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Ethiopia: The Circumstance of Citizen Psychology Under Ethnic Federalism



  07:22:46 am, by admin   , 1056 words  
Categories: Ethiopia

Ethiopia: The Circumstance of Citizen Psychology Under Ethnic Federalism

The Circumstance of Citizen Psychology Under Ethnic Federalism
By Geletaw Zeleke

Politics in its purest sense is the art of governance. This art should not be built upon differences of human language or culture but instead should rely on the dynamism of human creativity. Whenever politics are attached to bloodline, culture and language the play of governance is led off course. The nature of such political practices will infect and ultimately spoil the social system of multi-ethnic Ethiopia. In this piece let us discuss the psychological impact upon our fellow citizens of the crisis that has followed ethnic federalism in Ethiopia.
Citizens under a given political structure do interact for their survival. In the process of their day to day communication the existing political atmosphere affects them positively or negatively. When their culture and language are politicized, barriers to cross cultural communication arise. This kind of political atmosphere tries and tests citizen tolerance of culture and language difference. Eventually this feeling can grow to destroy the psychological attachments of different cultural groups.
One of the problems that can be seen in such identity politics is that citizens begin to generalize individual strength and weakness. Generalization in this context is that whenever an unreasonable action is carried out by a single group member the other members of the same group do not easily admit that the act was in fact unreasonable, especially to members outside of their group.
When a political figure does a good work the atmosphere of identity politics pushes us to discover his culture and language belongingness and to generalize his strength in terms of his group. Conversely, attempting to deny negative behaviors of ethnic elites and make excuses to mask their wrong behaviors happens since group members identify themselves in terms of their respective group. Internally as well as externally citizens can become irrational and reactionary in the political and leadership discussion process.
Whenever high ranking political leaders are accused of having committed a crime they fear other groups will judge them in a generalized way. Believing that the weakness of politicians will be considered a weakness of the whole group, transgression is easily overlooked. In this kind of political atmosphere citizens can not build trust between groups because generalization is a virus spoiling even fair judgments of individuals. This disease affects the whole justice system of the country and ultimately hurts national cohesion.
Identity confusion
Once identity politics darkened the spirits of Ethiopian citizens they were pushed to identify themselves by their culture and language groups. During this time those who were floating in the “melting pot”, as well as those who were enjoying inter-cultural life and those of mixed-ethnicity faced identity confusion.
When government offices began to write ethnic origin on citizen identity cards a lot of citizens were confused. The confusion came from citizen’s previous feelings of identifying themselves nationally to their current feelings of identifying themselves by ethnic group. They already believed that being Ethiopian was their identity but the new political climate was forcing citizens to re-identify themselves with their heritage.
In history, in the republic of Rwanda, interahamwe operators forced Rwandans to write their cultural identity on citizen identity cards. This trend highlighted the differences of Rwandans and was not promoted by cultural or traditional leaders but rather was led by government bodies. This practice seemed to accelerate the potential conflict.  
Separatism dilemmas
The political climate of identity politics causes citizens to develop feelings of separatism. As we have seen, ethnic federalism is a virus working to dismantle the confidence of citizens. First, trust between groups and the government is degraded making way for a lack of confidence of group elites concerning the uncertain future of the group. Next, in order to reduce uncertainty groups fall victim to identity politics or resort to politicizing their geography and culture. Finally, these trends bring about the state of being separated psychologically at which time groups stand opposed and for the sole benefit of their respective enclave.
Behaviors of the not only independent but separated ethnic groups are not based on justice and democracy but rather are driven by self-interest and checked only by self-preservation. They do not concern themselves with the cultivation of justice or the growth of development but instead invest their minds and lives to the business of their disparate localities.
Dysfunctional social cohesion
Ethnic federalism can damage the cohesion of Ethiopian ethnic groups as time goes by. Social cohesion is the guarantee of the continuation of multi-ethnic countries. The co-existence of ethnic groups is highly dependent on the health and quality of social interactions overall. Among the social systems that give life to the country is its political set up. If the political set up is a culture and linguistic oriented one, then it is natural that groups will develop a personality of suspicion and mistrust, especially, when the system is not worthy enough to rely on. Since the motive and the psychological down play of Ethiopian identity politics is a play of advantages (ene ekedim -ene ekedim). It is impossible to stop the feelings of mistrust among citizens unless the entire political arena is inoculated against this social virus.
The virus ultimately attacks all of the systems of the society not only the political system. The traditions of fairness of citizens will lose their place unless Ethiopians begin immediately to protect themselves from this virus of justice.
The emerging of revenge and hatred based political culture
Identity politics is never free and clear of revenge and hatred. Politics must be free from these thoughts. One of the ethnic federalism problem is that it victims political party leaders. Those who have power and control as well as their supporters will always work to maintain their power. Since ethnic-based politics have darkened the spirits of Ethiopians group grievances have grown year to year.
According to the failed state index the rise of the group grievance score is markedly increasing. In 2005 the score was 6, in 2006 it was 7, in 2008 the score was 7.8, in 2009 it was 8.2, in 2010 the score was 8.6, and in 2011 it was 8.4. This increase shows that the trust between ethnic groups is deteriorating rapidly. Again, Ethiopians must begin to take action to reverse the effects of ethnic federalism and to stop being the victims of hateful politics.


Comment from: gomaw [Visitor]

in the name of unity trying to full pple fkoff u are fulling ur self dedeb gondere

03/12/12 @ 15:55
Comment from: TEDDY [Visitor]

Do you know who did such evil actions by the past times where “government offices began to write ethnic origin on citizen identity cards ..” the then Rwandan
Habya Rimana and the South African
Apartheid evil Regimes .Which the crime minister and his Agazis with their butchela bandas are comparing the
Patriots .While actually applying the
same Ethno Facist System into the country to preserve the power they have usurpated from the peoples .

03/13/12 @ 03:03
Comment from: Gorash [Visitor]

The genuine solution will be let peoples decide their willingness either to live together or form independent states. For most ethnics current Ethiopia is concentration camp that forced them to stay there. May God bring a day when peoples decide how to be governed!

03/13/12 @ 04:52
Comment from: Afro Afra [Visitor]
Afro Afra

Unfounded baseless very weak argument with no substantial support for the claim and argument stated above. There is no relation between the title of the article and the article it self.  Mr. Zeleke’s point is the same old argument which is ethnic federalism is destroying Ethiopia, flourishing hostility among ethnic groups. Why a given groups of people reject the notion of multi ethnic Ethiopia, how granting ethnic groups to speak, govern and practice their God given religion would destroy Ethiopia? How could it create division and fosters ethnic hostility? Every opponents of the multi ethnic Ethiopia attempted to justify their hate for equality, justice, equity, and self governance of every ethnic group in Ethiopia as a danger to free and democratic society.  It is amusing how one could not see the contradiction in this argument.  The reason why they don’t see any contradiction in their argument is simple; these people didn’t see any problem in the previous system. They tell you “we all were one people living in harmony until the current government” “EPRDF came and divided as by religion, ethnic and region” we all have heard of that same old argument.  
One can not go against nature and win, the fact the mater is we all are not the same. We are different, but it is not a bad thing to be deferent, it just only the fact. Ethiopia is a multi ethnic society, we have Somali people, we have gambela people, we have the Oromo people, the Amhara people, we have the tigrepeople and the list goes on. My point being we are different. However, some people continue to argue other ways. They tell us we are one; we need to speak one langue’s, have one culture, and governed alike. The old system conception of ethiopianwinet is Amharanet, were every individual has to subscribe to the Amhara culture, langue’s, make sure to have an amhara name and become a true Ethiopian. If you failed to do one of the above you are not a true Ethiopian. By this definition yes it is true those who argue to the one Ethiopia proposition are correct; Ethiopians were one people, through forced Amharanisim upon them.  
I have nothing against Amhara culture or langue’s but, this system alienated various ethic minority, subjugated them, treated them as sub human, because of that most minority groups didn’t want to claim the title of ethiopiawinet since it was a symbol of injustice, discrimination, and sub human treatment. Despite all the fact and reality, the so called educated, elite Amhara facio appears to make a democratic, justice, and equality argument, despite the fact that the whole notion of one Ethiopia, is the most  brutal, undemocratic system that destroyed the unity of Ethiopia for centuries.  The current system is not perfect, it has ways to go, however, it has improved the freedom, equality, justice, and self representation, which is the first character of democracy, is being realized by the most oppressed minority groups. Is Ethiopian democracy perfect?  Is the answer is no,  but the system in place is truly freed ethic subjugation, now walking on Addis street you could hear people proudly speak their langue without feeling out of place in their country. People proudly will state their ethnicity with out feeling sub- human or inferior. Today in Ethiopia using ethnic defamatory words is against the law; every ethnic group has restored the true essence of humanity and self worth. In Ethiopia every ethnic groups is equal regardless.

03/13/12 @ 08:39
Comment from: Imperial Body Guard [Visitor]
Imperial Body Guard

“Unity is strength. No nation can divide within itself and remain powerful.” Important Utterances of HIM Negus Haile Selassie I, page 133

“The Federation instituted between the people of Eritrea and the rest of Ethiopia has tended to slow the speed of the economic and social progress of the entire nation, including Eritrea.
The Federation has increasingly been manipulated as a ready-made tool through which the enemies of Ethiopian and Eritrean progress and solidarity have endeavoured to further their evil designs.
The Federation contains the inherent danger of creating misunderstandings among people who have, for centuries past, experienced no problems in living together.
The Federation, by duplicating administrative apparatuses, has occasioned waste of both human and material resources which could have been otherwise utilized for development purposes.
One is accordingly fully justified in concluding that the unfortunate consequences of this particular form of federation and the needs of the age, and not any conscious effort on the part of the people concerned, have brought about its demise.
Any responsible person who has deliberated upon and examined carefully the unfortunate consequences flowing from the federal system under consideration will feel no surprise that the people of Eritrea, who have had the misfortune of being directly subjected to its adverse consequences, have urged and pleaded that it be eliminated and replaced by a unitary form of administration.” Selected Speeches of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, page 474-5

“It is not necessary to enumerate countries where the people and entire country having lost unity, spiritual or otherwise, have become playgrounds and laughing stocks of outsiders. The historical events of certain countries bear witness to this fact. In our own times, there are those expansionists who by shedding blood, desire to achieve their ambition and by dismembering themselves they are seen as tools for alien interests. Our people from Ethiopia shed blood, to save them from disintegration. Those personalities who believe in freeing a country by secession are selfish and prey to outsiders. We will not accept their motives.” Selected Speeches of HIM Negus Haile Selassie I, page 426

“The wealth of Eritrea is the wealth of Ethiopia and the wealth of Ethiopia is the wealth of Eritrea.” Selected Speeches of HIM Negus Haile Selassie I ,page 429

“Man can only begin an enterprise, it is for God to dispose of it to a good end.” Selected Speeches of HIM Haile Selassie I, page 391

Long Live the Constitutional Monarchy!
Long Live the Fetha Negast!
Long Live the Kebra Negast!
Long Live the United Nations Charter!
Long Live African Unity!
Fire burn down the neo-colonial witchcraft star of secession
Rise with the Lion of Judah!
Long Live Ethio-Eritrean oneness!
Long Live Independent Ethiopia!

03/13/12 @ 09:37
Comment from: Tom [Visitor]

And your problem is ? Oh wait who cares. There is two things I love in this world and that is America and meles zenawi . Every Amhara and Tigray who dreams of united Ethiopia claiming we are one you are WRONG and ignorent of ethiopias history and identity and makes you not one of us. What has south Ethiopia given us . I will give u a year to answer this question. Do you know that all of the war against our axumite empire and the civil war between the princes did not empact us the way the oromia distroyed us they never fought the army because the army was too busy with the adal war a real civilized war while the oromos would come and kill the farmers because there sons and fathers are dying In the filed to protect a three thousand year old nation, but when one time a king turned there attention to them they were no Mach for us king sosynyos killed 12 000 Oromo in an afternoon . yohanis turned 20000 in to a tribe called raya . Tesodros would have been acused for genocide had he not die ,the guns he was begging for was to illinimate you. No amhara or tigray intelectuals in his right mind dreams of leaving there children and there history at the hand of united ethiopia Europeans are asking the same question . Ok you brought down a glories empire but what have you give them it is the most amazing historical fact. They killed our people but want to become us. Mingistu wanted one Ethiopia because he knew there is no country or ligitimacy with out amhara and Tigray and our history , and remember he wanted to exterminate us . I can’t wait till meles give you what you diverse separate all of us we Amhara Gurage Tigray Even eritrean Tigray are going to sit atop magdela the same spot where our beloved king Teodrose who dream to get rid of you killed himself for us and watch you get swallowed by subshara Africa. Kony 2012 your true cousin is waiting for you with open arms . U dont need us it is true when you are born amhara or tigray you are born privelaged no matter how poor or black just be born amhara or tigray and it is a scientific fact that habeshas were a branch of arabs they looked like white people till 240 years go all the writeres who were there said frech and spanish were darker than us 300 years go Because other writers always mistook there slaves for abyssinians . Till this day habesha has white kids with white people we truly are different and we can not learn our history as long as we are together it’s going to hurt ur feelings . Long live Meles. Zenawi neguse negest z axumite tribes .Axum adi aboy gender adi Emoy ajokee dem na abotatena kab adulis kisha elibaboore fesesu eyekerene . Deki axum kulukum embeba abzia abziA zebelkuwo yekun. I love oromo people I truly do but your intellectuals don’t know what they are going up agaInst its not good to underestimate us the bilble says abou us “they live by the award and they die by the sward” . We are quoted a million times in the bible and the Koran for Christ sake we are on our own it took 3000 thousand years to build this and I don’t want any of you near my people.

03/13/12 @ 13:48
Comment from: Melakeselam [Visitor]

All what I can say is that you the author, Mr.Geletaw Zeleke, are suffering from identity conflict and splited personality as a result of which you are trying to go back in to the worm and familiar wumb of your own mother from where you came to this diverse and multicultural, multi identity chnaging world of ours. This basic personal psychological needs and wishes of you drives you absolutely MAD and forces you to try to fight natural diversities, natural ethnicities and natural identities.

No body is objecting to social cohesion but only objecting to the so called forced and unequal social cohesion by the power of the gun that distroys the identity of the majority inorder to melt it to the identity of the unjust gangster minority dictatorship for the sheer pupose of ROBBING THE MAJORITY’S huaqmn and material resources. Wake up dumbo!

Also you foolishely mumble something about Rwanda but I suggest that you need to go back and read Rwandan political and economic history with emphasis on colonial politics in that country. Your ignorace is totally amazing!:)

Your split and insecure personality makes you utterly confused and forces you to write such kind utterly confused article which lacks any basic logical pattern, elementary logical assumptions or any head or tail, other saying that you want to fight ethnic federalism which in your confused opinion is a virus.

For your information and in practice there is no ethnic federalism in ethiopia but only a highly cnetralized tplf minority dictatorship that dictates and rukles over all Ethiopians while using the “Ethnic federalism propanganda” just for the tranquilization of the majority of Ethiopians who were being BRUTALIZED by the minority Ethnic Amhara elite dictatorship for the last some 120 long years. Actually, the concept of ethnic federalism is suppose to be a just and fair political and administrative democratic arrangement and “LIFE INSURANCE” aginst the coming back of the man eating Amhara elite tyrannical and brutal dictatorial system of BAD GOVERNMENT AND BAD GOVERNANCE. Note that I am saying Amhara elite system of brutal dictatorship. I am not blaming the Amhara people but the brutal system of their minority elites built to exploit all the rest, politically, economically, culturally,etc, but currently taken over by the tplf itself.

As a democart I regard all Ethiopians to be equal regardless of their ethnicity, religion, gender, region, individual and collective identities, etc. diversities. Let every culture and every identity flourish and keep vibrant. All Amharas, all oromos, all sidamas, all Somalis, all tigrians,etc, including half amharas and half Oromos, half Amhara and half Tigria as well as all the mixed ethnic population are great people to be PROUD OF THEMSELVES. After all Ethnically mixed people are great bridge builders owning the best of the two worlds in terms of their great identity and duble communities. All what is needed is that they need to conscious and discover their positive stregths rather trying to go back back in to their mother’s womb and hide from the none existant imagined illusionary virus. God and nature who created ethnicities, communities, indentities, diverse cultural values and tradions hates those confused and dranged false prophets who hate what is naturally there and good!

What is a virus and need to be fought against are exploitation, injustices, minority domination of the majority, rule by dictatorship and tyranny including bad government and bad governance.

03/13/12 @ 13:49
Comment from: Webo [Visitor]

As an aside to this conversation, why do we as Ethiopians resort to so many personal attacks when presenting our critiques around an argument?

It is entirely possible to disagree with someone without calling them “dumbo” or other names. How do we better ourselves through that?

03/13/12 @ 19:29
Comment from: Ahmed [Visitor]

ETHIOPIA is not the only multi-ethnic country in the world. For example in the USA people from all ethnic groups of the world live together in harmony. The Chinese, the Amharas, the Guraghes, the Tigres, the Somalis, you name it…they all live together. They speak the language they want. They eat whatever they want. They dance the way they want and so on. Ethnic federalism is not applicable in the USA just like it is the case all over the world. We are all HUMAN BEINGS. What we need is human right and the rest will fall in place. Let us not try to draw borders on ethnic lines and confine ourselves. I know some incompetent people try to play ethnic politics and FANTASISE to create a country where they become presidents and ministers and wish to loot the wealth of their own people. Such selfish peolple are living in their own world of FANTASY. The facts on the ground are as we see them in the streets of Addis. The desire of all Ethnic groups is to live in harmony as they do it in the capital city Addis Ababa. Let Ethiopia be structured in the model of Addis Ababa where by the Tigre Hagos works together with the Oromo Chala; the Guraghe Zeberga trades with Obang of Gambela…..Let us live in harmony, equlaity, unity and love. I wish Meles Zenawi copies the American kind of attitude towards ethnicity. The rest of you can keep fantasising on having your own little republics. On the ground the Ethiopian people are united than you think and you cannot separate them. The bond is much stronger than some people here think and we will keep i that way. Big THANK YOU TO THE WRITER!!!!!!

03/13/12 @ 23:07
Comment from: David Makuria [Visitor]
David Makuria

Dear writer,

To blame the current sociopolitical situation in Ethiopia on the regional arrangement is disingenuous at best and paying disregard to the people in the empire at worst. We all know that Ethiopia is an empire build on brute force. Countless Oromos and southern people had been killed to force them into the empire. The author of this article is wrongly pointing out to the current federal structure as a problem when in fact; the ultimate solution for the empire is to let people decide on their fate in relation to the empire. That is not to say that the current political system has no problem, in fact it is the major problem for the situation in Ethiopia. This is not our current discussion; we can leave that to another day. But, if we are truly seeking a lasting solution for the Ethiopian empire, let’s give people a chance to vote on their destiny.

God bless.

03/14/12 @ 00:39
Comment from: Afro Afro [Visitor]
Afro Afro

While we discuss Ethiopia, politics and governance, I want you to think of as an agent of the vast majority of Ethiopian who are attacking to make ends meat, and your goal is to come up with the best workable policy for the people you claim to represent. So you could make their life a little better. That is the question here.  You could think about your ethno pride and recessive monkey sindrem while you jack off.  Where you are entering policy arena you are talking about real people’s life and the goal is to make their life a little better. Obviously you missed the point just like the article above.  Your tribal mentality lead the Eritrean to seek sussed  and years of war and tribalism. The major problem in contemporary Ethiopia is regressive monkey sindrem  of ethno amaro ideology and primitive believe that they will infect  contemporary Ethiopia with their veno.  Contemporary Amaro reformed looking political parties so called oppositions are still function with the similar underline conceptualization  which is regressive money syndrome.  I have to reason with this people they will never change. Amaro syndrome is like HIV  it is very difficult to find a quire because it mutates. I recommend “teble” tribal medicine it my help you come to your 21st Century thinking.     

03/14/12 @ 09:03
Comment from: Facts [Visitor]

Melakeselam [Visitor] wrote:
“…in practice there is no ethnic federalism in ethiopia but only a highly cnetralized tplf minority dictatorship that dictates and rukles over all Ethiopians while using the “Ethnic federalism propanganda” just for the tranquilization of the majority of Ethiopians who were being BRUTALIZED by the minority Ethnic Amhara elite dictatorship for the last some 120 long years….”

Melakeselam [Visitor] didn’t tell us what the tplf would benefit from this. On the other hand he underestimates those being “tranqulized” by the tplf. May be he’s addmitting the downside of ETHNIC FEDERALISM. I hope he would come back and tell us how this scenario worked for the last 20+years and “its future".
He continues to tell us the following without giving us where he found his facts (without elaborating his theory) about ETHNIC FEDERALISM:
“…the concept of ethnic federalism is suppose to be a just and fair political and administrative democratic arrangement and “LIFE INSURANCE” aginst the coming back of the man eating Amhara elite tyrannical and brutal dictatorial system of BAD GOVERNMENT AND BAD GOVERNANCE..”
Dear Melakeselam [Visitor],
would you take time and enlighten us in detail on your concept of ethnic federalism? Its historical significance?
More questions would be followed if you put aside your hatred for the amharas and disscuss the issue in a civilized way and support your arguments with facts.

03/15/12 @ 00:03
Comment from: Selam [Visitor]

Ethiopia is one and will never be broken apart!!! So people must not worry and be afraid of that.

Whether they impose ethnic federalism, or try to write our ethnicity on our ID, forcing us to say I am Oromo, She is Tigre, or He is Amara, we are one people. Do not let ethnic federalism scare you. Even Meles knows deep down in his heart that does not happen. Ethiopia is one on people to people level!! The politicians are the problems.

03/15/12 @ 06:24



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