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Unfinished Amharization process in Ethiopia and Kemants’ Quest for Dignity and Self-Rule

By Mizigena Adera
Tigrai Online - July 12, 2013

An Ethiopian Kemant lady with hir child. Unfinished Amharization process in Ethiopia and Kemants’ Quest for Dignity and Self-Rule
Amharization was and still is the process forcing people under Amhara government in Ethiopia to accept Amhara culture, language, religion and etc.

Amharization was and still is the process forcing people under Amhara government in Ethiopia to accept Amhara culture, language, religion and etc.

The Agaw are perhaps first mentioned in the 3rd-century AD Aksumite inscription recorded by Cosmas Indicopleustes in the 6th century. The inscription refers to a people called “Athagaus” (or Athagaous), perhaps from Ad Agaw, meaning “sons of Agaw.”[The Athagaous first turn up as one of the peoples conquered by the unknown king who inscribed the Monumentum Adulitanum Monumentum. The Agaw are later mentioned in an inscription of the 4th-century Aksumite King Ezana and 6th-century King Kaleb. Based on this evidence, a number of experts embrace a theory first stated by Edward Ullendorff and Carlo Conti-Rossini that they are the original inhabitants of much of the northern Ethiopian highlands, and were either forced out of their original settlements or assimilated by so called Semitic speaking Tigray-Tigringya and Amhara People Cosmas Indicopleustes also noted in his Christian Topography that a major gold trade route passed through the region “Agau”. The area referred to seems to be an area east of the Tekeze River and just south of the Semien Mountains, perhaps around Lake Tana.

Currently the language speakers exist in a number of scattered enclaves, which include the Bilen in and around Keren in Eritrea; the Qemant (Kemant) who live around Gondar in the Semien Gondar Zone of the Amhara Region, west of the Tekezé River and north of Lake Tana; a number of Agaw live south of Lake Tana, around Dangila in the Agew Awi zone of the Amhara Region; and another group live around Sokota in the former province of Wollo, now part of the Amhara Region, along its border with the Tigray Region.
The Cushitic speaking Agaw people ruled during the Zagwe dynasty of Ethiopia from about 900 to 1270. The name of the dynasty itself comes from the Ge’ez phrase Ze-Agaw (meaning “of Agaw”), and refers to the Agaw people.The Agaw speak Agaw languages, which are a part of the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. Many also speak Amharic, Tigrinya and/or Tigre, which are also Afro-Asiatic languages.T

The Qemant (Qementy), which is part of the Agaw is an ethnic group in Ethiopia, who has close historical and ethnic relationship with Beta Israel and adhered almost to similar Orit (Judaism) religion sect. According to 1994 census, the ethnic population was roughly 172,000 (which is less than actual numbers); the latest available national census, the one conducted in 2007, does not even list them as a separate group. During this census they were counted annexed to Amahra despite of their resistance. Even if we projected based on 1994, the current population of Qemant estimated to be more than 500,000.

The Qemant live along an axis stretching from Gondar town and its environ to Aykel, Metema, Quara north to Lake Tana in the woredas and North west of Gondar in Lay Armachiho, Wogera, Dembia and South of Gondar Gondar Zuria.

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The Qemant traditionally practiced a religion which is often described as Hebraic that has elements of Judiasm. According to the American scholar Frederic C. Gamst, their “Hebraism is an ancient form and unaffected by Hebraic change of the past two millennia”. A recent sociolinguistic survey notes that the Qemant religion is in a very precarious situation since very few people still adhere to it. This time around, almost 99% of Qemant people converted to Ethiopian Orthodox and it is only 1% who follows the Qemant religion. The Sabath is observed on Saturday, when it is forbidden to light a fire.

Their language is qementeny belongs to Afro-Asiatic one. However from the domination of the people whom called themselves Amahara Kemanty (Qemanty) language is endangered. Qemant live in integrated geography, the people have common understanding that they are Qemant and even their neighboring Amhara Called them Qemant (sometimes the Amhara people use this word as derogatory). The Qemant Quest for self dignity and self rule since the EPRDF is in power. But the Amhara Government forcefully annexed Qemant to be Amhara and the process of assimilation is still continuing forcefully or systematically in Amhara Region.

We, therefore, call upon all Ethiopians, especially these former or present victims of Amharization and international communities to support the nonviolence struggle of Qemant’s for self dignity and self rule as per the constitution of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia. One means of support is disseminating information about sufferings of the Kemant people to concern international bodies.

The Amhara Tyranny officially declared that the forceful assimilation of Qemant by its Kangaroo parliaments members whose majority members are arrogant Amhara.

Our struggle will continue using any means until we liberate from Amhara domination.

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