending external enemies of their country. The History of our country tells us that there have been many bloodlettings which scarified a number of our population from the ancient battles of Mekidela, Metema and Adiwa to the recent Battles in Karamara and Badme. In other words, the country is constructed from the flesh and blood of our martyrs or forefathers. Our martyrs carry their flags into the battle as a sign of their willingness to die, just as Jesus carried his cross to show his willingness to die.
To mention some of the sacrifice performed by the martyrs in the past periods. For the reason that it is important to trace back history to critically understand the present situations we are in and to galvanize the present generational force for cooperation, peace and solidarity. The big picture in our history is “Adwa” which is the proudest moment in the African history and which we are going to celebrate on 23 February 2021 Ethiopian Calendar (E.C). As records show, over 120,000 patriots were fighting and many scarified their precious life and Italy faced a humiliating defeat in the battle. Sadly, history recorded that, we have also lost over 30,000 of our ancestors by the brutal acts of Grazziani in “Yekatit 12, 1929” E.C as a response of our martyrs’ civil disobedience for colonialism. The other big picture in our history is the Karamara Victory against the tyrant Siad Barre forces that we again commemorated the day that Ethiopian’s and Ethiopian supporters defeat the irredentist forces on “February 26, 1970 E.C ” which caused some mutual destruction of neighbors and our own Somali brothers and sisters were highly affected by the warmonger actions of tyrants. In the war as President Mengistu stated in his book of “Tigilachin” the country scarified the lives of over 18, 200 patriots and 29, 100 were wounded defending our country. In another ancient battles, our leaders have also scarified their life for the development and preserving of this country in different battles against aggressors such as Mekdela and Metema where Atse Twedros and Atse Yohannes lost their lives in April 7, 1860 and March 2, 1881 E.C respectively. Furthermore, the country experienced unwanted war with Eretria, a war between brothers and sisters. According to records, “heinous casualties and deaths took place in the war among others, over 316,000 people were displaced by the conflict and many of these lost their livelihoods in the process. And also, the war, from May 1998 to June 2000, resulted over 100,000 deaths.” In a 2005 paper by Crisis Group called ‘Ethiopia and Eritrea: Preventing War’ it stated that “the war cost scores of thousands of lives, severed the economic lifeline between the two countries, ended in a way that confronted both governments with unprecedented domestic challenges and separated many families.” Among others, looking the above incidents, the two months of “February and March” especially the former have a special place in the history of Ethiopia which is implanted in the minds of generations. It’s through the bloods of all that our country exist for centuries. These blood sacrifice lays a “moral obligation” on the present generation to cooperate each other, reject violence, avoid internal fragmentation, work hard, live in peace and rediscover solidarity without engaging in fanaticism, defamation and rejection of each other’s and to preserve the country that its ancestors and families scarified for. Beyond this, this generation must take the lead to do something proactive in “rewriting” the victory of the battles by supporting our giant National project GERD in all means necessary.
What to Learn and what to do?
The sacrifice by our martyrs speaks volumes for us now to cooperate, listen each other, live in solidarity, peace and for one another. It lays the moral obligation on the present generation not to engage in a deal by his/her country. Though, they don’t want death, thousands sacrifice their life for their country willingly with a high compelling reason of patriotism leaving their family in vein. The present generation has to live at least for his/her family and must reject participation in emotional killings of each other. It also has to understand that there is someone kept in home which allow them to go to school, there is someone who died for him/her to live in peace and dignity today and there is someone’s martyr that blames his/her today’s bad actions and decisions.
Governmental Responsibility: Lessons from the Battles
As the former president Mengistu in his book of “Tigilachin” noted for the sake of the generation to learn, “what resulted all the foreign attacks against Ethiopia were not the ability and strength of the attackers but the innocence and weakness as well as internal division and diplomatic mistakes of us”. In other words, in history it is mainly the mistakes done by governments and insurgents that resort the country to wars which ultimately result the loss of the life’s of many of our innocent and usually untrained populations, as a result of national emergency calls. Governments now and beyond have the ultimate responsibility not to engage in erroneous activities that would resort the country to war and eruption of conflicts. Additionally, interference of foreign actors in support of one or of the other were a problem in the past which is backed by hidden interests and now we must have to learn from that and keep our internal affairs for us. Unless, a big money will come with a big demand and interests.
Generational Responsibility: Dealing with another Kind of Battles
Generational consciousness is a need to galvanize the present generational force to action and feelings of industriousness. This generation has to sacrifice something, something which needs a lesser sacrifice than its ancestors; the scarification for human rights, democracy, peace, tolerance, respect and harmony. The habit of practicing active non-violence methods must flourish by rejecting social, sexual, physical and psychological violence’s through engaging in dialogue with a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation.
There are more values that the present generation should sacrifice for such as development, peace, education, volunteerism, innovation and others through participating in eradication of extreme poverty, fighting illiteracy, avoidance of conflicts and fighting of exploitations. Due to our internal conflict, extreme poverty and lack of strong civic institutions that can stand up for rights, our sisters and brothers are subjected to grave human right violations and contemporary forms of slavery in foreign countries particularly in the Arab regions and in our country by harsh conditions of work in the industrial zones. “Putting investors’ interest ahead of those of our own people” is becoming a common practice, among others, workers are paid low and unequal wages, abuses of workers especially women in the factories is common and exploitation of child labor is rampant. Besides, a massive wave of migration exposed our citizens to killings, prostitution, rape and sinking under oceans which is really disgusting for Ethiopia which is an epitome and symbol of independence as well as one of the first ancient nation on earth which were both politically and economically strong.
The present generation has to be loyal to his/her mind, not loyal to propagandists, demagogues or money and must care about the good of society through participating actively to make things better. It must develop a sense of patriotism, critical thinking and industriousness to avert the danger of extreme poverty and to be able to compete in a world of globalization.
Besides, professionals must be headed by their moral convictions and professional ethics walking away from emotions, money and prestige. Intellectuals must give their mind the opportunity to think about peace, respect and dignity. We must develop some wisdom when we get older and educate. Our education must not promote us for bad acts, it must allow us to denounce bad acts, cooperate and teach others. Intellectuals while debating on issues must consider the local people and must question that, what does it mean for the local people? They must come up with ideas that can fed the people rather than debating abstract or lofty ideas. Also, the politicians and elites must develop a habit of siting and settling disagreements on the table and should quit from igniting a fire to the youth.
In sum, the ultimate blood sacrifice and services of our citizens is beyond togetherness for a single battle. It is a powerful moral obligation and unifying force for common destiny to die for one another, built by the bloods and bones of those of our martyrs who make our collective existence possible.
Dedication: To those who sacrifice their life’s in defense of Ethiopia’s sovereignty.
Author-Noah Yesuf, a Masters Student in Human Rights at Addis Ababa University School of Law, he works as instructor at Wollo University School of law, he also works at Association of Human Rights in Ethiopia and he can be reached at [email protected]