By STL Kagnew
“The prospect of visiting Ethiopia attracted me more strongly than a trip to France, England, and America combined. I felt I would be visiting my own genesis, unearthing the roots of what made me an African.” At the time Nelson Mandela uttered these words there would have been no surprise in the faces of those he was addressing. In a world of black people searching for the pride that was robbed of them Ethiopia was the framework, a promise of heritage and cooperation. To the outsider, to love Ethiopia was to say “I am black and I’m proud”. For the Ethiopian, to love one’s country was to love oneself and by extension one’s people.
Today, it is normal to run hateful agendas under the disguise of ethnic-based politics. We are inundated with news of continuing violence. The violence we see in Ethiopia now are the harvests of three decades of ethnic-based politics. Some of our tribal politicians still feel that this is a much bigger time-bomb which could be imploded only if they have control of the government. Ethnomania has become the order of the day and it feels as if we were all poisoned.
We all have ethnic groups but our perception of other ethnicities varies greatly. Unfortunately, some earn their living by disseminating hateful ethnic-based agendas and despising other ethnic groups. They strive for hegemony and agitate their followers to inflict moral and physical damage on people from other ethnic groups or religion. Their actions show that they are bigoted and irreligious. These are undoubtedly ‘ethno-psycho (ዘር-አበድ)’. Ethno-psycho (ዘር-አበድ) individuals have vile temper, do not believe in conventional reasoning, make up their own history as they go along and will find no common ground to work with people of other ethnic groups or religions. Pay attention to facebook posts, tweets and YouTube messages and you will see two main groups of people. First there are the ethno-psycho (ዘር-አበድ) individuals among most ethnic groups whose general sentiment seems to be “my tribe is superior over others and will have more freedom only if other tribes are eliminated or oppressed”. If this sounds familiar, it is because the same propaganda was used by Hitler and his Nazi followers. The collective damage by ethno-psychos (ዘር-አበድ) from different ethnic groups is the most atrocious outrage being perpetrated in Ethiopia. There is a second group which, for the lack of a better word, can be called ‘ethno-drunk (ዘር-ሰከር)’. The ethno-drunk (ዘር-ሰከር) are followers of ethno-psycho (ዘር-አበድ), giving ethno-psycho a wrong impression that their ethnic-based ideas are supported by many. Ethno-drunks (ዘር-ሰከር) have limited interactions with other ethnic groups and they do not condone the ill-advised practices of ethno-psychos. They tend to associate with people from their ethnicity, mourn and make noise only when they feel that their ethnic group is threatened, and have political discussion only with those who share their ideas. Ethno-drunk (ዘር-ሰከር) individuals do not inflict the same damage as ethno-psychos but have a subdued reaction to the suffering of other ethnic groups or religions. I have no doubt that we all have seen these people among us. They come in all stripes and from all ethnic groups. They are members of our community, our church, our congregation and our Mahebers. We have been there for them in their personal despair and showed them the love we have for them, not because their ethnic group was superior or their children were overachievers but because they were Ethiopians at least whose ancestors once fought for unity and love.
In this time of dissonance, some of us are quick to pass judgement and want to retaliate by doing the same things that ethno-psychos and ethno-drunk do, but this will only lead to more division. If we are all haters and ethnomaniacs, we will fail our country. We should continually be reminded of God’s love and protection of the nation we are so violently dismantling. There was a time when God said “Are you not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel?” Therefore, as God loved us so should we love our country and its people. In the simple story of the creation of the world, you see that after Adam and Eve failed to obey God’s command of simple fasting and realized that they were naked, God did not abandon them. He made garments of skin and clothed them. We should all do the same for
ethnomaniacs. We need to help them understand that what they are doing is evil. Though they wrong us we should never hate them. Though they mock us and hate us and sometimes pry us to hate them we should not do what they do. It is understandable that not to hate them is extremely hard but it is the only way to achieve unity. The same man whose house we mocked for being against ours had a grandfather who died next to ours for the unity of the nation on the battlefield. The same woman who we scorn for her beliefs had a mother who fed our mouths when we were hungry. We may not like their ideas and actions but they are the bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh. Despite all the adversities and challenges, we should continue to have love, hope and faith because without these we are nothing.
For more information, please read ‘Ethnomainia: the fight for the soul of Ethiopia’ in the Amharic section