Is ignorance really bliss?

I reflect on this in the formation of the Ethiopian state.

To lazy thinkers, “ignorance is bliss.” Yet to a tenacious thinker, with gumption, courage, and passion for life, “The truth will set you free.”

At a fundamental level, not even the political ideological level, this is the key difference in culture between the people of Ethiopia.

The first is a dogma that those who only know the “Ethiopian Nationality” prescribe to. The ignorance is bliss model is the key to ensuring the masses prescribe to the political ideology of the “unitary” camp. It is also a way of moral denial to the abuse on minorities since the 1270 resurrection of the “Solomonic line”. The countless forms of abuse to the native Cushitic people in modern day Amhara state is something that requires very deep academic acknowledgment. But the ignorance of the past allows the bliss of living in a falsehood of the ideal of an Ethiopian Nation-State.

The second appears to be the mode of thinking for those who have a layered identity. Truth seekers tend to hold a dual identity within the Ethiopian sphere. The statehood is “Ethiopian” whereas the nationhood or nationality of their identity is another form. These are the people who have been oppressed by the centralised crew. The road they travel seeking the truth of their people’s past is not an easy one. Not only does it have the challenges of questioning the western notion of a single nation-state identity as “normal” and the reality of the colonised nations. It also leads way to the fierce battles that Ethiopia has seen its history. Additionally, a new phenomenon that has raised its head during the period of the Tigray genocide, is that they now have to fight to show the truth to the world about the state formation of the Ethiopians. This is a frustration that I imagine is felt very deeply by those who have Cushitic and Nilotic language groups and cultures. Not only has their identity been questioned as “outsiders” from the unitary crew over time, but they have also been forced to witness the world idolise their oppressors.  I challenge those who do not believe my analysis to do your own personal enquiry into the truth of Hailie Selassie /Jah Rastafari.

The hard reality is that the conquering of others is a normal part of the human societal condition. Examples of one group assimilating another is shown right around the globe, in Europe alone one is wise to look up the formation of the Italian nation-state or one deeper to my genealogy is the Magyarisation of Hungary. But the fictitious history of Ethiopia is one that westerners of all backgrounds need to re-think, from a wider perspective. An inquiry into the whole history of say the Sultanites of Hadiyaa, or the Amharinisation and Christianisation of the Qement, or the garrison forces that renamed Finfinne to Addis Ababa will reveal the truth of what actaully was the making of the Ethiopian state.

If the people who promote that “Ethiopia being the only non-colonised country in the world” truly want to be the saviours of the African continent, they need to look at Ethiopia from the lens of all indigenous groups. This must include those with the Tigrayan background (Ethiopia AND Eritrea). With truthful examination of the battles between “Ethiopia” and Italy, one finds, it was the people of Tigringa tongue and Afar nationalities that fought the longest bloodiest battles of the colonial forces. It was these people of post-colonial state, Eritrea, and Tigray that suffered the most loss. During the second invasion of Italy, the people of Somalia and Oromia took great losses and hits. At all times, those who live in the areas inhabited by those who prescribe to the Ethiopian nation-state ideals were the last to be devastated by the external force, yet often the first to be damaged by internal battles.

For the truth to set the people of Ethiopia free, it will require a very honest revision of the narratives around the complexities of the formation story, open hearted reconciliation boards and treaties that recognise the origins of many of the now displaced peoples. This is a challenge that has the potential to challenge the identity of the ignorance is bliss subscribers. It will most certainly have the impact of triggering the stages of grief on both an individual and community level. And it may be considered the harder road. However, I ask, for how long can the truth be hidden, and bliss be blissful for all? Just look at the bloodshed caused by those with unitarity camp which has forced the resistance and protection of the civilians by liberating defence forces.

Ignorance may be bliss for some but viewing those in that blissful state is torture for others. Although the road to freedom via the truth is harder, I argue it will break the cycle of wars of oppression and liberation in the future.  And as a final remark, I ask the people of Eritrea, both supporters and opposes of the current regime to reflect how this argument can be applied to your own society, make the inquiry into the truth of the formation of the Eritrean statehood before the truth of nationhood is seen to be another liberating catalyst. 

Leave a Reply