SOLUTIONS WITH DEBTERAW, II Call me by my name, address and task


By Obo Arada Shawl    December 13, 2008

Background Information

Aethiopia is a beautiful country. That is the only reason why the Aethiopians have kept their Independence intact. How, why and what kind of beauty? I leave the real answer to my readers.

But for me and for others who think like me, Aethiopia’s beauty lies in its natural-ecological beauty expressed in 13th months of sunshine as in Ethiopia and 3 seasons in just 2 hours of vehicular travel as in Eritrea. In other words, Aethiopia is endowed with mountains for cooling purpose and it is located near the Earth’s Equator for warming purposes. Isn’t that something of value to be thankful to God or to our ancestors? Adam and Eve (A&E) ገርሂ እና ድንቅነሽ

According to legend, the people who have inhabited this Land are righteous, humble and God fearing people. With my own experience, these Aethiopians didn’t differentiate between names, boundaries and careers. They all lived as nomads, herders, tillers, traders, warriors, bandits or teachers (debteras included).

Philosophically, these Aethiopians had lived on the principle of “live and let live” regardless of name, address or career differentiation. All of them are governed by Market Place በአገር ገበያ and not by Wall Street. I have been visiting markets – from Monday to Sunday as was part of my job and they all were located and based on open market. The amazing part, most of them speak their own dialects or languages with no sense of fear or indignation for not knowing the language of neither of the merchants nor of the government in power. To classify them on language basis is pure racism. There is neither market place for ideas nor for products that govern Aethiopians as at to date.

Technically, though, the Aethiopians were living in 17th or 18th centuries, as 90% of the land mass is without communication and transport services.

Those who conceived this situation had embarked upon developing freedom of social movement and the open economic market fabrics of the Great Society into the 20th century. Not in technical terms but in philosophical, ideological and political contexts.

Kiflu Tadesse who authored the book on “The Generation” has this to say

This is a book about a generation of Ethiopians who embarked on an arduous struggle to transform its country. The first members of this generation were born in the early 1940’s and the youngest in the early and mid 1950’s. It was a generation of activists who came together because of altruistic aims and goals. It was a generation that was visionary, idealist and perceptive and consisted of the most enlightened and brightest citizens. Many of the members of these groups were among the privileged few who had access to modern education. Most of them were successful academically and many were honor students

* Emphasis is mine

However, a widespread ignorance of a crucial nature in politics, philosophy and economics is apparent in today’s Aethtiopia. What has happened to the Ethiopian Eway Revolution? Was there something wrong with the stars or the Revolutionaries? What has intervened or what has happened in between the following years? The answer should come from my readers. Decipher the letter B. You will find the answer.

1961 – 1974 = 13 years

1974 – 1987 = 13 years

1987 – 2000 = 13 years

2000 – 2013 = 13 years

  • Hint: Menghistu brothers; international conspiracy against Aethiopia; peace deal and the dawn of DEMOCRACIA

If we cannot figure out the years of the software indicators for reflection, conspiracy, peace and downfalls for 52 years, then surely all our docile educated class have reason to believe that WMD (Wallelligne Makonnen – DEBTERAW) have brought to Aethiopia real WMD (weapons of mass destruction).

If this is the case, we have to revisit the software path of the Eway Revolution.

Again, Ato Kiflu continues writing in his preface as follows

“ An effort is made to portray events, incidents, decisions and activities realistically. Detailed analysis and interpretations of the activities are not provided, only the account of the history itself. This was done for the sake of fairness and with the intention to express the actual feeling of the fallen comrades. It is the intention of the author to tell their story the way it was made and the way they want it to be told and retold. The correctness or wrongness of events or decision is not the main focus, but an explanation of why things happened the way they did and the attenuating circumstances that influenced decision making.”

** Emphasis is mine

This week, I have visited the office of EPRP in Washington, DC. Although I have made several visits in the past, this is my first time to observe a special item of interest. Was it the set up of the office? No. Was it the variety of books? No. Was it the rack on which computers was place? No. Was it the radio room? It was none of the above.

It was a painting, hanging on a wall that attracted my attention. I have seen it a dozen of times but never figured it out the way I did it now. ልብ እንጂ ዓይን አያይም የሚሉት ትክክል ነው። The painting has been in the office for almost 2 decades, but to my amazement, I did not give the attention they (the personalities) or it (the painting) deserves.

Now that I have, what does this painting represent in EPRP’s office? Who were or who are these personalities? These three individuals were true comrades who honestly believed to be the pioneers in idealizing Aethiopia but only if they would be involved in the Eway Revolution. All three portray different family and education background but above all their true passion in each of the following areas of

  • Politics

  • Revolution and

  • Philosophy

Matters to all of the Great Society of past Ethiopia and the future of Aethiopia, for understanding these three departments of knowledge is a priority. I believe that without these precondition, nothing will go forward and albeit backward. For EPRP, these tasks have been carried out by many of its members and supporters and so the task of the party of EPRP will be focused on organization and leadership.

On Organization

Anyhow, let me go back to what I can decipher from the painting where I can contribute to the truth.

They are from left to right

  1. Wallelligne Makonnen ዋለልኝ መኮነን

  2. DEBTERAW and ፀገየ ገብረ መድህን

  3. Tilahun Gizaw ጥላሁን ግዛው

As widely believed to be, nameless and faceless members of EPRP and supporters are considered to be followers of Marx-Engels-Lenin. But that was and still is not true. Aethiopian Revolutionaries were not reading or following what Marx, Engles or Lenin have written or said, or as the paintings of MEL as displayed on Revolution or Meskal Square. The majority of EPRP supporters and associates were following their own national heroes of Wallelligne-Debteraw-Tilahun (WDT ሠዐፐ). Let us briefly examine what these personalities have represented and are still representing.


Wallelligne Mekonnen: on collectivism

Wallelligne was a person who deeply believed in independent thinking. He was an individualist who believed that collectivism in any form was wrong especially the type of Russian or the Chinese style. I am actually referring to our way of organizing principles -on the basis of nationalities – is very wrong. Organization should not be based on languages alone. Even by the standard of Stalin’s definition, language is one among many. True to Wallelligne’s nature, language be it any language including Amharic by itself is not a criterion for an identity. Wallelligne believed that language is only a tool for communication and a tool for thought processing. Nothing else. That was actually the main reason why he wrote the article on nation and nationalities in order to dispel oppression, as many believed that the culprit is the language of Amharic.

Since Wallelligne was a political science student as such, he was writing, thinking and acting on political level. He knew that the Amhara was a symbol of political affiliation not an economic or a cultural affirmation. He did not only address the problem of the national question but he had also attempted to redress it. It is up to us to follow his solution in the right context and in the correct way and not a la Woyane’s way. Wallelligne Mokonnen Kassa did not recommend the future of Eritrea as a state of nine nationalities or as many as eighty-one something in the Ethiopian case and worst at that solely based on geography or ethnic languages.

As to his organizational affiliation to EPRP, he was recruited or has recruited others on an individual basis not on a group or national as it was the case with the Woyane and Shaebia’s way of recruitment. Any EPRP member was convinced to join the organization on a personal level and not by threat or cheat. Wasn’t this a wonderful way of organizing a revolutionary political party. There is no regrets whatsoever for those who has joined on this principles of organization.

I have no doubt that Walleligne would abhor the concept of ethnic rule. Ethnic rule with all its dogmas and rules, traditions and dialects would surely be a mental disaster. Tribes will subsist on the edge of starvation and at the mercy of natural disaster. A man of self-esteem like Walleligne would not accept the notion that the content of his mind should be determined by muscles, namely by the means of unspecified string of ancestors. Determinism by Marxism is far superior to ethnicity. Collectivism based on language should be abolished. That was not the idea of WMK. Due Consideration might be given to the article of October 23, 2008 (call me by my address: Solutions with DEBTERAW, III). The proposal was not mainly based on the three individual’s wish, but of thousands especially with mixed parentage.

Tsegey Gebre Medhin – DEBTERAW: on myth

The mystic’s doctrine that men must give credit to God for all their virtues and vices was unacceptable to DEBTERAW. Religion encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history and mythology as well as personal faith and religious experience. Ritual myths of performance practices or patterns associated with temples or centers of worship, preliterate oral traditions that may vanish as the written word becomes the story and the literate class becomes the authority. Aethiopians must blame for all their sins upon themselves, is the mystic’s doctrine. The principle of men’s right to their own life, their liberty, to the pursuit of happiness would be the ultimate goal of all Aethiopians after the Eway Revolution as declared by DEBTERAW and his party.

However, social myths reinforce or defend social values or practices. On the one hand, in our cases, we have seen nationalist modern scholars such as Tecola Hagos (a Tigrian nationalist), Jordan Gebre Medhin (an Eritrean nationalist) whose works of studies was/is as exposed by Girma Bekele in his writings on ethnocentrism is distortion of the highest form.

DEBTERAW, on the other hand, expounded the traditional story, typically involving supernatural beings or forces of creature, which embodies and provides explanation. Justification (etiology) a religious belief or ritual or a natural phenomenon was clarified by DEBTERAW, Tsegeye G Medhin to anybody who needed at the time of the revolution.

Not all traditional stories are myths. For instance, a person or thing held in awe or generally referred to with near reverential admiration on the basis of popularly repeated stories be it real or fiction is not a harmful myth. Those who knew DEBTERAW personally can testify.

So what is wrong with being debtera? DEBTERAW has enlightened the Aethiopian population through traveling – physically, philosophically, socially, spiritually and above all via the Eway Revolution from Assimba via Tselemt, via the Abay river back to the Market Places of Aethiopia.

For those of us who do not know the difference between a debtera and a priest, the former is mostly responsible for education (spiritual life of community) whereas the latter has a representative function. Unlike that of the Jewish debtera, the Aethiopian debteras were part and parcel of the church hierarchy for they are poets, writers, musicians, dancers and healers. DEBTERAW has opposed the interference of the state into the affairs of the church and vice versa. By the way, the Independence of Aethiopia has been kept by the work of the debteras. The distinction between the task of the debtera and the priests is the same between personal and business matters.

Tilanhun Gizaw: on altruism

Tilahun Gizaw was the elected student president of USUAA. Tilahun was from the nobility of Tigrai state. His sister was married to Emperor Haile Sellasie’s son.

Tilahun has been taking courses in Sociology, which was not popular at that time in Haile Sellassie’s University.

However, from our class discussions and personal conversation, Tilahun had the following core beliefs

  • The right to own property over random search and seizure

  • Liberty over oppression

  • Natural right to life over the constant fear of death

After his failure to become a student president, he studied the true nature of Aethiopian societies condition and desire first hand. Unlike the unholy claim that he was against the fortune’s of his sister, Tilahun finally took the idea that when Aethiopians have the opportunity to choose, they will choose to be ruled by the consent of the governed not by the coercion of the Ethiopian State. This is what we globally call nowadays as the rule of law, not by the whim of the rulers. How true Tilahun was.

As to his altruism, I do not think, Tilahun had believed in this concept. I also think that the author Kiflu Tadesse’s statement of altruism did sink or match with the beliefs of most Revolutionaries let alone with all Aethiopians. Why? It is an appropriate question. Here is why.

Altruism is a condition, which refers to people who keep sacrificing themselves and their values. We have seen this state of conditions during the DERG era, the Anja era, the TPLF and the EPLF era. That is to say that altruists sacrifice their friends to enemies, their allies to their antagonists, their convictions to anyone’s wishes, the truth to lie, their strength to anyone’s weakness and the good to any evil.

There is a misconception about altruism in the Eway society. Altruism is confused with kindness or due consideration to others. In fact, altruism is a moral theory that preaches that man must sacrifice himself to others. In our revolutionary struggle, many people thought that the comrades should place the interest of others above their own and that they actually are required to live for the sake of others. Was this not our Aethiopian core of confusion? If it is not let us discuss and solve our problems.

The reason why Tilahun Gizaw participated in the Eway Revolution was simply to ameliorate the economic and the social conditions of all Aethiopians via the politics of democracy – allowing the will of the majority to prevail while protecting the rights of the minority, including the Royal Family.

Concluding remarks

Unless the term ‘generation’ has different meanings to Ato Kiflu, a generation is defined as the average time between a mother’s first offspring and her daughter’s first offspring. This makes a generation around 30 years in length. Compare this with 33 years of Jesus Christ as one generation. Sociologists mostly accept the classification of generation of Silent (1925-45); the Boom (1946-61); the Thirteen (1962-81); the Millennial (1982-2000) and the New Silent (2001-?). Ato Kiflu should rename his title of his book; otherwise, the generation he is referring to is dying out. It is time for detailed analysis and conceptual understanding of a generation. The struggle is still continuing with or without DEBTERAW. But Ato Kiflu seems to forget WDT. Let us all visit the EPRP office for a reminder of the living and the fallen comrades as Ato Kiflu has displayed a poem on the page of his book.

Ethnicity has a history of endless and bloody warfare. We should not wait for that to happen. Our only hope would be to be organized on a common cause and common ground. DEBTERAW has shown us the way to dispel mythology, Wallelligne has written and struggled until death to bring the solution to the problem of nations and nationalities and Tilahun has shown the courage for what was right and honorable in defiance to his social class. The painting that is hanging on the walls of EPRP office is a true reminder of Aethiopian role models for political leadership.

In other words, these three giant personalities have shown us

  • How to know ourselves

  • How to love our country and

  • How to differentiate one’s ally from the enemy

የዋለልኝ መኮነን የአገር መበተን ዘመቻ፤ የጥላሁን ግዛው የምንቀኝነት አባዜ፤ እና የደብተራው ፀገየ ገብረ መድህን መሰሪ ሥረ በተራው ሕዝብ ዘንድ ሰለተስራጨ ይህን ጽሑፍ ይነበብ።


For comments and questions



This entry was posted in Articles. Bookmark the permalink.