A friend inboxed me recently and noted that I seem to be speaking to two sets of people. This was a keen observation; it is my hope that my writing is universal in nature, I can’t deny that I am trying to reach my fellow Americans and my people back home in Ethiopia. For a long time, I used to bemoan the fact that I felt a pervasive sense of unbelonging even as I fit in seamlessly everywhere I traveled. Growing up in America as a first generation immigrant, I felt at home everywhere and nowhere concurrently. What I once saw as a curse I now realize is a blessing for I am able to speak on historical injustices and generational wounds guided more by reason that I am by emotion.
Thus, my hope always is to reach various audiences by presenting issues from a different perspective so that readers can assess facts without being encumbered by the pains that come with proximity. When I write about the struggles of Ethiopians and how a few are taking most while most live mired in abject indigence, it is my hopes that my fellow Americans not only understand the suffering of my people back home but also connect our struggles here in America to the injuries people feel in distant corners of the world. Likewise, when I write about economic inequalities in Chicago and Boise and how the pains of “black” and “white” folk in America are interconnected, it is my prayer that my fellow Ethiopians see the folly of placing fidelity to tribe instead of having fealty to the people as a whole.
I am writing this article as I listen to three Ethiopian songs in particular that have captured my attention for the past couple of days. It dawned on that these three songs speak to the struggles of humanity, our quest to fight against iniquities and our earnest desires to stand up for justice. This is the common melody of mankind; the masses are always being repressed by the few. The indignation that we feel deep in our hearts when we protest or get outraged by politics is because we feel the anxieties that come with trying to provide for our loved ones and keep shelter over our heads. Too often, we let our differences divert our attention from the fact that we are all in this together. The struggles of one is the strife of many–the only way to find justice is if we fight for all.
The songs I’m referring to are Ho Beye Metahugn, Seken, and Fiker Yizonal. Sang by Abinet Agonifer, Yehunei Belay and Abonesh Adinew in respective order (see video below), these three songs perfectly encapsulate how to fight oppression and deliver justice. The first song, Ho Beye Metahugn–which is a rally song against tyranny–is an anthem for all oppressed people who know what it feels like to be marginalized in their own lands. In the second song Seken, Yehunei pleads to those in power to have mercy on those who suffer and to extend compassion instead of pulling triggers against those who demand justice. The last song is the most powerful; Abonesh sings about love without regard to tribe or borders in Fiker Yizonal.
You don’t have to speak Amharic to understand the profound messages behind these songs. Abinet, Yehunei and Abonesh encapsulated perfectly how we should take on a system of global oppression that is transferring the means of billions to feed the opulence of a few. If we the people united to take on the powerful, if those who work for the powerful refuse to deny their fellow brothers and sisters their dignity for the sake of paychecks and if we let universal love rule the day, we would have the revolution we have all been waiting for. This revolution is possible and it can happen without a single bullet being fired, if we only understood the power of unity and realized the profound impact of love for all without regard to ideologies and identities.
The picture above is so fitting in this way. The people you see behind the words “all nations” are protesters who rallied to the Dakota lands to stand against the pillaging of native territories for the sake of enriching petro-thugs. As we ignore the injustices being committed against Native Americans, soon enough those injustices will come for us. This is not theory I’m waxing, tyranny is unleashed in small chunks until it takes a bit out of all. From Dakota nation to Flint, how long before these same excesses poison all of us? The same way a child in Ethiopia cries when she sleeps with an empty belly will be the way children in Raleigh and Dublin will suffer [read Prophecy of a Gathering Storm].
Before we get to this point, let us listen to each other and defend our common interests. The same way you are able to listen to the melodies of the music video below even if you don’t understand the words, I am beseeching you to stop and listen to the music of oppressed people throughout the world. Please stop putting adjectives in front of injustices and stop trying to monopolize pains. Unite and let the love that is within all us rule the day. My native land Ethiopia is being torn apart by tribalism as the government in power has unleashed neo-Apartheid in ways that is shattering the nation asunder. An empire that survived for three thousand years and a people who never bowed before colonization are now being colonized by the festering germ of ethnic exceptionalism. This I know to be true; the minute you take on those who perpetuate sectarianism with sectionalism, you end up being the very thing that you pretend to be against.
The same way I write to Ethiopians and speak against blaming the masses for the sins of a few is the way I ask people in America and throughout the world to stop blaming many for the injustices committed by a fraction of that group. Stop using narrow-minded rhetoric; saying “white privilege” and blaming “white people” for the excesses of our corrosive government and the greed of Wall Street is no different than when some Ethiopians blame all Tigray people for the vices of the TPLF government. If we don’t like being lumped in as a people and being defined by stereotypes, what makes us think it is right to do the same in reverse? Resorting to “us versus them” language is doing nothing more than turning potential allies and fellow sufferers into adversaries. Stop acting like crabs in a barrel and unite to take on the root of injustice.
Let the music of freedom be universal and let the melodies of love free all. The only way we will ameliorate injustice in this world and alleviate the suffering of the impoverished and our own is if we stop fighting each other and unite as one people. Stop shooting sideways and aim up for the source of oppression is not coming from your neighbor but from those who lord over us all. I am not advocating violence here, revolutions of the gun are bankrupt. The only revolution that will work is one of the heart, the minute we let love rule the day, the powerful will bend before us. In Ethiopia, we have a saying that is succinct yet profound. Fiker yashenifal; love wins. Let love win. #FikerYashenifal
“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.” ~ Malcolm X
If you appreciated the message behind this article and you too believe in universal justice and you know in your heart that love will win in the end, share this everywhere on social media. The powerful have been colonizing us for centuries with their lies, let us colonize them in return for once using truth and love as the weapon to counter their lies. share this article on social media using #FikerYashenifal.
Check out this bran new Ghion Cast below, even if you don’t understand the words, listen to the melody and watch the visuals and I promise you will understand this universal language of love.
Check out this Ghion Cast below where I talk about unity and love and how those two weapons are the only way we can defeat global oppression.
Let me end it with this, check out this Ghion Cast below and if you listen with an open heart, you will see how the powerful have been able to divide and conquer us for centuries. Let us free ourselves from mental slavery, all else will fall into place.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
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