, 11 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
The more I think about the current mess in #Ethiopia|n politics...
1) I cannot find a historical era that looks like it, & 2) I even hope good and real historians help us make sense of our past better. Here is my simple take on Zemene Mesafint (The era of princes). Thread:
1) The Era of Princes, EOP, (mid 18-mid 19c) was considered a period of major uncertainty in #Ethiopia’s history & one of the worst eras people mention when trying to find historic similarities to what’s going on today.
But, EOP’s historical significance shall be revisited.
2) When EOP ended, it birthed #Ethiopia’s modern era. Indeed, lessons drawn from that era of infighting were crucial in shaping the strategies of Emperor Menelik, a great man who made Ethiopia’s state building project complete.
3) It’s also vital to note that Emperor Menelik spent his youthful years in Gondar, closely learning from Emperor Tewodros, who had come to power after defeating all the war lords from the EOP and ensuring the submission of some others.
4) Of course, some could argue that Menelik was a prisoner in Teddy’s palace. But many good texts show that Tewodrose in fact cared for Menelik and considered him a son.
6) Even Teddy’s successor, Yohannes IV, was partly a product of the EOP. Though he was younger over that historic period, lessons he got from the era strengthened his views on the issue of unity & the need to preserve Ethiopia’s territorial integrity in profound ways.
7) In fact, Yohannes died defending the nation, in a place far from Tigray, his main stronghold and his seat. The history of his successor, Emperor Menelik, well... goes in that similar pattern.
8) So, that messy period known as the EOP is what essentially led the way for #Ethiopia’s state building project. As the saying goes, at the end of that dark tunnel, came a light, came unity and strong Ethiopia was born. The fathers then defeated aspirations of colonial powers.
9) Indeed, our fathers left That Ethiopia. Now, we don’t have these father figures. Instead, our expectations & the level of trust we have for today’s leaders are very different from even just a year ago. Now, we don’t have fathers who do understand legacy of an era like EOP,
10) But few individuals with divisive media are extremely powerful & they can cause national policy reversals the moment they open their mouth. The dangers these individuals cause make historic eras like the EOP, what it seems to be now, well the EOP was a blessing in disguise.
A historian? I think you can rewrite Ethiopia’s EOP.
At the end of the day, although not entirely true, it makes sense that “war makes states”. And it did create today’s Ethiopia. The question now becomes “If we can preserve Ethiopia without war?” Can we?
We shall.
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