Amhara vs Amharic
By Kia Tila
What does Amhara mean? Does it truly represent a certain earlier ethnic group of Ethiopia or a recent phenomenon? How and when the term began being used?
As I tried to state in my previous writing, Ethiopia belonged to Cush people and their city was Aksum. We can justify the argument by presenting the cronicles of King Fentale and his empire. He was ruling the entire east Africa and his official language was Oromigna.
Some say that the semetic people came from Yemen through Babel Mendeb bringing the civilization with them to discredit the early civilization of cush people. But the Ethiopian history that was being taught at Adiss Ababa University by Dr. Mereid Nigussie elucidated that the semetic people came to Aksum in search of good opportunity rather than bringing civilization. The influx of people coming to Akusm during that time was similar to the immigration of people to the current Washington DC, London etc. Then, the immigrants were Arabs and Jews, but now they are from different kind of races.
The current Amhara people were formed in a completely different conditions than the facts stated above. I will try to give two perceptions regarding the conception of Amhara.
King Negash introduced the second religious thought around 638 AD by allowing the newly arrived Arabs to live and practice their religion. The first religion of the country was Christianity which was introduced during King Ezana around 335 AD. The introduction of Islam into Ethiopia compelled the Christians to refer themselves as Amhara which means Christian while the followers of islamic religion began referring themselves as Muslim. Before the introduction of both religions, the rulers of the country were practicing Waqefeta or Orit.
The people who were very close to the king’s Palace were Christian and they were referring themselves as Amhara and that was why Ethiopia has been refered as a chrstian country. In a period that was not clearly given, there was a strong belief that It became crucial to the kings to use a diferent language for military purpose and the kings named this newly introduced military language Amharic after the emperial religious belief, Amhara.
During the invasion of Yodit Gudit around 940 AD, the Amharic language developed and became a widely spoken language among the military personnel. The king who was ruling at the time of Yodit’s invasion, King Anbesaw, fled to the mountains region of Shoa to escape from Yodit’s annihilation. He made his seat around Ancober and began ruling the some regions. He and his successors were using the ports of Zaila and Barbara which are now located in the current northern Somalie Land rather than Adolis.
The kings had no well organized financial system similar to the current one to pay salary to their solders and the solders’ lively hood was based on the land that was given to them by the kings. The soldiers settled on their given land and managed their families by the income they derived from their land. This settlement of the solders gave their families an opportunity to learn the former military language and began using it in their daily life.
In addition, those people who were close to emperial Palace began using the military language more commonly and this usage of the language by the government people attracted odrinary people to learn and use the language of their government. Eventually, the language became official government language in 1245.
That was why the people living in neighborhood of Ancober like Menz, Yifat, etc became Amharic speakers, but the people were originally Cush. Then, with the rise of Yeju dynasty, the Amharic language changed into Oromic language until the reign of Aste Tewodros. During this time, Gojame and Gonder were called Bege Midir. Bege Midir means, ye Beja hager which means the region of Bejas. The Bejas were Cush and they are now calling themselves Amhara because, their language and culture had been gradually transformed into different one than they had before and this is denial of one’s true identity for me. The people of Raya are Oromos, but the new generation whose age is below 25 years speak Tigrigna and after 50 years, they all speak Tigrigna but the language they speak does not determine what their background was.
No matter how our languages or ways of lifes transformed from one to another, we all believe deep down inside that we all are the descendants of Cush including Tigrians who truly have Arabs blood. On the contrary, I did not find any scholar who can justify with unrefutable evidence that the people currently calling themselves Amhara are Amharas, by showing how and when they originated, where they lived primarily and reasons of their expansion. The history of the ethnic people referring themselves as Amhara is a current phenomenon and I could not find any justification from any independent foreign writers as well. Moreovere, it has been used as an instrument of a political game by the TPLF defacto Stationary Bandit currently.
My dear Ethiopian citizens, I do not want to tell you that we are born to servive in the world of full of danger and hardship. We dream possible dreams and make them real through cooperation and that way we shape our destiny, in the stragle to attain them. That way, a new futrue is born.
For some, commitment is like faith, a chosen devotion to something else, what an intangible idea. But for Oromos, a commitment has a shadow side, a darker drive that constantly asks a question and how far they are willing to go. If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything appears to a man as it is infinite. In reality, our perception is often clouded by our expectations or experiences.
We are all the descendants of Cush and brothers. We need to get out of our perception and be prepared to confront the truth. It is not what we think what matters, it is what we see. Different kinds of threats are evolving under different rules and it is not an opption to walk away from this call. We need to stand up together to denfed and maintain our shared values.