The following article is taken from The Five Dimensions Of The Eritrean Conflict 1941 - 2004: Decephering The Geo-Political Puzzle by Dr. Daniel Kendie (p.117-120). I recommend my readers to find this book and read his interesting and historically factual arguments. Click here to contact and order the book from the author.
In part I of this article we will see what the author has to tell us about the historic background about the Wolqait, Tegede and Tselemt Provinces. In part II we will continue with the most current facts and happenings. Enjoy the reading!
According to Alan Rake, the TPLF which is a mirror image of the EPLF, is busy building a Tigrean Empire at the expense of the neighboring provinces, imposing Meles Zenawi's will on everybody (190).
Having used the land and the people of Tigrai as geographic and human shields of Eritrea for nearly two decades, in November 1977 the TPLF leadership agreed to relinquish to the EPLF Tigrean lands, including Agela, Ahsee Bizet, Rama, Adi Arbate, Chila, Simena, Lower Adiabo, and Higher Adiabo, including Badime. Then to compensate themselves, in December 1977, the TPLF leaders forcefully and illegally anexed Humera, Wolqait, Tsegede, and Tselemt from Gonder, and Raya Azebo, Alamata, and Ofla from Wollo. Subsequently, the size of Tigrai increased from 65,000 sq. Kms. to 102,000 sq. Kms. In doing so, they were making a mockery of their own constitution, and paying the customary lip-service to the principle of self-determination which they claimed as their guiding philosophy.
For lack of time and space, if we restrict the discussion to Gonder Province alone, we should note that the annexed provinces have never been part of Tigrai. Nor do the people identify themselves with Tigrai. The popular songs that the common people of Gonder sing are about the ethos, beauty, culture, and bravery of the people of Wolqait, Tesegede and Tselemt, with whom they identify very strongly, and with whom they lived together for centuries. Indeed, when Gonder became the political and administrative center of Ethiopia (1569 - 1868), it naturally expanded, and among other regions, it brought under its administrative control arraying, Wolqait, Humera, Tegede, Tselemt, Begemidir, Chilga, Dembia, Semien, and Wogera. During the reign of Emperor Fasiledes (1632 - 1667), it was decreed that the Tekezie River serve as the boundary between Gondar and Tigray.
In view of this, what Manifested Parkyins wrote in 1856 is quite relevant. "Gondar extends from the Tekeze River to the border of Senar in the Sudan, and that the principal divisions of Tigrai consisted of Hamassien, Seraiew, Akele Guzaie, Shire, Adi Abo, Tembien, Enderta, Wojirta, and Shilawa" (191). Similarly, writing in 1868, T.C. Plowden observed that the principal sub-divisions of Tigrai consisted of Hamassien, Seraie, Akele Guzaie, Agame, Shire, Adi Abo, Tembien, Enderta, Waggirat, and Shilawa (192). No where do these authors observe that the territories that the TPLF leadership forcefully snatched from Gondar and incorporated to Tigrai have been part of that province. Indeed, as one of the noted authorities on Ethiopian studies, Christopher Clapham notes, the TPLF has claimed part of Northern Gondar, asserting entirely on ficticious grounds that for a couple of years in the early 1940s, the area was administered as part of Tigrai.
The truth is, since patriotic resistance to the Italians was gaining momentum in Gondar, thanks to the leadership of such celebrated guerilla fighters as Amoraw Woubneh (the eagle) and Adane Mekonnen, by a temporary decree of March 1938 and February 1939, Wolqait and Tsegede were temporarily transfered to Eritrean administration. This was done, in the Italian view, in order to crush the Ethiopian resistance. Tigrai too was amalgamated with Eritrea. However, the temporary two years arrangement made by the Italians, could not make these provinces part of today's Eritrea, and still less of Tigrai, even if in the unlikely event that the TPLF leaders profess that Tigrai has become the successor state to mussolini's Italy. But their crimes do not stop here. Among other things, they even dismantled a generator which used to supply the city of Gondar with electricity and installed it in Mekele. Such pettiness in leadership is unheard of. Ethiopia deserves something better.
The late Dagnew Wolde Selassie, great grandson of Ras Woube Haile Mariam (1800 - 1866), former Ambassador to Yemen, and later Governor of Gondar Province, and a lawyer named Fetaye Assegu, among others, had written to Meles Zenawi hoping to reason with him so that sanity could prevail, but in vain.
Part II coming soon.