After the first ever Irrecha celebration in Addis Ababa last week, Ethiopian social media is erupted by mocks and challenges of the Oromia region deputy President Shimeles Abdisa speech he delivered during the ceremony.
During this religious and a peaceful festival, Mr Shimelis went back to 150 years where his party ODP claims the Oromo people were suppressed by the ruling class and he cheered for crushing that system and celebrating Irrecha in the capital city Addis Ababa.
“It is a historical day for the Oromo people celebrating Irrecha on the spot where its moral, self-esteem and history were broken by the Neftegna.” Shimeles said. “Today we are back to our place and our land after breaking them.”
The term “Neftegna” is used to mean the Northern people especially the Amharas for the last 28 years of the EPRDF rule which is now led by the Prime Minister Abey Ahemed who represent the Oromo ethnic group.
Almost all local media and social media picked the issue and sunk in to the argument over the definition of Neftegna and its representation.
Many mocked the president for interfering in the religious matters in which he does not belong to by referring to his protestant religion background. His political discussion on a religious ceremony was also seen as amateurish.
One of the popular Ethiopian human rights activists Obang Metho said on his Facebook page: “A mistake or intentional? Either way, Oromia regional deputy president’s statements raise serious questions.”
“In our present ethnic-dominated, political climate, such comments are loaded with innuendos of what people are now saying is “a takeover turn,” he added.
Explaining further, Mr Metho said “I also have questions. The language he used was similar to what we have heard over the past 27 years from the TPLF-controlled EPRDF who used the dehumanization and labeling of others to separate, alienate and isolate Ethiopians from working together or standing together. It resulted in erasing an important bond, hat of our shared humanity and common national identity that previously had kept Ethiopia together a proud nation. It served as an attempt to divide and conquer “the people” outside their own “ethnic box.”
Ethiopian politics is becoming so absurd in its rhetoric about the past and its manipulations. Ambiguous term usage, unclear theories, wrong definitions and personality cult are surrounding the current Ethiopian politics.
” Look at our unhealthy obsession with ethnicity, starting with the Preamble of the Ethiopian Constitution that addresses the people of the country as “Nations, Nationalities and Peoples”. Add to that ethnic federalism, ethnic-based political parties, regional states, banks, ID cards with ethnicity, sports clubs and so on—all geared to an ethnic group. We should be cautious.” Mr. Metho advises.