Insanity! Political Laundry in Ethiopia?
The current violence in Ethiopia is largely a manifestation of what Isaias christened: “political laundry project in Ethiopia!”. Derg 2.0 (2018-2020) is, in my view, a junior partner in this project. Otherwise, we would not have witnessed Eritrean military commanders deploying Ethiopian troops into Tigrai. The Eritrean dictator shoved Ethiopia into a “political laundry” to get rid of what he deemed a stench, i.e., ethnic federalism. The delusional dictator took an advantage of the internal rivalry within Ethiopia and threw the country into a washing machine. Now, Ethiopia is already revolving inside that machine intended to clean it off the stench of ethnic federalism. The question remains whether Ethiopia’s multiethnic identity will wash away after the spinning within the political laundry halts.
If this “ethnic diversity” is the inherent pattern of the Ethiopian fabric, it will remain after all the “laundry” turbulence settles. If the “ethnic diversity” is a stench that is fabricated by the infamous culprit, i.e., the TPLF, we will see ethnic diversity fade away like the morning dust. The Tigrigna/Arabic speaking and Amharic/Oromifaa speaking chauvinist dictators have shoved the Tigrean, Oromo, Welayta, Silte, and other ethnic groups into “a political laundry” hoping to “exorcise” them from their identity. They threw the Tigrean fabric into 72 hours-long of spinning deadlines, thinking they will forget their language, their history, their self-esteem, and basic human rights. Despite employing all sorts of detergents, including heavy artilleries, alien drones, and public opinion campaigns, the “laundry” experiment has failed thus far. This quest is, as Einstein put it, an “Insanity…[i.e.] doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
Many might wonder why the dictators fail to meet their repeated 72-hours deadlines. This deadline never seems to evade renewal because it is, to reiterate Einstein, founded on insanity. This insanity hopes to replace the pre-2012 Ethiopian experiment (a success story) with the post-1993 Eritrean model (a failure story). Ethiopia rose because it embraced its diversity. Eritrea crumbled because it suppressed its diversity. Diversity is a double-edged sword that could be a blessing or a curse depending on how one entertains it. Ethiopia (especially from 1991-2012) treated the fact of ethnoreligious reality by embracing, respecting, and nurturing it. By contrast, Eritrea accommodated diversity by denying, suppressing, and persecuting it.
Yet, many, including Derg 2.0 (2018-2020), picked the longevity (quantity/years) of the Eritrean model over the quality (transformation/development) of the Ethiopian alternative, opting for infinite chaos. This is insanity because Ethiopians have tried the Eritrean model before 1991. The assimilationist experiment of Derg 1.0 (1974-1991) and its predecessors graduated Ethiopia as the poster child of war, displacement, and famine! Anyone that opts to repeat this assimilationist experiment and expects a road to prosperity (ብልጽግና) is insane (እብድ)! An insane person, be him a soldier, politician, or a talking head, will continue, as we see in Ethiopia, to churn garbage in and garbage out. The reality of gravity, otherwise called ethnoreligious diversity, will pull them down no matter how high they aspire to jump!
Well, ethnic diversity is a fact of life entrenched over thousands of years. No personalist dictator, leave alone newly minted bullies today, could wash out this reality. People think differently, they speak different tongues, they have different aspirations, and, above all, they do not wish aliens to rule their destiny. That is why, despite massive global aid and cheerleading, the Tigrean, Oromia, and other oppressed peoples’ resistance continues to prevail. One can never change the fact of diversity! That is the reason why certain countries in other continents advanced. They knew better than to resist the plight of the oppressed races, genders, classes, and other forms of identity. They understood they cannot survive unless they accommodated diverse opinions, interests, aspirations, orientations, and cultures.
Dictatorships are difficult to sustain in any country because they need to establish a centralized pyramid. A centralized command system is impossible to establish in diverse countries owing to multiple and often conflicting interests. The more diverse a society is, the more decentralized it ought to be. That is why dictators who stand against this tide tend to be more ruthless than their counterparts elsewhere- they face a greater challenge from the people. One cannot safely rule over a diverse society with an iron fist. That is why great empires in history, despite commanding boundless resources, have crumbled. People detest dictators.
If “laundry” is what Ethiopia needs, it should get rid of the stench of “chauvinism, poverty, and corruption”! This stench is manifested in the leaders, the parties, or the forces that trample on peoples’ “unlimited” right to self-determination. That is the real stench Ethiopia must wash out. The people of this world, including those who reside around the Red Sea vicinity, share a lot in common. But they also share a lot of difference. Any actor aspiring to impose unity at the expense of diversity is a stench worthy of being shoved into a political laundry. Tigrai is already setting an example to all oppressed people by effectively washing away this stain in every front it appears. This task will relieve the whole region, perhaps the continent and beyond, of “insane” autocrats seeking to throw poor people into a melting pot they call “political laundry!”