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The worst thing you can do to your own people is to divide them

The worst thing you can do to your own people is to divide them

Dr. Yohannes Aberra Ayele 3-7-19

No two people think alike; not even identical twins. The core of freedom lies in allowing this to persist and defend it. While allowing the right to differ working towards narrowing down the differences is the noblest of all leaderships. This act of good governance is hierarchical Don't aggravate the differences between the people of the world; don't aggravate the differences between Africans; don't aggravate the differences between Ethiopians; and don't aggravate the differences among Oromos, among Gambelans, among Amharas, among the Southern, among Tigreans. Let me pick up and follow the case of the last mentioned.

I argue that of all the ethnic groups in Ethiopia Tigreans are the most divided. First it was division along the Mereb River, as southern and northern Tigreans; next was/is severe internal division within the southern by Awraja/Zone, sometimes reaching down to the wereda level. The division has been not only the oldest but also the noisiest. The difference has never been concealed from the Ethiopian public. It has always been the Achilles heel of Tigrean politics. With the alliance and counter alliance of the local warlords among themselves and with the central monarchy they led the people into fratricidal wars for over a century. The meaningless differences of the feudal era found their way into TPLF politics from its inception and have been the real but concealed motivators of political divisions and re divisions of the TPLF. It was just an old wine in a new bottle. The internal struggle waged by the warlords of the past for dominance in the Region was reflected in TPLF politics. Unfortunately, no one seems to admit that. Rather than burning from inside and weakening from outside it is better to recognize the ailment and try to resolve it in good faith.

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No one seems to admit that it was the marginalization of some zones in Tigray and the glorification of a few others that became the underlying reason for the problem in Raya for instance. It is easier to prevent a wound rather to treat a wound after it is created. It will have an ugly scar! If anyone were favorably attentive to what was going on in Raya for the last three decades it would not be difficult to predict that what is happening now is a logical outcome. The desperate outlet that the Rayans are resorting to is "Raya is Amhara-land"; but the real cause has been discriminatory maladministration. With good governance the entire Wello could be within Tigray. What matters is the treatment. There are times when you prefer a step-father from a biological father depending on how well you are treated.

When the TPLF came to Addis Ababa some of its leaders were insensitive to how Tigreans survived in the City and elsewhere outside Tigray under the Derg regime. Without restraint they classified Tigreans in Addis Ababa as pro-Derg and "Shewan-Tigreans". This was a brutal taxonomy because the difference between Tigreans in Addis Ababa and Tigreans in the mountains of Tigray was only the latter had guns, but the former were bare handed. Both were equally threatened by the Derg. After victory, the non-combatant Tigreans were shunned both by the opposition and by the TPLF! Exposed and undefended this "category" of Tigreans became easy victims of the ill-treatment by the opposition. TPLF turned a blind eye!

A year or so ago, a Tigrean scholar published an article in "wurayna" classifying Tigrean scholars into four vis a vis the then Tigray related political mood. I came to know that this was not acceptable to some TPLF leaders. They preferred a simple dichotomy as Weyane and non-Weyane. The underlying meaning in the dichotomy seems to be the latter implying being non-Tigrean. The best TPLF can do to unite the people of Tigray is to allow them to freely be what they want to be. No political organization can be wiser than the people it claims to represent. Diversity of ideas is the wealth of nations more than gold and diamond. The mystery behind the power of the USA is its diversity of ideas not its military or its economy a gigantic brain pool.

What should be fought against is difference that could harm the people of Tigray. However, determining what is and what is not harmful to the people of Tigray should not be a matter of personal opinion of the TPLF leaders or the official perception of the ruling organization. We are talking about 5 to 6 million people. Each one of them has their own brains to use. No one can reduce them into multiplicities. What leaders can go for is to grasp as much common denominators as possible and maximize them based on the kind consent of the people. What we observe between the four Tigrean parties is to belittle one another to maximize the share of the voter pie in the coming elections. I never heard of these four parties engaged in mutual consultations about the economic future of the Region. Their only service to the people has become to divide the people based on dangerously criss-crossing criteria.

The worst recent expression of the deleterious differences between the parties and individual political leaders of Tigray is the existence of alleged "fifth columnists" among the ranks of the people of Tigray. These "renegades" branded as” bandas" are not named. This is what makes the official statement dangerous to the people of Tigray. When somebody in a very high position makes such kinds of accusations, it has to make the names public. This will help those accused of betraying the people of Tigray (a very serious allegation) to get a chance to defend them if their actions are misunderstood. If what they have been doing is really harmful as evaluated, not by individual leaders, but by the people of Tigray the people have to be given the right to take their own corrective measures. If the act is revealed but the alleged perpetrators are concealed everyone will be suspicious of everybody else. This will harm the people of the Region more than what the "bandas" could possibly do. The best tactic could have been not to publicize the issue. A non-partisan body should be empowered to handle the "problem" and distinguish whether this is a real threat to the people of Tigray or a normal inter-party fight for power in the Region.


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