headlines on Politics and Current Affairs in Ethiopia Walleligne, thus called for the dismantling and replacement of this “fake [Ethiopian] nationalism” with a “genuine Nationalist Socialist State” that he argued could only be achieved “through violence [and,] through revolutionary armed struggle”. To be sure, Walleligne did not see “secession” as an end in and of itself; nonetheless, he propagated it as a means to building the future egalitarian Ethiopian state, with the caveat that such secession should be rooted in and guided by “progressivism” and “Socialist internationalism”.
He closed his essay with what may be considered prophetic: “A regime [Haile Selassie’s government] like ours harassed from corners is bound to collapse in a relatively short period of time. But when the degree of consciousness of the various nationalities is at different levels, it is not only the right, but the duty, of the most conscious nationality to first liberate itself and then assist in the struggle for total liberation.” Haile Selassie’s government did collapse in 1974.
That movement, spearheaded by the intelligentsia as it were, was hijacked by the Dergue – a collective of disgruntled low-ranking military officers in the imperial army – that not only succeeded in overthrowing Haile Selassie’s government, but also in ruling Ethiopia with an iron-fist for the next 17 years. But, the political and armed struggle for “liberation” continued.
It was in this atmosphere of radicalization of the intellectual-elite class that discourses like “liberation” and the “oppressor-oppressed” took hold in the Ethiopian body politic and a plethora of liberation fronts mushroomed: the Eritrean Peoples’ Liberation Front (EPLF, 1962)—that succeeded in seceding Eritrea from Ethiopia in 1991—the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF, 1966), and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF, 1975) to name but the most important ones. Dergue’s 17 years in power was marred by the bloodiest times in Ethiopian modern history, the Red Terror, and a border war with Somalia (1977—1978) and, more importantly, the protracted civil wars with TPLF, EPLF and OLF.
” However, this reality, according to him, was suppressed by the ruling class. Instead, a “fake Ethiopian nationalism” that is based on the linguistic and cultural superiority of the Amhara and, to a certain extent, the Amhara-Tigre, was imposed on the other peoples of Ethiopia, resulting in asymmetrical relations among the “nations” of Ethiopia. Therefore, according to Walleligne, the Ethiopian state came to be through the linguistic and cultural assimilation of the peoples of the wider South by the North—the Amhara and their junior-partner-in-assimilation, the Tigre. And, that this project of constructing Ethiopia was aided by the trinity of (the Amharic) language, (Amhara-Tigre) culture and religion (the Ethiopian Orthodox Church). He was, of course, echoing arguments Stalin, and others made about nations, nationalism and self-determination. Stalin, for example, lays out his thesis in , as does Rosa in.