Ethnicity: Unrecognized Fatal Disease Belayneh Abate

June 23rd, 2014 Print Print Email Email

Ninety nine percent of the humans’ gene has counterpart in the rats’ gene. This fact demonstrates how strongly rats are genetically related to humans. More importantly, this genetic relationship heralds what a negligible gene difference exists among us.

Despite this strong genetic link, we slaughter rats in the laboratories and fields. We do not stop there: Every minute, we ethnically kill each other.

The ethnicity sword slaughtered several million Jewish Europeans, and nearly a million Rwandan Tutsis. As we speak, ethnicity- related killings are committed in Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria and many other African countries. Furthermore, because of ethnic conflicts, millions face natural disasters; and suffer from medical and metal diseases.

Therefore, ethnicity should be considered as a disease like, malaria, AIDs and cancer. Although no international disease classification code is assigned to it, ethnicity is one of the major causes of death. I presume ethnicity kills more lives than malaria, AIDS and cancer kill.

The question, however, is: can ethnicity get investigated like malaria, AIDS and cancer. Is it detectable by sense organs or laboratory tests? Ethnicity is usually linked with language, religion and tradition. Is ethnicity a reflection of language? Is it a religious or ritual practice like Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism?

Is ethnicity inherited like skin color and hair texture or acquired like language and religion? Does ethnicity posses a center in the brain like language or it connected to super natural power like religion? Can we hear it the way we hear spoken language? Can we practice it the way we practice religion and traditions? Is ethnicity limited in time and space or is it ever lasting and universal?

Suppose child” H” from Hutu, and child”T” from Tutsi were adapted since infancy; and they were raised in the United States. They practice no religion or tradition, but speak English. Suppose they return to live in Rwanda. Up on arrival, they find nothing in common with the Hutus and Tutsis except their physical appearance. Based on language, religion and tradition criteria, they could not qualify the definition of Hutu or Tutsi ethnicity. Should they take the ethnicity of their biological parents?

Biological parents bestow to their children traits such as skin color and hair texture. H’s and T’s skin color may not change significantly whether they live in USA or Rwanda. Similarly, their hair texture will remain the same irrespective of geographical location. These facts demonstrate that unlike language and tradition, phenotype (appearance) is relatively a permanent trait.

Therefore, should their physical appearance (phenotype) serve as criteria to categorize H and T as ethnic Hutu and Tutsi? Is not their phenotype the expression of their genetic makeup? Should we use their genes as tools to identify their ethnic group? Is there such thing as Hutu or Tutsi gene? Of course, there is no one!

In conclusion, ethnicity cannot be determined based on language, region, tradition, gene or a combination these traits. In fact, ethnicity cannot be determined because it does not exist: Ethnicity is just an illusion.

In order to explore the sources of this illusion, I have read Descartes, Aristotle, Locke, Hobbs, Hume and contemporary writers on this subject such as Anthony Appiah and Laurence Blume. No one has proved the existence of ethnicity.

Laurence Blume was right when he argued conquerors created racialized groups to impose social, political and economical costs up on them*. Colonizers fabricated ethnicity germs (like weapons) to pursue their divide and rule strategy. The conquerors spread these germs first to the susceptible members of f the conquered society. These susceptible members consist of traitors, tyrants and ethnocentric group leaders.

These traitors, tyrants and ethnocentric group leaders serve as ethnicity vectors (transmitters) for the ethnicity germs. As the malaria mosquitoes proliferate in the ponds of the earth, the ethnicity mosquitoes flourish in the ponds of colonialism. Similarly, as the malaria mosquitoes suck blood to disseminate the parasites; the ethnicity mosquitoes draw blood, language and religion lines to spread the ethnicity germs.

Ethnicity mosquitoes exist everywhere in the world, but they are densely populated in Africa. The prototype ethnicity mosquito in Africa was the late Ethiopia’s tyrant, aka Zenawi. He relentlessly propagated ethnicity germs; and sliced the never-conquered nation into the tiniest possible ethnic slices.

Ethnic slices are the sources of social conflicts, displacements, wars, and endless bloodshed. Therefore, ethnicity should be contained; and then eradicated. As health professionals target the ponds, the mosquitoes, the parasite and the victims to control malaria; wise people should aim at colonialism, ethnicity germs and vectors to contain ethnicity.

Unless people disrupt the network of colonialism, ethnicity germs, and ethnicity vectors; ethnicity will continue to devour innocent peoples’ lives. In order to save the lives of millions, we should clearly classify ethnicity as a fatal disease; and plan to invent treatment and prevention measures. Thank you.

End Note
*Racial zed Group, Laurence Blume (accessed on 6/20/14)

The writer can be reached at

  1. Boko Haram
    | #1

    Like his comapatriots, Obbo Belayneh Abate never like self-critique and introspection. He is off base that ethnic problem existed in Ethiopia long before the late Meles came to power. True citizens of Ethiopia were Amharas since Menelik II. But the narrow nationaliest TPLF exasperated the sickening situation out of malice and ethnic envey in order to rob what does not belong to Tigryans and stay in power for long through puppets like Gidada, Girma and the ultimate jock now Haile Mariam Desalgne of Wolita. One really wonders what the author would write about North and South Yeman, the Somali Republic, Iraq and Syria where ethnically the same people slaughter each other.

  2. Dawi
    | #2

    Belayneh said:

    [[..The prototype ethnicity mosquito in Africa was the late Ethiopia’s tyrant, aka Zenawi. He relentlessly propagated ethnicity germs; and sliced the never-conquered nation into the tiniest possible ethnic slices...]]

    Never conquered is correct but remember, there existed an unequal semi feudal state all along. The student movement before and after that followed by the military regime, the arm struggle waged by groups like EPRP, TPLF attest to that and were part and parcel to settle the score. There was no need by you to deny ethnic inequality existed in that country either.

    So giving credit to one man for inventing “ethnicity germs” where credit is not due is preposterous.

    BTW, the difference between EPRP and TPLF to me was the former wanted to study “Eritrean question” for ever the later didn’t. They both came out of Ethiopian Student movement.

    If you look at Iraq today where it is going and what Obama’s administration is suggesting as a solution you wouldn’t have said what you said about the great leader. Meles was proactive in dealing with our problem unless you show us some other working alternative to do the job but why kid ourselves, we already know you have no clue from reading what you wrote.

    In short what Obama is trying to do is pressure Iraqi elites to form some “ethnic coalition” just like Kagame did to deal with Rwanda’s problem before they blow up. What else can you do in places like Iraq and Syria where they have conflict of historically dominant ethnic minority & historically oppressed majority?

    Off course Iraq don’t have what Kagame or Meles who had a strong party & military to create a very strong federation like Rowanda/Ethiopia so it is going to be a weak ethnic federation if they are lucky at that and don’t explode before just like the former Yugoslavia.:)

    I say, the only way you can “disrupt the network of colonialism” in our our country is using Meles’s vision by passing all ethnic demagogues & building a developmental state of Ethiopia along South Korean kind of way, an “authoritarian” government if you will that loosens over time.


  3. Getaw
    | #3

    “One really wonders what the author would write about North and South Yeman, the Somali Republic, Iraq and Syria where ethnically the same people slaughter each other.” Why don’t you tell us in few words since you seem to think that ethnicity is a panacea for political problems of Ethiopia? Why those “homogeneous” countries are conflict ridden?

  4. Worku tesfaye
    | #4

    Ethiopia vs Iraq,Syria
    ze couses of problem in Iraq and Syria are seeking for reginal power and conflicts,ozer reason is interception of western zat Israeli guarantee policies in region.
    Once society’s structure disturbed by external radiat conflict,ze ethinic group conflict occurred.
    Ethinicies conflicts in Ethiopia was common in past king,derg or now.
    How could Meles and ethinic related?
    Particularly ze kush root ethinicities are always in conflicts.
    Raya or arsi bale oromo tribes and ogaden (aden ker clan),borena vs digodia(et and Kenya Somali),borena vs gari,isa vs afar,arsi vs sidama,gabra vs borena,amhara(shewa robit) vs afar,hawiya vs timase,itu.oromo vs isa(somali),merhan(Et somali filtu) vs digidia etc.
    Here ze couses for conflict mostly grazing land and live animals pond water.
    Zy live as neighbourhood.ze problem of conflicts is economical and solution also wz zem.
    Let’s take,currently when u go afar or some part of Et somali region,ze local peoples categorized ethinicities of Ethiopia .
    Amhara or habesha for high lander.zy dont like high lander or amhara.
    Minilik and H.S king administration were Ze couses of zis problem.
    Elders not blame meles.ze blamed king regime

  5. Read before you comment
    | #5

    In my opinion, all the comments above have nothing to do with the article. The probbaly pseudo names: Meles lover Dawi, Oromia first Boko, Getaw and work are talking about what is ringing in their mind.

    The article is not about syria, Iraq or Ethiopia. It is about the terrible illusion- ethnicity.

    The fact is whether in Syria, Iraqu, Yemen or Somalia, either religious or language or both forms of ethnicity are involved. for example Shia vs Sunni. And these differences are fueled by foreign involvment.

  6. Temam
    | #6

    Dawi and other ethnicity lovers.

    What the results of religous ethnicity. Shia guards slaughtering sunni prisonors in a jail.

  7. Selamta
    | #7

    No where in the developing world has free market democracy has worked. Whereas free market economy gives more access to the West and enrich only the few, democracy awakens ethnicity and promotes scapegoating for the plight of the majority. This collision has resulted in the death of many in Yugoslavia (serbs vs croats & bosnians) Rwanda (hutu vs tutsi), Zimbabwe (black vs white), indonesia (indonesians vs chinese), etc.. This phenomenon never happened in Ethiopia before since no ethnicity was economucally better than the others (except Eritreans) and there was no meaningful democ
    racy. Some people think intermarriage and religion as rhe cushion for our coexistence, which I don’t believe is a correct argument since those elements haven’t changed while ethnic tension is at the highest point, ticking to explode any time.

    The big question is why didn’t such conflict occur in West Europe? Why is it not happening in the racially segregated America?

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