BAHIR-DAR: TORTURING SOMALI HISTORY

By Faisal A. Roble, July 28, 2019

(Wardheernews) — At a time when Abyssinian ideology is waning, it gets a savior from an unlikely corner -the Somali Regional State (SRS).

Acting President Mustafa Omar of the Somali Regional State (SRS)

History is controversial not only because of past events but also because of its illuminating light to guide us from not repeating the past’s follies. Those who deny the weight of history also fail to seek advice from It. If correctly understood, or rightly interpreted, history could serve as a valuable guide for future inter-communal understanding. It could also enhance sustainable peace.

However, distorting or manipulating history is tantamount weaponizing it. And that is exactly what had transpired in Bahir-dar.  Abyssinian history was weaponized to make a bunch of young Somalis feel inferior under their skin.

In the now-infamous Amhara-Somali high-level convention at Bahir-dar, July 18-20, 2019, an implicitly biased history, with a racist bent, was presented to a crop of young, less educated, and community leaders from the Somali Regional State. The presentation provided by sophisticated and unreconstructed Amhara supremacists were directly detrimental to Somalis. Equally, this same presentation was offensive to Oromo, Afar, Sidama, Walyta, Gurage, and others. Lionizing emperor Menelik did the job.

Misled by church historians, chauvinists, revisionists, the Somali delegation was fed Ethiopia’s version of “Cinderella of the Empire” history.

Historically speaking, peoples that are colonized are not free after colonials turn their lights off and leave. Their effects linger around for generations. Most importantly, the psychological damage continues.  Miseducation and cultural assimilation are the venues to permanently scar the efficacy of those colonized.

In Black Skin White Mask, Franz Fanon talked about the mental colonization of the Negro. W. B. Dubious documents the tortured Black American soul – half white half black.

The two-centuries-old Ethiopian oppression of the Somali people (also true here for Oromo, Afar, Sidama, etc.) produced colonial conditions in the vast Somali periphery. Fear, intimidation and less than feeling in the presence of more educated Amhara is a trait one can easily see with Somalis and other oppressed nationalities.

In the last few years, these traits have set roots among the urban dwellers in the Somali region. Since the late Meles took power, not only Somalis accepted their Ethiopianess, but one of the subjects some of their demands towards their initial objectives.

Accordingly, acting President Mustafa Omar, like his predecessor, labored hard in a follow-up speech to the convention to try to explain why his people need no other label than Somalis, not Ethiopian Somalis. Unbeknownst to him, the Ethiopian federal constitution refers to the Somali region as simply “Somalia.” Even so, the people of Somali Regional State never fought for the correct nomenclature. They did not fight to be less hyphenated and be called simply Ethiopian.  That is a narrative to feed hungry bellies of “Andinet” unity groups. For the record, Somalis fought for independence, democracy and peaceful coexistence with all their neighbors.

In Bahir-dar, we witnessed tortured Somali souls that could not even defend their history. Suppressing your views about history is one of the virtues of colonized people like my Somali people. Oromo by far liberated their minds whereas Somalis regressed to be defined by their own yesteryear’s oppressors. It is a retrograde that befall Somalis.

Deputy President Mustafa Omar was in effect abused and tortured in the hands of Figru Toloso and others who triumphantly claimed Mogadishu, Berbera, and the entire Somali peninsula was an Ethiopian province or “gizat.” To the dismay of many non-Abyssinians, Mustafa was cornered to even declare Ethiopia’s history of oppressed nations’ struggle as a background noise, not a front-burner issue.

The chauvinists who hosted the young Somalis even dared to equate Menelik to Mandela and Gandhi. Despite his massive massacres of Walyta, the Gurages, the Oromo of Chalaqo and Somali in Harar, “Imiye” Menelik was given a “humanist” portrait.

On the other hand, the unsuspecting disheveled Somali delegation was given enough dose of the endearing role of balabats in the governance of their own country (Sumale gosawoch). In other words, imperial Ethiopia ruled Somalis through a class of salaried balabats, a precursor of today’s Somali version of “Black Skin White Mask”

Mustafa Omar fits the bill. He has subjected his feelings and his history to the whims of the children of yesteryear’s colonizers. Mustafa fall victim of his past socialization whose design was orchestrated in the hands of Abyssinian educators. He endorsed history from above – his master’s history at the expense of his own.

An in-depth look at the history of the Somali region shows that Haile Selassie and Mengistu Haile Mariam ruled the region in the same manner that Lord Lugard ruled Britain’s colonies in Africa – that is working through a proxy elite group, including traditional elders, while governance and real power was in the hands of a vast military and security apparatus recruited from and loyal to the center. Since 1991, a set up by the late Mele Zenawi, put in motion to rule the region through what the French colonial power called evolve’ (evolue’s).

With evolve’, the colonial system creates a class of indigenous miscegenated or assimilated individuals whose loyalty and theoretical constructs in history are in line with the ruling elite that hitherto colonized them. For example, Jean-Bedel Bokassa mandated school children be taught Latin and Greek civilization at the expense of his African. Mustafa showed leniency to authenticate his oppressor’s history at the expense of his own.

The current crop of rulers in the Somali region typifies evolve’ with an added burden of less education and less versatility in their own history and that of their oppressors.

Mustafa is a reader of Francis Fujiyama’s “The End of History” and sees in that book a solace – to escape from a painful past and embarrass a less predictable future, the later one offering the promise to belong to a powerful ally’s orbit.

It is within that context that he negates the history of oppression of nationalities. In other words, like Fukuyama, he endorsed a philosophy that closes the last chapter. Unfortunately, in return, he accepted a present that belittles his history and may lead him to a rocky future.

———–
Faisal Roble, a writer, political analyst and a former Editor-in-Chief of WardheerNews, is mainly interested in the Horn of Africa region. He is currently the Principal Planner for the City of Los Angeles in charge of Master Planning, Economic Development and Project Implementation Division

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Comments

  1. Mustafe speaches is a glorification of genocide system against nion Amahara ethnic group in Ethiopia of every ethnic group forced to change their names and ethnicity to Amahar inorder to survive.
    Thus you see most oromos,sidamas,walayitas have Amahara names to day,many even did not come back to realise their identity coz the generation forced to forcefull changes dead long ago .
    Mustfe not only a suprise to Somalis but a threat to others just like abdi iley or more as he showed he is a man who does everything to cling to his power.

  2. Saying the Amhara people and the Amhara elite ruler could have different meaning but if the so called Amharas identify themselves with former brutal elite Amhara rulers and defend their past crimes as their historical culture, it’s nothing left , just saying the fascist is a neon-fascistis is more than correct.

    The historical fact about so called Amhara was cemented by former Ethiopian empire ruler Mengistu H/M and Werra Bulgaa Dr. Mesfin W/M on state media.

    About 90% of the so called Amhara were and are Agaw (khamar, Qimant and Awi) and Oromo who were Amaranised by church by denouncing and removing their Agawness and Oromoness.
    And the main duty of the church is to protect Amharanisation not to be reversed. And this kind of safeguarding will be kept alive by continuously demonizing Agaw and Oromo. That means the so called Amhara to be Amhara has to have to demonize their Agawness and Oromoness and it’s all about to be Amhara or not be Amhara that means it’s the matter of identity.

    Also saying Ethiopian Somali and Somali region has totally two different things. One that is imaginary and the other which exist.
    The neighbor of Somali region are motherland Somalia, Oromiyaa and Afar region so Somali region has nothing to do with Ethiopia directly and this is fact on the ground which illusionist couldn’t live with it.

    Since the Somali region is under military rule Mustafa/Mustafe has to say what pleases the military junta. It’s a game of survival.

    If Oromiyaa is free the Somali galbeed is automatically free without any bloodshed.
    Galbeed is Slovenia of Ethiopian empire and Croatia need only some assistance to bring lasting peace in Horn of Africa.

  3. What a mindbogglingly ridiculous statement from the Acting President of Somali Regional State?

    As for those trading in the name of the Amhara people, there is nothing new about their approaches to the narrative of Ethiopian history and their lack of remorse for what their forefathers did to the oppressed people. In fact, they unashamedly boast or deny about the sufferings they inflicted to the Somali, Oromo, Sidama, Walayita, Agaw, Gumuz, etc. Under decent and normal circumstances, one would have expected the Amhara regional state officials to apologize to their Somali counterparts for past wrongdoings, and show some kind of civility. Some former colonial powers, at least, express their regrets for past abuses when they reengage with their former subjects. The gesture creates mutual satisfactions, aggrieving the victims and providing sense of reliefs for the victimizers. A recent example in point was “Britain’s Imperial Apology”. On the 6th of June 2013, the British government expressed “sincere regret for torture and abuse committed by British colonial officers against Kenyans in the 1950s”, and announced a compensation package of £19.9 million (roughly 31 million US dollars at the time) to be shared among 5200 victims. This was “hailed as “historic” – a fitting footnote to Britain’s messy end -of-empire in Kenya”, and the British people and media commended their government for doing the right thing. Can we expect similar civility from the “Amhara”? Do they have the courage to come out and say sorry for cutting women’s breasts and men’s arms in the past? Unfortunately, it seems too remote for them to do so since they recently showcased their capabilities by massacring children and women, for example, in Gumuz.

    Kenya is not that remote from the regional state that Mustafa Omar is in charge, and any average person with that kind of responsibility would have known what has recently happened in the neighbouring country. Anyways, had the subjugated peoples in Ethiopia had opportunities to promote their preferred, capable and genuine leaders, they wouldn’t have been subjected to the magnitude of sufferings in the hands of inferior lunatic fringes.

    The Somali people must question the integrity of the person running their government affairs since “whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters”(as Albert Einstein remarked).

    OA

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