Ethiopia and election drama

By Yilma Bekele

What do you do when you first wake up in the morning? Some of us cannot move without our first cup of coffee while others require a good breakfast. How about if you went to bed without dinner? I am sure you woke up a few times hungry, you did not have a good restful sleep and it is possible your rest was disturbed by all sorts of dream and nightmare due to an empty stomach.

Food is primary. Food comes first. Without food there is no you. Without food there is no life.

Food is what is lacking in our country. Food has been lacking in our country for eternity. We are famous for not having enough food. Our name has become synonymous with hunger. When you say famine the word that comes to mind is Ethiopia.

Why is there not enough food in Ethiopia? We are lazy? No. Our people are known to farm from sunup to sundown. Farming is a family business. Our land is dry? No. We have plenty of rivers flowing out of our highlands north into Egypt, East to Somalia and west to Sudan. We don’t have enough land. No. We have plenty of virgin land waiting to be developed. We are over populated. No. We have enough land to sustain twice our current population. We are stupid? No. Our dispersed citizens all over the world are proof that we are one clever people that will settle anywhere and thrive.

Thus we are not lazy, we have a beautiful fertile land, we are not over populated and we are not mentally challenged people but we are still hungry and cannot survive without a handout. Why?

There is not enough food because we are not using our resources intelligently. Did I just say resources? As soon as I said resource you automatically thought of mineral or oil or such commodity. No, we have resources more precious than that. The people are the most important resource of a country. We have not figured out a way to harness the abundant resource of eighty million souls in front of our eyes. That, in a nutshell is our problem.

It is nice to have minerals and oil. It is good to be blessed with a vast population. But by themselves they don’t mean much. There is a third important factor that makes the two work in harmony. It is a vital part of the equation. It is what we have been lacking for a long time. That is what we don’t have.

I am glad you asked. What is lacking is good governance. It is enlightened leadership. That is what is missing in our country. Our country goes back thousands of years. Our Ethiopia is not a recent phenomenon. We have such visionaries as Tewodros, Yohanes and Menelik. They have been gone a long time but their legacy still lives.

Today we are lost. We are like a vessel without a pilot but driven by the wind. We stumble from port to port. We travel without knowing our destination, we plan without knowing what we want to achieve and we fail time and time again. We are accustomed to leaders that avoid responsibility. They excel at blaming others for their mistakes and lack of vision but they have this remarkable ability to shake accountability.

Here is a quote from a classic Chinese text (Tao TeChing) written around the 6th. Century BC about leadership:

The best rulers are scarcely known by their subjects;
The next best are loved and praised;
The next are feared;
The next despised:
They have no faith in their people,
And their people become unfaithful to them.

When the best rulers achieve their purpose
Their subjects claim the achievement as their own.

We don’t have that do we? Thus we go hungry. We roam the earth looking for a place to settle. We despair for our country and we fight each other. Whether at home or in a foreign land we have no harmony. There is no peace among the children of Ethiopia. We celebrate our differences and magnify our contradictions. We are one sorry nation.

The way we are going about building our country is not a wining formula. We all know it is not going to happen. You cannot fit a square inside a circle. You can try, but it won’t fit. My son used to try that when he was two. One week with that toy and he figured it is not going to happen. He did not force the issue. He learnt. Here we are responsible adults and we are still trying to fit a square inside a circle.

We are at it again. The current farce billed as an election is bringing out the worst in us. We are stuck with a Party that is unable to let go. It survives from day today. It survives by creating contradiction among its people. It stumbled into power without a clue of what to do with it. It has been improvising for the last seventeen years. It lacks what the American refer to as ‘Exit strategy’. I am sure the TPLF leaders would love to go into the sunset peacefully. Sit back and enjoy their ill-gotten wealth. How is the burning question keeping Ato Meles and company awake at night. Their belly is full but their mind wonders.

Think of it this way. Ato Meles his family a few of his friends can leave. How about their entourage. What is going to happen to the junior abusers that have been doing the actual dirty job? It is a very interesting situation. Lack of ‘exit strategy’ has been the Achilles heel of dictators since time immemorial. Shah of Iran, Ferdinand Marcos, Augusto Pinochet, Mobutu Sese Seko, Alberto Fujimori, Nicolae Ceausescu and so on have all been victims of that simple but vital concept. They always get caught with their pants down.

After all is said and done we are back to square one. Waking up hungry. Fourteen million Ethiopians are in a state of constant famine. Twice that number wake up hungry everyday. When it comes to our children it is said that those that are mal nourished (starved) during their developmental phase, the deficiencies are recognized to have the potential for permanent adverse effects on learning and behavior. A nation of mentally challenged is the outcome.

Everything is inter related. You cannot have food on the table without a good governance that requires a visionary leader. You cannot have a visionary leader without a democratic elections that weeds out the wheat from the chaff. You cannot weed out the chaff without an open transparent competition for the citizen to judge. So we go around this vicious circle we have created.

What do you think the current election is going to accomplish. Definitely it is not going to separate the chaff from the wheat. Why? Because it is all chaff. The wheat knows better. It is going to sit this one out. TPLF is going to win. Medrek will be allowed one hundred seats. The Europeans and the Americans will bless the outcome with ‘some’ reservation. Ato Meles and company will celebrate their emerging democracy.

The Ethiopian people will watch the drama somberly. The hunger will continue unabated. The migration of the young will be accelerated. The sale of our virgin territory will gain momentum.
All is not lost. It might look hopeless but every contradictions carries its own solution. Didn’t the divine Haile Sellasie regime crumble due to internal rot? Didn’t the mighty Derge wither away due its arrogance and abuse? The same fate awaits the criminal TPLF regime. I will leave you with what Tao TeChing said about rebellion:

When rulers take grain so that they may feast,
Their people become hungry;
When rulers take action to serve their own interests,
Their people become rebellious;
When rulers take lives so that their own lives are maintained,
Their people no longer fear death.

When people act without regard for their own lives
They overcome those who value only their own lives.

There will come a time when the people no longer fear death.

9 thoughts on “Ethiopia and election drama

  1. PEACE on

    I would hope Mr. Yilma would eventually learn the art of logic and journalism. Very sad to see that this is a non-existent skill specifically at this website (and all the idiotic comments). You must be busy hiring C and D students, as hatred and racism is what fuels your articles. You incite unnecessary hatred and violence. Therefore you would be classified as those that lack true journalistic education and a true catalyst to the MEHAYEMS who read your articles and think you genius. Just spewing hatred, which I might add, you would get an A+ on. Keep it up! I’m sure you’ll get your buddies to cheer you on. Not that it matters, lets see who has the last laugh. In the meantime, let Progress continue in the motherland!


  2. BEILUL on

    Thank you for writing the whole Truth about ETHIOPIA.But now what is the solution to EHIOPIA’S problems?What is the next step?

  3. Aden1 on

    When enough is enough, and there is a question when and if your own thinking process is in doubt, you turn to words of wisdom. There is the kind you find from the Bible and the kind you search in the media to get to the guts of your feeling. Considering the latest disappointing drama of splinter UDJ vs Medrek-UDJ, there is a mix of feeling. This article and another one released by Eskinder Nega, titled Beyene Petros, Professor Mesfin and Election 2010 /April 30, 2010/Ethiomedia, so far stand out to just absorb and find some comfort knowing what others are sharing.

    I confess this is the first article I had completed reading by the author and don’t know much about him, except seeing the name as author of different pieces.

  4. Assta B. Gettu on

    Ato Yilma Bekele’s article—“Ethiopia and election drama”—has captured my attention to add something important that the author has not mentioned in his persuasive, terse, and yet powerful sentences, such as “Food is primary. Food comes first. Without food there is no you. Without food there is no life.”

    When the author says “Food comes first,” he is forgetting the spiritual dimensions of our lives on this temporary home of ours – the earth. We are not created to only serve our stomach. We are created to serve our creator, the only sustainer of our entire lives.

    Therefore, we must first think about God instead of our stomach as the Apostle Paul says: “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food—God will destroy them both.” (1st Corinthians 6:13)

    In my imagination, God comes first. Food comes last. It has been that way for many Ethiopian Christians for thousands of years until the unnatural death of Emperor Haile Selassie I.

    For example, when an Ethiopian Christian wakes up from his sleep early in the morning, he will not immediately look for a cup of tea or coffee, for a piece of bread or butter for his breakfast, but he first opens his eyes and looks into heaven and murmurs his prayer toward his heavenly Father, Jesus Christ.

    The most common prayer for most Ethiopian Christians has been በስመ አብ ወወልድ ወመንፈስ ቅዱስ አሐዱ አምላክ (in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, one God) This morning and common prayer of the Ethiopian faithful Christians suggests that the Ethiopian Christians think God first; then food comes second in their daily lives.

    The fundamental thought of bringing God first into their hearts rather than bread and butter tells us they are in harmony with the word of Jesus Christ, who says: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

    What is the kingdom of God? The kingdom of God is the rule of God on this earth, and we have to seek for that rule of God to govern us justly rather than to look for another earthly leader who oppresses us, torments us, and finally destroys us mercilessly. We, as people of God, must not always depend on this perishable food. We must depend on God’s eternal words and follow these words that say: “Like new born babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1st Peter 2:1-2)

    Yes, indeed, the Lord has always been good for Ethiopia, has always protected the country, and has never completely abandoned it because of its conflicts with its neighbors and, perhaps of its sour relationship with its creator. God has never stopped calling us its children: “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters…come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:1-2)

    Ethiopia, the future bread basket of Africa, has been receiving tones of American grains, Canadian grains, and European grains to make real bread and to feed its hungry children, but, in fact, Ethiopia has never gotten real bread that nourishes all its children; real bread is bread that comes from God, not the bread that comes from the west because that bread is the product of chemical ingredients, so the prophet asks: “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?”

    Ethiopians are hard working people, as the author says: “Our people are known to farm from sunup to sundown.” However, how much work they do and how much time they spend on their jobs, they are not rewarded for their laborious work; instead, someone has been exploiting them, and because of such rampant exploitation, the prophet says “Why spend your labor on what does not satisfy you.”

    The author exposes the short fallings of all of us Ethiopians: “we despair for our country and we fight each other. Whether at home or in a foreign land we have no harmony.”

    It is true, some Ethiopians are more concerned about this material world, and to get what they want, they fight and they have become godless people. They have no peace in their hearts because “there is no peace for the wicked,” Isaiah 58:22. St. James goes deeper into the hearts of quarrelsome people: “You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (4:2-3)

    I always ask God to remove Meles Seitanawi from his office and give Ethiopia another God-fearing and wise leader. I never asked God to enlighten Meles and to give him the wisdom of Solomon so that he could govern these 80 million Ethiopians in the right way. So far, God has not heard my prayer to remove Meles from his power; perhaps, I’m praying with wrong motives – to destroy all the Woyanne criminals within a short time. I have just to wait and see what God is going to do on May 23, a frightening day!

    Any way, food is not primary; God is; without food there is you. Without food there is life because “…man does not live by bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)

    Therefore, it is appropriate for the Ethiopians to dream not for the materialistic world but for the spiritual world; for the kingdom of God rather than for the rule of another dictator; for the heavenly Jerusalem rather than for the earthly Jerusalem, for “We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.” (1st Chronicle 29:15)

  5. congo on

    PEACE, your comment works for yourself, read your comment again. Ato Yilma’s article is very rational and true.

  6. event on

    Naming yourself as Peace, you could not underatnd the ongoing war as you are one of those feasting and filling bellies at the expense of the hungry people. Could u look back your comment and raise execuse!

  7. girma from L.A. on

    Signor PEACE, I think you suck very much and just reading your response to such a master piece writing by Mr. Yelma. You are not making sense at all and I wonder what journalism school you went to that thought you to write a bunch of phrases. I suggest you read Mr. Yelma’s master piece again and again and again until it gets through thich head and then learn how to write your criticism. I can feel you are one of those stupid ass individual who give no shit about what Mr. Yelma is/was trying to tell you if you tried to understand him. I say you should blame your thick headedness or for lack of head on your shoulder. I say read his article again and again. He wrote what is true about our country Ethiopia. His writing was absolutely out of this world and some thing I have never read in my life time and strongly agree with no hesitation. I thank him for his deep knowledge and telling the truth to educate his people. He never insited hate and violence in his writing. You accused us the readers as mehayem Mr. Demyelelew Sew (PEACE). I bet you don,t know the saying, “look who is taking”, if you know what I mean. I say lear to write before you comment on a piece of master piece by Mr. Yelma. You and those idiots friends of yours are virtually trying to turn a blind eye to the real issue that our country is facing today, yesterday, and would even continue to face generation after generation. Let’s all do the right thing now and face the truth.

  8. abraham on

    Thanks Ato Gettu, to remind everyone that God’s priority for mankind was not materials like food or furniture or drink but Seeking his kingdom first. So I believe only God can do what is imposible in our minds. when he said it is enough it is over but what we have to do is pray and seek his kingdom first. May GOD bless all of us and our earthly country.

  9. Real Peace on

    Mr Peace I am very sure that you R one of them… other words you have got some plot of land in hayahulet akababi …and you are building some ground plus…..,

    Keep on building…..later or sooner you will RETURN IT TO THE PEOPLE…That now has nothing to eat……

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