By Mathza

April 16, 2010



Sioum Gebeyehou’s two articles, The Principles of Understanding and Reconciliation and Overview – Understanding and Reconciliation (, March 25th and 29th, 2010), prompted me to write this piece.


I agree with his suggestion for reconciliation. However, I differ from him in regard to the stakeholders (victims, offenders and community) to be reconciled. According to him EPRDF is the offender. My view is that the offenders are the vocal chauvinists (1), particularly those from Shewa, and their followers whom they misinform and mislead. He asserts that “Kilil” politics kept the people apart and the ruling party manipulated the people to distrust each other. He talks about aggravated ethnic tensions, which, according to him, can be eliminated through people to people understanding and reconciliation. He did not elaborate how the people to people approach will work


His suggestion for reconciliation is based on a biased stance that the EPRDF is the root cause of lack of interactions between ethnic groups and of inter-ethnic conflicts. These are among the mantras of his likes that are politically motivated, deadly against the ethnic-based federal structure and dream to salvage their ethnic hegemony. His likes would do anything to hoodwink the people to believe that the country is disintegrating because of federalism when the contrary is the reality. They, for example, exaggerate and use disputes and incidents related to borders between adjacent regions or zones and grazing land and water problems among nomads to prove their point. Most of these incidents would take place under practically any system of governance as well as during change of boundaries following restructuring of an administrative system. Such incidents have been dwindling in numbers over time and are no longer of concern. The people concerned are involved in timely interventions and finding quick solutions. All these and the lot of the people would be worse if the obsessed chauvinists (feudal, Derg and EPRP remnants and their brainwashed followers) have their way of reverting to the old or similar unitary system on which the writer seems to base his reconciliation proposal.


It saddens and worries me to hear and read derogatory and venomous assertions spewed by unscrupulous, racist, biased and bigoted persons and groups still living in the past. The damages these people were and are still causing to relations between themselves, particularly their own ethnic group, and all ethnicities worry me. Writing history biased in favor of their ethnic group while disregarding and downplaying others’ histories is another way chauvinists alienate the ethnic groups. Such individuals or groups are antagonizing the ethnic groups by rubbing old wounds with salt and playing divisive and destructive politics, thereby provoking ethnic groups to join separatists or start new liberation fronts. They are, therefore, the ones who should reconcile with the ethnic groups. In fact, considering the havoc they are causing, they should take the initiative at reconciling. The above observations and concerns motivated me to write two articles on reconciliation. Here below are relevant excerpts from both.




The objective of this writing is to indicate how a lasting peace and unity in diversity can and should be attained in Ethiopia. To me, this can be done only through identifying and admitting the wrongs committed in the past and being committed at present on ethnic groups, atonement and subsequent outlawing actions resorting to such wrongdoings in the future. Practically all-ethnic groups, excluding the miniscule minority chauvinists (diehards) and their supporters, have been and are victims of chauvinism: racial slurs, condescension, abuse, hate, etc.


The conspiracy [scheming to keep things secret] continues. The conspirators do not want other Ethiopians to hear the truth. At discussions on Hager Fiker Radio, for instance, they vehemently resent and complain about truths being exposed by the participants. They label the latter Weyanes. They insist to limit discussions to the consequences of the recent disturbances (of their own making), anything related to the CUD and exposing and condemning the TPLF, EPRDF and the government. Many of them who are vulgar, frustrated and have nothing to refute call in to hurl obscene words and expressions at the hosts. As a cover up and in order to avoid facing the ugly realities, a few of them insist on forgetting the past and instead focusing on reconciliation. Reconciliation, yes, but a nation’s healing can only be achieved by making amends of the past, not by denials or cover up. This, as demonstrated by South Africa’s truth and reconciliation process, requires acceptance of the end of chauvinists’ hegemony, admittance of past atrocities and confession of current wrongs and crimes perpetrated against Ethiopian ethnic groups. Only then can reconciliation be realized. The first step toward this end, peaceful and harmonious coexistence, is to stop venomous, divisive and hateful racial rhetoric and attacks.



I was prompted to write this short piece after hearing Hagerfiker's Sunday radio program (December 9 [12, 2007]) where the urgent need for reconciliation was quite apparent. One of the callers, a southern Ethiopian, bitterly recounted how a meeting organized by and for his group was disrupted by Diaspora chauvinists who called the group all kinds of names reminiscent of the old feudal system. The indignation and frustration expressed by different nations and nationalities on the occasion of the celebrations back at home were horrendous and disturbing. Under the circumstances, I thought it was opportune and timely to draw the attention of readers to my suggestion to hold a reconciliation conference to heal and close once and for all the atrocities, oppressions, humiliation, hate, etc. that nations and nationalities have suffered and endured. A nation's healing can only be achieved by acknowledging and making amends, not by denial or cover up. The following is the last paragraph of my article in two parts titled URGENT NEED FOR RECONCILIATION BASED ON CONFESSION AND ATONEMENT and dated March 29 and April 5, 2006.

A systematic approach to reconciliation is urgently crucial. It should include: preparation, conference and implementation. For starters, each ethnic group should submit reports, detailing oppressions, complaints and suggested solutions. The reports should be discussed at a reconciliation conference at the federal level. The output of the conference should be admittance of the wrongs committed, forgiveness by those wronged and measures and strategies to be taken at eradicating ethnic related problems. The measures and strategies should be debated in the Parliament which should enact a law or amend existing laws based on its evaluation of the report. In order to monitor the implementation of the enacted law the administration of each region and the Ministry of Justice should submit mandatory annual reports to the Parliament. Based on the reports, the Parliament should take action, if and
when necessary. The whole process should be transparent and publicized so that the people are well informed. One way of doing this and keeping the awareness of the public alive is to declare an annual 'Ethnic Integration Day' when the people will be reminded of their ethnic rights and responsibilities.

Obviously, the last suggestion, 'Ethnic Integration Day,' is a fait accompli. Hdar 29 serves this purpose. South Africa's truth and reconciliation process worked for black/white South Africa. There is no reason why it will not work for black/black Ethiopia.


As the readers would have noticed my approach to reconciliation aims at addressing the basic problems that have been bedeviling and troubling practically all ethnic groups in Ethiopia for generations. Ethnic groups are the victims and chauvinists, the offenders. Reconciliation should, therefore, be between these two. I repeat there is no distrust among ethnic groups. “Kilil” politics did and does not keep peoples apart. There are no aggravated ethnic tensions. If there are slight indications of the existence of these it is the work of the offenders who have been and are tirelessly trying to create discord among ethnic groups to prove the federal system does not work and, hence, it needs to be dismantled. It does not, therefore, make sense to blame EPRDF for some thing it has nothing to do with.


EPRDF is as committed and dedicated party as it was during the liberation struggle. It does not deter itself for political expediency from adopting policies and strategies and taking measures it deems useful for the country.  In any case, why would EPRDF create problems for itself by pitting ethnic groups against one another, as the chauvinists would have us believe, and jeopardize the commendable progress it is making for its people in all spheres? The joyous spirit and enthusiasm evident during the Hdar 29 annual ethnic celebration day—conducted at regional capitals on a rotating basis—refutes all negative allegations related to ethnic federalism. This and other activities are bringing together Ethiopians of all ethnicities. Such being the case there is no need for the type of reconciliation the writer suggested. Reconciliation should be between the chauvinists and the ethnic groups.



(1)                                                                     The word chauvinist applies to a miniscule of the Amhara ethnic group. Practically all of the people of the Amhara ethnic group are not different from the rest of the Ethiopians. They have equally suffered and have been exploited under the previous regimes.