The Morality of Abyssinian Politics

For Abyssinian politicians or political parties, both unity and democracy lose their true senses. For the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), to be set out to liberate Tigray from Ethiopia and then turning around to form the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and to preach about the democratization of Ethiopia with the TPLF at its core is a moral pride. As it has been said before, for the TPLF, its practice of 'Tigray is mine and the rest of Ethiopia is ours' is not something to be ashamed of nor is it something to be judged in the books of history.

Over a year ago, the United Ethiopia Democratic Front (UEDF), a coalition of 15 political organizations some of which have contradicting political goals, was formed. The formation itself, not how it would achieve what it planned to achieve, was celebrated even by those careful politicians. As Voice Finfinne predicted in one of its previous columns, the hide and seek game in that unhealthy mix of political organizations seems to have played itself out. The war of words between some of its member political organizations was heard in public even before the first anniversary of the formation of this coalition. Some have already quit it and are already on a different course.

Recently, a new political organization called Ethiopian Rainbow Movement for Democracy and Justice (ERMDJ) has been formed. The driving force in the formation of this coalition, as was that of the UEDF, is the May 2005 election in Ethiopia. This is a coalition that hopes to take over power from the TPLF political machinery by running for election in a period of half a year, which is a no-time in a political timescale. Interestingly, such political greed that is detached from the grassroots populace attracts some of the longtime characters in Ethiopian politics. Notable among them is Professor Mesfin Woldemariam who has been in Ethiopia’s political scene since the time of Hailesellassie. Towards the end of Mengistu’s era, he joined Mengistu or advised him as some say, to declare that there are no people called Amhara. When the late Professor Asrat Woldeyes was busy forming and later leading the All Amhara People Organization, Professor Mesfin was busy forming the Ethiopian Human Rights Council and continues to involve in it. We might note the fact that he is still in Ethiopia’s political playing field after Hailesellassie, Mengistu, Professor Asrat, and now he is gearing up to the forefront in the run to replace Meles.

And all these are done for unity, democracy and the people. And in such political playing field of theirs, the people are mundane to the era of Hailesellassie, Mengistu and Meles. However, the core of the problem is that the people have never had the chance to fully exercise their rights since the formation of Menelik’s Empire. This is compounded by the clash of Abyssinian dictatorial and Cushitic egalitarian cultures in Ethiopia. In Abyssinian dictatorial political culture, the political hierarchy puts the power of the ruler at the top, followed by the power of his handpicked officials and the people’s power is put at the bottom with little or no muscle to flex. In this culture, public service is meaningless. One can read this culture play itself out in Abyssinian politics. For instance, the UEDF was formed in North America, not in Gonder. Abyssinian politicians’ arguably crowd diplomatic offices in Finfinne than they do among the rural people in, let us say, Lasta. In fact, Hailesellassie the mentor and idol of some these politicians would have the people believe that God sent him for the people.

In Cushitic egalitarian political culture, the people have the highest power, followed by the power of the elected congress, which is followed by the power of the leader of this congress. This is the political gold not only absent in Abyssinian politics but continuously ignored from the list of lessons to be learned, even the hard way.

Preaching about unity when there is no true sense of unity, and democracy when there is no true sense of democracy is the morality of Abyssinian politics. If there were a true sense of democracy in the deeds of Abyssinian politicians, we would see Afaan Oromo used as the official language of Ethiopia or at least one of them since the Oromo constitute the majority in the Empire. If there were a true sense of unity in the deeds of Abyssinian politicians, we would see that in the list of the officials of these political parties that deafen us by their presumed commitment to unity and democracy.

Nonetheless, their undeclared deeds seem to be that of political vultures flying over the people to grab the power their kin have been abusing for so long. And that is the morality of the lost boys who found themselves in confusion not only about whether they have been lost, but also about how to get out.