Asking Freedom from Ideological Slaves: Nominal Ethiopian Constitutional Rights and Truth on Ground

By Mizigena

The constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in its preamble clearly reads (quote): we, the nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia
strongly committed, in full and free exercise of our right to self-determination, to building a political community founded on the rule of law and capable of ensuring a lasting peace, guaranteeing a democratic order, and advancing our economic and social development.Firmly convinced that the fulfillment of this objective requires full respect of individual and people’s fundamental freedoms and rights, to live together on the basis of equality without any sexual, religious or cultural discrimination. Further convinced that by continuing to live with our rich and proud cultural legacies in territories we have long inhabited, have, through continuous interaction on various levels and forms of life, built up common interest and have also contributed to the emergence of a common outlook. Fully cognizant that our common destiny can best be served by rectifying historically unjust relationships and by further promoting our shared interests. Convinced that to live as one economic community is necessary in order to create sustainable and mutually supportive conditions for ensuring respect for our rights and freedoms and for the collective promotion of our interests. Determined to consolidate, as a lasting legacy, the peace and the prospect of democratic order which our struggles and sacrifices have brought about. Have therefore adopted, on 8 December 1994 this constitution through representatives we have duly elected for this purpose as an instrument that binds us in a mutual commitment to fulfill the objectives and the principles set forth above.

Despite of this fact, there are still nation, nationality and people who are denied of their natural rights, whose fundamental freedom are ignored, forced to live being annexed with others without their will, the past unjust political relation still persists. Among these people who never exercise the constitutional rights is the Qemant nationality. Why Qemant are denied of the constitutional rights? The problems are from the two sources, internal and external.

Regard to the internal factor, historically, Qemants, like other Agaws throughout the region were whom the first to suffer from the identity conversion campaign of the false Solomonic Dynasty until 19974. This fact left this people under strong identity crisis and slow in a coming back process to its true self. Even today there are Qemant individuals who labeled themselves as Amhara and struggle against Qemant’s quest for self administration. People in this circle are those who are making their living (enjara) under ANDM’s left over. Though they are not strong and have insignificant influences up on freedom movement, but they can still create confusion to please their superior political masters.

The other internal problem is the approach that Qemant leaders use to regain the constitutional rights, which proved its dysfunctionality. For the last fifteen years, Qemant Committee leadership has chosen a struggle approach that takes them nowhere. They have very feeble committee that represent the people to regain the denied constitutional rights. This committee is informal that does not have institutional capacity to resist the mischievous reaction of ANDM. Indeed, the committee has strong conviction in law and peaceful struggle and strongly depends on the constitution. But constitution for ANDM members is like any ordinary paper only written in black and white to only delude Ethiopians. In the first place most ANDM member, particularly, those who recently joined the organization work against the federal system and wish the old unitary system so as to reinstate the legacy of one nation.
In terms of the external factor, the main thing that Qemant fail to realize is that they seek their freedom from ANDM that does not liberate itself yet.
From its genesis ANDM is the brain child of leftist ideology, naive to democracy. The Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (EPDM) the precursor of ANDM was founded in November 1980 in Tigray, at a place known as Tekrarwuha. The founding fathers were the former members of the EPRP who splintered themselves from the party for various reasons. When the then Ethiopian People Democratic movement (EPDM) was founded , it was guided by TPLF to work in the Amharic and other language speaking population outside Tigray. After 13 years in a multinational name, the movement (EPDM) convened its third organizational conference at Bahir Dar in January 1994 and changed its name to Amhara National Democratic Movement, but without modifying its revolutionary democratic stance. When the Agaws began to move to have their own party, it stepped up persecution despite Mr. Addisu Legese then regional governor wrote a letter to his subordinates the Agaws to exercise freely if they wanted to set up the party.

Fortunately ANDM took the first child status of EPDM and inherited its legacy by default. This all entails that ANDM itself is not liberated itself yet let alone to struggle for the freedom of others. This means the Question of Qemant fall wrongly in the hands of the “illegitimate entity”. To answer the constitutional rights of Qemant ANDM needs ideological liberty. This means the Qemnat quest is not in the hands of the ANDM, it is in the hands of individual ideologists who dictate it. Unless the committee is smart enough to know where the master key is found they are only knocking a locked door and their question remains unanswered to the doomsday. The case remains like requesting one’s freedom from those who are slaves themselves. The other directly correlated problem is ANDM ideologists think that recognizing Qemant in their true identity will induce identity crisis to those already converted people in the region. In this regard ANDM is determined to scarifies all costs to oust Qemant from the nationality list and make it “true Amhara organization members”. Of course, in reality even recognized areas, Awi, Himira and Oromo provinces are just enjoying pseudo rights where ANDM dictates the fate of this people. How on earth one can think Agaw and Oromo people in Amhara Region are free under the leadership of Amhara party. How on earth the region is renamed to Amhara Region if they have due respect to Agaws, Oromos and others inhabit in the region?
Let me finalize my opinion by then EPDM song that ANDM has inherited:
Tiqitoch qoratoch yaltenberekekinew
neg elf enhonalen tarik miskir naw.
Yes, we Agaws will be millions in near future though we seem a few now.

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17 Responses to Asking Freedom from Ideological Slaves: Nominal Ethiopian Constitutional Rights and Truth on Ground

  1. Zeleke says:

    Dear Mizigena
    I am impressed with your article which covers the situation for Qemant, other Agew families and siblings including Oromo, God Bless you.
    As you had stated above, EPDM was established by defectors from EPRP (Ehapa) in which members were from many nationalities like Bereket, Tamirat from amara and some from Agew etc. They were not fight for Amara but to liberate the whole Ethiopia. When EPDM converted to ANDM, members of EPDM converted themselves to ANDM. Even though ANDM is for Amara people but it remain functioning as EPDM which doesn’t recognize other nationalities like Qemant, except pseudo recognition to like Awi and Himra.
    Because of unclear demarcation between Agew and Amara by ANDM, Awi is in identity crisis and you can feel the beggars in Addis Ababa from Awi where once begging was only for disabled people. I believe Awi is neither Agew nor Amara at this time. Qemant people has erased from recent national census. Agaw as the whole has also erased from ethnic list on Addis Ababa kebele adminstration which they used to register and issued a local (kebele) identity card in a computerized system.

    We are multi-million people which is not united under one objective. We might feel as if we are very few scattered here and there. We have to be organized ourselves under one objective to reclaim our identity. We will be millions per song of EPDM that you stated above “neg elf enhonalen tarik miskir naw”.
    I always ask myself beyond my personal effort “where is the objective that we can call our people to be united”. How could we pursue our objectives legally? How long should we wait to start formal and legal fight for us and our people?

  2. belay says:

    Why mr Asmamaw favor latin Alphabet to be?

  3. Mizigena says:

    “Those Who Deny Freedom to Others Deserve It Not for Themselves”-Abraham Lincoln

    Once again ANDM leaders and Qemant nationality self administration quest representatives will meet on Sunday Oct. 21/2012 to discuss on the assessment study conducted on Qemant culture, language, geographic integrity and and others so as to react to the constitutional quest of same. Against the proclamation number 251/93 regarding time limit of reacting to any constitutional appeal that will present to regional government or House of Federation. it is almost six years that the question of Qemant is still in the hands of the regional government with a very insignificant move.
    This unnecessary delay happens mainly on account that the quest falls on those who are not free themselves and at the same time those who quest their freedom are prone to plea their constitutional rights rather than demanding aggressively and ensure by all peaceful means including peaceful demonstration, establishing political party that has legal personality, informing to all Ethiopians and international community what has happened to Qemant people using all available private media and web pages, tactical lobbying etc.

    So far I have read nothing written and heard no demonstration has been attempted over the past six years. I am very sorry to say that the key that Qemant has is unable to unlock the strong padlock of ANDM. This happens because the Committee acts halfheartedly. They are not ready even to prepare the strong mass behind them to come up for demonstration. They are only their to protect the strong Qemant people not to take action on the pretext that our quest is peaceful and constitutional. Conducting peaceful demonstration is constitutional. But the committee are not bold enough to show ANDM that this quest is a quest of the people. ANDM cadre often scorn at the committee this is the act of few rent seeker and power mongerer Qemant petty bourgeois.
    I have hardly any confidence that ANDM will react positively for Qemant for different reasons. ANDM cadres fear no people like Qemant representatives who only says “we respect the constitution”. It doesn’t work for ANDM
    What shall we expect from the Sunday Meeting?
    If the committee are only ready to present and defend the assessment like that of the academic senior essay they will get grade “A” for the paper and “F” for its intrinsic objective of the assessment. Had ANDM been genuine to respect the constitutional rights of people living in the region, it would not have come up to conclude saying that “no Qemnat” in its s previous study. Why on earth this people change their mind and say they recognize Qemant all of a sudden.
    This time discussion for Qemant will be only a step to enter to new and different struggle strategy if they are bold enough. Or else, they are only there to take a bad news and break to the Qemant people who wait anxiously, no more.You Qemant leaders either make or break the issue. Or else live the Qemant people alone to act by themselves. Qemant leaders are requesting their freedom from ANDM who do not deserve it for themselves.

  4. Beshaw says:

    Dear Mizigena,
    First of all I appreciate your concern for the concern of Kemant people to which you belong. But, I do not agree with you in many respects. You always make blames on others. You blame the ANDM . You blame the Kemant leaders or representatives. More often than not. Where do you put your self? Why do you go there in Gondar and play your role? I can analogize you Ethiopian Diaspora who oppose what the government does here in Ethiopia. You too blame the leaders of Kemant in Gondar, you being away from the community. So, please, do not externalize the problems of Kemant to ANDM or to the people it represents. This is because ANDM promotes the interests of the others, those who created it. It is doing its job, not blaming others, that counts.

    For me, as a member of Kemant people, I can say the following:
    – The Kemant is not yet recognized and does not enjoy self-administration because there have not been competent personalities who lead the movement. Those who are said to be educated are selfish and politically unconscious and incompetent. They are politically and socially ‘educated illiterate’ people. They do not know the games of politics and social dynamism.
    – They are not business people who support the movement either. If any society or community is weak economically, it is also week in other aspects. Of course, if there is good leadership, funds can be raised sufficiently from the ordinary people.
    – Religiously, the people are not in such a way that enable them to establish trust, mutual respect, hope, sacrifice for the cause of others, etc. Their ancient form of Judaism was better in this respect. To be honest, religiously the people have gone backwards, from monolithic faith to other creed, which is so-called Orthodox, which is convenient for nothing. Even the root cause for the problem of Kemant emanated from this creed.
    – Lastly, the ANDM has utilized the above mentioned weak sides of the people.
    Thus, dear Mizigena, do your homework rather than pointing your finger to others who have done their own for their own people!

  5. Mizigena says:

    Dear Beshaw,
    First of all I appreciate your comments. You are absolutely correct. I understand what ANDM stands for and I know all the efforts what the Qemant committee has done so far. My point was not to downsize the efforts of those who sacrifice their time, labour and resources to make true the dream of Qemant people. I only raised that point to show the committee how to device another strategy different from they used in their previous movement. If the words I used were discouraging rather than stimulating, I will take care of them in my future issues. With regard the ANDM my point goes more than blaming. I just tell ANDM members that we know what they are up to.
    As you pinpointed clearly, we have to contribute our own part for the realization of Qemant’s independence. I do not have a different idea from that of yours, but how you become sure that I didn’t? Forget that anyway. This is the time that we all should join hands and liberate our people. No matter how I write, let us not point finger at each other. I may be wrong the way I express my idea, but you are there to correct me. Come please with a concrete strategy how we can move forward. Step one is to dialogue and come with filtered options.

    With Regards!

  6. Beshaw says:

    Please do not post anything which is unreliable. For certain, I heard from one of the attendants of the meeting that it was a sheer disappointing for Kemants. So, please do not get confused. Rather, take up an alternative measures.

  7. Awoke Wubie says:

    Hi Guys,
    How are you doing? I read your points of argument and became interested to write my comments. By the way, what is the quest of the Qemant people? Is it a question of identity or a question of self rule? If it is the former, I agree most. If it is the latter I do not see the significance. If you ask why, it is because changing only the seat of leadership from Amhara leaders to Qemant leaders. This is how i view the present day struggle of the Qemant Committee.

    • Mizigena says:

      Dear Awoke
      identity is natural. I don’t think it will be expected from someone else to be permitted or denied. For me it is I who know who I am. The question is unless you have the right institutions that enable you to develop, maintain of all manifestations of your identity such as culture, language, history and the likes it remains no man’s. Unless the existing institutions are fair, they will be biased in favour of one nationality and eventually yours will die out. Had the Amahara regional state were fair and given equal chance to all nationalities in the region to develop their language and culture it was not necessary to quest for self administration. However, in practice, the regional government kept silent while Qemant’s language is drastically going from bad to worse. This means there were no equal chance even to talk that you are different identity. Rather Qemant was totally annexed and called in the name of Amhara. What is wrong if Qemant people continue as Qemant rather than trying to assimilate without the people’s consent?
      Qemant raised the quest of self administration after 20 years having been together with Amahara. However, this sense of unity was taken by some fool people as if Qemant hate its identity and made Amhara officials to decide wrongly by calling Qemant Amhara. Before that there was no a question of self administration by the people. Qemant people prefer to co-exist with the Amhara without dividing by nationality like that it has been elsewhere in Ethiopia.
      But the regional state officially dismissed Qemant’s identity by the 2007 population census annexed them as Amhara. in history Qemant never considered itself as Amhara and even Amahara people never take Qemant as Amahara.
      It is this fact that instigate the people to quest for self administration. Identity without self administration is exposing your self to worse tragedy. The officials in the region are in favoritism and do not believe by merit. Rather they gather by village and nepotism. How then Qemant develop its language under the influence of these people?
      The quest for self administration is not to satisfy power interest of some Qemants ( as some people accuses the movement) rather to maintain its identity where the Amahara government has not paid a damn attention. To this effect, self administration is the best solution to press on equal and fair playing ground is to come.

      • Awoke Wubie says:

        Hi Mizigena,
        How are you doing? Thank you for your prompt reply. In fact i would like to appreciate your points of argument or viewpoints. I agree with all you have said. However, the question seems to be what is the substance or meat of our argument? Is it a question of identity or self rule? For me it should be the issue of identity. As you know the Qemant community is a submerged community for thousands of years. So, the prime struggle of the Qemant people should be for identity. Then later comes the struggle for self rule, as you said. Hence, let’s be the champions of identity first!!!

  8. Mizigena says:

    Dear Awoke,
    Thank you again.
    For me as per the Constitution,the two (identity and self administration) are the two sides of a coin. One is the derivative of the other. If identity is ensured, self administration is automatic.
    You are absolutely correct. It is because that Qemant’s identity is denied it also denied of self rule. But if you mean that once Qemant regain its identity recognition, the movement for self administration must quiet up there, I totally disagree.
    Anyway we should keep the wave moving stronger and faster.

    • Awoke Wubie says:

      Dear Mizigena,
      Thank you for your instant response. Now we have come to terms. It was for this idea that I was championing for long ago. I understand that identity and self rule are two sides of a fence. But the prime question is which comes first. Is it identity or self rule? So, we have to prioritize the two. For me it is identity first, and then self rule next. If you ask me why, it is because we have been submerged by the Amhara for thousands of years. Therefore, I am advocating the cause of identity first.
      By the way, while I was writing you this message, I am reading a recently published book by Tinbitu Derese. It is entitled: “The Federal System of Ethiopia and the Qemant people quest for self rule – From where to where.” I think it is worth reading.
      Bye for now.

      • Mizigena says:

        Dear Awoke,
        You are still correct. unless your identity is recognized, self rule can’t be requested. But What we should know is that Qemant was considered for long as different ethnic people. What they lack is institution to maintain and develop its identity. Even the regional government has not denied the existence of people called Qemant in the region. And yet the administration refuses its self rule rights. Anyway, we are on the same page.
        I thank you for informing me about the book. I got it and have gone through. I really appreciate the writer for his very bold idea and putting all facts what the regional government did to the People. I hope other will follow his example and bring facts to knowledge of all Ethiopians. The problem is the book is not in the book markets. I do not know why that is so.
        Thank you wondim Awoke

      • Awoke Wubie says:

        Dear Mizigena,
        Thank you for your response. Now, you have realized that we are on the same boat. Time will come when our voices will be heard. I think the recent book on the Qemant people have clearly pinpointed the issue. It is a very interesting and informative account on the Qemant people.
        Bye for now.

      • Awoke Wubie says:

        Dear Mizigena,
        How are you doing? The day before yesterday I forwarded you a message. But you didn’t respond. Anyways i have finished reading that book. it has a wealth of information on the Qemant people’s struggle for identity and self rule. In fact, like your viewpoint it gives more emphasis to the latter. The book states that the Qemant people are denied the right of self rule by the Amhara Regional government on the ground that they do not fulfill the requirements for being a national or ethnic group like language, religion, culture, and psychological oneness. They have labelled as “ቅማአማ” (it is my own term) to mean that we have already intermingled with the Amhara. The writer argues that which of the above factors has great value for identity and presents his own argument. So, it is worth reading again and again and let us share our viewpoints.
        Bye for now.
        Let us keep in touch.

  9. Mizigena says:

    Dear Awoke,
    I again read the book again and above. I read it as if it is was my first time to read it. It is all true, encouraging and full of facts.
    I did not reply because the web (wlka) does not show now new comments as it had before. I do not know why. I got it while I simply browse.
    I hope there is no ideological difference between you and me. We might differ only in tactics. Even with this we are one and the same.
    I wonder if one write on top of what Tinbitu did. It might be only small book but that could tell truth to other Ethiopians.
    cheers for what Tinbitu did! He is Qemant’s hero.

    • awokewubie says:

      Dear Mizigena, Selam, Selamta to you and your family. I read you message today after nearly a week of absence. Thank you for your response. Alike you I have also faced difficulty with the web wordpress. Anyways I am struggling to write you. After I read Tinbitu’s book, I also read a recently published book entitled: “The eil legacies of Meles” or in Amharic የመለስ ክፉ ውርሶች. The book raises similar issues like the Qemant people which are denied by the government. It says that the Anuak living in Gambella, the Bench Maji, the Sidama, and others are demanding self rule. But the government is unwilling hereafter to entertain such demands. Hence, the Qemant peoples quest for self rule will not be exceptional. It will have the same fate. Dear Mizigena, I haven’t told you that Tinbitu and me are communicating via email. You can get his email address from the book. Bye for now.

  10. redirect says:

    I amm really thankful to the owner of this website
    who has shared this fantastic article at here.

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