When has Tigray ever been the motor or economic engine that runs Ethiopia?
By Bereket Kidane
PM Abiy basically told the residents of Makelle that Tigray is the best thing since sliced bread. He might as well have said to the Tigrayans, “You are the wind beneath my wings.” It’s obvious that the speech he delivered in Tigrigna, full of praise for Tigray, referring to Tigray as “The motor that runs Ethiopia” was written for him by his TPLF handlers.
Is Tigray the motor that runs Ethiopia though? That would mean that as goes Tigray so goes the rest of Ethiopia. Which begs the question: When has Tigray ever been the economic engine of Ethiopia?
When former Ethiopian Strongman Mengistu Haile Mariam was asked why the Dergue forces simply abandoned the then province of Tigray without bothering to put up a fight he responded by saying “Tigray is a one mill province. It has nothing of value.” That was thirty years ago. Fast forward to 2018, Tigrayans are still lining up on Saturdays to claim their ration of donated USAID wheat. So not much has changed. Tigray is still dirt poor.
So where does PM Abiy get the notion that Tigray is the engine that runs Ethiopia? Many Ethiopians, in fact, blame Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the dominant party within EPRDF, for all sorts of ills that afflict the Ethiopian state today. TPLF, which hails from Tigray, is rightly blamed by Ethiopians for inciting inter-ethnic hatred and waves of ethnic violence among other things.
If TPLF is Tigray and Tigray is TPLF as some Tigrayan nationalists are fond of saying, then someone has to answer for all that kleptocracy, thievery, malfeasance and divide-and-conquer bantustanization that went on during the era of TPLF.
Having come into office with zero votes from the TPLF, the thematic speech that PM Abiy should have given in Tigray is the following: The era of TPLF is over. But he doesn’t have the cojones.