The Anatomies of the Tigray and Amhara Clashes: the Core and Hammer Analogy and other metaphors
Source: Globe News Net
The Zero or Negative Sum Game
In the political-historical landscape of Ethiopia, the Tigray political camp, with its historical counterpart, the political camp of Amhara, is sometimes a zero-sum game, and many times a negative-sum game. As Kjetil Tronvol (2022)described it very well, considering the very recent dynamics, the very source of their conflict is their opposing visions of what the Ethiopian polity should be and how it should be configured.
Historically, they vertically or horizontally fought until they had to. In their goal, the difference amounts to my parish and empire or death (Amhara camp) versus an accommodative formula to retain organic Tigray or death (Tigray camp). Leaving aside the question of how long both camps lived together, the fact is that there were dozens of cursed pasts; the dead pasts lived with them. The current clash is a natural but updated clash that should come as no surprise. Finally, for every Tigrayan today, waiting for the EPRDF’s peace and development time is analogous to the play, “Waiting for Godot,” where Godot never comes; in hell, they are on the brink of extermination.
The goal of this piece of writing is to illustrate the anatomy and character of the Tigray and Amhara political camps in Ethiopia via the core versus hammer analogy and other metaphoric expressions.
The Core and Hammer Analogy
Hominids and humans using stone as tools had knapping a daily work to remove flakes that could in sequence be flakes, debitage, and stone tools. Knapping always has a reducing and destructive result on the core if the knapper has a good knowledge of sourcing as many and/or tougher hammers as he can to perfectly reduce the core or dismember it.
The Core: The core is an organic one found in its mother rock. It is a rock or part of the pre-existing rock, which is a naturally occurring solid mass or an aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. What makes rock is time, through time formations. It is always in its context, mother rock, and territory, since its metamorphism, sedimentation, volcanism, and during immemorial times.
Knappers know very well about the natural cleavage of the outcrop. Hence, to remove the core from the outcrop and finally target the core they, being opportunists, strike at the line of cleavage in the rock for successful breakage. These cleavages are natural lines that have existed since the formation of the outcrop.
A researcher’s eye in lithic science, knowing the true nature of the historic core, easily identifies why the hominid knapper flaked the core and where the flake and scars of it are. For the expert again, it is easy for the flakes to be put back and they are fitting.
Flake: is the removal of the core. Knappers did flaking to minimize the “coreness” of the core, to make a tool out of it, or to make the core itself fit for a predetermined purpose.
The action (hammer) and reaction (core)
At the very least, the force on the core equals the force on the hammer. In the law of action, the hammer strikes the core while the core is in its mother rock, nowhere but entangled with its earth. In the law of the reaction, the core, as a stationed matter with its potential energy, tries to resist the hard hammer´s hit. But its resilience depends either on the weakness of the hammer or the strength of the core.
Carefully looking at the Amhara and Tigray camps, in history and now, the former has been a knapper and hammer, the latter as a core. The authors staunchly believe that Tigray (the core) in history has been a victim of being decimated, and currently, the Amhara camp and its allies (hammers) are making Tigray debris where its mode of fracture should not be identified as restorable.
Tigray as the Core State in the Horn of Africa
Tigray is the core of civilizations in the Horn of Africa that have lived for more than 9,000 years, with elements of human organization. Humans in Tigray, through evolution and revolution, came from hunter-gatherer life, in which only nature dictates life, to agriculture, which requires a better revolution in mind and technology, some 9,000 years ago. Some 4000 years ago, Tigrayans became a society with specializations (e.g., artists, engineers, masons, potters, rulers, etc.) and then urbanism. Eventually, Tigray became one of the world’s four great powers during the Roman era. The current Tigray people are the continuity of this human line of civilization; they were (from then on, a society) made up of their statehood, calendar, letter/alphabet, geometry, musical lyric, governance, and territory. For the Tigrayans, the consciousness closer to a nation is perhaps as old as the formation of a politically organized society with clear state and national elements, some 4,000 years ago. Its people, as the cradle of multiple civilizations, aspire to a future of civilization in Ethiopia and the Horn. It paid an unfathomable price to ensure that the future of Ethiopia would be a nation for all nations.
The description of political anthropologist Kjetil Tronvoll (2022) is put as follows:
Tigray is seen by many as the cradle of Ethiopian civilization. It is the site of the ancient Aksum Kingdom [Empire], the predecessor state of what would become modern Ethiopia. Tigray thus has always been at the core of the evolving Ethiopian polity.
However, this ancient core has been subjected to decimation by its neighbor Amhara camp or traitors within Ethiopia. The Tigray we have now is 20% of the size it was before the 19th century when the decimation by Italy of Europe and Menelik II of Shoa began. It is true that the Tigray we have now is part of its ancient core even though it is a survivor of decimation and territorial flaking.
Historically, the main motive and destiny of the Amhara camp has been its power and empire, which is everything to it. To do that, it eliminates people, annexes territory, and sells territories and people. It better sells out its territory and people if it considers them a threat to its political parish and empire.
The stone tool knapping concept of hammer versus core explained above captures the logical natural reality of the clash.
The Amhara camp – the Hammer
Menelik II and his Italy
A camp known for its Amhara mold Ethiopian empire was formed in the 19th century. The Shoa political mind predates the modern empire, Ethiopia. It was that Shoa mold that was tried upon Ethiopia, and it appeared to shape a seamless (literally, without its people) nation by suppressing identities, assimilating ethnicities, and prohibiting the diversity of languages and religions, going as far as cultural cleansing and genocide. This camp has no system but has a rule by guns (neftegnnet); it is now trying to restore it (neo-neftegnnet).
The Amhara camp was a root cause (and knapper) for the flaking of Eritrea (then part of the core Tigray) to be an Italian colony. Menelik II deliberately bifurcated Tigrayans, because otherwise having to condense and sustain the power of his parish (while Tigray the ancient core is in the north) could not be realized. Menelik II knew and loved himself and his parish, Shoa. To consolidate and tighten his power grip in the new center, he had to do everything possible for him, mainly de-coring the de facto core nation, Tigray. It was a lifesaving and milestone advantage that he received thousands of pennies and armaments in return for the sale of Eritrea, which hitherto was de facto and de jure part of Tigray for 3000 years or immemorial times.
Menelik II’s project of flaking Eritrea from its Tigray substantively reduced not only the territorial size of Tigray (from primordial nation to suppressed province) but also its highness in the landscape of Africa and the world at large. With an exponential reduction, the emperor kept dismembering parts of western Tigray to his parish.
Later, after the sale of Eritrea, because Italy’s goal was not only Tigray´s Eritrea but also the rest of Ethiopia, Menelik II agreed to give Italy the rest of Tigray (which he called alwuha milash (አልዉሃ ምላሽ), in fact, the historical boundary of Tigray, which is now under the Amhara region.
Italy ecstatically helped him, as they agreed to mutually live together as two centers: Italy (Eritrea) and Menelik II (Shoa), by making their number one rival, Tigray, irrelevant. Eritrea was flaked, which worked in the will of both, especially the latter. Italy was a useful hammer, hitting Eritrea (meaning de-coring the core) into a new (non-Tigray) artifact. Gradually, Eritrea became a colonial artifact for more than half a century, an artefactization that formed two entities: Tigray and Eritrea.
Haileselassie I of Menelik II
Being outrageous at the first Weyane movement in Raya and Wejerat and public resistance in Tigray at large, Haile Selassie I of Menelik II tore apart larger Raya (Tigray’s south) and annexed it to its central parish in 1948 E.C. Tearing apart and flaking Tigray into provinces at any artificial lines was a response to silent resistance and neutralize the resistant and cohesive nation.
History and heritage as victims of decimation
All antecedents and descendants of the chauvinist camp followed the same continuum and were never happy that Tigray is an ancient entity with long-morphed territory, history, heritage, and values. History and heritage were the pillar fabrics of the core nation. Thus, they had to destroy or rewrite for them. This was clear during the campaigns of Menelik II and at worst scale in their current genocidal bid where history and heritage are cleansed.
Asmelash and Milash (´rist´ restorers and borders forgers)
As mentioned elsewhere, as the business as usual was weakening pre-existing national entities to strengthen the Amhara empire and center, the default lines for fracturing nations were mountains, rivers, and others. To bifurcate Tigray, Menelik II used mereb river to keep Italy away from Shoa only doing its job in Tigray (now Eritrea).
During the last 30 years, there was no stone unturned to fabricate a boundary called Tekezze River. However, since Menelik II times, such forged and deliberate lines have never been stuck to Tigrayan memories.
The flaked territories are re-fitting
For any neutral observer, it is known how Tigray before the setting of the flaking project of Menelik II was; where the flaked territories and the like scars in the ground are, where the organic parts of Tigray territories are. Scars are traceable in the artificially cut lines, and flaked territories annexed to Amhara are re-fitting as one tries to put them back to Tigray´s scars.
With regard to the territories and boundaries of the organic Tigray, the authors will make another piece of writing.
Constant and Uniformitarianism
Ethiopia has seen different regimes and some ideological changes. However, the Amhara chauvinist camp’s desire to rule Ethiopia as citizens and slaves has remained a continuity. Now is a bookmark impasse and one doesn’t need to go to school to learn the history of the chauvinist camp in its empire. The principle of uniformitarianism throws volume light, onto the foggy pasts of the camps:
´´the same laws and processes that operate in our present-day observations have always operated in the past´´ works out in many cases.
The two camps are now in their 19th-century anatomy, during the reigns of Menelik II of Shoa and Ras Alula Aba Nega of Tigray. Menelik II was a perfect absolutist, a primitive, and a butcher, and he was well-known for his many evil deeds against the existing Tigray. He was the same as his forefathers and predecessors in forging projects of allying with foreign enemies to decimate the ancient Tigray as well as applying a repressive and genocidal rule.
In contrast, Alula Aba Nega was the guardian of the true Tigray and the Red Sea; he is as much a hero as his ancestors, the Axumites, and their ancestors. He heroically represented the gallant Tigrayans.
The current chauvinist camp of Amhara, a relic of Menelik II, is a treasonous sect, again allied with foreign enemies (modern Italians) to eliminate Tigray. History repeats itself and one doesn’t need to flip a page in the history book to characterize who the treasonous (Amharic: Banda) and backstabber camp is.
As stated above in the core and hammer action-reaction metaphor, Tigray is the core and cannot be flaked by a hammer much weaker than it. In the law of action, it was natural for the chauvinist camp to strike Tigray, while Tigray is the core and entangled in its established wisdom of statehood and unity for a cause. In the law of reaction, Tigray, as a core, has a built-in resistance that is deeply rooted in its wisdom, experience, and overall civilization. The chauvinist Amhara camp in the already changed Ethiopia had no cause, policy, legitimacy, or constituency, therefore, could not decimate the cohesive and clear-cause-Tigray. It became no option that the law dictated adding hammers to linearly increase hitting forces. Thus, it has invited foreign countries from near and far, which is right in terms of the camp’s history and goal, which we are trying to prove here.
To crush the tough core (resilient but made ready for decimation and reduction), the hammer must be tougher otherwise, the hammer (which’s sole role is to hit hard) itself shatters first.
UNFORTUNATE, Asmara as a modern hammer
The Eritrean regime then appeared to be the best ally in its craving to crush Tigray. This means that Eysayas`s regime replaced the role of the old hammer-Italy, which flaked Eritrea under the license of the chauvinist camp. The Eritrean camp is an entity that jilted its ancient national identity and denies umbilical cords the people of Eritrea and Tigray developed in 99.9% of their fraternal history. The project, with the goal of decimating the core and making it irrelevant to ensure the sole existence of both camps, is active.
Esayas Afewerki of Eritrea than Abiy Ahmed of chauvinist Amhara knows more about Ethiopia’s diseases, traumas and medications as well. Eritrea’s camp to put Ethiopia into a civil war and bloodshed, analogous to the opportunistic theory of knappers, struck at cleavages and has worked perfectly.
Summary: Characterization of the Amhara Political Polity
Both historically and ontologically, the Amhara political polity is in practice an invasive, invading, and xenophobic; treasonous, traitor, and backstabber; a thief of history and glory; a cultural and lingual predator; and a chauvinist polity.
Invasive, invader, and xenophobic
It is as invasive as the eucalyptus tree. The tree can be considered a colonial or introduced one that people plant in pre-existing yards or meadows. It doesn’t allow other plants to exist around it by making springs dry and siege other plants under no sunlight or oxygen. Similarly, the Amhara camp doesn’t allow others to exist; it hunts their cultures and halts their very human and societal existence.
It also expands its territorial coverage of invasions as the English Ivy Tree, which is an aggressive-spreading vine that slowly kills trees by restricting light. It continuously invades others’ territory, like what it is currently doing, penetrating Tigray, Gumuz, and Oromia areas. It pushes out the settlers or kills them massively. It has a mercilessly expansionist and aggressive political psychosis.
Treasonous, traitor, and backstabber
The Amhara political polity is also a bandit political polity in that it trades and profits in the name of Ethiopianism and commits treasonous acts as a traitor when Ethiopianism doesn’t feel it is profiting disproportionately. A drop out of the ocean, taking the GERD’s realization in 2011, the camp was saying Egypt or any foreign enemy must stop and destroy the dam. It was simply because Weyane (TPLF) was making a glorious history.
In times of internal strife in Ethiopia, it assumes the sole role of a traitor (Amharic: Banda). It is known for inviting external powers and allying with foreign enemies at the expense of internal power struggles. We see it now.
Thief of history and glory
It is also a thief in that it steals others’ history, like how it tried stealing the history of Tigrayans in crafting the alphabet, developing the Yared Lyrics, the bravery of Alula in the battle of Adwa, crafting the current Calendar, and so on. If it cannot steal these and other treasures, it tries destroying them so they do not appear in memory. One doesn’t need to go deep into the past. An example is the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)’s glorious history. Current higher officials in the camp have left no stone unturned to rewrite the glorious history of this grand dam.
Cultural and lingual predator
It is a cultural and lingual predator. Language policy in Ethiopia under Haileselassie, for example, prevented the development of written forms of any Ethiopian language other than Amharic, just like in Spain during the Inquisition, gypsies who were found guilty of speaking their own language had their tongues cut out. Often, it went as far as cultural cleansing in the bid for “Nation Building” in Ethiopia. It is nation-destroying in the name of nation-building. Its cultural invasiveness is also characterized by the imposition of its predatory culture and language on the rest of the population. The camp in the continuum has made its language not only an official language but also a lingua-franca that has indirectly assimilated nations and nationalities.
The Amhara political polity is also a very chauvinist polity in that it propagates the idea of superiority over others, baselessly. It steals others’ history (many times Tigrayan histories) and uses that stolen history to oppress others as slaves or minors. It has a dichotomous mind that civilized itself is civilizing the others who classify them as backward Ethiopians. It is this camp that gave pejorative and derogatory names to nations: Shankila to Gumuz; Agame to Tigray; Galla to Oromo; shirtam to Afar; welamo to Wolayita; almost every nation is named.
It divides the empire into three layers based on importance: the core (as it dreams, the Amhara and its main city bases in the center), the second layer used for agricultural exploitations, and the third layer used as a buffer zone in defending external aggressors.
Featured image: Map 1 map of 19th Century proving Welkait as part of the Tigray, before the decimation (source: Jan Nyssen, 2022)