Saturday, February 15, 2014

Is Ethiopianism Re-examined or Replaced by Ethnopianism?

‘Ethiopiawinet' is an Amharic term equivalent to ‘Ethiopianism'. But, the context it is recently being discussed in social media is very different from it has been used in English and historical scripts. The old Ethiopianism (as written in the scripts) is more theological thought than political, and pan-Africanist concept than Ethiopian nationalist. The debate now ranges from denying the existence of it (as a self-standing identity) to worshiping it (as the only thought to save Ethiopian unity). The former is mainly opinion of ethno-nationalists who have concerns that the term might be used as pseudo-Abyssinian. They think the so-called ‘Ethiopianism' is not inclusive of all but is just an identity built on the cultures and religion of Ethiopian highlanders. I am guessing the debate ends with a new definition of what Ethiopianism is (should be). It seems Ethno-nationalism (which I would like to call Ethnopianism) is its biggest challenge.

Encyclopedia Britannica described Ethiopianism as “religious movement among sub-Saharan Africans that embodied the earliest stirrings toward religious and political freedom in the modern colonial period. The movement was initiated in the 1880s when South African mission workers began forming independent all-African churches, such as the Tembu tribal church (1884) and the Church of Africa (1889). An ex-Wesleyan minister, Mangena Mokone, was the first to use the term when he founded the Ethiopian Church (1892). Among the main causes of the movement were the frustrations felt by Africans who were denied advancement in the hierarchy of the mission churches and racial discontent encouraged by the colour bar. Other contributing factors were the desire for a more African and relevant Christianity, for the restoration of tribal life, and for political and cultural autonomy expressed in the slogan “Africa for the Africans” and also in the word Ethiopianism.

“The mystique of the term Ethiopianism derived from its occurrence in the Bible (where Ethiopia is also referred to as Kush, or Cush) and was enhanced when the ancient independent Christian kingdom of Ethiopia defeated the Italians at Adwa in 1896."

It was Garvey who first demanded ‘Africa for Africans'. A Study of Ethiopianism in Rastafarianism with a Focus on the Concept Of Ethiopia as Zion (by Jennifer Skowera) stated that ‘the man most responsible for bringing the ideals of Ethiopianism to Jamaica is Marcus Garvey. Barrett describes the man as ". . . the prophet of African redemption . . . [and through him] the spirit of Ethiopianism came into full blossom" (77).’

The term was  first coined in a desperate attempt of strengthening Africans and black people who were under colonization and slavery around the world. It is a huge ideal which conceived free and united Africa. That dream was big and isn't fulfilled yet.

Every sane African loves the idea of United Africa and even most pragmatic politicians want to come to it through regional integration of the east, of the west, of the north, of the south and of the center. As compared to this dream, it is difficult to grasp that how African countries are splitting into many for little differences. In east Africa alone, the number of countries is doubled within two decades.

These things happen because immature but accidentally influential politicians misunderstand systematic-inequality as inability to co-exist. In the process of states making and independence, some people were disproportionately favored. However this doesn't mean that [due to historical injustices,] the favored and disfavored ones can't exist together, many a self-claimed freedom fighters come and plant hate among people. In this way, the dream of African Union walks two steps away as Africans walk to have it a step.

The case in Ethiopia isn't different. Ethiopia is a small Africa where state fails to bond its people beyond tribal differences.

Discussions on Ethiopianism (as in unity and pride) give more sense to other Africans than us. That's why we need to stop and realize that unity is not the enemy of equality. Unity isn't becoming one but untied for better. Perhaps, it is because we aren't united that dictatorship isn't gone.

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