To Mr Bbeyene Asmare, Chairperson of the recently established political institution-Gondar Unity-to suppress the kemant identity and self-rule quest!
How are you doing? Hope you are doing well and this letter may find you where you are. I am one of your close relatives in terms of blood tie. I am also one of the kemant self-rule activists at home, Ethiopia. Currently, we all know that the kemant issue is the most burning issue in the northern hemisphere of Ethiopia. I have tried to listen and examine the merits of the concern you, very limited in number, kemant diaspora along with Amhara opposing groups are raising. First of all, I really appreciate and accept diversity of ideas for the development of democracy in our country, Ethiopia. This is to mean that I really appreciate the different concern you have brought into the public debate–No Self-Government Right to Kemant People!
You established a kind of political institution (Gondar Unity) and are working tirelessly to achieve that different goal. You are using Esat media as institution to disseminate your different agenda to the rest of the world. I have no such blind opposition against what you are doing now. But, I have just some reflections:
1) Do you really believe in kemant identity? Are you confident enough to assert your real identity by any means? I think I listened you carefully when you mention that you are kemant and confident enough by that identity during discussions convened through mobile phone conferences along with the Self-Rule Coordinating Committee and Esat TV & Radio programmes. At the same time, I listened you carefully when you said that “you don’t like to see the self-governance of kemant people at any cost and that you don’t bother about the replenishment of Kemantney language at all.” Do you think without full respect of self-governance of kemant people that you will be proud of your identity? Do you think without respecting and learning kemantney language and culture that you will be confident by kemant identity? This is really a paradox!
2) The basic reasons for denying kemant self-rule seem to lie on the pretext that self-governance of kemant people means being an instrument of TPLF for destroying the ever existing Unity of Gondar and then for achieving the pre-planned motive of TPLF for territorial expansion by oppressing the Amhara commnity. I think this overlapping issue should be seen separately from the self-governance issue of kemant people. There are tangible historical (from past to present history of kemant) evidences to show grave and miserable identity and autonomy suppression against kemant people committed by the Amhara ruling class and deep-rooted derogatory perceptions, speeches and events have been occurring or being occurred presently against the very identity of kemant people by the innocent Amhara-carriers. Innocent Amhara-carriers are those Amharas (huge number) who erroneously believe that since kemants are born from wood, then it is legitimate for Amharas to own kemants as their properties (wood). As owners, they aspire to have all powers over kemants (they can determine the existence of the very name-kemant in the official records of Ethiopia; they can determine the existence of the very features of kemant identity-language, religion, culture; they can determine the land (territory) where kemant people live on; they can determine the political, social and economic freedom of kemant people in general) in the sense that feudalistic political system is still working against democratic political system in Amhara region. If a genuine person examines critically, the allegation that the self-governance quest of kemant people is TPLF- driven is totally wrong and again as Ambassador Zemene Kassegn confirmed “It is again a despise or frown upon kemant people.” Do you think the kemant identity and self-rule quest will only reach at this stage by the only insistence of TPLF? Of course, among those political parties, both in and out of the country, TPLF may be positive supporter of the kemant identity and self-rule constitutional quest. It can do that. We need assistance from any individuals, organizations, and governments of any kind to achieve our objectives–full autonomy. TPLF, as political organization, may be good supporter of our movement since it well understands what identity oppression means. Nevertheless, it should be noted that, as far as my knowledge is concerned, there are also members of TPLF who are against our self-rule quest. There are persons from Tigray people who are opponents of this self-rule quest. The same is true for other Ethiopians including the majority of Amharas. Surprisingly, the same is true for kemants themselves including you. What matters is the degree and the number of support and supporters respectively. The point is that the motive of territorial expansion of TPLF towards south could not be justified by historical overlap of kemant self-rule quest.
3) If there is reasonable fear of territorial expansion of TPLF against the very interest of Amhara people, I think the concern should be the concern of all peoples living in the region including kemants, not the concern of only Amharas. The Amhara region should first clean the dirty of its internal environment before pointing its fingers towards cleaning the external dirty environment. Which means that the ANDM-led Amhara people and the opposing diaspora on behalf of Amhara should cooperate and act timely to fully recognize and respect the autonomy of other oppressed peoples including kemants within the region before blaming the aspire of TPLF for territorial expansion against the very legitimate political and economic interest of all peoples in Amahara region within the current framework of state structure in Ethiopia.
4) If you are the real concerned guys of kemant community at large, which mode of governance is better to secure the interest of kemants along with other fellow Ethiopians? Beyond crying for the erroneously perceived Disunity of Gondar Province through self-determination of kemant people, we all kemants, in or abroad, are expected to think over the political system by which our people will be more beneficial along with its identity autonomy within the Ethiopian polity.
5) According to my opinion, as you reiterate it, the recognition of kemant autonomy could never be a cause for disunity of gondar province. To the opposite, Gondar Unity will be reestablished and enriched since there will not be a system of oppression on the basis of identity in the future. We can say that the previous unity was pseudo-unity of Gondar (this is also true for Amhara people at large). It is very difficult to say that there is strong psychological popular unity among the so called Amhara people (among the North-South Gondar, East-West Gojjam, South-North Wollo, North Shoa and other parts). This is because of the historical trauma that goes to narrate against the true ethnic identities of all peoples. (Please consult the works of Professor Mesfin Woldemariam in this regard just to know the reason why.) Those wrong perceptions and believes that went for centuries against the very identity of kemant in North Gondar shall be eradicated through public debate and knowledge dissemination after official recognition of Kemant with its full autonomy like that of its fellow Ethiopians!
6) It seems you are in favor of and doing for the old-fashioned approach for state or nation-building process generally in the world and particularly in Ethiopia. Creating a kind of state through assimilation process (choosing one dominant identity, language, religion and culture over others) is not currently working theory. Diversity with unity or accommodation theory is the fashion of state-building process in Ethiopia today. Do you think by destroying the kemant identity as a whole (since you said let kemantney language die) and making the whole people assimilated to the pseudo-identity-amhara that you can create a nation called Ethiopia? Is this assimilative approach workable for other Ethiopian nations (Tigreans, Oromos, Afars, Somalis, Agaws and others) just to avoid the problem of discrimination?
7) This is enough for today. But, l want to remind you one thing just to save your good name in the future. When you establish an opposing institution like Gondar Unity and make yourself available for media interview (like politically biased Esat), you should take care for not committing irreversible historical popular mistake—No Self-Determination for Kemants Only! No more educating kemantney language! It is not the kemant people themselves who raised the self-rule issue! It is TPLF that is leading the game!
With best regards,
North Gondar, Ethiopia
March 15, 2015