The folly of dubbing Ethiopia "black colonizer

By Robele Ababya / March 27, 2008

“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” - Albert Einstein

”Land to the tiller” was a passion - a darling slogan for those of us involved in the period of the struggle leading to the outbreak of the Ethiopian revolution of 1974 G.C. In the aftermath of the revolution, various political orientations emerged including copycats of the works of Marx, Engel, Lenin, Stalin, Mao et al. The copycats made a mess of applying the works of Marx to the socio-economic conditions of technologically, scientifically and industrially backward Ethiopia. Self-styled ‘paragons’ of the communist ideology including EPRP (old) and TPLF ardently supported the ill-conceived theory that the Eritrean question is a colonial issue which must therefore be resolved in that context. The resultant realities on the ground now are that: Ethiopia is dismembered; Zenawi is the landlord and the peasants are slaves in his serfdom; pillaging of national assets is rampant; civil liberties are outlawed; freedom of information including academic freedom in tertiary institutions is contemptuously denied; justice for martyrs is blocked – to mention but a few of the colossal damages inflicted on our motherland.

The biggest worry now is that Ethiopians have no leader they can trust to reverse these horrendous damages.

The tarnishing of our country’s image owes its origin to a well-calculated and ill-conceived strategy to undermine Ethiopia’s principled contribution to the success of liberation movements on the African continent including neighboring Somalia and Djibouti. The sad thing however is that hardliners of national liberation movements supporting secession seem to put the country on par with European colonizers of the 19th century at this time when neo-colonialism and the scramble for Africa is a frightening ominous sign of the onset of subordination to outside powers with insatiable appetite for the abundant resources and labor available on the continent at cheap prices.

During the era of scramble for Africa, Ethiopian monarchs, despite the backwardness of their country in science and technology, did their best to resist occupation by far more powerful Western colonizers. Embracing the spirit of Ethiopiawinet and Andinet is long overdue. Believing in ourselves is a powerful tool for true Ethiopian renaissance... There is moral and political obligation on the part of elites at home and in the Diaspora to confront the Zenawi regime in the spirit of indispensable value of unity in diversity. Unity is the sole weapon of our survival as a democratic powerful and respected nation of 80 million people of diverse cultures living in an environment of democracy, prosperity, tolerance, mutual respect and harmony under the supremacy of law and justice. Resurrection of Ethiopiawinet and Andinet is gathering momentum.

Quintessential value of the Battle of Adwa

Emperor Menelik’s victorious army in the Battle of Adwa comprised hundreds of thousands of volunteer militia representing all ethnic groups of Ethiopia including 8000 Oromo cavalry praised for its ferocity’’ skill and courage in dealing a humiliating heavy blow to the invading forces of General Oreste Baratieri. Evidently the victory of Adwa is as much a proud heritage for black people everywhere as it is for Ethiopians of all ethnic groups whose ancestors lost their lives and shed their blood in the battle field. The quintessential value of freedom and independence crystallized in the victory is a permanent monument which all black people of the world hold with pride. Adwa is a sacred place of common heritage to all Ethiopians. Long live Adwa!!!

Ethiopia’s support for liberation movements

It is a matter of record that Ethiopia played vanguard roles in rendering genuine assistance to liberation movements in the African continent. Leaders of such movements including those of Somalia received training in Ethiopia. The irreplaceable Prime Minister of Ethiopia, the late Aklilu Hapte Wold, strongly argued in favor of independence for Somalia. The Dergue regime strongly supported the independence of Djibouti; it gave substantial support and training to freedom fighters of Zimbabwe and Angola.

Unfortunately, Siad Barre incessantly accused Ethiopia as a colonizer. He eventually invaded our motherland at a time he considered propitious immediately after the fall of the Imperial regime taking advantage of internal division within our country and the execution of top officials by the Dergue regime. As usual Ethiopians set aside their differences and dealt a heavy blow to the invading army of Barre that eventually led to the failed state of Somalia.

Ethiopians rightly condemn the present occupation of Somalia by the Zenawi regime and the resultant gross abuse of human rights.

Cardinal question to answer

The victorious army of Menelik comprised patriotic volunteers who rallied behind him armed with their own weapons and carrying their provisions. They did so in order to pay the ultimate sacrifice to defeat the enemy. Why this unity was possible if the Monarch was was perceived as a colonizer?

Ethiopians rallied behind Emperor Haile Selassie in the fight against Fascist Italian aggression of 1936. For the first time in the history of the African continent, Ethiopians of all nationalities organized into guerilla forces and beat a hell out of the invaders. Why so if the Emperor was perceived as a ‘black colonizer’?

The coward dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam, claimed that six million Ethiopians volunteers rallied to the call for the defense of their motherland against the invasion by the armed forces of Somalia under the leadership of Dictator Siade Barre. The famous training camp Tatek was inundated with volunteers mostly from the south, west, and south west of Ethiopia at the time this writer visited the camp. How was this possible if the volunteers perceived Ethiopia as a colonizer?

Most of all, Ethiopians in all regions of their motherland overwhelmingly rejected the Zenawi regime in the historic election of 15 May 2005. How so if there were perception of ‘black colonizer’ on the mind of the over 25 million participants in the historic referendum?

The question should be answered in fairness taking into account the intelligence of the Ethiopian people.

The intentional or misled culprits who should take the blame for distorting history are conspicuous in varying degrees as briefly presented below mainly for the benefit of young readers.

Zenawi leading the pack in the charade

Zenawi came to power by selling Ethiopia as a ‘black-colonizer’ to ready buyers in the Middle East and to Siad Barre of Somalia, which was a haven in his days as guerilla leader. But he has now invaded it causing havoc in the country poorer than our own poor Ethiopia. Surely, this brutal invasion will earn the tyrant the disrepute of being the first colonizer in the 21st century of a neighboring sovereign country. Ironically, he colonized Somalia after years of deceptively misleading the pack of national liberation movements. Now that he is at the helm of power in Ethiopia and regionally influential due to the support of the Bush administration, the question arises as to when the acronym TPLF will disappear and EPRDF will be disbanded to confirm him an absolute ruler under a new party name.

The overwhelming majority of Tigreans take pride in Ethiopia not only as their identity but also as their achievement. In the article entitled “Book chronicles TPLF servitude to Eritrea” - posted on Ethiomedia on 6 March 2008 – it is reported that the author of the book, Asgede G. Selassie (one of 11 founders of TPLF) gives a mountain of evidence to the effect that right from its initial days the TPLF leadership was the servant of EPLF. Further revelations keep coming exposing the secretive clique within TPLF working as agents of Shaebia. These revelations will further galvanize the gallant people. Tigrayans are now coming loud and clear that they were at no time a colony struggling for secession but dissidents in pursuit of democracy and prosperity in concert with millions of their oppressed fellow citizens in other regions of Ethiopia.

Zenawi is increasingly unpopular throughout Tigrai and is considered a liability to his foreign mentors. His constituency in Adwa is bound to slip away from him. Trust in his leadership has long vanished from the minds and hearts of the overwhelming majority of the Ethiopian people. He holds a red hot ball in his hands with the acronym TPLF inscribed on it. He may keep it for some time to give false hope to the few die-hards in his inner circle.

It is argued by management gurus that mutual trust between followers and leaders of government or business enterprises is indispensable in the 21st century. It may interest readers to mention that a graceful elderly lady on television (in the previous century) said that trust was the reason she supported the candidacy of Robert F. Kennedy for President of the USA because she would trust him in power as she would her own son on her lap. Trustworthiness is an all pervasive attribute that modern society would like to see in leaders, whether in industry or government. It goes without saying that Zenawi rules solely by the power of the gun because he has lost the TRUST of the Ethiopian people.

‘Black- colonialist ’ Ethiopia is a charade made prominent by TPLF ‘intellectuals’ in Dedebit for alluring followers unsuspecting of their evil motives. Tarnishing the image of Menelik II by the Zenawi regime has backfired. It is gratifying that national liberation movements of his creation are aware of his evil design to play the divide-and-rule game based on ethnicity. Zenawi has long gone bankrupt, politically.

Mother of all lies told by Shaebia (EPLF)

Eritreans were asked the historic single question of choosing between slavery and freedom in the referendum leading to their ‘independence’. The choice was obvious in that Commissioner, Dr. Amare Tekle, proudly announced the foregone conclusion that 99.83% chose freedom. The name ‘Eritrea’ coined by the real colonizer Italy was not subject of the referendum; it is not known whether a new name was considered by the author of the now dormant Shaebia constitution. Both the author of the constitution and the overseer of the referendum were educated under the Imperial regime. The duo could not have achieved that level of education under the real colonizer Italy whose policy was to ensure that the colonized would go no further than 4th grade basic education. Under the rule of the colonizer, downtown Asmara was out of bounds for blacks except for specific duties at specified times. One wonders what was running in the conscience of the learned duo in the process of actualizing the independence by equating Ethiopia with the real colonizer, Italy.

It is known that the majority of Eritreans paid enormous sacrifices for return to their motherland Ethiopia from which they were forced to separate for 50 years of Italian rule and 12 years of British administration under the UN mandate. Thus people bound by blood, culture and friendship found each other again in 1952 discounting the myth of Ethiopia as a colonizer. But they were treacherously separated again by the combined might of TPLF and Shaebia. The 1998 to 2000 war between the two claimed the lives of 100, 000 able-bodied young fighters of productive age on both sides. The political future is uncertain. Blatant lie told by Shaebia portraying Ethiopia as ‘black-colonizer’ resulted in the miseries besetting the Eritrean people. God forbid another fratricidal war.

Share of ONLF in the deplorable Ogaden crisis

The misrule by the despotic Zenawi regime and gross human rights violation in Ogaden territory of Ethiopia is equally as reprehensible as similar abuses in many parts of the country. The ONLF leadership is also to blame for its agenda of secession, which is politically unpalatable to the overwhelming majority of Ethiopians averse to contemplate dismemberment. Ogaden is historically Ethiopian territory. Ethiopian patriots of the stature of Afework Dejazmatch (posthumously promoted to this rank) and his valiant soldiers shed their blood there fighting the invader Fascist Italy during World War II. Separatist agenda would be in breach of the OAU Charter which stipulates that colonial boundaries should stand as marked. Therefore Ethiopians will not entertain the idea of losing the Ogaden but will welcome the principle of unity in diversity.

Shake-up in EPRP is a good omen

The onset of white terror led to red terror. That was a horrendous political mistake of the EPRP (old) leadership in firing the first bullet to kill their opponents. The other blunder is that they argued that the Eritrean problem is a colonial question and should be resolved in that context. During the invasion by Siad Barre, their cadres in the battle field actively opposed Ethiopian forces fighting to repulse the aggressor in the Ogaden. It was heart-breaking to see the exodus of Ethiopians in the Ogaden for safety in the north of Ethiopia.

Recently, leaders of EPRP (old) known for their greed for power played an active role in splitting the CUDP (KINIJT); they did so out of jealousy of the popularity of CUDP because their secret inflexible doctrine of ‘second to none’ was seriously threatened. Their superiority complex unfortunately frustrated a series of efforts to pose a united front to tyranny. They are now politically bankrupt. The split is welcome. Good luck to EPRP (d)!

OLF expected doing more in dispelling mistrust

Commentaries by the OLF radio broadcast on 04 February 2008, 07 February 2008 and 12 February 2008 seemed to convey a glimmer of hope that there is serious consideration by the leadership to dispel mistrust in their call for unity of all ethnic groups in the struggle for democracy in Ethiopia. The first broadcast carried positive commentary on the Battle of Adwa bringing to light that Emperor Menelik’s army included 8000 Oromos cavalry [mainly] from northern Shewa. In the second and third broadcasts a powerful message was sent to Zenawi that he can no longer pit the Oromos against Amharas, Gouraghes, Tigreans and other ethnic groups in his divide-and-rule gimmick. That should send a shiver down the spine of the tyrant. But the assertion in the broadcast that Ormos were not recognized for their contribution needs to be revisited in view of the facts captured in the following paragraph.

This writer has in one of his articles argued that Oromos were included in the corridors of political power in the governance of Ethiopia. For example, the renowned Fitawrari Hapte Giorgis Dinegde as Minister of War and the great warrior Ras Gobena Dache served their country with distinction during the reign of Menelik. The latter was one of two top dignitaries in the entire kingdom on whom the coveted highest rank of Ras was conferred. Mulugetta Buli and Abebe Gemeda served as Commanding Generals of the elite Imperial Body Guard under Emperor Haile Selassie. Proportionately much higher Oromo officers held key military and security posts under the Dergue regime. Therefore, it goes without saying that Oromos have been at the center of power all along from time immemorial. They will not surrender their heritage of victory in the Battle of Adwa; they will stay together in peace and harmony with other ethnic groups as demonstrated in the historic election of 15 May 2005 amounting to a referendum. The voice of the people will be respected. Now that it has come to light that TPLF was all along from the beginning subservient to EPLF (Shaebia), the OLF should consider closing its office in Asmara and take its rightful place as integrator of Ethiopia thus doing quite the opposite of Zenawi who is bent on the disintegrating our country.

Oromos in northern Shewa including this writer embrace Menelik II as one of their own by blood and fondly admire his ingenuity, statesmanship and compassion for the common person. Ethiopia or Abyssinia was understood by Europeans as the entire black Africa, the colonizing of which Menelik II did his best to resist. He was respected and given credit even by the colonizers as a hero who held his own in protecting the heritage of his ancestors.

The OLF should do more to dispel its image of a separatist ‘perceived’ by others. As claimant to its numerical superiority of being the first largest ethnic group in Ethiopia and the second in the African continent, it should project the image of a democratic force in the struggle for the stability of the Horn of Africa and ultimate unity of the continent. Self-determination including secession does not fit logically in its agenda of national liberation movement. Be liberated from which occupier and secede to where are two formidable questions it has to answer logically.

Oromos should embrace Menelik II as one of their own by blood. They should own and take pride in the victory of Adwa under His leadership. Bringing stability to the Horn of Africa is the responsibility of all ethnic groups of Ethiopia. The majority cannot run away from responsibility.

Unprovoked invasion of Ethiopia by Siad Barre of Somalia

Siad Barre invaded Ethiopia under the concocted pretext of a ‘black-colonialist’ when he thought the time was right. He did so in breach of the defunct OAU Charter. His reckless adventure ended his regime in disgrace and left Somalia in ruins as a failed state. It is despicable that Zenawi has invaded and now occupies Somalia, which was his haven under Barre. It is hoped that the occupation will end and the emerging government will not dub Ethiopia a black-colonialist. It would be in the best interest of neighbors in the region to respect colonial boundaries and concentrate on economic, social and democratic development.

Least costly way forward

Ethiopia endured the battering of the last 34 years unleashed by her own children. Her own sons and daughters portrayed her as a black colonialist. However, the historic election of 2005 gave us a tremendous impetus for a new beginning for justice, democracy and unity in diversity. There was a set back due to draconian measures taken by the Zenawi regime but the struggle for eventual victory continues by drawing in younger and educated leaders with capacity to learn from past mistakes and forge ahead with the now popular agenda of peaceful change through dialogue. .

The struggle for democracy should harmonize with the aspirations of the African Union. Baseless tarnishing of Ethiopia of the past as a black colonizer is anachronistic in the circumstances and an impediment to the free movement of peoples, commerce, and trade so vital to the development of Ethiopia and the continent.

The road to power must be through the ballot box in fair and free elections. Individual merit sanctioned by the Ethiopian people in a direct competitive election should determine who should become the president of the country with executive power. In this way, Ethiopians from small ethnic groups as small as Anuak, for example, can ascend to the helm of power on the basis of ability as sole criterion.

In closing

Dubbing Ethiopia ‘black-colonialist’ has weakened our country; it has also culminated in political bankruptcy for its perpetrators.

The Eritrean people are reportedly facing economic deprivation and political calamity under the rule of Isaias trading Ethiopia as a colonialist thus denying the historical bondage of the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea. In order to avert further catastrophy and regional instability a new federal arrangement with democratic content should be seriously considered. Colonial boundaries between Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and other neighboring countries must be respected in anticipation that those boundaries would have only nominal significance as the AU gains real strength...

The resurrection of Ethiopiawinet and Andinet is laudable but there is a long way to go and hard work remains to be done to establish trust. The divisive Zenawi constitution must be redone substantially in a way that citizens are ensured ownership of private property and the executive President of the country is directly elect on merit by the Ethiopian people.

Addis Ababa is a jungle of cement, glass and steel devoid of compassion for millions living in it in poverty while the ruling thugs bask in luxury. Ethiopiawinet or Andnet hardly make any sense to its deprived citizens who have lost their sense of belonging. Their miseries which are reflective of the entire country must change by putting in place a government that trusts its people and in is in turn trusted by the people.

Isaias and Zenawi have irretrievably lost the golden chance of building a powerful, democratic and prosperous federal republic of Ethiopia. The duo who has lost trust can blame no one but themselves for their utter brinkmanship and lack of vision. Their failure should serve as stark reminder to young Ethiopians and Eritreans to do better to avoid fratricidal war and unending acrimony resulting in miseries to their respective peoples bound by blood, culture and history.

The noble attribute in us of rising in unison against external aggression is a priceless value to keep for ever. It proves that ‘black- colonizer’ Ethiopia is a mirage. Offering ourselves as victims of internal internecine strife instigated by power hungry dictators must end once and for all by demanding peaceful change through the ballot box. We must make up for time lost in forging strong unity in combating horrendous tyranny by singing our own heroes, counting our blessings and respecting ourselves so that others will respect us.

Long Live Ethiopia!

The writer can be reached at