Are Ethiopian Opposition Groups Getting the Right Message Across?

Adal Beyene

Recently, Jimmy  Kimmel ( has asked some ordinary Americans on a street  a simple question:   Which do you think is better – Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act?  Almost all those who were interviewed  responded in favor of the Affordable Care Act but strongly opposed the ObamaCare.  But, in reality the Affordable Care Act and ObamaCare are one and the same thing.  So, how did the people got it wrong?  The reason is that the Republican Party, which opposes the Affordable Care Act (ACA),  does not want to call ACA  by its correct name  fearing that most people may start liking  it. What members of the Republican Party did instead is to give ACT a catchy name—Obamacare, misleading a sizable portion of the American population.

Ethiopian opposition groups could get a valuable lesson from the above in terms of packaging a message to ordinary Ethiopians.  For example, if one asks randomly selected famers, merchants, civil servants or students from either countryside or cities in Ethiopia:  what is “Woyane” ?  What would be their answers? Guess. Would an answer be “Tigrai people” or Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF)?  It definitely begs a study, informally or formally.

But, I think  “Woyane”   is a very confusing name.  It does not represent TPLF in any form or shape. TPLF has been lucky  in this regard.  Look at other sister political groups in Ethiopia which have similar ideology   as that of TPLF. These are Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and  Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) among others.  The latter fronts are always called by their respective names, directly translated to local languages such  as “Oneg” and “Obneg”, respectively .  Most people in Ethiopia are familiar to the missions of OLF and ONLF but definitely confused about TPLF.  The surprising thing is that one cannot find an equivalent local name for TPLF.  What about “Thneg” ? This is much better than ‘Woyane”  in communicating  the true nature and mission of TPLF to an ordinary person.  At least it is moral and ethical to call TPLF the same way as OLF and ONLF are treated in local languages.  After all, all are our brothers and sisters.

Please stop using “Woyane”!  If not, please clarify for what it stands for to an ordinary person. Does “Woyane” refer to the whole Tigray people or exclusively to members of TPLF (Thneg) ? Clarity of a message hits the target. For example, when TPLF was in the jungle it equated “Derg” (another confusing word for a farmer)  to “Amara”, and  as the result, was able to get unconditional support from many people in the north–Tigray.

For the last 22 years, the ruler of Ethiopia has been TPLF (Thneg) , on the backs of  the other 3 (OPDO, ANDM, SEPDF) “Saudi Arabia type housemaids”.  I think it is time to call TPLF by its own name “Thneg”  rather than “Wonaye”.  Please STOP using “Woyane”. Here are the potential advantages (politically) of calling TPLF by its own name:

  1. It puts TPLF in par with other libration fronts (e.g. OLF, ONLF) . As the result, an ordinary Ethiopian can easily understand what TPLF stands for.
  2. TPLF as a ruler of Ethiopia has not been standing for Ethiopian interest because of boxing itself in its main mission: secession of Tigray. There are numerous examples to cite for illustration. Just to mention one case, recall the war waged between Ethiopia and Eritrea over Badme, a small village in Tigray. TPLF (Thneg) took it as a high priority and was determined to get it back from Eritrean occupation at an outrageous cost of more than 70,000 precious lives. Even though at the end, it was given back to Eritrean.  In contrast, it has been known recently that TPLF has signed an agreement with Sudan to give away 1600 km length  by  60 km width of Ethiopian land from Gondar region. This area is several times larger than Badme. How on earth TPLF does this? The simple reason is that Gonder is not Tigray, and therefore it is not a concern for Thneg.

There are so many other examples one can look at how Thneg  does business  hiding behind EPRDF, such as EFFORT, military and security structures, and so on.

  1. Even recently, Professor Dale Whittington, an expert on the Nile’s hydropower potential and  who appeared on ESAT Focus program ( ) , has disclosed that the Renaissance Dam on Abay River , which Thneg (TPLF) is trying to construct , is not designed for a general use by Ethiopians.  As far as Thneg is concerned, the Dam is being built for the purpose of selling electricity to Sudan.  According to the plan, the revenue that would be generated upon the completion of the Dam goes to Thneg coffer, as what Thneg has been doing sofar is to be a predictor.
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Posted by on January 6, 2014. Filed under NEWS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.