Encounter with gilgel Woyannes

By Yilma Bekele

It is only four weeks ago when a few of us drove down from Oakland to San Jose to attend the public meeting called by the Ethiopian regime. We don’t really recognize the current Ethiopian regime as a democratically elected representative of the people, thus one of the reasons for our trip was to peacefully protest this illegal event and at the same time teach our own people and the American citizen regarding the nature of the TPLF regime and cry loudly for the voiceless, the silenced ones.

It was a sad event. Protesting against ones own people is never easy. It feels like washing one’s dirty linen in public. But it has to be done. Silence is our number one enemy. I agree with Elie Wiesel who wrote ‘Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the {www:tormentor}, never the tormented.’ They tried to silence us by calling the police. The police told them ‘it is a free country and we can protest to our hearts content as long as we don’t {www:infringe} upon the freedom of others.’ They picked and choose who can attend and refused entry to some they defined as un-desirable. During question and answer time they decided who gets the microphone. We watched them in amazement. It was a choreographed event with no soul, no love and no life. It was a cadre convention. The blind leading the blind is what we saw.

We drove down to San Jose one more time this weekend. You can tell this trip was different. Everybody was in a festive mood. It was a bright beautiful Saturday and the gathering of all this Ethiopians to do good made it brighter. We drove fast. We shouted and we argued in good nature and San Jose got a lot closer this time around. This time we were attending a fundraising event for ESAT. Dr. Berhanu and Ato Tamagne were the invited guests. We were driving mad to help support the voice of freedom. As Dr. Berhanu said ‘our own Aljazeera.’

When people work with passion they do miracles. The mother of all Ethiopian flags was brought out and computer, projector and sound were weaved out of thin air. Ethiopians showed up on time. Some showed up early. I believe we are onto something. You can tell this meeting was different. No one was impatient. They just kept arriving. We kept adding more chairs.

And thenTamagne showed up on the stage. He does not have to do anything. His presence was enough. You can feel over three hundred brains working in harmony. They all show heightened sense of happiness and this uncontrollable urge to scream with delight. I was standing in the back and I saw them being electrified. People sat up straight. They were all smiling. To frown would have been totally rude and out of place. Tamagne exudes Ethiopia. Tamagne knows how to work that. What is fact and what is fiction gets blurred. The joke becomes a ‘Eureka’ moment and you start to see what is right in front you. He gets you totally immersed in the story the message sips in by osmosis. I told you he is good. He had the place in perfect sync. You know what? You can’t get enough of Tamagne.

I was worried. Dr. Berhanu is next and how do you follow Tamagne. That is the Ethiopian in me, always anxious. Well, it was all for nothing. Our Dr. has this rare ability to relate. Dr. Berhanu has perfected the art of reducing stuff into their simplest form. That must be the teacher in him. When he speaks he talks to you. He connects the dots and one start to see the picture. Please don’t ask him to finish it for you. He will send you to remedial class. Ask Meles he will tell you. Dr. Berhanu deals with facts not rumors. He tells you as it is not as the way you would like to see it. He does not evade question but meets it head on. You get to see why he is loved and respected by so many while he brings out the hate in some. The professor does not suffer fools gladly.

ESAT was celebrated as never before. The whole house was in such euphoric mood and the Ying and the Yang were in perfect harmony. Contributions for ESAT came like tis esat falls. It was raining money. Guess who shows up to prove the need for a free and independent press in Ethiopia? None other than our unfriendly neighborhood Woyane that is who. It was a perfect picture. The same folks that were standing outside and pointing out Ethiopians that are not allowed to attend their meeting four weeks earlier and the person that was on the podium with the TPLF officials as chairman were sitting comfortably in our festival. We were happy to see them. Not a soul asked them to leave. We saw it as a teachable moment.

Our Woyanes were in a hostile mood. They were ready for question and answer moment. They assumed we would deny them the microphone. They were taken by surprise. Our microphone was awarded on first come basis. You raise your hand first and you are the first to ask. When their turn came they were given the microphone. Their first questioner decided ‘insulting’ the house was the best strategy. Poor Abbay was the foil. Our grand father looking Woyane told the house to be thankful because in his own words ‘before Meles showed up we were not even aware of Abay’! Yes he said that and he was allowed to say it. You can feel the tension in the assembly but not a soul moved to object to such verbal aggression. He was provoking us. He was in search of chaos. We were more irritated than angry.

A few questioners later the second Woyane decided to change tactics. First he complained the way Dr. Berhanu answered his friend’s question and said ‘I found your answer condescending’ and went on and on some tirade. Since he was not asking but rather making a long statement he was asked to please hurry up since others were waiting for their turn. He was not interested in a dialogue but went on to hurl more insults in a loud manner. That was the feather that broke the camels back. Our friend was hauled out {www:unceremoniously}. His comrades tried to intervene but it was futile. The door was closed and the meeting continued as if nothing happened. TPLF cadres do not seem to understand that being allowed to ask a question is a privilege not a right.

The fact we are raising money for independent media for our motherland speaks a lot. We are not investors looking for profit. We do not have any agenda of our own that we are trying to pursue. Out two guests traveled across the continent for free. We are doing all this because independent media is not allowed in Ethiopia. Our country is only one of a handful on this planet where the government deicide what the citizen hears, watches and views. The regime controls all media. That was why we got together to raise money for ESAT. That is Ethiopian Satellite Television. ESAT is the fruit of some patriotic Ethiopians that donated their time and money to this noble cause. ESAT is not affiliated with any party or ideology but the truth.

ESAT has been under siege since birth. Meles Zenawi vowed in public to cripple ESAT. Based on his own admission his salary is not enough to wage a war against ESAT. He was vowing to use the taxpayer’s money to wage his private war. Believe me a country is a formidable enemy. Poor ESAT has been tossed around like a boat in stormy seas. First it was ArabSat but Meles and company checkmated with our beloved Sheik, then onto Thailand and AsiaSat, crap the Chinese probably launched the Satellite and the orbit requires a special gizmo on the dish. Well that is not good is it? It is like announcing ‘here Mr. Woyane look at me.’ ESAT is on the third or forth satellite. You know what ESAT is still alive because so many wish it to succeed. ESAT defines our common dream of Independence. ESAT is the voice of freedom.

Our gathering was to raise funds for ESAT. Because the Meles regime denies the citizen to be informed by independent media we are compelled to use our limited resources to combat censorship. Today we have millions of people starving, millions of kids with out vaccination, millions without adequate schools, teachers or books but the regime is spending millions to block ESAT and our independent Web sites.

The Meles regime does that because we let them. There is no victimizer without a victim. History shows victimizer will not relent without the victim demanding it. Some enable the victimizer by their silence while a few due to lack of the moral strength to stand up to bullies. Meles and a few of his friends decide the fate of eighty million people. We make all kinds of excuses for our failure to stand up for what is right. We make the argument for him to cover our fear and cowardice. We allow less than a thousand cadres lord it over eighty million souls. It is a shame.

The gelgel Woyanes that showed up at our fund raising were doing what comes naturally to cadres following orders. Their job is to show up and create chaos. Their aim is to insult, degrade and intimidate us. If it was in Ethiopia they will be armed.

ESAT will help us regain our self worth. Our Saturday afternoon festival was to enable our people get different perspective unfiltered by Woyane censors. Those that gathered that Saturday afternoon came to collect money so ESAT will do its job. There is a bright cloud of change coming to our country. That it is coming is not the question, the gist of the matter is, are we ready? I believe ESAT is one of the tools that will help create a well-informed and smart citizen. A conscious citizen is the best defense against tyrants and dictators. That is why the Ethiopian regime is hell bent in blocking ESAT and that is why we freedom lovers have vowed to make ESAT strong enough to penetrate their flimsy weak curtain. Go to http://www.ethsat.com/ and donate. Organize ESAT support group in your neighborhood and help ESAT. TPLF owns the Internet, television transmission, radio and newspaper and we got ESAT.

15 thoughts on “Encounter with gilgel Woyannes

  1. SMZ on

    Bertu, Bertu, Bertu!

    When we conquer fear, We will be victorious, it is enevitable!


    Long live Ethiopia FREE & UNTED!



  2. Taazabi on

    Can some one post an info on this thread where I can donate towards ESAT? Everyone of us has a duty to work towards ending woyane rule.

  3. mimi on


    thank you so much once regarding the update of this weekend esat event and secondly regarding the dead truth of the true picutre of tplf evil members as well as it’s idiot & stupid cadres and servants and more importantly the need to support independent media like esat where our people deserve to have an acess to free media as information is a tool where the tplf racist & aparthied rule has been spending millions of dollars to jam indpendent medias in order to continue to oppress eThiopians…..yes let us support esat as we should continue to fight the tplf evil memebers.

  4. Mustafa Siraj on

    The TPLF ethno-fascists and their hirelings are now on the offensive in the Diaspora because they are convinced that the opposition is in disarray and weakened. That is why their ethno-fascist commander in chief, Meles Zenawi had dispatched his attack contingent from Ethiopia and unleashed his barking ethnic and hodam dogs in the Diaspora. The weyannes and their hodam servants like ato Solomon Tekalign had picked up fights out of their despise for the Diapsora. They know that the Diaspora lack the courage and stamina to respond in kind. They also say that the silent majority is with them and the few vocal in the Diaspora are inconsiderate. The softness and submissiveness of the opposition in the Diaspora is also evident in the many articles and contributions posted on the different websites. Mention could be made of ato Fekade Shewakena`s latest reconciliatory and submissive article. Ethiopians will never be able to win and free themselves from the brutal rule of the ethno-fascists with reconciliatory and submissive attitides. I usually read ato Yilma Kebede and others` contributions but miss a very important element in them. They are devioid of anti-fascist rationale and insights. They refer to the ethno-fascist regime of Meles Zenawi as an Ethiopian and discuss the issues accordingly. The struggle against the TPLF fascists and racists needs true and realistic reflections to succeed. Ethiopians need to be aware of the situation that they are dealing with a well organized anti-Ethiopia force with the clear and unambiguous but alternative missions of sticking to power at any cost or separating. I very often hold conversations with the blind and die-hard supporters of the TPLF who worship their fascist and racist ethnic leader, Meles Zenawi. One thing which impresses me about these guys is that they are blunt and do not care to hide the least when it comes to the possible moves of their ethnic leader. They openly tell me that their leader will not stop short of deciding to secede if he happens to lose power in Ethiopia. They do not hide their deep seated and bitter hatred towards the Amharas whom they describe as vengeful and wicked. That is why I see the TPLF as the most ruthless and racist organization and want regular Ethiopian commentators not to gloss over or ignore this horrible side of the front and its leaders. The decent but self defeating and deceiving appeals and comments of persons like ato Yilma Kebede and ato Fekade Shewakena are not potent weapons in the fight against fascism and racism. Intellectuals should leave the illusionary world of political correctness and call a `spade a spade`. We are not only rejecting the regime of Meles Zenawi because of its undemocratic nature as ato Yilma Kebede states but also because of its anti-Ethiopia and fascistic nature. Hence I kindly would like to advise ato Yilma Kebede and other regular contributors to sharpen and tune their articles and contributions to the political reality in Ethiopia.

  5. Daniel on

    yes. I was there, it was a beautiful event and a great lesson for the gelgel Woyanes.

  6. Boona on

    To: General Taddesse Biru,

    Please provide us the courage and the pistol so that we can battle the present day apartheid system (the TPLF government) in Ethiopia

    Mandela’s pistol remains a hidden treasure decades laterBy Faith Karimi, CNN
    May 18, 2011 3:27 a.m. EDT
    A gun belonging to Nelson Mandela is believed to be buried under this sprawling land, which served as his former hideout and is now a residential area.STORY HIGHLIGHTS
    He buries the gun before he is thrown into prison in 1962
    The Makarov pistol was a gift to him by an Ethiopian colonel
    It’s worth about $3 million, according to a museum official
    Group hires military experts to try and pinpoint its exact location

    (CNN) — As a young freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela stepped out of a farmhouse hideout in South Africa, took 20 strides and dug a hole on the sprawling land.

    He leaned over, put in a semiautomatic pistol and 200 rounds of ammunition, and carefully put a khaki uniform over them.

    After covering them with heaps of soil, he sauntered back into his rural hideout in northern Johannesburg — hoping to retrieve them soon.

    He never got a chance to fire a shot with the Makarov pistol. A few weeks after he buried it at the farm in Rivonia, he was hurled into prison for the next 27 years.

    That was in 1962, and the whereabouts of the gun — now estimated at $3 million — remain a mystery, said Nicholas Wolpe, the chief executive of Liliesleaf Farm, the former hideout now converted into a museum.

    A scramble to find the gun has sparked a frenzy among collectors, historians and Mandela fans.

    ‘It’s interesting how we came to find out about the gun,” Wolpe said. “Mandela visited Liliesleaf in 2003, and as we were walking around, he turned to me and asked, ‘By the way, did you find my gun?”

    Wolpe said he was stunned.

    “I turned to him and said, ‘Gun, what gun?’ ”

    Mandela then asked him to pinpoint where the main kitchen once stood.

    “He then made a 45-degree angle and said, ’20 paces from here, I buried a gun,’ ” Wolpe said.

    During the visit, the two tried to retrace his steps using the paces as a guide, but the farm had undergone some changes, making it hard to determine the original location of the kitchen with certainty.

    Wolpe later realized that the former South African president had talked about the gun during an interview with a journalist in the 1990s right after he was freed from prison.

    During the interview, Mandela indicated that he buried the pistol, ammunition and the uniform at the site in case there was a raid at the house, according to Wolpe.

    Mandela and the military wing of the African National Congress used the secret location — now Liliesleaf Farm — to plan the toppling of the South African apartheid government.

    It is the first gun Mandela owned and the first weapon linked to the anti-apartheid fight in South Africa, Wolpe said.

    The gun was a gift by Ethiopian Col. General Biru Tadesse, whom Mandela visited in the early 1960s for military advice on fighting apartheid.

    Despite its hefty price tag, Wolpe hastily makes it clear that it’s not about the money or glorifying violence.

    “It is all about the historical significance of the gun and who it belongs to,” Wolpe said. “The 1960s were a defining moment in South Africa’s struggle … The gun has a special link to a very significant period and epoch to our liberation struggle.”

    A scramble to find the gun has prompted Wolpe to take extreme measures.

    He hired searchers to demolish a home on Liliesleaf’s property, carefully ripping up chunks of concrete and turning over a yard to find it.

    He also dispatched military experts to try and pinpoint its exact location based on Mandela’s information. His trust owns about five acres of the original 20-acre hideout.

    “The expert identified three possible locations, two of which are on our site,” Wolpe said.

    The third location is on neighboring property, which was put up for auction last week. Historians, collectors and potential international bidders were among the 400 people who participated.

    Despite the frenzy surrounding the potential site of the gun, the property worth about $350,000 did not sell.

    “I’m still shocked, I don’t understand why it did not sell,” said lead auctioneer Joff van Reenen, who speculated that potential buyers may have been scared off by the publicity surrounding the gun.

    Unlike Wolpe, the owner of the neighboring property did not make an effort to find the gun. The property includes a modern Spanish-style house, under which the military expert believes is the potential third location of the gun.

    And the mystery continues as both Wolpe and the owner of the neighboring home hope the gun is on their land.

    “Obviously, it would be totally inappropriate to ask him for help now,” Wolpe said of the ailing 92-year-old Mandela. “And there is no new information he can give us that would make finding it easier.”

  7. beka bekagn on

    Troubled to find the writter made the assertion that asking question is a privilege not a right. Is it not questioning a form of speech and a right therefore?

  8. kuasmeda on

    Moderators rethink your position as moderators and let my question be heard.

    It would not hurt anyone if not make the writer aware of his mistake and not tarnish well intended message of having independent media to express our thought though speech in any format we choice.

  9. KG on

    Dear ER Editor and associate
    Coould any body indicate me some statistical data the growth petty burgeoues/middle class(melestegna keberete) since the fall of the emperor.

  10. Haqq on

    I agree that we have to teach Wayne (I do not agree with Gilgel, Woyane is Woyane for me Gilgel more tends to innocency) civility, even though they are not capable/willing to learn. Here we are sending a message that everyone has the right to his opinion in the future democratic Ethiopia where majority roles not to Woyane , however to our people and to true friends of Ethiopia. However I have a few points in which I do not agree with Ato Yilma:

    He said ..”…. It was a sad event. Protesting against ones own people is never easy….“
    No, no one protested again ones own people , rather, without getting in detail we protested against a group which has no / never had mandate from the Ethiopian people & we will do so until we replace with genuine government mandated by people in democratic way.

    He also said “…It was raining money. Guess who shows up to prove the need for a free and independent press in Ethiopia?….”

    They are not there for that, rather they are there to try to disrupt any event which is good for Ethiopia’s future.

    Mass arrest, war with Eritrea & the latest one Abbay Dam didn’t work they way they planned, until they find another tool to divert the attention from main issue, uprising , they are desperate and they do not know what they are doing. They are looking for desperate major.

    If you look at few of their “intellectual” commentators on DC protest on Tadias TV & Abbay Dam (here & here) you know how they are desperate, they did the same at Ottawa ESAT fund raising and they were handled in civilized way in which they could learn , unfortunately their effort is not to learn, that is why I am not for any reconciliation with Woyane which is way too late for that, they missed the chance in 2005.

    God Bless Ethiopia

  11. Students from USA on

    I am 22 yr old a university student who lives in USA …..I really want to participate for revolution…..also my friends (ethiopian student association in America wants to work for our country freedom so how can we join and participate? God bless Ethiopia

  12. Agamsa on

    Mustafa Siraj
    In his posting of May the 18th Mustafa Siraj was very critical of Ethiopians in the diaspora, particularly he was brutal with his criticism of two individuals, namely Fekade Shewakena and Yilma Kebede. I am not trying to suggest that Mustafa should not critise Fekade, Yilma or Ethiopians in the diaspora. What his criticism lacks is analysis of the articles written by both Fekade and Yilma. He failed to show the readers the weaknesses and strengths of articles written by above mentioned individuals. The fact that Mustafa generally offered criticsms against those two individuals is not sufficient to convince any well read Ethiopians. Mustafa is so emphatic with his criticism of others who try to contribute their best to the struggle Ethiopians are engaged in both in Ethiopian and in the diaspora. Other than critising others, what are his contributions toward the ongoing struggle to defeat Woyane? Have you written articles and posted them on Ethiopian websites? If you have, please indicated which websites your articles are posted on.

    Here is a quote from Mustafa’s posting: “They (Woyanes) do not hide their deep seated and bitter hatred towards the Amharas whom they describe as vengeful and wicked.” Your comment seems to suggest that Woyanes are freinly and tolerant towards the Oromos, Somalis, Sidams, Wolayjitas, Gurages, Hadiyas etc. 95 percent of people in Ethiopian prisons comprises of Oromos. You sinlged out only Amharas as a prime target of Woyanes. How come you did not say a word about the Oromo ordeals when they are the most targeted as terrorists, rebels, saboteurs, subverters etc? Any fair minded person who claims to stand for all Ethiopians regardless of nationality, religion, language, wealth, education etc should not show any preferential treatment for one particular ethnic group at the disadvantage of others.

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