Opinion

Sorry, Lencho can’t speak Amharic

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 @ 01:07 PM ed

By Tizibt Ayele

Lencho Leta, one of the founders and old timers of the Oromo Liberation Front, was on ESAT a couple of days ago. That is not news for me. What was news for me was his refusal to be interviewed in Amharic.

At a time when the Oromo Liberation Front has proven nothing but dismal failure, he refused to communicate in Amharic but preferred to speak in English. I understand that it was his choice. But at the same time leaders have to prove their worth with smart approach in politics. Amharic is just a language, a tool of communication. Those who speak any languages for that matter have more advantages to reach out to many more people than those who are monolingual.

English has spread throughout the world not because of a commandment from God. The English, the French, the Portuguese and the Spaniards were colonizers and slave traders who imposed their language and culture across the world. This is a terrible part of history but it was over long ago. There is nothing wrong with English, French, Spanish or Portuguese despite the history behind them. On the flip sides of the languages we see the fact that the languages have managed to become lingua franca in parts of the world. If anyone refuses to speak and write in English due to this historical fact, the act will have no harm on English speaking people, who are not just from England. But it reduces the protesters capability to communicate with so many people across the globe.

Amharic has no more or less value than English or Oromiffa. As an Oromo-Amhara, I speak both Amharic and Oromiffa. To be honest, I have neither respect nor disdain for both languages. They are just languages. For that matter, as a multilingual individual I also speak English and Spanish which has given me an edge to survive in exile.

As far as I know, Lencho Leta speaks fluent Amharic. He has been interviewed on the Voice of America Amharic service a few times. His refusal to give interview in Amharic is disgraceful, given the fact that ESAT broadcast to Ethiopia is in Amharic. If a small political message is more important than the ability to communicate ones message beyond the ethnic and cultural fault lines that some are deliberately using to divide people, Lencho seems to be a pathetic loser.

There is a legitimate historical grievance that need to be addressed in our country. Instead of addressing this historical grievance, the TPLF has been imposing a more sinister system that resembles nothing but Apartheid. In order to defeat the divisive regime, people of Ethiopia need unifying leaders that are willing to communicate with us all, the oppressed people of Ethiopia, irrespective of our linguistic and cultural differences.

The oppressed people of Ethiopia have always been the majority. We have to know our enemies. They have always been a handful of people. Surely, Lencho will also understand this fact.




53 Responses to “Sorry, Lencho can’t speak Amharic”

  1. Gufu says:

    Old dogs never learn new tricks

    What one should look into is not the language lencho decided to use but the mentality of olf as an organization.

    Long after the fuedal system was dismantled and after 17 years of Derg’s killing rule and almost 20 years of Woyane dominance, OLF hardliners still call Amharic speaking Ethiopias, Ethiopinas neftegnas. At this time and age they are still playing the same old tune very religiously.

    OLF supporters seem to appreciate the separation of Eritrea from Ethiopia despite the present horrifying politicaland economic situation in Eritrea. The proposal of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda to become one nation is a horor story for OLF supporters.

    The OLF and their old timers leader are already going downhill and they evntually vanish.

    I hope young Oromo Ethiopians will realize the destructive nature of OLF type institutions and join the struggle for democracy for all Ethiopians.

  2. Netsanet Zegeye says:

    Netsanet Zegeye says:
    August 3, 2010 at 1:11 am
    sorry, please read this one, the previous has some errors that should be edited.

    Dear Dawaa, I am a student of language by the way. I can speak nearly five languages, needless to mention here, in fac. I beautifully understand that the value of a language is as equal as that of the value of the sweater you are donned now. Let me repeat this please: The value of a language[any language for that matter] is equivalent to that of the value of the cup you drank your tea with this morning. The sweater gets worn out, the cup gets broken or out of use one day in its life. Then, why are we bickering in trivial stuffs? Why don’t we do more productive ones? Did you have the chance to choose between Amharic and Oromiffa or English or Menderin or German…? If I had a chance, I would choose English and I would choose one of the Scandinavian countries as my country of citizenship. It may be natural to love what you have but not at the expense of hating that of the others’ including the people. What do the people in Arsi, in Gonder, in Harer, … know about our litigious arguments based on ‘mine is better than yours’ futile point?
    Ato [ Mr or Obbo or Don or Signor or Lala or Ayte or Teyshew...] Leencho Leta, understandably and from the point of view of all Ethiopians, is Ethiopian who had been raised by the missionaries in Wollega in the good old days when we used to pass through the same tunnel of happiness or atrocity, irrespective our ethnic group or religion. I personally disliked the intention that he refused to talk in the language millions of Ethiopians would understand better. Frankly speaking, no citizen of this planet can convince any one of us as to why he used the English language except that he wanted to offend some oversensitive citizens. In my case why not in the language of the Aborigines of Australia, I don’t care in whatever language he speaks now or in the future. We Ethiopians cackle here above just to express our feeling that we need a person that cures our wounds not a person(persons) that widen and exacerbate the wounds created by subtle strategists for their own strategic political and economic interests. You and I will never get any advantage if we go on quarreling for ever, rather, we remain losers as usual while those who had engineered the cleavage amongst us stay strong, laughing and sneering at us and appreciating the mechanisms that have made us all stupid to the extent of accepting our death, poverty, backwardness, infighting, etc willingly.
    As a final opinion in this piece, had Lencho spoken in Oromiffa, I wouldn’t have any grudge on my behalf. That is our language,too, the language of all Ethiopians. We have about 82 languages all together. Oromifa is one of them spoken by over a 40% of the total population of the country. But we should also understand why a language is selected to serve as an official language; it is not by emotions or by decree or by the wish of the ruling class. If that had been the case, now the working language or the official language or whatever you call it, of Ethiopia would have been Tigrigna.
    Dear Dawaa and other compatriots of mine, believe me, we are one, though we might have some problems. And it must be our responsibility to get rid of the alleged problems to which we are not the sources for their emergence. Let’s change the gear of history. Let’s use our energy for positive outcomes. Let’s not waste our potential in instigating clashes and pyrrhic destruction among our people. Our people had enough of them. I hoe we can change for better. With love, sorry to what I might have offended you here above.

  3. Fenet says:

    You people will never understand what it is like to be subjugated and obligated to speak a language which is not your mother tongue… Especially the decendants of former Naftagnas in Addis think they know every thing because now they think they have understood Equality… let me tell you something Don’t judge what you could never understand because you were not there.. Habesh