Can a Somali Reason with an Ethiopian?
A few days ago, a strange man contacted me via sms. Having read my posts on recent events in the Ethiopian occupied western Somali State, he asked me where in Ethiopia I hailed from. I immediately informed him that I was a Somali national and not an Ethiopian as he thought, and that Ethiopian nationality was illegally imposed on the people of my home state by British colonial administration in the Horn of Africa in the early 20th century. Then, he launched into a diatribe about Somali irredentism and greedy territorial expansion. In response, I asked him whether he contacted me to vilify my nationality as a Somali or debate the merits and demerits of Ethiopia’s claim on the ownership of the Western Somali State (Ogaden Region), which it has occupied for about 60 years, following the end of British Imperial power in East Africa. He apologized at once and agreed to discuss the latter. Thus, began our close to 30 minute conversation on the internationally imposed Ethiopian nationality on the close to 8 million Somalis in today’s Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian reform, the Horn of Africa and the orphan Somalia
I am not a historian and do not claim to possess records of early violent Ethio -Somali struggles, but I simply described to the Ethiopian gentleman what is known by every little boy or girl in every Somali household in his country’s ‘Somali State’: that they were forcefully put under Ethiopian rule in the waning days of emperor Haile Salase’s government, and that Somalis have nothing in common with the rest of Ethiopia. I went on to tell my unexpected interlocutor that the Somali population in ‘Ethiopia’s Somali Region’ do not speak the Amharic language, cannot write its intricately tangled script, do not mainly associate with Ethiopian nationals in marriage, business, and other human ventures, and have spent the better part of the past and present centuries fighting to free themselves from the illegally imposed Ethiopian national identity. Moreover, I described to the Ethiopian gentleman how well connected the Somali population in ‘Ethiopia’s Somali State’ is with their brethren across the present provisional border between Ethiopia and Somalia. Any Somali in Ethiopian occupied Somali region is officially a Somali citizen by blood and ethnicity and does not need a visa , or any other special permit to enter, reside, work, and live in Somalia. Finally, I informed the Ethiopian gentleman that successive governments in Ethiopia have shut their eyes to that fact. Hence, the never ending Somali animosity, war-likeness, and hatred against any Ethiopian symbol or vestige of governance until they are accorded a true opportunity to affirm or rebut their forcefully imposed nationality.
At this point and to my utter surprise, the Ethiopian gentle man went into a fit of anger despite the fact that he had apologized for the same at the beginning of our dignified dialogue. See the irony here. This Ethiopian man called me probably because he was attracted and impressed by my Facebook musings about my homeland. I treated him with respect and welcomed to chat with him even though he came with guns blazing. I managed to reason with him and opened an objective conversation. Yet in the end, he throws a tantrum just like a child instead of countering my argument with his, either providing facts to support or negate my points.