"The Essentials of Woyane"

"The Essentials of Woyane"

Asghedom Ghebremichael
Michigan State Univeristy

Happy Birthday, Woyane!

The Galant TPLF Fighters

I donít have to describe the meaning of Woyane. I did that in Year 2000. Woyane is by now a sacred word. If needed, historians, linguists, revolutionaries, and other social scientists will have to come up with other definition that suits its spirit in a scientific way. In my view, however, Woyane is a peopleís revolution. There are several attributes that make Woyane so unique. Every attribute will be explained and recorded in dictionaries and history books. It is impossible to do them all justice in a piece like this.

Obviously, Woyane is feared and despised by a few vocal foes, but highly revered by millions of friends. That is exactly what a true peopleís revolution needs. To be sustained for eternity, a revolution must have a vocal minority of enemies and a mass of dedicated majority of supporters. It is this type of social environment that reminds the upholders of the revolutionís ideals not to be complacent. They must keep the masses mobilized and motivated to stand on guard.

The purpose of this piece is very simple. It is to highlight the essential characteristics of Woyane that made it the only successful revolution in the history of Ethiopia. I am doing this in memory of the Woyenti, the heroines and heroes, who made history for the benefit and pride of us all. In doing so, most of them perished in the battlefields, fighting the murderous Dergue regime. They deserve the highest gratitude a society can offer. We commemorate Lekatit 11/67 (Feb. 18/75) with heartfelt gratitude to all our heroines and heroes.

It was a small group of selfless nationalists, who conceived the revolutionary ideals, whose end results were uncertain. But, they, the visionary fathers of Woyane, did not fear uncertainty; because they had unwavering trust in themselves that their ideals would triumph. Of course, all the theoretical ideals were debated and analyzed; and hence, the best conceptions were filtered out. This process itself, in which the best minds were involved, took a number of years. The covert and overt debates took place on university campuses throughout the world, at city corners, and in secret houses. To most of us, the far sightedness and knowledge of the visionary founders of Woyane was beyond comprehension, particularly during those times of juxtaposing of a variety of idealistic visions.

In the final analysis, therefore, the visionary fathers had it their way in a democratic process. Subsequently, they constructed inviolable-cardinal-guiding principles, which I have called the essentials of Woyane. These essentials can be summed up by one of the determinant mottos, "Our struggle is long and bitter, but our victory is certainĒ. Yes, for a number of reasons, the struggle was expected to be long and bitter. The determining factors were the social, economic, political, and natural environment that characterized the Ethiopian landscape. A revolution to be successful, a complete social transformation is a prerequisite. This required going to the peasantry, which accounted for nearly 90% of the total population.

Finally, the moment of truth came: everyone had to pack up little clothing, meager amount of food, and sufficient water for the uncertain journey to Dedebit. Imagine the feeling of each leader; place yourself in that personís self, the person who is walking by night to the unknown future. What a prowess!

That was the only way to go. As many revolutionaries put it, going to the masses, living with them, learning from them, and sharing with them whatever ideals one could teach was the best strategy. After the successful mass mobilization, it became clear to many that the struggle was going to be short and bitter, but not long and bitter. That is exactly what happened. In a span of seventeen years Dergue, with its largest mechanized army in Africa, was annihilated. If you call this a miracle, you are not alone. These leaders made and are making miraculous deeds.

If you are an honest human being, not a self-serving, liar Diaspora, give these leaders the credit they deserve first. Then, fight them for a better Ethiopia democratically within the framework and restrictions of the Nationís Constitutional Law. Take advantage of the flexible rules of the game and play in the widely opened Ethiopian field (not American or European). However, this will happen only, if you do possess what it takes, i.e., better ideas for a bright future for all Ethiopians.

In closing, I would like to quote one of our gallant female fighters, Saba M.D. Webb (2006). In her book, TIGRESS IN THE CROSSFIRE: A MEMOIR, Saba states:

In naming this book, I liken myself to a tigress, a strong animal always ready to fight for her rights. Being in the crossfire represents the trials and heartaches I went through in order to help the nation achieve the status it has today. The illustration of the rays of the morning sun shining down on the tigress depicts the ongoing journey into a new tomorrow for Ethiopia and its people (emphasis mine).

A must read book; Sabaís memoir tells many moving incidents and events that took place during the struggle. For example, manifesting the administrative challenges TPLF faced due to acute shortage of skilled manpower, Saba had to carry out multitasks. First and foremost, of course, she was a fighter. Her additional tasks included working as a nurse, a home economist, and a village development worker at various times. Now, she is a living legend. Because she is a true fighter, blindness did not deter her from doing what she loves to do: fighting against poverty and all other ills of humankind so that we all live in a world of peace, equality, and truly open democracy.

With the highest honour they deserve, we salute Saba and her comrades, the true children of Woyane, makers of history!

Long live democratically united Ethiopia that cherishes unity in diversity!


Asghedom specializes in environmental and resource economics. He is an employee of the Canadian Department of Natural Resources. Currently, he has an office at Michigan State University (MSU), where he can be reached at asghedom@msu.edu

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