By Fikru Helebo
If there is one word that best characterizes a great majority of the views expressed on this blog, I think it is "moderate" as opposed to "extreme". This is not to suggest that extreme views on either flank of the political spectrum won't be entertained here -- as there are times taking what may be considered an extreme position is the most reasonable thing to do -- but, rather, it is to say that most of the views that you will encounter here advocate seeking the middle ground in Ethiopian politics, the realistic middle that is.
In post-1991 Ethiopia, where the Ethiopian state has been constitutionally subordinated to its constituent ethnic parts (please see Maimire Mennasemay recent superb article), the defining feature of Ethiopian politics has been politics based on ethnic identity. In this environment where ethnic politics reigns supreme, the alignment of the political forces in the country has been predominantly determined by their view on the role ethnic identity should play in the political life of the nation. On the one end of the political spectrum, there are those who advocate the disintegration of Ethiopia along ethnic lines, and on the other end are those who want ethnic identity to play no part in politics.
The Woyane, the incumbent ruling clique of Ethiopia, has politicized ethnicity for their own nefarious reasons. The trick is how to reconcile these two extreme positions by creating a political environment where those who have been marginalized because of their ethnicity can feel confident that their concerns can be satisfactorily addressed in a united Ethiopia. This is why I think a "moderate" point of view on the ethnic issue is the only realistic point of view that will thwart the Woyane hegemony and enable their opponents to replace the Woyane with a democratically elected government.
When I started blogging in October of 2005, I didn't expect I would be going at it for this long. I felt that I had some ideas that were worth sharing in those tense times and I thought views from the region of Ethiopia that I come from needed to be accentuated. That was the reason why I put the caption "A Southern Perspective on Ethiopian Current Affairs". But now I feel that the Ethiopian ideas market place has matured sufficiently enough for Enset blog to forgo advertising itself as merely "southern" and, so, I have changed the caption to "A Moderate Perspective on Ethiopian Current Affairs" to reflect this evolution. Mind you, this is not to say that the views expressed by me or others who happen to come from the Ethiopian south cease to be "southern" as I had attempted to explain here. It is just that the view I dubbed "southern" has been subsumed in the broader category of a "moderate" view.
As you can imagine blogging is a time consuming undertaking and I do not think I would still be doing this if it was not for the contribution by others, especially Ephrem. Now that the blog's identity is broadened, I would like to invite contributors who hail from all corners of Ethiopia to share their perspectives on this blog. But there is a catch, any one who wants to contribute must use his/her real name. The only exception to this rule is if you currently reside in Ethiopia. If you are interested in being a regular contributor, that is even better, and I will add you to Blogger as a team member. Please remember that I do not have the time to edit your contribution. At the risk of sounding redundant, I would like to reiterate that political moderation is the best antidote for Ethiopia's ills. If your views fall into this category (you know who you are), you are invited to contribute and make a difference.