Ethiopia, an ailing empire, like others before it, is crumbling under its own weight. Recent events in Oromia have exposed the vulnerability and frailty of the 130 years old dilapidated empire. The bastions of the empire were totally surprised but the rest of the world seems aware of what was coming. The self-distraction of the empire is assured and what needs attention is what next.
It appears there are three main schools of thought regarding the future of the empire. The first school of thought advances the concept that Ethiopia has been and remains an empire and will inevitably disintegrate one way or another and the thing left doing is to have a mature debate regarding the post empire arrangements.
The above school of thought also believes the two regimes, since the fall of the late emperor Haile Selassie in 1974, have attempted to reform and repair the empire in order to prevent its demise. However, the Derg failed and the incumbent Woyane regime has even failed more spectacularly in the same endeavour.
The second school of thought says yes Ethiopia was an empire but a unique empire because it was a black African empire and has to survive but not intact or in its current form. This group advocates that the people have intermarried, physically similar in appearance, live in same geographical proximity and would be better off together.
The proponents of this simplistic idea have neither worked out nor spelt out what the post empire Ethiopia would look like. They have also not listened enough to the sorrow of the people from cumulative 130 years long wounds and the worsening degree of dehumanisation, hunger, political and economic marginalisation fast transforming itself into ethnic cleansing and genocide.
They explain away that if democracy was rained down on Ethiopia from heaven, by some miracle, the peoples in the Ethiopian empire would sit down and agree on a sort of arrangement. They suggest democracy as a panacea for all the deep-rooted socio-political and economic problems in the empire.
The third and final school of thought about Ethiopia and its future appear worse than the above two. This traditional school of thought is a throwback, in thinking and reasoning, to the Haile Selassie’s era. Of the three schools of thought, the traditional school is behind the curve with regards to the reality in Ethiopia by light years.
The protagonists of the third school hold firmly to the thinking that as the subjugation has been worsening since the fall of the last emperor, Ethiopia has to go back to the empire era - one country, one language and one religion. They urge the people to accept dehumanisation to avoid death.
This old school also presents the closer ties emerging within the European union as a model in defence of their argument for Ethiopia to remain intact. This group ignores that Europe is a union of sovereign nations. This school of the Haile Silassie’s era system presents arguments that do not stand to even the minimum level of scrutiny when it comes to their nostalgia for the bygone empire. The empire only exists in the minds of some people in its intact form. This group still draws the old map of Ethiopia with the lion of Judah. They even consider Eritrea to be part of Ethiopia.
On the other hand, the fact remains, the difference between the Derg and the Woyane regimes is of style rather than substance. Derg thought the remedy was socialism and the Woyane thinks the solution to the ailments of the empire is to loot as much as they can before the final bell goes.
Derg shed blood and finally collapsed and the Woyane has taken the subjugation and the killings, to sustain the dying empire, to a completely new level altogether. If violence worked it would have worked for Derg. Any regime attempting to salvage the Ethiopian empire will not succeed not because of lack of guns but due to swimming against the tide of history.
In reality, the Ethiopian empire state began to disintegrate in the late 60s culminating with the overthrow of the ailing monarch. Since then, the empire has been limping along for nearly half a century, but now it seems it is heading for a grinding halt.
The empire always relied on brute military force to subjugate the subjects under its rule. Alas, there is a limit for everything and now is a crunch time for the empire. The empire survived the past 50 years due to lack of convergence between the above-mentioned schools of thought or ideologies with regards to the nature and future of the empire.
The issue is whether the empire goes out in a bang or should it be allowed to wither away and die slowly. The latter option does not appear likely because of the nasty nature of the incumbent TPLF regime and the apparent weaknesses in those who aspire to take over. The most sensible thing would be sitting around a big table and redraw the map to pre-Menilik II era and save precious lives on all sides following the example of former Czechoslovakia. The alternative is former Yugoslavia. The sooner the protagonists understood this the better.