It has been more than three months since the northern province of Ethiopia was plunged into the depths of hell by the belligerence of desperados known as the TPLF and the predictable reprisal by the Ethiopian National Defense Force. Though I initially supported Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s campaign to bring the TPLF to justice, after I realized that his was a crusade that included collective punishment, I stopped being a proponent of what I considered a legal action and became a fierce critic of Ethiopia’s erstwhile Nobel Peace Prize recipient.
The moment of clarity arrived after the ENDF repatriated Mek’ele in December only for Abiy to continue his total war by turning Tigray into a no-go zone for journalists and humanitarians alike. Within short order, it became evident why Tigray was transformed into North Korea; Abiy was trying to hide the level of horrors that were being unleashed in Shire, Axum, Adigrat and beyond. The internet blackout was meant to stifle developments that are taking place in the war torn region of Ethiopia from reaching the world.
The #Aksum massacre is among a number of recent attacks on #Tigray’s ancient religious sites. Ongoing attacks on cultural heritage in #Ethiopia violate international law and may constitute #WarCrimes. https://t.co/SbdsKMzdoh
— Simon Adams (@SAdamsR2P) February 24, 2021
It has been more than 90 days and Tigray is still in the dark ages as homes and businesses alike are ravaged by blackouts. The things we take for granted are luxuries for Tigrayans; a region that was once the hub of Ethiopia has been turned into an ocean of distress. Children have to sleep at night with bombs exploding in their neighborhoods, parents have to navigate between bullets and missiles in order provide for their children with each day witnesses the wholesale relocation of civilians as they seek safety in refugee camps. Marauding bandits have weaponized rape in order to terrorize families and induce fears upon non-combatants.
Sadly, the strife that is taking place in Tigray is metastasizing throughout Ethiopia. Benishangul-Gumuz, Sidamo and Shashamene are seeing an uptick in violence as the fire that is burning throughout the country side is slowly creeping towards Addis Abeba. We are one catalyzing moment away from a conflagration that could sweep into the nation’s capital and unleash a scale of human suffering that has not been witnessed since the dark ages of the Derg government. Alas, Ethiopia is so fractured along ethnic lines that reconciliation seems all but impossible; passions are so inflamed that the standard operation procedure is for everyone to withdraw into their defensive corners and throw stones at their fellow countrymen.
As we near the anniversary of the Battle of Adwa, Ethiopians should pause and reflect about the way forward. We are not new to this, Ethiopia has undergone countless bouts of tribulation in our three thousand year history. From zemene mesafint when Ethiopia was being ransacked by regional royals to the way Mussolini discharged a chemical holocaust against our forefathers, we have endured one crucible after another only to come back stronger. What is taking place in Tigray and beyond is a cross that our generation must bear; I remain hopeful that we will come out on the other side more united and more empathetic to each others afflictions.
I’ve always said that ethnicity is our first name but Ethiopia is our common last name that solidifies our oneness. None of us are pure; we are all byproducts of intermarriages that gave birth to a nation of blended progenies. In time, we will realize that we are all in this together and our fates are intertwined; either we will all rise as one or we will perish divided. May we return to the spirit of our ancestors who repelled colonizers not because they were superior but because they were undivided. Like the famous Ethiopian saying goes, a thousand spiders can tie up a lion; as long as we are splintered and using the webs to entrap one another, we will keep being feasted upon by lions.
We are not each other’s enemies, we are brothers and sisters who have a common root. Instead of casting rocks at each other, I ask you to reach out to someone who does not share your ethnicity and extend a hand of friendship. Let compassion rule the day so that our children can have a future that is grounded in love and forgiveness instead of bequeathing them a tomorrow full of sorrows. It is up to us to be the change that we seek, let us turn to the teachings of prophets and turn away from the lectures of serpents. I pray for #Ethiopia and all her children, it is time to put humanity above ethnicity and embrace our commonalities of pain instead of vilifying one another:: Click To Tweet
“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” ~ Ferdinand Foch
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