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What is in a name Ethiopia?


In what follows, let me start my article by raising critical quarries that need to get the apt answers, clarity, corrections and timely solutions, that ultimately help sustain peace and progress within the existing bounds of Ethiopia.  

Actually, what is in a name Ethiopia? Why few of the so-called liberation fronts (LFs) persist on making radical moves with the aim to destroy the spirit of Ethiopian nationalism? Why do they try to challenge the traditional Ethiopian society’s stout, solid, strong, substantive Ethiopian stand; a culture and norm mutually shared by the great majority of Ethiopians; and not just by the Amhara ethnic group alone as the LFs would like to portray it? Why does the sense and pride of being an “Ethiopian” drive the LFs so nuts, so mad, and so wacky to the extent of yearning for the total fragmentation of Ethiopia into several ethnically established mini-states? Why do they constantly try to denigrate, belittle, defame, and pour scorn on the history (at least the positive part) of the only nation in Black-Africa that stood equally at the center of the League of nations; a nation that defeated European colonialist with heavy debacles? Why are the LFs constantly trying to dismantle, degrade, and disparage the positive aspects of a nation building? 

Blend Ethos For Blend Ethiopians 

Especially the culture of Central and Northern Ethiopia is not just distinctly that of the Amhara or that of the Oromo or that of the Tigre as the LFs attempt to depict in their diatribe. Rather, the foundation of Ethiopia as a nation-state is not different from that of other states existing on this planet Earth. As a matter of fact, Ethiopia remains a nation of a blend of population, cultures and languages that include the Tigre, Adere, Gurage, wollaita, Kembata, Hadiya, Sidama and many other ethnic regions and origins existing within the bounds of Ethiopia.

Exemplary evidence is the capital city, Addis Ababa. With its an estimated population of a bit over five million, Addis Ababa has already become a melting pot and a pulling factor of the nearly 80 ethnic groups existing within Ethiopia. The daily livelihood in Addis Ababa was and still remains to be admixture where the Eritrean, Tigre, Amhara, Oromo, Gurage, Somali, Wolaita, Sidama, Kembata, Adere and many other ethnic groups have caressed, intermingled and created their own offspring of urban social and political outlooks. That means, through a continuum of generational transformations that one can tress, every ethnic group did participate in the constant shaping-up of present day Ethiopia. 

Feudal Ethiopia  

Looked at in retrospective to its recent past, Ethiopia was a feudal empire that transformed through various stages of changes in centuries and happen to be the melting pot of different ethnic groups, cultures and languages and exhibits clear-cut urban and rural divides just like any one of the medieval Europe of yesteryears.  

The feudal mode of production and economic relationships basically ended Once and for all, with the 1974 revolution that swept the whole nation indiscriminately and nationalized the main means of production. Between 1974 and 1990, for over a decade and a half, just like any other leftist or communist nations of the time, the Derg-regime became the new landlord owning and operating under state-capitalistic principles by nationalizing land, housing and other major means of production.  

Hence, in Ethiopia that we know of today, there still remain residues of huge political devolution and stretching of the economic power from the center to the periphery. Other than that one can with confidence contend that Ethiopia is a nation where all ethnic and linguistic groups have common historical and cultural bondage and reference points (be it good or bad) that makes them collectively one people, one nation, under one flag and indivisible. 

Liberation Fronts or Lawless Fundamentalists 

The 21st century great scientist Albert Ernestine, himself of a German origin by birth, was known to have said that: “The solution we may anticipate to create for a given problem at hand today will simply breed unforeseen problems yet to solve in the future.” Hence, to him narrow nationalism was a major obstacle standing on the way for human peace and economic development simply driven by nothing else but tribal hate and xenophobia other than one’s own ethnic-group.   

Indeed liberation fronts that followed suit the teachings of EPLF in the 1970s including TPLF and OLF follow to this day the very Nazi and Fascist line of thinking and reasoning - the Nazis and the Fascists who saw themselves as social-democrats battling against the Jewish created leftist Communism (Carle Marx being a Jew in his roots) and blamed the Jews for conspiring to threaten the Nazi-standing daydream of Aryanism (pure race that originated from Afghanistan).  

Likewise, the present EPRDF-regime plays deception, scam, hoax and swindle, smoke and mirrors. It does so by shading snake oil and strengthening the tribal center while pretentiously pushing tribal-power to the regional institutions for its own full control of power in regions in question. That being the case, all the so called Liberation Fronts (LFs) including the EPRDF-regime would like the rest of the world to believe that the struggle they conduct is between the center and the periphery; between the “Neftegna Amhara” and other oppressed nationalities. Hypothetically and in reality, to them in order to create the new democratic federal Ethiopia the “old” system has to be dismantled. And the rhetoric against the Neftegna Amhara must be intensified.  

But in actual fact this very act is just the rallying cry simply to resurrect the ghost of the long-past and to demonize any political opposition from major national democratic challengers of ethnic ideology. To these national democratic challengers of ethnic-led politics, if there are any “Neftegna” in today’s Ethiopia, then, these are actually the EPRDF-regime’s Agazi Troops that are fully armed to the teeth and haunt and mount opposition groups and remain in control of the nation from one end to the next. 

The LFs mainly focus on divisive factors that fragment Ethiopians into tribal confinements rather than on uniting factors that may likely bring Ethiopians together; the claim that the Heptagon’ Addis Ababa is OLF’s Finfene; the Gaada System is the pride of OLF as is the Axumite tradition to the TPLF are exemplary of their divisive thinking line.  

Throughout the decades that have gone by, as a result of joining the Shaabia conspired political motto of holding one’s ethnic group in partisan ideology and selective-partisanship, both TPLF and OLF shifted from a democratic thinking line based on individual freedom and individual rights and obligations to ethnic-led tribal politics based on group rights and group hysteria and mob action, insurgency and home grown-terrorism. Whenever asked: “How TPLF or OLF leadership can fight for human rights in Ethiopia as a tribal-led politician group?” the leadership usually answers: “It is not possible to fight for human rights if TPLF or OLF leadership is not a tribal-led political group”. It is as a result of such outlooks that the LFs have been swept by the storm of “the end justifies the means”; trampling on individual and people’s rights for the sake of implementing their deep-rooted divisive ethnic-politics and ethnic-based power mongering.  

Without holding any valid niche for impartiality within the Ethiopian society, the LF-culprits remain diehards caught red handed time and again for causing persisting havocs everywhere and have completely restrained their hands from writing and saying what they individually feel is right for creating and moving though a democratic society where individual rights and freedom are respected. Instead, they have become home-grown terrorist by pulling triggers off their guns and killing innocent country dwellers in the name of “liberation” simply to quench their tribal political thirst. Once the LF-culprits are in the hub of tribal political game, streamlined by the dogmatic secessionist thinking, they simply follow suit this already formatted political pathway by surrendering their God given individual rights and freedom. LF-sympathizers simply follow their respective LF-leadership like flocks of sheep without much reasoning or skepticism of what is to happen in their name.  

Tribalism is not a question mostly raised by the common man in Ethiopia. Tribal politics is raised simply by the so-called egomaniac elite groups who use the ethnic-people’s emotion to inject hate-politics in their mind just like Hitler did in the minds of the German people and Isaiah Afeworki did on the Eritrean people. In either case, the common people never-ever benefited from such political manipulation except for facing tyranny and wanton. The public became victims of ruthless tyrants who came to power one after the other in peoples’ name and exerted their tyrannical regime’s rules and regulations.

By deeds, the LFs are no different from the traditional tribal war-lords as they clearly know that they do not have a place in a democratic society where they can easily manipulate and intimidate people the way they wish to have it all. That is basically why LFs and tribal-led political groups generally hate issues pertinent to democracy, individual freedom and individual rights. Rather, they would like to hide behind group rights, group actions which will give them the leeway to look at events in black and white and arrive at swiping generalities. Usually, the LFs and tribal lords don’t manifest any tangible political program that can swap the incumbent regime on power. All they do is spread hate and create animosity between their tribes-men and other tribes with the hope to gain the upper-hand of power one day in their tribe’s designated territory by using the ‘divide and rule’ political methodology and by acting as a wolf in sheep’s skin and keep on shading crocodile tears in the name of their troubled tribal-kin.  

As LFs are basically narrow nationalists by their stand, they hate the idea of modernity and unity because their ego is geared towards capturing power by all means by manipulating their ethnic groups and by disseminating their venomous tribal propaganda and blame on others that creates atrocities on the nation just for their own calamity. The Tigre warlords, the OLF separatists and the shabby Shaabia led by Isaiah Afeworki are cases in point to know about. The LFs can fool some people some of the time but they cannot fool all the Ethiopian people all the time. Just now, it is time and the LFs are paying back the price for their malicious actions in the same manner as they incurred tyrannical acts on others. Let us look at the presently unfolding events and summarize the roof joist of the episodes. 

Cases of Current-day OLF-Culprits  

These days, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), claims itself as an opposition movement supported by Eritrea. In reality, OLF is subject to internal divergence and with conflicting political stand. At times OLF-leadership expresses their desire for democratizing OLF. Recently, Dowud Ibsaa and Hassan Hussein were heard speaking about their notion of ‘self-determination’ as having nothing to do with secession but rather asking for fair and just administration within the Ethiopian nation. But this claim is blurred, once again, by OLF’s hidden agenda and purge thickheads who are bent on divisive ideas of tribal fragmentation. The friction is aggravated by the fiasco of Eritrean collaboration with the Somali Islamists (UIC) to create in Somalia a point of entry into Ethiopia for armed opposition groups like the OLF. Daoud Ibsaa, the chairperson of the OLF, had already been considered too dependent on Eritrean strategy by a meeting of OLF partisans in Oslo in mid-December, which he did not attend. He is globally reproached for having operated policies which marginalized the OLF in the 2005 general election. The Oromo population had not really heeded his call to boycott the election. He had later accepted to form an alliance, that many Oromo activists consider “contrary to nature”, with the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP) consisting in their view of “chauvinists”.  (Source: (1) Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1208 17/02/2007. (2) Source:

Hence, if one takes a quick look at OLF’s current stand, let alone to fight for justice and democracy of the Oromo population and others alike, the  OLF-leadership is dependent on and vacillating between organizations with differing political outlook but group themselves in bondage of partisan politics including EPLF, UIC of Somalia and AFD. Trapped in party and frontal bondage, OLF denied its Ethiopian compatriots the expected support they need in the current political chess game in Ethiopia.  

In any case, the accusation we hear about the poor silent majority Amhara ethnic communities and labeling them as “… Black Nazis, Nafthagnas, Chauvinists, etc., is nothing but unsubstantiated bigotry and pure envy infatuated with hatred and mainly driven and propagated by Wollaga dominated OLF-culprits whose brain washing and manipulative inculcation started since the 1970s in Germany and eventually spread to other parts of the Western hemisphere.

OLF’s narrow nationalist perception of hate particularly towards the Amhara communities is loosely reasoned as if hating the Amhara is like ‘the pot calling the kettle black’. Actually, viewed from historical perspectives, the Oromo ethnic group’s tresses are all over; including Barentu and Teo in Eritrea when moving North-wards; Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda, Burundi and Mali, when moving down South-wards; and into Uganda, Malawi and Ivory Coast when moving West-words. Where OLF demarcates as Abyssinia or “Amharia” region, people of Wollaga and Gojjam were long intermingled. In Gojjam itself, you have living evidences like Ilmaa and Denssa as well as Daamotaa; you have Qwarra in Gondar. You have Raya and Ramma in Tigray. You have the whole of Wollo. Plus the rest of the area distinctly demarcated these days as Oromia. So who is going to decolonize who? Most people are born with mixed blood and in fact, over 60% of the population of Ethiopia can no longer claim any distinct area of tribal purity or territorial belongingness other than the whole of Ethiopia as its home country. In connection to this some Ethiopian elites at times contemplate about creating an Admixture-Ethiopians-Liberation-Front (AELF) through which majority Ethiopian citizens can establish a liberal democratic government that respects individual freedom and the rights to work, to own, to elect and be elected by one’s own merits and not by tribal affiliation.  

As far as OLF changes its tribal political stance and opts for democratic governance, no one cares as to whom the next is ruling party in Ethiopia. OLF can also become a democratic nationalist party for as long as it drops its tribal mantles. All it needs is to make political ideological clarity. People look at individual or party merits and not his or her ethnic background. Kenenisa Bekele, Derrartu Tulu, Abebe Bikila, Mamo Wolde, Wami Birratu and many more are all loved by all Ethiopians for their excellence and their outstanding merits. Among today’s Ethiopians no one cares for their tribal background but for their excellence.  

So infatuated and drunken by OLF’s perception of cessation and self-denial theory, OLF-culprits and their cohorts simply hate any idea that has to do with democracy, individual freedom, equal vote, all inclusive liberal democratic ideas and justice vehemently. For OLF diehard culprits such an idea is simply a trap created by the Amhara elites. In the political fervent they manipulate, extremist elements within OLF don’t hesitate to carryout ethnic cleansing on the nearly five million residents of Addis Ababa by eliminating the latter from their homes where they lived for generations. 

OLF-culprits are manifesting their hate-mongering secessionist ideas as thought by their OLF leadership that act just like Nazi-masters themselves. Soon it may not surprise us if they would not come with their Gestapo units too. OLF-leadership and their cohorts use simplistic association and relate anything that they may contemplate as a threat blocking their dreams for fabricating a state called Oromia as an Amhara conspiracy. 

OLF attempts to portray the as its scapegoat and conduct its tribal agenda that daydreams of creating an independent Oromia state. This is a difficult attempt to go through just like trying to chase and capture the beautiful rainbow one observes in the hemisphere above us. OLF’s hate-mongering and sense of revenge is based on fabricated tales against not only the Amhara but also other ethnic groups other than the Wollaga Oromo or the Kottu of Harar. For instance a Showa Oromo is labeled as Gobaana (collaborator with the enemy – the Amhara). This kind of hate mongering is preparing young and innocent Oromo youth to participate in several ethnic fundamentalist stances that will slaughter innocent Amhara communities and non-Oromo habitats and cause genocidal incidences like the ones the world has witnessed in Rwanda and Burundi in the recent past.  

Regardless of OLF coercive attempts to spread hate and divisive factors within and among Ethiopians of the day, the Oromo population in general is not dim-witted to easily become misled by OLF–double standard, forked tongues, shading crocodile tears and its ridiculous daydreams of chasing the beautiful but untouchable rainbows in the sky.

The Wollaga elites dominated OLF-leadership’s major trouble is its self-denial concept and its own self-designated inferiority complex theory which forces the leadership to remain xenophobic and suspicious of anything and everything that will deny its objective of secession.  OLF leadership is heatedly opposed to and hates any idea that has to do with liberal democracy and individual freedom; particularly if such ideas come from non-Oromo ethnic groups within Ethiopia as OLF considers these groups as its historical enemies. The Ethiopian public is not as OLF-leadership would like to portray simplistically as stupid and biased like OLF-cohorts. Rather, the Ethiopian public has gone through several political struggles thus far and knows exactly what is best for Ethiopia Every time democracy and individual freedom are advocated; OLF-culprits argue that “… there are some other unclear motives behind such proposals. OLF followers are so engrossed in its hate-mongering tribal politics that all they want to hear is praising them for their secessionist agenda and bring in such failed individuals like Andargachew Tsige and Birhanu Mewa as the saviors of secessionist paradigm in Ethiopia.  

On the process of intensifying the hate fervent and fever, they demonize the liberal democratic political organs like CUDP. Once, Birtukan Medeksa was heard agitating that Kinjit is a “spirit” of a federal democratic Ethiopia; an Ethiopia, that is ready for the new while preserving the good of the past. In the same token all our problems will only be solved through an all inclusive, a united, democratic Ethiopia. The LFs including OLF cannot be considered as the sole or the only legitimate representative of the Oromo; nor can the Oromo question single-handedly be solved by OLF. Looked at the national constituency at parliament, the OLF position on Oromo affairs is equally shared by several other Oromo and non-Oromo political parties without any monopoly right distinctly assigned to any one group. So is also the issue of other regions and political organizations. That means the tendency to exaggerate the significance of OLF as the sole representative holding Oromo affairs as its sole proprietorship within Ethiopian politics should be corrected and looked at with caution.  

As a matter of fact, at the moment OLF is a weak front that keeps on splitting time and again as well as changing and chanting about its leadership every time the front faces critical obstacles. Since its debacle with TPLF in early 1990s, OLF has deteriorated in size and in its political significance and is even ridiculed by its members for having lost many of its previous leaders and supporters basically due to its leniency on other fronts or parties.  

Concluding Clarifications 

Do the Ethiopian people, be it the urban or rural residents hate each other as much as major LF-leaderships would like to portray? Do the Tigre, Somali or Oromo people really want to secede? Does secession of a given region from the rest of the country solves the root cause of any ethnic group of people? Can a single ethnic group’s problem be solved without equally solving the problems of its counterparts in the country? Assuming that an ethnic group secedes; can it really exist peacefully and make progress both socially and economically? What guarantees does each ethnic group have that ethnic-leadership will not become another dictator just like the current day LFs that have turn out to be tyrannical in their stance once on power?  

In this respect, the May 2005 election did give a signal on an important political direction in Ethiopia. The election reflected that a pan-Ethiopia and non-liberation front political organization, CUD gained victory in major urban centers, including 100 percent victory in Addis Ababa, and overwhelming majority votes in the Amhara region and the Gurage Zone. Whereas, the ethno national organizations within UEDF (such as ONC, HNDO and SEPDC), gained victory in Hadiya and western Shoa, and OFDM in Western Wollaga area that reflect the ethnic background of the organizations. To be more specific regarding CUD, firstly, from the total of 140 national parliament seats of CUD’s ‘confirmed’ victory, 68 seats were in Amhara region (in towns and rural areas), 1 seat in Benishangul (urban area), 2 in Dire Dawa city, 1 in Harar city, 20 in Oromia (mainly in towns), and 25 seats in the SNNP (mainly in Gurage zone and in other towns) and 23 in Addis Ababa. Secondly, from the total of 139 electoral districts seats in which, CUD filed for irregularities, 53 are in Amhara region (in towns and rural areas), 33 in Oromia (mainly in towns), 43 in the SNNP (mainly in towns), 8 in Afar and 2 in Harar.  

Indeed, during the May 2005 election, the performance of CUD, ONC, and OFDM within Oromia did really surprise the Ethiopian public much. So if OLF refrains from its insurgency actions and from causing havoc every now and then, it may be interesting to watch its leadership participate in the year 2010 election and see how they do during the election process.  

The overall solution is to put in place a democratic system in which every Ethiopian has a stake on the national issues, where the system guarantees the individual his/her inalienable rights for free speech, association, ownership of property including land, religious belief, and place of work and residence. Once this principle becomes instrumental, and then a free election process within which the participation of each ethnically based party would be fascinating to watch and to study.  

In my view residues of ethnic-resentments that have to do with settling emotional needs can be fairly and rationally accommodated through negotiation, rational tact and wise handling of sensitive matters, and through mutual respect to one another. Factors that may cause alienation must be considered as sensitive and be treated with extra caution and care.  

As far as we know the most accepted principle is such that: a nation divided against itself through ethnic-led politics cannot stand and sustain itself. So with endurance and respect to one another, it is wise to turn the page to an all inclusive Ethiopian national democratic politics with the aims and motto to rebuild, revitalize and rehabilitate the Ethiopian socio-economic basis. 

At the end of the day, we need to envision a palatable model of democracy in Ethiopia; a political model that is compatible to the level of understanding of the public on the workings of the intricacies of a national democratic political system. One such pre-condition necessary is to restrict liberation movements from advocating secession and encourage them to resort to the most challenging stake of national building and cooperation.

In this respect, this article is a soul searching one initiating LFs to change direction towards unity, cooperation and nation building. In this regard, diversity means an all inclusive blend of needs and necessities where you do not have to deny your ethnicity, while you stand in unity to the commitments of building-up the Ethiopia society based on common national goals for the common good of all members of the Ethiopian society under one flag, one nation, indivisible.

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