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Ethiopianity is a mosaic of Ethnicities

By Teodros Kiros (PH.D)
Tigrai Online, May 12, 2019


Dr. Tedros Kiros PhD

I am proud to be the child of the Global south, from Ethiopia, the birth place of the human species, where Dinkinesh(Lucy) roamed and walked 3.5 Million years ago.  This historic place is inhabited by ethnics, whose language, music, dances and written and oral literature grace us with classical and modern Ethiopian personality.

The obelisks of Aksum, the Arc of the Covenant, the flowering of Geez, the songs of St, Yared, the  philosophical modernity of Zara Yacob, the churches of Lalibela, the proverbs of the Oromos, the lush and green of the South, the entrepreneurial genius of the Gurage, not to forget, the renown Ethiopian cuisines and shoulder dances of our rich ethnicities, are the fabrics from which my body is made, and by which my soul is nourished.

It is a gift to be an Ethiopian for which I thank my creator by originating me in this  land of greatness.


The recent bombardment of the public by the deeply flawed and incomplete argument that the recognition of Ethiopianity demands the annihilation of the idea of Ethnos requires a critical analysis, which I will attempt below with the following proposition:

Ethiopianity is a mosaic of ethnicities,

Tigreans, Oromos, Amharas,  Gurages, Afars, Somali Ethiopians, the historic people of the South are ethnics,

Therefore, all these Ethnics are Ethiopians.

I should now elaborate on the proposition.

Ethiopianity, when thus understood is a yearning for equality, freedom, compassion, community and harmony among the mosaic of multiple ethnics, which comprise Ethiopianity.  To call for the annihilation of the of ethnos is to annihilate Ethiopianity itself, which those who care for Ethiopianity could not possibly wish.

All ethnics who reside in Ethiopia are the ones who give Ethiopianity, a living soul embodied concretely in the multiplicity of our ethnic lives from which individuals draw their selfhood, and ground themselves as unique individuals, outside rigid and narrow-minded enclaves of ethnic prisons.  Ethnos is not a prison, although those who should know but do not sometimes, think.  Ethnos in fact is nothing more than a culturally nuanced expression of being human, plainly, sincerely and clearly. I had developed this idea in my classic article, Two Concepts of Ethnicity, in Aiga Forum, Ethiomedia, Addis Fortune and Addis Tribune, many years ago.


Tigray has played a central role in sedimenting Ethiopianity as a  living idea, for which Tigreans fought, all the way from Aksum, past Adwa, and the last twenty seven years to preserve Ethiopian dignity, for which they must be praised, and not annihilated by the Transitional regime, which is unwisely attempting to bury the glorious achievements of our Ethiopian heroes, our Tigrean Ethiopians.

It is the gallantry, verve and military imagination of our Tigrean ancestors which preserved the dignity of Ethiopianity. When some contemptuous leaders of parties attack Ethiopianity, it is you the tigreans who must defend it by any means necessary.

For this to happen tigreans must speak with a single language of love and unity. Most particularly, tigreans must unite at this crucial time and stop betraying one another.

A future column will analyze what it means to be an Ethiopian Tigrean, or a Tigrean Ethiopian.


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