Last Friday, my wife Bethlehem and I decided to go out on a date night to our favorite Ethiopian restaurant called Makeda in Alexandria, Virginia. Though the atmosphere was far from normal—the restaurant was only half-full and the attendees were subdued compared to the brimming and festive nights that were a given on any weekend evening—we nonetheless had a wonderful time being among our fellow Ethiopians. Where eskista and blaring music was missing, we bathed in the warmth of soft melodies as we ate Makeda’s bomb piquant kitfo.
All the sudden, the mood in the room shifted drastically as a family of four walked in wearing a mask that featured the Tigray emblem. Instantly, half of the guests started shaking their heads in a mix of shock and loathing; my wife and I looked at each other with dejection as the conflict in our birthland shattered our joyous disposition. Far from the unity our forefathers depended on to repel would be colonizers at Adwa and during World War II, we are now a society that is unraveling at the seams.
— Rastislav Kačmár (@rastizlav) March 31, 2021
Ethiopia, a country that withstood nearly three thousand years of continuous aggressions from Europeans and Arabs, is in the process of disintegrating. We were able to defeat foreign invaders and kept our independence while the rest of “Africa” was being decimated by imperialists, but this time around the enemy is Ethiopia’s own children as we fight over ethnicity while we ignore nationality and our common humanity. The horrors that visited Rwanda is seeping into Ethiopia; instead of a million dying in a flash, bodies are pilling up in Mek’ele, Benishangul-Gumuz, Addis Abeba and beyond on a daily basis as a slow-rolling genocide is coming into focus.
The conflict that is raging in Ethiopia has permeated into the psyches of the “diaspora” as people are forced to pick sides, disavow their own family trees and wage hot wars on social media and cold combats in person. Instead of protesting against injustice and demanding accountability without bias to ethnicity, Ethiopians are lining up to shout each other down—indifference and hatred has become the new gurshas we feed each other. Gone are three kisses and hugs to greet one another, we now fist bump those who belong in our tribe while knuckling up against those who belong to different clans.
— Azanaw (@Azzanaw) March 31, 2021
My wife and I are of blended families; I can trace Amhara, Tigray and Oromo blood in my lineage and my wife likewise has at least two ethnicities in her genealogy. We are not outliers, the vast majority of Ethiopians are just like us; we are a nation of mixed marriages that gave birth to homogenized children. Tragically, this war—thanks to the arrogance of Abiy Ahmed, the mendacity of Isaias Afwerki and the chauvinism of the TPLF—is shredding our common identity and tearing apart families. The most dangerous virus facing Ethiopia is not Covid-19 but prejudice born of ethnic malice.
Like birds fighting each other in mid-flight, Ethiopians are engaging in perverse combat as we descend quickly toward a crash that will pulverize a country most of us cherish dearly. Love and hate are flip sides of the same coin, our common-cent has flipped and we are now enveloped in unbending animosity. Instead of turning to our faith and praying for redemption, we have embraced pride and ego as we wish ill to our fellow countrymen and desire vengeance above reconciliation. When the smoke clears and the last bullet has been fired, there will be no victor only victims who will pass to their children a country that is no more.
We have fallen for the identity politics that decimated the rest of Africa and is currently ravaging America. Instead of leading with compassion, we have chosen disdain. We gnash our teeth over the continued oppression of people who belong in our tribe only to roll our eyes with callous disregard for fathers, mothers and children who are dying by the droves because they don’t share our ethnic brands. We are racing to self-nullification as we abort our history and suffocate our future for the sake of a present conflict that is claiming victims without bias to identity. Martin Luther King once said that darkness cannot drive out darkness, #Ethiopia|ns are ignoring MLK's wisdom and instead embracing anger as we plunge our minds into the Abyss-inia:: #EthiopiaGenocide Click To Tweet
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” ~ Proverbs 14:29
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