Ethiopia: The Cry is Bigger than for A Dead Billy Goat!

(Mohamed Olad)

I was watching a recent viral video clip in which Abdi Mohamud Omar, the Somali Regional State President, was retelling a legendary Somali story in a briefing to members of Jig-Jiga University staff that puts the current national issues in to their proper context.

As legend has it, two village youngsters secretly wed. Unfortunately, before they go public and notify their respective parents and the community, the young lad died in some sort of an accident in a bizarre twist of events.

The young lady found herself in an awkward situation as she cannot publicly and openly grief for this tragic loss of hers. If she does so, she will be accused of more sinister crimes that have dire consequences both socially and spiritually. Then, her younger brother who was attending to the family herd fort that day broke the sad news that he lost a billy goat to fox attack.

She then started crying hysterically for the lost billy goat. As the father came by and observed the situation, he wondered how she was deeply troubled about the killing of the billy goat and said ‘barroor tu orgi ga ka weyne’ in Somali which roughly translates to as ‘this cry is bigger than for a dead billy goat’. So, why don’t you tell me what the real deal is about, daughter!

Photo – Ethiopian Somali women with Ethiopian federal flag

So, to come back to the point, when you look at the all the arguments, the allegations and the different point of views espoused by the current active opposition forces both home and abroad, from the self-described Patriotic Ginbot 7 to the secessionist Oromo Liberation Front (OLF); about the alleged control of TPLF over other EPRDF member parties, or the skewering of resources to Tigray Region or the unparalleled access to economic opportunity  of Tigrayans, or how Oromiffa should be the national language or the supposed dissatisfaction with some master plan by some-agency-somewhere, it is  clear that the ‘cry is more than for a dead billy goat’. It gets clear though when you dissect the nuances of their messages and strategies as well as the activities they promote.

The reason I am saying this is that all the genuine calls for reform and many more countless legitimate grievances by the people can be addressed without resorting to violence, massive civil strife or the of loss of life and destruction of property. All this and more serious matters can be addressed in a constructive dialogue and civil engagement.

One of the many go-to lines for simplistic arguments by these opposition forces which is to my believe, a façade for their real sinister plot, is that the there is no political space to channel their grievances in which no way I am defending its adequacy. Then, there is a giant hole poked in their logic when they suggest that the current system should be crumpled to create and new political space. This is a very simplistic and dangerous characterization of how to approach things of this significance.

In fact, it ignores the possibility that the current space can be expanded to address the genuine need for progress and the ultimate achievement towards open society with all the democratic virtues that comes with it.

To be blunt, the real plot is to reverse the current federal system, fold the current constitution and impose a uniform, unitary, centralized government structure that is not adequately equipped to address the ethnic, cultural and linguistic differences of all Ethiopian Nations Nationalities and Peoples’. Unfortunately, this disregards the fact that it is the first time the concept of being an Ethiopian is by one’s conscious choice rather than something imposed up-on people.

Photo – Mohamed Olad

It is also true that we live in a time where there is the highest expressed positive sentiment for being an Ethiopian. There is national awakening going on every corner of this country in which people are really proud to claim their Ethiopian heritage and identity they chose on their conscious state of mind, thanks to the sustained peace, appreciation for diversity, overall development and expansion of economic opportunity as well as some landmark projects like the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that galvanized a new sense of ownership and patriotism.

Unfortunately, what will others want you to believe is that there is impending disintegration and threat to national unity and cohesion. Well, for those people, the recent massive demonstration in Jig-Jiga City and across North America and Europe by the Ethiopian Somali diaspora in defense of federalism and unity is an answer for them. Don’t look too far for this new sense of ownership, solidarity and patriotism, ask a Somali Ethiopian!


Editor’s Note: Mohamed Olad is the Managing Editor of He was a former cademic staff and faculty fellow at Jigjiga University. He can be reached at

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  • በደርግ ግዜ 14 ክፍለ ሀገራት ነበሩ እነዚህም
    1. ኤርትራ ክ/ሀገር …..ዋና ከተማ አሥመራ
    2. ትግራይ ክ/ሀገር…..ዋና ከተማ መቀሌ
    3. ቤጌምድር (ኋላ ደርግ በ1980 መዠመሪያ አካባቢ) ወደ ጎንደር ቀየረዉ…….ጎንደር
    4. ወሎ ክ/ሀገር…..ደሴ
    5. ጎጃም ክ/ሀገር….ባህር ዳር
    6. ወለጋ ክ/ሀገር….ነቀምቴ
    7. ሸዋ ክፍለ ሀገር……..ዋና ከተማ አዲስ አበባ
    8. ሀረርጌ ክፍለ ሀገር….. ዋና ከተማ ሀረር
    9. ሲዳሞ ክ/ሀገር …….ዋና ከተማ አዋሣ
    10. አርሲ ክ/ ሀገር……ዋና ከተማ አሰላ
    11. ባሌ ክ/ሀገር …..ዋና ከተማ ጎባ
    12. ጋሞጎፈ ክ/ሀገር…..ዋና ከተማ አርባ ምንጭ
    13. ከፋ ክ/ሀገር ……ዋና ከተማ ጅማ
    14. ኢሉባቦር ክ/ሀገር….ዋና ከተማ መቱ

    • ኤርትራ ተገነጠለች ሀገር ሆነች ብር ሣይሆን ናቅፋን አማርኛ ሣይሆን ትግረኛና አረብኛን ብሄራዊ ቋንቋ በማድረግ በራሷ ባንድራ አዲስ አፍሪካዊት ሀገር ሆነች
    • የቀሩት አስራ ሦስቱ በዘጠኝ ብሄርን መሠረት በደረገ ክልሎች ተዋቀሩ፡፡
    o በዚህ ዉስጥ 10 ቁጥር ላይ ከለዉ አርሲ ክፍለ ሀገር ሌሎቹ በሁለትና ከዚያ በላይ ክልሉች ተከፋፈሉ፡፡ ቀድመዉን በቆዳ ስፋታቸዉ ትልቅ ና በብሄር ስብጠራቸዉ ብዛሃነት የሚታይባቸዉ እንደ ሸዋ፣ሀረርጌ፣ ሲደሞ ክፍለ ሀገር የዚህ መገለጫዎች ናቸዉ፡፡
    ሸዋ ክፍለ ሀገር
    1. ኦሮሚያ፡- ሰሜን ሸዋ-ሰላሌ(ፊቼ)፣ምሥራቅ ሸዋ (አዳማ)፣ ደቡብ ምዕራብ ሸዋ (ወሊሶ)፣ምዕራብ ሸዋ (አምቦ)፣ፊንፊኔ ዙሪያ ዞን (ፊንፊኔ) ፣ አዲስ አበባ (ፊንፊኔ) እዘህ መሃል ነዉ ያለችዉ) ምዕራብ አርሲ (አርሲ ነጌሌ፣ሻሸመኔ ና ዙሪያዋ፣ ሻላ፣ሲራሮ)
    2. ደቡብ ብ/ቤ/ብ ክልል፡- ጉራጌ (ወልቅጤ)፣ ስልጤ (ወራቤ)፣ ሀዲያ (ሆሣዒና)፣ከምባታ ና አላባ
    3. አማራ፡- ሰሜን ሸዋ (ደብረ ብርሃን)
    4. አፋር፡ ዞን-3
    The current regions vs former provinces because of the nature of formation
    1. The state of Tigray: Mainly formed from former Tigray province+wolkayit awraja from Gonder+Raya azebo from wollo
    2. The state of Afar: Mainly formed from former Harargie and Wollo provinces, +pocket areas from Tigray and Shawa provinces because of nature of new formation of the state.
    3. The state of Amhara: Principally formed former Begemidir (Gonder),Gojam and wollo provinces + pocket area of shoa as it is seen above North shoa (Debera birhan).
    4. The state of Oromia: Mainly formed former Shawa, Harargeh, Arsi,Wollega, Iluabbor,Bale, Kafa (the current Jimma zone) provinces and also Sidamo (the current Gujji and Borena zone).
    5. The state of Somalie: Mainly formed from Hararge (Ogaden area), Bale (Elkare area) and small part of sidamo (Liban zone).
    6. The of Benishangul/Gumuz: the areas cut away from Wollega and Gojjam, The region is said to be formed by five native ethnic groups but the proportion of the sum of Oromo and Amhara close 60%
    7. The state of SNNRP: Principally formed from former Sidamo (Sidama, Wolaita and Gedeo zones ), Shawa (Gurage,Silte,kambata and Hadia zones alaba woreda), Gamogofa small parts of Kafa and Iluabbor provinces of the former regime.
    8. The state of Gambella: One sub-province of former Ilubabor kiflehager (mattu or Gore)
    9. The state of Harari: principally Harar town +18 rural kebeles Harar town is considered the second religious center of Islamic world next to Mekkah. Hararis are only 8% percent of the total population of Harari region but jointly administer with Oromos (around 70%)
    So where is the demand of Gondere about wolkait? If it is because of administration system Humera was under should be under new system, the formulae doesn’t work and groundless but it is possible to oppose ethnic federalism-it is this administration system that annexed to Tigray. Tigray also given land to Afar, Iluabbabor to Gambella so what? So it is good to be reasonable.
    Federalism in its general form, it is not bad, countries like America, Canada, Australia and Europe have adopted and proved its relevance. Even it is the pills now proposal on progress for the countries in crisis like Iraq, Syria etc. In Ethiopia also the constitution is well written but the real application still requires a lot of work and improvement. Federalism is not top down but bottom up, decentralization, taxonomy, identity, autonomy etc

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