The Contribution of History and the Role of Historians to National Consensus

Addis Ababa University (AAU) in collaboration with the Ministry of Peace of the FDRE organized a panel discussion on the contribution of history and the role of history scholars to national consensus at the AAU Nelson Mandela Hall yesterday.

In his opening remarks, State Minister for Peace, Taye Dendea, said he was sad that we could not understand each other on our history due to misleading and distorted rhetoric instigated by our enemies.

Though we Ethiopians have fathers who built Axum and Lalibela and have very rich history, we haven’t learnt much from it and even developed unbinding situations of each other due to misinformation and misrepresentations, Taye said.

“We already know and understand earlier the formula for the science of construction as well as the sense of human dignity, and we are the owners of many examples of these, but our remaining with disagreement on our common history is still our sad part of togetherness,” Taye said.

“Therefore, being able to hold such discussions is a good opportunity to correct misconceptions and understand the true as well as the useful history we have,” he added.

Finally, Taye said, “History should have a context in which we can see yesterday, analyze today and predict tomorrow; mistakes and contradictions must be corrected; it is imperative that we correct the narratives and move on to a better way.”

On his presentation in the discussion, Emeritus Professor Bahru Zewde from AAU suggested that historical misconceptions need to be corrected and it is necessary to read history time and again to write history. No writing of history without reading too much, he added.

“If the common denominator can be created and history is liberated from political dependence, the sector can benefit us and history cannot be a source of conflict,” he said.

“A historian can write a true and sweet history by reading, selecting and carefully examining the history of his country and other countries in different languages.” E. Professor Bahru added.

Ass. Prof. Abebaw Ayalew, Deputy Director of Research and Conservation for Cultural Heritage Authority, said the role of history and history scholars a well are crucial for peace and national understanding. “Bringing historians to the stage is the key to correcting history and understanding Ethiopian history,” Abebaw stressed.

According to Ass. Prof. Abebaw, the issue of ethnicity and identity, which has been the main glue of our politics, has been a source of public misconception, dissatisfaction and a number of questioning for the past 30 years.

As a result of this misconception of history and politics, there were much prevention of people from moving freely in their country and targeted evictions have been intensified. “Especially in the last five years, it has reached its highest peak,” Abebaw said finally.

The participants asked, commented and suggested a number of points that will help much in correcting wrong rhetoric and motivating the rich culture of togetherness and cooperation of Ethiopians withstanding massive pressures coming from different directions.

Editor:  Abraham Girmay

Photo: Andualem Aseffa