(By Y H, 12 December 2020) –
When two elephants fight it is the grass that suffers most. So did Tigray when the family of Mercha Weldekidan fought over against each other to claim the thrown that was already lost by seeking support of outside forces, Ras Mengesha (1886 -1905) divorced his Tigrain wife and remarried a warlord daughter Kefay Welle, a nice of Itege Taytu Betul.
Likewise, Gugsa Aria Selassie (1885 -April 28 1932) married Yeshashewirk Yilma born in 1917, a nice Haileselassie then Teferi Mekonnen.
The other contenders, the likes of Dejazmach Meshesha Maru, Bogale Araya and Ras Hagos (Ras Hagos of Shiere some historian believe is no relation of or son Mecha) directly and/or indirectly joined hands with the Italian imperialists against the interest and security of Tigray in particular and Ethiopia in general.
Both the Italians, British and Egyptians and the neighboring feudal forces were working hand and glove to break the will of the Tigrayan nation to submission so that it would never be a force to reckon and challenge the throne anymore.
Tigray was squeezed right and left by both White and Black imperialists. It was denied the sea outlet, once the Aksumites dominated; it was denied the interior land it used to control to collect ivory, rhinoceros horns, myrrh and other products up to and including lake Rudolf close to Kenya. A case in point you have the evidence that Tigrayans turned Welayta leaders and kings for generations. Although researches are scant for deliberate reasons Tigrayans were in Gurie and other places.
To a great extent the forces of domination did manage to achieve the sinister goals they set out to achieve.
That being, since then Tigray went through the most harshest economic, political, social and cultural changes of all to its demise. Tigrayans were reduced to subhuman standard of living with little or nothing to eat, with little or no medical facilities to deal with outbreak of diseases, with little or no provision of education to improve their living standards.
Following the death of Emperor Yohannes as the Tigrayan aristocracy and nobility were in a complete disarray as to which course of actions, albeit independent of each other, to take to regain control of power of the region.
Ras Gugesa for example where hesitantly serving The Shewan aristocrats who had then grabbed the power from the jaws of the Tigrayans.
On 11 January 1921 Gugesa captured Lij Iyasu Ali and handed him over to the Shewan rulers to ultimately be killed at the hands of Haileselassie before he departed/fled to Britain for safety but insuring the Italians would not put Iyasau in power once Haileselassie has left to Britain; fearing that in return for the good service his grandfather, Menelik did by handing them over part of Tigray, Behare Negash/Behare Midri which then they named it Eritrea.
Ras Mengesha senior’s relation with Menelik was on and off despite Menegsha’s marriage to Lelit Kefay, a nice of Itege Taytu Butel, Menelik’s official third wife, all of whom bore him no children, except the questionable daughters Menelik claimed, Shewa Regad and Zewditu claimed to be gotten from house maids.
Out of strategy or pure opportunism Ras Hogos was serving undercover for the Italians, in return for his father’s services for the Italian, Dejazmach Abraha Hagos nicknamed, “koblay” , vagabond, was permitted to immigrate and settle in Eritrea. He left behind with his wife, Attenash, daughter of Ras Mengesha – his uncle (as the Egyptians pharaohs did, marrying their own sisters) and two of his sons, Captain Mekonen and Ato Hagos. whilst Kenghazmach Afeworki, Dejazmach Solomon finally moved to Eritrea to join their father.
Personally I am indifferent as whether the Merchas families served the Italians and/or the Amharas. They both were antitheses to Tigray development. In fact it would have been better if Menelik’s original plan of betrayal succeeded, there by not only Eritrea we know today but the whole of Tigray would have gone to a full control and own-ship of Italy. Had it not for Menelik’s wife, Itege Taytu who had her own plot together with her family, Welle Butel, his son Gugusa welle, Menegsha Yohannes who is now married to Welle’s daughterከፈይ ወሌ. Tytu objected the transfer of Tigray to the Italians under the pretext of losing the religious site of Aksum the Ethiopians would not accept if the Italians were to take the whole of Tigray.
But the real intension was completely the opposite. The force of her brothers in Gojjam and Begemdir and that of Tiray with the help of Mengesha she would toppled the Showan dynasty and transfer power to Gondor. And she did succeed to stop Menelik doing that. Had he done so we then would have benefitted from the provision of fourth grade education, basic medical facilities and urban development which we did not have under Menelik or Haileselassie? And after the defeat of the Italians by the Axis Tigray and Eritrea would have come out as one and strong power no one could mess around. Unfortunately fate had it this did not happen.
The thing is that it would have been honorable if the Mercha families stayed clear of the Amhara and Italian allegiance and fought to the last breath for the independence of Tigray.
That put aside, in return to the services Ras Hagos provided to the Italians, Dejazmach Abreha and his family were granted permit to settle and therefore became naturalized Eritreans citizens.
There are legally three statues of citizenship: naturalized, by birth and by origin. By birth and origin have identical legal statues and inalienable rights, but if one is a naturalized citizen there are few limitations, as in the case of the USA one could not run for the office of President.
The talk that Isaias Afeworki is not an Eritrean is therefore a misguided perception. Isaias is an Eritrean as any other person claiming to be an Eritrean by birth and by inalienable rights of his mother and grandmother as Eritreans by origin.
He was born in Eritrea, his mother Wezro Adanch Berhe Gebrehewot was born in Eritrea as well from Wezro Medhin MeSel who herself was an Eritrean not by grace but by rights.
She moved to the place before it was called Eritrea as an I tutu. Wezro Medhin could be argued moved as in house one owns from one room to the next. Movement from Adua to Asmera was like moving from one room to the next in a house you owned. There was no political demarcation between Adua vs. Asmara. It was one of a place – call it any name you like.
If tracing her origin in Adua is regarded as a liability to her Eritrean nationality, it would be tantamount to saying Boraka Obama was a Kenyan, as President Trump used to accuse him for being, and could not be a USA President. But he did, little did Mr. Trump realised that he would have disqualified from running for the office as his origin traced is a Scottish, unless people were to argue that being Scottish of origin is different from being Kenyan.
Tracing Tigrayan origin is not a crime. But being Issyas could be a crime and that is where people have to focus on rather than being distracted. In any case Isaias never seems to like or being identified as a Tigrayan. In fact he hates Tigray and Tigrayans and this could be for two Real and Concrete reasons: when people call a person a name he/she particularly does not like, the person develop a phobia of the name and anything associated with it.
This is a medical case. Many people walking in the streets, driving cars, piloting a plane and/or running an office suffer in silence from such a phobia. Isaias is one of them, he needs help if only he could volunteer to be assisted.
Remember after all suffering, deprivation, mass starvation and mass killing perpetrated of Tigrayans at the hands of the Amhara rulers, Isaias once he came to power, he would have realised the suffering Tigruans, in clouding his relatives, went through, instead he bombed killed 44 young students for little or no apparent reasons at the centre of Mekelle. Would a Tigrayan do such a thing unless he is insane?
The second reason of Isaias’ hatred of Tigray has to do with his great grandfather. Ras Hagos, the Italian undercover entered in to conflict with Ras Alula who was the rulers of Bahri Negash before the Italians took over. Alula fought against right and left of the colonial equation to liberate the region by mobilizing armed force regardless of Menelik consent or dissent. Yes Ras Hagos was the “calf of our beloved cow we shared the milk with” but Alula was our indelible hero for centuries to come and close to all Tigrayan hearts.
The trouble, Ras Hagos felt Ras Alula of commonest and deserve little respect despite his global fame as war hero and strategist. It was not only him the cable if Ras Mengesha did as well. One day he travelled from Eritrea to meet Ras Mengesha but at the riyal gate he was told he was not welcomed at that moment and he had to wait.
On January 19, 1897 nine months after the Battle of Adua (1 March 1896) the two Tigrayan mighty power fought against each only both to die to the satisfactions of others. 94 years to the day, when Isaias marched in to Asmara as a liberator, the first thing he did was to dismantle, break and destroy the statue of Ras Alula Aba Nega and renamed the road that that took his in honor if his services.
Of all the enemies of Eritrea Isaias had to pick and destroy that of Alula. In fact Alula was not the enemy of Eritrea. He set up Asmara and was exemplary governor. Isaya may have an issue with Ras Alula for capturing and killing his great grandfather, Ras Hagos, but this had nothing to do with Eritrea. Isaias should not have had abused his position and trust of the Eritrean people and take a revenge on someone in the name of Eritrea when in fact Ras Alula was a friend of the Eritreans as all good Tigrayans ought to be.
Isaias who have left all Italian artifacts, décors, culture including year Calendar is suspected as a Tigrayan rather than some kind of alien by some who wanted to demonize him. Well, an alien he may be but Isaias is not nor would want to be a Tigrayan.
Finally bazaar things are happening in this world. There are some people who feel they can lie through your teeth starring at the audience and they feel people will take it for good. They tell them they are the son of God, and therefore they are “God the Son” and the people would start to worship them. They believe in this and are set to prove it for themselves.
That seems what Isaias did when he visited the city of Gondor. He went to the church to pray next to the graveyard of his grandfather!! But which grandfather you might ask? Dejazmach Abraha Hagos, “ Koblay” died in Asmara and buried in Enda Mariam, close Enda Aba Habesh.
Kenazmach Afeworki Abraha was buried in Mekelle. Ras Hagos Mercha left to rest at the place he was killed, Abdi Chumia, Sherie. So whose grave was he visiting when he went to church for requiescat? No one but they made a fool of all people around and the world. They visited a grave if no one except one created in their mind. Do you blame forgers and fraudsters or the people who follow and worship them? Isaias is a man driven by a cocktail of hatred, phobia and self-aggrandizement he thus is a dangerous person who needs to be stopped to save the rest.
He would not stop destroying Tigray, then that us done he would destroy Eritrea, if possible the Amharas before he destroyed himself.