Language Assessment Group Withdraws as Kemants Prove Their Case

Following Kemants’ repeated rejection of Ato Yaregal Asfaw’s claim that the Kemant language was entirely vanished, another assessment group was formed to look into the case. This time, unlike the previous one, the study group consists of both the regional government personnel and Kemant educators from Gondar University. In the beginning, there was difference on the number of committee members; the government representatives proposed two from each side plus cameraman and driver. On the other hand, the Kemant leadership insisted having five persons from their side. After two letter correspondences on the issue, Mr. Ayalew Gobeze, Regional Governor intervened in favor of the latter’s proposal. Accordingly, the group comprised of four persons from the government including cameraman and driver, and five Kemants from the university who were neither Kemant leadership nor movement members.

The government side was represented by Mr. Yaregal Asfaw, Damte Demse, Ayanew Esye (driver) and Mekonnint Alemu (cameraman). Kemants were delegated by Mr. Addisu Tarkegn (team leader), Belay Shibeshi, Digsu Ngese and Tigabu Zegeye. The fifth person whom supposed to join the group couldn’t avail for his own personal reasons.

Before departure to the field, the assessment group jointly held meeting to acknowledge existing facts about the community and outline an action plan. Accordingly, they agreed that there was no need to seek an inquiry other than language since constitutional norms, like psychological make up, settlement adjacency and identity declaration are complete. Regard to language assessment, the joint group reached on consensus to survey systematically nine-villages (kebeles) out of three selected counties (woredas). Three woredas and nine kebels appeared to be enough to obtain information on the language status. The group’s meeting and decisions were recorded in minutes. The names of woredas and kebeles selected for the language survey were as follows:

  • Quara Woreda ( villages of kozera and Bedola, discovered 6 and 26 Kemant speakers, respectively)
  • Metema Woreda (vilaages of Lencha, Gubay/jajabit and Meqa, discovered, 24, 34 and 60 kemant speakers, respectively)
  • Lay Armachiho Woreda (villages of Zerage, Chankiya, Sata & Midraro, the program was interrupted before visiting these villages).

On March 15, 2012, the group traveled to Quara Woreda, Home Districts of Emperor Tewodrows. The Quara residents welcomed the envoys with tears and joys. The committee made investigation in the villages of listed above. Then, the group moved to Metema Woreda and completed its first day assessment as scheduled. On the second day, while the group was discussing with community members, the government delegate leader Ato Yaregal Asfaw suddenly declared the interruption of the program and dismissed the public gathering. The joint group returned to Bahir Dar before visiting the villages of Lay Armachiho Woreda. Mr. Yaregal claimed security threat in his report to Mr. Ayalew Gobeze for interruption. But, his report was rebuffed even by his comrades in the district. According to residents there, Ato Yaregal’s report, security threat, was presumably a fiction just to get ride of his personal dilemma. He was believed to be concerned with his personal integrity because he concluded in his previous report the Kemant language was entirely extinct. When he got challenged with undeniable facts on the ground (existence of the language), he flew suddenly without finishing the mission. He appeared to be in fear of contradicting his previous contemptible report with the present facts. One farmer whom witnessed his departure at the middle of meeting stated that he acted, like a colonial government representative, not like the local government envoy, he added, “how he flew suddenly even without saying good bye the people attending the meeting.”

Gondar side of the group has not yet submitted the report to Mr. Ayalew Gobeze. According to the individuals close to the governor’s office, he was looking forward to receiving the joint report face to face in the form of session. The same source claimed the governor was disappointed with Yaregal’s conduct and gave little credibility to the report of security threat. Reportedly, he was briefed by the Kemant community members in the situation. During briefing he presumably told them the process was constitutional and would continue. Reportedly, he added after receiving jointly report his government would take a next step.

Observers say the Regional Government’s positive side was implementing agreement reached with Kemant leadership on the 4th of January and forming the joint assessment group. Another positive side was making the process transparent unlike the previous ‘study’. Whereas, the Regional Government’s negative contribution was inclusion of Ato Yaregal in the present assessment group while knowing Yaregal’s credibility was disputed and spoiled in the previous ‘study’ as the matter of his prejudice against Kemants. Critics say the regional government could desist from involving Ato Yaregal in the present process if it were committed to peaceful settlement on the Kemant issue.


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2 Responses to Language Assessment Group Withdraws as Kemants Prove Their Case

  1. Mallede M. says:

    Truth will always triumph. People know that the KHEMANT are a vibrant community with their own culture, language, religions and a well demarcated land which they protected when it is possible through the legal processes and when it went out side the law with their lives. Why people do you want to have your own administration? MIN BEDEL DERESBACHUHU? BEDELUMA, WE ARE LOOSING OUR CULTURE, LANGUAGE and were carrying a huge PSYCHOLOGICAL BURDEN which we like to unload. To maintain our culture and revitalize our language having our own administration is VITAL and our neighbors should appreciate our needs.


  2. Tibebu Ferede says:

    why the region send him again to access the language?this is one of the problem of the regional government.before now he said the language of kemant is disappear again now he cross out the study. why ato yaregal wants to hinder the kimant people quastion?

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