Friday, August 05, 2016

In what world is Gonder "ok"?

For years I have identified as an Orthodox Christian in practice, and as an atheist/agnostic/ignostic in theory. The precision of the latter is irrelevant to me because ... well, the topic isn't of great interest.I need to identify as Ethiopian Orthodox because despite my convictions I think and act within the value sets I was raised with. Sometimes I have successfully broken off cultural/religious norms, and sometimes not. In a place like Ethiopia where moderation of religious views is essential for peaceful co-existence, I think it's each citizens duty to support and influence where they came from. In my case, my responsibility is the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

I feel uncomfortable identifying as Amhara, despite what my ID says, because I think that if I identify myself as anything then I have to identify others as something (else). Also, coming from a mixed heritage,  it'd be a disservice to pick one over another. Again, one of the (imperfect) values I was raised with prompts me deal with issues at an "Ethiopian" level. In a perfect world, that'd be great. In reality, I have come to conclude that this mindset is akin to 'white privilege' -- if you don't feel the need to pick an ethnicity, then you must have it good. Still, I have been happy to engage others with their ethnicity AND consider issues without consciously having the need to be ethnically more inclined one way or another.

Then these Gonder protests happened. My first thought was, 'well, not too surprising'. The Wolqayt Tegede issue is something I'd heard of since the inception of the Kilils. What is surprising is why they picked 2016 to act on it. Or their 'solidarity' with Oromia -- since the two issues don't have much in common other than 'my enemy's enemy is my friend' type camaraderie. Anyway, I don't want to judge the severity of the reasons that caused Gonder to have mass protests -- maybe in the past 20 years there were progressive changes they couldn't take anymore.

What I will judge is the public display of property destruction, and the accompanying rally as if it's a jebd. Let's be clear: this is a bunch of Amharas going around destroying their Tigre neighbors properties because they believe their Tigre neighbors are members of TPLF. What are people going to cheer next, a bunch of Amharas going around killing their Tigre neighbors? What is this -- warming our way up to Rwanda?

Here are my 5 Amhara cents: if you want to protest, protest. If they beat you up, disperse. If you want to fight, fight the army, fight the police with the knowledge that they are trained to fight back.

But don't go on some bloody destruction rampage of the property of very people you'll live next to, whether or not you stay in Tigray or Amhara kilil, and expect me to cheer you on, or empathize with your plight. People on people violence is never, ever acceptable! 

As for the rest of Ethiopia watching this and staying silent: what goes around, comes around. Speak now, or forever hold your peace. And don't you even dare blame EPRDF, TPLF or whatever scapegoat slips off your tongue for baiting inter-ethnic violence -- remember Gonder, you did it to yourself!

Gonder, shame on you!

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