A false sense of glory within the Ethiopian Diaspora politics is in the rise. This false sense of glory could be measured as a newborn emotion promoting the old Amhara-centric Ethiopian ethos by using the growing Diaspora media. In this old ethos, ironically, Amhara-centered Ethiopia is uniquely perceived and promoted as the only answer to Ethiopia’s historic problems including Oromos and other peoples of Southern Ethiopia. By Amhara-centered Ethiopia, we understand a country whose socio-politics and culture is dominated and represented by that of one ethnic group, the Amhara. Since this recent political puff is strictly Diaspora based, the accompanying success on the home ground is miniscule. The ethos is also unique in that it tolerates no discourse with opposing views, and in some sense, one can say it is an art of blowing one’s own horn for one’s own pleasure.
As mentioned above, this recent sense of false glory is geographically restricted to Diaspora, popularly limited to Amhara, and meaningfully transferred only by Internet media. In essence it is revival of the classical Amhara colonial machinery which once many of the Ethiopian South believed was dead for good. In fact, such assumption was the basis for many Oromo and Southern political organizations to attempt creating some sort of unity with some Amhara political organizations. Recall the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy of 2006, created by the oppressor and the oppressed to work together towards peace and prosperity? At the time, many analysts of the South including Oromos warned that Amhara politics has never reciprocated honesty of the South, and that intrigue-infested Northern Ethiopian politics shall never be trusted. Today, we see a full blown version of Amhara trickery, another historic lesson for the Southern people of Ethiopia.
As examples of such trickery, one can list numerous circumstances in which pseudo TVs, websites, Paltalks, and virtual radio stations all catered for North American Amhara Diaspora saturated their mass media with anti-Oromo slogans. One case in point is Ethiopian Satellite Television’s (ESAT) role in expanding the split within the OLF. One of the brain child’s of Ginbot 7 (a leading Ethiopian Diaspora based opposition political organization), ESAT, had been posturing as pro-Oromo, wanting to work with Oromo institutions, and even at times posting sympathetic views to the cause championed by the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). However, when a conflict emerged within the OLF, ESAT and Ginbot 7 launched a tacit but protracted and persistent effort of expanding the split. Mini-conferences were organized with the splinter group, personal cults were created to appease individuals of the splinter group, fundraising was posted in several cities, political high-fives were exchanged among the leadership, support for the splinter group that they perceived can be remote-controlled ensued, and another hopeful day was promised by ESAT for generous donors so that they donate even more funds. We couldn’t believe our eyes, the good will, the preparation to work together with Oromo scholars to topple the Tigrean domination, etc. all evaporated by the heat of a simple gain of the day, forgetful that the loss of the day for Oromo is sheer temporary. The joy of happiness for Ginbot 7 as a result of accomplishing what they thought was a lasting collapse of Oromo nationalism shined for months as Oromo nationalism posed for soul searching but in bitter grief.
It is to be recalled that the Amhara political ethos did suffer a serious political blow over the last 20 years. This temporary Amhara political puff of the Diaspora is serving as a sign of short-term come-back, a renaissance of some sort to boost Amhara moral which could be exported back to homeland when and if possible, to conceivably gear-up for another attempt to grab Ethiopian political power during the next national elections. So far I covered the background, but what really motivated and created this false sense of glory?
There are four reasons that contributed to the sudden emergence of the current Amhara political surge among the Abyssinian Diaspora.
The death of Meles, – many in the Amhara camp believed that the death of Meles will create a true political vacuum which can only be filled by Amharas, who seem second most organized in the country. The orderliness of the power transfer within the TPLF was a bit surprising if not disappointing to the Diaspora political gang that hoped a short cut to power is coming and coming fast. This false hope created a false victory that went as far as a concealed ownership of even Meles’ natural death.
The rise of Paltalk, – the free access to internet, which can gather hundreds of emotionally charged unqualified and ill-equipped politicians from across Europe, America and more, with freedom that allows excessive abuse, yet with no liability or peer pressure, no inherent discipline, and all afforded by anonymous login to Paltalk sites or commentary pages created a sense of accomplishment. In fact the competition for the negative, towards destruction, – who can be the most Amhara, the most Ethiopian, who can post the most insult to annoy opposition, etc. characterize the sense of newfound Amhara false glory in its internet incarnation. The net effect of this Diaspora politics is that while it continues to serve as a great forum for counseling Ethiopia’s war torn generation of the Derg era, it has become a terrible means to promote respect and peace. The sheer volume of participants and the nature of unchecked abuses have nonetheless given a false sense of success despite what really is politically accomplished is nothing but hate and anarchy. The role of internet in the Arab revolutions cheated Amhara Diaspora into thinking that they too can create an internet-driven revolution, with some color mimicking the Ukrainian unrest. Unable to craft its own strategy, there is evidence that Amhara Diaspora politics attempts to write the entire new chapter of Ethiopian history strictly using “cut and paste” approach of pre-owned and extraneous techniques that don’t fit the prevailing situation in the country. Simply put, Paltalk for Ethiopian politics is becoming matches in the hands of a child.
The attack on Moslem institution in Ethiopia, – classically Amhara dominated Ethiopian governments always kept control of religious leadership who were considered too important to be left alone. Haile Sellasie regained his throne which he almost lost during the failed coup of 1960 when the Bishop excommunicated the coup followers. Menelik waged wars with religious leaders and with a mobile church. In fact, as recent as early 1970s, the government collected tax on behalf of and for the Orthodox Church, nothing for the Moslem Ethiopia. Often times the church leaders were picked by the government, and the Christian followers were forced to accept. In all such cases Ethiopian political leaders also were Christians, and the choice of Orthodox leadership was perceived as internal for the Christian Ethiopia, so much that that the Moslems didn’t interfere. The system also allowed the Moslem population to choose its own leadership, but Moslems had limited access to Ethiopian politics. Emperors like Yohannes simply disallowed any political leader to be a Moslem, and those who refused to change their religion to Christianity were punished by death. The recent TPLF interference with Moslem elections should be looked at within these historic trends. The TPLF’s action of posting Moslem leaders for the Moslem people shifted the focus of Ethiopian political discourse from primarily inter-ethnic to primarily government vs. Moslem. The primary short-term beneficiary of this manufactured conflict is the TPLF, whereas the primary victims will be Oromos. The long-term losers will however be all the people of Ethiopia. Here again, the transient situation favors the Amhara who by and large sided with the government by way of religious solidarity. The Amharas blame the TPLF for starting the fire, but they also sympathize with the Tigrean government whose religion they share. There is a long shared sense of Ethiopian ethos by Amharas and Tigreans, that Moslem religion followers of Ethiopia are less than full Ethiopians. This ally formation and the welcome the Amharas received from Tigrean clergy on this common and uniting agenda gave Amhara loyalists a sense of false victory.
The disintegration of Oromo political organizations, – the most important of all reasons seems to be the weakness of Oromo and Southern political organizations, the absence of a serious check against wild ambitions and foul plays of the Amhara as well as Tigrean politicians. This obvious point warrants no further details.
The culmination of these four main vectors merged to create a false moral of Amhara Diaspora, a false sense of victory over Ethiopian politics, but without a shred of tangible victory. The astray moral boosted on a fake ground became just as intolerant as the Ethiopia of the emperors which wanted to forge one language, one culture, and one people in one country. Such intolerance was demonstrated in reaction to a recent Aljazeera interview with a young Oromo who was asked if he is an Oromo first, or an Ethiopian first. The young Oromo answered that he is an Oromo first. The false sense of victory reached its climax when a large number of Amhara Diaspora media converged on the young Oromo condemning him for claiming to be an Oromo ahead of being an Ethiopian. They unleashed incredible attacks through multitude of Medias; – angry letters and petitions went to Aljazeera for airing the view.
I end my note with a sense of pleasure from knowing that this false sense of glory is sure to dry soon. And I am Kallacha Dubbi, I am an Oromo first, an Oromo second, and an Oromo third. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.