Ethiopia Tigray conflict resolution must be based on faith not tribalism

Intense world wide diplomatic efforts and press attention is given to the Ukraine Russia crisis while the Tigray Ethiopia conflict is mostly ignored.

The apathy of the world and Africa to the human suffering in Tigray shamefully represents abandonment of principles of human dignity and equality in Christian and Muslim faith.  Why is the current threat of Russian invasion of Ukraine, a country of half the size and half of the population of Ethiopia without the current humanitarian crisis, receiving so much diplomatic and media attention while the Tigray Ethiopia conflict is not? There is no doubt that a massive armed conflict in Ukraine could cost hundreds of thousands of human lives but at the same time several hundred thousand have already died and millions more are at risk in the largest conflict and humanitarian crisis currently on this planet in Tigray. Resistance to the government of Ethiopia by other minorities including the Oromo is propagating daily. Although one might quickly argue that the Western democracies care more about white Europe then black  Africa it is not that simple. We have to look at human nature and to reflect on Christ’s message to mankind to find solution. The issue of external international concern and internal domestic concern both involve idolatry to tribalism rather then acting in obedience to Christian and Muslim beliefs of brotherhood.

Since the beginning of history there is a human trend which seems natural to place family and those with the most in common with ourselves before strangers. In every generation bloody conflict develops when one group of humans identifies another group as not only different but also a threat. Today in the world of ubiquitous social media small sparks of hate can easily become raging firestorms with little rational basis. Yet this tendency to form tribes is a part of our “animal nature”.  Even from a biological evolutionary point of view this has been explained as done to favor the reproduction of our genes over other competing genes. The concept of becoming a pious Christian or Muslim involves specifically that man must escape his beastly nature and evolve to a divine nature of love of God and his fellow man.

Yet the birth of Jesus Christ brought in a new era. As Christians we are taught to recognize that we are creations of God who have been created by a divine nature which negates and overrules our beastly nature. In recognizing that all humans are God’s creation and our equal brethren potentially worthy of salvation and only ultimately to be judged by God we are governed by new commandments. Love your neighbor and love your enemy are inescapable tenets of Christian faith. Christ and his apostles tell us that tribalism exists but that we must create our relationships with others through God as equals in both Ukraine and Ethiopia. Muslims have similarly been taught to see themselves equally before God.

Western democracies have tended to look at Africa as incapable of stable democracy and meaningful contribution to world affairs. At the same time African political leadership while voicing support for democratic ideals always tends to favor existing political leaders even if they have strayed far democratic principles to become repressive authoritarian states. African autonomy of a dictator is considered appropriate if it avoids the perception of colonialism. Tribalism reigns throughout the world. It seems both Western democracies and Africans have to decide whether they are going to live by the principles they claim as Christians and Muslims.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, we are taught we must intervene when a fellow human being presents before us in need. We cannot walk away and ignore the situation.

Author: Professor Tony Magana

Professor Tony Magana is Head of the Department of Neurosurgery, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences at Mekelle University in Mekelle, Ethiopia. He directs a neurosurgery residency and training program as well as neuroscience research.

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