By Yohannes Gebresellasie  (Ph.d) Addis Ababa

In our era of 21st century, currently we saw in Gonder the unprecedented and senseless cruelty and cold blooded murder in its worst form and shape. This act of brutality based simply on xenophobia by some few individual criminals guided and order by the rogue regime in Asmara and his servant mercenaries: few toxic Diasporas over innocent Tigrians residing in Gonder cannot be imagined by any sense of humanity. This recent barbaric and inhuman act was simply malaise and regrettable. It must not have happened to any one least to fellow Ethiopian brothers and sisters: the people of Tigray origin. Is that the reward the people of Gonder give to their Tigrian  brothers and sisters who did more than their share fighting the Derg regime and lost over sixty-thousand lives and over one hundred thousand of them currently living with disabilities? What a great shame!

When I came to learn about the incident, I asked myself: were all that sacrifices Tigrians put towards the national cause really worth it? I think it was worthy because the cause of fighting dictatorship and liberating fellow Ethiopians from dictatorship was a noble thing to do and was worthy fighting for. What is not worthy, repulsive and hideous was to see people murdering those people who stood side by side with them during their bad times, emancipated them from dictatorship and gave them everything they had to bring them freedom treating them with  cruelty, brutality and savagery manner. What a great shame!  I hope that such inhuman and savagery act will never happen again anywhere and that people will take a lesson or two from that savagery act of murder. Does that remind us of the homicide Inter Hamoy that happened few years back in Ruanda?  Never again!

Here it is important to note that Ethiopians stand in unison to condemn the senseless brutality act and mass execution of people of Tigray Origin, The Federal and the Regional police forces deployed to safeguard the public at large in Gonder by the criminal mercenaries. I wish to express my condolences to the families of the victim.

The people of Gonder have lived with their Tigrian brothers and sisters in peace and harmony. The same happened with the intermarriage between them. They have known each other and considered each other as brothers and sisters and helped each other in good and in bad times since time immemorial. The people of Goner just like other Ethiopians have protected and preserved Ethiopia’s freedom, safety, security and territorial integrity fighting internal and external enemies of our nation with their brothers and sisters since time immemorial. They also fought aristocratic and dictatorial regimes side by side with the rest of their Ethiopian brothers and sisters. Gonder has produced gallant freedom fighters like Adisu Legesse, Teferea walewa, Tamerat lynie and many others who stood against the former military dictatorship: The Derg and fought side by side with their Tigrian brothers and sisters and comrades: Seium Mesfen, Sebhat Nega, Abay Tsehaye, Meles Zenawi and thousands of other Tigrian fighters in order to liberate the nation from dictatorial military regime in order to bring peace, security, prosperity and democracy to our people.

The people of Gonder are perhaps the closest people to the people of Tigray. They have the same culture, tradition, way of living and physical and psychological makeup as the people of Tigray. One cannot differentiate a person from Gonder from that of Tigray. Most of the people in Gonder speak or understand Tigrigna and almost all people in Tigray speak or understand Amharic. An excellent testimony of that are Gonder students studying in different universities in Tigray. They live and study in Tigray speaking their birth language Amharic and even speak the local language Tigrigna. They live and study in Tigray with no problem, none what so ever. In fact, the local people give more respect and hospitality to them than their own residents. At one encounter in Mekelle with one student from Gonder studding at the University of Mekkele, I came to learn from him that he was not ready to go back to Gonder after his graduation because he loved the city and the people of Mekelle and he considered Mekelle as his birth place. He added that he will stay there at least until his girl friend’s (who happened to be Tigrian) graduation on the coming two years. This kind of relationship is what is happening within the rest of the regions of our nation and this is what is expected from all Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of our nation in our era of 21st century. That relationship between and among our people is what we inherited from our ancestors and that noble relationship is what we must pass to the next generation and not violence, conflicts and wars.  Conflicts and war, illegal and violent activities as ways and means of achieving individual, group or institutional goals and objectives will always have detrimental consequences on peace and development of any nation because they cause damage, destruction and underdevelopment that are highly regrettable.

The nation was saddened by the recent regrettable incident that happened in Gondar. Few chauvinists guided by the rogue regime of Asmara burned public transport, killed people of Tigray Origin, killed Federal and regional police deployed for public safety, destroyed hotels especially those owned by Tigrian business people.  This became a major cause of loss of human lives and destruction of invaluable materials. As there are Tigrians in Gonder, there are and should be Gonderes in Tigray because that too is their country. There are millions of Gonderes everywhere in different places in Ethiopia and they have been living side by side with their Ethiopian brothers and sisters of different languages, religions, cultures and traditions for centuries. Few negative people want to deny them of these precious values and norms they shared together for centuries. How can one separate these men from mercenaries?  A mercenary sells his country and his people for money. That is exactly what these mercenary men have done in Gonder. These mercenaries are guided by Shabia and his loyal mercenaries in the Diaspora  from their sanctuary in North America living comfortably there and wanting Ethiopians who live in this country together sharing their values and norms for centuries to kill each other. What these mercenary men do not know or do not want to know however that is here in Ethiopia, there is a tradition where all people live understanding each others’ language, culture, religion and tradition. However, these mercenary men are full of hatred and are racists, bigots and ethno-centrists; therefore, they do not possess peace internally and consequently; they are dominated by fear, hate, mischief, sorrow and many other wrongful acts. These negative deeds revolve around them and they become internally and mentally sick. Further, since they are not peaceful externally, they are less tolerant and they have developed aggressive behavior and aggressive act such as violence both verbal and physical. As a result, they not only become major instigators for both human as well as material damages and destruction but they also become causes for instability, lawlessness and anarchy.  Therefore, all Ethiopians must be very careful not to be associated with such sick people.  Instead, they should focus and work hard in order to fight poverty, eliminate conflicts and wars, guarantee prosperity and most importantly preserve and retain peace in a country.

Whereas it is very clear that peace is extremely momentous for everything positive, it can also slip away if people are not careful and if they become too much reluctant. Peace as precious as it is can easily be disturbed by peace-hating people like the ones we currently saw in Gonder and the result of this could be catastrophic and dangerous. It is important therefore, that people give their utmost value and significance for peace because without peace nothing can be achieved. Further, whatever time they might take, these fundamental phenomenon of a civilized society will help narrow differences, strengthen healthy relationships and cooperation amongst the public at large and most importantly help reduce and avoid damage and distraction and enhance mutual respect and unity in diversity.

We are living in the 21st century Ethiopia and Ethiopia has a constitution. The constitution of the nation puts all Nations, Nationalities and Peoples on equal footings and safeguards their rights and responsibilities. Further, the constitution creates unity in diversity and recognizes and respects the over eighty-five ethic groups in Ethiopia with the same status.

It is very important to underscore the significant role that can be played by the Diasporas in promoting and advancing dialogue, tolerance and other peaceful ways and means of resolving differences be it individual, group or political parties. Since Diasporas by and large reside in countries with rich experience in tolerance, dialogue and other similar peaceful conflict resolution mechanisms and since they live and experience those norms, they are best suited to contribute their experiences to their country of origin. They can play a significant role in promoting those values and norms to the society with less experience in that regard. In other words, they must help in transferring those peaceful values that they take for granted in places where they reside and the achievements gained as a result; as opposed to advocating violence and other illegal activities in order to achieve personal, group or institutional goals. Diaspora’s gift for their country of origin should therefore primarily focus on promoting peace, stability and sustainable development and certainly not violence, anarchy and lawlessness.

Ethiopians must learn to appreciate each other’s cultural, linguistic, ethnic and religious differences and maintain tolerance and respect to the rule of law. Further, the people both from within and the Diaspora must focus on development issues to improve the economic condition of the country. Generally, peace and tolerance are cornerstones to achieving developmental endeavor and therefore, they should not be taken for granted.

It has been over twenty-five years now that the Ethiopian people began to enjoy peace, democracy and good governance and focus on sustainable development in order to get rid of another chronic envy: Poverty and under development. The country has been going on the right track since this government came to power and most importantly, the people lived in peace and harmony. Violence and anarchy has been an issue of the past and people focused on development, investment, education and training in order to put their nation forward. All these, they realized can only be achieved if there is peace. They also realize that all the achievements they achieved can only be sustainable in the absence of violence and in the presence of peace, democracy and good governance. The Ethiopian people do very much want to maintain and safeguard their achievements over the years gained through hard fought struggle and immense sacrifice. They definitely do not want to give up and loose to some mercenaries who would like to take them back to the old and archaic mentality. Democratization, good governance and sustainable development are matters of survival and not or choice for the public at large; therefore, they are here to stay and never to be hijacked by some religious fundamentalists and extremists from within and the Diaspora. The important achievements of the Ethiopian people have been safeguarded by the constitution of the land that explicitly recognizes equality of all religions.

Ethnic extremism, terrorism and advancement of hate propaganda using race cover up and xenophobic agenda is a thing of the past, an obsolete, archaic, uncivilized and backward phenomenon that this dynamic and vibrant generation of the 21st century cannot and will not accept. However, few extremists and terrorists take advantage of the many different interpretations of xenophobic agenda in order to appropriate the function of xenophobic agenda. For example,, Fundamentalists often use extremism in order to divert the overtly racist imagery assumptions that classify certain groups of people on the basis of ethnic differences into a discourse of assimilation. It is through the shift from a belief in ethnic determinism to assimilation that racist assumptions became prevalent. As a result, cultural analogies are replaced by ideas about fixed differences on the basis of ethnicity. The problem occurs when ethnic fundamentalism fails to recognize the dynamic, fluid nature of culture, especially where other ethnic groups are concerned. The implication for a static perception of religion is dangerous; “stereotyping” and “othering” are processes that occur as a consequence. It is through these processes that racist assumptions become “common sense” by using notions of “ethnicity”. As a result, discourse begins to centre on ethnic differences and one hears: “They are all like that”, “they can’t help doing that”, “it is part of their nature..” etc. Racist discourse then becomes legitimized because of fundamentalism. As a result, other ethnic groups are viewed as “others” and negative perceptions abound because of the very ethnic differences that ethnic extremism has sought to validate. However, this new generation knows how to identify the good from the evil. Further, this young generation is busy focusing on building and re-building this nation because young Ethiopians are recipients and future leaders of this nation; therefore, they cannot afford to be mislead by those individuals and groups who spread hate propaganda. Further, young Ethiopians cannot spend their precious time on divisive, unproductive and malevolence agenda: a manifestation of the enemy of their country and their people.

Tolerance as part and parcel of the Ethiopian culture has been instrumental to and a binding factor of the Ethiopian social and/or communal relationships. In other words, tolerance is a symbol of Ethiopianess. This binding factor has helped Ethiopians to share joy and jubilation together as a people during good times and console each other as a people during difficult times and that, despite their religious, linguistic or any other differences. It further helped Ethiopians fulfill their citizenship rights and responsibilities jointly and helped create a sense of belongingness and love and respect for fellow Ethiopians on the one hand and for the motherland on the other. It can be argued that within the Ethiopian context, tolerance, love and respect for a fellow citizen takes precedence and is given a paramount importance despite religious, linguistic or any other differences. This cultural trait that has been transcended from generation to generation is a solid expression of the Ethiopian way of life. Anyone, individual or group that may try to bring to this country the real problem of extremism, terrorism and xenophobic agenda under the banner of fundamentalism to infiltrate this highly embedded culture and to create a division amongst the Ethiopian people simply to advance hidden agenda better read the history of the Ethiopian people. Those who tried failed time and again rather deficiently and those who have a propensity to try are doomed to fail. In our era of globalization, nations are getting closer and closer for shared experience and for shared prosperity. Nations are also caring more and more for each other as they have realized that they all live in the same world and thus have to look after each other and not hate each other.


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