By Jalata Lami | December 16, 2013
Currently, we are hearing that different individuals, groups and
political parties as well as St. Marry Church(Located near National
Palace around Arat Killo, Addis Ababa) are preparing to celebrate or are
celebrating the 100th year of Menilik II death. It is
shocking that Orthodox Christian Church is organizing a ceremony to
officially celebrate the 100th year of Menilik II death.
Different comments are being given on the celebration from different
perspectives. From advocators side, Tewodros Kassahun gave his response
about the celebration on Inku Magazine Number 107 published on December
2013. I found it necessary to provide responses to his interview on
the magazine. Before directly commenting on his responses, it is better
to have background information.
As said above, some individuals and groups are celebrating the 100th
year of Menilik II death. On the other hand, there are Ethiopian
peoples and ethnic groups who never like to hear about Menilik II. For
instance, Oromo, Kaffa, Wolayita and other peoples suffered greatly
under the rule of Menilik II. Hence, such peoples do not have good flash
back about the past administration of the king. Oromo people, for
instance, do not have good memory about the king. There are people whose
fathers and forefathers and mothers, grand mothers were killed by the
king. It is said that Menilik II waged genocide war on Oromo people.
According to different source, more than 5 million people were killed
by the king. Thousands lost their different parts of their body. The
hands of male and breasts of female were horribly cut. These made the
Oromo people to remember the king with bad memory. Thus, celebrating the
100th year of the king’s death means indirectly not caring
for the wound of the Oromo and other peoples who suffered under the rule
of that king or simply it means inserting stick in their wound. This is
also activating the wound of Oromo people and make sick of what
happened a century ago. For this reason, it argued that the king and his
horrible administration should not be remembered, rather must be
Having the above as background informanation, know I will proceed to
commenting on the response. Tewodros Kassahun provided different
responses to Inku Magazine (Number 107 published on December 2013)
regarding Menilik II and other related issues. However, I will comment
on some of his responses.
The first issue he raised is regarding the celebration of Menilik II. Tewodros K. responded that “Personally, not celebrating Menilik II identity and his contribution to Ethiopia at National Level worries me.” It is not unexpected to here such words from the singer. For example, Hallelujah Lulie(2013) said that “His [Tewodros K.]
unreserved love and appreciation for Menelik, his unexamined and narrow
knowledge of history, and the existence of a fan base that swallows
whatever comes out of him without chewing are the three most points that
facilitate such a statement.” Tewodros K. love, praise and
appreciate Menilik II in different ways. For instance, he expressed his
love and appreciation for Meniliek II by singing a song ‘Menilik Tikur
Sew.’ Now his is saying ignoring to celebrate the Menilik II identity
and his contribution to Ethiopia is worrying him.
Tewodros K. claims to preach love, peace and respect for each other
on different concerts. Contrary to this, he wants to celebrate and
praise Menilik II who killed millions of Oromo in the end of 19thce and beginning of 20th
century. By doing so, he wants to cover the genocide that the king made
on Oromo people. He wants to refresh the wound of Oromo people or enjoy
on the death of million Oromos and ignoring the pain of the people. He
seems not bothered for the unjust and great harm done on Oromo People.
Tewodros K. need to celebrate the king appears to reveals the attitude
and hatred of the singer to Oromo people. He do not feel the wound and
sorrow of the people. Celebrating the horrible past, will broaden the
gap between who suffered under the past administration and those who are
celebrating the past actions.
The 2nd main point he raised is that the need of
celebrating the king. Tewodros K. stated that the need to remember
individuals like Menilik II is to transfer things that should be
improved and repeated to the new generation. He added that when to we
praise individuals who become National Pride, it would initiate other
people who can perform good works. I am saying there is no as such good
that we pass to the next generation. The king committed genocide against
our people and this should not be celebrated and remembered. Rather it
should be condemned.
On the other hand, I believe that there are things that should be
improved. On this point, I share the comment of the singer. If we need
peaceful coexistence of the Ethiopian People, first we should clearly
know the truth that happened in the past. In addition, we should condemn
the wrong did of the past, than celebrating it. Rather than celebrating
the horrible war, it is better to remember those who suffered because
of the war. I believe that there should be National Memorial Day in
which the million people who killed at Anolle, Calanqo and other areas
are remembered and those who committed the crime are condemned. This
one of the things that should be improved.
The new generation should clearly know what had happed in the past.
Individuals and groups, should condemn the crime of the past and those
who committed it. The current generation should not praise the king and
his war of genocide, rather should denounce it. Knowing the badness of
the history, this generation should keep themselves from committing
similar crime. By denouncing the bad actions of the past, this
generation should look for how to live together peacefully.
Besides, Tewodros K was asked to provide his own opinion on how he
considers the war made by Menilik II to form the present Ethiopia. With
out hesitation he replied that “The war that Menilik II made to unify Ethiopia is a ‘holy war’ for me.” It is really annoying to hear such words from the singer. In 21st century, when love and respect to each other is advocated, calling a war ‘holy’ appears to surprised many of us. The key question to ask here is ‘how a war can be ‘holy’? He seems lacks or ignores the historical experiences of Ethiopian peoples. As I stated earlier, million of Oromo people were killed by the war made by Melinik II. In addition, the war that is given a ‘holy’ title was the war in which hundred thousands of Kaffa and Walaita people were killed. He is considering that terrible war as ‘holy’. As to me, no war is holy. Hence, considering the war in which millions Oromo lost their life as ‘holy war’ confirms
his disrespect and hatred to Oromo and other Peoples. He ignores the
pain of Oromo people. By doing so, he is refreshing the wound of Oromo
Tewodros appears to ignore or unaware of historical facts of
Ethiopian Peoples. He attempted to hide the truth that exits on the
ground. Regarding this, Hallelujah Lulie(2013) said that “Teddy’s
preaching on peace, love and unity is a uninformed, shallow and naive.
There cannot be love without truth. And at this moment he doesn’t look
like he is able or willing to face the truth and preach it” His response is also contrary to what he claims to preach on different stage. The consideration of such horrible war as a ‘holy war’ is
equals with preaching hatred between groups of people. It is also
asserting war between groups of people and will not help the unity of
the country. Rather it distracts the unity. That why his response
disconfirms what he preached: on peace, love and unity.
What will be our response and reaction:
Hayyu Kanate said,“For us[Oromo People]celebrating Menilik II is
considered as the celebrating Hitler as a German National Holyday or it
means building the Statue of Grazziani in Finfinne, not in Rome”. Besides, Memihir Gebrekidan Desta stated, “If you continued to praise Hitler, it means that still you will not be reserved to repeat the action made by Hitler.”
In similar analogy, those who are praising the Menilik II and
considering his horrible genocide war as “Holy”, it means that they will
do what Menilik II had done on Ethiopian peoples if they get the chance
to do so. Celebrating a king that sided with certain group and hurt
others have no significance for the coexistence of Ethiopian peoples.
Rather it inflames fire between those who suffered under the rule and
who are praising the rule of the King and his administration system. It
can also lead to conflict between the two.
The person who celebrates the king who murdered my grand father, grand mother, father and mother is my enemy. Those who are celebrating Minilik II are our GREAT ENEMY.
Menilik II is gone forever. Hence, we are not going to wrangle with the
killer and administration system. However, we will fight with those who
are praising him as a hero. In other words, we, who endured under the
rule of Menelik II, will not fight with Menilik II. He is no more. We
oppose and we will fight with those who are celebrating him. The
opposition and struggle will continue with the advocators of Menilik II
and his administration system.