በልዩነት አንድነት (Unity in Diversity)

አንድነት የአብሮ መኖር መሠረት
በግዴታ ሳይሆን በውዴታ በሚገነባ ቤት
ልዩነትን የማይሽር የማይሰርዝ የማይፍቅ
የአንዱን የበላይነት የማያደምቅ
ሌላውን በኃይል የማይደፍቅ
የተለየን የማይገፋ የማያጠወልግ
ራስን መሆን ራስን ማስተዳደር የማይነፍግ
በወንድማማችነት በእህትማማችነት
መንፈስ የተሳሰረ ቤተሰባዊነት
የሚያስቀድም ሰብዓዊነት
የማያስር የማይገድል ያልሆነ ፍርደ ገምድል
የማያባር የማያፍን የማይነዳ ወደ ገደል
የማይጨቁን የማያደማ
የማይደፈጥጥ የሚያለማ
ከነጻነት ጋር ከቢሊሱማ
ከሓርነት ጋር በሰላም ዜማ!

***

***

We all are pencils,
but we come
in different colors,
shapes, and sizes.
There is unity
in our diversity
that we can harness
to draw a beautiful
rainbow…
Of humanity!

***

Confession:

I wrote the above piece after I read an article (earlier today) that remembered Ebbissaa Addunyaa who was a young, talented Oromo nationalist singer who composed and performed both political (pro-OLF) and love songs. He was extrajudicially executed by the current government on 30 August 1996, following the TPLF-OLF failed attempt to come up with a sensible power-sharing formula during the transitional period of Ethiopia, 1991-1994.

Ebbissaa was not just a regular singer, but also politically conscious activist who was openly critical of the ruling TPLF-EPRDF as he agitated the Oromo youth for uprising, encouraging them to join or support OLF to liberate Oromia; therefore, why he became an easy target.

As Eyasu Berhe was hailed a TPLF firebrand, young Ebbissaa was no doubt an emerging OLF firebrand, who, even after death, remains a favorite of most, if not all, Oromo nationalist youth.

Given both TPLF and OLF had been demonized and labeled as “bandits” under the Derg rule, one would have expected some sort of solidarity between them after Derg’s removal as they basically had similar “ethnic nationalist” ideology, which they still embrace; they also had almost the same grievance against the pre-1991 political system of Ethiopia. Unfortunately, power corrupts, and so the two barely enjoyed a positive relationship; never mind agreeing to compromise that could have shaped Ethiopia’s politics for good, perhaps.

To make matters worse, instead of pushing for ways to ending negative differences and healing historic and contemporary wounds, TPLF-EPRDF decided to label OLF as a terrorist organization after the latter quit the political scene in Addis Abeba and went back to armed struggle. The label is obviously bogus, though OLF has committed some terrible crimes against innocent citizens in the name of liberating Oromia.

The fact remains that both TPLF and OLF would have been labeled as terrorist organizations (an upgrade from “bandits”), and their members would have been executed extrajudicially, for sure, had the notorious Derg still stayed in power. Thus, let alone Derg; in the eyes of those who despise the ethnic nationalist ideology of both TPLF and OLF, the decision of the former labeling the latter as terrorist is more like the pot calling the kettle black.

Logically speaking, TPLF-EPRDF, as a party that once was a victim of extrajudicial practices, should be the last to be accused of committing such acts, but this is Ethiopia, where history most often repeats itself, sadly.

Currently, the weakened OLF is a ghost-like organization—one faction based in Asmara, Eritrea. But people are still mistreated in its name, charged with secret membership or indirect support.

The latest victim is Tesfahun Chemeda, an engineer and political activist, who died in jail this month. Considered pro-OLF, he was repatriated from Kenya against his will for interrogation in Ethiopia. OLF and other groups argue that Tesfahun was tortured to death though the government denies it.

Imagine some pro-ethnic liberation or pro-Ethiopia party coming to power tomorrow, and repeating exactly the same formula of injustice. That is a possibility, which is not surreal.

I may disagree with political ideologies, but I do not support extrajudicial practices against unarmed citizens who happen to oppose a status quo or allegedly support an anti-government party. Dissent must not be treated as a crime, but a necessity to keep a powerful government in check. Even if it is considered crime, it has to be tried in a constitutional court.

May Ebbissaa Addunyaa and Tesfahun Chemeda rest in peace. And many others (whether Oromo, Tigrayan, Amhara, Anuak, Sidama, Ogadeni, Afar, Hadiya, etc., or Mixed), who have died unjustly in Ethiopia, either in the past or the present, advocating for the rights of the people, also rest in peace.

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