The Last Gasp of Ghosts of Feudal Ethiopia
Yusuf Mohamed, December 1, 2019
A burden should not be imposed on a child for crimes committed by parents. However, pity children eternally wandering willfully shouldering ragged sacks full of their ancestor’s sins and crimes. This was on display in Washington D.C. last week, where members of the Amhara ethnic group of Ethiopia, were chest thumping on a street corner accompanied by priests and deacons trying to awaken ghosts of long dead feudal Ethiopian landlords and Emperors who tyrannized and starved
Ethiopia from 1880s to 1991.
True, all immigrants who arrived on America’s shores may have done so with a bag of their belongings from their old countries. But this Ethiopian bunch may have hauled the most unusual baggage a greater distance from east Africa. They brought ashore to America, to Washington D.C., sacks of fetid skeletons of their old feudal Ethiopia that consumed its’ own.
The old Ethiopia of their yearning died twice. It first died in 1973 and its’ resident feudal chief, Haile Sellasie was strangled by his own guards and dumped in an outhouse on place grounds. It died again in 1991, when rebels from Eritrea and Tigrai regions marched into Addis Ababa and knocked down the slave quarter that was old Ethiopia, thereby liberating Eritrea and setting the rest of Ethiopian masses held in servitude free.
In the course of twenty seven years of their rule, the victors, the Tigrai Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) instituted a new constitution, established a new federal state, redrew provincial boundaries and granted the diverse nations and nationalities autonomy for self-rule, including full secession if necessary. They vanquished the ghosts of the famished old Ethiopia and entombed it permanently and drove the unrepentant feudal remnants to wander wide and far.
Last week, one group of that unrepentant brood was wailing for the soul of dead feudal Ethiopia exhorted by priests and deacons waving crosses. Onlookers and passersby wondered why and what devil has taken possession of the priests and their flock. But soon noticed a stream of people across the street entering a venue for a political town hall meeting to highlight the upcoming 2020 election in Ethiopia. The priests and their crowds were there in opposition to the organizers and attendees of that meeting.
The Ethiopian election is scheduled for June 2020. The candidates from the Oromo political parties are expected to win the election and take control of the national leadership. That is unacceptable to the priests and their Amhara people, the reason why they were raging in protest. They are enraged because in that town hall meeting, they see all doors shuttering on their dream of victorious return of old Ethiopia. Most importantly, they were tormented by the fact that the meeting was organized and hosted by members of the Oromo American Community and their indomitable son, Mr. Jawar Mohamed, and his Oromo brothers and sisters. They were angry because that town hall meeting was attended by members of various Ethiopian nationalities, Christians as well as Muslims.
The priests who were delivering the gospel of feudal Ethiopia on a Washington D.C. street last week had nothing but a tattered play book with game plans that terribly and repeatedly failed them decades ago. They shamelessly laid bare their sheer lack of self-reflection. It was shameful to see debased priests and deacons with crosses slandering other Ethiopians for their ethnicity and faith.
Their insult and scorn for Mr. Jowhar Mohamed, his faith and ethnicity were similar to the contempt their forefathers exhibited against the people of Eritrea and Tigria more than three decades ago. They smeared the Eritreans and Tigrians as Arab agents, Muslims, foreigners. They lobbed the same cheap insults against Mr. Jowhar and members of his Oromo community; they shouted terrorists, ISIS, Alqaida, Muslim extremist, he is Arab…etc., hoping to catch onlookers’ attention. No one was conned. Their name calling and specious charges fell flat.
Their act of desperation only helped onlookers turn their gaze towards the mob and unholy priests preaching the hateful feudal gospel. Their palpable disdain for other Ethiopian nationalities and Ethiopian Muslims was apparent to the onlookers.
The street corner in downtown Washington, D.C. and Ethiopia are separated by great distances. Similarly, todays Ethiopia is separated from feudal Ethiopia by passage of time. Today’s Ethiopia is not like the old feudal Ethiopia that shackled its masses into serfdom and suppressed one faith and favored the other. Today’s Ethiopia is a hopeful Federal Union of nationalities with different cultures, languages and religions coexisting in harmony. Its’ diverse population has made great strides in tolerance and respect for each other. They have no nostalgia for the ghosts now exiled to a distant land. They have no room for their scorned and unrepentant step brothers hawking the gospel of feudal Ethiopia.
They hope those who were parading the demons of old Ethiopia on D.C. street corner last week find a final resting place for the load of ghosts and sins on their back. Finding a suitable corner for the sins of their forefathers in the land of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, a saint and sinner respectively, should be easy. Both saints and sinners are appropriately accommodated. In the land of Lincoln and Davis, citizens honor men and women of good deeds and condemn those with bad deed. Good deed is remembered and celebrated. Men and women of bad deeds are held accountable for their sins and condemn. Communities and families acknowledge the sins of their kin and forefathers and make atonement and seek forgiveness to help heal wounds.
Will the crowd and their priests who were on the street corner last week ever tire of spewing the feudal Amhara fiction as gospel and become true to the Christian scripture to help heal wounds? Will the Amhara people ever have the courage to acknowledge the wrongs done by their ancestors to others? Will they ever change before the demons of feudal Ethiopia consume their souls, churches and people?
The Ethiopian exiles and priest who were raging on D.C. street corner last week can do one of two things. They can remain burdened by the sins of feudal Ethiopia and be consumed by nostalgia for Ethiopia of yesteryears that will never return, or they can learn from their host society and relief themselves from the ghosts and sins of their forefathers as appropriate. They have a choice.