“I am Ethiopian first” By Abebe Gellaw

It has come to my attention that my brief Facebook comment regarding a few controversial statements made by Jawar Mohammed has been posted on ECADF’s website as an article. I had no intention of writing a series piece on the issue. Quite obviously, there is a big difference between a well-thought out lengthy commentary and a brief message in a particular context.

My intention was just to appeal for calm and harmony, a necessary effort lacking in our political discourse. Often times, a message without its context is open to misinterpretation and misunderstanding. So there seems to be a need to clarify.

Politics, as far as I understand, is a mechanism of managing conflict of interests. It is a means of building consensus through dialogue and compromise. Since the early 1960s, the major political conflict in Ethiopia has been between ethno-nationalists and nationalists. The forces on both ends of the political spectrum have not still found a middle ground that can bring them towards consensus and compromise.

My understanding is that Jawar is an ethno-nationalist. As an ethno-nationalist, he says he is an Oromo first. Unlike him, I am a nationalist. But that is not the major problem. The problem is the way he has chosen to articulate and present his views in question that have been widely perceived as inflammatory and divisive.

I firmly and fervently believe that I am an Ethiopian first. I do not wish to allow the ethnic origin of my predecessors and parents to define me as a human being and overshadow my Ethiopian identity.

Jawar said Ethiopian identity was imposed on him. On the contrary, I argue that such a position is fundamentally flawed. Nowhere in the world is anyone given choices of national identity.

The Chinese-American writer, Eric Liu, once said: “The next time someone uses denial of citizenship as a weapon or brandishes the special status conferred upon him by the accident of birth, ask him this: What have you done lately to earn it?” Our predecessors, who have bequeathed us a country called Ethiopia with all its faults, challenges and problems, have made huge sacrifices in blood and flesh so that we’ll never be stateless. We should rather make sacrifices to reclaim our country and make our citizenship more meaningful by winning our rights, as citizens, to live in our country with full dignity, freedom and equality. We should make Ethiopia a country where every citizen and ethnic group is equal.

Unfortunately, our birthplaces also define the major problems and opportunities we inherit. Ethiopia is not a perfect nation. Far from it, it is defective and faulty as a result of the age-old tyrannies and injustices we have been condemned to suffer collectively.

Like any nation, it offers unique challenges as well as opportunities. With all its problems and baggage, Ethiopia is a nation of 80 million people. Our destiny is intertwined. We are diverse and yet we are all Ethiopians, whether we like it or not. I believe that rejecting Ethiopia as our country is not a solution to any of the problems we are supposed to confront. We should rather make strenuous efforts to reconstruct Ethiopia as a country where all of its citizens live in freedom, harmony, justice, peace and prosperity.

In the new Ethiopia we envision, there should be no room for inequality, injustice and tyranny. It should never be a prison for its children, regardless of their political, ethnic or cultural backgrounds. No ethnic or political group should be allowed to impose hegemony at the detriment of the majority.

The worst challenges all citizens of Ethiopia, except the oppressors, face are political oppression, grinding poverty, indignity, inequality, injustice and discrimination, just to mention a few among so many. At this time and age, what has been imposed on us is not national identity but the tyranny of the TPLF, an extremist ethno-nationalist group whose aim was nothing more than seceding Tigray. That is why we should continue struggling to throw off this backbreaking tyranny from our shoulders.

As I have clearly stated in another Facebook post, addressed to Jawar, “No nation-state was formed through consensus and democratic deliberations. Nation-states emerged out of conflicts, conquests, occupations and colonialism. While almost all African states were created by the colonial powers, Ethiopia was formed through internal processes. It was a painful process but not even as painful as what Native Americans and Europeans, who had gone through two devastating [world] wars.”

“We Ethiopians do not need to be bitter about the past. We are not part of the old history. But we certainly need to preserve our country and make it a nation for all correcting past injustices and mistakes. We need to move forward with a united spirit. As long as we can bring about real equality, justice, freedom and democracy, we will be fine. That is what we should all fight for rather than dwelling on the past [and gnaw old bones]. It is the present and the future that really matter….”

While I called for unity rather than condemning each other, making such inflammatory and controversial statements that turned out to be divisive are not only wrong but also damaging to our common cause for freedom. I said Jawar had misspoken. The dictionary definition of misspeak is not to endorse or approve. It means, “To speak mistakenly, inappropriately, or rashly.” I think that should be clear enough. It was particularly wrong for Jawar to speak in such a divisive ethno-religious tone at a time when we desperately need to unify to overcome and overwhelm the divide-and-rule tyranny of the TPLF. That is where he misspoke, in my humble opinion, without completely disregarding so many positive contributions.

I was under the impression that calling for sanity and unity at this critical juncture in our struggle would not also be misconstrued as a sign of weakness. I always see myself as a moderate. Compromise for the sake of the greater good is at times a mechanism to avoid unnecessary conflict and feelings. Even if that was my intention, I believe that we Ethiopians should never compromise on anything that undermines our unity, freedom, harmony and peace.

After all, our aspiration is to rebuild a united nation that will accommodate every citizen as equal and guarantee the freedom of every individual citizen including those who believe that they are the byproducts of their cultural and ethnic heritage. For that to happen, we need to preserve Ethiopia, a country that we will all be proud of when we claim our freedom despite its troubles and predicaments.

Anyone is not entitled to apologize on behalf of Jawar. If any apologies are needed, no one but only Jawar is entitled to make. As far as I am concerned, I am nobody’s apologist.

That said, I will be disingenuous if I do not repeat my main message. Let us move on with a united spirit and focus on our just cause for freedom, equality and justice. That is much more important than the war of attrition and divisiveness that is derailing our gains. Whenever we have problems, we should first have the courage to address them in a civilized manner. Again let us move on united as Ethiopians…

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Posted by on July 23, 2013. Filed under COMMENTARY,VIEWS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

5 Responses to “I am Ethiopian first” By Abebe Gellaw

  1. ማሞ

    July 24, 2013 at 6:33 AM

    ለወድ,አበበ ገለባዉ:
    ኢትዮጵያ ብዙ ስዎች አሉዋት.አንተን ከዛ አትኮቆጤርም.ጁዋር ሞህመድ.ለዚ ደረጃ ያበካችሁት አንተ እና ታማኝ ናቹ እንዲሁም ኢሳት’ ጀብ ከሄደ ዉሻ.ውውውውው አለ..እንደሚባለዉ.የዉሻ ጭሆትሕን ኣቁም.ለኣበደ ውሻ መድሃኒቱ የእብድ መርፌ ነው.የኣብዶች ህኪም ካስፈለገሕ.ዶክተር ብርህኑ ይረዳህል.ለአንተሁሉም ዶክተር ዶክተር ነዉ አይደል?አለበለዚያ ከወደ ግብጽ ሀገር አሪፍ የዕብድ ውሻ ህኪም አንዳለ.የትግል ጉዋድሕ.ዶክተር ብርስል(ብርህኑ)ነጋ ና ጁዋር ሞህመድ ሲንሾካሾኩ ስምቻለሁ,ሞሪስ የሚባል እውቅ ህኪም ሙስሊም ብራዘርህድ የሚባል ሆስፒታል ውስት ይሰራል.ከ ውድ ወዳጅህ ታማኝ ጋራ አብራቹ ብትሄድ ሽጋ ነው: እሱም አያክለፈለፈው ነው እና መድህኒቱን እዛው ይሰቱታል. በተረፈ የ ግንቦት ሰባትዋ ኢሳት ትረዳህ.

    • ወድ ሰብ

      July 24, 2013 at 7:33 PM

      ትኪከል ቢልሃል አበበ ገላው አቅምና ብቃት የለውም በችተና ነው. አቅሙ አይውቅም የምያደርገውም አይውቅም ህይወት የለለው ኮንቱ ነው. ያበደ ይመስላል የመንነት ቀውስና የዓኢምሮ ህመም ያሰቃየዋል.

  2. Aster Degu

    July 24, 2013 at 7:48 AM

    Dear Abebe,
    I have read your comment with full heart and mind. I thank you for your rational and reasonable comment and suggestions. It is true that we should move on and continue our straggle to save our beloved nation and state. I very sadden bythe comment posted agains your article right above in Amharic. The TPLF agent gave as usual their divisive and distructive comment. This is the high time for them once again to come and put fuel in our straggle to save the nation. They have no interest in keeping the nation united. Why can’t we learn from their Godfather, Meles, he is gone to the hell with out calling my people, my nation, as he was the son of Bandist. We no aspect good things to come out from their mouth. Let them to worship their dead fish. We all Ethiopian will preveal very soon as the devil has gone, only few of his sons are in their gage. They are the mad gods not you nor Dr. Birhanu. You are the hero of all Ethiopians Abe, forget them and as always, have your moderate and civized thought. As it concern Jehar, I never expect from such kind of person, such irrational and irresponsible hatress speach. May God’s blessing be with him. I wish him quick recovery. I has all right to have his own stand on the issue, but a shift of 360 degree, not expected unless he was waiting this long to unveal his real identity. Let him have it. But as an Oromo I feel very sad to hear such comment. I feelan Ethiopian before I call my self Ormom. I can assure that not all oromos think his way. So no panic. Lets move on. Ethiopia comes first. For those who do not have a clue of nationhood, you have explained it very well. I have nothing to add.
    Lets peace be up on all Ethiopians, Keep on fighting!
    Aster Degu

  3. በለው!

    July 24, 2013 at 6:11 PM

    “ጫት ያባውንና የተከለውን ሴራ ጭብጨባ ይፈነቅለዋል!።እያነበቡ እየደነፉ እየተደራጁ እታጠቁ ስህተት? ክህደት?
    በግና ቀበሮ አብሮ ተሠማርቶ
    ማን ተርፎ ይገባል ማንን አስበልቶ?
    *ጃዋር ሜንጫ ተከታይ ተገንጣይ ሙስሊም ኦሮሞዎችን በደቡብ አፍሪካ ለቅስቀሳና ለብጥብጥ አሰማራ…ይህንን ፅሑፍ ማብራሪያ ብሎ ያነበበ እራሱ የተጠናበረበት ብቻ ይሆናል፤ ግን በበለጠ መልኩ አሻሽሎ የወደፊት የስውር ዓላማውን ገለፀው!ከፖለቲካ ተንታኝ ምሁር ‘አሮሞን ለእስልምና መጀወር!አክሱምና ፋሲል ግንብ ላይ መስጊድ ማለም ከወያኔም ከተቃዋሚም የተገነጠሉን በመጠጋት ውንብድናና የጭፍጨፋ ተግባርን ማቀድ ለተፈፃሚነቱ ነባር ጋዜጠኛንና ድረገፃቸውን መጠቀሚያማድረግ!!
    ** ለማናቸውም ፡ህወአት/ኢህአዴግ/ወያኔ ወይንም (ውሻ) በከፈተው ኢትዮጵያን የማፈራረስ ሴራ ያላቸውን ዓረቦች ይሁን ተላላኪዎቻቸውን ወይም (ጅቦችን) ከውጭ በመፈክር፣ በጦር ጥናትና ዝግጅት፣ ከውስጥ ኢንቨስተር፣ ዲያስፖራ እያለ አስገብቶብን ትውልድን አስበልቶ መፈርጠጥ የለበትም!!።ድሮ ያሰለጠናቸው ዛሬ ውጭ ሆነው መስበክ ጅምረዋል
    ***ጉበት ሲያድር አጥንት ይሆናልና “የድምፃችን ይሰማ”እና “የኦሮሞ ሙስሊም ነፃ ወጥቶ ነፃ ማውጣት የእንገንጠል አብዮት” በጭራሽ የማይገጥም !የማይጠቅም! ሀገርና ህዝብ አፍራሽ፣ ትውልድ አምካኝ፣ የራሱ የኢህዴግ አንድ አምሳል ሁለት አካል ሆኖ ቀርቧል። መልዕክቱ አቶ መለስ “ወያኔ ከሌለን ትበታተናላችሁ! ትጠፋፋላችሁ! ኦሮሞ ያርዳችኋል!ያሉን ይህን ነበር። አቶ አበበ ገላውና መስፍን ነጋሽ ጃዋር ሜንጫ አምልጦት ተናገረ የሚሉት ፉለላ ለመሆኑ ጋዜጠኛን የህዝብ አቋም አዋቂና ወሳኝ ማንአደረገው?ታዘብኳችሁ ለመሆኑ አቶ አበበ ገላው አምልጦት ሳያውቀው ነበር “ዲክታተር የሰው ፀር፣ ነፃነት ነፃነት ነፃነት እያለ በዓለም ፊት የጮኸው?ወይንስ የናፈቀው ነፃነት በጃዋር ቡድን በሜንጫ ሊያሳርደን ነበር? ለመሆኑ የማንም ፖለቲካ አባልና ደጋፊ ያልሆነ የፖለቲካ ፈላስፋና ተንታኝ ባይ የወደፊት መሪ እንዴት ሊባል ቻለ?እውነትም ኢትዮጵያ ከሀገር ወደ ወረዳ እድርና ዕቁብ ወርዳለች የማንም ውርጋጥ ይሞላፈጥባታል በለው!!ድንቄም ተንታኝ!በታኝ በለው!
    **አሁን ኢህአዴግ እራሱን ከወንጀል ለማስፅዳት ሀገርን ለመጠበቅ አስቸኳይ ማዕቀብን በዚህ የዓርብ ዓርብ ጩኽት ላይ መዝመት አለበት። ተሰላፊው ቡድን እራሱን እስኪያጋልጥና እስኪያጠራ ድረስ ትክክለኛው የሙስሊም ቁጥርና ድምጽ እስኪታወቅ የጋዋር ሙስሊም ኦሮሞ የጭፍጨፋ ቡድን የት እንደተሠማራ ከኢህዴግም ውስጥ ተጣርተው እስኪወጡ የሰላት ቀንና የድምፅ ማሰሚያ ቀን መለየት አለበት። በእርግጥ የኦሮሞ እስላም በሜንጫ አክሱምና ፋሲለደስ ግንብ ላይ መጅሊስ አማረው? አይመስለኝም! አላለሉም! ግን ጠርጠር በለው!
    **ጃዋር ሜንጫ ለሙስሊሙ ማህበረሰብ የውጭ ድጋፍ ሰጪ ታዳሚዎቹ በሰጠው የአሜሪካ የቡልጠቃ ትምህርት (የቡልጠቃ ተንታኝ፣ ምሁር) አይ የድሃ ሐሳብና ወሬ ” ክርስቲያኑን “በሜንጫ” አንገቱን ቀጠፍነው ብሎ የመሠከረ በእርግጥ የሰው ልጅ ከእነነፍሱ ገደል የጨመረው ‘ኦነግ’ ነው ለሚለው አሳማኝ ምላሽ ሰጥቷል። ሀረርን ጅጅጋን በደኖን ጠይቁ! አሁንም ሄዳችሁ ጎብኙ! ብዙ የኦሮሞ ተወላጆች ኦርቶዶክስ በመሆናቸው ቤተክርስቲያናቸው (አላህዋክበር!) እየተባለ እተፎከረ በፖሊስ ፊት ሲቃጠል አይተናል፣ ታዝበናል፣ አዝነናል፣ ተቆጭተናል፣የሚናገሩት በኦሮምና ነበር። ኢህዴግና የጃዋር የሜንጫ ዓላማ አንድ ነው አሁን ምንጩን አውቀነዋል።ስብሃት ነጋ አማራና ኦርቶዶክስን ማጥፋት ብለው የለምን!? “የማንም ፖለቲካ አባል አደለሁም ከወያኔም ጋር ቢሆን እሰራለሁ እያለ ለአባ መላ (ብርሃኑ ዳምጤ) የሚቀሳፍተው ጃዋር ሜንጫ ኦሮሞን ጀወረው ብንል አልተሳሳትንም!ኢሳትም ዕውቅና ሰጥቶ እየጋበዘ ሊያሰድበን አይገባም!ኅብረት፣አንድነት፣ መቻቻል፣እየተባለም መቀባጠር ለትውልድ አይጠቅምም!የውጭ ሀገር ድንፋታና ስብሰባ ለድሃ ልጅ ደብተር አይሆንም!እየተሰበሰቡም መደንፋት”ወሬ የድህነት ወታቦ ነው” በለው!
    **በዚህ የድንፋታ ቪዲዮና በተመሳሳይ የቃለ መጠይቅ ማረጋገጫ (ጋላ፡ ጨካኝ፣ አረመኔ፣ሰው በላ፣ወራሪ ጦረኛ ) ቢባል ለምን ያፍራል? ይበሳጫል? ይንጫጫል? የራሱ ልጆች መስክረውበታል፣አጋልጠውታል።
    ግን የትኛው ጋላ/ኦሮሞ? ንጋትና ጥራት እያደር ነው። ጃዋር ኦሮሞ በራሱ ቋንቋ ለመናገር፣ ለመጻፍ ለማንበብ በኢህዴግ ዘመን ችሏል፣ ሥልጣን ይዟል፣ መሬት አግኝቷል ይልና…ነፃ መውጣት አለበት ይላል፤ ታዲያ ቋንቋ የፈጠረለትን ፤ሲገድል፣ ሲዘርፍ፣ የኖረበትን መሬት ሁሉ ክልልህ ነው ብሎ በባንዲራ መብት ያጎናጸፈውን ወያኔ ጥሎ የት ሊደርስ ነው? ጎንደርና አክሱም ላይ መጅሊስ ካልሠራ አማራ ተጨፍጭፎ አላለቀም ብሎ ይፈራል? ኢህዴግ ከመፍረሱ በፊት ክርሰቲያኑን በሜንጫ ሊያጨፋጭፈው ነውን?ለመሆኑ የጠቀሳቸው የሌላው ብሔር ዱላ(ሽመል)ከሜንጫ እኩል ናቸው ማለቱ ነው?የሠፈሩ ድሃ ሕዝብ የአልቅት ውሃ ይጠጣል!ለቂጡ ጨርቅ የለውም! ለሆዱ እርሃብ ማስታገሻ ቂጣ የለውም ጃዋር ሜንጫ ተሸክሞ፤ አሜሪካ ጤፍ እንጀራ በክትፎ ይውጣል፣ጫት እየጋጠ ኮካኮላ እየመጠጠ፣ ህዝብ እንዲተላለቅ ዩኒቨርስቲ ገብቶ ይማራል? ይልቁንም ገዳ፣ ቢዳ፣ ፊዳ፣ቁቤ፣ እያለ ከሚቀባዥር የአቶ መለስንና የሟች የትግራይ ልጆችን ሀውልቶችን እየሰገደ በፋውንዴሽኑ ሥር አፈንድዶ መኖር አይሻለውም? ‘ሚኒሶታ’’ሚኒያፖሊስ’ዲሲ አሪዞና የኦሮሞ ክልል ይሆናል ብሎ ከተሸጎጠ ተሳስቷል፡ታዳሚውን እንደሌሎች ሀገሮች አገርህ ግባና ፈንጂ ጣል ያለውም ወደፊት በሕግ ይጠናል። ሜንጫ የተሸከመ ሁሉ ምሁርና ሀገር ወዳድ ሳይሆን… እራስ ወዳድ፣ አድርባይ፣ ሆድአደር፣ በቀቀን፤ የሰው ጠር ብቻ ነው በለው! ።
    **ይች ንግግር ብዙ ትርጓሜ አላት በጭረሽ ጊዜ መስጠት አያስፈልግም የሀገሪቱ የውስጥ ጠ/ሚኒስትርና የደህንነትና የኮምኒኬሽን ሃላፊው አቶ ደበረጺዮን ገብረሚካዔል ሙሉ የሀገርና የህዝብ ኅላፊነት ሥራቸውን መወጣት አለባቸው። ሀገሪቱ ባላት በጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር ማዕረግ (፩) የከንባታ (፩) የኦሮሞና (፩) የኤርትራ አማራ የኅብረት(የደቦ) አመራር በ(፩) ባለ ሙሉ መሳይ ም/ጠሚኒስትር ( ፪)የምክትል ጠ/ሚ ተመሳሳይ ማዕረግ የምትመራ ሀገር መላ ቅድሷ ጠፍቷል። ግን በቅርቡ ያቀረቧቸውን ባለሥልጣናት አጥብቀው እንዲፈትሹ እናሳስባለን!!። የዚህ የጃዋር ሜንጫ ድንፋታ ስብሰባ ተካፋዮችም፣ አዘጋጆችም፣አድናቂዎችም፣ ያጨበጨባችሁም፣ አጨብጫቢዎች ሁሉ ነገሩ ገብቷችኋልን? ከእንግዲህ ተጨቆንን ተመዘበርን፣ታሠርን፣ተገረፍን፣ፍትህ፣ ነፃነት፣ ድምፃችን ይሰማ የሚለው ጩኽት ፌዜራሊዝም ነው።
    *የኦሮሞ ሕዝብ፴፬.፬ ከተባለ ይህ የሚጮኸው ህዝብ ፴፪ ከመቶ የኦሮሞ ሙስሊም ነው ወይንስ ፪.፬ ጉራጌና የወሎ የአደሬ ሙስሊም ነው?ወይንስ ፹ከመቶ ኦሮሞ ሙስሊም ነው? ታዲያ ግንድ- ከቅርንጫፍ, ቅርንጫፍ- ከቅጠል ነው የሚገነጠለው?ወዴት? ለምን? ጉድ በል ሰላሌ ኢትዮጵያዊ አደለህም ተባልክ!!
    ***ይህንኑ ጉዳይ በማራገብ ዜና ለመሥራት የምትሯሯጡ ኢህአዴግ ተቃዋሚ መሳዮች ሁሉ ራሳችሁን የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ ጥያቄ ከሌላው የሥልጣንና የፀረሕዝብ የግል ጥቅም ጥያቄ ለዩ!!። የተቃውሞ ሠልፉ የሙስሊሙ ኅብረተሰብ ነው ሲባል ኢትዮጵያዊነት በግድ የተጫነባቸው ኦሮሚያ ፈረስት ናቸው? ወይንስ ንፁሐን የኢትዮጵያ ፍትህን መልካም አስተዳደር የሚሹ የኢትዮጵያ ልጆች? እንግዲህ ልባችንንም ሥራችንንም አሰላለፋችንንም እናጥራ በለው!መወጣጫ አድርገው የከፋውን ዘመን ለማምጣት ያቆበቀቡትን አጋልጡ!፣ህዝብ የማወቅ መብት አለው።ለመሆኑ አባ መላ የምን ኦሮሞ ነው የተገንጣይ እስላም ኦሮሞ(ኢትዮጵያዊነት በግድ የተጫነበት) ወይስ ኢትዮጵያዊ ክርስቲያን ኦሮሞ? እያንዳንዱና ሁሉም እራሱን ይፈትሽ!”ከኑግ ተገኘ ሠሊጥ ሆኖ ቅጥረኛ ሆኖ ሲያጭበረብር ሲያምታታ ቢታሥር ቢገረፍ እዳው የራሱ ነው።
    ሀቁ ግን “ለብቻ(ተገንጥሎ) መኖር የኦሮሞ ህዝብ ጥያቄ ቢሆን ኖሮ እንደ ኦሮሞ ህዝብ ጀግንነት እና ብዛት፤ ጮክ ብዬ እደግመዋለሁ እንደ ኦሮሞ ህዝብ ጀግነነት እና ብዛት፤ አርባ አመት ፈጅቶ አይኮላሽም ነበር፡፡” አበበ ቶላ ፈይሳ(አቤ ቶክቻው) ልብ ያለው ልብ ያድርግ ! ኦሮሞና እሰላማዊ ኦሮሚያ ከመገንጠል እሰከ ሀይማኖታዊ ሽብር አጣብቂኝ ውስጥ ነው። ለሁሉም ሠላም ይሁን በቸር ይግጠመን በለው!

  4. Ahadu

    July 25, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    Mamo you are not even better than an animal let alone to criticise Ethiopian hero who killed your zinjero with his powerful voice as your master was only astreet smart who was hiding himself in Azebs kitchen all the way from dedebit listening to illitrates like yourself ,it will be wise for your likes to stay away from Ethiopian politics and defend your dedebit capacity which can be more helpful for your caliber.