Acknowledging Past Injustices: Mandela, Menelik and Bulcha

By Yaye Abebe
Dec 21, 2013
We, Ethiopians, are greatly in need of Nelson Mandela’s wisdom. Our nation has predominantly young demographics: 65% of Ethiopians are under the age of 24 years old.1 The ‘65 percent’ generation needs to inherit a constructive political atmosphere and culture, and that is where Mandela’s future oriented wisdom can benefit us greatly.
Nelson Mandela’s strength and success may be attributed to the way he prioritized the challenges South Africans faced.  It is his focus on the future of all South Africans, black, brown and white, that brought forth the path of truth and reconciliation to South Africa. We can not forget past injustices, but we must acknowledge them to create a conducive political environment with the potential for building and modeling political consensus for the coming generation of Ethiopians, the 65 percent.
100th Anniversary
Two weeks ago Emperor Menelik’s 100th death anniversary was observed by online medias and radio stations such as the Deutsche Welle Amharic service. Our past, like that of other nations, is controversial and contested, although, perhaps, what makes ours more painful and highly divisive is the denial, disregard and blatant condescending attitude demonstrated by those of us, who feel Emperor Menelik’s legacy is impeccable, towards Ethiopians who feel differently about Menelik.
Listening to the discussion2 on Deutsche Welle radio, I realized more the need for Ethiopians to learn from Mandela: Mandela did not ignore the concerns, fears and anger of  Afrikaners or white South Africans. Mandela would not have averted a civil war in South Africa had he only looked at the black and brown South African interest – that is the genius of Mandela.
Listening to the Deutsche Welle discussion, I was baffled by the two academicians who defended Menelik’s legacy with religious fervor. Are some of us this much egotistical that we will not consider other Ethiopians’ perspectives, like that of Bulcha Demeksa’s, without losing our composure and sanity? I think we can do better.
History as Absolute
History is neither closed nor absolute; there always is another side to historical claims and assertions documented by ruling elites. Every human history is a mixed bag, and this is due to the nature which we all humans share: we are imperfect and prone to err. Hence the attempt of white washing any historical figure is going against human nature and experience.
The underlying argument perpetuating the one sided historical claims of our historical figures may have to do with the belief that written historical account is complete and accurate, while all oral history is incomplete and unreliable.
This fallacious thinking and total reliance on written history alone creates a single sided, unbalanced, elite-favoring historical narrative. We need not forget that just because the ruling elite had access to written language does not mean what they documented is inerrant.
Instead of defending a one sided narrow, elitist and biased historical account, as the one and only authoritative account of a regime’s legacy, we need to question and broaden our assessment of historical events, processes and possibilities by also paying attention to oral narratives.
Reconciliation is Acknowledgment
The dismissiveness of previous regimes and their elites have directly and indirectly pushed our Eritrean brothers and sisters to their present predicament and suffering. It is time we Ethiopians learn from Mandela and not get blind sided by superiority complex and short sightedness that could possibly fragment and destroy our nation, but rather we need to listen to Ethiopians who look at Ethiopian history from different angles, with different emotions, feelings and assertions.
Reconciliation starts by acknowledging the other side’s perceptions, emotions and feelings.
To Mr. Bulcha Demeksa and all other Ethiopians who feel differently about the legacy of the regime of Emperor Menelik II and other regimes in Ethiopia’s past, I have this to say:  I regret past injustices committed by the regimes of Emperor Menelik II and other rulers on Oromos and all exploited, oppressed and marginalized Ethiopians.
The coming generation, the 65%, of Ethiopians needs to witness political reconciliation and consensus in Ethiopia for the purpose of breaking the cycle of political violence, and passing on a culture of constructive politics.  The young generation needs to learn better conflict resolution skills than resorting to Kalashnikovs and violent uprisings.
If you share my vision of advocating and initiating political reconciliation and consensus among Ethiopians, please visit us on Facebook, Goolge+ or and let us began the discussion of developing the frame work for political reconciliation and consensus among Ethiopians.
1. CIA World Factbook,, accessed on October 11, 2013


  1. I take off my hat for your unprecedented gesture of acknowledging past injustice. Bygone is bygone, we have to concentrate on the future ahead of us. I didn’t mean that acknowledging past injustice isn’t necessary. It is necessary to build confidence and trust among us.

  2. I was very surprised the way Dr. Haile Lagabo talk. In our country and USA his types of expressing one people is unacceptable. He should make sure that the crowd who makes him to open his mouth like this will not defend him when he is surrounded by the victims. I think he need to learn how to talk.

  3. Who is to acknowledge what is the first question. Do you know that there will not be such thing as the other side which complains also inflicted heavy damages on the other which is being accused without proofs. I would like to urge those who are not well read of our history to read and learn it. The two professors are very knowledgable in Ethiopian History. I think it is wisdom to give due respect to the analysis of scholars rather than propagating the non fact based and not accounted propaganda of those who lack the mind set to admit our past. Ethiopia as a nation share some of the ways other nations are built. We cannot go back and look lame reasons not to accept the nation built on the blood and sweat of the brave people of Ethiopia.

  4. This is a move in the right direction. My hat off for Yaye Kebede and his initiative. This is a courageous and exemplary piece of act and it needs to be replicated by all those who mean to bring about a lasting peace and prosperity in that part of the world. We need to go even farther and faster if we really love our peoples.
    Acknowledging past injustices and atrocities is a natural pre-requisite and absolute necessity for moving forward and for any future cooperation and trust we need to build among peoples. We cannot just ignore the past and move forward as if nothing happened. That is not only simply unrealistic but it is also humanly and emotionally impossible. It is hard to defend brutalities and crimes committed against the Oromo people by perverted fascist milinik and his terrorist militia under any circumstances. You cannot possibly come up with any plausible and enough excuses for such savage brutalities committed in such massive scales against the Oromo and other peoples in today’s geographic Ethiopia. It is like the Germans trying to come up with a plausible explanation and excuses for Holocaust and all other crimes committed by Hitler. You won’t be possibly apologetic enough for a sadist and twisted human scum like fascist milinik no matter what the motive you want to ascribe to it.
    In the interest of giving the future a chance for peaceful co-existence, it is imperative to condemn the genocide, crimes against humanity and untold heinous crimes committed by barbaric milinik and his thugs. The longer we keep denying the obvious, we are not only delaying the beginning of the healing process which must get underway right away but we are also making future cooperations and peaceful coexistence less and less likely. It is time to man up and have the courage to take responsibilities in the interest of the future. Instead of asking the victims to just forget the past injustices and crimes committed against them, it is high time to condemn the crimes in the strongest and clearest terms possible. There is no getting around it as far as the condemnation of milinik’s crimes against humanity is concerned.
    The victims are ready to forgive in the interest of the future but for that to happen, the crimes must first be acknowledged by all concerned and condemned by all the stakeholders unequivocally. The condemnation must be done not for the sake of appeasing this or that group. It must be done because it affirms our commitment to break clean with the past showing our genuine desire to begin new and clean. It is a confidence building measure to reassure the victims that the past is behind us and it won’t come back no matter what. It also brings some kind of closure to the victims starting the healing process which they need badly. Denial only causes more harm.
    If you are glorifying the perpetuator of the crimes against humanity while denying the obvious and counseling the victims to just forget the massive brutal and inhuman crimes perpetuated against them, it is not only that you are hurting the odd of any future cooperation and peaceful coexistence but it is also morally repugnant and humanly indefensible. You cannot have it both ways. The choice cannot be clearer. You have to chose either the past or the future. If you want to live in the past glorifying sadists, vicious murderers and perpetuators of genocide and crimes against humanity, dumb milinik is your man. If you want to live in the future in peace and prosperity in cooperation with other peoples in the region, you need to condemn the crimes against humanity committed by savage milinik, you must condemn the crimes in the strongest and clearest terms possible. Short of that you are forgoing the bright future for unstable and bleak future.
    Condemning past injustices committed by barbaric milinik and his successors unequivocally is an absolute necessity and a vital pre-condition for any future cooperation and peaceful coexistence among the peoples in the geographic area known today as Ethiopia. Let us man up, take responsibilities and have a courage to condemn milinik’s despicable and barbaric crimes in the interest of the future.

  5. ፓለቲካዊ መግባባት ጥሩ ነው። ፓለቲካዊ መግባባት የሚመጣው ግን ልክ እንደ አውሮፓውያኖች ተሻሽተን፣ተቸግረን፣ በቃን ስንልና ስንፈላለግ ብቻ ነው። እንጂ እኔ ተነስቼ ፓለቲካዊ መግባባት ስላልኩ ብቻ የሚሰራ አይመስለኝም።
    በሁለተኛው ያለም ጦርነት መጀመሪያ ሂትለር ስልጣን ሲይዝ ያነጣጠረው ሀብታም ይሁዳዎች ላይ ብቻ ላይ ነበር። ደሀ የነበሩ ይሁዳዎች ሀብታም ስላልነበሩ፣ በሀብታሞች ይሁዳዎች ላይ የነበረው ጥቃት ለነሱ ምንም ችግር አልነበረም ነበር። ጀርመኖቹ ይሁዳ አይደለንም ብለው ስላሰቡ ጥቃቱ ሲፈጠር ዝም ብለው ያዩ ነበር። ከዛ ቀስ በቀስ ወደ ሀብታም ያልሆኑት ይሁዳዎች ይሽጋገር ጀመር፣ ከዛ ወደ ጀርመኖቹ(በግራ ፣በቀኝ፣በንጉስ፣በሰማያዊ አይን፣በጠቁር አይን) እየከፋፈለ ይፈጫቸው ጀመር። ከዚያም አልፎ ወደ እነግሊዞቹ ወደ ፈረንሳዮቹ ይሸጋገር ጀመር።ከዚያ በሁዋላ ሁሉም አሁነሰ እኔንም ያገባኛል ማለት ጀመሩ።
    የኢትዮጵያ፣ የኤርትራም ህዝብም እንዲሁ በመከፋፈል የሚያምኑ ከሆነ እየታሹ ይኖራሉ ማለት ነው።
    በተለይ የኛ ችግሮች ራሳችን የፈጠርናቸው (ፋብሪኬትድ) የሆነ ቲዎሪና ታሪክ እየፈጠርን፣ በሌለ ነገር ላይ እንስማማ ማለት የሚከብድ ይመስለኛል። ለምሳሌ እኔ ኦሮሞ የሚል ዘር መኖሩን በአለም ታሪክ መፃፍት ፈልጌ አላገኘሁም። የዚህም ዘር ተወካይ ነኝ የሚለው ቡድን ክራይቴሪያው ምንድን ነው? ።
    ቤተ አማራ የሚባል የሀግር የክፍለ ሀገር ስም እንጅ የዘር መለያ መሆኑን የሚያሳይ ፅሁፍ አይቼ ም አላውቅም። አሁን አፄ ምንሊክ የእከሌ ዘር ነው፣ የእከሌ ዘር ነው ማሰቱ ለኔ አድካሚ ነው፣ ንጉሰ ነገስት መሆናቸውን ግን አውቃለሁ የኔ ዘር ይሁኑ አይሁኑ የደም ምርመራም አላደረግኩም። ይሄ የሚያሳየው ራሳችን በፈለሰፍነው ቲዎሪ እየተተብትበን መያዛችን ነው።
    በተለይ አሁን በቅርቡ አይናችን አያየ ኮሚኒስቶች የፈጠሩንን ቲዎሪ አንግበን ለምሳሌ ብሄር ብሄረሰብ፣ በዚህ ላይ አንዳነድ ሚሲዮናውያን (በዛን ወቀት ሌላ ፍላጎት ስላላቸው) የፈጠሩልን ጨምረን፣ ይዘን ለፓለቲካ መሰማማት መቅረብ የሚከብድ ይመስለኛል።
    እኛን በፓለቲካ የሚያስማሙን ነገሮች አሉ፣ሌሎች የሰለጠኑ ሀገሮች እንደ ሚያደርጉት ማለት ነው። ይኸውም እነዴት የግል መብት ይከበራል፣ በቁዋነቁዋችን እንዴት እርስ በእርስ እንግባባለን፣ እንዴት በችሎታችን መኖር እችላለን፣ የሀገራችን ኢኮኖሚ እነዴት ነው የሚያድገው፣ የህግ የበላይነት እንዴት ነው የሚረጋገጠው ወዘተረፈ ነው።
    እንጁ፣ አፄ ዮሀንስ አፄ ቴዎድሪስን በእንግሊዞች አስገደሉ፣ አፄ ቴዎድሮስ ንጉስ ሀይለመለኮትን አቤቶ ሰይፉን አሸንፈዋል፣ ጎበና ጆቴን አስገብሮታል፣ አፄ ምንሊክ የአሩሲነ ባለባቶች ወግቶአል ፣ ነጉስ ጦናን አሸንፈዋል፣ ፊታውራሪ ሀብተጊዮርጊስ ንጉስ ሚካኤልን አሽንፈዋል ፣ አፄ ሀይለ ስላሴ ከትግሬ ባላባቶች ጋር ተዋግተዋል እያልን የፓለቲካ መስማማት ብንጀምር ጉንጭ ማልፋት ይሆናል። ምክንያቱም በጦር ሜዳ ማሸነፍም መሸነፍም ያለ ስለሆነ።
    በአሁኑ ሰአት ወንጀል የሰራ ካለ፣ በፍርድ ቤት ቢጠየቅ ፣ ወንጀል የተፈፀመባቸው ፍትህ ቢያገኙ ጥሩ ነው የሚል እምነት አለኝ።

  6. @gguuyyaassaa
    ሁለት ቫወልስና ሁለት ኮንሰናንት ስለተጠቀምክ የሰለጠንክ እንዳይመስልህ። ምንሊክንም ለመናገር እንኩዋን አንተ የጣልያን ንጉሶች መናገር ይከብዳቸዋል። አሩሲ አካባቢ የነበሩ ዘመዶችህ ፈሪዎች ስለነበሩ የምንሊክ ጦር መጣ ሲባል ሳይዋጉ ጭላሎ ተራራ ውስጥ ራሳቸው ገብተው አለቁ። የኛ አካባቢ ግን ማለት የቢነግዴ ሰዎች ከምኒሊክ ጋር ተዋጉ፣ ጦራቸው ተፈታ፣እጅ ሰጡ አብረው ኡትዮጵያንም አስተዳደሩ።
    አንተ አሁን ስለ ፓለቲካ መስማማት ስታወራ ይገርመኛል። በመጀመሪያ ራስህን ኮምፕሌክስ ነፃ አውጣ። የሆነ ፋንፍሌት አንብበህ የሞኝ ወሬ አታውራ።

  7. I liked the analysis of the two professors during the discussion in German Radio with Ato Bulcha. Bulcha’s point of view is not supported with facts. Beyond that Bulcha was a Minister during Emperor Hailesselasie. Who on earth is appointing a minister from the colonized people; funny ended. Do not forget also that the “Oromos” of the 17 century were not expanded in north from Mela Wodebu without killing and terrorizing the other Ethiopians.

  8. Reconciliation among the ethiopians is very important to build a better futur for ethiopians.
    What about the conquered nation who are fighting for their godgiven freedom and dignity as a nation?

    • Untill our Level of understanding and perception about the world politics reach to such a Level that what we do today is vital for shaping the politics of tomorrow we will continue to discuss on irrelevant issues. In the twenty first century we are still discussing about the mistakes done hundred years ago and this makes us to lack Focus on what we do today to the better of tomorrow. the main reason for this big failure in Forward looking instead of backward looking is due to the fact that our agendas are drafted and formulated by external agents that are enemies of the Country for centuries.
      The People of the Country in the past have done what they can with the circumstances of that time (internal and external factors) and we inherited a Country that has a bigger Image in the world. Unfortunately this has resulted in facing so many enemies around the world including (Arab, West, Somalia) and the Country has to fight till today not to be a war Zone. If this Country doesnot work to reestablish itself and bring the People together and still talk about ethnicity no one in eth Country will have peace as we might dream of. ertrea and Somalia, and currently south Sudan are good examples for showing that if we donot solve our problöems together we will not solve it when we separate.
      The ertreans after 22 years of suffering with one man rule still talk about their good achievements to be separated from ethiopia and failed to understand what a Country means for its People. The foriegn agents tell us that ertreans are not ethiopians and we also say the same, without understanding the real consequences of such moves. By this time I had expected the so called ertrean professors to admit and declare for the world that their Analysis and Support for an ertrean government as a sovereign state was a mistake by all Standards. The time we had in past two decades is enough to conclude that we were mislead by others and failed to work for the benefit of our People.

  9. Race activist Bulcha demeksa was the oppressor of Ethiopian people, he was one of the top official during Hailesilassie but now he changed his ID card because of tplf and claim that he is talking about Oromo. If he believed that why he was not saying anything when he was a high official? shame on this old man, we young people have to change the attitude of the racist politicians during the 1960s.

  10. Ethiopia is an empire:
    fact one: ethiopia is an empire, fate of any empire is distigration
    fact two: Habesha and snake are one and the same, so, no agreement between oromos and amhra forever,
    fact three: Oromia without Habesha is equivalant to heaven
    fact four: oromos are being killed for its own resouce, thus, the only option is fighting neftegns either to win or to exterminate from this world

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