“I can not celebrate the victory of Adwa” ‼️
Exactly a year ago today, I was on a tour of historical Ethiopia with my dear college friends from the US and we stood gazing on this plain betwn Axum and Adwa as I proudly explained to them how brave Ethiopians had resoundingly defeated foreign aggressors in this very spot. A battle fought by Ethiopians of all origins, together. Today, I grieve for what we have become. I do not celebrate.
My paternal grandfather Fitawrari Gabremadhin Gedle of Bulga, Shoa, was a warrior who fought alongside Emperor Menelik II in consolidating Wolaita kingdom in the late 1890s. My uncle Bejirond Tadesse Gabremadhin of Soddo was a brave Arbegna who resisted the 1930s Italian invasion. As also did my incredible maternal great-grandmother Emahoy Saba Yifat of Menz.
So fighting for, and loving, Ethiopia is in my DNA, the core of my being. And my parents proudly named me Eleni after Queen Eleni of Gondar who fought off the Portuguese invaders for 14 years in the 1500s.
But, today, I grieve for my Ethiopia. Because we are all Ethiopians.
I do not have to be Tigrayan to mourn loss of Tigrayan life.
I do not have to be Amhara to mourn loss of Amhara life.
I do not have to be Gumuz to mourse loss of Gumuz life.
I do not have to be Oromo to mourn loss of Oromo life.
I simply have to be Ethiopian.
I simply have to be human.
So today, I cannot celebrate.