Peace is the way forward and reconciliation is the way
Again, it is wrong to assume that there is an irreconcilable conflict between these two people. They founded Ethiopia together with other people in the country. Many emperors and kings have come from these people. Anyone who cooks conflict between these should be a twisted one. We know that the manifesto of TPLF initially included hatred towards Amhara. It might be due to the power struggle they had over the centuries. Some incidents and situations foster such division and rifts.
But these people have deeper connections. Their language has the same roots, geez; their religion has been deep-rooted in their culture and history over a long period. One can only be complete with the other. If you do not go to Aksum Zion and Lalibela or other places, how can you say that your faith is completed under the Orthodox Church? Why compliment each other, then? Why fight until you destroy the youth, the animals, and the plants? A healthy bridge is needed here. A healthy narrative is needed most now.
The Relationship between the people in Amhara and Oromia region
No other conflict is narrated well in Ethiopia than the conflict between the Amhara and the Oromo people in the past 50 years. Deliberately, the relationship between the two people has been hampered by conflict creators in the region. They have used the workings of the previous governments in the times of the emperors of Shewa to create resentment among the two people. “Shewa is bounded northwest by the Blue Nile River and the southwest by the Omo River; its eastern and southeastern boundaries are in the Great Rift Valley along the Awash River.”
In Shewa, you get many ethnic groups, but it is more dominated by the two groups of people for many centuries. Frankly speaking, Shewa is an amalgam of these two people mainly. Shewa was the residence of regional kings from the mid-10th century to the end of the 14th century. Think about it! It was created even before many nations on the planet, including the USA. So people with a long story, why nurture a continuous conflict and a massacre in the 21st century? Why are we tempted to repeat history itself? Why not try to make better history?
The Relationship between the neighboring people from Oromia and Somali region
Most people in the borders between these two regions raise herds and move with them to places with fresh, green pastures with suitable plants for their herd. Green pasture land can be a source of conflict when drought exists. Otherwise, the land is vast and enough for everyone. It means if there is a proper way of communication, there will not be bloody conflicts between people like we saw in 2009 and 2016. That is why we see peace and stability when the right leaders are in place at the moment.
The Relationship between the Afar and Afar and Isaa tribes
This is also a long-standing myth that the two brothers’ conflict for centuries. There is even a story behind it about why the conflict is created. It is also one of the reasons why recent Aar and Somali region conflicts were happening. But with wise leaders at the top, they manage to diffuse it. Imagine if you have mad ones at the top. They will boil the region with bloody conflicts.
These and many other chained conflicts between neighbors are not unique to Ethiopia. It happens all over the world. It is part of human history. It happens inside a country and even across the borders of nations. We all have heard about The Hundred Years’ War (1337–1453) between England and France. It is history! They have been friends for many centuries then. Many of the conflicts in the world are resolved. New ones emerge. We should be better at handling these.
Reconciliation needs wisdom
“Reconciliation is the Greek word katallagē, meaning “an exchange; reconciliation, restoration to favor.” Something has happened that has caused two parties to become estranged. The two might have been friends. Reconciliation is defined as the restoration of friendly relations.” Restoring relationships is not an easy task. It demands wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Three provisions can help the people in the country and the region to work on reconciliation to build a sense of sustainable peace. We mention them here briefly; deep analysis can be provided by experts and elders further.
- The role of religion
Ethiopians, in general, the HoA people are religious. It means religion is one of the opportunities that can help bring lasting peace. The Holy Bible even talks about reconciliation between God and man since man has acted wrongly to harm the relationship. But that relationship is restored now via the sacrifices of Christ, according to the teachings of the Bible. It says enmity is destroyed. Islam is also the religion of peace. Those who are teaching and leading should capitalize on these messages.
- The role of language
Language is a powerful communicating agency. Through it, healthy relation is created, and through it, hatred and division are sown into the minds and hearts of the people. What you sow, you reap. It is a natural phenomenon. If you sow wheat, you do not get barely. That is why they say, “ ሰው የዘራውን ያንኑ ያጭደዋል!” So, what we say to each other determines the result. A responsible and careful constructive discourse is needed.
- The role of culture
There are rich cultural conflict resolution ways in every one of these groups of people mentioned and even other groups in the region. It is sufficient to mention how the Afar elders sit together around and negotiate for hours and hours and solve the local problem they encounter repeatedly. It is a many century of wisdom. The Oromo community has it. The Amharas and the Tigrayans have it. One deep culture that is within the Tigrayan community is called መመያየጥ – meaning deeper conversation. They are good at it. We can use all these cultural potentials for our good.
Peace thrives in the Horn of Africa when Eritreans and Tigrayans reconcile; Tigrayans and Amhara build trust; Amhara and Oromo community strengthen their relationship; Oromo and Somali strengthen their neighborhood; Somalia and Afar keep working on building trust, and so on. All these people and other neighbors in the region have to decide and commit to pursuing peace. Reconciliation has to be at the center. Of course, the dialog is another vehicle that will help. Ethiopia has set up a Dialog and reconciliation agency to do the job. It should broaden to neighboring countries too. Peace is the way forward!
Editor’s Note: The views entertained in this article do not necessarily reflect the stance of The Ethiopian Herald
The Ethiopian Herald November 8/2022