“Our true nationality is mankind.”H.G.

‘Addition’ or ‘Medemer’– the new political Philosophy of Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed

Until the collapse of the Communist Oriented Military regime, the Derg, in 1991, Ethiopia has been under a Unitary form of Government. Encyclopedia Britannica defines unitary form of Government as “a system of political Organization in which most or all the governing power resides in a centralized government.” The country was divided in to 14 ‘Kifle Hagers’ which in English can literally be translated as ‘Country’s Sections’. And these ‘Country Sections’ were – 1. Showa, 2. Tigray 3. Begimeder 4. Gojam 5. Wollo 6. Hararghe. 7. Welega 8. Ilubabor 9. Arsi 10. Bale 11. Kafa 12 Gamu Gofa 13. Sidamo and 14. Eritrea.

The Collapse of the Eastern Block (USSR & East Germany), the unpopularity of the dictatorial military regime and its incompetence enabled the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) led secessionist guerilla fighters, overthrew that repressive regime, and took political power in Asmara and in Addis Ababa. This had two major implications for the country. One, the fourteenth province, Eritrea, with its supporter/partner sitting in Addis Ababa, officialized its secession in the United Nations and the African Union. Ethiopia became the most populated land locked country in the planet. Second, the political landscape in Ethiopia opened its doors to a dangerous ethnic based political platform. i.e. the remaining thirteen provinces were rezoned to nine purely ethnic based ‘KILIL’, an equivalent to the set aside Territories or Reservations of Red Indians in the USA.

The Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front dominated regime made this Bantustan style, handy divide and rule administration and political system, possible through its current constitution which allegedly is drafted in consultation with the Eritrean People Liberation Front (EPLF) and Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) in Teseney, Eritrea. This constitution has controversial stipulations that among other things include the following: –

Preamble – We, the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia.

Author’s Note A – It does not recognize individual citizens (Ethiopians), with the exception of Article 40 that somehow by mistake or otherwise used the word “Ethiopians”

Article 39.1 Every Nation, Nationality and People in Ethiopia has an unconditional right to self-determination, including the right to secession.

Author’s Note B – ‘The right to secession’ is simply anti Ethiopian loaded with all the ill motive of promoting additional questions of secession. It is this stipulation that heightened the appetite for secession and fuel the tension among the people that live in the set aside Territories or Reservations in Ethiopia.

Article 39.2 A “Nation, Nationality or People” for the purpose of this Constitution, is a group of people who have or share large measure of a common culture or similar customs, mutual intelligibility of language, belief in a common or related identity, a common psychological make-up, and who inhabit an identifiable, predominantly contiguous territory.

Author’s Note C – It is dishonest to add culture, customs or related identity since the reality and the motive is only to bank on differences in languages ignoring the inter-ethnic ties, commonality in culture, customs and religious beliefs nurtured for centuries. It is dishonest and wrong to say people who speak the same language will have same culture, customs, belief or identity, apart from others.

Article 40. The right to ownership of rural and urban land, as well as of all-natural resources, is exclusively vested in the State and in the peoples of Ethiopia. Land is a common property of the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia and shall not be subject to sale or to other means of exchange.

Author’s Note D – It is the Tribes and ethnic groups not individuals, who has sole ownership of the land they live in, excluding other tribes. The KILIL/Set Aside Territory is essentially a perfect equivalent of Indian Reservations. In a country like Ethiopia it champions division that will be followed with hostility and creates good ground for further questions of secession.

In the past twenty-seven years, Ethiopians have lived through a very divisive Bantustan style political apartheid. The period is known for exponential rise in hostility among the different Ethnic groups. It is not a rocket science to learn that its all the result of the above divisive ethnocentric stipulations, and the monopoly of power by the Tigrean Liberation Front. As a result, the TPLF regime faced tremendous resistance from all corners of the country including the so-called its political allies that are members of the coalition, EPRDF. The Current Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed is one of them. The TPLF regime was finally forced to let go of its political power by allowing Dr. Abiy Ahmed become the second Independent Prime Minister of Ethiopia since 1991, after Melese Zenawi, the architect of the Bantustan political system that put the country in chaos. University students are now afraid of going to universities located outside of their own Set aside territory or KILIL.

Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is composed of four-member parties TPLF (Tigray), OPDO (Oromo), ANDM (Amara) and SEPDM (South). EPRDF was a conduit to the TPLF since TPLF had hegemony over the affairs of the coalition. The three-member parties enabled the TPLF to indirectly govern the rest of the Set aside territories, outside Tigray. As the name clearly indicates the goal of Tigray Peoples Liberation Front is to liberate Tigray from Ethiopia, ironically ruling Ethiopia for 27 years. So, it is a big deal that Dr. Abiy of OPDO backing came out as an independent Prime Minister of the ruling coalition. It signifies that TPLF could no longer use the Prime Minister as a toy or as a rubber stamp. The exploding popularity of the new Prime Minister can be attributed to two factors. First, it signals the ending of the TPLF rule and Second, he came up with a catchy but a more than political lingo ‘Medemer’ which in English mean ‘Addition’.

There have been various political forces that fought the Tigrean regime, TPLF. Earlier, the opposition to the ethnic based federalism has been using political lingos like, ‘Andinet’ which translates to English as Unity or Oneness. However, the ethno- politics diehards have been kind of successful in thrashing ‘Andinet’ or Unity as loaded phrases signifying anti Federalism or anti this or that ethnic group or as a unitarian. For any one that sees why we have gone through Andinet /Oneness, Hibret/Cooperation, Kingit/ Synergy, even Semayawi /Blue party etc., it is not that hard to grasp the genius of the new Prime Minister, coining a new term that signify something good, and at the same time something hard to thrash out easily or label as a pro unitarian ideology. So, the question is what is Medemer/Addition?

Mathematically speaking Medemer (Addition) has two significant meanings. The first and the subtlest one is that Medemer/ Addition is not the direct equivalent of Unity or Oneness. For Example, 2+3=5. The idea is not about being one. It is about being greater by living peacefully together, respecting the pluralism that exists in Ethiopia. As I said, it is easy to accuse someone that preaches unity as someone who mongers a Unitary political system. Frankly speaking though, talking about Unity of Ethiopia is not advocacy to a Unitary Political System. However, the perception on the ground has not been really encouraging. On the other hand, the lingo Addition has the capacity to deliver the message correctly that Unity is not about being one but being greater and stronger.

Second, Medemer/ Addition is the inverse of Mekeness (Subtraction). Secession of a particular Set aside area/ Reservation or KILIL from the country is definitely a deduction. Mekeness/ Deduction is the exact opposite of Medemer/Addition. So, Medemer /Addition is a kind of political philosophy that stands against the ideology or philosophy of all individuals, groups or political organizations that support division and hostility among the people of Ethiopia. Medemer is about addition of parts that result in greater value than the addends. It is the exact opposite of Mekeness/ Deduction.

The third and the most complex component of the Medemer/Addition philosophy is this one. Basic Math tells us that Medemer/ Addition could result in a greater number than the addends only when the addends are positive. In one of the Prime Minister’s speeches, he mentioned the situation of Israel’s Parliament as an example of how extreme political positions should be tolerated or accommodated with in the Parliament. It means the Medemer/Addition philosophy is willing to host negative numbers that offset positives. If the offset is only in political discourse, limited only to opinions, that could be acceptable. However, given the hostile actions of some opposition parties resorting to armed resistance, the situation on the ground is contrary to expectations of many about what Medemer/Addition is.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has already paid a serious price because he used the term Medemer in his speeches. He was deliberately misquoted by the EPRDF website as if he was talking about Mekeness/ Deduction. He has also survived a grenade attack because of his political philosophy. We all know that there can be no confusion as to what the philosophy is, in general terms, because he has said enough things so that we clearly know what Medemer/ Addition is about. The problem is about expounding the third point further so that individuals, groups and political parties have no room for a deliberate misinterpretation of the Lingo Medemer/ Addition, creating anarchy in the political, social and economic spheres in Ethiopia causing loss of life and ethnic cleansing.

It has now become a daily news cast that tons and tons of illegal heavy weapons and ammunition are entering Ethiopia from Sudan. The armament including heavy assault weapons are coming hidden inside fuel trailers and other heavy trucks. We also smell that the weapons are heading in a kind of one direction, and it will be folly to believe that the contraband of arms is driven by the public need for self defense or lack trust on Dr. Abiy’s police force. I have a very convenient hunch that hostile political groups inside Ethiopia are trafficking armaments across the Sudanese border to Ethiopia. It is not that hard to figure the countries or the international forces who are behind this arms trafficking /gunrunning of contraband weapons and ammunition.

We expect Dr. Abiy Ahmed to come up with a more complete picture of what his Medemer/Addition philosophy is about, and tune his policies accordingly, doing whatever is necessary to bring the country in conformity with his vision. We hope his legislative corrections will include stipulations to fix the controversial sections in the constitution that work against his ideal or philosophy.

Melaku Woldeselassie

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