Ethiopia: The Stages of Grief Over Eritrea

By Amanuel Biedemariam


For a long time, I wanted to post this article because I felt that it is accurate and is a glimpse into what I believe is a reflection of the process that many Ethiopians have to go through to let go of the emotional attachment they have with Eritrea. I am not a psychologist, but using my psychology 101 from college, I found a fitting formula to make sense of how Ethiopians are progressing towards accepting our Independence and as a nation. What I used is The stages of Grief by Kubler-Ross. The stages are:

Denial: The initial stage: “It can’t be happening.”

Anger“Why ME? It’s not fair!” (either referring to God, oneself or anybody perceived, rightly or wrongly, as “responsible”)

Bargaining“Just let me live to see my child(ren) graduate.”

Depression“I’m so sad; why bother with anything?”

Acceptance“It’s going to be OK.”

Kübler – Ross originally applied these stages to any form of catastrophic personal loss (job, income, freedom). It also includes the death of a loved one and d. Kübler-Ross also claimed these steps do not necessarily come in order, nor are they all experienced by all patients, though she stated a person will always experience at least two.

I believe these stages also apply to Ethiopians going through the loss of Eritrea as a former province of their nation. It is particularly evident among Amharas, and I believe knowing full well Weyane is exploiting or exploiting this to galvanize support for their misdeeds against Eritrea. The stages and how they apply:

Denial: at this stage, a person denies what happened and fails to comprehend the magnitude of the circumstance.

After the Independence of Eritrea, many Ethiopians I encountered were shocked and in disbelief. Their reaction varied, and most believe it is a temporary phase, and the two sisterly countries will eventually come together as one after they come to their senses.

They told themselves that Eritrea could not sustain itself economically, politically, and nation. They were dumbfounded because there was nothing they could do about it then because of the TPLF/Weyane’s unconditional consent to the Independence of Eritrea.

I am sure Eritreans have encountered Ethiopians and some Ethiophyles that chose to ignore our independent identity by stating, “you are all the same,” as if they know Eritrea and its history. Many Ethiopians bring up issues that undermine Eritrean Independence and sheer disrespect to Eritrean wishes to undermine Eritrea. They do it deliberately, and some to this day teach their kids Eritrea as part of Ethiopia.

Many use history of manipulating facts to make the case that Eritrea is Ethiopia, and most of the history they bring up is not based on facts. Still, most importantly, the points they ignore are undisputed.

My favorite misrepresentation is the history of colonization and Ethiopia. At the same time, they brag about the pristine colonial past of Ethiopia; they ignore the Eritrean colonial period at the hands of the Italians. How is it possible to claim Eritrea is Ethiopia while you claim you have never been colonized? If that is not denial, I don’t know what is.

Anger: The grieving person may then be furious at the person who inflicted the hurt, or at the world, for letting it happen. He may be angry with himself for letting the event take place, even if, realistically, nothing could have stopped it.

I saw genuine anger directed at Eritreans even by those who claimed to be our friends after the war broke out, notably when Weyane expelled Eritreans from Ethiopia. I felt there was a great deal of satisfaction from some Ethiopians after Weyane forcibly deported Eritreans. Of course, there were sane Ethiopians in Ethiopia who opposed Weyane and helped Eritreans at great risk to their lives. However, I truly felt some feeling of satisfaction emanating from many.

The attitude was they want to be independent, let them go. I also saw the false bravado expressed during the war, mainly after penetrating Badme. The exhilaration in the streets of Addus Ababa was unmatched, and I got the sense they felt a release after all the years of defeat at the hands of Eritreans.

The TPLF exploited the developments well.  I don’t think a single Eritrean doesn’t meet Ethiopians and hear them express satisfaction about it. Again, if that is not anger expressed, I don’t know what is. Because Ethiopians didn’t care about Badme, they wanted Eritrea because they felt Eritrea was Ethiopian.

Bargaining: Now, the grieving person may make bargains with God/Allah, asking, “If I do this, will you take away the loss?”

I feel this may be the stage where most Ethiopians, particularly those in the Diaspora, may be in.

Having gone through a devastating war, they don’t have the stomach and justification for another war. And at the same time, Ethiopians know this is Weyane’s game so, the majority has decided to work against Weyane. Some are working with us to rid Ethiopia of the filth of Weyane for good. However, certainly, bargaining is going on in many heads of Ethiopians.

Some want a regime change to get what they wish, some want Assab, and some want Eritrea.

Those in the bargaining stage who want Eritrea by other means justify what is in their head by using many excuses, such as Eritreans being in lousy shape under Isayas.

As you have heard recently, Ghebru Asrat is trying to sell this idea by raising the issue of Assab to try to galvanize support for his feeble attempt to subdue Eritrea one more time. As Well as Dr. Yacob Hailemariam and others openly claiming Assab and some venture to Massawa. It is evident to almost the entire Ethiopian population that Weyane represents a limited self-interested clique even at the expense of Tigray. We can’t deny the fact that virtually all the leaders in Ethiopia are TPLF Tigrayans. This helped create a rift between Weyane’s agenda of war and Ethiopians lack of desire to work with Weyane because they know the imminent demise of the mercenary thugs of Tigray. It ensures that Weyane’s tricks are going down the toilet in Sheraton sooner than later. Sheraton references a friend who hangs out in Sheraton Addis.

But the dying Weyane regime is not to be deterred. As such, it is churning excuses after excuses to try to justify its continuous quest for war and subjugation of Eritrea. At the same time, it puts Ethiopian children in a constant state of starvation.


I conclude that we are in the third bargaining stage. To realize the final stages, Ethiopians must accept Eritrean Independence. They must understand that peace, prosperity, growth, education, health, and security come when we develop mutual respect and understanding. Most importantly, respect for the rule of law.

It is impossible to do what the TPLF did after it went to the international court, received a judgment, and once they received a ruling that did not favor it, they tried to change it by force.

It is impossible to violate people and their identities and be brotherly. It is unrealistic to believe you can develop trust while violating the rule of law. It is impossible to think you can have peace and security while you subject others to fear by claiming this territory and that territory. For peace to prevail, we must take personal responsibility and help uphold the rule of law to help settle our people from refugee camps into a flourishing trading partnership. We must stabilize our communities to enable them to farm. Based on what transpired in the last nine years, many lost faith and goodwill to anger, frustration, and hurt.

Eritrea is a nation, and it will remain so because the people of Eritrea have decided to ascertain Eritrean future, not because the US, Ethiopia, OAU, the UN, or any other world body wanted it. They worked for it, struggled, and achieved Independence.

The rule of law must prevail over the rule of the JUNGLE!

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