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Vision and Politics in Tigray: Reflections on General Tsadkan’s piece in Aiga News

By Teodros Kiros ( Ph.D)
Tigrai Online 2/19/2023

General Tsadkan Gebretensai

Leaders are both born to lead but also cultivate the virtue of leading. This proposition aptly applies to the General from Tigray. His uncontested miliary genius has been admired by many, as is his intellectual power as a diplomatic thinker. His person seamlessly blends both. It is a mind which can charm the West and engage the east through a rare diplomatic flare. And now I discover that he is also a great writer. My modest contribution is an analysis of his comprehensive article on the future of Tigray.


I and the Tigrayan people remain grateful to him and the other able Generals for saving Tigray from annihilation.

His vision of Tigray is anchored on the foundational principle of Democracy as the participation of the people of Tigray. It is they and they only who must collectively and individually determine the democratic path of Tigray. It is they who must be consulted to decide the future of Tigray. He further compellingly argues that we must carefully attend to the internal and external conditions of the future of Tigray.

The new Tigray must embrace development as a perpetual project under the ambience of peace free of war, and genuine national unity. His comprehensive article blends revolutionary ideas and reformist measures. Pease is a necessary condition for the democratic project to take off under a new political party with a participatory spirit.

The new Tigray he envisions must satisfy six internal conditions and he outlines them as (1) Development (2) Tigrean National unity, (3) Internal peace (4) Reform and Revolution (5) Participatory democracy and Political Party (6) A New strong state.

The external conditions must attend to our relationship with Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the powers in the West. Our international relations must be guided by a peaceful comportment and openness and respect to our neighbors and allies. At all times we must remain vigilant of our surrounding areas and the precarious neighborhood.

The internal conditions in Tigray must be attended to immediately. He challenges us Tigreans that we must allow profound differences among us, and do not let those differences be used in the demonization of those who disagree with us and go out of our way to block them from appearing in websites and social media outlets, and use nepotism to promote only those who share our beliefs. For years I have observed that Tigrean culture does not foster independent thinking, and this flaw is detrimental for the development of the human mind. I agree with the General that we should let ideas bloom when we are forging a new Tigray, which maximizes human happiness and flourishing.

His thoughts on Eritrea and the distinctions between the people and the leaders are subtle and wise as his cautious advocacy via referendum the fate of Tigray, to be decided by the people of Tigray in concert. He correctly insists that it is the Tigrean people who must choose the form of government and whether they seek independence or remain within a genuine form of Federal government within Ethiopia, depending on which way Ethiopia is heading. However, the fate of Ethiopia must be disconnected from the fate of Tigray, which was saved from annihilation.


I appeal to the existing leaders of the government of Tigray and General Tsadkan to open the public sphere to those who have invested years of their life journey to specialize in their fields of study, to be invited to reconstract Tigray. Not to do so will have devastating consequences for the development of Tigray, now that Tigray’s infrastructure has been destroyed. Restoring this infrastructure will need thinkers and strategists from the masses and specialists more than ever before, as the General suggests.

The remaking of Tigray requires a new vision, as the General advocates. Gone is the time when Tigrean leaders were chosen on the ground that they have fought in the battle field. Of course, I admire that service. That however is only one criteria. There are other criteria which must be seriously considered. I will mention a few. I admire General Tsadskan for his military bravura. That could not be taken away from him. But he also a man of ideas, as his article demonstrates.

The first is ideas.

Miliary service should also be based on the appropriate miliary knowledge which supplements knowledge born out of the practice of fighting. One learns to be a General by practice and theoretical knowledge, which in turn is passed on to the militia, as is being done, which I applaud, so that Tigreans could defend themselves. I thank the Generals for doing this important work, but even the Generals, I am sure, will agree with me, will benefit from the wisdom of thinkers, to supplement what they know. The great Machiavelli was an advisor to leaders. We too must nurture this new vision. We need to develop able advisors, based on a demonstrated ability and record to advise.

Ideas about the human sciences and natural sciences require experts. This knowledge cannot be carried out by loyalists only. That old model has destroyed Tigray. What we need now is mature thinkers who should be encouraged to speak truthfully and challenge the administrators.

We must revise our educational curriculum and train our children to think freely and allow them to challenge us, so that they grow to become the fierce and mature thinkers for whom I am advocating.

Let a million ideas blossom. Let all those who think deeply among the masses flourish. Let them speak and be a source of data and natural insights inside their rational hearts, the dwelling place of the Transcendent.

It is not enough to design committees, where original ideas do not germinate, but becomes a site of circulating old ideas, which go nowhere.

The leaders of Tigray should not feel threatened by the critically educated not because they have degrees, but because they think deeply and courageously, and love their Let them think freely. Invite them to contribute. Assign them to positions where they can serve effectively.

Ignoring them as we are thinking to create a New Tigray will have dire consequences. The possibility of making the Joint agreement successful, and it can be, requires the participation of the learned, the wise, the decent, compassionate, empathetic and above all those who are in love with wisdom and the Good. The previous regime has tried this and it failed after twenty seven years of notable success. It could have succeeded even more, if the party was not manned by careerists.

We have to put an end to this and let new parties guided by new ideas flourish, or else, Tigray will fail again and I hate to see this and I am appealing to Tigrean leaders to take this idea seriously. Let us work together for the Good of Tigray, the victim of genocide.

There cannot be growth without intellectual battle in the form of differences communicated through the best argument, free of domination. Let the argument win and invite able intellectuals and the naturally wise among the Tigrean people, who could articulate these arguments to the public sphere in town hall meetings and conferences, or else, we will remain backward and eventually perish

I will humbly develop this thought further in future reflections.


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