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Saturday, 14 February 2009

Is prejudice based on skill color unique to Ethiopia ?

Tedla Asfaw

I read a piece by Obang , Aiga Vs. Obang, eleven pages posted on many websites and I want to bring my own observation to help the discussion. Few years ago there was an archaeological/paleontological study in middle east which concluded that Jesus is a short dark skinned man. When survey was made  to see the reaction of people to this study  in Europe and South America,more than 90 percent of the people most of them  white/light skinned and some brown rejected the study and concluded that Jesus can not be black.

In neighboring Somalia many dark skinned Somalis were killed and chased as slaves because of their dark skin. We have many of them settled here in USA. In Iraq half million Iraqis are treated as second class citizens because of their dark skin and are expecting change because of the Black President Obama.

What Obang mentioned in his piece about Ethiopia is true but it should have been put in context. The Ogaden movement or OLF movement is not led by people of "dark skin" and their struggle is not to be free from the "light skinned" Ethiopians. I do not know any movement for that matter in Ethiopia who wants to be free from Ethiopia because of skin color.

During Siad Bare's Somalia the propaganda coming from Mogadishu was insulting "Kucherawe Mengistu/ Mengistu the slave" and his father "Menelik Barreywe/slave" and I have not heard such insult against King Haile Selasse. Many African leaders  and for that matter many Africans supported Mengstu for being dark and condemned those who opposed him for being racist or light skinned.

We know Mengistu killed all who challenged his power and I do not know anyone who was saved because of his skin color. If we draw a skin color map, light skinned,brown and dark the struggle in Ethiopia will be very complicated because there is no one major ethnic group in Ethiopia who do not compromise substantial percentage of dark skinned people like myself.

It is good to talk about skin color in open,however, I do not believe it will help us solve our political problem. Prejudice against skin color is a world wide phenomenon and it is not unique to Ethiopia.