Reflections on The Ethiopian Condition | BY Teodros Kiros (Ph.D.)

BY Teodros Kiros (Ph.D.)
A few years ago, I wrote a set of sustained articles on the Idea of Ethiopianity, the corner stone of Ethiopian Pride, manifest in the classical battle at Adwa, where our Ethiopian ancestors gave their lives, so that we Ethiopians can live in dignity and prosperity.  I would like to refuel the engines of Ethiopianity to which I have contributed.

I maintain that pride in our Ethiopianity even now in the turbulent and trying times in my beloved home.  Much has happened since I wrote last. Much needs to be corrected by the existing regime, as it prepares the coming Ethiopian generation to assume power with a new national consciousness, that will free the country from negative ethnicity on which I reflected in my article  Revisiting Two Concepts of Ethnicity, (ECADF, Dec,10, 2010) a few years ago. In that article, I distinguish two modalities of Ethnicity, Negative ethnicity and Positive ethnicity. Negative ethnicity is the modality by which an individual singles out his/her belonging to an ethnic group and believes that it is superior to all other ethnicities and that other ethnicities are inferior and must be treated accordingly.  Positive ethnicity is a modality in which an individual humbly takes pride in one’s geographical belonging and celebrates the cultural ornaments of his/ethnic group, the language, the dances, the music and the cuisines, as expressions of diversity.
The present situation should not be manned by Negative ethnicity, rather New Ethiopianity watered by Positive Ethnicity must be our banner.  We are not going to answer hate with hate. Rather, the ethnic hates which we have embraced must be replaced by national Ethiopian consciousness, which aims at ending class privileges and the abuse of poor women across the Ethiopian landscape.  Our resolve to save our historic nation does not have to be propelled by the wings of negative ethnicity. However, hurt we are by the damages of negative ethnicity, we can still engage the enabling power of Ethiopianity to cleanse ourselves from the force of negative ethnicity.
Love is a healer, whereas hate is a destroyer.  This is a proposition that our flawed nature definitely needs and which can humanize us. It is a practical proposition, that we must reflect on, deeply and seriously, to save a historic nation on the verge of a civil war. Now is the time to discipline ourselves and answer hate with love and strategic understanding. Now is the time that we must become Existentially Serious, as I argued for the past few years. By Existential seriousness I have argued in my book Ethiopian Discourse (Red Sea Press, 2005), I mean that as individuals we must be thankful that we exist and that this existence must be fully provided with food, shelter, health and clothing as a matter of human right and that all individuals must be reasonably equipped with these fundaments of human existence. Furthermore, that regime in power must procure these fundaments of existence by a constitutional mandate.   I further implore the leadership to cement this moral imperative into the nerve center of its political being.
I am convinced that we Ethiopians have long internalized the unifying power of Ethiopianity, an Ethiopianity which marked our history with the rendezvous with victory at the famous battle of Adwa.
We must move forward with the progress that we have made and produce national policies which will spread the prosperity by the few to be the collective prosperity of all Ethiopians.
Dr. Ghelawdewos Araia’s has correctly suggested that,
By way of concluding and offering some advice to the EPRDF, I like to recommend the following: 1) The EPRDF must carefully diagnose the trends and patterns shown by African leaders who were self-proclaimed permanent rulers and who brought so much damage to their respective countries. The ruling party should not follow their example and should rather prepare itself an exit strategy; 2) given the complex Ethiopian political landscape, the weakness of the opposition, and the predominance of ethnocentric politics and values, it would be advisable that the EPRDF stay in power but with the sole purpose of giving a chance to a new leadership (“young blood”) via peaceful transition; 3) at long last, the pan-Ethiopian agenda and Ethiopian nationalism must be revitalized in such a way not only to galvanize country-wide sentiments, but also to purposely mobilize the Ethiopian people against the enemies of Ethiopia and transcending all narrow ethno-nationalist proclivities and political programs; 4) the EPRDF must be transparent not only in its routine government operations but also with respect to some suspicious incidents that have afflicted the Ethiopian larger society for relatively long time. ( Trends and Patterns in Contemporary Ethiopian Politics, Tigraionline, ,,Dec 14, 2017)
The call for an exit strategy can complement the recent report of the EPRDF recent executive committee’s promising and serious proposal that highlights the rightly positive achievements of the regime in power, which are internationally recognized, have been marked by failure in three crucial areas (1) the economy (2) Administration and (3) the handling of the people’s protests.
(1) The transformational gains embodied in impressive infrastructure, schools and universities, clinics are all marks of development which have put Ethiopia on the map.  The benefits of these gains however, have been punctured by corruption at the federal and local levels, and by the regime’s failure to recruit talented minds from all nationalities. This failure could destroy the economy unless it is immediately attended by identifying and systematically cultivating young Ethiopians who could be trained to carry forward the achievements of their elders, who have already done enough.  The existing regime should have a transformational vision which reaches out to coming generations who could take these achievements to the next level of development. The regime must learn the imperative of intergenerational transformation of power and begin to practice it. On a philosophical plane these existential imperatives force us to admit our mortality and share our short life by nurturing those who will inherit our legacies.
Also, corruption at the highest levels must be exposed and severely punished by democratic measures. As promised by the executive committee’s report, educated Ethiopians must be invited by the regime to lead the way free of domination from the top.
(2) At the moment, the administrative sphere is contaminated by negative ethnicity. Power is being given to those who may not be fully qualified.  Ethnic loyalty as opposed to merit is leading the way.  This must end. Again, the regime could seek help from educated Ethiopians to carry out the needed research, identify the centers of corruption, make recommendations, weigh the recommendations and choose the best decision that reflects the idea of Ethiopianity. The needed empirical research cannot be conducted by the bureaucrats who are benefitting from the corruption. This important task must be conducted by objective outside professionals who are committed to making Ethiopia great.
(3) The grievances of the people have been badly handled by the regime for the past few years. This too could be handled differently.  The regime should firstly separate media leaders who may be fueling hate by engaging negative ethnicity from youth and their parents who are mired in poverty and cultural dislocation and are appealing to the regime to recognize them and their needs and make every effort to spread the wealth and prosperity of the nation to them also. Here the cardinal virtues of equality and dignity, the distinguishing features of revolutionary democracy, must be honored, as promised in the Executive Committee Report.
Ethiopianity can be destroyed only when Justice is not the organizing principle of the regime.  When the just treatment of all ethnicities and nationalities is practiced, Ethiopianity in concert with Positive Ethnicity, will give us the Great Ethiopia which we all desire.  When Negative Ethiopia is the norm, the idea of Ethiopianity will be shattered and civil war will be the result, as Mr. Lemma Deresa recently pointed out in an interview on January 8 2018.
Concentration of wealth at the highest levels of the leadership, as admitted by the regime, is what is angering the Ethiopian poor. This anger, if uncontrolled, cannot be contained by imprisoning the leaders of the protestors, the cause of the anger must be removed by effective revolutionary regime policy. It is at this level, if the regime does its work well, that Ethiopianity could be watered by the abolition of classes, and the New Ethiopia of nations and nationalities could wear a revolutionary garb and silence those who are igniting the fires of hate.
In conclusion, I would like to make a few suggestions to the powers that be and the writers of the promising and serious report.
(1) I for one, am taking the promises of the report so seriously that I will be heartbroken if these promises are broken and the hearts of Ethiopians are again shattered. When Ethiopians are ready to forgive, and they might, then the regime must restructure and deliver the promises in consultation with the people and in concert with educated Ethiopians as the report emphasized twice. The educated with the right moral fiber must be given positions of authority with trust and respect.
(2) The regime must begin immediately nurturing and grooming new blood, as Dr. Ghelawdewos has wisely suggested while it is still in power. The regime must distinguish its admirable vision of Revolutionary Democracy from the fact that it is being operationalized by human beings who age and eventually die.  The vision can be inherited by coming generations and that the vision does not die with the present leadership. New leaderships can give vision a permanence that a particular impermanent leadership cannot. That is why the regime should distinguish its vision from its mortal leaders. Well anchored Visions can outlast us, and that leaders should be aware of this existential fact.
(3) EPRDF, a party of New Ethiopianity, must do a better job of reintroducing itself to Ethiopians not as an Ethnocracy but as a living embodiment of Ethiopianity. This vision for which the armed struggle was fought must be reinvigorated by the able hands of educated writers who can help the regime while it is busily implementing its impressive achievements in the areas of education, health and infrastructure. At the moment, the party does not have committed and talented writers to popularize the vision of the party. This too must change, and those who know must lead the way. Knowledge must guide policy and those who know must be invited to provide solutions.
If the party wants to assume the status of an educator and a moral leader, it must search its soul and purify itself to the highest level of leadership. As the regime hints in the report it is not sufficiently ethical and that its bureaucrats are advancing their interests while three fourth of the population for whom and by whom the armed struggle was fought are living in deplorable conditions gazing at stars at night.  The abolition of this wretched condition must be the central goal of the party. The armed struggle was fought to end the domination of classes and not the perpetuation of class and ethnic privilege.
(4) The regime must correctly be praised for the number of the universities that it has constructed, but the conditions at the places of learning must be revisited. As a starter, the party should not be in the business of competing with the professors who teach there about curricular matters. It should take its hands-off university life and discontinue offering positions based on ethnicity. The vision should be the development of an Ethiopian citizen for whom ethnicity is merely an accidental badge.  Moreover, university students ought to exercise their Ethiopian rights and advocate for the poor and dislocated as a matter of being engaged students. The challenges which students raise should not be translated as ethnically motivated but as expressions of citizenship. The idea of Ethiopianity is an articulation of a concerned Ethiopian citizen. The regime should immediately follow this path, and in a few years, it will begin to witness a new era in Ethiopian politics. Students should and will continue to protest on behalf of the Ethiopian poor, not as members of an ethnic group, but as Ethiopian nationals. Ethiopian and national citizenship will replace tribal and ethnic identities, and positive identity will complement Ethiopianity.
(5) Finally, as a potential moral and strategic educator, the party must preach to its functionaries that politics is not dirty, nor is life short and brutish, as Neo-Liberals think; in fact, revolutionary politics is necessarily patient, generous, truthful and Just and that the leaders themselves must embody these virtues in order to lead.
To be continued.


  1. I remember this guy Dr. Teodros Kiros wrote a couple of years ago `Gone are the days when the Tigreans and Eritreans were denied or excluded from university education in Ethiopia. The falsehood of this propaganda exposed his pro-TPLF and anti-Amhara views because the message of his opinions was that only the Amharas were allowed to join universities then. He never mentioned about the Apartheid like and discriminatory higher education and scholarship awarding policies of the TPLF. It is known that almost all student being sent abroad (to the western Universities) are the Tigreans. If he is really concerned about fairness and justice he should have opposed this discriminatory policy of his TPLF regime. Any way the TPLF is a spent force now and his scribbles are irrelevant at this critical time.

    • I have read the same commentary by Dr. Teodros Kiros and Yohannes refere to above. I was not surprized by the contents of the commentary because I am aware the widespread Amhara-phobia among the Tigray elites. I am from Eritrea but had my university education in Ethiopia. The others and I were not denied this opportunity to study in the Ethiopian universities because of our Eritrean background as Dr. Teodros Kiros would like his readers to believe. He has lied and that shows he is not a serious and credible intellectual with integrity. In the same token, he is trying to sell the murderous TPLF ethnic dictatorship in the commentary posted above. As one Ethiopian scholar has recently presented , the TPLF is committing `Intellectual genocide in Ethiopia`. As part of its planned long time domination and subjugation in Ethiopia, the TPLF regime is excluding and stopping the non-Tigreans from studying abroad. The sub-standard univeristies it has opened up here there through the massive foreign aid are not to be hailed as Dr. Teodros Kiros does in his commentary above. They are just show cases. The divide and rule politics of the TPLF has brought the country to the edge of civil war and possibel collapse. The TPLF companies had won almost all of the contrsuction contracts for these sub-standard universities and stolen most of the aid money.

    • The fact is that 25% of those enrolled at Haileselassie University were disproportionately Tigrayans/Eritreans. Dr. Tedros is NOT versed in issues of education. He has this urge to always imagine things and also to quote Dr. Ghelawdewos. Neither is Ghelawdewos an expert on education in Ethiopia (otherwise, he would not have lectured us on how the present regime has transformed especially higher education in the country). The transformation we saw is essentially in Tigray and to a lesser degree in no more than 5 other universities. The flagship university, Addis Ababa U, is today in disrepute internationally. Yes, the graduate population has grown; but the quality of education and employability of graduates is dismal. So dismal that the young are forced to flee their own country to face a certain abuse and even death. In talking about “Ethiopianity” (really an awkward label) he is attempting to come to the rescue of the crumbling Tplf dominance. You may also see similar streak in Dr. Asayehgn; always using their academic credentials to slip in ethnic-laid narrative.

  2. Dr. Teodros Kiros is insulting the intelligence of the readers of this website. I wonder why the Zehabesha has posted this stinking TPLF propaganda at this time in point when the fascist rule of the TPLF is facing the united struggle of the Oromo and Amhara youth. The writer is praising the TPLF regime that is on the killing and imprisoning spree in the country. He is trying to spread his lies by saying that says his party is the party of new Ethiopiawinet. The Thugtatorship of the Tigray People`s Liberation Front (T-TPLF as professor Almariam rightly calls it) does not have any national or Ethiopian agenda because it only benefits and enriches its own ethnic group.

  3. This Woyane guy is dreaming. He says TPLF (a.k.a. EPRDF) brought economic miracles to the country and hence must stay in power until new blood Ethiopians that espouse Ethiopiawinet are ready to takeover. He doesn’t mention that TPLF is anti-Ethiopiawinet for the sake of its survival. How can Ethiopiawinet flourish under TPLF rule when they have been spreading hate among ethnic groups since their inception?
    Because nobody in sound minds will refute that, I will not bother to mention utterances, writings, speeches, Woyanes and their supporters regarding their divide and rule policy and anti-Ethiopianism.
    There is no doubt that this guy is a TPLF propagandist masquerading as a genuine Ethiopian.
    What does he has to say about the raping and pillaging of Ethiopia for the unprecedented economic growth of Tigray?
    If he is so concerned about the wellbeing of Ethiopia, he should keep in mind the sufferings of Ethiopians, above and before everything else, under the Apartheid rule of TPLF and go from there.

  4. I think the Zehabesha should not post any TPLF propaganda like this one even though it appears against the principles of the free press.

  5. What Dr. Teodros Kiros is convincing us the readers is the opposite. Ethiopianity and TPLF (weyanne) are two antagonistic things. They never go together and the Dr. must have been in his illusion or in the mode of deception wen he asserted this connection between weyanne and Ethiopianity. It is clearly defined in the woyanne constitution that there is no such thing as Ethiopianity or Ethiopian citizenship. He is dead wrong if he thinks that we are easy to deceive by spreading these kinds of TPLF propaganda. It tells me that he is among the weyanne cyber soldiers maskerading as an intellectual (Phd holder). The other weyanne Phd holder and his fellow weyanne intellectual is Dr. Gelawdewos Araia. The future of these weyanne intellectuals in free Ethiopia should be seriously discussed because they are accomplices in all the egregious crimes their weyanne leaders commit in Ethiopia. They never expressed sympathy when the TPLF massacres the peaceful Oromo and Amhara demonstrators.

  6. This charlatan called Tedros is along time deceptor who masquerades as good thinker. Deep down his soul he is a lopsided “Tigray only” tribalist. Such a man who is totally blinded by tribalism is not expected to produce anything sane and balanced out of his mind. He is covering, diverting and distrorting the present day reality in Ethiopia which is a Tigre-apartheid system plundering the entire nation. Get over it Mr. Tedros: The entire nation and its people know you as a certified long time apologist of the Tigre-apartheid system.

  7. I was too busy to answer to my readers, but now I can, briefly.
    It is obvious that none of the readers have actually read the present article, if they had, their responses would reflect their understanding. They seem to have collectively decided to respond to the Tigrean name, as opposed to the arguments, on its merits. So, it is a waste of time for me to try to engage them in an intelligent discourse, as opposed to a discourse written by a person, whom they have already condemned as a ” woyanne”, ” Charlatan”, ” Anti-Amhara Tigrean Elite”. This non-readings are excersices in name calling, which I deeply disrespect, and will therefore decline from engaging this futile adventure. As a philosopher, I have the bad habit of preferring rational argumentation to irrational name calling-sorry!

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