I’ve been sensitive to the issue of “Biher Bihereseboch” ever since I saw my pretty cousin Azeb walking to where the teacher sat, taking down student details with not so red a pen, to whisper her grandfather’s name in his ears (a proud farmer who lived and died in Gore town, Illubabor, long before she was born). So I have not exactly seen eye to eye with those naïve Addis-born Ethiopians who considered the issue of “Biher Bihereseboch” as something EPRDF introduced and that we (YeEthiopia Biher Bihereseboch) were living “happy as Larry” pre-1983 E.C..
For this reason, I neither raged nor took it personally when our high school classmate Tadelech split on tea-break to fellowship ‘with her kind’ and spoke in nothing but Oromigna when she came across members of the said fellowship at the various school grounds. I also voice my objection everytime I heard pejorative terms like “Welamigna” being used, glowing with the kind of pride that would put Saints and Martyrs to shame when given the nasty look.
Which is why, in short, I gave EPRDF the big when the infamous Article 39 was passed back in 1991 (true, I was only a young’un who got a box in the ear every time she voiced an opinion). Being an all time pro-choice and a big time divorce fan, I have felt “Biher Bihereseboch” should be allowed to take it as well as dish it out. “The right of self determination-upto secession”, I’ve argued, quoting our Prime Minister, “is the only way to keep Ethiopia’s unity intact. I’m afraid all you and I can do is make sure they do not want to”.
This resolve, I’m happy to announce, is still intact. Not meaning I do not find news items such as those high school students in Dukem taking the streets few years ago to protest the teaching-medium being switched from Amharic to ‘Qube’, holding a banner that read “KeAbACHADA Yishalal Acheda”, amusing.
Imagine, therefore, my delight when watching the 56+ Nations and Nationalities’ representatives flowing into MesQel square yesterday afternoon. The fact that some of their feet were shod in ‘moga chama’, ofcourse, broke the heart (the representatives of the Host region, Oromia, should be congratulated, by the way, over their colorful performance). “But”, I reasoned, “these people are representatives after all. If ‘Yebandira t-shirt’ is the best 95% of Ethiopia’s Nations and Nationalities could afford in the form of ‘Bahlawi’ attire, so be it”. The material out of which their shoes are made certainly didn’t discourage the aspiring poet in my bossom. “AnSebaraqiwochu YeEthiopia Qelemoch” was the word that kept coming to my mind while watching them dance past ETV/ERTA’s camera.
So what did I say when I hit the office first thing this morning?! “Enkuwan leBiher Bihereseboch Qen Adereseh/Aderesesh”! My colleagues’ response: a chuckle, as if abesheet was trying to be funny and, for once, succeeding.
I see their point ofcourse. They were agreeing with a statement Micheal Jackson’s brother once made regarding his demented kin. “We should judge an action by it’s intensions” was what this ex-member of ‘The Jackson Five’ entreated, arguing if Micheal behaved in an unbecoming way infront of kids, he may have meant it for a purely blameless reason we have yet to figure the driving motives of.
It’s no secret to any of us how EPRDF’s intentions in promoting the issue of “Biher Bihereseboch” was far from “pure.. as the driven snow”. It seemed to have focused on showing the wrong done to them by “gejiew yeAmhara biher” instead of what they have to offer separately or individually. It’s also true that this unwise attempt at winning ‘YeAnasa-Biherwoch’-vote costed innocent lives at Bedeno, Arsi, Jimma and the like. But is EPRDF the only one to blame for it or is that what’s to be expected of the type of mentality we Ethiopians have, a mentality that seems to consider ‘death’ as the only way to resolve any/every difference?!
Let’s say it were or weren’t, does that make the idea of “Biher Bihereseboch” wanting to speak in their language and celebrate their uniqueness within the “Qinfif” of unity necessarily bad?! Or December 9, “Ginbot 20 – the Sequel”!? I do not think so! Anywho, Enkuwan LeHidar 29 or.
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