Ethiopianity – By Teodros Kiros (Ph.D)

January 27th, 2008 Print Print Email Email

We Ethiopians have much to be proud of. The Architectural and Literary talents at Aksum, the valor and bravery of Ethiopians at Adwa, the imaginative genius of the Engineers at Lalibela, the wondrous delights of Islamic art and mosques in Harrar and beyond, the modern Ethiopian novel in Amharic and English, not to forget the philosophical discourses of Zara Yacob, Ethiopia’ spiritual father. These are the pillars of Ethiopian history. Many other African projects are embodied in Ethiopian soil and body. These momentous history, and history momentous, a pride of the Black world, should not be thrown away by the recent tragedies of ethnic rivalries in modern Ethiopian life. Tragic it would be to replace Ethiopianity with ethnicity. (more…)

We Ethiopians have much to be proud of. The Architectural and Literary talents at Aksum, the valor and bravery of Ethiopians at Adwa, the imaginative genius of the Engineers at Lalibela, the wondrous delights of Islamic art and mosques in Harrar and beyond, the modern Ethiopian novel in Amharic and English, not to forget the philosophical discourses of Zara Yacob, Ethiopia’ spiritual father. These are the pillars of Ethiopian history. Many other African projects are embodied in Ethiopian soil and body. These momentous history, and history momentous, a pride of the Black world, should not be thrown away by the recent tragedies of ethnic rivalries in modern Ethiopian life. Tragic it would be to replace Ethiopianity with ethnicity.

The modern Ethiopian state is composed of this classical idea, Ethiopianity. Ethnic rivalries are increasingly denuding us of our rich history. Our Ethiopianity is too splendid to be watered down by a one hundred years history of self-determination, a tool of dividing the nation into ever hostile language and ethnic groups.

In a series of article over the past ten years I have paid home to ancestral history and genealogy expressed in articles entitled Classical and Modern Ethiopian personality and on positive and negative ethnicity. Sadly my readers did not engage these articles. I only wish that I had written them in Amharic, hoping that they would have a wider audience.

Ethiopianity is an expression of the history of the mosaic of culture, made out of the tapestry of a plurality of ethnicities and languages. The melodies and philosophical orature of the Oromos, without whom, there would be no Ethiopia; the culturally sculpted administrative genius of the Amharas, the valor and literary talents of the high priests of Aksum; the masters of the modern Ethiopian novel; the highly envied business acumen of the Gurages, these talents splendid and splendid talents frame the idea of Ethiopianity.

Classical Ethiopian philosophy is anchored on remembrance- the remembrance of Aksum, Lalibela and Adwa. The founders of those civilizations sacrificed their lives to preserve our sovereignty and protect our Africanity.

Modern Ethiopinity builds on classical Ethiopianity and added the important feature of the right of the individual Ethiopian to determine her history as the bearer of rights and the harbinger of change. On the modern view the average Ethiopian is inserted into history as a legal personality and a historical actor. For this we express our thanks to the European Enlightenment via the Ethiopianizing of Marxism, when it became the new language of the Ethiopian student movement of the sixties.

Ethiopianity old and new is informed by cultural self-determination. Ways of seeing, of hearing, of speaking, of arguing, of dancing and of much more are all generated from culture. Ethnicity in the profound sense of the term is the house of Ethiopianity. A healthy way of celebrating our Ethiopianity is to clean our hearts and unapologetically express our differences and similarities as Ethiopians born to different practices born out of culture blended with customs.

The new topic of Ethiopianity must pay close attention to the reconciliation and change that Mr. Seeye Abraha is calling from the depth of his heart, without motives.

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