By Ebissa Ragassa
“In most progressive society social changes have always preceded governmental changes”
This is a very sensitive time in Ethiopian history, at times when we are fighting for equality in all of its forms, spreading multiculturalism, attempting to correct the past selective promotions of identity, language, history by various means. The root cause of Ethiopia’s problem is that we the people have part-taken in the selective promotions of narrow narrative of Ethiopia.
Ethiopians face a bigger societal dysfunctions than the immediate problem of TPLF regime, in which the people of Ethiopia have neglected their social responsibilities for quick remedy. These social problems are much more bigger than the TPLF regime, in fact the strength of TPLF largely lies in our inability to form a social cohesion from which a strong civic society emerges from. In most progressive society social changes have always preceded governmental changes, not the other way around. TPLF is a by product of our social dysfunctions, its our collective social thinking that gives birth to these dictatorial regimes. Event if the people of Ethiopia succeed in removing TPLF from power, which is a difficult task without social changes, what may follow surly is another blood thirsty dictator. In fact we the people have allowed the dictators to rain, do as they will because we have given them our silent consent by continuing with their single narrative of Ethiopia concept that these past kings, and dictators have set as model.
As it is the Ethiopian brand, created by our silent consent is fertile ground for dictatorship instead of democracy, unless we create transcendental social structure in which every being in Ethiopia feels at home. What has emerged as brand of Ethiopia, despite different people constituting the land of Ethiopia with multitude of language, history, literature only a single version of Ethiopia emerged for which we are quite comfortable with. This single brand of Ethiopia is perpetuated not to increase social bond, or to eradicate poverty, build unity among different Ethiopian people, but to make it easy for dictators to control people of Ethiopia by attempting to centralize every aspect of their lives. This single narrative have actually hindered the natural course of Ethiopia evaluations into national state. These systematic centralization is what allowed Haileselase to easily come to grap power, than Mengistu and the TPLF regime now. One can also imagine how it was easy for TPLF to take power rule because centralization was an acceptable model in the our psyche. As long as this centralization mentality exist among Ethiopian people, we will continue to breed more dictators.
The challenge of Ethiopia today than is not a dictatorial regime vs its people but rather the people of Ethiopia vs their social construct. If these social balances are tipped out of equilibrium , the dictators will continues to rule we have denied ourselves democracy, if however the social equivalency is practiced, in every sphere of our social interactions a progressive Ethiopia is on horizon. The very definition of democracy does not end with man one vote, but it’s the attainment of social equilibrium. What Ethiopian people want is equality and justice not sameness which the single narrative ideology attempts do. This is what has not been clarified thus far, we want equality, but not sameness. These two are not equivalent, if we attempt to make everybody the same when we are not, we make futile mistake. A person may be equal to another person, should be treated equally, fairly, but no man is the same to another person, leave alone different nation and nationalities of Ethiopia. Our struggle is about equality for every living soul to protect his/hers individuality and group uniqueness. Equality is nothing more than an idea, a technique to protect a person’s uniqueness, hence Ethiopia’s root problem is the march to make everybody the same thru assimilation, before even meeting basic societal needs.
For so long, we have blamed the government for every problem of Ethiopia faced, yet we have failed to take social responsibility in ensuring that we appreciate and respect our uniqueness on every social level. Ethiopia is in disarray because we have attempted to push a single narrative, selected one aspect of Ethiopian history mainly of the northern origin as the whole history of Ethiopian people, while failing to include other nation and nationalities history, art, and literature. TPLF did not bring about the division we complaine of today, nor does it have the power to this extant, it just took advantage of our social trends and mangefed them. The an unfair distribution of political offices, only a single group deciding the fate of Ethiopia at one time or another have been occurring in Ethiopia for as long as we remember, TPLF just declared in public. The people have continued these selective promotion of exclusive history even in place where its out of the regime’s reach, in our private, social affairs. We may blame these failed policies of past and present on these regimens, however the social sphere is the peoples domain, it is out of the government’s control, and so the people of Ethiopia must get busy building, fair and welcoming, integrated social structure if Ethiopia is to survive as a state. Its not only Ethiopian state that is in jeopardy, but we ourselves as been evident from the reason trends of selling our lands to foreign cooperation at the expanse of our people. This is a warning of much worse events to come to the people of Ethiopia as natural resources becomes scares globally. The crime of Mengistu, Menelik, have come and gone, what remained are the residue of their venom that lives on in our social psyche. We chant death to these dictators all day long we have not even make a dent, they have divided us, yet we still promote their single narrative agenda that they have set for their own ease to prolong their stay in power. All Ethiopian rulers since her inception have set forth an assimilation policy knowing that Ethiopia is home to diverse nation and nationalities. We, the people have assumed assimilation as to mean path to equality, but we have destroyed our uniqueness independent of these dictators. The people’s counter should be now to not continue to practice the assimilation agenda, but push for integration which protects our uniqueness. The rulers are clever by day the preach integration, by night the practice assimilation, hence their continued demise. I ask you what power does TPLF has to stop us from protecting and appreciating our uniqueness? NO government on earth has the power to change people social construct without their initial consent.
These are the assimilation agenda of Ethiopian state, whether these policies were systematically designed or not should not be a source of an argument, however these policies has led to social divergence from each other in different directions, because we the people have have given our silent consent to selective promotions of history, created a preference for one language, over another, promoted state run national holidays, and exposed our self to limited version of literature. These social divergence are much problematic than even the current dictatorship, if not dealt with, could lead to a catastrophic event. These rulers of Ethiopia have installed in our psyche that assimilation is necessary for Ethiopia to continue to exist, hence one language, one people, one culture slogan has been ingrained in our social psyche. On the surface it is a wonderful slogan, however when this assimilation process come at cost of our uniqueness, and enforced through coercion the very fabric of social structure breaks down as it is self evident today. Who has benefited from this assimilation policies? Only the regimes because we are still the poorest nation, greater than 80% illiteracy rate, the most primitive healthcare system. We should not expect any form of government to interfere on our behalf to correct these social orders, it is not the nature of of government to do so. Government by nature thrive on social discord, chaos not in social harmony.
The vital source of a person’s energy comes from his history, his language, his heritage, from within his social constitutions. It is from within the social construct that a person finds a fuel for creative thought and determination that brings about change. It is for these reasons that the assimilation process has been met with greater opposition by the larger Ethiopian population. Once a person is disconnected from these vital sources, his social womb, we have citizen that remains confused, lacks purpose and that subjugates himself to bad leaders and poverty unnecessarily.
How than do we expect people to be Ethiopians, when we practice social division, irrespective of these regimes? It is irrational for us to expect that all people should support and care for the national unity of Ethiopia, when he’s not socially welcomed, when the very idea of Ethiopia robs him of his uniqueness. The very brand of Ethiopia as it is denies him of his uniqueness unless he accepts the assimilation program set forth by past ruthless rulers. We can only break these assimilation program which have become the major hindrance to progress through social consciousness. The initial step would be than to make a conscious effort to include all people’s cultural, language, history, art, literature of all people as much as possible until the day Ethiopian people choose their leader, their national language, remake Ethiopia through the ballot box.
For instance the initial step toward greater social awareness would be to ensure any institution that bears the name of Ethiopia and seeks to represent Ethiopians be inclusive. A prime example is the opposition media ESAT. ESAT could take the initial step incorporating at least one Oromo language news hours for they are the majority and not assume all people speak Amharic and not contribute to the assimilation process. When and where there are Ethiopian national holiday every effort must be taken to celebrate and invite all ethnic group’s representative to spread awareness. What I am suggesting not the political correctness that we have been practicing thus far or an appeasement approach to placate one another, but a genuine interest, because the whole is greater than the sum parts. Our restaurants can take a leading role by increasingly, providing their music selections by including greater varieties. Once a stronger, conscious social bond are formed that protects our uniqueness, and spreads equally, dictatorial regimes are symptom that will soon dissipate as our social consciousness grows Ethiopia will appear on global stage..