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The Continued Repressive Strategy of Menelikians, and the Trajectory that Leads to Freedom and Justice of Nations.

By Tolera Fikru Gemta January 28/2014

Merara Gudina (PHD), 2006, explained that the Ethiopian political system has been dominated by three contending perspectives, namely, the nation building (Menelikian) perspective, the national domination perspective and the colonial thesis. He further explained that nation building (Menelikian) perspective, which considers all atrocities committed on the oppressed peoples as holy actions to build a nation, is no longer relevant and dominant in the Ethiopian political arena. However, the Menelikian block recently came with a revised open strategy to reclaim the past tyrannical imperial legacy. Perhaps, in this brief essay, I will explain that the revitalizing actions being undertaken by the counterparts of Menelik II provide both threats and immense opportunity for genuine political engagements.

The Menelikian Effect: Fragility and Disintegration of Political Forces

The experiences of organized political forces since 1960s (from which political organizations and mobilizations had commenced) are explained by notions of political fragility and disintegration. Among other factors that caused such fragility and disintegration among political forces, the Menelikian-masked objective is the chief one. The recent practices of opposition political forces can clearly show this fact. I would like to elaborate this fact using a case study.

In 2008, as an input for my former newspaper – Raji, I had conducted a small survey to understand what really constituted a multinational political organization in Ethiopia. Most of the leaders of the parties that organized along ethnic/national lines responded that “a multinational organization in the Ethiopian context must be the organization that represents the interests of all peoples.” The responses of some of those who claimed to be of the multinational organization was, on the other hand, read as, “a multinational political organization is a group that is not organized along ethnic/national lines, but that which represents the unity of the entire Ethiopia.”

This small survey was conducted during the time the opposition political forces in Ethiopia were discussing a new umbrella organizational framework called Medrek. Though the finding of the small survey (that was published on Raji newspaper) showed that the parties in Medrek were pursuing most divergent political objectives, they established the new umbrella organization without giving focus for such a fundamental issue. The ultimate fate of Medrek indeed could not be different from the preceding similar organizations. The parties that bogusly claimed to have a multinational institutional base (such as, the Unity for Justice and Democracy – UJD) started ridiculing those organized across respective ethnic/national lines (such as, Oromo, Sidama and Somali) to denounce their political bases and adopt a pseudo-multinational representation. UJD and its counterparts attempted to learn from their preceding similar organizations and tried to comprise of some elites from Oromo and other nations, such as Negaso Gidada (PHD) and others. The final fate of Medrek is, however, what Obbo Bulcha Demeksa recently disclosed to the media. “UDJ’s political objective made Medrek fragile. The UDJ’s consider themselves as the only capable organization to lead the country. They undermine political parties organized across ethnic/national lines while they themselves are predominantly promoting the interests of Amhara,” he told a reporter from the Voice of America (VOA). This is a trajectory that led many political forces to vanish without serving the intended purpose. We can mention similar experiences from Diaspora, such as UEDF and AFD. Though the influences of the ruling party, EPRDF/TPLF, on the fragility and disintegration of political coalitions – take lions share, the Menelikian’s bogus political objectives have significantly contributed for the disintegration and fragility of such organized political alternatives. Such actions were most of the time pursued in covert aspect to garner supporters from various ethnic/national groups.

What Forced Menelikian to Pursue Overt Actions?

Recently, we are observing a shift in the Menelikian political block – in which they are openly pursuing the political campaign that promotes the tyrannical old empire. The move is a rapture which has got threats and opportunities, for me. In my opinion, the major cause that has forced Menelikians to pursue the open strategy (contrary to their past) is the level of awareness and conscious attained by peoples and nations. The understanding of the peoples on the formation, consequences and future prospects of the Ethiopian polity has significantly increased during the past decades. Particularly, the Oromo people, as a major nation representing the largest ethnic group in the country, have come through a series of political developments – in terms awareness and organization – which have appeared as threats to the Menelikian Ethiopia, which still pursues the imperial nation-building project of one-nation (Abyssinia), one-language (Amharic) and one-culture (Habesha), and so on. As I have argued in my previous article (Unmasking the Pseudo “Multinational-ism” in the Era of Social Media), in the past decades, the Amhara elites – who have preferred to promote the Menelik-type of political system under the cover of multinationalism, have faced political bankruptcy while the oppressed peoples have relatively gained by reviving their lost identities. The current shift by the Menelikians to an open action to blatantly promote the despotic regime of Menelik should indeed be the final response to such achievements of the targeted peoples. I hope the Menelikians shall fully unmask their political objectives through fully abandoning the pseudo-multinationalism claim and organize themselves across their real national pictures (if they want their own nation to keep abreast of the existing trend).

Holy War – In the Name of Unity and Love

The “holy war” campaign of the Menelikians – which is being currently conducted in an organized way – will hopefully be the final effort of this camp in the political history of the Ethiopian polity. It has been witnessed that the camp is using media outlets and celebrities, such as Teddy Afro and others, to accomplish its mission. Both the targeted media outlets and Teddy Afro are not new instruments of the camp. These are the instruments that have been bitterly worked to reverse the relative achievements of the targeted peoples on one side, and garner all efforts of the “united” (i.e. pseudo-multinational forces) together, on the other hand. Teddy Afro was keen in praising Ethiopian despotic kings and had boldly worked to contribute for the political purposes of the Menelikians, in manners that have attracted the interests of the targeted groups, particularly the youth. He was also instrumental during the 2005 election to forge strong unity between pseudo-multinational parties, which were organized to restore the tyrannical imperial regime based on one-language, one-culture and one-history. His music album, titled “Yasteserial,” was just released at the start of the political debates ahead of the 2005 election to influence the system in favor of those advocating for one-language, one-culture and one-history. In his recent music album, titled “Tikur Sew,” he also openly praised Menelik II and Menelik’s counterparts. This same artist did not have the courage to use his talent to promote a system of justice, equality and democracy – which is more relevant and important to present days. Finally, Teddy Afro expressed his deep love-affair with past despotic kings by declaring Menelik’s brutal actions as “holy war.” In collaboration with like minds, he was ready for a campaign to promote the despotic political motive in the name of unity and love – well, until #BoycottBedele nipped his promotion of tyrannical kings and their brutal actions in the bud.

The irony is that – the Menelikians and their instruments are promoting a despotic and brutal system in a provocative approach, which may influence the actions of the peoples who belong to the targeted nations. Most of the promoters of Menelik’s brutal actions know naturally that, their actions will neither be entertained by the targeted peoples nor serve as a mutual agenda to pursue real multinational interests. The consequence of such a campaign may not be easy as they have originally thought. The more they promote the past despotic regimes, the more grievances, mistrust and aggressiveness it will establish among peoples and organizations. This is why those collaborators, sponsors and promoters of such despotic political motives should stop and rethink about the consequences of their actions. As matter of fact, the continued promotion of Menelik-type system shall never bring the intended objective, but to the contrary, it will complete the trajectory that leads to freedom and justice for nations and peoples in more autonomous and self determined framework. One can easily understand this reality by monitoring the level of social-media-based counter-actions of Oromo elites to the Menelikian actions.

Menelikian’s Revised Strategy as an Opportunity for Nations

As I have explained above, the pseudo-multinational strategy pursed by Amhara elites have been destructive in the entire history of organized political frameworks to ensure sustainable democracy, justice and equality. Thus, the revised strategy of the block – i.e. the open promotion of the tyrannical imperial system, has unmasked the pseudo-multinationality claims by Amhara elites. The revised strategy of Menelikians is, thus, useful – not as such for the block itself – but for other forces that aspire for freedom, justice and equality of their respective peoples. It is also helpful to rethink viable and functional framework based on clear objectives – without committing similar mistakes, which lead to disintegration and fragility.

The current despotic political choice of the Menelikian block has emerged as the final response to the ever-increasing awareness of the oppressed peoples towards the realization of self-determined, free and democratic nations. By openly praising the Menelik-type authoritarian and imperial political objective, the block has clearly shown its historical antagonistic position to interests of most of the peoples targeted by Menelik’s brutal actions. In doing so, the block has unmasked itself of its pseudo-multinational representation claim – which has been one of the causes for fragility and disintegration of political alternatives. This indeed provides an opportunity for genuine political actors to rethink viable frameworks based on clear objectives to ensure the intended results. For the Menelikians, however, it will be more helpful if they completely unmask themselves of their pseudo-multinational objective and opt for an institution that represents their real aspiration, i.e. an Amhara-based political organization. The open campaign that promotes Menelik II’s brutal actions as holy war shall mark the final demise of the block, but such a motive will lead to disastrous consequences. That is why all bodies that are currently sponsoring and promoting Menelik II’s brutal actions should stop and rethink before actual intervention.

* Tolera Fikru Gemta was as a Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the former Seife Nebelbal independent weekly newspaper. He was also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the former, ‘The Voice’ and ‘Raji,’ independent weekly newspapers. He has authored well-known Afan Oromo novels: Imimmaan Haadhaa (2007, 2010) and Qeerransa Bokkaan Dhaane (2012).


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