Andenet (Unity) and the Political imaginary of Adwa – By Teodros Kiros (Ph.D)
In a recent sparkling piece replete with the remembrance of Adwa, Dr Maimire Mennasemay wrote, “In 1896, Ethiopians of all origins thwarted Italy’s effort to advance its colonial interests by fomenting ethnic hatred and pitting Ethiopians against Ethiopians. From Wellega to Tigrai, from Harrar to Gojjam, and from every corner of the country, Ethiopians joined hands with each other and Emperor Menelik to fight the threat of colonial oppression. Many who had serious disagreements with the Emperor put aside their misgivings and sided with him. Even those who suffered at his hands rose above their pains and stood with him to defend Ethiopia’s independence. Menelik on his part welcomed with open arms those who for years were opposed to him” (Ethiomedia, February 29, 2008). “
Dr. Mennasemay is indeed right. Adwa is impregnated with a political imaginary, which the opposition ought to use as the source of data for engaging ANDENET to propel the hidden force of Ethiopiawinet and stimulate Ethiopians to come to the democratic palaver and force the prevailing either to save Ethiopia through a peaceful struggle or abdicate power by the people’s social movement.
I would like to engage the meaning of Adwa on three levels. (1) Menelik as a uniting sovereign, (2) Overcoming internal oppression through Ethiopiwinet and (3) ANDENET and Reconciliation.
(1) Menelik was a shrewd sovereign, who intuitively what he had to in order to save Ethiopia from foreign aggression. In the language of MAAT, the African female principle of governance through political goodness informed by compassion and uprightness, the Emperor managed to control his ego and engage his former rivals and enemies and invited them to join him to overcome a deadly enemy. He appealed to the people for help, for understanding, and the people joined him to do the work. The Emperor himself internalized reconciliatory comportment and put himself in the mood of work guided by Ethiopia’s common good. It is precisely this kind of shrewdness that the prevailing Sovereign in Ethiopia is desperately lacking. The prevailing is intent on rejecting reconciliation and intent on doing everything by Orwellian political cruelty and a short lived arrogance that would one come to haunt it.
We do not have a sovereign of Menelik’s quality, but we must develop one.
Even the Kenyans are on the verge of using the imaginary at Adwa and share power for the sake of saving Kenya from the course of self destruction. Their sovereign leaders are thinking for the future of the country, and not their own future. Such is the fabric out of which true sovereigns are made. We Ethiopians should do the same, as I had repeatedly pointed out in my recent articles on Ethiopianity and Unity.
(2) As members of Ethnic groups aiming at cutting each other’s throats, we unconsciously put ourselves on a mood for war. This comportment is neither shrewd nor wise, as it is nothing more than the internalization of the tyrant inside us, the tyrant of irrationality. We Ethiopians must work hard to cleanse ourselves of this devilish attitude that will destroy the Ethiopia that we all love. We must learn to forgive by healing the wounds of hate. The self imposed, “internal oppression” can be overcome only by the oppressed. This kind of oppression requires time and serious effort and concentration to be worked on. All of us Ethiopians must first make up our mind to start the work in our private time. That is only the beginning, but a very foundational beginning for the larger political project of ANDENET to begin.
(3) Once the cleansed Ethiopian individual is available then the political work of ANDENET will place itself as our new project, a project I propose that the newly formed Ethiopian FORUM OF SOLIDARITY can accept as a working manifesto.
The battle at Adwa is sending its wings towards modern Ethiopia and signaling to us that we will either perish or flourish, if we choose the latter, then we must use the political imaginary of the sovereign at Adwa.
A future article will address the (3) item more extensively.