How Tigray became a dirty word in both Eritrea and Ethiopia
Tigrayan supporters attending the 40th Anniversary of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF)- Mekelle (Ethiopia), 18 February 2015
How Tigray became a dirty word in both Eritrea and Ethiopia.
By Bereket Kidane
The word Tigray has always had a negative connotation in the Eritrean lexicon for as long as anyone can remember. It’s always been associated with duplicity, treachery, lies and backstabbing. After Eritrea achieved its independence, the then Provisional Government of Eritrea tried to tamp down on negative feelings toward Tigrayans by telling the Eritrean people that Tigrayans are a brotherly people. However much the Eritrean elders warned the victorious young leaders of the EPLF, the Eritrean people reluctantly obliged and laid off their past prejudices and misgivings, including the use of the word “Agame” with all its negative connotations. But it wasn’t long before Tigray reared its ugly head of envy, duplicity, resentment and inferiority complex. It was an “I told you so” moment for the elders. For the victorious young EPLF leaders, it was a “teachable moment” as it were that much as a leopard can’t change its spots, Tigray and its leaders will always be what they have been in the past when our forefathers named those twisted mountains after them.
Meanwhile, Weyane (Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front) was too busy balkanizing and bantustanizing Ethiopia, cynically introducing ethnic rule and consciousness where it’s never existed before, all in order to help it divide-and-conquer the Ethiopian populace.
TPLF’s naked invasion of Eritrea was openly sold to the Ethiopian people as an attempt to secure a sea outlet (*wink*Assab) for Ethiopia. The Ethiopian people initially fell for it but they soon realized that it was another one of those cynical TPLF ploys to help it divide-and-conquer. Eritreans living in Ethiopia were to be brutally expelled after they were stripped of their lifetime savings and properties because their Prime Minister didn’t like the color of their eyes.
The Ethiopian people realized that they had been had. But that was the beginning of their problems. TPLF in its bid to stay in power stole the 2005 Ethiopian election in a broad day light and ended up brutally massacring countless innocent Ethiopians and murdering them in a cold-blooded fashion. Its Western allies never batted an eye and TPLF has yet to be punished for that. The abuse of innocent Ethiopians who dare to challenge TPLF’s minority regime only got worse from there. There was, of course, the long-running genocide that took place in Southeast Ethiopia for which the TPLF has yet to be held to account.
By then, the Ethiopian people learned that the Eritrean people were not their enemies and that the real enemy of the two people’s was the minority regime of Tigray.
As for Tigray, it is caught between a rock and a hard place. Unable to go it alone, it knows that its minority rule will sooner or later come to an end as all minority regimes do. It can feel the expiration date creeping up on it. Even the vaunted apartheid minority rule in South Africa eventually had to come to an end and give way to majority rule. Having destroyed its relationship with Eritrea, Tigray has nowhere to turn to. Hated by Eritrea and unwanted by Ethiopia, where will Tigray go next?
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