Africa’s Hall of Shame in Addis Ababa


By Fekade Shewakena

The debate on whether Emperor Hailesilassie’s statue deserves to stand along with that of Kwame Nkrumah in front of the newly inaugurated AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, built by the government of China as a “gift” to the AU, misses a lot of big points. In my view, and I am sure in the views of many observers of Africa, the entire building itself is one giant statue of shame for Africa. Nkrumah is perhaps rolling in his grave, and for all I read and heard about him and about what he wanted Africa to become, I believe he would feel ashamed and may even cry if he were to see his statue housed in there. It is also good that Hailesilassie’s statue doesn’t stand anywhere near this building. Here is why.

First of all, the building is a {www:metaphor} for the way most African countries are run. The Chinese handout in Addis Ababa that is going to house the AU is more than a symbol that perpetuates the beggar image that has defined most African countries for a better part of their modern history. Most African countries have decided to achieve development and modernization by substituting working hands and innovative minds with hands stretched toward foreign aid and largess. This Chinese handout symbolizes Africa’s failure and speaks about a leadership that has completely failed to understand that you can’t have your pride and dignity, and a respectable place in the community of nations while living on the handouts of others. Indeed, it is a testament and stark reminder to an increasingly frustrating reality that the leaders of African have given up on any attempt at self reliance.

Just ask why it should be so difficult for 54 African countries to contribute no more than four million dollars each and build this building on their own? Is it the addiction to handouts? You may even ask why any African in position of power and with minimal self respect and knowledge of history could not have wanted the building designed by African architects. You may even wonder why there was no one among these leaders to think such a structure should have an architectural design that is made of a touch of African architecture and culture, say for example, something like a combination of the pyramids of Egypt, the obelisks of Axum, Lalibella, the magnificent libraries of ancient Mali and the numerous beautiful tukuls that dot the African landscape to mention just the few we know well. Imagine how such a product owned and built by Africans could be one huge source of pride and something to show for African ingenuity. For a continent that looses tens of billions of dollars in elicit capital flight and outright theft every year, isn’t two hundred million dollars just peanuts? And don’t this honorable guys ruling Africa read history? Haven’t they read that Africa has been there before and done that? How can you forget that the first things that European colonialists brought to Africa before they began looting the land and enslaving Africans were glittering gifts to local tribal chiefs?

This building is not only a case of what we in Ethiopia call “የሰው ወርቅ አያደምቅ” – which roughly translates as, “you cannot look beautiful by wearing gold jewelry that belongs to other people”. As the history of Africa itself attests, these so called gifts are often down payments for the merciless exploitation of the continent’s natural and human resources. How do we Africans overcome the stereotype that we are incapable of changing our reality while we keep doing this crazy thing of repeating the same thing over and over again even after we have confirmed that it is not working to our advantage?

I hope there is no any idiot out there who thinks the Chinese gave this building to Africa out of compassion for Africans or out of plain generosity or reasons charity. We all know that there are more destitute people inside China than all the destitute people in sub Sahara Africa combined. It is clear that the Chinese leaders are making an investment with sacrifice to help their long term plan, their future. It is now an open secret that the Chinese think of Africa as a solution to their overpopulation and pollution problem and have already gone a long way on that line. In the last decade alone nearly eight hundred thousand Chinese have settled in Africa and China towns are proliferating in many cities in Africa. There are reports that Chinese experts are planning and working to settle some 300 million Chinese in Africa as a solution to their overpopulation related problems.

It appears that the Chinese are applying the advice of a certain racist British named sir Francis Galton who a little more than a hundred years ago, sometime in 1873, wrote that the continent of Africa which he defined as “occupied by lazy, palavering savage people” be taken over and tenanted by what he said were “industrious and order-loving Chinese”. Trends of the last decade or two shows that the Chinese seem to have taken this once despised racist advice to heart. They are working hard to make this a reality and to some extent succeeding. They are working hard and sacrificing to solve their demographic and pollution problems on the backs of Africa. Unless Africans are aware of this fast creeping Chinese takeover now, it would be too late when we wake-up tomorrow. The leaders of Africa who are blinded by their desire to preserve their power and material benefits never seem to care. The new AU building is only one in a series of bribery to Africa’s ruling elite. The Chinese know they will get back their two hundred million dollars in one or two transactions of their cheap toys to Africa and the minerals and lumber they plunder cheaply. At the end of the day it is poor Africans who will stand there holding the bag.

There is also another ugly side to look at when seeing this shameful hall of shame in Addis Ababa. If you uncover the veils and secrecy inside Chinese capitalism, you will see that it is an extremely criminal enterprise. The “gift” standing in Addis Ababa is tainted with blood, tears and sweat of other unfortunate human beings being mercilessly ruled and exploited. It is an open secret that Chinese workers are subjected to slave type labor where in many cases, protest by workers in a factory and demands of workers to be heard takes the form of committing group suicide. To see what kind of blood money the AU building may be tainted by, read this recent New York Times exclusive investigative report about the horrible life of the workers who supply products to the manufacturers of our iPads. After reading the report I could not believe that the ipad I am using is tainted with that horror. Shouldn’t Africans that have suffered merciless exploitation themselves of the kind Chinese workers suffer today be the first to reject any Chinese offer out rightly on grounds that it is a reminder of their own painful history?

I am also disappointed by the muted response of the African elite regarding this shameful “gift” and creepy Chinese takeover of Africa. It appears that we all have given up on Africa, I mean, ourselves. How many cases do we have to be ashamed of about being African? The brutal and savage killings of one another, being ruled by cruel tyrants for decades on end, our poverty in the midst of plenty and perennial beggary for food handout, are killing us already. Should accepting a down payment wrapped as a “gift” while being set up in plain sight for a new round of slavery and plunder be another one?

The leaders of Ethiopia, particularly Ato Meles Zenawi, did us a favor inadvertently by not lobbying to have Hailesilassie statue erected there along with that of Nkrumah. Ethiopians should be happy that Hailesilassie’s statue and through that Ethiopia’s contribution was not erected anywhere near this hall of shame. If the Ethiopian leaders just whispered Hailesilassie’s name, I am sure there will be a unanimous vote by African leaders to honor Hailsilassie and through him Ethiopia by building his statue there. Yes, we can debate the good and bad he did to his own country. But no one, except men with little minds and little sense of history question that he, Hailesilassie, and through him Ethiopia, stood the tallest among the tall when it comes to fighting for the independence of Africa and bringing Africans together. It is one of Ethiopia’s epic images that history will not forget and one that never needs a statue as a reminder. I am happy this image is not tainted with Hailesilassie’s statue in that hall of shame. Now the debate should not be whether Hailesilassie’s statue and though him Ethiopia’s should have been built along with Nkrumah in front of this hall of shame, it should be weather even that of Nkrumah’s should be standing there to adore a symbol of Africa’s shame.

(The writer can be reached at fekadeshewakena@yahoo.com)


27 comments on “Africa’s Hall of Shame in Addis Ababa

  1. samuel on

    You are right a hall of Shame Africa is a disgrace and still we are living in the past and worry why they didn’t put the statute of Haileselassie bu the Emperor left enough statute in Addis before his time but if the money was spent somewhere important like Education and Health we all put His statute in our Heart because of His greed we are where we are today

  2. dahllak on

    with out knowing you made eritrean case stong.We stand for self reliance the only way to be fee from neocolnialism.
    God bless president Afowerki.

    • That is no longer true. Neoliberalism is now on its way to Eritrea that is why many ambassadors are now forcefully coming to Eritrea. Ha.

      • Eritrean sel reliance is a myth. It receives aid from EU AND WB amongst others. If you see the WB development report you find that it recieves more per capita than Ethiopia. And then there is also the small amount of remitances and taxes of the diaspora..

  3. Deriba on

    Thank you so much Ato Fekade Shewakena for putting together this important piece. I absolutely agree with what you said above. TPLF’s mentality is so narrow and poor that they are doing this intentionally to belittle Ethiopian national pride. Long live Ethiopia.
    “ኢትዮጵያ እጆቿን ወደ እግዚያብሔር ትዘረጋለች “

    • Demessu on

      It is ironic that you had to quote a sentence that was engraved in the statue of Kwame. “ኢትዮጵያ እጆቿን ወደ እግዚያብሔር ትዘረጋለች “Isn’t it?

  4. Legesse Zenaw on

    Self Reliance is a way forward!!!! AU is subjugated to west long time ago. It is a tool for the west to colonise Africa. The African leaders and Aite Meles are all slaves of west. Can you tell me any of them who stand for his people.

    War on terror has twisted its aim and meaning!
    Africom is a gate to African modern colonisation!!

    Wake up!!!!

    Haile Sellasie, Nassar and Kwame fought for african unity (sincerely and geniunly) but now aite Meles is leading the slavery

    • All African army are controlled as well so if anything happens the army don’t protect their own nations but outsiders. How spooky is that. The armies also only answer to outsiders through the dictators.

  5. Jegnaw Ethiopiawe on

    All this is to destroy the History of Imperial Ethiopia and here History little by little,be for we know it, maybe 100 years from know Ethiopian history will be rewritten to feet some one Else History, like Egypt and modern day Israel…if we are not careful,there for the more argent to get rid of this TPLF/Banda out of Ethiopia For good!!!

  6. Surafel on

    Thank you, Ato Fekade for this excellent article. As always, you have framed the issue and nailed it to the right post on the right spot. To be frank, I was dismayed at the omission of His Majesty’s statue just as much as I was incensed at the fact that the current band of African looters lacked the basic decency and imagination to use their own resources and Africa’s know how to design and erect this symbolic building. Now that you have framed the issue with such a solid logic and reasoning, I totally and completely agree with you that it is a good thing the statue of Haile-Selassie is not standing at the entrance to this shameful travesty. May God grant the wisdom and courage to the people of Africa to get rid of these parasitic blood sucking maggots forever.

    Respectfully,

    -Surafel

  7. Surafel on

    Thank you, Ato Fekade for this excellent article. As always, you have framed the issue and nailed it to the right post on the right spot. To be frank, I was dismayed at the omission of His Majesty’s statue just as much as I was incensed at the fact that the current band of African looters lacked the basic decency and imagination to use their own resources and Africa’s know how to design and erect this symbolic building. Now that you have framed the issue with such a solid logic and reasoning, I totally and completely agree with you that it is a good thing the statue of Haile-Selassie is not standing at the entrance to this shameful travesty. May God grant the wisdom and courage to the people of Africa to get rid of these parasitic blood sucking maggots.

    Respectfully,

    -Surafel

  8. OBSERVER on

    Great article Fekade!

    In weyane’s dictionary there is no word SHAME, beggar, etc…….
    They were naked.

  9. observer on

    I’m sure that most people would agree with your brilliantly written article. The reality is Africa is much worse now than it was 50 years ago. It has nothing to show to the world. Its being recolonized before our eyes. Foreign aid dependency is at its peak. Thus , it fits to call the hall the hall of shame. The visionary man that he was, a man whose primary mission for OAU was the establishment of strong and independent Africa, Kewame would have strongly disapproved the thought of having his status in front of a hall of the most dysfunctional organ.

  10. Ordofaa on

    Hi Yo’All!!!!

    I have not spoken to you for a little while now.

    I am very happy to report to you that the liberation of Oromia slated for early 2014 is on the right tracks. There fore, there is no need to waste your breath and energy screaming about the missing statue of your former emperor. That is something which can be settled through negotiations with the new Oromia after 2014. We don’t forget that has our sacred Oromo blood in his heritage and we also don’t forget he had inflicted deadly harms to our brothers and sisters in Bale. But it is still something that can be negotiated after Oromia goes free in 2014.
    Thank you all for listening and paying due attention to my utterance!!!!

    Oromia will be free!!!! Oromia will be a freshly minted nation in 2014!!!!! You can take all that to the bank!!!!!

    • We know you are outside stooge like TPLF no difference. Let us see when your land will be used for another base or exploited as it is going on today because you were blinded by ethnofascists. Of course Africans like you never learn from other Africans or Ethiopia’s history but your own narrow, short-sighted gain of Oromo style dictatorship as in TPLF. What else is knew? Keep being played on like Chess.

    • Who ever is advising you, find out where they are coming from and if they are promoting their own nation’s disintegration. I bet your advisers are staunch nationalists in their own country but promote weakeneing of nations for easy control and resource exploitations. So, as your self why you are a guinnea pig?

      • Ordofaa on

        Hey you Peace!!

        You erred on this one and erred big time. You should be very very careful in your choice of words when you talk about Oromians like me. And about Oromia’s date with destiny in early 2014, it is something already etched in stones. All you have to do is read it with undivided attention. If you and your kin and kits are residing in Oromia now, you don’t have to worry about being evicted. You see, my glorious Oromians are not you. They are fair and kindhearted people. They are so magnanimous stock of the human race. You all be issued green cards to stay and work if you have any skills. So what is your problem? Our son Kemal Gelchu who is the incarnation of the Great George Washington is leading our indomitable liberation fighters to the ultimate and total emancipation of my beloved Oromia and its glorious people. You mark my word!!! I am looking for a capable painter who I want to commission him/her for a portrait of General Kemal crossing the Wabi Shabele River on his way to Finfine. So keep quiet and watch the liberation of Oromia unfolding. If you want to stop by and have a pow-wow with me, please free to stop by my service station that I own on I-65 just South of Indianapolis. If you are one of those stinking Woyanes, you better avoid such a trip. Because I can see any of them coming from any directions a week before they arrive. You see these Woyanes have this very foul smell that stinks to high heaven. Their stench is so bad it knocks out flies unconscious. A couple of these stinkers have tried to stop by and cause trouble at my station before but when they saw the security detail at the door, they left with tails between their legs. But, Boy do they stink or what? Everyone was wondering whether some skunks were loose in the neighborhood. Would someone educate them, these Woyanes about sanitation and personal hygiene?

    • Abenezer on

      You know ordofa. Your comment is like your name, because you are ordofa. Do you know the history The Immigration of Galla that is known as The Expansion of Orommyin in the recent time? Which People, you will free from which people. You have to know the story that you are a hostage. If you are saying you have been in opresed you have to returned to the place you came. You say you naver forgate and forgive the people that were killed. We really sorry about them, about the people those were killed. If you say that you naver forgive, I think you are not have humanity. May be you are Satan, the people you are saying your people even don’t like it. In other way your people don’t like you. No way to make any trouble. Think like human not like anmal. Thank you any way

      Abenezer.

      • Ordofaa on

        You Abenezer!!!
        What is wrong with you? When is the last time you saw a physician? I highly suggest you do that right away. You must be one of those old-fashioned Amharas who don’t think, dream and talk nothing but violence against other nationalities. Those neftegna Amharas like use terms laced with violence only. What do you call a screwdriver in your neftegna language? ‘Temenja Mefcha’. Right? You live by violence and die in violence. Not by any other nationality but you will kill each other to extinction by your own accord. Whether you like it or not, whether it sounds good to you or not, My Beloved Oromia will be free and independent by early 2014. Our lion-heart son 5-Star General Kemal has a genius plan and that plan is working as expected. 100% to a full stop!!!! I have vowed to myself that I will walk from my house to the airport the day after Oromia becomes independent in 2014 to catch the next flight to Finfine. That is why I want General Kemal to finish the job by the end of January 2014 so we can go there to celebrate the historic occasion without the interruption of inclement weather. You will be welcomed to the party if you change your ways and behave.

        Free Oromia is coming!!!! My Beautiful Oromia, My Glorious Oromia will be a new independent nation in 2014!!!!!

  11. History repeating!!!

    When white colonialists took over Africa and enslaved her people, it was through the local chiefs. Neocolonialism of Africa by the yellow people is now directly negotiated/facilitated through one person, PMZ. Before it was through many chief. Now it through one person. He made this clear via his interview on the day of the inauguration of “Africa’s Hall of Shame”. The guy can sell anything as long as it is worth selling and enables him stay in power. If I am wrong, I stand to be corrected.

  12. Anonymous on

    Ordofaa you must be stupid and shameless TPLF-Weyane pretending or disguised as Oromo. I am sure you are not who you claim you are. You are living proof to what the article of Mr.Shewakenna is all about. It is ‘little people’ like you who claim to speak for me, and him in particular, and for Africa in general.

    Having said that: I would like to say brilliant work Fekade Shewakenna! You have done great job once again. May God bless you!

  13. Bahiru on

    Your argument does not hold water, Sir. Majority of us want to see the monument for the King to be erected along side Nikruhma’s.

  14. Abenezer on

    You say <> Let me ask you one question. Is somebody, gave you a gift on the day of the hollyday? So, what did you feel if someone give you a sute as a gift on your birth date? Do you really feel bad? I do not think you feel like that. If you feel that you disrespected, you are not well, may be you are sick. Because, The day is your birth date. The day is that you see and meet the new world when you were a new baby. The day is the new day for you to breath new air that is absolutlly you didn’t directlly and that was the day your family and their neghbors see you the first time as a human. So, what do you say, that this time may be the reheneicense for Ethiopia and the whole Africa. You, Even mentioned the bulding is by the government of China as a “gift” to the AU. So, by what measurment of scale the gift can be put as symbolizes failure. We people can make any comment but we have to measure by the scale of logic, conciousness, to approve our argument, comment, suggestion, annalysis can be acceptable by others.

    I think this is not from the healthy mind, the writer. Thank you any way.

  15. Haileslasie and Au meant to serve the US mission; Haileslasie & US killed Dr. Kwami Knikruma.
    Haileslasie made slave all Oromos, Sidam; Somalis and others except Amharas.
    Please read the crime of Haileslasie on his own people and Africans.

    • Tizibit on

      KG – I don’t think you are able to read the article above. Please go to school and learn some English before trying to read Mr. Shewakena’s article. It is way beyond you. Just don’t make up stories as you go along. We are not here to read nonsensical and silly outbursts from the likes of you! Please, please go to school if you are not too old to do so – otherwise keep your mouth shut!

  16. Anonymous on

    OAU founders well-preserved our continent’s dignifying history.

    Nowadays…it is a complex world. History could be manipulated Very

    Easily. Who we are could be altered an instantly. The solution….is

    not to blame he/she for erecting an ALIEN AU building. A Building is a

    matter(qus) and it doesn’t solve our problems ANYWAYS. The

    solution…is to think like our African fathers used to think AND and

    do like what they have been doing for their Nation. Then….We could be like them…because we have their blood.

    For the writer of the article…well articulated by the way.

    Have a good day to all of you!

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