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Today the topic is tribalism.
It is not news to anyone that Ethiopia is being torn apart by ‘tribalism’…
250,000 years or so later people are still seduced by the idea that one group is “undeserving” and “evil” while our own group is “correct” and “good.” Not since the Zemene Mesafint (Era of the Princes) has Ethiopia been as polarized as it is today, where people seek comfort and security within their ethnic groupings – Amhara, Tigray, Oromo, whatever.
I always wondered if Oromo groups that seek to reinstall an Oromia state they can fully control can be labeled ‘tribal’; these groups definitely aspire to a form of dominion that would undo the current national order. Journalists and opinion makers, however, describe them out to represent a backward, irrelevant form of existence, while THEY seem to hold down the citadel of reason and progress. And yet, since the early twentieth century, those accused of Oromo tribalism have often been guilty only of trying to remain themselves, of resisting the encroaches of more powerful empires and ideologies, of preserving in beings.
What is dreadful is the type of tribalism that is narrow-minded, hopelessly obsolete, and serving the interests of a clique. What I would call the “Jawarists” discourse of ‘tribalism’: chauvinistic and mainly based on belligerence. The type of tribalism that brought us the Biafra war, the Rwanda genocide, the Burundi genocide of 1972 and 1988, many other civil wars, the endless tribal fighting in the Congo, the senseless xenophobic killings in South Africa, and of late the meaningless slaughters of innocents in various parts of our country. We should fight and reject such kind of tribalism!
The tested, centuries-old clans that are woven to form strong tribes can be adopted to build an Ethiopia of many interdependent tribes or nationalities. There is nothing wrong with ‘positive’ tribalism if it goes hand-in -hand with the universal values of constitutionalism, democracy, justice, transparency, equity and respect for each other. Indeed, most people, left on their own, have simple tribal hearts but they are not averse to other communities.
Yes, dear readers, it will take an inspired ruling party and leader, an imaginatively bold step to deal effectively with our ethnic challenges, and even more with our other much serious problems we seem to disregard: global warming, excessive population growth, water shortages, famine, desertification, Aids, poverty, growth of slums, and more.