The original creed of Ethiopianism

Thursday October 15th 2015

By Zecharias Zelalem.

Ethiopianism.

Feeling of belonging or yearning to the historical mysterious nation, the melting pot of many beautiful peoples.

Unfortunately, far too many have risen in the name, and crests of Ethiopianism to promote ideals which clash with what was the true unadulterated, unmodified spirit of nationhood. Throughout our history, we have seen a plethora of zealous, outspoken personalities stand up and attempted to carve their version of Ethiopianism into the mindsets of the masses by either the musket, the sword, or with prayer books. Being the complex, diverse opinionated people we are, countless resisted and countless died resisting these ideals being forced unto them without their consent. It resulted in the idea of Ethiopianism being loathed by many.

But are all flag waving nationalists really just putting on a modern day renaissance fair glorifying yesterday’s bloody gory union which had our people forcibly abiding by a protocol taught to them by gun toting zealots?

I disagree.

Ethiopianism wasn’t established at the UN General Assembly, it wasn’t voted in at a referendum. This we all know very well. But what we don’t know is that unlike the nationalist sentiments of other countries, there is no “father of the nation.” No father of Ethiopian nationalism. Unlike what the detractors of our unity preach, Ethiopianism WASN’T established by any monarch or any folk hero. Ethiopianism predates all the symbols, slogans and maps which have been modified and redrawn over and over by our long line of self declared saviours.

Long before armies of conquest established themselves, the inhabitants of modern day Ethiopia lived amongst each other. Sure it may have been under different governorates or kingdoms, but trade, cultural exchanges and inter ethnic marriage were widely practiced without any boundaries demarcating the people’s desires to mingle. Indeed the people of ancient Ethiopia were long acquainted with their kin of different linguistic groups, different cultures, different governing systems and religions. The recognition of nations and nationalities, the equal status of languages was never a hotly contested issue by people who had the virtues of tolerance and openness embedded in them. The Beta Israel Jewish customs were embraced by those adhering to the Orthodox Christian ways of life. The Muslim merchants of the east honoured the Gadaa system’s workings and vice versa. The uncountable semitic, cushitic languages were spoken all across the modern day map that created generations of bilinguals and trilinguals, people that were seen as handy and could trade or farm or settle disputes across different regions. Despite it being the harsh yet simple life of agriculture, these people, free from the dogma of self righteous ideologues who would come to transform the region forever, long facilitated understanding and love amongst so many people of extremely diverse upbringings. This era is when we unofficially became one Ethiopia. It wasn’t mapped out, there are no dates for it. With this in mind, one can justly conclude that Ethiopianism is not born of a personality cult. The original spirit of Ethiopianism was established by the peoples, for the peoples.

The existing harmonious atmosphere wouldn’t be enough to satisfy the greed of plunderers and supremacists of all stripes. They arose in the names of religion and country. They wreaked havoc and created mistrust and bloodshed amongst brotherly peoples. Hijacking Ethiopianism for all too malicious endeavours, their impure intentions cost the lives of endless of our poor brethren. Their simpleminded thinking had them assuming that there were no long term consequences for their callousness. But the it ticking time bombs they left behind exploded repeatedly over the past century, resulting in a rocky, turbulent era.

Despite the misery and woe they caused, their wrongdoings didn’t break the will of the people to calculate wisely. These peoples, despite now being under the gun of slavetraders and feudal lords, would put their differences and grudges to the side and rally alongside their countrymen to combat the menace of European colonialism.

Unlike what is preached by many historians and unlike what is ululated in the hymns of many a war song, these people didn’t send their sons to trek off to battlegrounds seduced by the charm of a charismatic king. No, they weren’t lured out of their wits by personalities.

Women of Hamar ethnicity, one of many ethnic groups belonging to the Omotic communities of southern Ethiopia. (Image credit: BBC)

The extremely diverse people of this nation stood up as one to heroically fend off the threat of expansionist Europeans out of a will to fight and die for the people that for generations they had lived with, prayed with, traded with, celebrated with and mourned with. The watchful eye of their Creator wouldn’t miss them and they knew they would be judged harshly had they caved in and surrendered to the evils of tribalism at a time when Africa needed a united warrior nation the most.

That my friends, is what Ethiopianism is all about.

So why are so many corrupted convoluted versions of Ethiopianism being preached by passionate so called patriots? Why is our ancient tricolour flag being used as a banner promoting simple celled beliefs and harvesting division by so many today? Why has the name Ethiopia been rendered synonymous with the effort to censor our unique identities? Why is Ethiopianism being used to cloak racism, intolerance, hate and manipulation?

Because it pays dividends for wolves to appear in sheep clothing. Before the realisation that these false messengers are injecting poison into the Ethiopian bloodstream, they will have succeeded in spreading a great deal of hatred.

But Ethiopia is still standing, and despite the emergence of more false prophets who are abusing the newly begotten self awareness and attempting to cause a massive keeling in to the most primitive of instincts, the original Ethiopianism still strives, Getachew from Gojam, Feyissa from Wollega and Woldu from Shire, your everyday men and women, farmers, teachers, doctors, drivers, nurses still continuing in the footsteps of their ancestors haven’t stopped the intermarrying or the intertrade that first created our union, millenia and counting.

I will live my life dedicated to doing all that I can to preserving this timeless spirit of Ethiopianism and combatting those who attempt to scuplt it into a double-edged sword. Let us all stay true to this course, and simultaneously honour our ancestors, our forefathers, our martyrs and our folk heroes.

Long live Ethiopia.

My name is Zecharias Zelalem.

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