Ethiopian history begins at Tigray about 2000 years ago. There is empirical evidence that the Tigrean civilization has existed as far as 2000 BC followed by the world historical Axumite civilization in 500 BC. Modern Ethiopia is a direct descendant of this ancient Tigrean Civilization. These two civilizations, ancient and modern, are inextricably intertwined. Therefore, one can take modern Ethiopia out of Tigray, but not Tigray out of Ethiopia.
The idea of Ethiopianity which I have been defending in a series of articles in Tigray On line, Aiga Forum, Ethiomedia, Ethiomedia Forum and my books, Zara Yacob, the philosopher of Modernity; Philosophical Essays; and Ethiopian Discourse, in amazon.com, is informed by this foundational history. I am one of those Tigrean-Ethiopians who have been defending this thesis for the past twenty years,and on which I would like to briefly elaborate.
There are two parallel situations in our current politics that we must analytically separate.
One move is that the recent harassment of Tigray by the Amhara region and the Abiy regime is pushing the Tigrean elites to seek out an exit from EPRDF and find a new Tigray to feed, shelter, cloth and develop the Tigrean people. This existential crisis can be solved only by the developmental plans of TPLF, extracted out of EPRDF. This is a necessary move propelled by the wings of our current condition of suffering and neglect by the Abiy regime, as it seeks a permutation of solutions which are not working for the Tigrean poor. The Tigrean people are very angry.
(B)The second parallel move articulates the historic argument that both the Amhara region and the Abiy regime themselves are direct and dependent descendants of the world historic civilization at Tigray founded 2000 years ago. (A) itself is produced by (B), that when Tigreans demand self-determination, they do so as founders of Ethiopian civilization and that modern Ethiopia itself would be annulled if we take Tigray out of it.
The existential crisis in Tigray is projected on Ethiopia itself, inspite of the suicidal denial of some Ethno nationalists who do not know and do not want to know their history, the history of valor and imagination.
Ancient Tigray, the foundation of modern Ethiopia, is a source of pride for all the people of the Global South and not only modern Ethiopia.
SolutionThe long overdue development of Tigray does not have to necessitate that Tigreans denounce their Ethiopianity, as its founders. They must instead preserve the Ethiopianity which they founded by any means necessary, that the two parallel arguments as in (A ) and ( B) can be carried out simultaneously. Tigray must be developed by Tigreans themselves, a project which they have already begun. As they do so, Tigreans do not have to construct a new identity, since they are already defined by the very idea of Ethiopianity which they originated.