Thousands of Ethiopian army recruits paraded in Addis Ababa bidding farewell before leaving for training, potential future participants in an eight-month-old conflict in the north that continues to spread and intensify.
Young women and men wearing plastic sandals and baseball caps with slogans such as “Ethiopia is calling” danced in central Meskel Square at a ceremony attended by defence minister Kenea Yadeta and the capital’s deputy mayor, Adanech Abiebe.
The mayor’s office said 3 000 young people joined Ethiopia’s National Defence Force (ENDF). Some recruits spoke of pride and others mentioned economic need.
Teku Shega said his father used to fight in the federal army and he wants to pursue that heritage.
“My father was a member of ENDF and retired 10 years ago. I am here to continue his legacy,” the 25-year-old construction worker from Amhara region said.
For Girma Takele the army is a chance to escape unemployment.
“I am joining because I have been jobless for three years. Now at least I will have a job,” said the 18-year-old, originally from Oromiya.
The conflict between central government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the party controlling Tigray, is spreading elsewhere in northern Ethiopia with young people from other parts of the country joining federal forces.