By Elias Kifle
In 1976, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (Woyanne) that is currently ruling Ethiopia crafted its Greater Tigray Manifesto. The manifesto called for transforming the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray in to an independent country through expansionist policies. For Greater Tigray to become a reality, Meles Zenawi and his Woyanne comrades decided that they have to take control of the central government in Ethiopia and systematically dismantle the country. They also appropriated lands from neighboring regions of Gonder and Wollo (see the maps below).
As the map below shows, the Woyanne junta claimed 20 percent of Gonder’s territory and a large area of northern Wollo.
The Greater Tigray agenda suffered a setback when Woyanne went to war with Eritrea in 1998. Woyanne had to scramble and get Ethiopians to support the war by trying to falsely present itself as an Ethiopian nationalist group.
The Woyanne’s war with Eritrea caused split inside the organization’s top leadership, and Meles purged about half of the central committee members, putting the final nail on the coffin of Greater Tigray manifesto.
Currently, TPLF under Meles Zenawi’s leadership is not a cause- or ideology-driven organization any more. It is a business mafia that happens to wield political and military power.
As it turns out, Greater Tigray manifesto is having the unintended consequence of diminishing Tigrean nationalism:
1. A growing number of Tigreans do not want to be associated with TPLF or Tigrean nationalism any more.
2. Other than Mekele, the capital city of Tigray, most parts of the region, including Meles Zenawi’s hometown, Adwa, are still dirt poor and have yet to receive the dividends for TPLF’s political power, despite the enormous wealth the Meles crime family has amassed.
3. Currently, there are over 100,000 non-Tigrean troops in Tigray (a region with a population of 6 million). As a result, about 1 in every 10 child currently born in Tigray doesn’t have a Tigrean father. Tigreans are also migrating toward south in massive numbers.
4. Woyanne’s investment over the past 20 years has not produced tangible results, other than a few shiny high rise buildings in Mekele. The reason is that the investment was politically-driven, hence poorly studied and planned. The end result of a government-controlled investment or command economy is always a colossal failure. The Soviet Union comes to mind.
In recent days, we are witnessing an encouraging development. The Tigrean elite, the last refuge of Tigrean nationalism, is coming around to finally disowning the Meles dictatorship, although not as fast as we would like it to happen.
A lesson that can be learned from the failure of Greater Tigray Manifesto is that it is in the best interest of all Ethiopian ethnic groups to submit their parochial interest to Ethiopian nationalism. Tigray, Oromo, Amhara, and all the other ethnic groups can flourish under a strong and united Ethiopia.
It is time for all Tigreans to wake up and join other Ethiopians in the fight to remove the Meles vampire regime.