The Journey to a New Vision
Obang Metho was among the honorees recognized at the annual gala of the Society of Ethiopians Established in the Diaspora (SEED) held on May 24, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Below is Obang’s acceptance speech.
…. I was told that this award was in appreciation for the work done in defense of the freedom and civil rights of our people, especially, the under-represented Anuak. I am very emotionally touched by this statement, especially the inclusive phrase, “our people,” which embraces Anuak, as well as other Ethiopians, both mainstream and minorities, as part of the whole of people of Ethiopia. Do you realize how revolutionary this is? Ten years ago this never would have happened. It is an indication of a major paradigm shift in our thinking. It is a cornerstone of a New Ethiopia where humanity comes before ethnicity or other identity factors and where we care about our Ethiopian brothers and sisters because no one will be free until all are free! The journey has not been easy, nor is the journey over, but if we travel together, we will go further and possibly faster, than any of us expected.
This journey began on December 13, 2003, with a desperate phone call from Gambella, Ethiopia. A massacre of Anuak leaders had begun in Gambella, perpetrated by the TPLF/EPRDF Defense Forces, accompanied by civilian militia groups, incited and equipped by the military. Within three days, over 425 Anuak had been brutally killed in an effort to eliminate the strongest opposing voices to the extraction of possible oil reserves on Anuak indigenous land without first consulting the people.
When I first saw the names of those killed, I knew over 300 of the victims. They were family members, friends and colleagues in the development work I was carrying out in Gambella. As I grieved for the loss of their lives in the days and weeks that followed, I realized that the only option for a better future for the Anuak and the people of Ethiopia would not come from retaliation, but only from transformation to something better than the cycle of revenge we had seen played out in the past. Yet, despite this personal revelation, today’s reality of me standing up for the freedom of Ethiopians and speaking for a united Ethiopia did not come easily…
Please click link below to read Obang’s presentation in its entirety