Sorry, Lencho can’t speak Amharic
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.