Dr. Birhanemeskel Segni and Geletaw Zeleke on Walelign Mekonnen’s

“What are the Ethiopian people composed of? I stress on the word
peoples because sociologically speaking at this stage Ethiopia is not
really one nation. It is made up of a dozen nationalities with their own
languages, ways of dressing, history, social organization and territorial entity.
And what else is a nation? It is not made of a people with
a particular tongue, particular ways of dressing, particular history,
particular social and economic organization? Then may I conclude that
in Ethiopia there is the Oromo Nation, the Tigrai Nation, the Amhara
Nation, the Gurage Nation, the Sidama Nation, the Wellamo [Wolayta]
Nation, the Adere [Harari] Nation, and however much you may not like
it the Somali Nation.
This is the true picture of Ethiopia. There is of course the fake
Ethiopian Nationalism advanced by the ruling class and unwillingly
accepted and even propagated by innocent fellow travellers.
What is this fake Nationalism? Is it not simply Amhara and to
a certain extent Amhara-Tigre supremacy? Ask anybody what Ethiopian
culture is? Ask anybody what Ethiopian language is? Ask anybody what
Ethiopian music is? Ask anybody what the “national dress” is?
It is either Amhara or Amhara-Tigre!!
To be a “genuine Ethiopian” one has to speak Amharic, to listen to
Amharic music, to accept the Amhara-Tigre religion, Orthodox
Christianity and to wear the Amhara-Tigre Shamma in international
conferences. In some cases to be an “Ethiopian”, you will even have to
change your name. In short to be an Ethiopian, you will have to wear
an Amhara mask (to use Fanon’s expression). Start asserting your
national identity and you are automatically a tribalist, that is if you are
not blessed to be born an Amhara. According to the constitution you
will need Amharic to go to school, to get a job, to read books (however
few) and even to listen to the news on Radio “Ethiopia” unless you are
a Somali or an Eritrean in Asmara for obvious reasons.”
By Walleligne Mekonnen
Nov. 17, 1969


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