Formed Ethiopian Democratic Party Leader Ledetu Speech on Federalism By in large, the Ethiopian spirit has been an occasional occurrence since the last regime change in 1991 than a distinguishable landmark of the nation, as was the case before that. The unexpected border war of the 2001 fought between Ethiopia and Eritrea was a turning point in the revival of the ‘Ethiopian spirit’. This was followed by the impact of the historic but tragic National Election in 2005, which, although not widely recognized, had reinforced the momentum of national solidarity when armed state forces gunned down close to 200 protestors in the streets of Addis Ababa. Apparently, the lesson for the ruling EPRDF from its poor performance in that election appeared to be its weak focus over the wider Ethiopian agenda. Thus, in latter years the government shifted its focus along that line. The Ethiopian Millennium of September 2007 – marked in an extraordinary way – was an apparent attempt to reaffirm to the public this implicit shift in practice, if not in policy
However, in the course of Ethiopian history this never-dying spirit has seen its own twists and turns. One such period of time that it has plummeted to a historical low-level was during the fury of revolutionary transition in 1991 from the socialist Derg regime to the ruling Ethiopian People’s Democratic Front (EPRDF) led government during which Ethiopians were believed to have been caught up in a deep identity crisis due to a resurgence of ethnic sentiment. At this juncture, displaying any sort of nationalist sentiment was often decried as a mark of ‘chauvinistic tendency’.
In the meantime, two contestant ideological groups, roughly identified as the central characters, were formed: the inherited Ethiopian nationalist identity, and the current hegemonic ethnic-centered identity. Evidently, these contending groups diverged diametrically in such basic issues as the account of Ethiopian history, the conception of ‘proper identity per se’ and the government best suited to the Ethiopian situation among others.
Besides the political struggle, cultural or symbolic contests have turned out to be another major field of strife between these two contending groups. In this regard, the inherited nationalist protagonists reflected their deep commitment for the past national identity through, for example, flying the old plain tri-color national flag on important occasions, featuring sentimental artistic activities, mainly through music that rekindle nationalist sentiment such as Ethiopia’s pop sensation Tewdros Kassahun, a.k.a Tedi Afro’s various songs, and upholding the passionate slogan ‘Long live Ethiopia