PROSPECTS FOR THE HORN OF AFRICA COMMONWEALTH

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Could this be the solution for the Horn of Troubles?

By Solomon Ghebre-Ghiorghis*
(Ph.D., M.A., PGLELT, CBT Dip. Dist.)

OUTLINE

Introduction

  1. Brief Account of Context
  1. Origins of Divisive Politics in the Horn Region
  1. Is the European Union Template a Good Fit for Our Region
  1. Need for Economic Integration
  1. Need for a Common Political Infrastructure
  1. Education and Training: Value Added
  1. Common Standards and Quality Assurance
  1. Mutual Assistance and Solidarity
  1. Emergence of a Powerful Economic and Political Block
  1. Implications of the Commonwealth Especially for Eritrea and Ethiopia

 

Conclusion

 

INTRODUCTION

There is nothing greater than linki8ng up and bringing people together to live in peace and work jointly for the common good. Rift, hatred, strife and waste of human life as well as ignorance, irrationality, bigotry and injustice are painfully rife in the world today even among leaders with some rare exceptions. Recently, we have seen a lot of this in front of our eyes. We are in a mess, and the world needs urgent change. But, where are we to start? It would be a good beginning if we realize for a start that our problems are much deeper than we think. It is not merely a problem of leadership. There is a fundamental problem with the dominant paradigms of the day: our basic assumptions and belief systems, our short sightedness and narrow selfishness, the depth of our ignorance, stupidity, irresponsibility and cruelty and the way we conduct ourselves thereof. This is the reality of our existence at present despite the limitless potential of human beings to be good and do good.

Our dominant culture which passes as “modern” is predominantly a throwbacks from the unexamined past, and we needlessly live and die within its parameters without thoroughly

considering whether life can offer us something better for ourselves and the generations to come. It does not have to be the way it has been, and we should no more remain prisoners of the past crafted by our predecessors who were themselves victims of many limiting circumstances – but mainly ignorance. We have to now remove our blindfold and see for ourselves the truth and bring in the fresh air of knowledge, rationality and the realization of our common humanity and shared destiny. Here is the creed we should all consider and cherish: “ONE PLANET, ONE PEOPLE, ONE DESTINY!”But, as they say, “Think globally and act locally!”This is a sensible idea, and that is what we should quickly do now.

That brings us to our region, the Horn of Africa. This is one of the potentially richest, most fascinating and most populous regions of the world. But, it is in a mess mainly of our own making. The question is what can we do to set it right at the earliest? We have to start by finding out where we have been going wrong. Action originates in the mind and takes shape in the decision making processes of human beings. All the wars and the injustices and the mayhem we have seen and experienced are the results of our bad thinking and feeling. We have to set these things right if we are to bring remedy to our ills. In fact, our tragic experiences in the Horn region are rare by world standards, and that is why our region is often called the “Horn of Troubles”. We have to now think hard and learn from the experiences of many other countries and regions and believe that our troubles are surmountable – and that

 

WE SHALL OVEWRCOME!

  1. Brief Account of Context

The Horn of Africa has a strategic location between Asia and Africa with close proximity to the Middle East and Europe. Scientists believe that this is the area where human beings or more appropriately, Homo sapiens originated and spread all over the world to Asia, Europe, the Americas and Australia. The savannah first favored by humans and the desertification of the Sahara (which was once lush with vegetation) nearby probably emerged as a result of a shift in the tilting of the earth’s axis and the change in wind direction. As a result, the region has had a lot of population movements, settlements and mixing and intermixing that seem to have resulted in the present makeup of the peoples of the Horn. That makeup constitutes a quintessentially distinct population group of Black Africans regardless of ethnicity, language or religion.(By the way, ethnicity is not a genetic identity.) We can go into the detailed history and sociology of population movements, settlements and ethnic fusion in the region, but what we have already said is probably enough to made the point – that the peoples of the Horn of Africa are interconnected and have something unique that they share with each other.

 

  1. The Origins of Divisive Politics in the Horn Region

The history of politics and state formation is well known, and the English philosopher, Thomas Hobbes has explained succinctly why state formation became necessary in the first place ie, the need for mutual protection in the face of human senseless greed and the will to dominate and exploit – resulting in endless wars, resistance and bloodshed. It is said that “Of the past 3,400 years, humans have been entirely at peace for 268 of them, or just 8 percent of recorded history…. Estimates for the total number killed in wars throughout all of human history range from 150 million to 1 billion.”(1)In the Horn of Africa with the warrior gene rife, the number may be one of the highest.(2)

In this region, village disputes, tribal clashes, conflicting community, national and regional aspirations have continued to be many for far too long –almost oblivious of the wider world. These clashes have been made worse by economic scarcity, limitations of thinking, warrior traditions and sometimes the deliberate manipulation by the elite to exploit the ignorance, narrow ethnic and national loyalties and false hopes of ordinary people. In the various polities of the Horn of Africa, new narratives emerged about the supremacy, rivalry, separate identities and long forgotten grudges of clans, ethnic groups and regions fostered by foreign forces for their own ends.(3)This was made worse by the serious mistakes and selfishness of some leaders in the region, especially those of Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea, as we shall see below.(4) A number of them colluded with colonialists and others even sold them land. One of these was none other than the much adulated Emperor of Ethiopia, Menelik II.(5)

A lot has been said and songs sang about Menelik’s heroism. He has even endearingly been called “Emye Menelik”. To his credit, he has no doubt introduced many new innovations to Ethiopia and has done a lot to consolidate its dominions. But, to state the fact, he was also a major collaborators of the Italians in Eritrea, and he seems to have benefitted a lot in cash and kind from it. There is no point in hiding facts of history. He is the major cause of the Eritrean debacle.(6)

At least the three provinces of Eritrea: Hamassien, Seraye and Akeleguzay were paying homage and taxes to Ethiopian rulers as late as Emperor Tewodros.(7) Later, they came under the direct rule of Emperor Yohannes IV and his viceroy, Raisi Alula, who fought several battles to push back the Italians from Midri Bahri. During that time, there is evidence that shows that Menelik was aiding and abating the Italians.(8)Then, the Italians forcibly occupied Eritrea in 1889 (the Bogos, Hamasien, Akeleguzay and Serae) after the death of Emperor Yohannes IV. In the same year, Emperor Mekelik II disowned Midri Bahri and signed the Treaty of Uccialli recognizing the Italian occupation of Eritrea “in exchange for guarantees of financial assistance and continuing access to European arms and ammunition”.(9)This enabled Menelik to weaken Tigrean hegemony in the North and divide it almost in half.

Whereas Menelik committed treason and betrayal by appeasing the Italian invaders and giving up Eritrea, he had the audacity to cut off the right hand and the left leg of up to 1500 desperate captured Eritrean ascaris(mostly from Amhara, Tigray, Sudan and Eritrea as a result of the severe famine)in the Battle of Adwa as traitors of their own country, Ethiopia. Of all places, the amputations were carried out in a church near the battlefield. However, the captured Italians were treated more fairly.(10) The cruelty and injustice of it is palpable even today.

This serious mistake against the Eritreans was compounded by the acts of Emperor Haile Selassie I, who forcibly dissolved the Eritrean Parliament against the advice of Aklilu Habtewold, his foreign minister.(11)This was followed by the misdeeds of the Dergue in its military hubris. These repeated ill treatments antagonized the Eritreans badly – which gave rise to and aggravated the Eritrean independence struggle which is justified by the blunders of the said Ethiopian leaders. Of course, the Ethiopian people are not party to this, and they are not to blame for the misdeeds of their dictatorial leaders. Otherwise, who is to deny that the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia are one?

There are many reasons that can be provided to support this claim. We can go back to about 4000 years of history of the D’mt (or Da ‘amt)Kingdom before Axum and the Axumite Kingdom itself which included, among others, large parts of Eritrea (where Ge-ez evolved first) and northern and central Ethiopia.(12) Since that time, there have also been massive population movements and settlements in Eritrea from central and northern Ethiopia in the last 1000 years.(13) Similarly, there have been successive invasions and settlement by the Beja people of Eastern Sudan into western, central, northern and southern Eritrea and northern Tigray.(14) In medieval times, there were numerous population resettlement from Dembia, Gonder into central Eritrea around Logo Chewa, and Ethiopian military encampments around Asmara by Ethiopian armies many of them settling there permanently. The Monastery of Debre Bizen in Eritrea on the way to Massawa played a leading role in the doctrinal controversy about the nature of Christ raging all over medieval Ethiopia.(15)Emperor Zera-Yaecob of Ethiopia (1399-1468),an intellectual with many religious treatises to his credit is said to have received “excellent education” in an Eritrean monastery.(16)Alvarez, the Portuguese emissary to Ethiopia, also states that there were priests from Dabre Bizen in Zera Yaecob’s palace in Debre Birhan, northen Shoa.(17)It is not difficult to see what this means.

Eritreans or the people of Midri Bahri fought in all the major battles in the north along with other Ethiopians against the Turks, the Egyptians and the Italians, and even in the Battle of Metema/Gallabat where Emperor Yohannes was killed. Bahri Negasi Yisehak whose capital was Diba Ruwa in Midri Bahri) also fought alongside Emperor Gelaudeos in the 16thcentury against Ahmed Gragn in central Ethiopia.(18) The affinity of the Eritrean people towards Ethiopia and the Ethiopian people can easily be proven by giving many examples including those of Zerai Deress (who showed unimaginable heroism in Rome), Abraha Deboch and Moges Asgedon (who attempted to kill Marshall Graziani in Addis Ababa) and Blaten Geta Lorenzo Taezaz (a distinguished Eritrean intellectual with a Ph.D. in law and philosophy who was a great resistance leader against the Italians and a foreign minister in Haile Selassie’s government). What did these heroic Eritreans think they were? I am only trying to make the point that Ethiopians and Eritreans are one people, and that at one time they shared one country and fought together as one people against invaders. However, the blunders of the three Ethiopian leaders mentioned and their supporters made Eritreans fight a bloody war for their independence to control their own destiny. In fact, Eritreans do not really seem to have

been prepared for it: they were rather pushed into it when things became too much. The sense of betrayal seems to have made their liberation struggle so bitter and so uncompromising.

After so many sacrifices, the independence that the Eritreans won should be respected and protected. However, this is not a reason to deny history and the sameness of the people of both countries. They can now live together closely in peace and shared destiny. That is the best that can be done – and not to even think of forcibly annexing Eritrea or parts of it, as some Ethiopian intellectuals have been foolishly saying.

Coming to Ethiopia and Somalia, the people-to-people relationship between the two is cemented by the oneness of the Somalis who now live happily in the Somali Region of Ethiopia and those in Somalia – and the close links between the Somalis and the Oromos.The Somalis and the Ethiopians are joined, inter alia, by the Wabe Shebelle and Barro Rivers that originate in the highlands of Ethiopia. These rivers give sustenance to the vast lands in the east and south west of Somalia.

At one time, almost all of Ethiopia up to Massawa on the Red Sea was actually ruled by the Somali war lord from Zeila Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi (Ahmed Gure, the Left Handed) (1506-1543). It is said that Gragn could speak Amharic, and he and his powerful wife, Bati Del Wambara, partly lived in Harar, which was the capital of the Sultanate of Adal.(19) There were centuries old rivalries of conquests and re-conquests among the rulers of ‘Christian’ Ethiopia and the Muslim sultanates of Adal and Ifat – whose territories sometimes extended up to eastern Shoa, and Ethiopian kings have over the centuries also subdued Zeila and Harar. Therefore, Gragn could hardly be seen as a foreign invader. It was rather perceived as a religious war within the territory.

Dan Connel says:”Islam became a major political instrument in the sixteenth century and unified considerable parts of the Horn. In the same century, the Sultanate of Adal under Ahmed Gragn managed to bring numerous Muslim clans under Islamic thought and launched a major jihadwar against ‘Christian Abyssinia’.” He also states, “The present Jeberti population in Eritrea seems to originate from local converts to Islam during the period of Ahmed Al-Ghazi (‘Gragn’).”(20)

Earlier, during the time of the Egyptian queen Hatshepsut, northern Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somaliland and parts of northern Somalia proper were known as the Kingdom of Punt (or “God’s Land”), and they were connected by well-formed routs.(21)

In saying all this, we have been trying to show the closeness of the peoples of the Horn of Africa despite their bitter rivalry – and suggest that they should now enhance the closeness and cement it into a commonwealth.

It is the Italians who drove a wider wedge between the Somalis and the Ethiopians and the Eritreans and the Ethiopians for the purpose of divide and rule. They spread false narratives about their ethnic superiority as compared to the Ethiopians but always under God and the

Italians. They then used the Eritreans and the Somalis as cannon fodder in their various wars, including in the invasion of Libya and Ethiopia. Anyway, the Italians brought Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia under one administration and called it Africa Orientale Italiana. To consolidate their rule, they built a road from Mogadishu to Addis Ababa which they named the Imperial Road.(22) They also built two roads lining Addis Ababa with Asmara through Dessie and Gondar.

Djibouti was carved out of its natural setting by the French finally in 1883. The territory is inhabited by the Afars and the Somalis. It was a part of the Axumite Kingdom from 100 AD up

to 940 AD, and under the Ifat Sultanate that included parts of Ethiopia from 15th to the

16thcentury.(23) More importantly, Djibouti is now closely integrated with Ethiopia economically and socially.

It is now important to bring in Sudan and South Sudan. The link between Sudan and Ethiopia is a long one, and there is the Blue Nile that joins them. Meroe in the Kingdom of Kush (Northern Sudan)was once under the Axumite Kingdom. Axumite rule and influence extended to other parts of Sudan and western Eritrea, central Eritrea up to the Red Sea, Adulis.(24)After the fall of Axum, there was a massive Beja migration into Eritrea and northern Ethiopia, as pointed out above. Parts of northern Sudan and western Eritrea had many followers of the Christian faith before their conversion into Islam as late as 1450 AD. There are still many followers of the Christian faith in the Sudan (about 100,000 of them Coptic Christians).(25) The dominant religion in Djibouti, Somalia and Sudan and up to 65%of Eritrea is Islam at present – and at least 35% of Ethiopians are Muslims.

The link with Southern Sudan and Ethiopia is more recent, but still very strong in almost all domains. There are plans at the conceptual stage to build road and railway lines linking Jimma in Oromia State with Juba and another one from Gambella to Juba.

 

  1. Could the European Union Template Be a Good Fit for Our Region

The mayhem of World War I (1914-1918) was accompanied by what is known as the Spanish Flue (although it probably started in Kansas, USA) in which 50-100 million people died. This was followed by World War II, which was started and pursued to the end by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in which 50-60 million people died. The end of the second war punctuated by hydrogen bomb annihilation in the two Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the ensuing balance of terror rubbed sense into the major powers of the day. Thus, we have not had any world war for over 75 years. This may be considered as a major achievement.

Besides recognizing the futility of war, the bitterest enemies in both wars, Germany and France along other European countries decided not to repeat the folly of the past. They also agreed to forge a region of peace and common destiny for the present and future generations. Thus, they first formed the European Economic Community and later the European Union. The European Union has now about 27 member states, but Britain has withdrawn from the Union at its own peril.

The member countries are independent states with veto powers on key policy matters. They have a union president, a parliament, judiciary, common defense, foreign affairs office, common currency, a central bank, etc. They have a policy of free movement of goods and services – and of people. Any European citizen can go to any member country and live and work there. He/She is also entitled for social benefits and free healthcare in the country of residence. When any of the states faces a crisis beyond its control, the other countries have the obligation to help.

The European Union is now one of the strongest economic blocks in the world with powerful political leverage. It is also probably the most stable and liberal zone with one of the highest human development index even in countries that joined the Union more recently.

It should be understood that the European Union was accomplished in various stages. The union first stated as an economic community. The question is, therefore, are the countries of the Horn of Africa prepared to accept the European Union template as a rough guide and take the first steps to open up their borders towards closer economic integration within the framework of IGAD and the African Union?

Accepting the conceptual framework to form the Horn of Africa Commonwealth of six nations: Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia will constitute a radical departure from our wasteful and tragic past.

  1. The Need for Economic Integration

If you look at the map of the Horn of Africa, it looks like a neatly packed box. Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan surrounded by each other. Trying to exist separately from other countries without sufficient interaction has its own heavy cost. If conflict is added to the equation, that will surely result in disaster. The economic interdependence between Eritrea and Ethiopia and Djibouti and Ethiopia is obvious and does not require any further discussion. Somaliland (as a part of Somalia) perhaps depends on Ethiopia much more than on Somalia proper. But, Somalia itself depends on Ethiopia for many things as well, one of these being the water it gets from rivers that originate in Ethiopia and the subterranean waters that apparently flows into Somalia from far afield as Adi Grat. Thus, the agricultural produce that Somalia uses for itself and exports – and which partly attracted the Italians to the territory mainly depends on water from Ethiopia. No doubt, Somalia has vast ocean coastline which has rich off-shore oil deposits from which Ethiopia can benefit in the future.

The dependence of Sudan on Ethiopia for its waters is well known. Ethiopia also imports a lot of stuff from Sudan, including oil. Linking western Ethiopia to Port Sudan by rail will no doubt have great benefit, as well as Sudan benefiting from electric power generated from the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Again, the interdependence of South Sudan and Ethiopia is obvious.

The successful further economic integration of the region will require the expansion and extension of roads, railway lines , airports, etc. It will also require free movement of goods, services and peoples – and the freedom to live and do business in any member country. The growing integration of the economic zone may finally result in the adoption of one currency for the convenience of trade under one central bank.

Think of the vast lowland deserts of the Danakil, Afar, the Ogaden and Somalia being brought under irrigation exploiting the huge underground (aquifer) water reserves recently confirmed to exist by USAID researchers(26) that can made the Horn region food self-sufficient, the exploitation of the vast mineral , gas and oil reserves, the vast sea cost and fisheries, presence of 50-60 universities and vast trained manpower, proximity to the Far East, South Asia, the Middle East and Europe, vast hydroelectric, solar and thermal energy potential, etc. All that is required now is peace and ability to work together for the common good.

All goods and services and capital and people will also flow freely throughout the commonwealth as in the European Union. All ports in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean water fronts will also be open for business: Port Sudan, Massawa, Assab, maybe another port around Tio (between Adulis and Assab), Djibouti, Berbera, Mogadishu and Kismayou.

As the Italians conceived it, Eritrea may possibly become the main industrial center of the Horn due to its proximity to the Middle East, Europe and South and East Asia. In 1939, it had around 2,198 small and medium sized factories, gold mines, one of the highest living standards in the continent and the longest cableway in the world even today (Teleferica Eritrea) which was 72 Kms long extending from Massawa to Asmara.(27) Eritrea was also exporting coffee grown in the Red Sea escarpments. This may suggest what can be achieved and much more if peace, mutual respect and cooperation is obtained in the region.

 

  1. The Need for a Political Infrastructure

All this can’t be done without some form of political integration. Therefore, the independent states of the Horn of Africa should come together and form some common institutions that will draw protocols to administer their joint affairs. These institutions may be overseen by a joint ministerial committee to begin with. Later, once mutual trust is achieved, permanent institutions may be established such as an assembly of representatives from each country, a common defense force, a judiciary for arbitration, etc. Another important matter is that each state will have a veto power on key policy matters

However, to safeguard the safety and territorial integrity of each state, the members of the commonwealth will maintain their separate armies and police forces. However, the members will enter into a military pact in which aggression on one country will be considered as aggression on all member countries. This may include cooperation to suppress terrorist movements like Al Shabab that clearly oppose the basic democratic principles of the commonwealth. However, Islamic extremism is now on decline. They will also have to agree on common ethical which all member states will adhere to – such as respect for civil and democratic rights of their citizens.

 

  1. Education and Training: Value Added

It is important that the members of the commonwealth agree on the importance of education and training in adding value and enhancing multi-sectoral growth. Rather than going their separate ways, the member countries may agree on a common curriculum but perhaps in different languages depending on the local languages and international affiliations of each country. English, Arabic and French in Djibouti -should be widely taught. The importance of Arabic is not to be under estimated given the number of people who speak the language in the member countries and the region’s proximity to the Middle East. This will help attract investment and tourism. (The Italians had this idea when they completed establishing their Africa empire.) A system of scholarship could also be established for outstanding students to enroll in any university of their choice in the commonwealth for free. The standard of education and training offered will also be vetted, ranked and certified within certain intervals. This will facilitate the employment of capable staff in any part of the commonwealth – and employers may become confident of what they are getting.

 

  1. Common Standards and Quality Assurance

The commonwealth should establish common standards and quality assurance with a central organization that will establish branch offices in all member states. This way, it will be possible to guarantee that the products manufactured in the region or imported or exported meet certain standards.

 

  1. Mutual Assistance

Every member state will have the right to seek and expect assistance from the other members of the commonwealth in times of need beyond its capacity. This could be economic, military or diplomatic assistance. Breaking the standards of the commonwealth by the leaders of one of the member states such as grossly violating democratic norms could also result in sanctions or (in extreme cases), even intervention by the other member states in the internal affairs of a member state when the people call for it – as in the ouster of Idi Amin Dada of Uganda by the Tanzanians or Yahiya Jameh of the Gambia. In some cases, even the UN may have to come in for a short while as in Yugoslavia to oust Slobodan Milosevich, the dictator and mass murderer. But the sovereignty of the state will be guaranteed – with all its democratic institutions. But, it should be manifestly clear that the people want it. This is to prevent the possibility of any form of dictatorship and blood thirsty tyrants from ever arising in the region.

 

  1. Emergence of a Powerful Economic and Political Block

This commonwealth comprising six states will form a powerful economic and political block whose stability and democratic institutions are guaranteed by the charter endorsed by each member country – and recognized by the African Union and the United Nations.

 

  1. Implications of the Commonwealth Especially for Eritrea and Ethiopia

The establishment of the commonwealth will immediately dispel the climate of enmity and suspicion between the two countries. Indeed, of the six member countries, Eritrea and Ethiopia are probably the closest. The question of Badme will be resolved as soon as the commonwealth treaty is signed. The border will be demarcated on land, and Eritrean administration will be restored, and the Eritrean flag will fly high in Badme! Those whose land and property were confiscated during the border war will also get back what was taken from them or will get adequate compensation to their satisfaction. But, people from any part of the commonwealth will also be able to come and live there, as Eritreans could go to any part of the commonwealth to live and work there as well.

 

There will be not only the free movement of people but also of goods and services and capital – and, of course, transport. Ethiopia and Eritrea will be linked by road, rail and air. Eritrea’s power grid will be linked to that of Ethiopia and the major motorway between Assab and Addis Ababa will be expanded and renovated in addition to rail links: Assab will be reborn! All countries of the commonwealth will have multiple free access to the sea. They will pay only service charge. Ethiopians will be free to invest, live and work in Eritrea – so will Eritreans all over Ethiopia as in other member countries: Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia. Tourism starting from Ethiopia will flow into Eritrea and vice versa – just as throughout the commonwealth.

In all this, Eritrean sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as those of any country in the commonwealth will be preserved and fully protected. The Eritrean flag as well as its army, navy, air force and police force will remain in place. That will serve as a guarantee to dispel suspicion.

 

CONCLUSION

How realistic is this proposal? All big things start with small ideas although some of them may seem unachievable at the beginning. Whether we accept it or not, we are increasingly living in a globalized world. True, reactionary elements in some parts of the world, especially in Europe and America are trying to turn the hands of time backwards with their misguided isolationist policies and dangerous “my country first, right or wrong” mentality to satisfy their own egos and selfish ends: Look at the present political leadership in the USA and UK.

New technologies and communication systems, international and regional trade, surface, sea and air transportation networks, shared knowledge, etc. are increasingly breaking down barriers between peoples, counties and regions. It is best if we come together, open up, create regional and international alliances, benefit from new ideas and doing things – and generate not strife but enabling wealth that will considerably improve our prospects.

Have we not learned in our short and miserable lives in the Horn of Africa that we have nothing to gain by nursing our old wounds and living in suspicion of our neighbors – always waiting for the next attack and yet more loss of life? Our corrupt leaders with their ignorant and stupid ideas have fooled us!! In the many wars we fought against each other, the only ones who gained and laughed last with their deliberately menacing big bushy moustaches are only our leaders.

The old corrupt tyrants are now disappearing one by one, and new and better leaders seem to be emerging in the region that seem amenable to new ideas and ways of doing things. But, many leaders whom we were misled to believe were our saviors and for whom we gave our lives have sadly betrayed us and turned out to be revilers, jailors, tormentors and killers. We cannot afford to make such terrible mistakes again. We have to take matters into our own hands.

We the cannon fodders of the Horn of Africa should now come to our senses and create people-to-people alliances and be prepared to live in peace, solidarity and common purpose. We are the ones who should choose our leaders and remove them when they fail to serve us. For this to happen, we need to create a new people’s movement encompassing the six countries of the Horn of Africa. To manifest this, we have to create a temporary steering committee that has an online existence first with its own recognized website to which people can connect. The initial aim is to gather enough supporters that will constitute the critical mass to push the agenda forward. We can then move towards organizing the first meeting. There should be no suspicion: everything will be genuine and transparent. The movement may later approach certain leaders (even heads of state and government) in the six countries who may hopefully be interested in our ideas and are prepared to push for the final goal.

 

NOTES

  1. Hedges, Chris, The New York Times, July 6, 2003.
  1. Fallon, James, The Mind of a Dictator, Oslo Freedom Forum, June 9, 2011. (DVD)
  1. The Italians told the Eritreans that they were a superior race in Africa and that they were not really blacks. They also reminded the Somalis that the Ethiopians were expansionist invaders and the killers of their forefathers. They apparently also told the Somalis that Ethiopians cannot see at night in the battlefield.
  1. The colonial powers managed to get foothold in Somalia, Somaliland, Djibouti and Assab by buying land from the local chiefs and bribing them. They then expanded their territories from there.
  1. Jonas, Raymond, The Battle of Adwa. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press,
  1. Also see Desta, Memhir Gebrekidan, Ear Megmbi Anszaiti. (In Tigrigna) Addis Ababa: Mega Printing Press, 2005 EC.Jonas, Raymond, The Battle of Adwa. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2011. See
  1. Jonas, Ibid.
  2. Pankhurst, Richard, Economic History of Ethiopia. Addis Ababa: Tsehai Publishers, 2013. ( In paperback)

11

  1. Desta, Op Cit.
  1. Ibid, also see “Italian Eritrea,”Google.com.
  1. Jonas, Op. Cit, pp. 233-237.
  1. Reta, Zewdie, Ye’Eritra Guday 1941-1963 (‘Eritrean Affairs’ (In Amharic) Addis Ababa: Central Printing Press, 1998 EC.
  1. See “{D’mt or Da ‘amt Kingdom” and “Axumite Kingdon”, google.com
  1. Sarubi, Franscesco, Hizbitat Mereni Fitret Geshnashim (Translated from the Italian by Abba Yishak Gebre-Eyesus). Asmara: MBY Printing Press, 1997.
  1. “The Bejas”, www.google.com
  1. Marcus, Harold, A History of Ethiopia. Berkeley: Univers9ty of California Press, 1994, p.23.See also “Debre Bizen” www.google.com
  1. Marcus, Ibid, p.24.
  1. Alvarez Francis, A Portuguese Delegation in the Reign of Emperor Libne Dingil (1620-1527 EC) Translated from the Portuguese into English by Lord Stanley Elderly, then translated into Amharic from English by Yona Bekele. [NPP] Far East Trading.
  1. Also see “Bahre Negasi Yiskaq”, www.goodle.com
  1. Bartniski, Anderzei and Mantel-Niyetchko, Yoana, History of Ethiopia (Translated into Amharic by Alemayehu Abebe). Addis Ababa: ZA Printers. See also Ahmed Gragn, google.com
  1. Connell, Dan, Historical Dictionary of Eritrea. London: Dawmant Littlefield Pub. Group, 2019
  1. “African Kingdom of Punt”, google.com
  1. “Somalia Under the Italians”, google.com
  1. “The History of Djibouti” google.com
  1. “Meroe and the Kingdom of Kush” google.com
  1. “Copts in Sudan” google.com
  1. USAID, “Groundwater Exploration and assessment in the Eastern Lowlands and Associated Highlands of the Ogaden Basin Area, Eastern Ethiopia: Phase I, Final Technical

Report”(Prepared in Cooperation with the United Stated Geological Survey), 2013.

  1. ‘Italian Eritrea,” Op. Cit. The Teleferica Eritrea was a remarkable achievement. However, after the war, the British dismantled it and took away the diesel engines, the steel cables and other equipment as war reparations.
  • Dr Solomon Ghebre-Ghiorghis Gebrezghi (Ph.D., M.A., PGLELT, CBT Dip, Dist.) is the Director of Panafric Media and Communication Services and Visiting Professor at the School of Journalism and Communication, Addis Ababa University. He did his undergraduate studies in philosophy and literature in the same university. He may be reached on pmcs2018@yahoo.com.

 

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  1. Subject: PROSPECT FOR THE HORN OF AFRICA COMMONWEALTH
    June 15, 2020 Could this be the solution for the Horn of Troubles? By Solomon Ghebre-Ghiorghis* (Ph.D., M.A., PGLELT, CBT Dip. Dist.)

    Commentary, 15 June 2020

    “PROSPECT FOR THE HORN OF AFRICA COMMONWEALTH >>>> What for? I mean, it is just like: if you add zero to another zero and expecting more than a zero !!!! As an Ethiopian song (my favorite) goes >>> ‘you are zero; I am zero; we all are zero. For heaven sake, as the Yankee saying goes, ‘give me a break’ !!! Say and do something worthy.

    WE AFRICANS HAVE DEEP PROBLEM. Even the Almighty God, somewhere up in heaven or every where, cannot solve it. Suggestion: Why don’t we ask the Prime Minister of Great Britain who openly threw these words to solve the BLACK AFRICAN problem: ‘GO IN AND TAKE OVER, ALL OVR AGAIN.’ Yes, it is said in the current month of June 2020.

    Now, be honest and open to yourselves with sincerity: There are countless AFRICANS Scholars with the Highest Educational Degrees that World renowned Universities bestowed upon them. Do we see any change in Africa? i.e. for the benefit of the ordinary black Africans? Be Honest. I AM AN AFRICAN. — through and through. Our AFRICA, the Continent, Is the ENVY of so many, as History is a mirror for that fact. What is wrong is upon us — NOT BY NATURE but by deliberate anthropological manipulation through so so-called ‘education’ thus arresting the minds of the victims to a permanent inferiority complex by which the victims are beginning to hate themselves and start mimicking to be of what they cannot be. Look around: from top leaders to government employees and to ordinary innocent population in every aspect of Life — MIMICKING, with psychologically arrested minds.

    In conclusion: the manipulation, the cruelety, the damage that have been done upon AFRICA in totality is simply far beyond explanation and description in words. IIT IS SIMPLY THE GREATEST CRIME THAT HAS BEEN PERPETRATED UPON HUMANITY.
    THE END

  2. Solomon,
    You alleged that Emperor Menelik II was a major collaborator of the Italians in Eritrea and the cause for the debacle of Eritrea.
    That is a wrong assertion. History doesn’t support that. What transpired was as follows:
    Emperor Yohannes IV died at Metema on March 10, 1889.
    Massawa in 1885 and Assab way earlier were occupied under Yohannes reign.
    Wikipedia puts the colonization of Eritrea in the following way, ” In the disorder that followed the 1889 death of Emperor Yohannes IV, Gen Oreste Baratieri occupied the highlands along the Eritrean coast and Italy proclaimed the establishment of a new colony of Eritrea with capital Asmara in substitution of Massawa.”
    How could Emperor Menelik II be held responsible for what happened before him? What were your people and Emperor Yohannes IV doing when Italy penetrated into the hinterlands? If Menelik was to travel that long distance from Shoa to Eritrea, it would have taken him more than three months as it took three months to reach at Adwa for the historical annihilation of Italians and ASKARIS. If he had come to Eritrea to liberate you, he would have been fighting the people to be liberated. Don’t forget 90% of Italy’s army were your people.
    Eritrea was favored in Haile Selassie’s time. He was trying to bribe you by doing a lot more for Eritrea than for any other province. A lot of students were admitted into university just to appease Eritreans so that they don’t join ELF or EPLF.
    It was said that Nbure Id Ermias Kebede, a senator from Eritrea in Haile Selassie’s time, said to the king: ” We do not want favorable treatment more than our cousins.”
    You people thought were superior to Ethiopians and didn’t want anything to do with us. Eritrean students were telling us they came on scholarship. They were saying to us when they gain independence, they would hold us by our throats at the port of Assab and live off us.
    In short, contrary to what you Eritreans say, you were bribed to stay as part of Ethiopia.

  3. Thank you Zewdu for setting the facts straight about Emperor Menelik. I thought the part of the Emperor was a red herring, out of point with with the article or perhaps intentional to sew uncertainty and division about Menelik’s central role in Ethiopia (Father of the Nation) and widely respected across Africa…. liberator, hero, visionary, exemplar,etc.. If we are to be fair, we must not judge Menelik by 21st century standards but by the times he lived in (late 19th century) vis-a-vis his multitude of accomplishments, at peace mostly and in war certainly.

    That being said, I agree with the article that one needs to think BIG in matters related to the Horn. I would opine that trying to start a commonwealth out of the blue is shear fantasy and impractical given the dynamics in the region today. What is more practical is for one country to establish it/her self as a hub or vanguard if you will through becoming an economic heavyweight, example of good governance and democracy in that region. I do see Ethiopia as having the wherewithal to be that beacon on the hill, if only her children were just a bit brave and patient with each other to dream. I say Yichalal (Yes, We Can). It could well start with the three — Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti — establishing an East African Union. Eritreans in particular should look at this favorably as we are ONE (historically, linguistically, culturally, religiously, you name it).

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