The Contradiction in Unitary (Ethiopiawinet)

By Zelalem Eshete, Ph.D.
There seems to be two diverging thoughts on the matter of Ethiopia. On one hand there is ethnic centered thought while on the other hand there is unitary or “Ethiopiawinet” thought. The first advocate for an ethnic group, whereas the latter struggles for “one Ethiopia”. This article is not about investigating which of the two philosophies is right for Ethiopia. Each of the two systems of thoughts has its respective arguments to defend its own way of thinking. That too is not the scope of this this article. Here is an independent voice to explore the congruency between value and action in their respective stand.
Ethnic Based Thought
The value system of such a thought is taking care of an ethnic group that went through adverse history. It declares that the neglected and abused ethnic group needs to address the past and embrace equality in the 21st century. The action that comes out of this value system is to put the ethnic group in question as a center of dialogue. One can debate the legitimacy or validity of the ethnic thinking, but one thing is clear: that the action of such thought is congruent to its value system in place. This is truer when the unitary group does not empathize with the concern in display.
Unitary (Ethiopiawinet) Thought
The central theme of such thought is unity of the several ethnic groups in Ethiopia. It doesn’t like the division along the ethnic lines. It values one Ethiopia where each citizen is free and calls the whole Ethiopia its own hometown. One can debate the legitimacy or validity of such unitary thought in Ethiopia, but that is not the scope of this paper. One thing is clear that this thought has a contradiction between its value system and its actions towards manifesting its value system. This is because such group is ignoring the ethnic based group on the assumption that it is operating on a higher moral ground. By doing so, it is alienating the people that make up the one Ethiopia thereby contradicting the one Ethiopia value system.
The value system of unitary thought demands that its first priority should be to listen and understand the ethnic thinking and address the issues at hand instead of giving deaf ears. It should start talking the language of such a group towards making conversations. It is the burden of the unitary group to win over all towards the true one Ethiopia unseen before. Otherwise, it will be on the losing side for nothing can keep Ethiopia united other than the power of love. After all, it is the unitary group that is shouting louder for a united Ethiopia.
The failure of the unitary group to acknowledge the pain and cry of the ethnic group galvanizes the cause of the ethnic based thought even more. That is why the unitary thinking is in need of resolving the conflict between its value system and the action that attempts to realize the value system. That is, if the true one Ethiopia ever going to happen soon.
Dr. Zelalem Eshete may be reached at: [email protected]


  1. Dr. Zelalem, recognizing ethnic differences, values, traditions, languages,… is a great idea. But dividing land on the basis of ethnic is wrong. This ethnic based land division has been done in biblical time. When the Israelites returned from Egypt to the promised land and the promised land was divided into the 12 Tribes of Israel. The result was the 12 tribes of Israelites were killing each other over the land. EPRDF dividing land based on ethnic is a big wrong. Ethiopia, the land belongs to all the people; Otherwise, we have to divide further the land into 95 ethnics land. The one Ethiopia , one language, one religion, … is wrong. That is what led to the bloody wars in Ethiopia. In my thinking you can recognize and respect ethnic rights without dividing the land into ethnic land. The previous provincial system is good or Kifle Hager was good. The kfle hager could have been be changed to federalism without dividing the land into ethnic lines. Even now this must be corrected otherwise, the end of be the same bloodshed and conflict. Every ethnic must be told the land belongs to all Ethiopians only.

  2. You better work more on the bottomed Engineering in Ethiopia to display your talent and Knowledge. You better understand that Ethnic-based Federalism has failed and left us not to rely upon each other risking disintegration of the unified /established Ethiopia.We better think of in toto than locally regarding Unity. You did know well the recent conflicts for land in Afar, Oromia against a certain Ethnics and still one Ethnic is condemning the Expansion of A.A to neighboring Oromia land for development. All these are the out comes of narrowed unity mentality. Shame on Repeated failure of your thought in politics.

    • Dear Kibrom
      You are embarassing to me. your idea would sound concrete, if it was approached with good heart and clarity. Instead you little mind immediately jumped to undermine Zelalem/s realistic thoughts. As I understand your unpolite and ill-temper message, I conclude that you think you are better, but this way of thinking has never worked and will never be constructive. Yes, Indeed, you tried to explain the fatalities of the ethnic centred governance, but you have not justified it well like Zelalem does. Zelalem’s message is very clear and sounds tangible conveying a good message for those who abruptly and emotionally are provoking “Ethiopianism and oneness”. How can you say I am an ethipian and yet you are subjecting me to feel that I am not an ethiopia? through spitting of shameless words and derogatories, through oppressing others. Honestly speaking- no one in all ethnic groups hates to be united and build a nation and one country. This is the essential block that keep us as soverign and strong nation. The problem is however, people like you have little understanding of the people who make the house. I understand going further along the ethnic line is worse and destructive but we have allowed it by descriminating our people and oppressing them and damaging our emotions and our being. Please think better and be critical thinker instead of rushing to think u are better.

  3. Zelaleme
    Thank for your comprehension of the real probleme in ethiopia.The so called unitary group want to ignore our past ,our pain our wishes and our rights .Up to now few highlanders accepts somalis are ethiopians.We feel ethiopian with our region under our control ,i think the same with afar,oromo,and others.

  4. Zelalem, please stop blabbering on topics you don’t know and stop adding fuel to the fire. As Kibrom said it, you better focus on your profession and do whatever you can to help your people in that line or shut your mouth. Undoubtedly, ethnic federalism is a poison to our home land, and if the incumbent does not reverse it soon, all the trends are indicating upcoming dire consequences. No ethnic group will be immune to the ensuing carnage. TPLF has been playing with fire that it thought it would control it whenever it will, but now the intensity of the fire has grown so much that it is about to go out of control and consume the entire region. Kudos to Gezaee and Kibrom, for noticing the danger. The incumbent should be told that the volcano is about to erupt unless immediate action is taken to cool down the temperature. Any storm in that region would dwarf what we have witnessed in Somalia.

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