Debru Negash (MD)
The much hyped Amara nationalism is something that is thrust upon the folk which had for long selflessly and painfully resisted its emergence. Its desperate birth follows the ominous existential threat that the Woyane Tigre occupiers and their errands have imposed on Amaras. While the older generation suppressed it due to its possible adverse impact on national unity, the youth who are acutely aware of the three episodes of genocides directed at Amaras over the last 80 years, chose to take the bull by the horn.
Indeed, fascist Italians as well as the Derg’s junta massacred an inordinate number of Amaras because they were perceived to be indomitable foes. However, Woyane Tigres’ official policy to exterminate Amaras, is in a league of its own. The relentless campaign is not without success. Conservative estimates put the figure to six million, on par with Nazi’s Jewish victims and larger than the population of Tigres. It is the scale of the onslaught that spurred the conscience of the young men to take up the cause of the maligned Amaras wholeheartedly.
No wonder that these circumspect, conscientious and informed academics signed a pact to set up an Amara movement in Bahr-Dar, the historic city which hosted their Oromo kinsmen who came to assert that the bond between them and Amaras is unbreakable. The Amara movement assuredly, is like a reliable insurance scheme that will mind the welfare of not only Amaras but all Ethiopians alike. This should surprise no one considering the fact that Amaras have long transcended the primitive & crude tribal worldview that defines Woyane Tigres.
The long latency period of Amara nationalism
Introspection, a sense of justice and honor, resilience, patience, magnanimity and stoicism defines Amaras. The rage that has given rise to the birth of Amara nationalism has been smoldering in the hearts and minds of millions in earnest since the onset of Woyanes sanctioned genocide of Amaras in 1991.
The bloody task was assigned to their proxy- the elite in OLF. The latter accordingly annihilated tens of thousands of unarmed and unsuspecting Amaras in cold blood. The region called by the revolting Bantustan name of Oromia, has seen horrific atrocities against Amaras. The servile riffraff, whom TPLF/Woyanes recruited and armed to the hilt, like the late Jarra, burned unarmed Amaras alive, and destroyed their hamlets before plundering their properties in the name of Oromos. The Lencho Lettas, the Dima Negewos, Ibsa Gutemas, Gelasa Dilbo and their ilk were complicit in the gory atrocities. The Lenchos who were masquerading as defenders of Oromo rights, have a lot to answer for catalogues of crimes including the disbanding of the National Armed forces and the disenfranchising of millions of Oromos and other Ethiopians alike in one way or another.
In a country where revered Oromo greats like Gobena, Habte Giorgis, Balcha, Gebeyehu, Tulu, Jote, Moroda, Aba Jiffar, Mulugeta Buli, Yilma Deresa, Teferi Benti, Jagema, Brhanu Dinqa, Teferi Benti, Yilma , Mengistu Haile Mariam etc once ruled, Woyanes treated the servile Oromo leaders in the OLF, with utter contempt. The Lenchos, whom Woyanes had given a marching order after they no longer needed them, have disgraced the honorable and valorous Oromo people whose bond with Amara is much more than one of blood and flesh alone. It is the combined might & will of the two, that has shaped the destiny of our country for nearly five centuries. The tragedy that befell innocent Oromos in Ogaden and the rest of Harar region, demonstrates how the atrocities meted out on unsuspecting Amaras on the orders of the Lenchos, had tragic repercussions. Elite OLF’s unholy alliance with treasonous TPLF/EPLF, was ostensibly to decimate Amharas and dismantle Ethiopia. The plan backfired when the two pillars of Ethiopia vowed to remain inseparable, perhaps through divine intervention.
Patriotism, after all, has always been the hallmark of Oromos. In the veins of this author, flows abundant patriotic Borena blood. For the uninitiated, it was the dazzling display of gallantry performed by the 5,000 Borena horsemen in Ras Ali’s (Michael) 16,000 contingent at the battle of Adwa, which led the machine-gun-wielding Italian forces into frenzied disarray and retreat. This remarkable valor of Wollos’s horsemen that mesmerized the Italian forces into submission, is a feat of epic proportion. This writer’s great grandfather was one of them. It is an irony of fate that those innocent and unsuspecting peasants whom OLF’s men massacred in Harar region, were the descendants of the unsung Borena heroes of Adwa. The cowardly perpetrators were none other than the manufactured ‘Oromo victims of imagined ‘Amara neftengas’ thanks to Lencho and Tesfai Gebre-ab, OLF’s Eritrean ideologue and mentor.
The horrible plight of Wolqaites and Rayas etc. has stirred the unjustly maligned Amaras to stand as one. It is not to exact revenge as some fear but to reclaim their country and redeem their rightful place in their beloved motherland.
The first call for Amara nationalism saw the light of day, on a December 1991 issue of The Ethiopian Review. The seminal article entitled “A Lesson in History” by Araya D Negash and Afrasa Zamanel, was concluded by the following prophetic paragraph.
“However much we wish to differ, many believe that Amhara liberalism will doom itself to impotence until such time as it acknowledges itself to be Amhara and nationalist. We trust, however, that the indomitable Amhara spirit would stand above the temptation of using national sentiment to punish the traitors and their equally contemptible accomplices by tarring them with the same brush in revenge”.
Haile Larebo’s debunking of a malicious allegation against Amaras
Ethiopia’s left wing students, secessionist and ‘intellectuals’, unworthy of the accolade, namely the EPRP & MIEESON, had no small part for the tragic plight of Amhara since 1960s. They maliciously implicated Amaras for Ethiopia’s predicaments. Both groups were instrumental in shaping the political outlooks of the largely half-baked soldiers. They made Amaras the scapegoat for Ethiopia’s problems. To the junta, this was tantamount to making Amaras an embodiment of repression and evil.
The outstanding and conscientious historian, Prof. Haile Larebo is the first intellectual who authoritatively debunked the maliciously peddled fable that there was an Amara hegemony in Ethiopia. Haile, has correctly pointed out, how the hyphenated Ethiopian left and ethnonationlists alike, imbibed a hostile anti-Amara monograph line, hook and sinker in the 1960 and 1970s.
The document he alluded to, that shaped the contorted minds of many Ethiopians, is entitled”Abyssinia: The powder Barrel’’. The author, Baron Roman Procazka, was none other than the self-proclaimed fascist, who was deported from Ethiopia just before the Italian invasion. His treatise did not conceal his manifest envy & hostility towards everything Amara, perhaps because he was refused to buy land in a country he believed, to have the most salubrious climate in the world.
However, Woyanes Tigres’ morbid hostility emanates from a much deeper sense of inferiority. They are strangely consumed by anger simply for not being Amara. Their alleged national oppression, is a fiction. In fact, Tigrai has been the only semi-autonomous province in the country. Besides, nobody from the rest of Ethiopia has ever set foot on Tigrai except those who went there briefly to defend them.
Truth be told, Woyane Tigres envy every Amara attributes such as the parity between the sexes, nobility of spirit, civility, marveled culinary tradition, music, accommodating culture, rich history and language, universal values, decency, valor, patriotism. To Woyanes, indeed, an Amara is a measure of a man. As if that would make them any less contemptible, the debased traitors and mercenaries have covetously annexed tracts of fertile Amara lands. Arguably, Woyane Tigre is a byword for corruption, scandal, deceit & betrayal.
Considering the absence of any palpable dissent from Tigre elites in or outside the country, the silence is tantamount to complicity.
We have ignored our history at our peril
Pondering upon our past is instructive. Some 500 years ago, Bahr-Negash Yisaq, the Tigre governor of coastal Ethiopia (Eritrea), betrayed his country to join forces with invading Ottoman Turks. A few centuries later, Sehul Michael of Tigrai who was the most notable nobleman in the Gondar palace, had strangled/smothered the boy king of Oromo decent to death. That incident gave birth to the Zemene Mesafnt, which had threatened the very survival of Ethiopia as a nation until Tewedros valiantly reunited it some 80 years later.
Yohanes, perhaps the only Ethiopian king of Tigre decent, did the same thing when the British briefly invaded Ethiopia some 150 years with an army of over 40,000 and massive firepower. In the ensuing battle the great Tewedros chose to but a bullet on his head instead of surrendering to the Europeans whom he despised immensely. Traitor, Yohanes took the crown with the help of the weapons his British masters gave him for his mercenary duty. This man had subsequently decimated Amaras, both Muslims & Christians alike in Wollo, Gojam, and Begemdir. He declared an unholy war on Muslims rendering them landless by decree. To this day, Muslims cannot build a Mosque in Axum. The supposedly pious Emperor Yohanes, who accused King Tekle Haimanot of Gojam of disobedience, gauged his eyes with red hot knife before he killed him. No wonder that the Woyanes torture their victims in the same mould. The forebears of Woyanes have consistently betrayed Ethiopia every time our country has been invaded. The joint Woyane/ Sudanese attack on Amara peasants of Gondar recently, is an eerie reminder of our painful past.
Amaras had been the guardian angels of Tigres throughout history. It was Amaras who had always come to their rescue first whenever adversity struck them. But ingrate Woyane Tigres, without a shame culture, ruthlessly stabbed unsuspecting Amaras at the back.
Lessons from the Jewish holocaust
However, nothing can redeem them of their deep-seated inferiority and sense of inadequacy, largely born from their hauntingly vile past. Whether Meles and his kinsmen take a perverse delight for having surpassed the Nazis in body count of six million, Woyanes beastly nature is manifested throughout occupied Ethiopia from Ogaden to Wollo, from Gambella to Wolega.
Amaras should take lessons from the mighty Jews, who consider avenging their holocaust losses as an unfinished business. They pursue it vigorously to ensure that their tragic past is never repeated.
Science attests Amaras’ undisputed primacy
Amaras have realized that the country that their ancestors built, has denied them their rightful place despite being the most ancient people in the region. Their habitation of Ethiopian highlands for over 50,000 years, has been incontrovertibly proven.
For the record, Amaras and Tibetans are the only highlanders on earth that have the unique genetic blueprint in their blood, a genetic marker which requires at least 50,000 years of highland habitation to evolve. This unique trait puts those endowed with it at an advantage, since it allows them to extract the requisite oxygen from the rarefied (thin) highland air effortlessly.
It has also been confirmed that neither Oromos of the Balle Mountains, nor the inhabitants of the Andes Mountain (South America) who have both lived on terrains above 4000 meters, have this trait in their blood. They lack the genetic blueprint in question because Oromos and the South Americans have lived on such altitudes for no more than 500 and 17,000 years respectively.
The travesty of justice witnessed in the form of the violent expulsion of Amaras, Kulo Kontas, Gedos and Anuaks from their ancestral lands by other Ethiopians including Woyane Tigres who are not as deeply rooted in those areas, is the outcome of Woyane’ divisive constitution that was crafted primarily to disenfranchise Amaras and dismantle Ethiopia.
The catalogue of Woyane Tigres’ atrocities to destroy Ethiopia
For over quarter of a century, Woyane Tigres have wreaked havoc in a country they had always referred to as ‘enemy state’. Their attempt to exterminate Amaras, still stands at the top of their agenda. Beyond the sanctioned genocides involving mainly Amaras as well as Oromos, Somalis, and Anwaks, Woyanes, they have done much more besides.
They have committed multiple counts of high treason. They have ceded territories to Eritrea (Assab) and Sudan. They have annexed Afar, Begemdr, Wollo, & Benshangul, rendered the country defenseless by dismantling its phenomenally trained and experienced national army which it supplanted with semi-literate Tigre occupation forces, hostile to Ethiopians. They have destroyed the nation’s institutional memory by summarily dismissing the top academics in the country and Ethiopian Airlines’ top brass. They have stripped every movable state installation including power generators from many cities and ferried it to Tigrai. They have sold our inviolable right, our intellectual property by entering into an outrageous deal with a Dutch company to patent teff. The super grain is being sold at exorbitant price the world over, without benefitting our country. Woyanes maliciously evicted Gurages from Merakato, the largest marketplace in the capital that has always been synonymous with Gurages. Tigres own the place now.
It was on their arrival, that they dismantled Ethiopia-Djibouti railway line which was the nations’ trade lifeline for close to a century, literally killing also the vibrant trade in the towns between the two countries. They relocated the air force base to Tigrai. They cleared the country’s remaining virgin forests decimating the animals in them, appropriated ancestral lands to sell it to foreign interests or given it to ethnic Tigres after expelling the natives. They destroyed over 90 % of the capital’s designated parks and turned Addis into a lifeless, filthy, concrete ghetto. They have sacrificed over 70,000 innocent young men, all conscripted from outside Tigrai in the needless war with Eritrea. They have dismantled the Malaria Eradication service in Amara region as a result of which some 67,000 citizens perished in two consecutive epidemics. They have disenfranchised 95% of Ethiopians in employment, education and career advancement opportunities and driven millions into exile. Hundreds of thousands of Tigres have been settled on annexed Wolqait, Humera as colonialists. They concocted animosities between the various Amara sub-groups such as Argobas, Agaw-Amaras, Qimant -Amaras and mainstream Amaras with sinister intention.
Worse still, they have degraded the nation in every department. The country’s worst poverty in living memory, is matched by the horrendous blight in the national character. Corruption, deceit, vulgarity, immorality, lawlessness which is a second nature to Woyanes, now reign supreme in occupied Ethiopia..
From demolishing residences of over a million people in the capital to stocking inter-communal conflict that have caused colossal deaths and destruction across the nation. They have indebted the nation by externalizing billions of dollars. They have desecrated the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and its holy places and appropriated its treasures. They have murdered and incarcerated blameless religious leaders in Anwar Mosque, Dessie, Waldiba and Zuqala among others. Without any qualm of conscience they tortured and murdered the elderly and legendary surgeon, Asrat Woldeyes because he abhorred their wanton destruction of Ethiopia.
This scribe, alone has mourned 28 slain relatives including his father which he commemorated on Ethiomedia (17 May 2012) through a funeral dirge. His relatives were savaged in cold blood on a dead of a night in August 1991. The crime scenes were two adjacent hamlets in a place called Debesso, Harar province. There have been several grisly massacres in the region since, which pale the barbaric onslaught on unarmed Amaras in Arbagugu, Bedeno, Asebot Monastery and elsehwre. Tigre Woyanes’ destructive mission reached a tipping point after the Iretcha, massacre and the ensuing bloodbath in Ginchi, Ambo Gondar and Bahr Dar. Those heroic challenges and Demeqe Zewdu’s pre-emptive action on Woyane assassins in Gondar, have all galvanized the youth uprising against the wretched traitors.
Justice, not revenge
Amaras, Oromos, Somalis, Anuaks, Sidamas, Wolaitas and the rest of Ethiopians must vehemently reject any notion of affording amnesty to the terrorists that have battered our country. The Nazi-like authors of gruesome genocide and destruction of the entire fabric of our society must face justice. As the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal’ argued convincingly, the ‘living’, have no right or authority to pardon perpetrators of genocides on behalf of the dead. Premier Abiy should take notice! The attempt on his life is an object lesson that the career criminals will stop at nothing. If the contemptible Woyanes and their hired guns could be so bold to sabotage the change, patriotic Ethiopians should do no less to silence them. Arraigning the dangerous Woyanes, is as essential as revoking their flagrantly destructive constitution. Putting these in place will mark the beginning of our journey in pursuit of a just and democratic Ethiopia. Whether, the people of Tigrai choose to reject Woyanes or join it to be Ethiopia’s new neighbors in their Tigrai Republic, time will tell.
At any rate, the structures upon which Amara Salvation Front has been founded in Bahr-Dar is solid enough to weather any storm. Martial Amaras, have for generations fought to protect the sanctity of their country and the freedom of all Ethiopians, using their own arms and of their own free will. Did this endear Amaras? No. To the contrary. The descendants of these gallant men will go to any length to defend the rights of Amaras wherever they are. United, no force can break Amaras. And the agonizing Amara youth should not care less to mind their own affair in a secure, ‘smaller Ethiopia’ if the noble idea of Greater Ethiopian project is no longer tenable. Belay Zeleqe, is an unparalleled guerilla fighter in modern history. Yet, his children like those of hundreds of thousands of patriotic Amaras who died in the battlefield, live in abject poverty. Selfless Amaras ended up being persecuted for no other reason than their love for everything Ethiopian and by none other than the descendants of incorrigible traitors. Therefore, the onus of supporting this entity must rest on the shoulders of Amaras and other well-meaning children of our mosaic motherland.
Debru Negash is a physician-pilot and a student of history.