Myth and Identity Crisis in Amharization Process

by Mizigena A.
Those who cannot convince others nor themselves went back far to Makeda (Saba) and Solomon relationship referring to the book called Kebra Negast (Glory of Kings). The Kebra Negast is a great storehouse of legends and traditions, some historical and some of a purely folk-lore character derived from the Old Testament and the latter Rabbinic writings and from Egyptian (both pagan and Christian), Arabian and Ethiopian Sources. The legend goes like this: Queen Makeda learns from Tamrin, a merchant based in her kingdom, about the wisdom of King Solomon, and she travels to Jerusalem to visit him. She is enthralled by his display of learning and knowledge, and declares, “From this moment I will not worship the sun, but will worship the Creator of the sun, the God of Israel” (chapter 28). The night before she begins her journey home, Solomon tricks her into sleeping with him, and gives her a ring so that their child may identify himself to Solomon. On the journey home, she gives birth, child namely Menelik (chapter 32). The myth originates here and accompanies with identity crisis which portrays oneself to Semitic by denying the true identity of Cushitic Queen. Kebre Negast appeared to be fabrication by the elite ruling group (Solomonic Dynasty) to legitimate its continuity of kingdom in association with divine providence. The legend has never gained recognition from Israeli sides. On contrary, Beta Israel rejected the story, such as Minilk-I brought Tabote Tsion (Ark of Covenant) to Ethiopia.

Likewise, considering all Amharic speakers as ‘Amhara’ is another myth extension, which leads to perplexity. The origin of the name “Amhara” is debated; according to some people, it comes from the word amari, meaning “pleasing, agreeable, beautiful and gracious” (also mehare, “gracious”, containing the same m-h-r root as the verb to learn), while some local writers such as Getachew Mekonnen say it is an ethnic name connected to Himyarites still others say that it derives from Ge’ez, meaning “free people” (i.e. from Gee’z “ʿam” meaning “people,” and ሓራ “h.ara”, meaning “free” or “soldier”); or alternatively religious naming, Amara or Muslim (see also Faayis, 2012); though others such as Donald Levine have dismissed Amhara ethnicity as a folk etymology. Ultimately, however, the name for the language and group came from the medieval province of Amhara, located in southern Wollo. On contrary to historical facts, the administrative areas now known as Amhara Region is composed of several provinces with greater or less autonomy, which included Gondar, Gojjam, Wollo and North Shewa. Following the end of the ruling Agaw, Zagwe Dynasty, the Solomonic Dynasty governed the Ethiopian Empire for many centuries from the 1270 AD onwards up to 1974. This might subsquent to mislabeling designation of all Amharic speakers as Amhara, of course, it may not be only reason.
Regardless of the opinions described above on the status of Amhara. The fact that many people speak Amharic irrespective of ethnicity, as well as, have Amharic names. Of course, many Ethiopians, Amharic speakers can trace their ancestry to multiple ethnic groups. For example, the last Emperor, Haile Selassie, often realzed himself a member of the Gurage/Oromo people on account of his ancestry, and his Empress, Itege Menen Asfaw of Ambassel, was in large part of Oromo descent. St. Tekle Haymanot the man believed to be the founder of Solomonic Dynasty had never considered himself Amhara. Shewan elites and intellectuals most likely know this very well. Are they ashame of declaring their actual identity rather than masking themselves with Amharic/Amhara? is probably the though question.

To return to the point, the expanded use of Amharic language results mostly from its being the language of the court, and was gradually adopted out of usefulness by many unrelated groups, labeled as Amhara no matter what their ethnic origin. The predominant religion of the Amhara for centuries has been Christianity, Ethiopian Orthodox Church in particular, which played a central role in politics of the country. Until the last quarter of the 20th century, “Amhara” was only used (in the form of amariñña) to refer to Amharic, the language, or the medieval province located in Wollo (modern Amhara Region). To date, most people labeled by outsiders as “Amhara”, refer to themselves simply as “Ethiopian”, or to their province (e.g. Gojjami from the province Gojjam). According to Ethiopian ethnographer Donald Levine, “Amharic-speaking Shewans consider themselves closer to non-Amharic-speaking Shewans (Oromos) rather than to Amharic-speakers from distant regions like Gondar. This is because they know very well Gondaris are Agaw Qemant not Amhara even in the above context. The Amharic language is serving as a melting point beyond means communication. The Amhara ethnicity does not exist in historical reality, however, in the sense of being a distinct group promoting its own interests and advancing the Herrenvolk philosophy and ideology as has been presented by some politicians.

Despite the ruling party’s claim, the federal system is in place to end an one group domination, there are still some people who speak progressive slogans, but in the reality struggle yet to restore the dead and buried feudal dynasty. I believe that Amhara Regional Government regardless of its group identity is the one that hides itself under the federalism robe but truly adhere to bring back Amharaization domination in Ethiopia.
One explicit manifestation of this is forcefully assimilation of Qemant(Kemant) people to wear an Amhara robe despite their resistance. Qemant people belong to the Cushitic Agaw who has distinct culture, language and identity.

During the transitional Government in 1990s the new regional elites consciously eliminated the Qemant from the list of Ethiopian nations, nationalities. Following this the Qemant raised up for recognition and self-rule. But the question fallen in the same hands and rejected the quest by majority vote in the Regional Council. The very reason given by the Regional Government is that QEMANT HAS BEEN ALREADY CONVERTED TO AMHARA. This fact proves that there is no race called Amhara by origin but this name only serves as a melting pot mentioned above. One can easily imagine that how the process of Amharization took place. Annexing Qemant forcefully is the live witness to the theory that there are no people called Amhara. However, this act is an explicit insult to the people who called themselves Amahra by putting and accepting people who are not their part actually. It is obvious that people in the Amhara region melted to Amhara pot from different origins, for example:

  • Oromo and Agaw, Shewa
  • Oromo and Agaw, Wollo
  • Agaw/Gafat, Gojjam
  • Agaw (Kemant and Beta Israel, Falasha), Gondar
  • I wonder if there is anyone who can disprove this fact with concrete evidence rather defending by rude words as often most of the people did.The surprising question is why the elite claim fake identity, whilst their physical reality tells the truth who they are. Can the claim change their actual reality? Not only that, how they impose their political feelings on those indigenous who want to maintain their real identity. How do we save the wounded nations from disappearing?

    Notice:

    Neither do articles published on this site necessarily reflect an editorial policy of the WLKA nor its position on issues expressed by respective authors.

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    9 Responses to Myth and Identity Crisis in Amharization Process

    1. Baalya to Habesha says:

      Habesha, you said, the present black people, kemants, tigres, … were originally white. The intial entity is not anymore vible, exception of language, and we ended up in slavery for Arabic nations. What I know is the Biblical Cush is originally with black skin. What is your position in this regard?

    2. Mamo Kassegn says:

      “The question fallen in the same hands and rejected the quest by majority vote in the Regional Council. The very reason given by the Regional Government is that QEMANT HAS BEEN ALREADY CONVERTED TO AMHARA” /So Funny/, casting vote on an once ethnic group’s in destine.

    3. abkelesh gonder says:

      dear mamo this amhara is conventional ethnicity but my dilemma is why the amhara accepeted it

      • Mamo Kassegn says:

        Simply being Amhara is good than to be called by so many names:- Qimant, Felasha, Azmari, Jawi, Zegegna, Woito, Wolkayit, Shinasha, Agaw or Gafat, Argoba, Felata,………..yes, even called by the name Amhara is better than to be called by Oromo or Tigre……….you know the words related to these nation. Even when I preferred to be called in the name Amhara, b/se while I was child, people were told me that our ethnic group (Qimant) were came from Egypt and our ancestors were born from a Woira or Tree.

      • Anteneh says:

        Dear abkelesh gonder
        don’t wary we amharas know ourselves.our enemies cannot have morals and values to defame us.

    4. AFrica says:

      WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS ARTICLE? YOU ( AUTHOR) AND MANY OTHER PRIMITIVE TRIBALIST’S NEED TO STOP BEING A NI66ER. A NI66ER IS SOMEONE WHO IS HELL BENT ON KEEPING AFRICA POOR BY THE DIVIDE AND RULE MECHANISM; THE WHITE MEN USED THIS TO COLONISE AFRICA. GROW THE FUCK UP AND HELP ERADICATE POVERTY. IF YOU ARE AN ADULT YOU WILL DIE SAD AND IF YOU ARE YOUNG YOU WILL DIE VENTING. MAY THE LORD WIPE PEOPLE LIKE YOU, WHO CAUSE SO MUCH HATRED BETWEEN PEOPLE BASED ON SOCIAL CONSTRUCTS, OUT OF THIS WORLD. PIECE AND PROSPERITY TO ETHIOPIA AND AFRICA AS A WHOLE. DEATH TO PRIMITIVE NI66ERS LIKE YOU AUHOR!!!

      • Mizigena says:

        I WONDER IF, IT IS INDICATION OF DEEP WOUNDED IDENTITY THAT BURNS. HAD THIS ARTICLE BEEN EXTRACTED FROM THE PSEUDO HISTORY AND TALK ABOUT THE GLORY. MY FRIEND, YOU WOULD HAVE APPRECIATED NON STOP. WEREN’T YOU AWARE OF THE LAST AGONY DOMINATION PERIODS WHERE PEOPLE WERE INSULTED BY THEIR IDENTITY? WEREN’T YOU AWRE THAT THIS PEOPLE CAME FROM TREE THAT FROM INSECT THIS FROM THAT? WHY YOU BECOME SO NATIONALISTIC ALL OF A SUDDEN WHILE YOU USE MY TRIBE’S NAME AS A WORD OF DEROGATORY? WHY YOU FEEL THIS PAIN NOW WHEN I M TALKING ABOUT YOUR ASSOCIATION? HAVE YOU EVERHEARD WHEN YOUR PARENT TOLD UPON THAT YOU ARE FROM THE LINE OF SOLOMONID DYNASTY AND POWER IS GIVEN TO YOUR FAMILY ONLY?
        MY FAMILY NEVER THOUGHT ME TO CURSE PEOPLE BUT TO BLESS. MAY GOD BRING YOU BACK TO YOUR TRUE BEING.

    5. The term Tigray is used in Ethiopia for both the people and their province. Tigrinya is used in Eritrea for the same people, so-called from the language they speak. Differences in terminology and spelling have led to a different political identity of this people group on each side of the border dividing the group. Culturally they are one people group. The terms Tigray, Tigrinya or Tigray-Tigrinya apply to the total people group, unless otherwise indicated.

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