This discussion note is an attempt to briefly explore some of the underlying internal and external factors, which are presumed to be root causes of the current psychosocial and political realities in Ethiopia. It is in deed an attempt to, by way of questioning and identifying the inherent problem, enable us formulate possible solutions to the tremendous challenge Ethiopia is facing today. It is an inquiry intended to raise the essential question, which is why things fall apart in Ethiopia today and to further examine the cause and its ramification within the context of the current global power relations and domination. In doing so we can develop perspectives, which can be utilized not only to correctly explain and understand the current reality but also to create the tools needed to transform it. I believe such transformation can be materialized only when Ethiopians start to examine the sociopolitical conditions of their country from an authentic Ethiopian centered perspective. When people fail to see reality through their perspective the damage is far more devastating because it can create one of the deadliest distortions of reality that weakens ones core identity. This is one of the crucial challenges Ethiopians are facing today.
Thus in order to effectively discuss the contemporary Ethiopian thoughts and behaviors we must know the past at least the recent past because it can serve as a compass to guide the future and to enable us navigate through the present. To this effect, a brief discussion, on psychosocial and historical background of Ethiopians as people, nation, and Ethiopia as a universal conceptual movement and identity, must be addressed. The Ethiopian identity, as it is a living history, is a dynamic process that creates, recreates and transforms itself through time and remains the same at the same time. This was and is one of the marks of Ethiopian identity. However in the last century Ethiopians have traveled away from their path, from the path that would have taken us to social and cultural development that is authentic to their need and desires. Today, the twist we made from our way has brought Ethiopia to an inferior global position and to the road of self-destruction by becoming increasingly dependent and subservient to external and internal tyrants by creating a disabled nation, whereby the national integrity and survival is now critically at stake.
Yes, it is our urgent obligation to raise fundamental questions in relation to the root causes of the complex problems our nation face today, and evaluate the intricate underlying internal and external factors at play. In addition, we must peer into the psyche of Ethiopians and find out what happen to contemporary Ethiopia that she is unable to reflect her great historical heritage and legacy. The question is what must have happened to cause Ethiopia to become every thing that contradicts her historical place. Furthermore, for the past few decades what explanation could be offered why we find the nation unable to feed her people and maintain her freedom. Hence we ask what the root cause of the ongoing destruction of Ethiopia is and what path must be taken to reawaken Ethiopia and Ethiopian identity.
The state of Ethiopia and Ethiopian national identity is currently the object of multi- pronged assaults by both national and international forces. This attack threatens the very foundations of Ethiopian national heritage and the very existence of the Ethiopian nation. Therefore, it is imperative to originate and construct a new direction to enable us tackle each specific threats and challenges facing us. At this time, the state of our nation has reached to a catastrophe of biblical proportion. Over 85 million people exist under aversive hideous condition leading to a destruction that proclaims the end of a nation. In addition to the systematic killing of young Ethiopians by the tplf forces, the rapidly increasing rate of death from many curable and controllable diseases and epidemics, including man made famine and starvation is taking away the lives of millions of people.
Sadly to say, the most affected and disoriented groups of people are currently in control of the nations ruling political apparatus. The tplf and its group have neither the ability nor the desire to lead and serve the needs and interest of the Ethiopian people. They are in deed, the final outgrowth of the self- hating, colonized mind and the premiere embodiment of every thing that is anti Ethiopia and Ethiopians.
Brief Historical Background of Ethiopia
When attempting to investigate the underlying causes of the present reality of Ethiopia, one cannot and must not avoid referring to the nation’s past, the glorious past that is. Ethiopia is among the most ancient nations, which contributed enormously to the creation, and development of world civilization. The nation’s historical friends and foes have written much about the prominence and glory of ancient Ethiopia recognizing that what is known, as the ancient Egyptian civilization is in deed Ethiopian in origin. Many world-renowned African and European Egyptologist have asserted that Egypt is in fact ‘the daughter of Ethiopia.’ These findings also lead to further assertion that the great contribution to Greco-Roman in particular and the world civilization in general in math, astronomy, religion and metaphysics and basic conceptual and philosophical wisdom, knowledge and other scholarships is in fact an outgrowth of Ethiopia’s high culture and achievement.
From the ancient Europeans such as the Greek Homer and Herodotus to the African giant scholars Chik Anta Diop, Ben Johanan, and many other thinkers have reaffirmed that black Africa, particularly Ethiopia, is the birthplace of humanity and world civilization. In fact, while Europe was in a complete ignorance and darkness ancient Ethiopia established and left the legacy of civilizing humanity by giving the world the foundation of knowledge and wisdom, the art of governance, justice and system of righteousness, religions and spirituality. Among many others, the great European scholar Homer praised the ancient Ethiopians as the highest forms and exemplars of humanity and the favorites of all the gods including the highest and the almighty one God.
In deed, Ethiopia was the wellspring of a high culture belief systems, wisdom and philosophy, both oral and written. However, these civilizations were built when Ethiopians were primarily the teachers, engineers, constructors and makers of their reality based on an Ethiopian belief system and perspective. They believed that they are the sole and the primary creative force of their reality and destiny; which is a mark of free and independent people. Could this be the reason that ancient Ethiopia was free and independent whereas modern Ethiopia is not? The question is why that the mother of all in every aspects of human existence now dried up and is the leading international beggar for basic needs for sustenance. This dependency is not limited to material need; it has extended to ideology, culture, religion and faith? By raising such fundamental and essential questions we may be able to restore and cultivate the ground that allows us the development and implementation of creative Ethiopian insights to successfully change the complex problems we are facing.
Western Education and Psycho-cultural Impact
Around the turn of the last century, Ethiopia was introduced formally to the western school system. The new schooling processes and content, primarily dissimilar from Ethiopian/African centered pedagogy; it is essentially incongruent to the ethos and values of the people of Ethiopia. Nevertheless, the emergent need to tackle the European repeated attack and threats, several Ethiopian leaders in the past, although cautious, have desired to fast gain the technological mighty of Europe to defend their independence. In fact, there were several leaders and concerned citizens that warned and opposed the blind acceptance of foreign educational systems with no regard to the danger that is inherent in the system. However with the advent of Ethiopia as a modern state, the need for westernized, European trained persons necessitates the redirection of educational processes from Ethiopian centered traditional schooling to western system.
The British and other European missionaries that followed the return of Haile Sellasie from exile took the task of reforming and colonizing the Ethiopian mind. Not only cultural values and belief systems were deformed but also basic knowledge and historical facts about Ethiopia and her people were made systematically unavailable with in the schooling process. When even available distorted facts and concepts were afforded and taught from European perspective to the unsuspecting young Ethiopian mind, leading to believe false realities and accepting what is not true about them. The western pedagogical indoctrination took place imprudently without equipping and centering the students with the foundation of self-knowledge, and cultural ethos. Therefore, Western value systems were subtly embedded into the cultural norms and functions of the majority of the educated and urbanized Ethiopians.
Even though unintentional, the western learned and urbanized Ethiopians uncritically accepted and value what is western and devalue what is Ethiopian. Again this is the result of immersing the Ethiopian young mind into others culture and belief system through schooling, which is an effective means of controlling ones thought resulting in neocolonial consciousness, enslaved mentality which produce the ‘nech amelaku’ white worshiping generation. Not only the contents of the education but also the tool of instruction used has been western, for instance, the English language is utilized through out the high schools and universities in a nation which created highly refined languages and literature and maintained unique systems of higher education for thousands of years.
Despite the ambitious attempts made for over half a century to modernize and develop Ethiopia through western education, the nation continues to travel down the road of political, economic, and cultural dependency, and destruction. In essence, the knowledge and training acquired did not bring the desired change that benefits the vast majority of the Ethiopian people. The western-based educational system has produced intellectuals, social and political leaders, with problematic and distorted sense of self and sense of nationalism. Today, there is a rampant and pathological reliance on foreign powers both for ideological leadership and in material resources. Internalizing foreign thoughts and ways without any critical appraisal of its value as a result, created brain washed bureaucrats, technocrats and pseudo intellectuals who perpetuate further greater dependence on western countries.
In contrast, the Japanese who took charge to modernize their nation successfully attained their goal at about the same time Ethiopia attempted to do so. However in the case of Japan, modernizing their nation was achieved after the government of Japan under the Emperor Meiji, sanctioned that western know-how and information must be incorporated in to their version of modernity in accordance to a Japanese psycho-cultural perspective. As a result Japan developed in ways that is meaningful to her people. Whereas in Ethiopia, modern, western centered educational processes failed to meet the needs of the mass. Instead such systematic imposition of alien culture and thought via schooling on Ethiopians distorted their perception and corrupted the Ethiopian identity. The western schooling processes also eroded the social fabric that collectively binds the Ethiopian people as one nation. In fact, the process of modernization was to make Ethiopia fit into the existing world system, a neo-colony dependent and inferior nation. Furthermore, for Ethiopians uncritically adapting others way not only affected ones ways of learning and implementing but also produce behavioral characteristics and traits that are contradictory to the Ethiopian core nature and disposition; such self imposed pedagogy of oppression renders cultural1y miss oriented and dysfunctional intellectuals and national leaders.
It is suggested here that European educational and cultural domination had brought about a formidable impact on the thought processes of schooled population; that is to say, some degree of mental colonization within the Ethiopian context has taken place. The making of modern Ethiopia through western education was in fact the beginning of the processes of enslavement and colonization of the Ethiopian mind. Hence, the question becomes has the modern western educated Ethiopian consciousness transformed into a subservient status because of crude and subtle Western psycho cultural domination. Consequently, Ethiopia continues to slip further away from her path and destiny creating greater vulnerability for further psycho behavioral distortion, political dependency and reliance on others. This is one of the essential differences between the Ethiopia of past and todays Ethiopia which is enslaved with an invisible chain.
Several contemporary educators and researchers have pointed out that western education and science rather than promoting knowledge and wisdom for the well being and betterment of human society, it is used to exploit and dominate the vast majority of the world population. Using their theories and methods of education, Europeans and their descendants continue to launch on violent assaults on the rest of the world. Researchers and scientists are member of society as well, thus, they also often reflect the trends and values of the society and cultural group to which they belong. For instance, during slavery in this country many scientist were engaged in the task of justifying slavery by providing so called scientific proof (most were outright deception, and corruption) that black people were intellectually, psychologically and physically inferior to whites and subject for enslavement.
We know more than ever that information and knowledge particularly self-knowledge will be very essential tools for survival and to sustain, transform and develop societies. Becoming knowledgeable about ones heritage is empowering and leads to social and development. This foundation of self- knowledge is what was compromised as a result of miss education. The first and fundamental human knowledge is the knowledge of the self-know thy-self says the ancient Egyptian oracle. This is a fundamental knowledge, a foundation for all other forms of knowledge. While recognizing that Ethiopians and Ethiopian societies are diverse within themselves, however, there is also a very strong underlying unifying deeper structural and philosophical foundation of belief systems that are and can be generalized as Ethiopian at large, as a unifying national identity.
When we consume and accept the notion of modernization based on European philosophy and normative standards, which could be inherently contradictory to our way of thoughts and belief systems. Following others way that is incongruent to our mindset causes us a denial of our true identity for we have developed values that are incompatible to our true self as Ethiopia and Ethiopians. Unfortunately, as we become more and more westernized the number of Ethiopians who are secured in their identity and cultural foundation as well as Ethiopian centered thoughts and behavior is now very seriously in jeopardy, rapidly dwindling. Operating with in the frame of some one else’s definition of reality is dangerous to the ones self-image, and self-concept, it creates ambiguity and disorder in our identity, thoughts and behaviors. In addition systematic imposition of alien culture via western schooling and socialization undermined authentic cultural growth that reflects the Ethiopian ways of life. Regardless of the generally held understanding of the purposes and functions of higher educational institutions some of them in fact are not only far from what they ought to be but they are the antithesis of higher education and knowledge, ranging from simple mediocrity to pathological levels of disorientation.
The twists we have taken have leaded us to the road of self-destruction and greater dependence on others, both on ideological and material level. As a result of this general condition unproductive and dysfunctional social behaviors and destructive cultures have emerged. The vast majority of the urban population is part and parcel of this generally dysfunctional society hence shares and manifests its pathology in various degrees and intensities. These dysfunctional behavioral factors may further deplete our energy; distort our emotional and cognitive function, and incapacitate us from transforming our social reality to a better condition.
It is evident that modernization was wrongly equated with being and living like Europeans; this in today Ethiopian is a case of acute oppression manifesting through the high regard and value given and attached to all things foreign including, life styles dressing, music, art, religion, politics etc., and to be sought and possessed, ultimately leading to unhealthy level of devaluing ones selves. Such behaviors of brainwashed mind have surpassed simply the economic and political needs but also show it self in our deeper inner core in our faith and spirituality. Lets look at for instance how the two major religions are affected and influenced by such foreign influences. The growing number of Ethiopian orthodox Tewahedo Christians, which is the first Christian nation in the world, is now altered and adulterated into western version of Christianity and similarly the Ethiopian Muslims adapting to Arabism instead of adhering to the Ethiopian Islamic faith that gained ground and founded in Ethiopia and spread elsewhere to the world, are examples of foreign subjugation of a nations deep identity and soul. To simply imitate Europeans or Arabs does not mean to be modernized or developed; people mistakenly think that to be modernized is to give up all that is Ethiopian, doing so is a societal madness that breeds cultural inferiority and mental distortion.
Our ability to truly develop ones own perspective diminishes as we gradually utilize the European epistemological framework to know and to define ourselves. Actually, there is increasing tendency by the western educated group to define and validate it self on the bases of European standards and norms of measure, be it science, art or politics. Although unaware, most of the western educated Ethiopians, intellectual development is stifled and this is primarily because of the attempt made to internalize the European mode of thoughts, which produce imitative behaviors that diminish originality and creativity. Hence the miss educated elite politicking over the various issues based on European philosophy and political orientations has not learned either the past way, nor it is able to develop a new Ethiopian centered thinking for the governance of the nation. We certainly need to challenge the absurdities of such unhealthy foreign political concepts and ideologies, which are held and embraced by both left and right political lines as a premise and a panacea for development and stability of Ethiopian society.
The cultural imperialistic nature of the western educational system creates, intellectuals, professionals, social and political leaders, with problematic and distorted sense of self and nationalism, of course with few exceptions. This is important to uncover the essential shortcomings and intellectual deficit that blurred the thoughts and vision of the prevailing political organizations and leaders of our country at large. This may be considered as one of the outcomes of a neo-colonized mind-set and impotent thinking that resulted by virtue of having been transformed in to intellectually subservient status in relation to the west. As a result today many intellectuals and political leaders are ill- equipped and unable to reconstruct and implement fair and just sociopolitical conditions in their society. They lack original and politically persuasive Ethiopian-centered thinking, which gives thrust towards political processes that are congruent and responsive to the ethos and the needs of Ethiopians.
Although, inadvertently, rather out of good will and yet as a consequence of western philosophical indoctrination, the grave mistakes the Ethiopian leftist movement made on several political and national question were examples of misapplication by literally reading Ethiopia, as if it is an European society. For instance comparing the European medieval feudal social system to the Ethiopian notion of ‘feudalism’ resulted in further distortion of both understanding the problems and solutions prescribed thereafter. Such a faulty attempt to blindly apply other society’s model weather it is eastern or western European versions be it national issues or democracy to the Ethiopia society is futile. Attempting uncritically to apply for instance the question of nationality based on European ideology to ancient people who have lived and evolved together for thousands of years is also a manifestation of internalized poverty of thoughts and ideas leading to erroneous politics. The diversity of languages does not inhibit from having a national identity; the naming terms amara, oromo, tigre, afar, etc., refers to linguistic groups not necessarily the European notion and construct of races, ethnicity, tribes and so forth. The need to expose the fallacy and incompatibility of European model and thoughts to Ethiopia and the danger of ethnic politics is imperative. Here again, if we were properly educated from an Ethiopian centered perspective, we would have been able to recognize the essence of our oneness is our diversity as one people.
If we are not cognizant of the political implication of such western cultural imperialism, expressed in the name of development, democracy, aid and so forth, we will prolong our oppression and social and political realities that cause the current crisis threatens the survival of the nation. Historically, external forces, using internal elements have attempted to control Ethiopia and destroy Ethiopian nationalism. Today this historical mission seems to be somewhat accomplished and implemented by enshrining a tplf constitution that allows further fragmentation of the very nation for which the constitution supposedly is created.
Thus, we must raise some important questions not only for public discussion but also for further research to see the possible political implications of miss-education and contribution to the national crisis that we are facing now. Again we must ask few fundamental questions, such as what are the roots of the ongoing destruction of Ethiopia in general and what and why the tplf and its ethnic base group have become the agent of Ethiopias destruction. What explanation must be given to their outright dislike and hatred to Ethiopia and her national integrity, to an extent that they literally are handing over Ethiopias land and territory to foreign forces and countries? The outrageous behavior of the tplf and its allies is very intriguing to say the least. What happened to the psyche of the members of tplf and the likes to develop such anti Ethiopian nationalism, choosing ethnic identity over Ethiopian national identity, preferring to claim zega tigrawe. And also we ask why would a government advocates in all international affairs against the very nation it is ruling and despises the peoples interest and well being? What are the psycho cultural disorders that might have cause them to be tigre-centered and behaving accordingly on national issues in our recent history? It clearly appears that their relations and interactions with Ethiopians in many ways resemble to a foreign occupying forces behavior that shows deep enmity towards the people it conquers. They appear disconnected with Ethiopian psyche and their ancestral lineage; could this be further indication of a self- hating psychological disorder and complex?
The Road to Reawaken Ethiopia: The Last Frontier for Liberation
The new world order is not necessarily geared to serve our interest and benefit our causes. It is rather a new form of colonization and domination, carried out through the so-called globalization and democratization processes. The west, creating the various conditions to instigate conflicts using social, cultural, ethnic, religious, economic and political differences to destabilize and bring nations into further fragmentation and subjugation is one of the many ways they use to control the world. The so called new order of world powers are not limited to political and economic subjugation but also attempts to control and alter peoples psychological makeup and compromises ones core identity and cultural integrity.
The complex and multidimensional problems facing Ethiopia raise some serious questions as to how we can liberate ourselves from the bondage of mental slavery. Although, Ethiopia has never been colonized in the same manner as the other African countries, there is compelling evidence that indicate the working and outcome of a colonized reality and mentality. Nevertheless, over the past century Europeans have gained greater control through religious missions, education, aid, democratization etc. Consequently, these influences may have resulted in outcomes that are collectively harmful and costly to Ethiopia, to the extent of risking the integrity and the very existence of the nation and its identity.
For the past eighteen years ethnic ideology and constitution has negated the oneness of her people, rendering disintegration and annihilation of Ethiopia and Ethiopians, via western political agenda imposed upon our nation in the name of democracy. However, such allowance and compliance with ethnic politics is a reflection of a weakness and defeat of Ethiopian centered ideology. The notion that democratization and globalization lead by the Western power is for the betterment of those oppressed people of the world is erroneous and big deception, which, unfortunately, the many have fallen for. What is sad about it is that those victims of the old-new political order have deluded themselves into believing this as a universal truth and are not aware of their predicament, which is the new form of colonization and modern slavery.
Although, there are few Ethiopians who had the courage to stand free, never allowed their soul to subjugation, and remained true to themselves, for the most part, however, the western educated and brain-washed elements have become increasingly distorted, lacking authenticity and self-empowerment. In some severe case such persons inner being may be corrupted and they are the modern domestic administrators of the old colonial masters, selling their brothers and sisters. It is in this light that we must redefine the core nature and base of the TPLF/woyane so we understand and as to how we can stop the destructive and oppressive processes. The lack of a political ideology and philosophy that is centered on the Ethiopian reality has a serious impact on our ability to generate political leadership and our ability to translate knowledge into actions. We often focus on issues rather than fundamental principles as a result we become reactive in our political stands and the struggle lack persistence and lose momentum when it reaches to a critical stage of the movement.
Even though, in today’s political process telling the truth is painfully alienating, we must change this state of mind and restore our consciousness. We must be centered and rooted in our past to construct a better future. It has to be said that people who do not know where they come from do not know where they are going and may never reach their destination. We must compose, scholarly original and politically persuasive Ethiopian thinking, a new paradigm, that stimulate the political forces and scholars the formation of a conscious intellectual praxis which is a perspective that gives thrust toward a political socialization congruent and responsive to the ethos, and worldviews of Ethiopians. It is in this light that we call to redefining the ethnic based tplf force that it is not only undemocratic ruling class by any traditional definition, it is and behaves as a viceroy and an agent for external forces, which facilitates the scrambling of Ethiopia. A thorough and correct definition and analysis in regard to the enemy of Ethiopia and its power base is in order for anyone who would like to remove them from power.
We certainly cannot afford to make the same and unnecessary mistakes again. Therefore, as one of the essential elements, our struggle requires a fertile ground for the emergence of Ethiopian centered thoughts that causes internal political dynamics to move towards true liberation of Ethiopia. It is, therefore, important for all concerned Ethiopians to urgently get involved and help bring about the necessary social transformation to stop the rapidly approaching total destruction. Therefore, it is time for the birth of new energy and force. Yes our current reality dictates to revisit the notion of an Ethiopian worldview and ones again ask the question why are we the way we are to day and why we cannot find our way out of the quagmires we are in. Isnt it the present generations duty and obligation to redeem it? We must refocus our energy to plant the seed of freedom and cultivate for a better, harmonious and peaceful world, when it is done in one heart, for this is granted. Therefore we ask which road will take us to reawaken Ethiopia? Well, today more than ever, the need to remove tplf from the national power is definitely an urgent call and immediate task for all conscious and responsible Ethiopians.