By Obo Arada Shawl
May 1, 2012
Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Party (EPRP) was formally founded on a week long underground conference April 2 – 9, 1972. Four decades have elapsed since that time. Is this a milestone or a tombstone? That is everybodys inquiry.
By milestone, I mean a significant point in political development and by tombstone (with small letter t); I am referring to a tombstone where geographically
I hope this article will answer at least the basic questions whether EPRP deserves a milepost in the modern Eathiopian history or a tombstone with no epitaph.
At any time in history & cultureβ, of people, questions of unity, sovereignty and peace of a country comes up frequently. The case of
What was EPRPs position on Unity, sovereignty (democracy) and Peace? Who were its members and supporters? What were the mission and vision of EPRP? Did the Party have political philosophy/ideology? Above all did the Party have a plan of action? Last but not least, does the Party still exist?
I would like to answer the above questions albeit briefly within the framework of my personal and societal obligation and not political affiliation.
EPRPs position on Unity, Democracy and Peace
Everymans approach towards understanding the above concepts could not be uniform; some elements of EPRP were anti intellectual while the Partys real position was anti elitism. There is a real difference between these two concepts. The former concept of intellectual is about reason while the latter elite relates about the status of individuals in society. For this reason, there were lots of row among Ethiopian and Eritrean college students during the Revolutionary struggle. Political history reveals that Eritrean college professors and students freely interchange elitism with nationalism. They have avoided philosophy the basis for reasoning. That may be irrelevant with todays selfish generation but it was not with the selfless generation of the 60s, 70s and 80s.
What is Unity?
Among leaders of EPRP, unity is sought from diversity. For this reason, the Party was popular. It is a fact that the Ethiopian Student Movement that culminated in the formation of EPRP emerged victorious simply for its diversity not only on issues of personality but also with ideas and issues of the day.
Diversity was not only symbolic as in ritual or heroes but also in values as well. Even during the Third phaseз of EPRPs struggle, it is documented that EPRP was for diversity. Debteraw once wrote we have said vive la difference. He wrote this even when the Party was driven out of Tigrai province. So unity in EPRPs parlance is beyond words. It has essence and substance.
What about democracy? The core venue of EPRP was democracy. Its symbol, its slogan and its rhetoric was/is democracy and/or DEMOCRACIA. That is, small d for its members and capital D for its associates and supporters. Before the world raises the slogan of democracy to signify for individuals and as well as for communities. EPRP was way ahead of the concept and its future significance. In actual fact, I know no organization in
So much so, the partys main political organ was named locally democracy – ዴሞክራሲያ DEMOCRACIA – ዲሞክራሲያ. Actually, EPRP and its members have cried so to speak for 40 years. Thanks to its members and associates that they made it possible for the word to become a household word in Eathiopia. Historical documents reveal that EPRPs milestone for democracy goes back half a century ago. Its martyred members and supporters deserve a shaped tombstone engraved with a plaque, pillar, cross, tablet, shrine, obelisk, memorial or any other inscription written as remember me for D and d- showing unity in diversity.
What about peace? Why was it necessary for EPRP to coalesce around peace? Peace is the only valuable asset for any body or community to survive and prosper. Without peace, Eathiopia couldnt have survived for millennia. And so the Eathiopian Student Movement asked the then Ethiopian Imperial government to bring peace to Bale, Godjam and above all to
EPRPs members honestly believed that
Who were the supporters of EPRP? Who were/are its members? It is impossible to document members and associate members of the Party. The only way to find out is when and if peace and democracy reigns in Eathiopia. Although the party functions clandestinely, its members and associates relate through its party, army and mass organizations such as workers union, women, teachers, traders and professionals and the Youth. As long as there is a slogan for democracy and peace, everyone and everybody in Eathiopia relates to EPRP. That is the glue upon which the Party survives against all odds.
As far as communication and relationship are concerned, I have come to realize that the Party members, leaders and others communicate in their daily lives in the following manner.
- EPRP members communicate Heart to Heart
- EPRP leaders communicate Head to Head
- EPRP supporters communicate Soul to Soul
What about it mission and vision? I personally believed that the Partys vision would be one Flag, one Fidel and many freedoms. Now, we have two flags, different alphabets and few freedoms. EPRPs mission was to distribute land to the tillers, make the bureaucracy efficient and to honor national bourgeois. That meant three thronged fight anti-feudalism; anti-bureaucracy and anti-imperialism i.e. both imperialism of
How about its philosophy or ideology? It was well known among the student movement who galvanized the Ethiopian Revolution to follow philosophy. What do we mean by philosophy?
What was the plan of action?
EPRP members have organized themselves to narrow this gap by thinking philosophically. It was done meticulously step by step to identify their class enemy ማንቃት – Mankat, get them organized – ማደራጀት Maderajet and empower ማስታጠቅ – Mastatek – people with resources. Their opponents such as EPLF and TPLF worked backwards. They armed their people before they educate them. While Meison, another arch enemy of EPRP confused the Eathiopian populace by rearranging the steps as staggered as first, second and third, the Party of EPRP would carry simultaneously its mission.
Meisons mission was without purpose, it was as if changing people to bricks. EPRPs act was purposefully done. That is to say there was some goal they all have in mind. In other words, the difference between Meison and EPRP was philosophical between Means and Ends. EPRPs thinking was always in the Means not in the Ends. የትም ፍጪው ዱቄቱን አምጪው – did/does not reverberate with EPRP.
The ideology of EPRP was common experience and common sense. In order to assess EPRPs struggle for Revolutionary change, one needs a sustained reflection and reasoning. A three-hours reading per day was a requirement to become a full member of EPRP. While the reading materials mostly reflect that of Leftist literature, there was no restriction not to read other books of interest. It is no wonder that the party was rigid as it could be. E pluribus Unum meaning many uniting into one (out of many one) as in EPRP d and D.
Does the Party Exist?
The question is perhaps the single most relevant one for both Eritreans and Ethiopians. But for me, it is one of the dumpiest questions I have so far encountered in my urban life.
By urban life, I mean those sections of the population who lived or travelled along the five routes that radiate from
That is the main arterial roads going from
1. AA to
2. AA to
3. AA to Kurmuk via Wellega.
4. AA to Gambella via Illubabor.
5. AA to the main arterial networks going from Addis Ababa to the rest of the country, south, south east, south west and east to Assab.
The inhabitants who live along these routes definitely know the government and business sectors. The power of the government officials and cash of the merchants play a heavy handed role for the consumers. In other words, they are at the mercy of government officials for their lives and services. Under these towns no one was a citizen or a consumer in the real sense of the word. Whoever demands for public or private service, the government police and courts are right after them.
I dont believe these injustices and corruption has changed neither during the Derg nor under the TPLF regimes for these sectors of the economy. Those who ask for the rights of consumers or for any other citizens right, they were labeled as anarchists, anti-revolution, secessionist or members of EPRP.
What about those who live abroad who want to return to their home countries but could not? They are basically EPRP at heart. That is, their desire for personal freedom and social justice is the same as that of EPRP.
Urban development in Eathiopia has taken place along the roads. This trend has not changed much. It is possible even today that the urban population knows or hears about the Party of DEMOCRACIA as the word democracy has penetrated deep into the psychic of all urban dwellers. Thanks to the sacrifice of EPRP members and supporters. The survival of EPRP is equivalent to the flourishing of democracy in Eathiopia.
Two years after the formal foundation of EPRP in April 1972, the Portuguese dictatorial regime who ruled for fifty years has collapsed. On that year the American President Richard Nixon resigned. It was a bad omen for the Empire of Ethiopia. Nationalists came to power everywhere and Marxist began to shore up for power. The spirit of democratic value was enshrined among the members of EPRP. Democracy was neither a luxury nor a Western concept as was envisaged by the opponents of EPRP. Democracy has a universal value. That was neither Russian nor American. It was Eathiopian too. The exchange of prize between Wallelign and Zewge Fanta was a case in point.
To concretize it, we have stated that EPRP has a vision, a mission, and a goal and a plan of action, whats needed is a resource or budget to implement it.
Fortunately or unfortunately, EPRP are those who sacrifice their land, property, and their lives to the cause of the Eathiopian Revolution. The Eathiopian Revolution is a continuum. It is a human race for peace not prosperity as the current Meles government attempt to portray a distorted picture of Eathiopian realty.
But who leads this Eway Revolution of
The Heavenly Stars have existed to hover over Eathiopia since the beginning of life on Earth. One can see with a naked eye. No one needs a telescope or a microscope in the
Whats more interesting is the fact that the Stars gave us direction as to how to relate and follow them with our heart via DOB.
Where is Tupac? That is the question for African American
Where is Haile Sellasie I? That is the question for Ras Tefferians.
Where is Debteraw? That question was asked by Getachew Redda of Semay. There was no follow up though. May be Getachew is looking up in the sky. But I know that DEBTERAW IS NOT DEAD. He is here on Earth. Our mission is to find him before aliens find him. He belongs to the Human race. He is ours.
The search for DEBTERAW is the key to reconciliation and for maintenance of the Peace Machine. DEBTERAW represents rebel with a cause, arts & culture; philosophy/religion; compassion/passion; and above all courage to bring freedom to d and D and justice to all humanity. Let us immortalize him.
For questions and comments
β History & Culture = ዘር፤ the current government confuses Geez with Latin letters
з ABC = Anja-Bitena-Continuum: This sequence is only relevant for the Party Organ.