CALL ME BY NAME: A small talk with Debteraw, VIII

Wolde Tewolde, alias Obo Arada Shawl

April 13, 2007

A glimpse in Ethiopian Politics, Religion and Culture

Revolutionary phrase has killed the Russian Revolution, Lenin used to complain. Local fascism will definitely kill the Ethiopian Revolution was the prediction of Debteraw. How true, violence by the Military, Demagogue by some Ethiopian elites and untenable nationalism by the Nationalists have indeed killed the true Eway Revolution in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

In my article of Part VII, I have attempted to account the Revolutionary journey of EPRP’s eventful years in its historical context. In the process, I have included the name of Christ and his Resurrection. My idea was to celebrate the survival of a Selfless Generation who survived for 33 years in ordeal, and in the end to hope for EPRP’s Resurrection. But some readers took me for a fool or lunatic. I appreciate for their expressed opinions. As for name-calling it is similar to how Debteraw was labeled in the 1960-70. Debteraw was not allowed to teach above grade 3 even with his college degree. Why because the officials believed he was poisonous and dangerous. Call me by my name; I was not called Debteraw without a reason.

Debteraw’s Christian belief coincides with that of Juan Aries. Man’s or women most precious possession is Freedom. What exactly do we mean by freedom? Are we, as the people of E-countriere free? It is not the concept –it is the terminology. The issue in Ethiopia is not the relationship between church & state but the relationship between dogma and rationality. The truth will make you free (John 8:32). Debteraw is a genuine hero whomever was anti-communists including those of Ethiopian Communist Party known as E’K’OPA, against populists, nationalists and puritans in that order. Debteraw’s courage, principle and perseverance (CPP) were not against democratic principles but against dogmatic teachings. Christ stood for the underdog so also Debteraw. Christ taught by parable and Debteraw is still teaching by example. So it goes.

Juan Aries in his book entitled the “the God I don’t believe in” has commonality with that of Debteraw’s. Here are some of the laws of freedom that might induce readers of Debteraw’s Website concerning religion and freedom.

  1. I am free when I believe in a God who has created everything in freedom
  2.  I am free when I accept the freedom of others
  3. I am free when my freedom is worth more to me than money
  4. I am free when I succeed in being a person
  5. I am free when I accept the fact that my life should be ruled by conscience
  6. I am free when my freedom is not for sale at any price
  7. I am free when my voice contributes to shaping the course of history
  8. I am free when I continue to proclaim my right to freedom even from behind prison bars.
  9. I am free when I go on saying “No” to oppression even with a gun at my head
  10. I am freed when I am able to say “No” even to God
  11. I am free if I am able to give my life for a man rather for an idea
  12. I am free when I believe in a God who will not respect of having created me free
  13. I am free when, although I failed in something, I still believe that God and the sun and I are new each day and that there is always time to begin again.

Freedom for many Ethiopians comes either by Reason or Grace, but in the case of Debteraw, it is both, a Balancing Act. According to Debteraw, EPRP will set Ethiopians free in the political sense. God has created and set Ethiopia free in the religious sense. It is to be recalled that Adam is from Eritrea and Eve from Ethiopia (See Article Part I)

Culturally speaking, there is a silver lining between Ethiopia and Ethiopians. Because of fear from speaking the truth, too much damage has been done to all nationalities and nations of Ethiopia. The following is an example of confusion, which led to destruction and havoc of people and resources. The current hollow slogan Ethiopiawinet, Ethiopiannes or Hager Fikr or by any other name cannot bring a panacea for Ethiopians. It has to be synchronized Ethiopians with Ethiopia. How many Amara, Muslim, Oromo, Agame, Gurage Somali or Hamasien or Afar should be harassed, insulted or die before we all become Ethiopians. The way of Debteraw and the Eway Revolution is the salvation or the resolution to all our real and perceived conflicts. Let us take heed of the AAGMELAGO concept for solutions.

It should be noted that Debteraw is not a scientist or a philosopher. He is a scholar and a mentor for all Ethiopians, by being a revolutionary, an educator, an artist and a democrat (READ, see Part VI).

Theology, as a science, draws conclusions from principles that are given by God in revelation and are accepted on faith by man. Ethics is the study of human happiness and how to achieve it. Both areas of studies are within the domain of Debteraw. Friday the 13th and Sene Ena Segno are outside of Debteraw’s realm of belief system.

It is time to change our attitude on cultural biases. The following misnomer in quotation is long overdue for serious consideration.

“Oromo is the name by which this large ethnic group refers to itself. Oromo pertains both to race and to language, Afan Oromo, whereas Galla, like the terms Amara and Muslim refers to faith and not to race. Therefore, an Ethiopian is traditionally called Amara if he is a Christian, Muslim if he is of the Islamic faith, and Galla if he practices the traditional Oromo faith or is an animist.”(See ch. I, p.29, in Evangelical Pioneer in Ethiopia)

For comments and criticism Woldetewolde@yahoo.com

Advertisements
Published in: on April 13, 2007 at 10:40 pm  Comments (5)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://debteraw.wordpress.com/2007/04/13/call-me-by-name-a-small-talk-with-debteraw-viii/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Dear Obo Arada Shawel

    Representing Ethiopia as eve (the mother of humanity) brings into the picture the female figurines and the fertility goddess in the religio- cultural landscape of Ethiopia. Debteraw would never have missed the many “female goddesses” our country enjoys. These religio-cultural ethoses are books to be read and interpreted. The masculine-paganism of the “Galla” indeed has created religious syncretism, through the process of diffusion and adhesion with the patrlineal androgenic God figure of the northerner (Adam??). To many of us who have grown up in the “Atete” culture knew how the “Atete” goddess cuts across ethnic lines. Those of us who still recall the “Atete” ritual might not miss the mantra like recounting of the “Gondare Sifa”. An Oromo goddess incorporating a Gondare “sifa (efa??)”. The “Marame” goddess and the “Eme-Birhan” i.e “Mariam” may not be that cognitively far apart and may fall under the same cluster with little perceptual distance between them. Our nation’s cultural heterogeneity is a mere skin depth. Even the traditional “Wukabi” religion, mentions now and again “Adal- Moti” (Adal=Afar, Moti=King (Oromifaa), “Hagos -tigre, Wosen-Galla” (Wossen- a northerner name appearing along with “Galla”??), Shewa-Anbesu, Tequar Aba Megal and many other spiritual dignitaries from the many ethnic groups in Ethiopia. Some of us know the similarities between the Amhara and Oromo peasant hut design and how they reflect female figurines which by itself invites a scholarly research. These material and spiritual culture reflect the homogeneity of our people built over the years through cultural diffusion and religious syncretism. Any good student of social anthropology will confirm that such religious diffusion and the ritual sequel cannot take place in a span of century, as some of the ruling class would like us to believe.

    Thank You

  2. Dear Obo Arada Shawel
    It is great and viable assessment. I quote you In a place where I grow up especially in the north part of Ethiopia the term refers to Christianity, but we are forced to swallow the wrong perception so as to draw an unrealistic geographical location based on language. For those who speak Amharic they give a name of Amhara Ethnicity to dissect the society, snatch some portion of land and to pave the way to govern based on the Italian colonialist poisons approach. As you know most of the Gondare are a mixture of certain ethnic group, take a point, during the Oromo migration the oromo have mixed up with the southern part of Gondar and the Tigrians with the north part of Gondar and they intermingle and live together dressing the principle of Ethiopianism with understanding.

    In general Ethiopiawinet is not a question of ethnicity, but it is a question of living together with harmony and respect as we do in a church and a mosque.

  3. Dear Obo Arada Shawel

    I sent you again for some of the quotations are missed when you post it.

    Dear Sir.
    It is great and viable assessment. I quote you; the term Amhara and Muslim refers to
    faith and not to race / ethnicity. It is an accepted truth in a place where I grow up: especially in the north part of Ethiopia .The term Amhara refers to Christianity, but we are forced to swallow the wrong perception so as the existing ruling party to use it as a fake reason to draw an unrealistic geographical location based on language. For those who speak Amharic they gave a name of Amhara ethnicity so as to dissect the society, snatch some portion of land and to pave the way to govern based on the Italian colonialist poisoned approach. As you know most of the Gendare are a mixture of certain ethnic group, take a point, during the Oromo migration the Oromo have mixed up with the southern part of Gondar and the Tigrians with the north part of Gondar and they intermingle and live together dressing the principle of Ethiopianism with understanding.

    In general Ethiopiawinet is not a question of ethnicity, but it is a question of living together with harmony and respect as we do in a church and a mosque.

    Thank you again.

  4. Obo Sahawel

    Please the following phrase

    “The masculine-paganism of the “Galla” indeed has created religious syncretism, through the process of diffusion and adhesion with the patrlineal androgenic God figure of the northerner (Adam??)”

    Should be read as “the matriarchial-paganism of the “galla”………….patriarchial androgenic…”

    Thank You

  5. Akem Obo Shaweli

    It is quite surprising to come to know that the Attte culture was sustained not by the Oromo’s of Harar (who adopted Islam as a religion) but by the Amhara who were orthodox Christians. The fact that the Oromos’ have adopted Islam has had a far-reaching effect on the ‘identity” of the Oromo’s of Harar. First, they are not called “Galla”, but “Kotu” which more or less is an occupational name, or they are called by their patri-clans i.e Nole, Etu etc.. The term “kotu” appears also when a Somali address a Harar Oromo. As who gave the name “Kotu” I have not came across any literature, but it is my assumption that it was the Somalis, this is so because the term is not in the Amharic lexicon while it exists in the Orofmiffa and Af-Somali dictionaries. Second, it wiped out the traditional social organization. (Surprisingly, Islam has not had the same effect on the Wollo Amhara, who remained bilineal employing bifurcate collateral terms with no cross-cousin marriage) Hence, the name ‘Galla” denoting alternate Gnostic religion seems to have a grain of truth. Bal-Wukabi, which is known by its followers and others, as “Awaki” seems to reflect the Gnostic alternate religion. The traditional knowledge which in fact is a secret knowledge stood in rebellion to the established religions of the time. The Attet goddess co-existing and equally omnipotent with the Wak (which later was christianized as a Christian God) has not fared well to be adopted as the “mother of God” by orthodox and protestant Christians. In fact it was relegated to a marginal status and was actively pursued to be destroyed. The relationship between Waq and Attete is not merely an Isis/Osiris nor it is the Yin and Yang of eastern religion. It is more than that. When the Atete culture was adopted by the Amhara it renew its primordial existence as a religious institution giving the Amahara woman a ritual means to rebel against the established religion, through a tightly-kept secret knowledge accessible by women alone. In this sense it was a rebellion, genderized and feminist move by the Amhara women against the Christian patriarchal religion. Why the Harar Oromo women fail to adopt the Oromo Atite goddess within the womb of Islam is open to research, but the fact that the daughters and grand daughters of Menilk sustain the cherished religious ritual of the Oromo cannot be debatable. If there is a need to call it by name, then the adoption of Gnostic religion by the Amahra women of Hara r would fit the name “Galla” and not the people they live with. Feminist writers like Mary Daly, Margaret Starbird, Elaine Pagels would have found their day if they spend a day or two on the “The institutional Gnostic knowledge of the Amahara/Oromo women”. What surprises me is that a lot of hullabaloo is raised to re institute the male “Eracha” ritual while no voice is raised by our elites on the Atitie culture, is it because it has found itself in the folds of the “Nefegna” mothers. Just curious.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: