The Phenomenon of Self-Subjugation in the Current Ethiopian Politics By Dubale
Ethiopians from various parts of the country have been fighting to do away the woyane oligarchy who is implementing the hegemony of the Tigre ethnic group. The people of Ethiopia have been fighting for the most basic democratic rights such as having freedom of speech and writing, increasing the limited opportunities in the economy, fighting against social discrimination, having equal access to the legal system, and preventing denial of justice in court rooms.
Neither woyane nor its supporters seem to understand the consequence of ethnic politics. The propaganda woyane is spreading among its supporters wrongly paints Tigre’s hegemony is everlasting by subjugating other ethnic groups through economic and political means. That view is very shortsighted at best and destructive at worst. As one of the minority ethnic groups, Tigres should otherwise be very concerned about ethnic politics in Ethiopia. Whatever economic, social, and political benefit Tigres are enjoying at present is transient and will last only if the balance of power remains heavily tilted to woyane’s side for long.
Two stratagems, in tandem, have been working in favor of woyane. The first one is divide and rule and the second is a growing trend of self-subjugation. Many writers in various forums have addressed the former stratagem but the latter stratagem has not been addressed adequately. For careful observer, self-subjugation in the current Ethiopian politics becomes quiet evident as a sad consequence of the unprecedented oppression the people of Ethiopia and the opposition parties are forced to endure. The opposition parties themselves have unconsciously played an active role of self-subjugation and undermined their own role as a prime fighter against the dictatorial rule of EPRDF and ethnic hegemony.
The current Ethiopia is formed not with ethnic equality but with notions of inequality and discrimination favoring the hegemony of Tigre. The term “ethnic equality” in woyane’s government has turned to the operative term of folly of subconscious disdain fulfilled by a discriminatory action on the work place, interaction among ethnic groups, in courthouses, and higher education institutions. Self-subjugation stems from learned response to these discriminatory actions of government institutions. The subdivisions of Ethiopia to different ethnic kilils have reinforced prejudices and discrimination and produced self-subjugated generation and culture.
After woyane lost the election in 2005, it has recruited over five million people to join EPRDF. All these new recruits are willingly or otherwise joining EPRDF primarily to get access to economic opportunity and get promotion in work place. There is unwritten rule that any of rank and files Tigre have an upper hand over all of other ethnic groups in all of the political apparatus within the organization of EPRDF. The individuals have to demonstrate their loyalty to any Tigre in the structure by subjugating themselves to the perceived higher social rank of Tigres.
Not only in the rank and files, the higher officials including the PM Hailemariam Desalegn has to demonstrate their loyalty to Tigre hegemony more than their loyalty to Ethiopia. The continuous reaffirmation in various communiqués before and after Hailemariam assumes the PM position that he will unequivocally keep alive the deceased PM Meles Zenawi’s legacy is a manifest of self-subjugation. He has been stating exaggerated praise to Melse not to convince Ethiopians but to let the Tigre king makers know that he will serve woyane very well and with no opposition. The judges presiding to rule in political prosecutions of journalists and opposition leaders may not necessarily subscribe to woynae politics, but they convey another manifest of a self-subjugation trait. These judges almost always rule in favor of the government ridiculous litigation against defendants who exercised their right within the boundary of the law. The case of Supreme Court recently upheld the sentence of journalist such as Eskinder Nega and Anduale Arage of the opposition parties is ruled by none other than self-subjugated judges.
The trait of self-subjugation can be observed in the opposition parties as well. In the case of opposition parties, self-subjugation manifests when political actions are limited to actions only the dictatorial woynae approves or tolerates. Oppositions have acquired an amazing skill of self-subjugating to not anger woyane by underperforming their political actions to not be visible to attract attention of the general public. Holding candle light vigils in the compound of their offices or occasional visit of politically accused and wrongly sentenced members of their party or leaders rather than mobilizing the population and taking the streets are cases of self-subjugations, not to cross the red line drawen by woyane. By doing so, the opposition parties might manage to live to the next day but it allows woynae to build on its success of spreading the trait of self-subjugation among communities.
The defensive responses of Girma Seifu of MEDREK (the largest opposition coalitions) in town hall meeting in Washington DC and other cities in USA is a vivid example. His responses to pertinent questions such as, why there is no active resistance of the opposition parties by utilizing the rights the constitution granted to them? In his responses, Girma has been attempting to reproach the questioners by implying that the Diaspora Ethiopians were insensitive to the danger of prosecution and ultimate imprisonment members of opposition parties are facing.
This mental sentiment of the constitutional rights is only applied when EPRDF bureaucracy permits is what self-subjugation is all about. Girma’s answer is totally contradictory to what the opposition parties should stand for. The job of opposition parties is to oppose and make it publicly known when government violates its own rule. The oppositions actions should be independent of the government permission. It is ridiculous to expect the violator of their right, woyane, permits the oppositions political actions.
That is what the opposition parties such as MEDREK which Girma Seifu is member of the leadership consciously underperforms or totally neglects to do in Ethiopia. Consequently, there is no progress in the democratization process of Ethiopia but only regress when the very opposition parties are enforcing the repressing actions of EPRDF and Tigre hegemony by mere self-subjugation of not doing what the constitution granted. Ethiopians in Diaspora are not insensitive as implied by Grima but advocates for oppositions to take incremental actions to result small changes.
The dissemination of bigotry and discrimination by woyane elitists through cultural, political and socioeconomic means mustn’t be seen lightly. Because, its impact is widespread and it increases the existing conflicts or creates one where there is none. Woyane fostered a society that marginalizes all other ethnic groups but primarily Amara and Oromo. The recent eviction campaign of Amara from the land they have been farming for many years in Benishangul-Gumuz and Guraferda is the direct consequence of ethnic policy.
First and foremost, woyane ethnic demagogues such as Sebehat Nega and the his likes may wholeheartedly would like to believe that they are not racist. Still, due to the manner in which a high level of racialism has been encouraged to permeate in every corner of the “Kilil” and federal administrative structures, one cannot be sure that ethnic resentment and disdain has not been infiltrated by eviction of one ethnic groups from land and work place or forced villegization and land grab.
Almost all citizens know this mental conditioning of self-subjugation to be true. To state it differently, individuals in all other ethnic groups have been duped into believing that, without woyane approval they are not worthy to enjoy the same achievements and pleasures any Tigres so openly display to occupy any high offices as their entitlement benefit. What makes self-subjugation a significant mindset to keep oppressor woyane in power is because it is instrumental to have the same oppressed ethnic groups propagate the prejudicial and racialist notions that have kept their ancestors from collecting the confidence in themselves, as a community, as a people, to reach the upper echelons of social achievement and effect change in Ethiopia.
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