Ethiopia, burning paradise

Do not forget Ethiopia. It is not the land of eternal suffering as popular imagination would have it, or it need not be. It is an ancient culture in a land of wonders, ruined by past wars but which was striding towards prosperity, until a new civil war began.

I wrote before about the vital work being carried out to heal Tigray after the Communists ravaged its land and turned fields into desert. Tigray was beginning to regain its old status as a leading province of the nation, but it is Tigray which war has struck.

The news is infrequent. It is not that nothing is happening, but that reporters are not interested in far countries that seem doomed to suffer every misfortune, and so are their audiences for the most part. We cannot write Ethiopia’s story for it though. It is not just a cliché, a charity case, a one-line thumbnail of a country. It is a large and complex nation that had cities and mighty monarchs when Britons lived in dark, Bronze Age huts.

The war is a cruel one. Atrocities have been commonplace, massacres, rapes, crop-burning and village-burning. It scarcely bears thinking about and no wonder we turn away. This is not a moral reflection on either side, as any ill-disciplined army commits atrocities (just whisper ‘Badajoz’ before you leap to judgment): it is a reflection of the immorality of war in general, and of civil war in particular.

Hobbes asserted that the sovereign power must be one, or the state will fall into discord and war and that is exactly what happened here: two authorities contending over who should be master. Civil discord commonly breaks out over who governs and how, but:

the estate of Man can never be without some incommodity or other; and that the greatest, that in any forme of Government can possibly happen to the people in generall, is scarce sensible, in respect of the miseries, and horrible calamities, that accompany a Civill Warre; or that dissolute condition of masterlesse men, without subjection to Lawes, and a coercive Power to tye their hands from rapine, and revenge

The Tigrayans have been at the heart of Ethiopia’s being every since there was a united Ethiopian state, and many times in its history they were the dominant, ruling sub-nation. When Communist rule tottered, it was Tigrayans, in Eritrea and the wider Tigrayan regions, who rose and drove them from the capital, so one might detect in the rebellion a sense of wanting to gain that which their arms won, and which people of their name enjoyed centuries before.

However, rebellion and war are cruel and the suffering far exceeds any imagined gain. The weeping mothers were despoiled by soldier, not by one side or the other, but soldiers, whatever their uniform.

Ethiopia deserves peace. Let us hope there are prayers enough to bring it.

See also


Author: LittleHobb

Solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short