TDF Must Think Twice Before It Moves Toward Addis Ababa
By Ibrahim Hassan Gagale
The Abyssinian Aksumites first identified themselves as Ethiopians in the 4th century of A.D during reign of Ezana. In 1529, war broke out between Adal Sultanate supported by Ottomans and Abyssinia supported with reinforcements by Portugal. Abyssinia was defeated in the conflict losing huge territory but recaptured lost territory and the war ended in 1543. Abyssinians established their capital at Gondar in 1632 and had a period of peace and prosperity before warlords split the kingdom in the 18th century. King Tewodros II reunified Ethiopia in 1885. His reign was followed by king Yohannes IV who was killed in 1889. King Menelik II took over the country and began expanding Ethiopia to the West, South and East through violent conquests and annexations of Cushitic lands starting with Oromo, Sidaama, Gurage, Wolayta and other ethnic groups including Somalis, Afar etc resulting in the current borders of Ethiopian Empire. But mass-killings of the Abyssinian occupation started first with Oromo people in the Ethiopian highlands beginning 1850.
For outsiders, Ethiopia was a great empire more civilised and more advanced than the rest of Africa. An empire never colonized by Europeans when the rest of Africa became inevitable prey to European scramble for partition to colonise the continent brutally for cheap labour and raw materials. But for insiders, since the reign of King Menelik II (1889), Ethiopia is a country whose history is based on invasions, conquests, violent annexations, massacres, genocides, repressions, oppressions, destructions, displacements etc inflicted on Cushitic peoples (Oromo, Somalis, Afar, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambela, Wolayta and SNNAPR etc shown in the map) by the invading Abyssinians, particularly Amhara kingdoms, for over 170 years. Such humiliating subjugation of Cushitic peoples by Abyssinians resulted in creating deep hostility, bitterness and hatred between Abyssinians (the dominating minority) and Cushitic peoples (the dominated majority peoples).
For the history of Ethiopian empire, Cushitic peoples were not allowed to rule Ethiopia for being treated as colonists owned by the Abyssinians including their lands. Only Abyssinians (Amhara and Tigre) were qualified to rule Ethiopia with the exception of PM Abiye Ahmed whose identity is yet unknown other than having Amhara mother and Amhara wife. Oromo people were first to face brutal crackdown by PM Abiye Ahmed, the same people who put him in the office of the land, and imprisoned Oromo major political opposition leaders to eliminate their rivalry in elections like the recent farce elections of EPP. If PM Abiye Ahmed were Oromo, sadly he spoiled the first opportunity of Cushitic peoples to lead Ethiopia by an Oromo leader. PM Abiye Ahmed is not independent leader, he is in the pocket of Amhara who manipulate him for their own political benefits. When humans have cause with vision, they succeed. PM Abiye Ahmed has neither cause nor vision and that is why he becomes a mother bear eating its cub. A Somali Scholar, Faisal Roble, said: “Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiye Ahmed inherited a state. He sacrificed it to the dream of an empire, today he has neither a state nor an empire.”
The Semitic Abyssinian colonial invasions and annexations of Hamitic Cushitic peoples exactly coincided with the European colonial conquest and occupation of Africa (European Conquests:1884; Abyssinian Annexations: 1889). This is clear evidence that Abyssinians participated in the Partition of Africa late 19th century after Berlin Conference of 1884 with the Europeans’ tacit approval and supply of weapons mainly provided by the Portugese for the conquests and annexations. As Europeans invaded Africa for cheap labour and raw materials for their nascent Industrial Revolution, Abyssinian Empire conquered Cushitic lands for their richness in natural resources.
In the current situation of Ethiopia, TDF should avoid advancing toward Addis Ababa with the intention of capturing it to unilaterally declare TDF government to rule Ethiopia like TPLF did in 1991 because it will not be an easy job as both demographics and times have changed in Ethiopia since 1991, as the record of human rights abuses of TPLF government is shockingly abusive, and as all Ethiopian ethnic groups are armed to the teeth today for having deep interethnic hostility and hatred between Abyssinians and Cushitic peoples because of the repressive, brutal, colonial occupation of Abyssinians against Cushitic peoples for over 170 years.
During TPLF rule under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (1991-2012), TPLF committed appalling human rights abuses, hijacked the Ethiopian government by grabbing major institutions for the benefits of Tigre Region and monopolised federal military and police to subdue Ethiopia for his dictatorship. PM Meles Zenawi was responsible for the violent crackdown on Oromo demonstrations protesting the widely believed rigged election in 2005. He also committed massacres and serious human rights abuses in the Somali State of Ethiopia. The Tigre government also created current land disputes between Somali State and Afar Sate and between Amhara State and Tigre State etc that claimed the lives of thousands and thousands of civilians. Tigre government too invaded illegally the capital of Somalia Mogadishu in 2007 under the command of general Gabre committing atrocities and human rights. Ethiopian troops withdrew from Mogadishu after inflicted heavy casualties.
Oromo people, the biggest ethnic group in Ethiopia, have their own armed resistance to topple Abiye’s dictatorship for the atrocities he committed against them and against the country. The capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, is located on Oromo land and Oromo people believe it is their turn to rule Ethiopia to end Abyssinian long-time occupation. Oromo people and other Cushitic peoples do not want to see Addis Ababa fall into the hands of TDF again to continue the Abyssinian colonial domination of Ethiopia. Similarly, Somali people, who were brutalised by Tigre Government of Meles Zenawi, do not want to see Tigre-led government in Addis Ababa again and may support Oromo’s armed resistance alongside with other Cushitic ethnic groups to defeat TDF if it tries to move toward Addis Ababa to seize power. Amhara too don’t want to see Addis Ababa run by Tigre because they massacred each other in the current civil wars.
Such huge obstacles of dislike against TDF and the Cushitic peoples’ historical resentment over Abyssinian long-time brutal occupation against Cushitic peoples prevent TDF from marching toward Addis Ababa. TDF has their region and people devastated by the invasion of November 4, 2020 and may not have stomach to engage in war of attrition with Oromo that they will lose at the end as Cushitic peoples at the head of Oromo and Somalis do not want any new government led by Tigre again or even by Amhara to take over Addis Ababa to rule Ethiopia again. So, TDF must think twice before it moves toward Addis Ababa.
If TDF makes political miscalculation and tries to use force and move to Addis Ababa to declare government unilaterally in Addis Ababa, there will be endless bloodbath between TDF and enraged Cushitic peoples led by Oromo, the majority in Ethiopia. The only way to end civil wars in Ethiopia is to release all political prisoners, hold pan-Ethiopia reconciliation conference for restoring Ethiopia unity and democratic federal system and finally form government headed by Oromo or Somalis as both Amhara and Tigre failed Ethiopia for their long-time brutal, abusive kingdoms and repressive, oppressive governments. Cushitic peoples believe that it is their unchallenged chance to rule Ethiopia as Abyssinians never let Cushitic peoples rule Ethiopia before. Mohamed Jawar, an Oromo opposition moderate leader in prison, may have political prowess and skills to bring Ethiopia together. The West should not support unilateral government declared by TDF to avoid endless bloodbath between Cushitics and Abyssinians in future.
But if coexistence among Ethiopian ethnic groups becomes difficult and interethnic civil wars become rampant, frequent and persistent with no hope of accepting one another, then it is reasonable to support them go on their separate ways for self-determination to have independent republics taking article 39 of Ethiopian federal constitution in order to have peace and stability instead of having perpetual bloodshed, gun violence, massacres, ethnic cleansing, displacement, fleeing, influx of refugees, instability etc in the Horn of Africa.
SOME IMPORTANT REFERENCES
– Mekuria Bulcha, “Genocidal Violence in the Making of Nation and State in Ethiopia”, African Sociological Review Vol. 9(2), 2005
– Bulatovich visited much of the Oromo territory between 1896 and 1898 and witnessed and acknowledged the damage done by the Abyssinian conquest.
Ethiopian Land Expansion and Current Map
A) The map with arrows indicates how King Menelik II began at Debre Markos his violent conquests and annexations of Cushitic lands (Oromo, Somalis, Afar, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambela, Southern Nations and Nationalities etc) right from the border of Amhara North of Addis Ababa to the South, West and East of Ethiopia.
B )The coloured map indicates the current Ethiopian map showing ethnic group states.
Ibrahim Hassan Gagale
July 29, 2021