Haunting Silences: Devising Poetry in the Case of Ethiopia’s Political Upheaval
Following the ‘’revolution’’ burst in the Oromia region of Ethiopia in 2016, which was mainly instigated by the newly designed master plan of the capital Addis Ababa in 2014, Ethiopia has faced multiple socio-political and historical upheavals throughout the years in the so-called ‘’state building’’ affair. In such a conflict, how history is written comes into play when one desires to mediate. As Baldwin states, “History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history. If we pretend otherwise, we are literally criminals.”
In the current socio-political context, following the new administration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, the conception of history that mainly instigated the ongoing conflict is fetched from unresolved multiple political questions, territorial and ethnic-based tensions, and unexamined rhetoric from the past. As a result, if it is not resolved, it will continue to have an impact on our future. Thus, it is crucial to take notes of today’s incidents responsibly to bring about the desired “change” that can accommodate the basic concerns of the people on the ground. This study examines the chronological events using poetry as an alternative methodological input.
As part of my ongoing artistic research project on silence, I have been writing a series of poems that follow political and historical events and unprecedented phenomena throughout the years with the hashtag #evolutionarypoems. #Evolutonarypoems series documents such incidents and events as a registry of critical and creative views in the form of poetry. These poems aim to intervene by introducing poetry as an essential tool in historiography discourses and knowledge production processes; they serve as a methodology to rethink, revisit, examine, and analyze multi-layered levels of silenced voices in contrast to revolting voices and events right on the eve of a revolution or protest that has continued to unfold since 2015.