Opening the Box Fully


In an article titled “Who Ruled Ethiopia? The Myth of ‘Amara Domination!” and published at on August 23, 2004, Dr. Marcos Lemma tried to equate Amara domination to victimization by ethnicity for an agenda of ‘expansion’. He points out TPLF’s annexation of Begemidir (Gonder) territories into Tigray. That may well be hide and seek play between Amara and Tigray kins and may not concern us here for that is for them to sort out however and whenever they like. However, TPLF’s annexation of parts of Gonder may not be that surprising when compared to its adventure into Oromo country. What is common to both issues may be a search for resources on the part of the TPLF.


He also tried to have his readers believe that Amaras have not settled in other people's territories. Nonetheless, the opposite is a proven fact beyond any doubt and we will not dwell on that here. What is interesting, though, is when the cause of freedom movement that was born out of the lack of any response to the question of equity in Ethiopia, which was formed by force over a hundred years ago, is equated to a plan for ‘expansion of empires’ within the bigger empire.


Dr. Marcos Lemma tried to convince his readers about the ‘myth’ of Amara domination by listing some names of non-Amara officials of Ethiopia during the times of Menelik to the Derg. In doing so, he has done us a favor of exposing at least three layers of Amara domination. When the box is opened fully, whether the allegation is a myth or a reality will become clear and clean for everyone to see. Interestingly, this is a history recorded not by non-Amaras but by the ruling class Amara themselves for which their current and future generations will be searching answers. It is a history written for all by them, in the same fashion the TPLF is doing it today for which future generations of Tigray will have to search answers.


Now let us look at Dr. Marcos Lemma’s list. To begin with, listing only names of non-Amhara officials while hiding names of the Amara counterparts is a serious mistake or seriously misleading. Before starting the comparison, we should be told the chosen yardstick for the comparison. One could use the following ranks: president, prime minister, ministers and vice ministers, governors, ambassadors, the highest ranks in the military and some other equivalent or better ranks. These appear to be what Dr. Marcos Lemma chose albeit without stating. Then the whole list of names, instead of handpicked names, with these ranks should have been considered for a fair comparison. That is opening the box in full and when it is done, the readers can be assured that the domination is not a myth but a reality, an outrageous one at that. And that is the first layer of domination.


The second layer of domination can be observed from the names of the officials listed. Out of the 36 Oromo officials list during Menelik and Hailesellassie, we note that there was only one Oromo Ambassador, 26 of them have Amara names as their first name. That is a wave of identity domination that no one should fail to note. Of course, one can argue that no one asked Oromo parents to give Amara names to their children, but that would be self deception. The systems put in place such as educational, cultural and psychological, by Amaras after conquering other peoples' lands have been the perpetrators of this second layer of domination. 


The third layer of domination is politico-cultural domination. Instead of Abbaa Duulaa, an Oromo title for commander of the Army, Oromos were called Ras, a less sensible Amara title which means head. So go Dejazmach, Fitawurari, Ato and so on. We can leave out English terms, such as General, for that is common for all the subjects concerned.


There are other layers of domination such as renaming Finfinne as Addis Ababa. This will be part of history, too. We can argue for ever if these are modernization or domination. Anyone, even those that appear to be serious scholars can attempt in vain to ‘teach’ the Oromo people that it is modernization. However, the Oromo people have the right to refuse it as such and understand it for what it is, which is outright domination following conquer of their land by force.


Until the Amara people learn how to say ‘Akkam waalaachihu?’ and ‘Dahina Bultanii?’, it would be naïve to think that we can wish away the problems. And if the refusal to accept equality and equity goes on, it should not be surprising if the people’s quest for freedom on their land persists.