Part IV. The Future of Oromo/Kush and Abyssinia
VF: You have put forward two solutions for Ethiopia that seem to conflict with each other. In one instance, you seem to suggest two states: Kushitic/Oromo/Ethiopian and Semitic/Amhara/Abyssinian states. In another instance, you seem to suggest that the present day Ethiopia should adopt the name Abyssinia from Oromo to Tigray. If the present day Ethiopia changes its name to Abyssinia, should everyone else be called by the name that represents only the minority, the Habashas? Isn’t the inclusion of Oromos in Abyssinia a mistake?
Prof: You refer to my article Kushitic Oromo Ethiopia and Semitic Amhara Abyssinia! There I stressed that it is historically erroneous and politically misleading for the Amhara – Tigray ruled country to change its real name, Abyssinia, and pretend to be called by a name like Ethiopia that is totally irrelevant to these two peoples, who descend from the ancient Axumite Abyssinians, who in turn are the offspring of one Ancient Yemenite (so please, do not confuse, they are non-Arabic) tribe that we first attested on Ancient Yemenite epigraphic documentation. We know of course that for the needs of his royal propaganda the invader of Ethiopia, which is present day Sudan, king Ezana of Axumite Abyssinia called himself ‘King of Ethiopia’, and he truly ruled the southern part of Ethiopia, all that area of the Butana desert of Sudan that the Ancient Greeks and Romans were calling Insula Meroe, island Meroe, since surrounded by Atbara, the United Nile, the Blue Nile and lake Tana. The Abyssinian control did not reach Ptolemais Theron, present day Suakin, the Ptolemaic and later Roman colony at the Sudanese Red Sea coast; it did not reach either the flow of the Blue Nile or even lake Tana itself, although the lake was not far from the Axumite borders. Last but not least, Ezana’s control did not reach further in the north, the old Kushitic capital of Napata (present day Karima), let alone Meroitic territories further in the north, Dongola, Kerma and the 3rd and 2nd cataracts’ area. A few successors to Ezana may have kept their control on that part of Ethiopia, but after the end of the 5th century and the rise of the three Christian states in Sudan, Nobatia, Makkuria, and Alodia, the Axumite kingdom of Abyssinia did not control any area on the present day soil of Sudan, or if you want, did not control any area belonging to the ancient Meroitic kingdom of Ethiopia. Consequently, they had – already by that time – lost any legitimacy to the name of ‘Ethiopia’; we know of course that the kings of Axum kept using it among their royal titles but this propaganda was related to the Christianization of their state. The use of the name ‘Ethiopia’ they were making was of Biblical dimensions, since according to their erroneous and falsified interpretations the christening of Abyssinia was prophesized long ago by means of the Biblical verse stating that Kush (and in the Greek translation of the Alexandrian 70 Elders ‘Ethiopia’) will extend its hand to the Lord.
Of course, all this is just medieval non-sense! You cannot make ‘use’ of a verse stating that another country will accept a faith, and pretend that this verse refers to you because you accepted that faith, whereas the other country did not! Either you invade it or not, you prove nothing! Whereas it is evident that there were political reasons, an ideological – theological dimension cannot be denied to that attack of Ezana. But it is a childish attempt to vindicate the Biblical prophecy for Axum. For both the Old Testament and the New Testament, Axumite Abyssinia just does not exist! The Biblical verse refers to Ethiopia, that is Sudan, and can refer to the formation of the three Christian states of Sudan, or to the later acceptance of Islam by the Kushite Ethiopians, or to something that has not happened; all these possible interpretations are of course for those who do not accept what is historically correct that the verse refers to its own historical environment, and to developments much earlier than the Christianization or the Islamization of Ethiopia.
As you know, the term has always been – throughout the Abyssinian Dark Ages – a shadowy reference to the deeds of Ezana and to the Abyssinian interpretation of the Biblical verse. But from the beginning of the Modern Colonial times, the tiny kingdom of Abyssinia that was limited in its small Amhara territory because of the Islamic Ottoman control of the Red Sea coasts became the object of Western academic Orientalist research and, in parallel, the stake of the colonial involvement and manipulation. Abyssinia could be useful – if properly manipulated – to two visions of colonial Africa that were fighting against one another, and at the same time they were cooperating in kicking the Ottoman Empire out of its vast possessions in the continent (no less than 7 million square kilometer of African soil belonged to the Ottoman Empire at the eve of Napoleon’s disembarking at Abukir – Alexandria), and in preventing other powers, mostly Germany and Italy, from getting sizable portions of the African cake!
The two visions were the horizontal and the vertical ones, or if you want the alignment with the parallels or the placement on the meridian’s way. The former expresses the French approach that Africa (or most of it) can be unified under Colonial rule through an expansion from the West to the East, from Mauritania and Senegal to Sudan, and from Congo to Somalia. The opposite, British, way insisted in proving that the easiest colonial control of Africa can be assured by means of a South to North axis. Finally, the British were successful in controlling an uninterrupted territory from South Africa to Alexandria. And the French, who failed to reach uninterruptedly from the Atlantic coast to the Red Sea coast or to the Eastern African coast (Djibouti and Madagascar have no land connection with the other French African dominions in Africa), were successful in controlling the major part of Africa. But the two colonial axes’ conflict was terrible. The British had to do all they could to stop French short of reaching the Eastern African coast. It was a very long project and fight; it lasted an entire century. The French were slowly advancing from the West, and they had the upper hand in Egypt. Facing an 1870 defeated France (by the Prussian army), England had still difficulties to prevail over the French in Egypt before 1882. What you see in today’s Darfur is the continuation of problems ensuing from the serious Fashoda event (19/9/1898) between the French Major J.B. Marchand and the British Lord Kitchener that brought France and England to the brink of war, just six years before they managed to set up the Entente Cordiale.
Envisioning expansion and anticipating developments, the British contacted the Abyssinian kingdom in the middle of the 19th century and attempted to convince the powerless, underdeveloped, uneducated, and isolated ruling class of Abyssinia about the importance of expansion, exploits and neighboring lands’ annexation that would permit – supposedly – the refractory court of the obscurantist kingdom to obtain power. At that moment everything was at stake, and one could not know what would come next. For the British it would be far better that the small kingdom expanded towards the south of present day Abyssinia at a moment they had not yet achieved the establishment of their ‘meridian’ axis, and they were worried because of French successes. The French could have reached – from Congo and Central Africa – the South of Sudan and from there the south of present day Abyssinia. At a later stage they would be able to vanquish the inexperienced soldiers of the old fashioned African monarchy, reducing the British vertical vision to ashes. Abyssinian expansion to the Oromo and the Ogaden lands was the work of subtle British diplomacy.
There was another trap for the 19th and the 20th century Abyssinian kings, and then fell even more easily there. French and other European scholars were visiting all these parts of Africa either as missionaries and political agents or as pioneers and decipherers. Not much time had passed until they were able to read Gueze manuscripts and to understand them better than the ignorant and uneducated monks of Abyssinia whose readings in Gueze literature were limited, derisory and contemptible. Even today the situation did not turn better! The authoritative Catholic Encyclopedia states the following about them (entry Abyssinia): ‘The oldest translation of the Bible into Ethiopian dates from the fourth century, having been made in Gheez. Pell, Platt, and Dillman have edited some of the manuscripts in London and Leipzig, but the majority remain untouched, in convents of Abyssinian monks. The present clergy are buried in a state of deplorable ignorance. Little is required of secular priests beyond the ability to read and to recite the Nicene creed, and a knowledge of the most necessary liturgical rites. The monks in their numerous convents receive an education somewhat more complete, and occasionally there are found among them men versed in sacred hermeneutics, who can recite by heart the entire Bible’.
The second trap concerns precisely the introduction by the Abyssinian authorities of the name of ‘Ethiopia’, and this has to do a lot with the French ideological and cultural plans for the entire Middle East. French, Italian, and other scholars convinced the various successive ‘Negus’ and political rulers to obliterate the name of Abyssinia and to introduce the name of Ethiopia. This would serve a multifold colonial purpose that the ignorant and naïve political class of Abyssinia could never imagine.
First of all, it would engulf Abyssinia deep into the marshes of stagnation and underdevelopment on permanent basis because lack of authenticity and cultural – national confusion is a very seminal issue. Never a country with confused identity can access important understanding, historical – political knowledge, real emancipation. This trickery would keep Abyssinia permanently as a devoted member of the Third World; truly speaking, it made of it a member of the Fourth World, i.e. the abode of starvation, pestilence and contamination. It ensured that never Abyssinian intellectuals would attempt to reassess their Axum and Gondar past through modern viewpoints in order to setup a new, genuinely modern and humanist, but also authentically Axumite Abyssinian vision of the World.
Abyssinian pretensions to the name of Ethiopia would in addition have an impact on part of the Middle East that concerned France – and consequently England, Germany, Russia, and later the USA – much more than marginal and peripheral Gondar! I refer to the area of the Arabic speaking peoples, from Morocco to Iraq, a vast area that was met with the very negative developments the French and British colonialism provoked. To extirpate illegally all these lands from their legitimate and wholeheartedly accepted ruler, the Sultan and Caliph of the Ottoman Empire, France diffused gradually a nationalist idea that was completely rejected by the local people initially: the Pan-Arabism. This falsehood was a fabricated bogus version of History that would make of the Arabic speaking peoples a nation, and would bestow upon them unbelievably exaggerated promises for wealth, development and power. By forming the elite, the French created a dynamics that was stimulated by agents, who were diffusing unprecedented hatred and confusion about the non Arabic identity of the Arabic speaking Muslims. To drive the Arabic speaking populations to advanced levels of ignorance, and be therefore able to manipulate them at will against their own interests, and their own countries, which were under the Ottoman Empire, France needed to keep them far from any serious consideration, study, and research, let alone reassessment and comprehensive use of their pre-Islamic and pre-Christian past.
Look the difference in the French colonial interference: whereas in Greece, all the intellectuals, academia, politicians and even average men were keen to learn – if they did not know – Ancient Greek, and delve into what was said to be their own past, in Egypt the first Egyptian to study, learn and be able to read Egyptian Hieroglyphics appeared no less than 100 years after the decipherment of Egyptian Hieroglyphics by Champollion! Ever since, the situation turned even worse with the Greek secondary schools offering – obligatory to all – courses of Ancient Greek, and the Egyptian miserable intellectual and academic bogus-elite daring not to introduce - even for one year - the study of Egyptian Hieroglyphics in the Egyptian Secondary education, although there are people who studied Egyptology in the University of Cairo, and they could teach.
Similar ignorance about the pre-Islamic and the pre-Christian past reigns elsewhere: in Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, etc. Why this is necessary for the colonial plans of France and England you can see relatively easily. Greece was to become part of Europe, whereas Egypt should be kept at a low level country from where colonial powers would only extract materials. Development is necessary in Europe, not in the colonized periphery. Of course, the promoting power of the Islamic radicalism, fanaticism, extremism has been France, and Europe in general. By doing their best to keep the populations of the Arabic speaking countries far from their own past (Phoenician, Aramaic, Babylonian, Egyptian, Meroitic-Ethiopian, Carthaginian and Berberic) at a moment Islam was already misinterpreted, misunderstood and ultimately lost, France and England pushed these countries to Islamic terrorism. Of course, it should be viewed as a very big plan, not something to be carried out in a year or a decade. They even intended to use Islamic terrorism against America; they already did so three years ago. In a way it is colonial France that prepared the minds and the hands of these suicide pilots of September 11th. The Anti-Americanism that Europe still generates, when intermingling with the dark ignorance and the hysteric hatred that have been well prepared for 200 years, can create an uncontainable explosive material that the Mankind will need many decades to overcome.
Then you understand that Sudan as a new country, with a past of just 48 years of independence, should not be left with any chance to be attracted by its Antiquities that were partly stolen by the bogus-academia of France, Prussia, England and other countries. The robbery of Lepsius, who transported in the 1840s colossal statues from Karima to Berlin must be denounced, and the majestic Kushitic monuments must return back to Napata, the capital of Taharqa.
Look now, for Egypt the colonial powers started their perverted work early. For the rest (from Morocco to Iraq), they had the time to advance the bogus-theory of Pan-Arabism, terribly oppressing and tyrannizing the non Arabic-speaking minorities, Berbers (in Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Mauritania), Copts and Nubians (in Egypt) and Aramaeans (in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the Emirates), who are the absolute ethnic (but not linguistic) majority of all these countries. On the other hand, Sudan was so clearly unrelated to anything Arabic that the colonial powers would have extreme difficulty to divert the natural interest towards one’s past. That is why they kept Egyptians there to diffuse confusion and ignorance, along with the vulgar amalgam of Arabic nationalism and Islamic religious fanaticism, and that is why they did not wish to have the name ‘Ethiopia’ accessible for the Sudanese! It would create a dangerous challenge to the disastrous colonial plan of pulling Sudan to the backward and disastrous falsehood of Pan-Arabism.
At the end, the use of the name ‘Ethiopia’ by Abyssinia would create the oxymoron of the Abyssinians imposing their minority culture in the country they tyrannize, and at the same time imposing as theirs the name of a large part of the oppressed people, the Oromo and the Sidama. This can create only a disaster. That is why I put them in front of the real mirror of history stating what belongs to whom! And they were hysterically panicked because they know I am very correct, and they have not much time left.
VF: You are blaming Islamic extremism on colonial powers. Don’t you think that the religion’s disciple’s misinterpretation in teaching about Islam is more to blame?
Prof: I fully accept the reality of the negative developments within Islam itself. It is crystal clear that if these earlier developments had not taken place, and if the Western Colonial powers had not found, met and observed the forefathers of the present day Islamic terrorists, French and English agents, academia, intelligence and diplomats would not have got the opportunity to manipulate them further, to manage them in this disastrous way that they are not able even to detect and realize. It is certain that within Islam a gradual superposition of always more perverse, more deformed and more devious theoretical systems created a lethal environment for Lights, Philosophy, Great Ideas, Art Concepts, Knowledge and Wisdom. The greatness of the Islamic civilization was truly targeted by perverted and malignant false theoreticians and philosophers, who had totally misunderstood its nature.
Whatever was shaped a School of Interpretation around Hanbal was vicious alteration of the Spirit of Islam. On this was superimposed an even worse development, the introspective system of Ibn Taimiya, a reaction against the experience of the Crusaders. During those times no one perceived Ibn Taimiya as a threat because he was insignificant, and his theories could influence the minds of the low level, uneducated, illiterate and marginal people. But the system advanced and expanded a lot in the next three to four centuries to the prejudice of the Erudite, the Learned, and the Wise scholars of Islam who lost gradually their contact with the besotted and fanaticized masses that were guided by the Satanic sheikhs – followers of the perverted and barbaric system of Ibn Taimiya. When the Sultans and the Shahs realized that there was a problem, the locusts were already allover the place. The point of no return had already been crossed when the fanatic, ignorant and Satanic sheikhs, threatening with massive support they had gathered, obliged the Sultan to close down the observatory of Istanbul, as well as all centers of knowledge, research and creative thought. The Closing down of the Ottoman State Observatory in 1579 is the date of the real end of Islamic Civilization and of Islam itself. Following that date barbarism replaced civilization throughout Islam, and the last structures of civilization had ended approximately 100 years before the arrival of Napoleon. The Islamic World was out of competition with the West, and foreseeable future. So, you understand that the main aspect of the problem is this, I absolutely recognize that.
The same barbaric and Satanic sheikhs rule many Islamic countries today. This is either seen, as in Iran, or hidden, as in Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. They want to expand their bestial antihuman system allover the world; this is what they believe when they say that Islam will be accepted throughout the planet at the end! Have no doubt that this barbarism is not Islam, and be sure that the concept of Islam prevailing allover the world had completely different meaning for great philosophers like Nezami, Ferdowsi, Tabari, Makrizi, Ibn Rushd and Ibn Sina, Ibn Khaldoun and Mohyieldin Ibn al Arabi.
VF: You have suggested that Ethiopia is not a proper name for Abyssinians but could be used by Oromos. It is true that the name has Greek origin. In that sense, it is as foreign to Oromos as it is to the Abyssinians. If you are suggesting that the Abyssinians should not use it, why do you suggest it to the Oromos?
Prof: I did not suggest that the Abyssinians do not use it because it is a name of foreign etymology, but because it never designated them or their ancestors. I can tell you that only one participant really understood what I was saying; my initial approach was not the result or the expression of a prejudice against Amhara Abyssinians. I wished only to place them in front of history’s mirror! In simple words all my interventions were a way for me to warn the Abyssinian dictators and say the following to them in public:
- You cannot impose Abyssinian culture, education, social behavioral system, political tyranny and
bogus historical dogma, and yet wish to be called ‘Ethiopians’.
- Either you have the courage to admit in public that you want Abyssinian culture, education, social
behavioral system, political tyranny and bogus historical dogma imposed, and then you must have the
courage of your opinion, and call all the country with a name that expresses you and only you, as
dictators ruling against the will of ¾ of the country’s population,
- Or get out of Finfinne that you falsely call Addis Ababa, let the Oromos, the Afars, the Sidamas and
the Ogadenis live in peace and stop tyrannizing the country that has long been plunged in pestilence,
starvation, and misery because of your criminal and uneducated rulers, the likes of Zauditu.
The Oromos are a very different case; people Kushitic par excellence, the largest linguistic group of the Khammitic family of African languages, a plausible descendant of the people of Ancient Meroe, the strongest candidate to a conscious continuation of African culture and language that covers a span of 4300 years of documented history, the forthcoming Biyya Oromo can certainly be New Meroe, then the name, certainly not Kushitic but Greek in origin, can be selected because of its great historicity, and because of the Western familiarity with this term.
This is the destiny of perverted dictatorial establishments like the Abyssinian one; they are going to lose the territories that they had illegally attacked and occupied, and at the same time they are going to be deprived from the name that they had illegitimately usurped.
VF: It appears that your major point in suggesting to Abyssinians to drop the use of Ethiopia is future economic interest. The following statements were excerpted from your comments on Ethioindex. “Since Arabic is spoken in Eritrea and to a lesser extent in Abyssinia, a base for outsourcing in Mekele combining the two countries (that should not be in war) would radiate to both Eastern Africa and the Arabic speaking world; it would then cover a much larger area. Think! Wake up! Get rid of the nightmare of the ‘Unknown Ethiopia’.” “… a mythical identity shaped around a name that is foreign to Gueze and to all the modern languages of Abyssinia from Oromo to Tigray.” “… setting up a large Horn of Africa Countries Union encompassing (from North to South) Sudan, Abyssinia, Eritrea, Yemen, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Madagascar, and eventually Oman.” Would you elaborate on that?
Prof: No, it is not as you point out in the very beginning! The major point is not economic interest, it is social – cultural – political interest; without a clear perception of one’s identity, with much left in mystery, with much existing under oppression, with much being in conflict, the real social forces that can lead to economic development cannot be released; they are held captive of the mischief, the biased concepts, the historical falsifications, the ideological aberrations. You see all that in the dreadful face of present day Abyssinia, a country that devours its children.
On the other hand, I did speak on the ‘Unknown Ethiopia’. There is not a single person in Abyssinia, either of Semitic origin, among the Amhara and the Tigray groups, or of Kushitic origin, among the Oromos, the Sidamas, and others to have studied, absorbed, assimilated and to have identified him/herself with the past of ‘Ethiopia’, with the Greek and Roman textual sources about Ethiopia, with the Egyptian Hieroglyphic references to Ancient Kush/Ethiopia /Sudan with the archeological and epigraphic documentation, the monuments and the antiquities of Sudan. Of course, for the Semitic usurpers of the name of ‘Ethiopia’, for the quasi-illiterate Debteras of Abyssinia, it has no sense; they are absolutely alien to any element of Ethiopian civilization. The Kushitic Oromo people have not yet focused on their past, have not yet attempted a real itinerary of cultural historical identity. So, to all the peoples of present day Abyssinia, those who are related to and those who are unrelated to Ethiopia, Ethiopia remains an absolutely unknown entity.
Analyzing my text, I must tell you that I said that Ancient Ethiopian, ‘Meroitic’ is unrelated to Oromo, because although it is plausible for modern researchers to establish a link between the two languages under condition we advance in deciphering the first, this has not yet been academically undertaken, and much less concluded. I may have my suggestions, I may advance my theory, but I want to be always impartial.
Yes, I spoke ultimately about a Horn of Africa Union! But this was not the first time! Earlier this year, I published an article in the Yemen Times where I presented in a summarized form the historical presence, roots, and commitment in Eastern Africa. I suggested that Yemen quit the abominable and hilarious Arab League, an organization that attempts to impose a bogus-historical dogma, that is the existence of ‘Arab’ peoples in all its state-members, and in this way the latter reach always extreme levels of tyrannical oppression, as attested in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, in Assad’s Syria, in Mubarak’s Egypt, and in the most repugnant and repulsively tyrannical state in the World History, Saudi Arabia. I proposed Yemen to follow another path, a short way to Democracy, Human Rights, Multiculturalism, and Historical Authenticity. This can be found in a multipartite Horn of Africa Union where Sudan, Eritrea, Abyssinia, Somalia, Yemen, Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and even Madagascar and Oman participate. Well, either precisely these states, if they are apt to establish the democratic structures needed or the states that may derive from the aforementioned. You know there is a great logic behind this multilingual, multicultural, multiethnic and multi-religious Union I call for. It is not only the historical past of Yemen that had colonized for a long period the Eastern Coast of Africa, from the Horn area itself down to Dar es Salam in present day Tanzania.
A correct understanding of the dynamics of the global world we are currently living in leads anyone to realize that only big state-units are going to survive and play a significant role in the future. A 60 or 80 million people country is not important anymore; I do not refer to Turkey and to Pakistan, but to France and Germany! If Europe does not advance according to the interests of the Franco-German axis, the two countries will abandon the Union, implementing a full fusion. For underdeveloped countries like Pakistan, Bangla Desh or Indonesia, 130 or 220 million people do not create a real market that could guarantee growth and development. If this is the situation, geographic location matters a lot!
‘Accumulating’ 160 million people in a small corner of India, and ‘unfolding’ them around a strategic area are two different situations. On the other hand, 220 million people scattered on a multitude of islands, like the Indonesian Archipelago, cannot be easily interconnected, and then communications become either slow or expensive!
The geographic location matters not only in itself but in its relationship with other landmasses and/or countries. Indonesia is the natural passage from Australia to China. This does not imply a great system of communication, since Australia may be rich but is a small 20 million people country. In addition, Indonesia is to be found at the edge of dense navigation channel, namely the Malacca Straits. On the other side of Sumatra Island, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand complete a picture. Perhaps there too, a Union between Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and the French Indochina countries, plus Philippines and Burma could be envisaged, but the disparities are of colossal dimensions. It is not sure at all that the leading regional financial tiger Singapore and the economically developed and advanced Malaysia and Thailand would be willing to create a commercial, economic, cultural and – even more so – political Union with poor and backward countries like Indonesia, Philippines, and Myanmar that are exposed to various religious radicalisms and extremisms (Islamic, Christian and/or Buddhist).
The geographic location of the Horn of Africa countries is very privileged indeed. From Sudan to Mozambique and from the borders of Central Africa and Congo to Oman and the Straits of Ormuz, a vast landmass and an immense sea space control a great part of the global communications and network connections. All the communications of Europe, the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean worlds with Eastern Africa, India, South-East Asia, and China, and vice-versa pass from here. All the communications between the South African countries with the Middle East and Eastern Europe and vice versa also pass through there. The area is by nature the open window of the entire African continent to India. It can become the exclusive passageway between India and Europe. Furthermore, this geomorphic unit is the gateway of China to Africa that is not only a target market but the best place for the future need of China to outsource in a way to dominate the global industrial scenery. This is something we have not yet seen! Outsourcing has become a concern or a practice for America, Europe and Japan. The overheated economy of China will soon face the need for outsourcing. The Horn of Africa area is the best place for industries targeting Africa, Middle East, Europe and Russia. Odessa and Novorossiysk, for instance, are closer to Port Sudan than to Shanghai!
The combination of the geomorphic particularities, the linguistic variety, the cultural propinquity, and the common stagnant socio-economic situation, as well as the mutual desire for progress and development, change, freedom and democracy, plus the bulk of 250 million people, consist in the ingredients of a success story that the various invited peoples must express their worst self to make it impossible to come!
VF: In the list of countries in the previous question, you didn’t include either Oromia or Ethiopia. Why?
Prof: As I told you either these countries or those deriving form these!
VF: One of the most subconscious decisions of our time in the Horn of Africa region may be the process of separation of Eritrea from Ethiopia. On both sides of the border, the Tigre and the Afar peoples live. It doesn’t seem like natural separation, especially when you look at the Voices of the World map in Part III of this interview. What is striking is that Abyssinians live on both sides of the border in small pockets. Politically, they are active with young and inexperienced rebels who became leaders of their respective countries. These leaders and their intellectual supporters seem politically less conscious than a far less educated Oromo rebel leader who told the Government of Somalia, when that government asked the rebel leader to cede a part of Oromo country to Somalia, that one can not expect a person to live by cutting him at the waist. Abyssinian politicians were the major decision makers in the separation of Abyssinians of Eritrea from Abyssinians of Ethiopia. The Kushitic peoples, while excluded from the major decision making process, occupy the economic resource base of both countries. In Ethiopia, Oromos occupy a large swath of agriculturally fertile land whereas in Eritrea, the Afar people occupy the Red Sea coast. What is your observation?
Prof: You call it subconscious decision! Whose? If you name the perpetrators, you will open the Pandora’s box! Your argumentation is very true indeed! Eritrea is not an ethnic, monolithic, country. Tigrinya and Arabic are the official languages. There are Afars, and several other cultural, linguistic, religious, ethnic groups. It looks like a multiculturalism laboratory! A hybrid state! It looks strange if you still live with the obsession of nation – state in the year 2004! Do not misinterpret me in this regard! I do not say that this is not the norm, and I do not say this is not good! On the contrary, it makes sense, and it is very good indeed! But it is not the only way for a state to come to existence! Of course, it is still easier – theoretically – for oppressed nations to come to independence; but not necessarily! Tiny - 5 million people – Eritrea became independent earlier and more easily than 30 million people Oromo! Perhaps there has been an invisible hand! A small state that has balanced relations with Libya and Israel in the Red Sea coast opposite to Saudi Arabia, this is not a common Middle Eastern story! You remember perhaps now better my sentence addressed to the paranoid totalitarian Amhara group of Ethioindex ‘strengths are pulled and not to your favour’! If Eritrea was easy to come to surface, then one must be sure that Biyya Oromo will be a reality shortly! I do not imply here that it would be the exclusive result of foreign involvement, but one could not deny or disregard this potentiality these days of globalization. Two factors, first the lack of Democracy and the violation of Human Rights, and second the incarceration of the country’s vital resources that would generate the most explosive boom of economic growth, would lead to the proper adhesion of the Oromo land into the global economy, call for immediate intervention into the jail called Abyssinia, a prison house of nations and nationalities.
These uneducated groups cannot understand that ruling a country in this malignant, malevolent and malefic way of theirs is not permissible anymore. As if to make a parody of a Latin poet, I would say metaphorically ‘Zauditu died, Hitler died, and Meles is gravely ill’!
The truth is that the friction between colonial, state-run France and globalizing, liberal America creates tectonic dimension events in Africa and allover the world. Nothing is going to be as it is! And in such an environment, what matters most is a people’s mobilization for its ultimate independence and self-determination, and the leaders’ shrewd mind and bold decisions.
VF: Some Eritrean scholars argue that Axum was never Abyssinian. They have said that the people of Eritrea weren’t Ethiopian or Abyssinian before their creation as a colony. What do you say to that?
Prof: Anyone can say anything! What were the people of Adulis in the Antiquity? Mexicans? Did they fall from the moon? This is particularly grave falsification of History! We have plenty of proofs about what the people of the Eritrean coast have been throughout the Ages! We have textual documentation, epigraphic evidence, and archeological monuments. What are the hawalti, the famous stelas, found on Eritrean soil? They are not quite similar to those of Axum? Is there a great difference among the inhabitants of Hawalti Melazo, and those of Axum and Yeha? What is the language of the Christian manuscripts that are kept until now in the monasteries of Eritrea? Slavic, Armenian or Tibetan? Are all these documents not written in Gueze? What may be the dialectal difference between Gueze in the coast and Gueze in Axum? The famous text of the 1st century CE ‘Periplus of the Red Sea’, written by an Egyptian Alexandrian merchant and captain, leaves no doubt that the famous harbor – port of call Adulis (nearby Massawa in today’s Eritrea) was part of the kingdom of Zoscales, who was ruling from Axum, his capital. Several centuries later, the Monumentum Adulitanum, as mentioned within the Christian Topography of Cosmas Indicopleustes, recreates the same environment about the Abyssinian people centered between Adulis and Axum. The Lake Tana area was out of the confines of the Christian kingdom that only later expanded over there.
The holy enclosure at Axum, and the famous hawalti monuments with the mysterious decoration. Some advanced the theory that the decorative motifs make of the hawalti ‘miniatures’ of the Ancient Yemenite ‘sky-scrappers’ the multistory houses that have been preserved until today as a typical characteristic of urban architecture in Yemen.
How could they possibly be different, since they all originated from Ancient Yemen? Those living in the Red Sea coast between Adulis and Avalites (present day harbor Assab), and those living in the inland, in Coloe (as the ‘Periplus of the Red Sea’ mentions) or in Axum, they were all descendants of the Yemenite tribal state Habashat, whose inhabitants crossed Bab al Mandeb in many repeated waves.
What else may one say? After the explosion of Islam the inhabitants of the inland were isolated, whereas the coast dwellers intermingled with ‘Arabs’? This is wrong, because the term is biased! These ‘Arabs’ are just Yemenites, because Yemenites are very different from the Arabs in terms of ethnic origin (a distinct ethnic group, of course Semitic, but Hebrews are Semitic as well without being ‘Arabs’), language, and scripture, as well as culture and religion. The Arabs of Hedjaz went out of Arabia, but they were involved rather in land expansion, since they did not have any maritime inclination at all, quite contrarily to the Ancient Yemenites, who were experienced navigators throughout the Indian Ocean, and the Red Sea. Of course, the Yemenites accepted Islam during the visit of Ali, the first imam, while the Prophet Muhammad was still alive, and they accepted Arabic as Islam’s holy language, but they did not change their non-Arabic racial and ethnic identity.
So, what is the difference between Yemenites, who moved to Axum in the year 200 BCE, and Yemenites who moved to Adulis in the year 800 CE? There is no difference at all!
Beyond that point, one must certainly accept that the isolated in the inland for centuries Abyssinians have certainly intermingled with various Kushitic populations to some extent; but there were Kushitic populations in the coast as well. So, practically speaking there was no difference, except a stronger presence of Islam and of the Arabic language in the coast. Eritrea, as a new country, cannot be justified with arguments based in Ancient and Islamic history; it can be justified in terms of Modern History, and of the free willingness of free people to set up a multicultural state entity. Free elections are needed in this regard, and I do not see in Eritrea not only free elections, but even a free Internet forum! I understand the existence of emergency, but there are limits…
If the Eritrean government believes that obeying orders emanating from groups and societies behind the political scenes is the safe way to rule a country, I believe that they had the experience of more than 10 (ten) years independence in which they did not prove their capacity to undergo structural changes and seek real development; they only proved that they entered in wars with several neighboring countries and they lost time, money and energy. They have got to change their way in the future.
VF: Interestingly, there are two camps within the Kushitic and the Abyssinian groups. Abyssinians in Eritrea and Ethiopia have been at loggerheads with each other for some time now. Some group of Oromos are viewed by the Abyssinian groups in Eritrea as a partner in their struggle whereas some Oromo groups in Ethiopia work with Abyssinian groups. Such arrangement seems to be naturally unhealthy. When Eritrea became independent from Ethiopia, it further divided the Afar people into three countries (Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti). Almost all Oromo political groups were indifferent on this issue. One would expect that as a more closely related people to the Afar people than the Abyssinians, the Oromo would feel sympathetic more towards the Afar people than the Abyssinians. What is your opinion on this?
Prof: All that you say concerns the past, and proves that the Oromo leadership is not well experienced in the tactics of diplomacy, foreign policy, and international relations. This is not strange and this is not unique; other oppressed peoples’ leadership finds itself engulfed in worse situation, or happens to be the object of undetected manipulations. All this also testifies to a certain lack of political conscience among the average Oromo people, which again is not strange! When you are focusing on daily issues, and you are mostly concerned with oppression at the cultural and the social levels, you do not have time to consider alliances. But I would of course understand that the only target for the Oromo leadership and the Oromo people is the replacement of the Abyssinian regime in Finfinne – Addis Ababa.
VF: As you well know, Oromos are the majority in the present day Ethiopia. Sooner or later, they are going to get their full freedom. This can be viewed within two contexts. Full freedom on their land in a country called Ethiopia or total independence from a country called Abyssinia or Ethiopia. Oromo scholars are still debating on which course may be a better one for the future of the Oromo people. Some argue that Oromos should behave as the head of the family of nations in the Horn of Africa region and spearhead bringing stability and development in the region instead of overly focusing on the Oromo people’s political right only. If Abyssinians can exercise full freedom on their land in a country called Ethiopia, do you think it is a viable and more practical option for a federation or confederation arrangement?
Prof: When the independent Oromos will be determined to call their new, free, country ‘Ethiopia’, the Abyssinians will not have the possibility to call their area ‘Ethiopia’ too! There isn’t a situation with Austria no 1 and Austria no 2! They will call their area ‘Abyssinia’, ‘Amhara’, ‘Axum’ or anything else. For what may follow an independence of the Oromo, I can tell you that it will be a real earthquake, a badly needed earthquake that will damage the intruders’ interests only, and beyond that term all options are open. Sidamas, Ogadenis, the rest of the south, and eventually the Afars will be free. Possibly there will be two different states one around Axum and Mekele, and another around Gondar, for the Tigray and the Amhara. It is necessary that all the various peoples of the area enjoy their full freedom and independence first, that they better study and delve into their past second. Self-knowledge is essential, and yet so many peoples of the Horn of Africa area have been prevented from that! Well, this was the main target of the colonial criminals. So, a free life, a freedom of movement and of thought, of expression and of cult, and a Union will come later.
Look what happened in Europe! Because they separated first, the Czech Republic and Slovakia were able to meet again and become one country along with many others this time, within Europe. Modern European History proves that free consultation, free deliberations, free negotiations of free, independent, democratic peoples, citizens and leaders is the only way to a possible multicultural Europe. It is not Hitler who united Europe by imposing Germans in a totalitarian way. Oromos must disentangle from the Amhara racist curse, prove that they can arrange their affairs far better when alone, free, and independent, and then the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Finfinne will consider options towards greater Eastern African designs.
VF: In one of your debates, you have suggested that Oromos will be the regional superpower and dictate the future of the Horn of Africa region. You have said that “Strengths are pulled in the Horn of Africa area, and not to your favor!”, apparently referring to Abyssinia. You have also stated that they are managed and maneuvered without their choosing. Oromo scholars do not see Oromos going beyond achieving freedom for the Oromo people. In fact, they seriously argue that Oromos should not repeat the practice we have seen in Abyssinian politics. What picture are you looking at? In other words, how and why can what you stated be possible?
Prof: Let me state that any country, small or large, new or old, can become a regional locomotive for the development and the progress; this was the meaning of my words. I did not mean it in the sense of large population, and actually if we go beyond the unavoidable splitting of both, Sudan and Abyssinia, there are still large countries in the area, having larger population than what a newly independent Oromo country is supposed to represent. Tanzania is already home to 37 million people, Kenya represents already 32 million people, big countries, you know! But what is their GDP? Their per capita GDP? Their fixed line, mobile line, Internet penetration? You understand that there are several other parameters: education, number of students, universities, foreign direct investment, balance of payments, exports/imports, economy growth, industry growth and so on. A country never becomes a leader just because of representing a large, or even the largest, population. If this were the case, we would all be ruled by China and India! But as you see these countries are not as important as the US, France, Great Britain, Germany, Russia! France led the anti-US front before the Iraq war, not China! On the international scene, Italy is more important than India! Just a few days ago, when its interests were threatened in Sudan, China did not dare to veto! So, when it comes to parameters like the aforementioned, what matters is the shrewd and sharp thought, the anticipation of things to come, the conceptually rich mind, the in-depth knowledge of the issues, and consequently the introduction of highly advanced plans and viable projects of great perspective. Until now, all have plunged into the marshes of underdevelopment for various reasons, as far as Eastern Africa is concerned. It is to be hoped that a new force, a new state, with a youthful approach to politics, introduce a wide range of new concepts and ideas that the rest will have to follow and catch up with.
That the leaders of the Oromo self-determination effort do not see so far I can, of course, understand; they have to focus on present day issues, and prepare the mobilization against the tyrannical Abyssinian oppression in the present day Ethiopia itself. Fighting for freedom of expression, and freedom of vote, facing the brutal methods the Amhara/Tigray tyrannical regime attempts to employ against the oppressed masses of Oromos, Sidamas, Afars, Ogadenis and others, this is the task of the day. It is correct what you say and what Oromo liberation leaders argue, namely ‘that Oromos should not repeat the practice we have seen in Abyssinian politics’. No one wants to see another cemetery of peoples in Eastern Africa. When I said that a new Oromo country could become a regional superpower, I was speaking in terms of a locomotive of development, of a multipartite, multicultural, multi-religious and multiethnic way to common progress and peace.
How this will be achieved? Certainly through education, culture and political mobilization. The formation of a young class of specialists and technocrats able to run a modern country, not an archaic dysfunctional replica of today’s Abyssinia, the preservation and the cultivation of the Oromo culture and the study of the Kushitic – Oromo past, always interconnected with modern, fresh approaches to and concepts of the Humanities, and the general political mobilization that will enhance the sensitivity in terms of the African solidarity, against the only African colonial regime – that of the Abyssinian tyrants – and against the Western democratic involvement, these are the aspects of the triptych of the Oromo liberation and ultimate independence.
Of course, one must expect a great Western interest, but one must rely on one’s own forces, effort, and commitment. You are right to notice my reference to foreign involvement against Abyssinia. This archaic structure of state must not be permitted to exist; it consists in such a flagrant rejection of the concept of the human progress towards Humanism and Democracy that it cannot be allowed to develop its Christian Monophysitic religious extremism anymore. No one wants a Monophysitic – heretic – Christian Khomeini rule from Gondar, Axum or Addis Ababa in order to propagate the forthcoming fight between his ‘Jesus’ and a supposed Anti-Christ. More and more people in the correct positions in America understand that religious fanaticism is a problem, whether it comes from Saudi Arabia or from Abyssinia. It is always criminal whether Ossama bin Laden mobilizes ignorant people to kill Westerners or Abyssinian Debteras drum up ignorant, starving people to attack Christian Catholic or Protestant monks in Abyssinia. Obscurantism runs high, and thousands of valuable Gueze manuscripts – totally incomprehensible to the quasi-illiterate Monophysitic monks of Abyssinia – are out of reach for any serious Western scholar because of the Amhara Debteras’ fear that the Western scholars will unveil negative points of the Axumite/Gondar medieval rulers!
VF: It seems that your interest is to make Abyssinians, in particular, and the Horn of Africa region, in general, face east toward the Middle East and Indo-China instead of inside out or west toward Africa and the West. You seem to attach future economic interest to this view. From history’s perspective, there is certainly less reason for the Kushites to face the Middle East and beyond than for the Abyssinians. Politically, it appears that the Middle East is still characterized by mythology than reality. It is a region that still preaches in only one language. In this sense, the Middle East may be in its Dark Age and trailing behind Africa. If the Abyssinians were to face toward the Middle East, doesn’t that cause some friction among the group that would prefer to face the Middle East versus the group that would prefer to look inside out or face toward Africa and the West?
Prof: First, historically speaking, the Kushites always expressed an interest for the Middle East and the Mediterranean World. Egypt had a lot of interests in the Aegean, in Cyprus and in Palestine. Ethiopian Meroe was in continuous contact with the Roman world, a statue’s head of Octavian Augustus was found at Meroe itself (present day Bagrawiyah in Sudan), embassies were constantly exchanged, stylistic architectural influences seem apparent either in the imperial baths at Meroe or at the so-called ‘Roman kiosk’ temple of Naqa, just to mention a few indications, and then in the Atlas North-Eastern African region, Khammitic Berbers intermingled with Carthaginians. Later on, the contacts between the Kushitic Christian state of Makkuria, the middle of the three Christian Sudanese kingdoms, had certainly strong contacts with the Greek Patriarchate at Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, since it introduced both Greek language as holy, religious language, and Makkurian language (a later form of Meroitic), written in Greek characters, as administrative language. All this testifies to great exposure to and exchange with the Middle East and the Mediterranean world.
Although this is the case, I did not actually call for a shift of interest of the Horn of Africa countries towards the Middle East, instead of another direction, let it be the rest of Africa. And actually I do not believe such a perspective; there is so much to be done in the Horn of Africa area, such infrastructure that is missing, that all the interest must be directed introspectively in the predefined Horn of Africa Countries Union area. For every local people and tribe it will be an extroverted attitude and interest extended up to the borders of the vast union that has the size of Brazil (around 8.2 million square kilometer), and for all together it will be an introverted interest expressed within the entire area! Major projects can be undertaken at the level of construction, communications, industrial development, education, tourism, services and so on. So the interest should focus on this regional development. By lowering up to annihilating taxes among the member states, one will create an initial tendency that could be accentuated by big projects in construction and education that will have great countries of the world involved here. The area must act as a center of radiation, and this is not going to happen by means of reference to other areas, be they the Middle East, India or Europe.
You say that the Middle East still preaches in one language, and that is wrong of course. Well, your statement is correct only partly. Turkey is the center of the Middle East, Iran is the second most important Middle Eastern country, Pakistan is also Middle East, and Israel is finally there since 1948! You cannot advance anymore the trash colonial theory of French academia and diplomats, namely the erroneous approach that equates the Middle East with the Arabic-speaking countries! The four most important powers of the Middle East are not Arabic speaking! It makes therefore no sense to speak about Arabic-speaking countries as representative of the Middle East. If you want to refer to the tyrannical imposition of Arabic language throughout the so-called Arabic speaking countries, something that results from the 2-century long colonial brainwash campaign named ‘Arab nationalism’, of course I agree that it is very negative, it brings only disastrous results, and it cannot be taken as a model. But the Middle East is not the realm of the Arabic ideology debased and tyrannical regimes. They are only part of the Middle East! Turkey can certainly be taken as a model in many aspects by the Horn of Africa countries. Can you imagine that in all the Arabic speaking countries, the realm of the so-called ‘Arab world’, fewer books are annually translated from all the languages of the world into Arabic than in Greece from all the languages into Greek. And yet, tiny 10 million people Greece is a very mediocre European country! Comparison with Turkey would also be disastrously prejudicial to the so-called ‘Arabs’! How do you expect me to suggest something like that, since I repeatedly published articles demanding the stipulation of Aramaic as national language in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, the introduction of Coptic in the schools throughout Egypt, and the imposition of several official languages in Sudan? I equally published articles in favor of the preservation of Soqotri and Mehri, successive forms of Ancient Yemenite languages, in Yemen…
Neither in Abyssinia nor in Sudan should there be a friction among Africano-centrists and Middleasterno-centrists! Both, Sudan and Abyssinia, as well as all the possible countries that may come to free and independent life after the potential splitting of these two old colonial schemes, plus all the other countries of the Horn of Africa Union, as well as Yemen, Oman, Mozambique, and Madagascar, are – and must feel they are – an entirely different area, a vast middle zone between Africa, Asia, India, the Middle East and the rest of the world. This will bring them closer to each other, and closer to success.
VF: In line with the previous question, one of the serious confusions many people have is the failure to make distinction between a name that identifies a person's roots and a name that may identify that person with his/her faith. For instance, you could have been named Erol, a name that describes your Turkish identity and follow your faith. What is you opinion on this?
Prof: Erol is a name that identifies the linguistic identity of a person, showing automatically that the name bearer is a Turk. Since most of the Turks accepted Islam, it means that the person in question is a Muslim. But it is not a usual Muslim name like Ali, Hassan, Hussein, Muhammad, Abdullah or Nasraddin! As far as I am concerned, I belong to the happy few who have chosen their own religion, and their own name. I was born Christian, and baptized Cosmas, a name meaning in Greek ‘the person that belongs to the World’. Cosmas was an excellent travel companion for 37 years, and let me discover a great Aramaic Nestorian monk, merchant, traveler, erudite and theoretician, the famous 6th century author of a ‘Christian Topography’, Cosmas Indicopleustes, the ‘Indian navigator’ as his surname suggests. His Christian Topography is valuable for the history of many countries of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean from Egypt and Eritrea to Yemen and Sri Lanka. After a certain moment, my historical studies led me to a complete rejection of Christianity, in the same approach with that of the famous French scholar Robert Ambelain, whose renowned ‘Heavy secrets of Golgotha’ has become a point of reference. I renounced Christianity, and since the mention of the religion was obligatory on the Greek citizens identity cards, I became for many years a Greek citizen ‘with no religion’; needless to add that I was never atheist. Later on, when I was 37 years old, I accepted Islam officially – although I had already been a real Muslim believer for about two years – and then I selected my current two names that, of course, mean a lot to me. ‘Cosmas’ had accomplished a long circumnavigation, and it was an excellent vehicle! It kept being somewhat representative, you know! In a way, I have always belonged to the cosmos! But all this is a personal affair, and I never tried to show myself as an example for others. Two things are sure: first, Islam was a great civilization; and second, I feel identical with the most fundamental philosophical, theoretical, artistic and literary, cosmological and esoteric approaches of Islam. But as I said, this is important to me, and only to me. The universal spheres of Mohyieldin Ibn al Arabi are a decorous beauty that I do not want to miss! Do not think that Islam is hedjab, five prayers per day, prohibition of alcohol and premarital sex, and zakat! The rigorous stereotypes of fanatic, uncultured and quasi-illiterate sheikhs do not express the real Islam at all. They represent the decadence and the deformation I referred to earlier.
Within the text of the Christian Topography, we find a map of the ‘Oikoumene’ (the inhabited world) as designed by Cosmas Indicopleustes. The Nile is named Gihon, quite biblically, the Mediterranean is called ‘Roman Gulf’, the Red Sea (as ‘Arabic Gulf’) and the Persian Gulf are depicted as of the same size. Around the three continents, Asia, Africa, and Europe, flows the Ocean of Soft Waters, and at the extreme East (right) is located the Eden, the Paradise. According to the Cosmas Indicopleustes’ theory, the surface of the earth is not round (as it was believed, when the geocentric system prevailed, and the earth was not viewed as a sphere), but an oblong rectangular. Following this approach, Cosmas Indicopleustes developed the theory that the Universe is not a Sphere (as believed earlier by all the people of the world), but a polyhedron with a hemi-cylindrical upper part - precise copy of the Tabernacle of the Ark of the Covenant.
VF: In Ethiopia, some people say when we encounter some adversaries from afar, we fight them together. When we do not have them, we fight each other. The resistance movement during Italy’s occupation of present day Ethiopia from 1935 to 1941 is a case in point. Obviously, some of your views were not welcome on Ethioindex forum and some participants considered your views as an adversary’s views. In your debate on that forum, did you at any point sense this?
Prof: You are right for the past, things happened as you certainly know very well, and as you say. But perhaps one could come up with a strong criticism about that attitude, when expressed by the Oromo political leadership that missed eventually an opportunity to reach independence, and get rid of the Abyssinian group’s tyranny, as performed under the rule of Haile Selassie. But the situation is not reproduced today! I am glad to report that to the hysterical and paranoiac reactions of the uneducated, uncultured and ignorant Abyssinian participants on the forum, the support, the repeated thanks, the apologies for the participants’ barbarism, the enthusiastic backing, and the overwhelming encouragement expressed from the part of representatives of the oppressed and tyrannized Oromos, Sidamas, Ogadenis, Afars and others drove me to the conclusion that I had to keep writing and diffusing knowledge, which is a need for these people, and a mission for me, while being very much hated by the insulting, pathetic, ill-mannered Abyssinian participants!
After the Medrek forum moderators have been attacked by this ill-mannered participants for allowing oppressed Oromos and others express their opinion and their rightful indignation against the criminal, dictatorial, and alien Abyssinian regime, the moderators reacted in a way that I found at least very strange and unjustifiable. They offered positions of moderator to many participants, of course of all origins, Oromo, Tigray, Amhara, and they accorded them the possibility to delete articles and threads at will! Of course, an opposite moderator would have the possibility to re-publish the deleted – rather hidden – text! But this issue raised two problems. First, there would be a technical problem, you would see your article hidden, contact a ‘friendly’ moderator, and ask him to unhide it! This is not practical, and this is not serious for adults.
Even worse, there is a great ethical problem that not a single serious and unbiased person in the world would accept. By appointing ignorant and ill-mannered people – and these were exclusively Amhara besotted insulters – as moderators, you offer them the possibility to delete a serious in-depth historical analysis, and universally accepted academic conclusions that are not allowed in dictatorial, backward, and obscurantist Abyssinia, because if they were, they would destroy completely the tenebrous falsehood that these brainwashed Abyssinian participants believe. The eventuality that these people delete a scholarly opinion equals to the potentiality that in the year 2004 you accept a new … Hitler! Well, we just cannot accept any other Hitler anymore! This is all! I therefore stopped even visiting that website, and I do not intend to change my opinion.
I have my feedback whatsoever! Many people write straight to me either to thank me for my contributions, to ask various questions, and/or to express their deep curse against the Cemetery-of-Peoples Abyssinia, the worst Hell on the surface of the Earth, the last apartheid in Africa. I came, therefore, to know that the situation worsened, dozens of serious articles have been deleted, learned participants have been banned, and the rotten-minded moderators delete every article that makes a reference to the Catholic Encyclopedia, a serious and respectable website that is an excellent source of knowledge (entry ‘Abyssinia’) about the crimes perpetrated in Abyssinia against Christian priests, monks, researchers and missionaries. It is a disgrace and a source of contamination for all the world, and I do not intend to leave it like that. The state of Abyssinia must express in public its apologies to the rest of the world for having deliberately executed devoted researchers, who intended to study and publish valuable Gueze manuscripts that the illiterate Monophysitic Debteras keep hidden in their heretic monasteries. But, what is written in these manuscripts? That the Anti-Christ is an Amhara?
To describe the entire situation I faced in Ethioindex in just one sentence, I would say that the Amhara participants reacted as if I unveiled their crime or – even worse – as if I caught them in flagrante delicto; it is not actually less than a crime what they have done so long! Usurping another ethnic and national name is a criminal act. If Sudan was not disoriented into the Pan-Arabic falsification and diverted into the ‘Arab-Islamic’ (anti-Islamic) terrorism, Khartoum would have certainly demanded the immediate stop of use of the usurped name of Ethiopia.
Actually, only two potential pretenders to the name of ‘Ethiopia’ exist, namely Sudan – as the place that was called by that Ancient Greek name – and the people of Oromo – as the majority among the plausible descendants of the Ancient Ethiopian Meroites. Perhaps, following developments in both Sudan and Abyssinia, the Arabic speaking Meroites of Sudan, and the Meroitic origin Oromos may find their common origin and meet each other in the search of the glorious past of Ethiopia to which they both have right of inheritance. With the other peoples of Sudan getting first their independence, in the South the Dinka and the Nuer, in the West the Fur and the Hausa – speaking people, in the North the Nubians, and in the East the Beja, the Arabic speaking Meroites could make a long-term alliance with the Oromo, search and find their own Kushitic identity, and finally identify themselves as real Africans.
VF: As you may very well know, the friction between religions of the Middle East, not the religions per se, is a major problem in that region. In fact, this friction seems to have reached The Sudan and in some people’s views, it is a concern for the countries of the Horn of Africa. In one of your communications with a participant on Ethioindex, you mentioned “… it seems that the days of the rising crescent disturb your mental functions! After the full moon, you will recover to some extent." I believe the Quran teaches that in the end, all the peoples of the world will believe in Islam? Your statement appears in line with this teaching. Would you explain what you mean?
Prof: Well, I understand your question, but I do not understand your quotation! I was speaking to a lunatic Amhara fanaticized participant on Ethioindex’s forum, and I was hinting that his exacerbated case of hysteria will calm down after the full moon, which is what doctors say for cases of lunatic people. It seems that their worst time is the first half of the lunar month. This is unrelated to the issue of the moon as a symbol among Muslims, and also unrelated to the problematic role that misinterpreted beliefs and manipulated faiths play in fanaticizing masses in many parts of the World. Christian fanaticism runs high in America, in Europe, in Russia, Hindu fanaticism has become very perilous in the subcontinent and in Sri Lanka, Zionist Jews are very fanatic too, and the phenomenon concerns Thailand, Japan, and other places of the world. If you only count how many people wait a Messiah, Jesus, Mahdi, Maitreya, and other mythical figures – or misinterpreted historical figures, which makes no difference – said to come for a second time to save the world (from God only knows what !!!!), you realize that the entire Mankind is very close to the edge.
What you say is true and wrong, or rather misinterpreted (not you personally – I mean Muslims and all sorts of other religious thinkers and interpreters), at the same time. You say that ‘the Quran teaches that in the end, all the peoples of the world will believe in Islam’. But this sentence misinterpreted by a Muslim may be taken as meaning that at the end all the Jews will reject Judaism in order to accept Islam, admitting it was not correct to do it earlier! Or that they should (‘must’, ‘will’, ‘have to’ – any verb you like) be forced to accept Islam. From this point start problems originating from Muslim false believers. On the other hand, the same sentence misinterpreted by a Jew makes him say that this sentence proves that Islam is a violent religion of the sword that oppresses minorities to extinction, having no respect for the other, advancing totalitarian approaches, and necessitating therefore very hard tackling. Similar misinterpretations may occur in the case of other inter-religious relationships.
But perhaps the teaching of the Quran that at the end, all the world will be Islamic may only signify a peaceful world in which, originating from different and even conflicting backgrounds, various people may ultimately reach a common understanding of the same true monotheistic principles that have been encapsulated in all the backgrounds and in all the religions. In a way that one, being perfect Buddhist, may be also an excellent Muslim without even understanding it.
VF: Waaqeffanna (an Oromo wisdom tradition), Christianity and Islam are the three major doctrines that the Oromo people follow. To the extent that all these doctrines may be wisdom traditions, some people view that Waaqeffanna is an answer to the Oromos for the challenge of the wind of friction between the religions of the Middle East. This is especially supported by some relationships between Waaqeffanna and the other two religions. A recent study by Dr. Marco Bassi of Bologna University in Italy suggests that Oromo religion is monotheist and similar to Christianity and Islam. Another scholar of the 17th Century, M. de Aimeida had the following to say: "the Gallas (Oromo) are neither Christians, moors nor heathens, for they have no idols to worship." Both the Bible and the Quran have excellent references to Kush. In Amos 9:7, it is said “aren’t you like the people of Cushite to me, O people of Isra’el”. Also Prophet Mohammad has said Ethiopia is the land of the righteousness wherein no one is wronged. Obviously, one of the major achievements of both Christianity and Islam are to tend to monotheism. Based on these facts, there is some theory that goes both prophets may have been inspired by Cushitic world outlook. It seems that it is based on such background that Oromos see value in Waaqeffanna. What is your opinion on this?
Prof: First of all, I do not accept at all the concept of Christianity as a monotheistic religion! The trinity is a typical polytheistic concept, and more precisely it originates from Mithraism, the Persian origin religion that prevailed throughout the Roman Empire in the 2nd and the 3rd century CE, before many of its basic doctrines were passed on to Christianity. Mithras is One and Three at the same time, Mithras is born on the 25th of December, of course in a Cave, with shepherds attending. Mithras comes to the world by means of an immaculate birth, Mithras performs miracles, Mithras offers a Last Supper, Mithras is sacrificed to save the Mankind by means of His blood, and then to be resurrected, and even ascended to the Skies. On the other hand, a vast polytheistic influence has been exercised over Christianity by Isidism, the complex and vast system of Isiac cults and beliefs that were turning around the Ancient Egyptian Goddess Aset (in Greek Isis). Isis is Mother of God, and even at a pictorial level the Christian Virgin with the Infant resembles Isis with Harpocrates (Greek form of the Isis’ child’s name ‘Horus the Child’, in Egyptian Hieroglyphics ‘Hor pa Hered’). All this is only a partial and brief enumeration of related arguments.
Ptolemy XII presents his offerings to Horus and Isis of Philae on the eastern half of the second pylon of the Isis temple at the ‘island of the end’ as signifies in Ancient Egyptian the name of the island (‘pa irek’). The Egyptian name became the object of phonetic confusion among the Greeks of the Ptolemaic years, who called the island Philae, hinting at the presence of the Egyptian priestesses of Isis as ‘friends’ (in Greek ‘philae’). Philae, at 5km distance in the south of Aswan, was the last non Christian operating temple, and was closed by specific decree of Justinian as late as 540 CE.
So, the Hebrew religion, Judaism, Islam, Waaqeffanna, many other currents within several religions can be taken monotheistic and aniconic, but not Christianity.
I accept that Waaqeffanna is a monotheist Weltanshauung, but I cannot at the present state of related research and knowledge call it ‘religion’. A theoretical system of popular beliefs is far from being a religion. The quintessence of the religion is an understanding, interpretation, and identification of the Holy; it constantly implies holy places, sacred objects, temples and priests. Even within Islam, despite the fact that it was explicitly preached by Prophet Muhammad that priests are prohibited, the professionalized faith led to the creation of schools, and organizations reproducing all these useless and fake sheikhs that preach terrorism and ultimately desecrate Islam. One can say by now that Islam has been completely Christianized.
Now because various – known and unknown – developments led the Kushitic Oromos to the monotheistic and aniconic conceptualization of the faith, we cannot be led to the conjecture that aniconic cult and monotheism were typically Kushitic. Ethiopian Meroe was particularly polytheistic, and the religious impact of Khammitic Egypt on the early Kushitic phases of civilization with epicenter at Kerma and at Napata was polytheistic. Of course, there were great schools of monotheism in Egypt, the Hermupolitan and the Heliopolitan dogmas and systems are of strong monotheistic inclination, contrarily to the Memphitic and the Theban systems, a great monotheistic rise of Aton occurred in the 14th century BCE with Akhenaton and Nefertiti at its top, but all this does not allow us to say that the Egyptians were monotheistic. The same concerns the Ancient Ethiopians, the Kushites, whom the Ancient Egyptians considered as highly experienced Black Magic practitioners! Of course, we can find some monotheistic elements among the Meroites, but this does not lead to a conclusion that ‘Kushites were typically monotheistic’.
The same is also true for the Semitic peoples; we attest early Semitic monotheism in Mesopotamia already during the 3rd millennium BCE. We have strict Assyrian monotheism in Nineveh during the Sargonid times (722 – 625 BCE), and we have explicit Babylonian polytheism during the Nabonid times (625 – 539 BCE). The same is correct for the Indo-Europeans, we have monotheistic Zoroasterian Persians during the Achaemenid times (550 – 330 BCE), and we have polytheistic and monotheistic tendencies in Greece.
Speaking about Prophets, I believe that what characterized their minds were a concept and a principle; it was always a matter of mental abstract procedure of perceiving the idea and the essence of the Divine in a totally monotheistic way. I do not believe that cultic, social and ideological data mattered to them and their intellectual endeavors. Prophet Eliyah may well have known details about the Egyptian monotheism of Aton, as introduced by Pharaoh Akhenaton, an entire historical phenomenon to which Moses and the Exodus seem to be an emanation and a continuation, but we cannot afford to say that Eliyah was inspired by that fact. We have full proof that the prophetic thought is a high level abstract conceptualization, not an inspiration due to earlier events. The early priestly monotheistic perception of the Creation, as attested in some Assyrian – Babylonian, Hittite and Egyptian holy texts, seems also to be a matter of abstract conceptualization. Later literary, religious, and ideological compilations were not.
Finally, there is no such a system of thought as ‘Kushite monotheism’ or ‘Semitic monotheism’ or ‘Indo-European monotheism’. Monotheism is monotheism; the cultural environment may vary but matters very little. Akhenaton, Solomon, and Sinakherib as rulers, and the editors of the ‘Egyptian Book of the Hours’, of the Assyrian Messianic Epic ‘Etana’, of the Hermetic ‘Poimandres’ (the first book said to be written by God Himself, this time not by Allah but by Hermes Trismegistus), and of the books of Jonah, of Daniel and of Tobias, as well as Thales, Pythagoras and Socrates, as authors and conceptual thinkers, are all very close to one another.
VF: As a follow up question to your answers above, it is true that monotheism is monotheism as you very beautifully put it. At the same time, how it was conceptualized and has been adhered to matters. In your answers to one of the questions in Part II, you wrote: “Without Akhenaten’s religion there would never have been a certain Moses – Musa.” In a 2001 article, John Graham, a Canadian who worked for an NGO in Ethiopia and also wrote extensively on the cultural history in Ethiopia, reported the following: “Moses, for one, is said to have derived his monotheist beliefs from the example of Waaqa [equivalent of God – hence Waaqeffanna]. As with Moses, the staff is a sacred object for the Waaqa followers.” By staff, he was referring to Bokku, a stick like object, held by any Oromo leader, and Kalacha, a rare spiritual symbol kept by Oromo Qallus – spiritual leaders. There was a question in Part III regarding Kiya’s description. She was the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaton; some Egyptians believe he was the first person to conceptualize monotheism. The description of her name has a striking sentiment with the words meaning in Oromo language. Are we looking here at some visible dots and connections of history? What does this indicate to you?
Prof: There is a difference; with the Exodus dated at the times of Merenptah, Akhenaton antedates Moses approximately120 years; we can safely claim that the great grandfather of Moses lived at the times of Akhenaton. There is a continuation of ideas, ideological and philosophical, theological and literary approaches, their social events ensuing from one another. The ‘white terror’ of the restored Amun Theban polytheism, as practiced by rulers controlled by or expressing the Theban priesthood, Tutankhamun, Ay, Horemheb, Seti I and Ramses II, was awful for the monotheistic party of Egypt during all that time between the collapse of the Amarna monotheism of Akhenaton and the Exodus. Under Moses many Egyptians left along with the Hebrews! So, we can say that without Akhenaton there would be no Moses.
Now comparing the rise (or restatement) of a monotheistic religious system among fugitive masses in the desert and solitude of Sinai with a monotheistic Weltanschauung of a settled community in the African pasturelands, when various peoples and languages are involved, is – I am afraid – seems farfetched. Furthermore, there is a period of no less than 3000 years that separates the two systems of thought and belief! It leads to generalizations that help nobody.
VF: As another follow up question to the previous question, it is true that there is no prophet from the Oromo people. Some Oromos have asked why and one of the explanations is that no Oromo got order from God to be His messenger or no Oromo was willing to shoulder the responsibility of being God’s messenger. As you stated above, what is in religion is the true monotheistic principles. In this sense, isn’t religion a belief system? Where is the demarcation between what is religion and what is not? If all the people believe in monotheism and that will make them Muslim as you said and supposing that Waaqeffanna was monotheist long before Islam, it would mean that a Muslim is a Waaqeffata according to your rationale. Is this fair rationale?
Prof: Well, if we limit it within Hebrew religion, Judaism, and Christianity environment, you are right, no prophet originated from the Oromo people. But if we apply the Islamic approach, it is not quite sure! According to Islam, there have been several unknown or unidentified prophets at all times and allover the world. Of course this statement concerns the period before the last prophet, Muhammad, who has been described as the Seal of the prophets, but however! It enlarges the realm of the prophecy tremendously! To give you an example, it can mean that Akhenaton was a prophet, and/or that an unknown average fellow of that – or any other – period before the prophet Muhammad could have been a prophet without any other person understanding it. So, in this case, there may have been a Kushite prophet.
Then you ask me whether a belief system is a religion or not. Well, it is certainly not! Religion implies certainly cult. If you strip a religion from its cult, then there are not religious acts, ceremonies, procedures, litanies, all the action goes away! What is left is an ideology, a philosophy, a Weltanschauung, a belief system as you say, but then the ‘religion’ would look like the philosophical schools of Thales, Pythagore, and others!
However, from all the rest, I retain the exchange of terms, Muslim and Waaqeffata. Names do not matter that much, I believe! What arrived as system first is certainly Islam I believe. From 370 CE (fall of Meroe and dispersion/departure of the great majority of the Meroite – Ethiopians) to 622 CE (explosion of Islam), you have got just 250 years! It is impossible that from a polytheistic system turning around Apademak, Amun, Isis, Horus and other Meroitic and Egyptian gods, within 250 years, the ancestors of the Oromos, errant around the banks of Blue Nile, shifted to a monotheistic system without idols. This necessitates a greater span of time, and a virtually different natural environment, I mean settlement far from the Nile. But what comes first and what comes second does not mean much! What matters is diachronic presence of the same ideals.
VF: So, do
you consider Scientology as a religion or not?
Secret societies are known associations, organizations, lodges and/or ateliers with their locals publicly known, but their members undisclosed (usually with the exception of few), their hierarchy unidentified and possibly unrevealed even to a great part of the membership, and their ideas, beliefs, eventually ritual practices, cultic acts, ceremonies and litanies hermetically secret in the sense that something ‘holy’ cannot be revealed to ‘dogs’ as they were saying in the Antiquity. It is not just philosophical elitism like that of Cicero, for instance!
You do not need to refer to Scientology, a recent group initiated by Ron Hubbard, to speak of secret societies. There are plenty of them allover the world, and it has always been like this! Of course, some of them do not accept the appellation of secret society for themselves, stating that they are ‘open’, newcomers can easily join, and things like that, but of course this is nonsense, since when you ask them to reveal their upper hierarchical level teachings, ideas, ceremonies, initiations, rites, clothes, symbols and the like, they refuse to do so. This is secrecy, whether they like or not. Certainly the important and powerful among the secret societies, the most historical and traditional ones that rely on secret transmission through young apprentices’ initiation, do not bother at all if you call them ‘secret society’ or not. But the newer societies do not want to be characterized by an ambivalent word that may make many people reluctant to join, depriving therefore the expansion of the pyramidal structure that needs large base and many disciples. But, of course, they are wrong, because nonsecret societies are for instance political parties, non governmental organizations, cultural associations and the like, since they state their entire ideological system, belief, approach and interests to all openly without any restriction or initiation.
The famous Templars – the ferocious threat to Papal power at the times of the pyramids, the Hashashin Ismailiyah and their Old Man of the Mountain – mentioned even by Marco Polo, the Cathares – a survival of the Late Antiquity Gnosticisms, the Great Eikonomachoi, the rejecters of the icons within the Eastern Roman Empire who shook that state for more than 100 years until the final and tyrannical imposition of the icons at 842 CE, the Rosicrucians, the Free Masons, the Jesuits, and several other organizations, the Opheitai (Snake symbolists) of ancient Alexandria, the colleges of priests in several ancient Egyptian temples like those at Philae, Edfu, Kom Ombo and Denderah, the Chaldaic Priesthood of Late Antiquity Babylonia, the priestly college of Ishtar of Arbil in Assyria, the Persian and Roman Mithraic secret societies, the Egyptian Isiac mysteries as enacted by the Isis secret societies throughout the Roman Empire, the Hermetists of the Late Antiquity and the European Middle Ages, the Islamic times Alchemists, so many groups, some extinct, some surviving, some disguised under varying appellations, consist in the Dark Side of the Moon, as far as History of the Mankind is concerned. And Shakespeare spoke symbolically about his beloved ‘Dark Lady’…
What does it mean therefore, if one group, society or party practices a really undisclosed religion? Well, here one should first make clear that it is quite possible that a secret society
In all these cases the secret society has nothing to do with a religion, absolutely nothing. However, if the society practices a cult, introduces rituals, fixes holy days, and carries out specific ceremonies and litanies during these ‘holy’ days, deploying therefore the entire spectrum of a religious performance, then we have to do with a segregated religion known only its few, selected and initiated disciples and followers.
To respond straight to your question, I will simply say that I do not know whether Scientology belongs to one of the three former categories or to the latter type, in which case of course it would be a religion. ‘Modern religious and ideological groups’ is not my field…
VF: I think there are two kinds of people who live in this world: those who understand it and those who just live in it. Unfortunately, the latter are plenty and noisy. And I think you are one of the few in the former kind. With the greatest appreciation, thank you Sir.
Prof: But it was always like this! In the days of Shabaka, Qore at Napata and Pharaoh at Thebes, and in the days of Arkamani, Qore at Meroe, in the days of the free Gada congress participants, and in the days of tenebrous and lugubrious Abyssinian ruling class oppression. Thank you for your invitation to your well documented, much enlightening, and much promising website. I believe that, thanks to the work of people like you, the Voice of Finfinne will be heard to the four corners of the world, will resonate within every Oromo and every illuminated person of this world, and will ultimately be imposed in its correct location, eliminating the antihuman fabrication of ‘Addis Ababa’.
Thanks to pioneers and vanguard intellectuals like you, the world came to know that, in your great country, Finfinne means the land of the Living People whereas Addis Ababa signifies the Hell of the Dead.