Yekatit is 40 years old. Though at the time, the EPRP was too young, it had not even declared its existence-, its organ, Democracia, was already a household name amongst the Yekatit revolutionaries. Democracia spoke their language, hoped their hopes, articulated their visions, and helped shape the course of their struggle. An organic link between Yekatit and the EPRP was already in place. In a way, the EPRP was born to cook Yekatit. So, with the birth of the EPRP, Yekatit was inevitable.
Though the EPRP came out late to save Yekatit from the military coup, its coming out, nevertheless, made the Yekatit/EPRP symbiosis official. Those who stood with Yekatit stood with the EPRP, and those who stood against Yekatit saw the EPRP as their mortal enemy. To the minimum, a generation has laid down its life highlighting this symbiosis.
Often, the discussion about Yekatit is focused on what Yekatit did to the archaic feudal system. While getting rid of that system, in and of itself was a glorious accomplishment, the discussion does not give the most important, and most fundamental account of what Yekatit was about.
No other event has shaped the contours of modern Ethiopia’s history, the way Yekatit had. By all indices, Yekatit has radically changed the national discourse for good.
In Yekatit, women rang the death bell of patriarchy. Workers and peasants rose to take the fruits of their labor. Moslems and Christians marched shoulder to shoulder in solidarity, as Ethiopians. Students, teachers, taxi drivers, street vendors, shoe shiners, the unemployed, the homeless, the marginalized, all rose ,to say, “this is our time”. In Yekatit, the everyday Ethiopians entered history as subjects of history.
In other words, Yekatit was more about the people (the everyday Ethiopians) who made it happen than the system it destroyed. It was about their refusal to be silent any more- their rebellion against their own dormancy-their rejection of their old selves. It was about their awakening, their visibility, their readiness to act on their own behalves, to live the life they believed they deserved.
Yekatit was also about their patriotism, their sense of themselves as owners of their nation’s history and destiny. It was about their assertion national consciousness, what nationalism meant to them. It meant, Land to the tiller, Democracy without limits, Provisional Peoples’ Government. It meant, Ethiopia belonged to them.
Yekatit revealed in no uncertain terms, the unbridgeable gap between the unelected unaccounted ruling elite (with its decadent values and ethics), and the everyday Ethiopians, between the domesticated and the national elite, and between dictatorship and nationalism. It showed the path to a just and humane future.
Yekatit was the project of the everyday Ethiopians and their organic/nationalist intellectuals, the center of which was/is the EPRP. It is not of co-incidence that Finote radio begins and ends its program with a moving anthem honoring Yekatit . . .