A Glimpse into the Amhara Awakening By Prof. Messay Kebede


Amhara Protest

Amhara Protest

Let me begin by sharing my surprise at the dazzling nature of Amhara open resistance and determination in the fight against the government and the repressive forces of the TPLF. Of course, the wide but subdued discontent of the Amhara was quite obvious for anybody with a minimum sense of observation. But nobody expected that, within a short period of time, an active and confrontational form of resistance will engulf the whole Amhara region, whose consequence is the exposure of the depth of the popular discontent as wellas of the vulnerability of the regime after 25 years of tight dictatorial rule. As a matter of fact, those who follow my online write-ups know that, at the peak of the Oromo unrest, I posted an article urging the Amhara to join the protest. At the same time, I was confronted with some articles explaining the Amhara reluctance by the fear that secessionists are leading the Oromo protest. According to the articles, to support the protest under this condition would be tantamount to endorsing the secession of Oromia.

How, then, is, one to explain this sudden and massive uprising of a people that many, especially the ruling clique, had considered as decisively beaten and resigned to a second-rate citizenship? And what happened to the fear of Oromo secession for the Amhara to rise so massively and all of a sudden against a demeaning ruling elite that they were allegedly tolerating in the name of peace and the unity of the country?

I think an understanding of the uprising transpires if we start our analysis from the fact of a wide and deep frustration of the Amhara. This frustration is not only due to the lack of economic opportunities and the dictatorial methods of the government, but also to the TPLF’s systematic policy of humiliating and marginalizing an ethnic group with impressive records of leadership and achievements in the past as well as in modern Ethiopia. Perhaps the psychological frustration of humiliation at being both degraded and demeaned is even stronger than economic deprivation and youth unemployment.

Add to this already intense frustration the dispute over the identity of the people of Wolkait-Tegede and the government’s recourse to force to deal with the dispute. Without doubt, the violent response was, as the saying goes, the final straw that broke the camel’s back. As a cumulative process, frustration has a boiling point which, when reached, changes qualitatively into open rebellion. When frustration reaches such a heightened level, fear vanishes in the face of an anger that is no longer containable.

Some such explanation leaves us still perplexed: true, anger explodes, but for that reason it is also short-lived and cannot by itself alone feeds on a prolonged resistance because very soon the fear of repression and violent death sets in, reviving the previous attitude of quiet resentment.  To all appearances, however, the Amhara uprising has gone beyond the explosion of anger: it is changing into a political movement, which can no longer defeated, even if it is possible to intermittently muzzle it by means of harsh and indiscriminate repression.

It is here that the importance of the Oromo uprising comes into play. The precedence of the Oromo rebellion achieved two interrelated results. First, it created the sense of the Amhara and Oromo being both victims of the same ruthless and discriminatory rule. This common condition became not only the basis of a rapprochement, but also ushered in a vision in which both will have their proper places in a truly democratic Ethiopia. Secondly, in addition to decrease the fear of disintegration, the Oromo rebellion exposed the fundamental weakness and vulnerability of the regime. The mobilization of army units to crush a popular rebellion is not a sign of strength; it is the proof that the regime has lost all legitimacy so that it can only govern by force and intimidation. Such a regime is at the mercy of incidents, not to mention the inevitability of internal divisions and even of a coup d’état.

When you combine intense frustration with the vulnerability of the existing regime, you have a revolutionary situation, exactly as Lenin describes it. To quote him,“for a revolution to take place it is not enough for the exploited and oppressed masses to realize the impossibility of living in the old way, and demand changes; for a revolution to take place it is essential that the exploiters should not be able to live and rule in the old way. It is only when the ‘lower classes’ do not want to live in the old way and the ‘upper classes’ cannot carry on in the old way that the revolution can triumph.” Indeed, for the Amhara as well as for the Oromo, the TPLF can no longer rule in the old day and they themselves do not want to be ruled in the old way: change is in sight.

Last but not least, the other triggering factor was the impact of what can be called “the appeal of the hero.” I have in mind the inspiring reaction of Colonel DemekeZewdu to the illegal attempt to arrest him by TPLFitehitmen. His determined refusal and his self-defensive measure had a deep resonance on the Amhara soul, all the more resoundingly as they brought back to memory the glorious past from which the modern Amhara wandered away, at least since the Italian occupation of Ethiopia. In showing the example, Colonel Demeke both exhorted the Amhara to rise to the level of their historical legacy and injected a bitter dose of shame at their resignation to be humiliated by TPLFite renegades, who indeed did not even hesitate to throw away Tigray’s long-standing and zealous commitment to Ethiopian integrity.

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Posted by on September 2, 2016. Filed under FEATURED. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

4 Responses to A Glimpse into the Amhara Awakening By Prof. Messay Kebede

  1. sam

    September 2, 2016 at 4:10 PM

    Twenty-five years ago when TPLF introduced ethnic politics as a way to govern and the three parties which constitute EPDRF embraced it I saw the danger the country will continue to face. I am not a political genius, but a realist. I do hate to see the current uprisings in Ethiopia to get the same type of village politics interpretation. I am not seeing “Amharas” awakening, I see Ethiopians awakening. For the last twenty-five years Ethiopians were told acknowledging their differences and embracing it was more important than emphasizing their shared identity. Ethiopians were told the problem with Ethiopia could end when the domination of the “Amharas” end. What domination? Well, no one could really spell that out. It had been used as slogan to rally the followers. The followers need some target. The TPLF delivered it. The current uprisings in Oromia and Amhara regions are not ethnics in their politics. Ethiopia has remained backward not because lack of equality among ethnicities. Ethiopians are well aware of that fact, but their political leaders seemed to play their dogma to the very end. When the people say
    we are miserable not because of lack of ethnic equality rather it is because of the exploitation of it an uprising is certain to come. Ethiopians finally become fully aware ethnic politics is a means to create overnight village millionaires. Ethiopians finally became are social mobility is not determined by one’s ability rather by whom one knows. Ethiopians finally become tired of expecting of them to take government propaganda as a gospel. Ethiopians are tired to be enslaved by unelected political cadres. Ethiopians are tired of seeing people with money buying their “justice.” Ethiopians in general hated of expecting of them to be ruled with no dissent whatsoever. They revolted, not as oromos,not as Amharas, but as Ethiopians who wanted to have a government worthy of their respect.

  2. Wesen

    September 3, 2016 at 7:50 PM

    It is simple logic. The Amhara,as they are fighting for their survival, are in the mindset of a drowning person. it is as simple as that. Secession and even Ethiopian unity ceases to be a concern when your own survival as a people is in question. This explains why the Amhara join the struggle regardless of the motive behind the Oromo struggle. Once the Amhara secure their survival the removal of ethnic politics as a system or an ideology and the question of Ethiopian unity is the second phase of the struggle.

  3. Yohannes Kebede , from Alberta Canada

    September 4, 2016 at 7:41 PM

    TPLF paid billions of dollars Ethiopian people’s public money the Wolquait born Amhara tuned Tigrayan first lady MRS Azeb Mesfin . The main reason she got paid was so that Azeb somehow convert WOLQUAIT Amharas to TIGRAYAN possibly all Amharas to be converted eventually.
    This money is all out deposited around the world by Azeb Mesfin where TPLF doesn’t have access to get back. . TPLF got played by Azeb Mesfin because she told them false information about her being succesful convincing Wolquait Amhara mothers to raise their children as Tigrayans. . Azeb Mesfin was supposed to Mold Amharas to become Tigrayans using her woman power since woman are the ones that raise babies they were supposed to raise the Amhara babies in Tigrayan culture. . We all know Azeb Mesfin is the only powerful woman that holds societal , political and economical position in a sexist country like Ethiopia where gender inequality exists highly . Most young intellectual women that don’t know the real Azeb Mesfin’s evil actions consider her as their hero just by seeing the propoganda of TPLF .

    Azeb Mesfin had been seen as an inspiration for young working Ethiopian women and as the first succesfull woman rights activist ever ,especially until the Arab domestic servant scam blew up on our face.

    Azeb Mesfin was regarded as a living proof That Ethiopian women are capable of performing tasks just as Ethiopian men do in all fields of leadership . All this was based she got the backing of her village “WOLQUAIT TEGEDE” . She was awarded all this political power because she claimed to be the representative of WOLQUAIT TEGEDE and she said she is Tigrayan. So if WOLQUAIT is given to Amhara it will be as taking all powers from the Meles Zenawi family . Azeb Mesfin’s status is all Meles & Co. got left after he unexpectedly died. . TPLF is not willing to say Azeb Mesfin is not the representative of Wolquait because noone elese is there for her to claim to continue being one of the makers and shakers of TPLF. TPLF paid her to convert Amhara s to TIGRAYAN. at all nopmatter how many life is being lost because of the WOLQUAIT TEGEDE identity question.

    PLEASE listen to video below BETWEEN the times (1 hour 12 mins UPTO 1 hour 17 mins) listen Azeb Mesfin gets accused by Hailemariam desalegn for mishandling the money TPLF paid her to tame Wolquait Tegede people .


  4. Gideon

    September 7, 2016 at 1:11 PM

    Very interesting article, great analysis, by the writer.
    Thanks for the heads up!