The Kemant leadership organized workshop on Kemant people’s history, language and struggle for equality and self-determination, on Saturday, May 6, 2011. The workshop was conducted in Gondar Cinima Hall, Gondar City, downtown, Ethiopia. About 1000 audience participated one day workshop, including representatives from eight Kemant counties (woedas) and Gondar City. Invited scholars came from Addis Ababa University, Gondar University and Civil College. The participant scholars’ composition is diverse, which includes Oromos, Amharas, Tigrians, Hadya and Agews. There were also five Amhara elders from Gondar City and two individual observers from Misraq Gojjam and Awi. However, no government officials or cadres of the ruling party at the event, despite they were invited. The assembly was unexpectedly sizable. The Kemant leadership who had sponsored the workshop was planning for a small number of participants to minimize the cost, but the weroda representatives came at their own expenses and made the gathering large.
The workshop held for the whole day, 2:30 A.M through 12:15 PM, except lunch and coffee breaks. The workshop was chaired by three persons, Prof. Malade Maru, Professor Yigzaw Kebede and Ambassador Zemene Kasagn. The panelists were:
- Prof. Lapiso Dillabo, History of Agaw-Kemant
- Dr. Zelalem Liyaw, Kemant Language
- Dr. Alemaraw G. Hiwot, Kemant Language in Relation to Other Agaw Languages
- Mr. Nega Getie, History of Kemant People and Their Struggle
- Kocyachew Muluye, History of Kemant (emphasizes experiences)
The panelists are experts in their respective field and capable of attracting the audience attentions. “Gondar is Kemant is Emperor Tewodrows”, expression used by some of speakers to articulate their points with historical events. Especially, Prof. Lapiso’s presentation mixed with philosophical statement and joke elicited a lot of laugh from the participants. He said, “To be a source of authority, what is needed is not knowing history of oneself, but being alive only.” One of the audience interpreted this statement as saying, one to determine its destine, one must accept the physical reality of the origin, which is source of being and identity.
There was the opportunity for questions and suggestions at every presentation. Most of comments justified the Kemant community’s the constitutional rights. Three Amhara elders also made comments during discussion, two of them expressed their support for the Kemants struggle for equality and self-rule. One of the speakers stated that the Kemant population was large, it was unfair to deprive the Kemants while other small nationalities are entitled to administer their region. The third Amhara elder’s comment had to do with knowing true history. The elder said, “I wonder why the true was kept in secret, I want to know my true identity, who am I? No problem whoever I’m.” He asked the scholars to continue disclosure of factual history beyond politics. He said, “What I learned today is very interesting.”
The panelists highlighted the appropriateness and constitutionality of the Kemant people’s demand. They though it would not have taken such long time to give them due justice. The panelists also agreed on one point that the Kemant’s existence actually and legally was known prior to the EPRDF and does not need especial study. They argued that there were 76-nations and nationalities listed during the Derg area, one of them was Kemant nationality. These 75 of nations and nationalities have got virtually constitutional protection under EPRDF’s rule, but not Kemants. The speakers also underlined that the regional government has no mandate to determine the fate of the Kemant community, but the federation council. Moreover, the speakers emphasized that Kemant case reference to the regional government was mistaken procedure and need to be corrected.
In the meantime, the Regional Governor, Mr. Ayalew Gobeze appears demonstrating political will to take into consideration the complaint letter written earlier by the Kemant leadership on the allegedly wrong actions of the Kemant Case Study Committee. According to an internal source, Mr. Ayalew is very genuine to address the Kemant’s demand fairly, despite of technical convolution created some of his aides, specially these in the study committee.
Kemant Council Meeting Held
Following the successful completion of the workshop, Kemant Interim Council, which comprises of 120 members held the urgent meeting on May 13, 2011. According to a source, the meeting Chaired by the House Speaker, Mr. Misiganaw Fenkilew took the measures as indicated below:
- The assembly amended the executive committee member’s size from nine to thirteen. The amendment was needed to involve additional activities in the executive committee. As a result, four more members elected to join the existing executive members. Among them are Mr. Endashaw Bogale, the former Chairperson of the Executive Committee and Mr. Nega Getie, the Executive Committee’s former Public Relation. And other two young persons elected for the posts including one female.
- The Council also appraised the workshop process and the obtained output, and discussed on strategy for the next step.