The non-existence of Ethnic conflicts in Ethiopia By Teodros Kiros
According to Eskinder Nega, our esteemed journalist.
Once the genie was out of the bottle, neither the Derg’s revolutionary land to the tiller proclamation, which uprooted the economic foundation for identity politics, nor the rise to power of the EPRDF, one of its multitude of militant champions, has been enough to diminish its emotional appeal to a large number of people. It still thrives in Ethiopia’s politics both as a powerful force and a favored means of divide and rule.
Does this pose a threat of ethnic strife in the event of Egypt-like protests? Would people really go as far as engaging in ethnic conflict, particularly in relatively sophisticated Addis Ababa, home to the nation’s greatest diversity?
Even in these times of heightened ethnic consciousness, the melting pot standing of the nation’s capital has persisted virtually unchallenged. An established ethos encourages tolerance and co-existence for first generation settlers from the regions, who have always constituted a majority, and assimilation in to a hybrid culture for succeeding generations. Even the Amharic spoken in Addis, which, like American English, has developed a distinctive accent, is evolving as it continues to assimilate increasing number of words from other languages.
Addis is uniquely one of those rare African cities with no ethnic ghettos. The few neighborhoods that started out, as ethnic enclaves—Wello sefer, Gimira sefer, Wellega sefer etc— have all been overwhelmed. Amidst this diversity, all school instructions are by consensus in the lingua-franca, Amharic. There are no private or public ethnic schools in Addis. The protection and upkeep of ethnic identities, which is held dear by most Ethiopians, is understood to be the preserve of either their home regions or a private matter.
Naturally, with ethnically diverse neighborhoods the norm, the extent of inter-marriages is exceptionally high. An ethnically homogeneous extended family is virtually non-existent. The process of assimilation in this realm is as vibrant as ever.
This is the Addis Ababan reality, which had enabled the CUD to score a sweeping electoral victory in 2005. For the entirety of the city’s residents, heightened ethnicity, let alone conflict, militates against day-to-day life. A neighbor is rarely an ethnic kin. A family member is usually married to someone from a different ethnic group. A co-worker almost always comes from a different ethnicity. The same goes for a fellow worshiper. Unlike the US or parts of Africa, the concept of an ethnically exclusive church simply does not exist. The ties that bind Addis Ababans are extensive and deep. ( Ethiomedia, Feb 17, 2011)
This is good news for our dream of staging a national uprising in our homeland. The Woyannes have been craftily misadjusting the historic people of Tigray to fight against their Ethiopianity- the heart felt impulse for which they gallantly fought in Tigray. Tigreans have always been devoted Ethiopians. Their emperors have testified their Ethiopianity on the behalf of mother Ethiopia. This great Ethiopian history was distorted and rewritten by the Tyrannical/ oligarchic regime. Tigreans have now woken up to this distorted history. They are saying no in so many words and at so many places to this hegemonic miseducation. Other Ethiopians should also wake up and embrace this new reality.
I am much impressed by Eskinder’s subtle reading of this impending unity of all Ethiopians, a fact that was always there on the streets of Addis, its ethnic neighborhoods, its work places, its hospitals and churches.
The journalist’s pen has documented this hidden reality of the cosmopolitanism of Addis Abbebans and others. Let us collectively wrap ourselves with this radical cosmopolitanism and set the impending stage of a peaceful uprising aiming at embracing our Ethiopianity and rejecting pseudo ethnicity against our interests.