YE ITOOPHIYAA TAARIK KENIGISTE SAABAA ISKE ADUWAADIL-Irratti Ibsa Mike Gellal’n kenname.
…..Your amusement about this book which claims initially written from 1927-1928 as Ethiopian calendar shows that you do not have sufficient knowledge of the early establishment of the so-called “Habasha”, later “Amhara”, and how they got dominance over the rest of people in the modern Ethiopia all the way to the time of the feudalist system prior to the socialist Derge regime.
It is not relevant to dictate to you on this e-mail about the whole story of a segment of people most of us see as a ‘giant’ or make a big deal out of them but let me touch a base, hoping that perhaps some of what are mentioned here might yield a curiosity in your mind and thus you might do more research on the subject to further your understanding which enables you to sort out junk and misleading self-serving fabricated deceptive stories with hidden agendas behind them from what actually were, bare facts!
The whole story accompanying the so-called “Amhara” dominance began with the introduction of the organized religion, the Orthodox, that was exported into the region in the 4th century A.D. by Egyptian Christians mediated by a couple of Christian individuals from Syrian origin. One shouldn’t even use the name “Amhara” in those early times as the name was not even existed other than the Arabic collective name, “Habesha” for the people living in the proximate region of the Red Sea. Also as you might know, the name “Abyssinia” for the region was derived from the Arabic name for the residents, “Habesha” later in time. In my view, it is very reasonable that the name ‘Amhara’ came to exist later (most likely sometimes after 15th/16th century as a result of counteracting the name “Habesha” which the subject people hate very much because of the meanings implicated in Arabic.
Prior to the arrival of the Orthodox Religion, there were few people from the proximate region to the Red Sea who had some sort of connection with Egyptians, Arabians, etc. mainly as a result of commerce that was made possible by the geographic feature as one can see even today from a map. Upon the arrival of the Orthodox Religion, some of those people were attracted to this fancy religion from a “civilized” nation- Egypt, in those days’ standard. At the beginning the converted few local people were mainly serving as a “bodyguard” for the isolated Orthodox Church in a strange region. And also some of them served as mediators to convince and convert more local people through time. Remember that this primitive Orthodox Church was ruled solely by a foreigner, appointed by Egyptian priests. As centuries passed, using the Orthodox Church which a great nation, Egypt, sits behind as a protector, the Orthodox Church “bodyguards” including other affiliated groups of local people began exercising power on other ordinary local people* at a very slow pace in a smaller region.
This was the key reason to begin with when we talk about the early establishment and the factor that led them to a gradual dominance of the so called “Habesha”, more specifically later referred to as “Amharas” over other people in the northern region of modern Ethiopia.
Things to keep in mind:
– *Here, at the early stage by the term “other local people” above, we are talking about ordinary people living in their traditional lifestyles in the regions encompassing Gondar, Tigray, and Gojjam all the way to the Red Sea Coast including modern Eritrea. We are not talking about the whole Southern regions or the so-called Oromia in the modern Ethiopia.
– That’s why until Weyane came to power, the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church must be appointed by the Egyptian and must be a foreigner- apparently an Egyptian.
– Because of the early establishment and success of the so called “Amharas” over other northern ordinary local people was based on the Orthodox Church, the Orthodox Church remains even till today as the identity of the so-called “Amharas” or to some extent the “Habasha” in today’s use of that term. And from that very early stage, the Orthodox Church never been separated at any given point in time from the ruling body in Amharas’ camp or from the so-called Nigus-negest/kings and their associates till the socialist Derge regime. As some external accounts recorded, it was the Orthodox Church high priest who used to approve and crown when one warlord defeated his rival.
Other than the above mentioned tenacious activities taking place at a very slow pace in the northern region, Abyssinia- as known to foreigners, there were no genuine record of history written and available either by foreigners or by the subject people by themselves about what events took place in Abyssinia region from the early introduction of the Orthodox Religion in the 4th century till early 16th century A.D, or more precisely until the beginning of European explorers arrived in the region. When Tewodros was killed and defeated by British army, his camp was invaded and searched for any relevant literacy, art, or documented information. As the account recorded they found nothing relevant other than some translations of Judeo-Christian Bible into Ge’ez.
It was only in the late 20th century that some sponsored Habasha elites begin to write some fictional stories in attempt to make sense to their imagined tale stories, or legends. But since the era of Internet began, their fabricated stories became like uncontrolled wildfire as sponsored individual elites work hard day and night apparently because:
– They felt ashamed of some of the legends, tale stories they created and associated themselves with, and used to brainwash ordinary people by those stories. This was because the internet era brought forth so many facts to ordinary people, who then began to question what they grew up hearing from both authorities- priests and politicians.
– In the current Ethiopian regime, identity seems to become more important than ever before. So, the Habesha elites have to build their identity based on their imagined and claimed legend identity such as their royal line linked to the Solomon dynasty of Jews, which also enforces the fact that their early establishment and dominance over other local people was based on the organized Orthodox Religion. Some of these tale stories include about the claims made and ordinary people were fooled with for centuries:
• The presence of Moses’ Arc of the covenant in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia),
• The relationship of Queen Sheba (claimed to be from Abyssinia- Ethiopia, although external sources clearly show the identity of Qeen Sheba as an Arab and was from Arabian region) with Solomon of Jews, thus the born of the illusory Menelik 1st who supposedly claimed to have ruled Abyssinia region somewhere in the 10 century B.C.
• The claim of Biblical Ethiopia/Ethiopian(s) as about the modern Ethiopia with its ancient people, etc. you follow?
Why all these imagined claims along with many tale-stories to justify them, and associations with Judeo-Christian, namely the Orthodox Religion, are necessary? That is a good question. But the answer has already been given above: Without so many imagined claims, and tale-stories/legends around them to justify the claims as related to the Orthodox Religion and their association with it, they have no genuine historical identity that differ them from the rest, and also to try to justify their entitlement to lordover others- the childish view of God appoint “us” to rule over others- an extension of the Jews’ biblical claim of “God Chosen Race”, if you will. Does it make sense to you?
The sad part of such a deceptive identity and a diehard ambition to justify their tale-stories does not represent ordinary local people in the entire northern region of modern Ethiopia including Eritrea. Unless their minds were/are conditioned heavily mainly through the Orthodox religious propagandas, ordinary people see themselves as any other human beings other than it happened by chance that they reside in the horny of East Africa, northern region of modern Ethiopia as far as they remember their existence.
So, the devils were/are the so-called elites in any given society who create divisions, segregations, walls among ordinary people, and wage wars to secure their ambitions for power to seize and lord over ordinary citizens in the name of leaders without understanding and liberating their own self-centered greedy minds. The result is a brutal dictatorship, as we all know it well!
Coming back to the establishment of the Orthodox religion-born Amhara people in the northern region of modern Ethiopia- specifically Abyssinia in its proper boundary before late 18th century, most local people were still living on their own- under patches of local warlords as in any other part of the world. By the establishment of the Amhara people in the northern region, I am still referring to only those who were under the umbrella of the Orthodox Church, appointed and approved by the Church leaders to rule, manage residents who were converted and associated with the church or brought to under the church by a pressure imposed upon them by the church appointees and other associated individuals. As the members of the church increases, more regions became under the Orthodox church-born Amharas, protectors of the church’s interest. More branches of Churches built up along with more representatives in a given region or villages. These representatives include newly recruited priest, debteras, church elders, etc. who have a great deal of influence on the remaining local people to be converted or harassed.
The majority who were still clinging to their own traditional lifestyles was systematically fought, looted, and harassed by the church associated groups and appointees to impose its dogmas, enforce and protect its interest. But because of their numbers and relentless actions against Amharas behind the Church curtain, they were feared in most parts at least until European modern guns showed up across the Red Sea. For example, through the 16th and 19th B.C. centuries, when European explorers or missionaries visit the Orthodox Church-born Amharas’ camp, the camp leader had to send a bunch of his security personnel to the Red Sea shore to receive and protect the visitors from being attacked by formidable local people in the area from the Red Sea all the way to their camp in Gondar or elsewhere in the region.
An eyewitness account from one of early European explorers explains how some men from the church-born Amhara camp go out to the local people and loot their cattle, goat, or sheep for consumption. The account said that such a looting sometimes lead to a serious war between the Orthodox church-born Amharas and local people to the point that sometimes the Amharas had no other option but to be confined only to their camp cage. The Church-born Amharas refer to these formidable local inhabitants by different names but in most cases as Gallas.
** By all means the establishment, advance and success of the Christian-born Amharas was based on the Orthodox Religion which was initially exported and looked after by the then mighty nation, the Egypt, and later as Christianity spread to Europe, they extended their petition for help to Europeans by a Christian name and were favored by Europeans modern guns. This is the key to keep in mind!
One of such early example was that in the mid early 16th century it was the Christianity which mobilized about 400 well armed Portuguese army to save the Orthodox Religious-born Amharas from being taken over by the mighty Ahmad ibn Ibrahim Al-Ghazi or known as Gragn Mohammed army. After helped out by the Portuguese’s they tried to have more control over other local people in the northern region but some local warlords where so strong that they had to conform and live side by side in peace but the Orthodox Church further imposed restricted rules and dogmas on its members not to have any viable sort of interaction with other local people including Muslims in the region.
It was during that time that the notion we normally hear from Orthodox Christians in the modern Ethiopia, “S/he and I are Christian and Muslim if I do this or that with her or with him again…”
The Church-born Amharas quite often tempted by the rich resource in the southern region, but the warlords in this part of the regions were so strong that any attempt would lead to a serious result from the southern region- instantly drive them back to their camp cages! For example, a regional chief by the name “Goshu” drove back his church-born Amhara shiftas to their camp cage, which was always within around an Orthodox church, and ruled Tana Lake area in Gondar in the 18th century.
So, Dereje, regardless of whatever stories you read from the self-proclaimed 1920s book about why and how the southern region of the modern Ethiopian, Oromos being included, defeated by the Orthodox Church born-Amharas, the fact remains clear and they were recorded in many external sources which were not influenced by the Oromos or other southern people’s interests.
The establishment, advance and success of the so-called Amharas was based on the Orthodox Religion which was initially exported and looked after by the then mighty nation, the Egypt, and later as Christianity spread to Europe, they were favored by Europeans modern guns. This is the key to keep in mind! There is no other mystery.
– Early exposure to the outside world along lines of the Orthodox Church and commerce people across the Red Sea, somehow opened up their eyes to as to what was going on the other part of the world in contrary to the inland inhabitants- the southern region people.
– Having a powerful Egypt behind the Orthodox Church that they identified themselves with as a protector, somehow offered them a courage to exercise some power and oppressive practices in the name of church which they witnessed in other countries including in Egypt where priests had a great deal of power in the country. Until the Europeans modern guns reached them, they took advantage of Egypt’s image and protective roles to maneuver local people in the northern regions in both forms of approaches- force when they can, and by changing their heart and mind by the name of God when they can’t.
– Having used to receiving a protection role from Egypt for over centuries by the name of Christianity, they quickly extended their petition for help to European Christian nations who were already developed and had modern guns in their hands. As we noted above, the help from Portuguese was one of the first such effective life-saving help they received at a crucial time! Soon, as the European ambitions for colonizing other countries set on, some Church-born Amharas watched Europeans’ merciless intense ambitions to take over and plunder themselves with other countries’ resources across the world. Thus, the old temptation got stronger fueled by greed-born ambition to control their neighbors and plunder themselves with their belongings just as some Europeans were enriching themselves.
– The importance of the common thread that kept them for centuries together- Orthodox Religion became loosen and urgency for power and resources possession took over arising to patches of local Christian warlords- especially in the Tigray and Gondar regions. This new stage of competition among rival Christian warlords in these regions easily absorbed the traditional local people warlords while not to bother with those who trouble them not..
– The old traditional intermittent wars among local warlords in both Christian and non-Christians on territorial expansion must be approached by a new era of European mass modern weapons along with tricks of mind! This was for the first time thoroughly realized by Menelik in 1980s A.E. at the right time. He thoroughly understood that without Europeans’ massive modern guns, he won’t be able to overcome strong warlords in the south, in the western side- in Jimma, in the central, in the southeast, in the northern among Christian warlords which was too much to bear. His realization came at when he had strong relationship with European Christian nations who appreciated his dedicated Christian life at superficial level.
– Before embarking his ambition on the rich southern region, which he was situated just on the border, he realized that patches of Christian warlords in the northern region must be overcome.
– Timely, ambitious Italians showed up on the northern region but concerned with formidable tension among Christian warlords in the proximate area to northern Eritrea in Gondar, Tigray, Gojjam, Jimma, etc.
– Menelik promised Italians to get rid of those warlords in the northern region if the Italian provide him with their modern weapons and promise him to rule over the rest of the region.
– So, as you might heard of in 1889, Menelik who was ruling small region of Shoa signed with the Italians the Treaty of Wuchale. The treaty offered territories previously part of Ethiopia, namely the provinces of Bogos, Hamasien, Akkele Guzay, Serae, and parts of Tigray. In return, Italy promised Menelik’s rule, financial assistance and military supplies including mass of the then modern weapons.
– One of the formidable warlords in the northern region, Yohannes, was easily taken care of by a group of warrior other than Menelik’s. In favor of Menelik other warlords in the northern region were also succumbed.
– At this time Menelik had to turn his full attention to the southern region- the long desired region to control and plunder himself with their wealthy resources.
– Menelik had spent years building a sizable arsenal which he had obtained from Italy, Emperor Yohannes’s armory, as well as shipments from Britain, France, and Russia weapons they were given to wage war upon the Mahdi in Sudan, a major enemy to Europe’s colonial interests.
– So, Menelik easily galloped through the southern regions without much resistance other than few regions where few local people mainly Muslims got some guns via Mahdi. When a power is played in the field of ignorant minds, it becomes very dangerous to ordinary citizens. Thus, Menelik simply indulged himself in the murderer of innocent citizens from all over the central, in the eastern to part of Somalia, in the west up to Khartoum in Sudan, and in the southern to some part of Kenya regions. A real dry beast devoid of understanding and compassion!
– He was so intoxicated by the innocent blood he shed that he thought he accomplished a great victory- not realized his victory at the mercy of European modern guns against people who barely saw or heard of the sound of modern guns- he proclaimed as, “I am the King of kings of Ethiopians!” It is very true that pride and arrogance beef up from within only ignorant minds!
– But British and French who were major contributors to the modern weapons he was intoxicated himself with and bragged about his victory looked at him and said, “Wait, what this man thinks he is”, and put a hold on him. The ignorant Menelik mind never realized where his victory came until British put a halt on his neck.
– Thus, as you might know British made a frontier border for him, the modern Ethiopia map you and I know of, and had him signed a treat known as the Anglo-Ethiopian Treaty of 1902.
Regardless of the stories written in the book you read and strongly amused and at the same to seem to be devastated by the said division among Oromo that blamed to be the case for their defeat, facts cannot be changed.
Prior to Menelik, the modern Ethiopian regions where ruled by patches of regional warlords similar to other countries in their early times regardless of whether they speak same language, practice similar culture or not. Especially this was true with a big and diversified yet related people (ethnic group) over a large region of land such as the Oromo people.
This was because the peoples’ awareness about their relationship in a large geographic region and population size was limited in those days. Local leaders manage people smaller size in a small region because limitation on transportation and communications existed. Thus, it was possible that a group of people in one side of a mountain or a river may engage in a war that result in a defeat of one side while the other plunder their belongings and subject the defeated side to serve them or even sell some of them out as slaves if a buyer is available. For example, one of the strong known empires in Jimma region did sell some of the defeated side of his rivals to Arab merchandise. But the challenge was the long journey to travel to the Red Sea as the account of the practice explained.
In a large population related by one or more factors, for example, by a language or religion a belonging is not a primary need especially where there is economy pressure or advantages outside the group. Various factors could affect their adherence bond among one another of a given large population, the strong need of one another, if you will. There has to be some external force that forces and holds them together. This is one of the challenges when division based on ethnic group may not result in a good unity especially within a larger ethnic group to fight corruptions, mistreatment by a different groups, misuse of power, etc.
Thus, in my views, to fight for justice, human rights, and fair sound democracy, it is much better to do so in a neutral environment than in a polarized environment. When a nation is divided based on other than geographic features such as their identities, which most often based on ethnicity, religion, skin color, language, etc. there would be no neutrality, and such environment breeds corruption and chocks efforts put to fight corruption, lack of good governance, human right abuses, etc.
So, to me there is no credible reason to demonize ourselves by a guilty conscious of the past, be demoralized and feel useless by the said divisions among Oromos which was blamed for the defeat of the southern region by Menelik the beast.
In closing, the establishment, advance and success of the so-called Amharas was based on the Orthodox Religion which was initially exported and looked after by the then mighty nation, the Egypt, and later as Christianity spread to Europe, they were favored by Europeans modern guns. This is the key to keep in mind!
Other factor may be trivial. Either way, hoping for a complete one-minded unity among such a large, highly differentiated, diversified Oromo population is impractical but reacting against a harmful individual or a group is part of a natural body response. Having a thorough understanding of the nature of the harm to oneself or to others or to humanity in general requires a genuine awareness and a great deal of a sense of responsibility towards the betterment of humanity in general.
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