In 1955, Ethiopia became the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, dividing it into 9 federal states. Significantly, Ethiopia was divided on ethnic lines into nine regional states giving them rights to self-government and autonomy in legislative, executive and judicial functions. In addition, Article 39 of the Ethiopian constitution on secession and self-determination was a major part which states “Every Nation, Nationality and People in Ethiopia has an unconditional right to self-determination, including the right to secession”.
Ethiopia’s glorious chapter in history is the resistance to any form of colonialism when all of Africa, except Liberia, was colonized by European power. Ethiopia was able to resist outside aggression not as a federal democratic republic based on ethnicity but as a unified force among various ethnic groups. Since the beginning of twentieth century Ethiopia has encountered multiple challenges from internal forces. Various ethnic groups like Somalis, Eritreans, Oromo and Tigreans have fought the central government multiple times. Hence, to manage ethnic violence Ethiopia adopted ethnic federalism in 1955.
It has always been a challenge to manage ethnic diversity for multi ethnic societies (unlike in Nepal). On one hand, federalism may stabilize conflicting multi ethnic society (unlike Nepali harmonious multi ethnic society) by decentralizing power and allowing ethnic groups an autonomy for self-governance, on other hand, ethnic federalism may increase and intensify ethnic conflicts by intensifying the political division, there by providing incentive for domestic as well as foreign actors to increase ethnic cleavages.
After more than 20 years of adaptation of ethnic federalism, Ethiopia is still battling mere difference between various ethnic groups seeded by domestic and foreign actors for their individual benefit. It seems, although actors try to divide and rule, the people of Ethiopia want unified nation under a solitary flag with harmony among all ethnic groups.
Like Ethiopia, Nepal has never been colonized by foreign power. Nepal fought bravely against foreign power for her sovereignty.
Like Ethiopia, Nepal have many ethnic groups who fought collectively against foreign power. Gurung, Magar, Chhetri, Brahmin, Newar, Madhesi and all ethnicity held hands together to resist foreign invasion.
Like Ethiopia, Nepal adopted the Federal Democratic Republic. But thanks to whoever is credible for not adopting ethnic federalism.
Unlike Ethiopia, Nepal has never faced ethnic violence till date. Thus, the question remains: Why we need ETHNIC FEDERALISM which has been advocated by many people in politics?
Does Nepal need to address its ethnic violence by adopting ethnic federalism? Or Is it to seed ethnic conflicts? Thereby to provide incentive for domestic and foreign actors to increase ethnic cleavages.
If we examine minute details of some incidents that took place in the near past, it indicates some elements are trying to seed ethnic conflicts which would grow in to a massive tree in near future. From defamation of “Father of Nation” to burning of national flag, from “EK MADHESH EK PRADESH” to “AKHANDA SUDURPASCHIM”, from “LIMBUWAN” to “NEWA RAJYA”, Don’t these incidents indicate that we Nepali are being led to future similar to Ethiopia?
Our generation has seen the unity between different ethnic groups and lived harmoniously among all ethnic groups. We have “Rai Uncle”, We have “Yadav Dai”, We have “Pasa”, We have “Khadka Bhai”, We have “Gurungni Didi”, We have “Khanal Baje”, We have Jetha Dai, Kancho Bhai all in our society, we are all related regardless of any ethnicity.
But the worrisome thing is that, what if our next generation only sees defamation of “Father of Nation”, burning of the National Flag, division based on ethnicity. Will they live in harmony in future as we have lived?
Ask yourself, Who would want us to divide and WHY?
Swechhya is a Freelance Writer.
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