Ethiopia: Identity Crisis

Zelalem Eshete, Ph.D.
Ethiopia is at a crossroad at a very critical time. Our challenge today is to become a symbol of unity on the face of the earth. Someone declares, “I am an Oromo first”. Then comes the other one charging, “I am an Ethiopian first”. I say both are wrong as long as we are talking about how the New Ethiopia would live together in harmony. I argue by not refuting the presence of their valid arguments for such a stand, but by highlighting the absence of the spirit of love that makes us rise up from our own domain.
I am
It reminds me the Biblical account of being divided: “Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.” (1 Cor. 1:12 KJV) All are dismissed for they missed the big picture of being united.
It is tragic that racism had marginalized people in political, social and economic terms. The damage that had been done in the past is grave and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Since we lived with racism for so long, the way out of it is not going to be painless. Yes, healing doesn’t come easily.
However, we have a chance to discover and embrace our identity that has a greater power to unite us all as never before. We are called to stretch our hands to God (Psalm 68:31) so that we can outgrow being of a particular race and being of a particular nation of Ethiopia or even being just a human being. But we progress to becoming known as a godly people. Reaching to the original intent of creation: shine the likeness of God in us.
Therefore, we cannot afford to be divided considering the God factor. Racism ruled our land for God knows how long. In order to put an end to the legacy of racism, let us stretch our hands and usher in a new definition of our identity. Only God can heal our wounds. With stretched hands, love can work out in us to create a unity that is typified by One Family under God.
There is no need for us to be handicapped by an identity crisis. Our true identity is rooted in higher cause that calls us to be at peace with one another and relate to each other in love. Our long journey to our destiny begins by repenting; that is, changing our thinking. It doesn’t matter whether or not we personally discriminated one another. We take full responsibility for all past generations. We stand in the gap to break the power of racism, discrimination, hatred and bigotry.


  1. Well said Dr. Zelalem. I strongly believe in unity and oneness. If we united, we can grow and eradicate poverty which is nmuber one enemy of Ethiopia. There is no perfect unity though; because we have many identities: tribes, religions, languages, ethnics etc. But if we truly believe in national integrity, we can bypass the internal differences that divide us in which every country has. However, it is embarrassing that when a group of people is trying to play a political game in the name of democracy;a tool used to fool Ethiopians to cover their hidden agendas.

  2. From GETACHEW REDA (Editor Ethiopian Semay)
    Dear Dr. Zelalem Eshete:
    Thanks for the positive contribution on the unityisue.
    I understand your intention is positive . Your intention is to make peace in Ethiopia among our people. I like that. Having said that, I disagree with your one family (one country under God) motto and your argument ‘Ethiopia Fisrt or Ormia First with no love to humanity is wrong’ is not a coherent message when one wants to make a peace in Ethiopia. I will explain my argument below since you told us you will argue based on the later one in particular.
    I understand, your message seemed based on religious aspect. If that is your argument is based on religious solution as it seemed to be;- I like to restrain myself from making detail argument with such solution, since politics (science base) and religious (spiritual) solutions for societies problems are based each on their own different methods encountered each other when it comes to solution (in many ways).
    But, when you talk about one family/country under one God, based on social science, it looks tyranny to those who have no God/s. This does not look good especially when such slogan or solution is going to be implemented in constitution. Just as the fascist TPLF system wrote its constitution the “nation, nationalities, peoples” as the God/s of the country. That means, the country is under the family of those three Goddesses/Gods called ‘nation, nationalities and peoples”. That is why you all recall when one member of the parliament conclude his argument/speech saying “let God of Ethiopia bless this country”; Aba Dula Gemeda (the TPLF parliament chairman, a man who is worst puppet among the Oromo, with no soul of his own, but his master TPLF’s) laughed at him and the entire Godless members of the parliament laughed out loud mocking him.
    For TPLF it is those three God/s /Goddesses) above of everything. No supreme power is above these three God/s /Goddesses. That means, there is no such God/s above them (since it was not mentioned). They are the owner and commanders and chiefs of the country owning it dividing the country in to three areas. Each of these are their own Gods and have their own territory and one cannot tell the other God/s/ Goddesses, what to do.
    This is what you call it tyranny of majority under the three God/s Goddesses of TPLF Gods against the minority family who are out of the three categorized unbelievers of such Gods. That is manmade God/s in politics. That is why TPLF parliament laughed at the believer inside its parliament and make fun of him unbelievably shocking in our history.
    This happened because, any man/woman of any other believer other than the constitutionally written owner of the country is seen strange. As the result of such principle, the man was subject to be seen as a Toy or uncivilized in front of the Ethiopian people and his constituents.
    So, to get rid of such controversy (God), it is good to allow the parliament or schools to respect the flag flowed by national anthem/ swear each officials holding the national flag with a Flag under their palm instead of Quran/Bible/tree (if available). But, to pray and believe is whatever god or religion they want should be respected under the law and constitution. Any parliament/official can start or end his speech whatever religion of God he wants to mention to guide him. That is Good. Especially to praise to the God of Ethiopia who took Meles Zenawi away from his power as punishment for his crime is commended.
    In my conclusion on the first point- the national flag is good enough to represent the God of Ethiopia.
    Now, to the second point. You seemed to be confused by your definition when you said “both” who said “Oromia First and Ethiopia First with the absence of love is wrong”. You see, both have love for these two “different” mentioned people the cults of OLF/IOLF/ONLF/TPLF…have tremendous love for their mentioned area of people only. The Ethiopia First sloganeers have tremendous love for Ethiopian people. When we say Ethiopia people, the people/territory of those given mentioned area (Christian Oromo, Islamic Oromo, Waqa …), Ogaden, Sidama, Tigray…are included in Ethiopia!
    That is why the Ethiopian First sloganeers should be supported, because it is passionate with love to and care and concern and defense and dedication to all the people within that geographical territory as one family of a nation called Ethiopia. But, those with a sloganeers of Oromo/Tgray/Somali First are racists with lack of Humanity in their soul who need to be condemned as such. They are telling us the love, the service, the defense, the dedication, the benefit, their protection anything on their power even if they are under the highest position of power they are placed to lead the nation: “Their commitment and love will be for their Oromo or Tigray people first. That is to whom their humanity and love is stored, and reserved for” .
    You see, there love on both sides, but their love serves for different territory and people or ethnic only. And these elements can be dangerously bias and racists and abusive to other ethnic in Ethiopia if the placed in power. They can abuse power if they sit in the UN or in Ethiopia or in any NGO power by advocating first to their ethnic before any one. That is how TPLF is using power to benefit its people (Tigray and its cadres and supporters also) using the power of the people. Read te book “The Pillage of Ethiopia” by Dr Assefa Negash
    When those narrow lovers get power, they can be involved robbing the nation to benefit their ethnic/or affiliate (like Eritrea)/. They will do anything (hidden or openly) to benefit, feed, protect and to safeguard hire their ethnic group before the people of the nation as a whole.
    There are two groups of these type. One are those who wants to secede and deny there are part of the country (they believe they are different country/people/). The other one is those like TPLF/OPDO and the likes believe they are Ethiopians, but their love, dedication, protection, labour, finance , equipment, goes to their people (Tigray/Oromo…).
    hese narrow lovers, (ethno centric group) can discriminate none Tigrayan or none Oromo such as Amhara patient or farmer in the service sectors/government sectors. And we already saw that in practice how TPLF involved in evicting Amhara from Oromo/Sidama..areas or in the medical field hires Amhara medical Doctors In the health sectors/Hospitals and how it secretly watch their performance, due to the TPLF suspicious that Amhara Doctors might poisoned Tigrayans using their profession. (listen to my interview
    TPLF conscious, ideology, and hate :A MUST LISTEN part 1!
    http: //youtu. be/qeG7Aizjei0
    Those of you who argue with me, I can bring you evidence. It is not my fabrication. So, those of you from TPLF cults, do not tantrum as usual not knowing what your cult leaders are up to. So, you are expected to zip your mouth on this issue.
    So this are the differences between the two. So, it is not the love that is missing. But, the love the other group have for its people is bias love, while the I am Ethiopian First loves the entire people of the nation and sees herself as part/family of all the ethnic/people of that land. That is greater humanity of love than the ethno centric love which is bias against then one member of the given ethnic.

  3. Well said but we should not forget that our people are deeply divided because of the underlying social right issuers that bases itself on tribe. This is a fact that can not be wished away unless we address it to acceptable level before starting to think as citizens of on nation.
    The unfortunate fact is that our political space is open beyond control, leaving us with no choice but to face it as it is to make the best of what we have which we can not escape by looking away. I concour with this writer but refusing to face our situation the way it is only serves to prolong our woes before we come to accept as it is. Any other expectation is being naively postponing the inevitable.

  4. Dear Dr. Zelalem,
    I only wish you hadn’t used scripture in this way. The context in which Paul the Apostle wrote to Corinthians was different from Ethiopian reality. First, those in Corinth were all Christians. Second, the letter shows that even among Christians peace and love are an issue. Because you chose to rip Scripture to support your views you ended up doing disservice to its original intent eliciting derision from readers. This is unfortunate. And I say this as a Christian. In other words, you could as easily have made the case for why Ethiopians need to acknowledge their shared history and come together to overcome present-day challenges. But then that will require reading wide and thinking hard. Which is what your article is greatly missing and could use plenty of.

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