Save me from the kindness of my friends. By Yilma Bekele
We all have a few issues. Some are real while a few are due to ignorance but somewhere in between there are some topics raised by some folks that stops you on your track. All one can do is stand back, raise an eyebrow, take a breath and exclaim ‘what is that all about?’
That was exactly my reaction after listening to a discussion about the liberation of my country. It seems to me we have developed this nasty habit of choosing who can free us from serfdom even before the real job starts. The theoretical discussion have some folks getting twisted out of shape making one wonder what would happen when we actually have a few liberated territories to administer.
The interview was bundled into a two hour forty four minutes and thirty two seconds audio clip distributed by our friends from Ethiomedia. It was titled Eritrea: A friend or foe for a democratic change in Ethiopia? The question posed is very provocative and adds unnecessary layer to our struggle. If Eritrea is considered to be a foe we will be faced with two fronts to fight in order to be free.
Most Ethiopians are not into making the job harder and heavier. It is considered good policy to make friends with others of the same interest to lighten the load. One front at a time is a good and prudent policy to follow. Some folks just try to make their issue our issue. I have no way of knowing how much editing was done before distribution.
The original program was aired by ‘Addis Dimtz Radio from Washington D.C. Calling it a discussion is a little misleading. All three guests held the same opinion and were piling on each other to see who can go out on a limb.
The guests were German-based Leul Qesqis Ethiopian Patriotic Front (Guard), Journalist Senai Gebremedhin of Australia and Journalist Kinfu Assefa of The Netherlands.
The recent interview of President Isaias Afewerki of Eritrea by ESAT was what they were assembled to discuss. The host Ato Abebe Belew gave the panelists more than enough time to present one cohesive argument why they were opposed to the idea of accepting Eritrea’s generous offer to look the other way while we use their territory.
I watched the interview on ESAT. The Eritrean President presented a very interesting interpretation of history. It is always good to know what others think and how they process information. Most Ethiopians are familiar with President Isaias Afewerki. He is not a loved figure in Ethiopia. His image has been tarnished by over fifty years of propaganda by successive regimes all to their own end and mostly in a futile attempt to save a dying system.
Two have met their demise and the third one is attempting the same feat. May God save us all! Anyway Ato Isaias Afewerki has been viewed mostly as an evil figure. He has been seen as a friend only once for a brief period of time. It is a subject Woyanes’ would rather not talk about.
I have grown up listening and reading about him and this is the first time I have sat to closely follow and see how he carries himself. His desk, his cloth, his hat and the beige background all reflected the simplified life he advocated and seems to live. I was most surprised by the absence of a big flag of Eritrea flying in the background engulfing the speaker with naked show of patriotism. I am impressed he did not need such props. It shows modesty as well as confidence.
I enjoyed his fast reply to difficult questions and the cunning way he managed to avoid the ones he did not want to answer. I am grateful to the two Journalists for raising tough questions that need to be asked and steering the conversation in a smart manner
I did not focus much on what he has to say about the past and his opinion of Woyane. I would rather pay attention on what he has to say about the future. I am also aware that as a powerful head of state his views are very important and directly affect our country. What I totally agreed with him is the belief that a non-democratic, ethnically divided Ethiopia to be a hindrance to the development of both countries. The Woyane regime in order to hold on to power incites hatred and intolerance among people and nations of the region. The Woyane regime in Ethiopia is the cause of instability in the Horn of Africa. That fits our description of the current Ethiopian regime.
It is the same regime that deleted Andenet by using their Kangaroo court and that also denied Semayawi Party’s participation in the election process by using the Election Board to give it legality. The question becomes what exactly is wrong with Ethiopian Democratic Forces using Eritrean territory to train and prepare to topple this mafia regime? It looks like we have a mutual interest with Eritrea in the resolution of this common discomfort. Anything wrong with that?
Many have tried to operate from Eritrea. Today there are a few combatants from Ethiopia located in Eritrea to organize better. It is now two years since the formation of Ginbot7 Popular Forces that have managed to work in a stealth manner and are fine-tuning their ways make the effort match the prize. The Patriotic Front which is one of the oldest and that has faced many obstacles is still operating from Eritrea. The two organizations that is Patriotic Front and Ginbot7 have agreed to a merger. It is a great leap forward. ESAT got access to be present at such historical event due to the good will of the Eritrean Government.
It indeed is a step forward on our journey to see a free Ethiopia and the fact it was recorded by the number one weapon of our people to be free is a proud moment for us all. It was during this trip ESAT was able to secure an interview with the Eritrean head of state. And it is the news and the interview that precipitated the program by Addis Dimtz Radio.
Our panelists did not discuss the Interview. They did not discuss the historical trip by an Independent Ethiopian broadcaster going to Eritrea and witness the monumental occasion of Ethiopian Forces coming together to face the common enemy. They did not dissect the President’s speech and give us a glimpse of his thought regarding our country.
The discussion was solely on the wisdom of cooperating with Eritrea to fight the Warlords in power. The guests were there to explain why they think differently. It would have helped to have assembled folks that have differing views so the listener can hear all sides of the issue.
It is a moot point. No organization has asked for anyone’s permission to set up shop in Eritrea or anywhere. It does not work like that. Just because someone tried and failed does not mean there is no different approach that would succeed. With all due respect it is better to sit down and do an in-depth search of why it did not succeed and find a way to help others avoid failure than to be a naysayer without merit..
The panelists were setting up a warning beacon for all others to move with caution based on their failed encounter. I have no problem with that. What I object to is this idea of undermining others that are working to find their own way. Concentrating on one’s own effort and making it succeed would earn more points and move the ball.
To come on radio and disparage and question the character of others is not a winning formula. For the host to give people free rein to use the air waves to make unsubstantiated and uninformed statements bordering on slander on our struggle is not fair or a good way to make friends.
After all is said the point I got was that the gentlemen were accusing Shabia for the non-activity of some of the organizations residing in Eritrea. I have no idea why. We do not have enough data to show the strength or weakness of each organization making it difficult to answer with certainty. Did they have able leaders, enough recruits, adequate training, enough weapons even for training, enough supplies, health workers, food, drink, mental fitness that is called for? Was funds collected that is enough for an army to survive until the political situation changes and critical mass is achieved?
Organizing, training and leading an army into battle is not a simple proposition. Engaging an organized force like the TPLF army is not a picnic. I am sure it requires painstaking attention to details and a highly motivated and able leaders with troops trained militarily and politically. Why our organizations have not fared well in Eritrea till now is a question they have to answer. I doubt blaming it on Eritrea is such a good idea. That is the cowards’ way out. You mean to tell me in twenty years you failed to find another way if you think that one is a dead end?
If the idea was for Shabia to feed and train Ethiopians to fight Woyane then it was a very naive assumption. To think Shabia would fight for our freedom is way off the mark. You are on your own buddy. Shabia led and fought with TPLF to achieve its goal of liberating Eritrea. They did not fight for TPLF. If Shabia is willing to give us a corridor to fight their old friend Woyane and Patriotic Front /G7 say they are determined to accept the offer and also work with many more others to bring freedom why would one object? We should find that reassuring and the road to empowerment.
Each organization leads its own sovereign existence based on its beliefs and aptitude. I have no question Ato Andargachew laid the best foundation for such life to emerge from his group. Patriotic Front /G7 are a qualitative change in our struggle. We celebrate that while we support all those arrayed against the minority based regime.
The peaceful means is still going strong in Ethiopia. Semayawi and Andenet are exposing the emptiness of the system. Slowly they are teaching their people that we do not submit easy. Their struggle is a hard as any. Their survival is challenged on a daily basis. They have no newspaper, no radio, no text messaging, nothing! They are harassed by government paid goons, their family is threatened and people are forced to stay away from them but perceiver.
Kinijit, Andenet, Semayawi, Ginbot7 and more will come. What comes next should be qualitatively better than the previous one. That happens when we learn from mistakes, build on our success and celebrate our accomplishments. Our weapons should be aimed at the mafia regime not at phantom enemies and close allies. It is important we contemplate before we hold public dialogue without adequate understanding or deeper studies. What I noticed in the west is that when they want to solve a problem they usually invite experts from their think tanks so they would give the listener perspective based on solid knowledge. It usually gets better and superior results benefiting all of society without undue alarm.
Posts Tagged ‘ethiopian diaspora’
Save me from the kindness of my friends. By Yilma Bekele
Elections and helicopter-an Ethiopian drama. By Yilma Bekele
I am thinking you must have read my last report on Ethiopian helicopters that made an unauthorized trip to Eritrea. I felt I left the story hanging out there and it is not just fair to my readers not having a closure on the subject. Some might say why dwell on that when there are so many things to discuss regarding our country. I listened and went about looking for important subjects I could write about to enrich our life and become a better informed Diaspora.
I said Diaspora because due to this business of web filtering all our independent sites are blocked in Ethiopia thus the few that can read my submissions are overwhelmingly cadres or trusted officials of the regime that have passed certain test that proves they could withstand toxic ideas from the Diaspora. Anyway I combed the few TPLF sites and their children’s outlet here in the west looking for current events they are working on or being bothered about.
To start with the most time consuming and important issue being discussed is the coming election. The TPLF regime has been considering and the parliament discussing polices that would make the coming election run ‘smoothly and peacefully’ in the words of Dawit Kebede of Awramba Times. They have taken some measures to make that happen.
The ‘Election Board’ members appointed by TPLF did not have qualms swearing that they are independent and impartial. I know some might be uncomfortable with this since the TPLF pays their salary, owns their house including their kebele rations to fed their family, but that is being petty.
There has been many criticism hurled at the honorable Election Board for trying to enforce internal party rules and discipline on those that are trying to register to compete in the election. Some are questioning why such rules do not apply to TPLF and those controlled by TPLF but that is what is called nitpicking. Haters will always be haters is their answer.
The Election Board was so concerned about abuse of power by Andenet Party just last week they went ahead exercised their prerogative to form a clone. This is allowed by the constitution since the late great leader has used that method to clone CUD (Kinijit) thus enshrining the practice. With one brilliant stroke Andenet has been rendered illegal. The newly appointed Chairman of Andenet when informed about his authority was reported to have gulped down the Tej he was drinking and looked at the Awramba Times reporter suspiciously to see if he was being set up.
The Parliament has not been idle. What seems to bother them is the color blue. There has been discussion in the rules committee to see if the word blue can be deleted from the dictionary. Linguists such as professor Weldu Sbagadis have testified showing how the word blue can easily be banned and a new substitute found. In the meantime the parliament has instructed the Police not to allow wearing of blue t shirt, remove blue colored cars from the highway, confiscate all blue threads from stores and see if our scientists can paint the sky a new color.
I am sure you have heard of the lawsuit brought by cadre Redwan Hussein of the Communication Bureau against our activists in Washington DC. If you are not aware the incident happened last October while our cadre was in DC and was spotted in a shopping center walking around like an ordinary person but our alert Diaspora activists approached him and sort of introduced him to other shoppers in a loud manner. What was said was the truth about his activities serving the TPLF Woyane regime and his tendency to blame victims for the crimes of his masters. It looks like cadre Redwan did not look kindly at this and hired an attorney and sued. Of course he is not familiar with laws of a civilized country but his lawyers did not care as long as he was paying their exorbitant fees. The judge dropped the silly case and it is reported that our people not only paid for his attorneys but the translation fee for the video that was presented as exhibit. Of course cadre Redwan was in DC to follow his lawsuit unfortunately he was too scared to leave his hotel and was informed by phone regarding the dismissal.
Now you really do not expect me to bother you with such mundane matters while our helicopter is sitting in Asmara. From what I hear the Eritrean government has parked the war machine in a public square and is selling tickets for people to see, touch and marvel at this fearsome technology. I was also forced to write on this subject due to the very angry and threating email I received from Captain Asgedom Berhe of the Woyane National Security Agency. It looks like the good captain is not happy about my last article.
After threating me with all kinds of bodily and mental harm he would do to me if I ever showed up in his neighborhood captain Asgedom went on explain how uninformed I am and tried to set the record straight. I am grateful. After looking at his letterhead I am totally in awe of the many advanced certificate he has received in the art of torture and enhanced investigation methods. He is the recipient of a BA from Kim Il Sung University North Korea specializing in starvation as a tool and he did his graduate work in the former East Germany Leipzig University to be exact in use of LSD and other drugs to totally disorient human beings. When you consider he was hired as a consultant by the CIA for advice in Iraq you start to pay attention. The man has credentials.
It looks like he did not appreciate a lay man like myself writing about such an important and sensitive subject like the disappearance of a helicopter. He claims that TPLF was aware the three renegades that stole the machine were sleeper agents of Shabia and they were let go to uncover their friends that were in the Ethiopian air Force. It is his claim the helicopter they stole is of no value since it was an old model and not in use. Regarding the four additional officers that escaped to Kenya his claim is the security allowed them to go to make room for new recruits. What really go his goat was since my writing on the subject General Samora has gone apes and wants the helicopters back no matter what and he blames it on me thus the threat to teach me a lesson.
I decided to dig deeper and find out what effort the regime has made to recover our dangerous toy. I call it ours out of habit when it actually belongs to TPLF and the region of Tigrai. They normally use it to intimidate the rest of us into submission and transport high officials between Mekele and Adwa. It comes in handy during election time to hover over cities and show what becomes of a faulty voting. You would not believe the logistics involved in trying one helicopter back to Ethiopia.
The Eritrean government of course is deliberately dragging the issue and did not respond in a timely manner. Due to the absence of diplomatic relations between the two counties Sudan has been acting as an intermediary. To start it all the Eritrean government inflated the expenses beyond reason. The TPLF regime was understanding of parking and storage charges though a little high but the fine for crossing the border without notice and overtime pay for activating the defense units was outrageous to say the least. Even Al Bashir was shocked with the bill. After further negotiation and good will gesture from Asmara some reduction was made.
The next hurdle for the Woyane regime was finding trustworthy and competent pilots. It was a little embarrassing for the regime to admit but there were none. It is not that they could not find any but the key word was trust. The trainers are from the old regime and TPLF cannot face further humiliation. After further review a retired one was located and the individual having an ailing mother, a wife and two kids that could be used as a leverage was felt to be an acceptable risk.
The last two things left to resolve the issue was the form of payment and the fuel for the machine. Both the Bir and the Nakfa we out of the question. The Eritrean government insisted on cash or an open credit card. It was agreed to use former first lady Azeb Mesfin’s American Express Platinum card which does not have any limit. Three rooms in Inter-Continental Hotel in Asmara was reserved at the rate of US $500 a day per room.
A small boat with three barrels of jet fuel left the port of Aden headed for Massawa. A flatbed truck was hired to transport the fuel to Asmara. Again due to paper work insisted by the Eritrean regime it took a whole week for the one hundred kilometers trip. Of course the pilots were enjoying themselves in Asmara with their expense paid vacation. It was reported by Daniel Berhane a TPLF blogger that they run the bill so high first lady Azeb was admitted to one of the private hospitals for mental breakdown. She blamed it all on Samora for obsessing about the helicopters.
I know I am jumping the gun here writing about a subject that still has not been resolved. What can I say I got tired of waiting. The last I heard those tricky Eritreans have pulled some plugs and a repair crew is being dispatched. First lady Azeb has not been told about the new development.
Marriage proposal to Mighty Awash and HMD comes to the US. By Yilma Bekele
Our elders know how to tell a story. The way they do it could be compared to like pealing an onion, you have to go thru so many layers to get to the heart of the matter. Even then it requires insight to really understand the hidden message. Some might think it is so backward and are tempted to opine why go thru a maze when you can just go direct to the point. I am sure our people know how to say it with few choice words but to truly tell a good story one needs patience and wisdom. It would be considered uncultured and not worthy of a civilized mind to blurt something out like a wild animal. So do me a favor and settle down I want to tell you a story.
The event I am about to tell you took place in Afar country in North Eastern Ethiopia on the edge of the Great Rift Valley. It was the 1970’s and young educated Ethiopians were using modern methods to harness the power of the mighty Awash to irrigate the land to grow cotton, sorghum and sugar cane. The land was virgin, the young farmers were highly motivated and the project was going better than their wildest expectations. Naturally they wanted to acquire more land. In that part of Ethiopia the land belongs to the nomadic but fierce Afar people and our farmers were very, very careful not to antagonize our warriors thus they Walked lightly, spoke softly and will do anything to remain on the good side of the elders. If you value your life and property that is what you do in Afar country.
Our story took on one of those occasions where the young Haramaya (Alemaya) College graduates sit down to talk to the elders and exchange pleasantries and get to know each other. That ceremony by itself is one beautiful story that remains to be told. Anyway after a long leisurely exchange of the usual pleasantries the farmers asked if it was at all possible if they could be allowed to plant on a few more acres adjacent to what they already have now. As the story is told to me by my dear friend Ato Solomon the elders did not even flinch. They smiled their usual bright smile looked them in the eye and responded with a riddle of their own.
They used Awash to reply to their request. During the rainy season the mighty Awash over flows its banks due to the many tributaries feeding it and becomes bigger than anything you have ever seen. It swells up to twice its size inundating Afar country as far as the eye can see. It was during this season that one of the small tributary’s feeding Awash feeling big and pompous sent a delegation to the house of Awash asking for marriage.
As the elders tell it Awash was not upset by the impertinence of the little runt of a stream coming up with such a proposal. Far from that Awash was amused. Thus Awash looked at the gathered elders and replied in a polite manner. ‘Why don’t we wait and go over this important request come next May?’ You see my friends May is the dry season and there is no more stream not even a drop of water entering the mighty Awash. Saying outright no would have been uncultured and there was no need to be rude to the delegates and hurt the feeling of the young one. Honor was saved all around and the elders went back in peace.
What reminded of this story is the visit by the Woyane delegation to the UN and the talked about meeting with the great kahuna President Obama himself. Visions of Awash and the little trickle of a stream came to mind when I saw the picture of Obama and the delegation that was pretending to represent our ancient land in that little room in New York and I smiled a knowing smile. Where are you our Afar warriors when we need you is all I could think of?
I am sure all Ethiopians have heard of the audience with the great white masters this time due to circumstances represented by a black man (the Black face of the American empire according to Cornel West) and the happiness and joy it brought to our Woyane idiots in power.
It is no wonder the TPLF minority government used the occasion as a God send opportunity to show our people how the US thinks they are doing miracles in our country. Their children in America were overjoyed and did not spare ink and cyber space to fling it on our face. This fools tale was told in so many ways and their little minions and cadres inundated social media with the video and photo opportunity Susan Rice created for them. The clueless tyrants want to prove their self-worth by what outsiders say about them not by their own accomplishments.
The meeting took place in a small Hotel room in New York and you can tell it was a hastily arranged affair created for photo opportunity and nothing substantial happened. Mr. Obama stuck to the prepared script and the whole idea was to mention the 1) double digit growth 2) encourage selling of our land and 3) prepare the ground for future missions of the TPLF mercenary force.
All three points go contrary to the interest of Ethiopia but serve the interest of the US and Western Europe in an incredible manner. All there points are easy to refute but who is listening? The Ethiopian people due to the fact that there is no free media cannot discuss the issue in an open and transparent manner, the US media is not even focused on little old, poor Ethiopia leaving her children in the Diaspora the only one left to expose the second attempt to occupy our motherland. I will attempt to refute the three points without boring you the victims.
Point number 1) Ethiopia’s Economy is not growing because we have created jobs by improving our education system, increasing manufacturing output and creating more wage earners but it is like a house built on sand foundation. It is borrowed money from World Bank, China and the IMF to tackle balance of payment problems. The economy is one giant real estate Ponzi scheme that is bound to crumble with the slightest tremor. Look at Ethiopia’s external debt.
Date Amount US$ % to GDP
1975 343.7 14%
1991 9.1 Billion 214%
2013 16.1 Billion 285%
Thus according to experts ‘Ethiopia’s external debt is not simply unsustainable; even the most generous debt relief would not bring the country within reach of meeting its responsibility within the context of global poverty-reduction goals.’ External Debt and Economic Growth in Ethiopia, By: Melese Gizaw Desta – Publication: 2005 76 pages
Do you my dear Ethiopian relatives see the joy in building a glass house with borrowed money and sticking your children with substantial debt that they would under no circumstances be able to pay back without selling additional assets due to your reckless act? You see Woyane warlords will take their cut and buy property in the west, the banks have to be paid no matter what and our poor people just have to tighten their belt and suffer some more.
Point number 2) Notice Obama said growth in ‘agricultural production’ not Ethiopia being able to feed itself. He is counting the stolen lands of Gambella, Oromia, Afar and the south that are given to multinationals for free so they could export our products to feed their people. Mr. Obama wants us to feel good because the Saudis, Emirates, the Gulf Arabs and Indians can have fresh fruit on their table while we starve, and our poor farmers are left landless and homeless.
Pont number 3) He cited Ban Ki-Moon of the UN to show how much our soldiers have been effective as peace-keepers. Dear Mr. Obama the TPLF solders are nothing but peace keepers. We are aware of the role they played and are still playing in Somalia where they have committed war crimes against our African brothers and sisters. We have become isolated in our neighborhood and that is not the Ethiopia we want to leave behind for our children.
It is said by expert the future war will be fought in Africa for the untapped resources still buried under our continent. It would involve mainly the US and China. No American president will dare send US military to Africa and risk death in a large scale. This is where we come into the picture. The Pentagon is preparing our solders to be first responders to pacify and occupy on the ground while the mighty US hovers in the sky to do the job with no risk to their children. That is the gist of the meeting in a hotel room arranged by no other than the dead tyrant obituariest the hapless Susan Rice. A pox on her!
Our people are starving and Obama is telling us our belly is full, our children are dying in Southern Africa and all over the Middle East and he is informing us we have one of the highest growing economy in the world, our virgin land is leased to outsiders and poor farmers are left out in the cold and the African American President is celebrating the selling of our country.
I have no quarrel with Mr. Obama he is just doing what he was elected to do not always in a satisfactory manner but anyway that is the job he took to look after the interest of his country. When he heaps praise on tyrants that are killing me, when he enables dictators that are abusing their office, this is when I part company with him. I look after myself and there is no reason I should be upset, discouraged or sad but rather think soberly and device a way to protect my poor country and people.
We are inching our way in a measured manner towards protecting our interest. The last two years our people are coming together and slowly realizing the minority government is the problem for all that has gone wrong in our country. It is not easy to fight a government that has mastered the art of divide and rule and is supported by the big powers for their selfish interest but we are finally realizing there is no magic formula nor a miracle that would appear to help us untangle from the evil thugs in power.
Today we have groups that have organized to take the fight to the enemy’s camp. They have been training the last few years and are ready to unleash their fury on the few that have become fat and lazy sucking our blood. Obama or no Obama is going to save the criminals from justice. It would be good if the foreign devils would help us but it is not a must. We help ourselves. We are the ones suffering, it is our children that are dying, it is our country that is being sold and it is our pride that has been trampled. It follows then it is us, only us that can restore the balance and stand our country right side up.
Mr. Obama’s speech is just hot air that did not even fill that hotel room it was uttered whereas our action is real that would fill our mountain and valleys with the voice of our ancestors that would be there standing behind us beaming with pride. Every one of us have a choice to stand up to bullies and Bandas and help our combatants achieve victory or continue being abused by a few that when things get hot would depart leaving their cadres to face the music. That is how tyrants operate. Shall I remind you of Marcos of Philippines, Shah of Iran, Pinochet of Chile, and Mengistu of Ethiopia? Tyrants and their associates are cowards. They have already started selling their ill gotten real estate in Ethiopia, don’t be left behind paying for their sins.
Where are our Afar elders that are wise and focused, where did the ghost of Tewodros go that sacrificed his life to deny the British the excuse to stay behind, where is Taitu Bitul that asked the foreign devils’ shoes be cleaned least they take our precious soil with them, where is Minilik that played one European against another to protect his children, Where is Abebe Aregay, Geresu Duki, Balcha Aba Nebso that invented the art of Guerilla warfare Oh Ethiopia where did your children go wrong where today they are Kowtowing to a faraway power and meeting in funky hotel rooms to show us how much their master approves of their slave mentality.
The same week the President of India came to the US to attend the same UN meeting. The President of India gathered his Diaspora at Madison Sports Garden for a lavish ceremony that was celebrated with Indian cultural and arts presentation. The President thanked his people for the wonderful contribution they are making to their common country. It was done with respect, love and meant to boost the morale. The President met Mr. Obama at the white house as equal and discussed issues of mutual interest.
We Ethiopians are not that lucky. Our unelected officials normally gather their chosen ethnic group and use our Embassy to demean and insult other Ethiopians. Due to the absence of legitimacy and self-esteem they are overjoyed when they are invited to sit down in small hotel rooms so they would receive the blessing of their masters. They do not have the presence of mind to be ashamed but rather wave their underling status as proof of their self-worth. It is even surprising to hear TPLF cadres complaining the new toy was able to sit with Obama while the dead tyrant never achieved such honor. Poor Ethiopia, how low can we sink?
Have no fear my friend, we still produce patriots that keep the flame of freedom alive. We are living with heroes extraordinaire among us like my friend Eskinder Nega that will not be silenced for ever and ever, Andualem Arage, Bekele Gerba, my leader Andargachew Tsgie and Abubeker Ahmed and many, many more. We are still alive and kicking.
What we have today is usurpers that have sat on the throne but are confused about what it means to be Ethiopian, we are surrounded by fools that would not find the exit door in a studio apartment and we have a perfect saying in our language that explains their condition ጋኖች አለቁና ምንቸቶች ጋን ሆኑ May the Gods help our country and people.
Please read ‘Consistency or hypocrisy? President Obama ‘boosts’ Ethiopia’s dictatorship’ by Aklog Birara (Dr.) an expert analysis on this important issue in most of our fearless and Independent Websites.
By Yilma Bekele
The Bay Area that currently is home away from home for thousands of Ethiopians is nothing like any other place that I have known. I was born in a small village on the southern part of Ethiopia and have resided in Addis Abeba, Oregon and Seattle Washington before moving here. The Bay Area is unique. I thank the Gods and celebrate my luck whenever I have a chance.
The place where I originated from is not known for such movement of people from one location to another. As much as I remember the majority of the people I know were born, grew up and die within a few miles of their home. A trip to the next town a few miles away was talked about days from departure. My journey to America was definitely a mind boggling experience and by any stretch of the imagination not an understandable act by most of my family and neighbors for the period I came to America.
The same thing cannot be said today. As I drive to go to work every day the sight of elderly Ethiopian mothers and grandmothers walking down Telegraph avenue, gray haired grandfathers sitting outside Pete’s coffee, taxi drivers silent greetings from the next lane is always a welcome sight to start the day. It looks like no one is left at home. They are all here. They make me feel at home.
Of all the places I have lived it is the Bay Area that gives me a sense of belonging and the absence of that feeling of being stranger in a new land. This is so because this corner of the world is where the world comes to prove that American concept of ‘the melting pot’ phenomena. No one asks you ‘where are you from?’ in the Bay Area. There is a restaurant for every food type, a worship place for any religion, a market for all ethnic product and court appointed translator for any language of your choice.
If you have a relative coming to the US from the remotest corner of Ethiopia, please send them to the Bay Area where they can be made to feel at home In no time. Chances are he/she will find someone from the same village to welcome them and remove that feeling of fear and anxiety as they say in a ‘New York minute’ and that is faster than a blink of an eye.
This experience probably can be said of most metropolitan areas where we congregate due to abundance of jobs and that sense of comfort we get when we are with each other. This situation of finding ourselves in a faraway place although not out of choice has also got a silver lining where good can be harvested from the bad situation. Our elderly parents get to spend the last days of their life with their children and grandchildren and experience a dignified living. We have a choice of schools to go to and there is no limitations on what we want to achieve in life. From what I can see it is fair to conclude we are one hard working people that excel in the professions we choose.
Is it fair to ask what else do we learn during our stay in this land? We definitely learn the value of hard work and honest living. We also notice the wonderful way the different cultures manage to live in peace and harmony without sacrificing their uniqueness. Respect for others and show of empathy to those that find themselves in challenging situation is a lesson we cannot avoid. Any time there is a natural catastrophe anywhere in the world we see people giving what they could, being stressed to no end and going out of the way to help. Most of the time they don’t even know where the heck the location is but that does not stop them from wanting to help.
The news that has been in the headlines the last few days is the trouble two football players are in for a behavior not appreciated in this time and age. One was caught hitting his fiancé and another was charged for disciplining his young son in a harsh manner. How the incidents were dealt with by society is what I want to focus on. It looks like folks were not happy to witness such behavior from individuals that have attained success in the field they choose. The damage to the victims in my opinion does not seem long lasting but what bothered people was the fact that it took place. Both victimizers took responsibility for their transgressions and by the time the news came out they have made peace with their prey.
What I noticed was the civilized way the ugly situation was dealt with society in general. Some wanted harsh punishment to be administered but it was not the general consensus. The overwhelming desire was to use the occasion as a teachable moment and shine a bright light on domestic violence and the issue of discipline and the role it plays in raising our children. The discussion that is ongoing at the moment is doing great service that could help avoid such behavior to be acceptable and that would not be tolerated in the future. The fiancé and the little boy were the immediate victims but society reacted as if the crime was committed against all. They showed empathy and identified with the hurt feeling of the two victims.
Today there are calls for the two teams to punish the football players. There is also a consorted move to force their corporate sponsors to disassociate themselves from the two clubs until appropriate action is taken. The commissioner of the football federation is hanging by his finger nails and there is a strong possibility he might lose his job. Politicians such as the Governor of the State and Senate representative are calling for suspension. As you can clearly see it is all about taking responsibility for one’s action and paying the price when one comes short of expectations. That is why I said earlier every cloud has a silver lining. Out of this ugly situation something good is being born in front of our eyes.
I brought this up because it is a perfect example for us Ethiopians to learn the concept of ‘I am my brother’s keeper’ and that it is my business to protect those that get hurt due to circumstances beyond their control. It is not considered meddling in people’s affair but shielding the weak and the poor from the rich and strong. Tell me my Ethiopian brethren do you see a situation where such injustice occurs on a daily basis in our old country? Can you tell me the reaction of those that are in a position to right that which is wrong but washed their hands like Pontius Pilate?
That is what the Roman governor of Judea did when they brought Jesus to face justice. He did not want to crucify Jesus thus it is said that he washed his hands in front of the mob and declared ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood, it is your responsibility.’ Sounds and looks familiar don’t it? How so you might ask?
I will go over it slowly. There is no rule of law in our land. The government currently in power uses coercion to stay in power. There are no democratically elected officials anywhere in our country. All affairs of the government is run by a few individuals recruited from a single ethnic group. Simply put the system can be defined .my way or the highway.’ Thus logically any decision taken by the few with gun is always meant to help perpetuate the group’s self-interest. Anybody working closely, associated with such organization accepts the dictates and rules set by those in power.
Today the regime that is misgoverning our country collects money from the Diaspora we mentioned earlier by peddling illegally acquired products. It is not only luxury items that are being exported to collect dollars but basic necessities that are crucial for the survival and well-being of our people. We their children that have managed to escape from this misery are the consumers of such products. When we purchase Teff that is stolen from our people’s mouth, when we drink Beer that is exported to get dollars when we fly Ethiopian Airlines that is the personal bank of TPLF we are making a choice like Pontius Pilate. One can wash ones hand but it is not easy to wash ones conscious.
Why do you think these Americans went up in arms due to a conflict between individuals in a family setting? Simply put unlike us they do not place bad deed on a scale to balance one evil with another. Evil is judged all by itself for the damage it does to one or many. The average person does not require a cue from others to respond. They seem to have acquired this ability to make up their own mind without checking with their neighbors and friends.
That is why we do not meet someone making excuse for the transgressor. That is why they do not come up with such pathetic line like 1) If I don’t go to the game the venders will be laid off 2) If I boycott my team will suffer 3) If I don’t buy ticket my home team will go bankrupt etc. etc. That is called abdicating responsibility to challenge evil where ever it rears its ugly head.
That is why it is absolutely baffling to see those that escaped from prison helping the evil warden to keep their family and friend back behind bars. We came over here to experience life to the fullest by living in peace, raising a family and live without fear. We acquire knowledge and pick new habits from our generous hosts. Do you notice a number of us fail to absorb that beautiful quality called empathy, which simply means the presence of mind to care for others that are not fortunate like us.
It does not mean there is smoothing terribly wrong with us. There are many explanations for our failure to care. It could be lack of education, may be the result of tumultuous upbringing we went thru during the dread Derg period and the backward culture that is hindering our thinking process. Those are all excuses and do not absolve us of our indifference to the plight of our people.
As we witness the American public is using different means to force change in the behavior of the team, the individuals and society in general. They are forcing the politicians to intervene, pressuring the sponsors to lean on the football league and the teams to do what is right if they want their money and love. All are paying attention. That is the power of the people in all its glory.
I hope this is a teachable moment for us Ethiopians regarding the use of our economic power to bring change to our beautiful land and people. It is the responsibility of each one of us to teach by example. It is our duty to patiently explain to our friends and family the importance of personal responsibility and the satisfaction of doing something good. I will come back to this subject over and over again. It is too important not to be done. I have no vested interest more than any one of you but I thought may be if I act as your conscious sooner or later you will pay attention and do the right thing. I know you are capable of that my beautiful cousin. Our country and people are waiting for you to act.
2007-A year of decision by Yilma Bekele
Happy New Year Ethiopia (መልካም እንቁጣጣሸ) Meskerem is a special month. We love and honor Meskerem so much that we name our children by it signifying a new beginning for the long journey ahead. Meskerem is the end of the rainy season and our high mountains and valleys adorn themselves in bright yellow flowers as far as the eye can see, totally overwhelming our senses. For a Diaspora, Meskerem in a strange land, is another hard pill to swallow as an exile from a precious homeland.
The physical comfort, the sense of total security and a feeling of being free compensates for that deep longing emanating from the bottom of the heart. I am afraid it is all an illusion. How could one half survive without the other? How could part of oneself feel safe and secure while the other side is threatened and abused? It is a dilemma that unsettles a lot of us.
It is not particular to us to feel the need to give back to the place we left behind. The Diaspora has played a vital role in the economies of India, Israel and Turkey to mention a few. The fact that we Ethiopians are not free to work, invest and help our country has hindered our participation in sharing the wonderful knowledge and skill we have acquired. When they said good will emerge out of bad they must have been thinking about us.
The lack of real Democracy, the absence of the Rule of Law, the non-existence of transparency, the rampant corruption and most of all the favoritism of one ethnic group over the other (currently Tigrai) coupled with the fear factor permeating the society is too much a stress to bear when there is no earthly reason to. Thus the best and the brightest stay away. That does not mean there are not a lot that are daring and energetic and try to sail this stormy waters and add value to our home. All that we can do is wish them well.
It is not that our country does not need help. Nor is it that most of us have nothing of value to contribute. The only reason the majority of the Diaspora is not involved is due to the absence of Good Governance in Ethiopia. The country is still run like in the Feudal times using brute force and intimidation by the War Lord (TPLF this time around) and its subordinates. How could a person that accumulated capital by working for it invest in an enterprise that does not have any rules so to speak of?
This Enkutatash all is not well at home. Our young people are still fleeing their homes not knowing where they are going. They just travel any which way to try their luck some places they have heard of. The boys are going South by foot and the girls are going East by plane hoping to make it and be somebody. There are a lot that make it and there are some that somehow disappear without a trace never to be heard again. We are witnessing hell on earth. Here is what was reported by EMF (ethioforum.org)
Eighteen illegal immigrants from Ethiopia were Sunday arrested Kiutine, Igembe North, Meru County on their way to Nairobi. “The illegal aliens were nabbed at a road block at Kiutine at 8am, aboard 2 saloon cars. They were heading to Nairobi. We will take them to court, together with their two drivers, both Kenyans,” said Cornelius Sing’oei, the Igembe North OCPD. As reported by Phares Mutembei of Standardmedia.
Our people were most probably on their way to South Africa to be part of the ever growing Diaspora. When we are referred to as ‘illegal aliens’ in Kenya you know there is a problem in Habesha land.
How to help those that are being brutalized by the ethnic regime at home and also come to the rescue of those that are wondering in Southern Africa and the Middle East is a question that we should all ask ourselves as we celebrate the New Year with family and friends. What can I do to relieve the pain of my people should be in our mind as we sit down to give thanks to the good fortune that has saved us from servitude to tyrants.
If we really think about it there are plenty of ways we can make a difference and reap the benefits of doing the right thing. There might not be immediate satisfaction or something tangible to show in a short time. Like everything good in life it takes time for our best deeds to mature. Like one does not plant one day and expect to harvest the day after, our good deeds take time to develop and show results. One thing we do know for sure is the medicine we are prescribing is proven to work.
What exactly can the millions of us in the Diaspora do to help our people and country escape this vicious cycle of tyranny, famine, hopelessness and despair? We learn from those when faced with the same problem like us dealt with it and won. We are all familiar with the history of the struggle of African Americans, South Africans, Indians and millions of others that were in the same situation we are in today.
It is true they appealed to humanity to help them but they just did not sit and wait. They took matters into their own hands and started the process and sure enough plenty came to their aid. Those that could picked the gun fought back while others participated in isolating and weakening the enemy using different means. That is exactly where we the Diaspora Ethiopians can complement the struggle of our people by shunning all persons and enterprise connected to the minority regime. It is how we display our displeasure and help our country and people.
What are the actions that we can take to make our feelings known? What the Diaspora has in abundance and the TPLF regime salivates for is our economic power. That is the potent weapon we can use to make the Woyane regime feel our resolve to fight back injustice. It is done not out of hate but as a matter of self-defense to survive.
We all can tell the current situation is not sustainable and we are aware when it implodes from inside the damage can deal a fatal blow to our very existence as a country. If you think that is an exaggeration just look at Syria, Libya, Iraq, Somalia that were imperfect unions but far from a waste land they are today. Our country is ripe for any power to exploit the weak foundation of ethnic division, abject poverty, millions of unemployed youth that our country is sitting on. We should use our economic and intellectual power at our disposal to stop such catastrophe.
1) Participating in the so called ‘condominium’ scam is giving free money to TPLF.
2) Building a home is not a job creation scheme. Most of the construction materials imported support the TPLF business enterprise. You are giving cash to TPLF.
3) Drinking ‘Ethiopian’ beer is not helping Ethiopia. All the major breweries belong to foreigners, the exporters are TPLF or junior associates. You are helping TPLF.
4) Buying Teff imported from Ethiopia is the ultimate betrayal of country and people. There is not enough harvested, our people do not have the economic power to purchase due to double digit inflation any and you have zillions of bread products to choose from, why would anyone with good conscience do that?
5) Buying injera flown here is a slap on the face of our people. Selling such product by an Ethiopian owned business is ____ use any adjective to describe such deed!
6) Flying Ethiopian airlines is putting money in Woyane’s pocket. They run it and they own it. You are lining the pocket of the criminal enterprise.
We are here because home is not such a good place to experience the full harvest of life like most other human beings. I am sure most of us would rather be working, living raising a family and contributing to our neighborhood in our own land. Due to the TPLF mafia in power that denies basic human dignity to our people we are forced to settle in strange places. Why would anyone that left his country because it is not such a hospitable place turn around and give money to those that are causing agony to his people?
This is not an exercise to put blame anyone or shame each other but a chance to use this celebration to start anew. Meskerem is a beginning. It is when adey abeba covers our land with bright yellow and white flowers signifying the coming of a New Year. That is what we should do today. Start fresh and stand up for our people. They are sacrificing the very essence of their existence is it too much to ask you to consider your actions and the consequences that follow? Is drinking Miller instead of Giorgis such a sacrifice?
I am glad most of us are safe where ever we have been exiled to but let us remember those that are languishing in Woyane jail, keep in mind those that are stranded in no man’s land, in confinement in some dirty jail, afraid and disoriented somewhere on this planet and use this Awdamet to resolve to do better next year.
Let us start the New Year with determination to right that what is wrong. We can do it. We will do it. Next new year we will celebrate our holidays in a free and democratic Ethiopia. As the Jews used to say during their Passover dinner in exile “L’shanah haba’ah biyerushalayim — Next Year in Jerusalem.” It is an expression of hope fulfilling their dream of being a free people in their own land. I say to you: የሚመጣው አመት አዲስ አበባ — መልካም አዲስ አመት ለሁላችን
By Yilma Bekele
Ato Andualem Aragie Andenet Party (2011)
Ato Bekele Giriba – (OFDM) Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (August 2011)
Ato Olbana Lelissa – (OPC) Oromo People Congress Party (August 2011)
Ato Yeshiwas Assefa – National council Blue Party (2014)
Ato Daniel Shibeshi – Organizational Affairs UDJ
Ato Habtamu Ayalew – PR UDJ Party (2014)
Ato Abreha Desta – Executive Committee Arana Tigray Party (2014)
Ato Eskinder Nega – Publisher, blogger, Journalist (Sept 2011)
Weizero Reyot Alemu – Columnist Fiteh News Paper (2012)
Ato Webeshet Taye – Deputy Editor Awramba Times (2012)
Zone Nine bloggers (Befekadu Hailu, Atnaf Berhane, Natnael Feleke, Mahlet Fantahun, Zelalem Kebret, Abel Wabela, Tesfalem Weldeyes, EdomKassaye and Asmamaw Hailegeorgis)
Ato Andargachew Tsgie – Ginbot 7 Party Secretary General (July, 2014)
It is the names of Ethiopians that are Party leaders, ranking officers and rising stars that have been charged by the TPLF led government for committing crimes against the State. They all are serving prison terms as ordinary criminals and are held under conditions meant to break their will until they submit.
They are not prisoners of the Nation we call Ethiopia or the Government of Ethiopia. They are prisoners of Tigray Peoples Liberation Front commonly known as Woyane Party. The TPLF Party is the creator and de facto owner of EPDRF. A few of the prisoners more than others are in real danger of being harmed mentally, physically and in ways we could not conceive of. We Ethiopians are well aware of the savage and irrational nature of the ethnocentric Woyane warlords in power.
TPLF (ሕዝባዊ ወያኔ ሓርነት ትግራይ) has made it appear normal for a political Party to have its own security imbedded as government agents and run private ‘detentions centers’ where they use torture and other means trying to break the spirit of a single human being. I am afraid when a government uses all its unlimited resources to peruse individuals and is comfortable using unlawful means, there is not much one can do to be secure from such international criminals. Please watch Captain Teshome’s Interview on ESAT and see the real nature of TPLF. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k41s1J8IlGE
Why did TPLF Woyane invest time and money to abduct Ato Andargachew? How does this act benefit TPLF when condemnation and rebuke by their sponsors was a strong possibility not to mention angering the Ethiopian people both at home and abroad? Is this such a bold move or the act of desperate individuals that would do anything to cling to power at all cost? What should be done by us (the Diaspora) to show our strong disagreement to such wanton criminal act in the name of Ethiopia?
The TPLF kidnapped Andargachew because he is the kind of Ethiopian patriot they are most afraid of. Andargachew who is Secretary General of Ginbot 7 Movement for Justice and Democracy (G7) is one of the most loved and respected political leaders our country has produced. His low key and humble ways is what draws people to him. He has been showing us the art of working together ever since the advent of Kinijit.
The 2005 General elections was one of his proud accomplishments where he out organized Woyane and totally embarrassed the little dictator. It opened a new phase in the history of our struggle to truly be free. Since booted out of his homeland he has been globe-trotting first on behalf of Kinijit and now serving a leadership position in Ginbot7. He has been operating from inside Eritrea and Northern Ethiopia in his capacity as Secretary General of the Party for the last few years.
Andargachew and his Organization have proved to be a unifying force among the opposition be it be armed or otherwise. Andargachew’s achievements include the establishment of cordial relationship with other resistance groups such as OLF, Patriotic Front, TPDM, Afar and Ogden among others laying a solid foundation for the new equal and just Ethiopia.
Andargachew and his comrades introduced a new and smart way of leading, choosing collaboration over animosity, teaching by example rather than lecturing from above and acting as a trusted mediator between the different groups that share the same goal. He is a teacher and proudly graduated a few classes. That is what worries Woyane most and accuse all resistors as members of G7.
That is why our TPLF bosses are humiliating themselves and buying animosity that is difficult to gloss over displaying their crude photo shop attempt to cut and splice a video drama. It fills all our hearts with sorrow witnessing that we are being led by such sick people that are still operating on war mode. We thought their entry to Addis ushered a new day. Over twenty years later they are still not done fighting. It is an endless war we are faced with.
Ato Andargachew has been paraded in front of Ethiopian TV twice now. We Ethiopians are familiar with such Woyane theatrics. They have managed to cause a big damage is not deniable. Damage control is up to G7. Whether the CIA, Britain or any other actors were involved is idle talk at most or a distraction at best. How others respond is not our worry. The question is what are you going to do about it my friend?
We Ethiopians in the Diaspora need to digest the information and respond in our own way – that is if we care. That much is expected of us if we think that it is our business because we are concerned about the wellbeing of the people we left behind.
If history is any lesson then imprisonment, torture or even assassination of the leader does not seem to affect the struggle of the people to be free. Did the imprisonment of Mandela stop South Africans from fighting back, did the killing of Steve Biko, leader of Black Consciousness Movement derail the freedom train, did the murder of Tilahune Gizaw discourage the students from asking “Land to the tiller!”, did the assassination of Martin Luther King stop the March for freedom? The truth is most of the time the criminal by those in power give the masses a symbol to rally around.
During our War of Resistance against Italy Ras Desta Damtew was captured in a battle and was executed by a firing squad. The Italians thought this public display of might would discourage patriotism – it had the opposite effect. It took time but we Ethiopians are coming to a better and healthier understanding of Woyane. Andargachews’ abduction has for some reason angered even those that were sitting on the sidelines. Beyond the usual ways of expressing dissent it is a timely call that went out to take the struggle of the Diaspora on a new path. The days of condemnation, outrage and sobs are over. It is a time for action now.
Those in Ethiopia under very difficult circumstances are doing all they could to get rid the cancerous Woyane tumor. The movement of our Moslem friends is entering a new phase. We learn so much from their focused vision, unity of purpose and sacrifice and we believe whatever we do here would help their movement achieve the goal of removing government interference in their affairs. The struggle by Blue Party, Andenet, Arena and others is slowly working in pushing back against fear and apathy
We Ethiopians do not shy away from a legitimate fight. It is not like us to run away and hide. Saying enough is not alien to us. Here is a quote from a book about the wonderful art of ‘Guerilla Warfare’ somewhere that took place a long time ago:
They were engaged in activities such as the ambushing of enemy troops to acquire arms and other war materials, snowballing huge rocks off mountains and cliffs when enemy convoys passed, disrupting the enemy’s communication systems by kidnapping their messengers and later cutting telephone lines, setting fire to anything under enemy control such as offices and fuel or ammunition depots by firing from long range, and harassing and killing enemy collaborators.
Wow is all that comes to mind. Whose glorious history is that? What a brave and ingenious people is what I thought and envy is what I felt. It is the story of none other but us! The author is talking about ‘‘Dejazmach Gebrehiwet Mesheha, Dejazmach Abbai Kahsay, Woizero Kebedech Seyoum, Woizero Desta Gebre-Mikael and other prominent resistance leaders’ that were operating in northern Tigray to harass and slow the enemy and the year was 1835-1936. They were the forerunners to Abebe Aregay, Mesfin Seleshi, Desta Damtew Balcha Aba Nebso, Gurassu Duke and other notables that made it possible for our people and country show the world we are not someone to trifle with.
The situation we find ourselves in today is not any different nor more difficult. The TPLF Party that is in charge is systematically destroying our country from within. They are doing that because that is what criminals do. The system they have set up has made us turn against each other, encouraged us to lie and steal and keep an eye on each other. The hunger for money and material gain they instilled in us is turning us into cold blooded zombies that would betray family and friends for fleeting moment of comfort and fame.
I have one simple question to all my Ethiopian family and friends. The TPLF mafia has been abusing our people and country for over twenty years now. The presence of Ethiopians all over the world driven out of their country, the desire of Ethiopians at home ready to leave their home at a moment’s notice is ample proof that the TPLF Woyanes are not friends of Ethiopia.
It looks like we have come to a fork on the road. One leads to more abuse and humiliation while the other takes us to a wonderful tomorrow where we choose our leaders and build a great society based on love, equality and justice. I am aware any rational person would choose the road to freedom and prosperity. Unfortunately there is a catch.
We all know there is nothing free in life. It has to be earned. Freedom is such commodity. It is not something handed out on a street corner. Ask those that are free and they would tell you the sacrifice paid. America has its war of independence, France has its revolution, China has it war for liberation, South Africa has its uprising. I have no idea why you think that Woyane fascist would voluntarily hand you your freedom.
So you my friend have to think hard and decide which side of history you want to be associated with. You can stand with TPLF Woyane as a junior partner or do the right thing and choose to invest in the organizations that are working day and night on your behalf. If you think they are not good enough, they lack a few things and insist they all have to unite there is no one like you to right what you think is wrong thus the thing to do is roll up your sleeve and show them how it is done.
There are plenty of things we each can do to contribute our share for our liberation. It is not rocket science since the free people we mentioned earlier have shown us how it is done. There is no need to reinvent a new method. As they say if it is not broken don’t fix it and if it is proven to work do not revise it. Can you think of anything you can do to help Ethiopia be free? Look around you, I am sure you are capable of coming with a little act of defiance that added to mine and my friends here would amount to a big humongous act that would attract Woyanes attention. That is all our people ask, a tiny little act of defiance from each and every patriotic Ethiopia. Do not let your mother down!
Aregawi Berhe, 2003, Revisiting Resistance in Italian-occupied Ethiopia: The Patriots’ Movement (1936-1941) and the Redefinition of Post-war Ethiopia, in Jon Abbink, et al., eds. Rethinking Resistance: Revolt and Violence in African History, pp. 87-113, Leiden: Brill.
The Ethiopians and their past. By Yilma Bekele
We love to visit the past. There is no one like us that digs deeper, travel further to harvest the bounty of our rich past. To say we dwell on the past is definitely an understatement. I would not be surprised if scientists after mapping our brain find a special pocket where we store ugly little tidbits of the past to fuel our anger. To claim we live in the past is not far from the truth.
Compared to others what makes our situation a little different is how we use the past to explain or understand the situation in the present. We are beyond unique on how we use a wrecking ball to smash our past to pieces and are surprised when we are unable to build the future because there is nothing to stand on. How in the world can you build without a foundation?
From what I can see compared to us others use their past in a completely different manner. Let alone a country even a family weaves a rich history to put the ancestors in a good light and favorable condition. Countries are notorious for spinning such tales they put little Rumpelstiltskin, the weaver of straw into gold to shame. All are the ‘exceptional, the Middle kingdom, where the sun never sets, the Motherland etc. etc. If they are rich and strong they like to assure us that it has always been like that and if they are poor and weak they will invite us to sit down so they can tell us of the times when they were a great empire with ships in all the seven seas.
As I said earlier we are a little different. Sometimes it is a little bizarre when others say all those good things about us and we are too busy to notice since we are trashing the past. The joke is on us I guess. I brought all this up because lately we have been going thru one of our periodic self flagellation exercise. Every Tom Dick and Harry has been picking on my motherland. You notice the names, of course I could have given them Abesha names but I just don’t want diversions. Tom Dick and harry should do. Every little narrow nationalist village idiot with a keyboard has been dumping on my glorious past.
We celebrated Christmas and welcomed a new European New Year. December and January are times of renewal and in our area we celebrated like never before. Among other things the visit by Chairman Yelekal of Semayawi party was a memorable moment. It is refreshing to see our country is still capable of producing such a young and courageous person that dares to demand justice for his people. We also held a fund raising for ESAT and were entertained by our children playing traditional music using modern instruments. Chairman Yelekal comes across the ocean to bring us ‘determination’ from home and the young ones born here showed us the bond is still strong.
This month happens to be the 100 year anniversary of King Minilik’s death. King Minilik is the father of modern Ethiopia. He is also a figure of such historical importance and is included in all historical books as a leader of an early kingdom called Ethiopia. He took nation building to be his primary task and accomplished that in a spectacular manner. Force was used sparingly. Marriage, title, recognition were his favorite tool.
His fascination with technology is legendary. His diplomatic skills not only united Ethiopia but forced others to recognize him as an equal. When you consider this was the period referred to as ‘the scramble for Africa’ by the European powers we were lucky to have such a skilled leader. You know what happened to the rest of Africa. We stayed independent and never kowtowed to any foreign devil.
King Minilik of Ethiopia is also an International hero to all black people. The battle of Adwa fought one hundred eighteen years ago between Italy and Ethiopia is the first instance where a European power was defeated by an African Army. In the scheme of human history historians claim it is a big deal. I have no reason to disagree.
To celebrate the centennial of his death EHSNA (Ethiopian Heritage Society in North America) is holding a commemoration in Silver Springs, Maryland. All Ethiopians are invited to attend and get in touch with their past.
It was also a delight to see the lecture at Harvard University by Raymond Jonas a historian from the University of Washington discussing his book ‘The Battle of Adwa- African Victory in the Age of Empire.’ He has no axe to grind. His perspective is purely as a professional and his conclusion is music to our ears. After careful study the good professor gave credit to our King for his leadership skills in amassing such a force in a short notice to bring the invader to their knees. It showed that when we feel threatened we come together. That is because like it or not Ethiopia is part of our DNA. It cannot be deleted, erased, written over or corrupted without consequences. Split personality is one of the symptoms that foolishly question their identity.
As I said before, we Ethiopians are a little different. Some of our supposedly learned friends with papers from the most prestigious universities decided to reinterpret history in a layman’s manner. It was without shame they went out in public to insult, condemn and treat our history as nothing but a Hollywood fiction. They were following on the footsteps of the dead warlord from Adwa that rose to prominence using force and treachery and declared our flag to be nothing but a piece of cloth as he entered Minilik’s palace. Today his underlings are continuing that path of revising our glorious past.
As if the assault by the ethnically challenged is not enough we have another lost soul from the past trying to get our attention. It is no other than Captain Prime Minster Fekre Selassie Wegderes out with a book trying to put his own spin on what happened yesterday. To be honest I do not think I want to read his book. Reading a book by a convicted mass murderer is not one of my priorities. In all sincerity I was debating whether to buy the book or not when I came across his interview.
Based on that interview I am sure to stay away from this work of fiction. What exactly did we do to deserve such individuals instead of remorse and begging for forgiveness show up to tell us the survivors how great they were and how they could teach us today where we are going wrong.
This convicted criminal instead of coming clean with the truth now is trying to feign ignorance for the crimes that were committed when he was part of the group. I have no idea why he came on the interview if he was not going to shed light on the ugly things he did and answer questions in a direct way since there is nothing to hide. But that was not his style. He said he was here to set the Derg era straight which he referred to a major part (telek akal) of our history. How delusional can one get? Our country is three thousand years old and he considers his twenty years romp as major event? It is sad all those years in prison did not help him accept his crimes and come to terms with his weak and cruel personality. You think he still feels bullied and is afraid of the Colonel? Too bad he is trying to profit from his crimes at the same time white wash history and we are letting him do that. I told you we are unique.
It is another instance where our past becomes an impediment to progress. It is not accidental. They are deliberate insertions by the regime to create diversion. We so much dwell on the past that we have no time to create the future. They know that just like a bee is attracted to a flower we will flock over to this kind of sensational news and activity. The regime with its unlimited resources is creating news for us and we react.
There are eighty million of us. I am sure there are plenty with rich and wonderful stories that can elevate our spirit and mend our broken hearts. Both inside Ethiopia and in the Diaspora there are thousands that are working in all kinds of different ways to improve the spiritual, financial, health and family concerns of their people in a positive manner. Instead of bringing out the best in us we seem to prefer to sink to the bottom and feed on sludge and toxic garbage.
They call it freedom of expression. I call it groping in the dark. The ethnic based regime is doing all it can to instill fear, destroy our self worth, divide us into ethnic and religion based Bantustans and we the supposedly free souls are cooperating by trashing our past and elevating criminals as historians and someone worthy of a conversation. It is not a winning strategy. It will not help us secure our freedom, help our people lead a better and fruitful life and lay the foundation to build a country our children would be proud of. It is never too late to learn from the past and use it to construct the Ethiopia that is destined to shine like the North Star. We can start today by saying no to peddlers of hate convicted criminals.
By Yilma Bekele
‘Et, tu Brute?’ is what the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar was heard to have said when he saw his dear friend Marcus Brutus in league with his assassins. In English he was saying ‘you too, Brutus?’ It is said by historians that Caesar was fond of Brutus and treated him as he would a son. His betrayal must have been very painful.
This last week I was forced to utter Et tu three times in one weak. Like Caesar was blindsided by the turnabout behavior of his friend I was completely rendered speech less by the action of those I considered dear and close. As an Ethiopian I definitely consider myself beyond surprise when it comes to news and actions of my homeland and people. What country would ever consider of robbing abused returning immigrants? In fact I have managed to develop such a thick skin that most things just bounce off barely leaving a scratch. It is not for being uncaring but a simple defense mechanism to survive. I am an Ethiopian and I suffer in silence.
The last month has been very difficult for us Ethiopians like it or not. To witness the cold blooded and ugly behavior of the Saudi Government against our people was a painful experience. Our heart goes to the victims. The shameful act of the so called Ethiopian government was a lesson on what happens when warlords, village idiots and their enablers take over a country. The Woyane mafias were more concerned about offending the Arab billionaires more than the suffering of their citizens.
To make matters worse the pride of all humans in general and Africans in particular Nelson Mandela Died. The world was a sad place. Not many Mandela’s come around this way often. Talk about Mandela completely dominated the news. The international media was looking under every nook and cranny to find anything to do with the great leader. No story was deemed irrelevant if it has anything to do with Madiba. The love for Mandela was universal.
I was sucking on Mandela lore when I came across ESAT’s presentation. They stopped me on my tracks. That is when like Caesar I said Et tu ESAT? (antem esat?) How could you mix water and oil my friend. Isn’t that what they were attempting to do? Asking an ordinary criminal, a murderer to give testimonial about a liberation fighter, a humanist, a leader by the ballot box is bizarre and insults the memory of our Madiba not to mention our poor tossed around Ethiopian existence.
The interviewer referred to criminal Mengistu Hailemariam as the former president of Ethiopia. That is totally not true. The individual was the former dictator of Ethiopia. As far as history tells us we Ethiopians have never freely elected a leader. We had hereditary kings until Emperor Haile Selassie and a successive of dictators since then. What we got today being dictator number two and half. No matter how ever much painful it was I listened to the monologue.
As I suspected it was the usual hot air with no deep analysis but your garden variety personal views presented as verifiable facts. It was déjà vu time if you remember during the hay days of the Derg era where the ‘leader’ was an expert on every subject. This was chapter two where the dictator became a historian and political scientist and gave us a lesson on the liberation movements, the international situation and the colonial era. He is entitled to his opinion but not his facts but dictators are allergic to facts thus they weave their own theory out of thin air which with the help of the gun they force all to see it their way. He must be starved for attention because one question is all he needed to run away with his rehearsed play of course with himself as the star.
To add insult to injury the criminal was asked for advice regarding the current situation of our precious homeland. This is where I got sick. I felt insulted. I shrank until I disappeared. It is like asking the arsonist about the building he just torched. May the Gods have mercy on our soul?
Thus I took my time and talked to a lot of Ethiopians on the subject of Mengistu. Some were offended like I was, a few dismissed it as a nonevent and there were a few that actually liked it. Mengistu Hailemariam dominated our people and country for a long time. His reign is remembered to be a very traumatic time for our people. He was accidentally thrust into being a leader, a position that he was not prepared or had the aptitude for. There is no need to spell out the many horrifying and cruel acts carried out by his gang which no Ethiopian escaped from.
Today we are harvesting what Mengistu sowed. Millions of relatives of his victims are still with us. There are those that lost a family member, a loved one, a neighbor, a friend whose memory is still fresh and constant reminder of those difficult days. Mengistu is our collective nightmare.
I heard him mention the Emperor and thought how cold blooded he must be talking about the person he murdered presiding as judge, jury and executioner. How callous one has to be. But we knew that. They say he is brave and decisive but he left his army behind and run away. That is the dictionary definition of a coward. He said he hasn’t killed a fly but when he was the leader blood flowed like river in the streets of Ethiopia. That is an example of a person on denial. Some claim he was patriotic, loved his country but a generation of educated were sacrificed, high ranking military officers faced the firing squad, and thousands started the exodus which hasn’t abated yet. That is what happens when you have a mad person in charge.
This is the individual that ESAT and some other obscure outfits are trying to invite to our living rooms as honorable guests that would contribute positively to the conversation. What valuable lesson could we learn from an individual that has not even come to terms with the crimes he perpetuated and has not even bothered to ask for forgiveness to the people and nation he hurt and bring closure to those that have lost their loved ones? What exactly did he tell us that we don’t know?
He said Mandela did not come to Ethiopia because he did not like Woyane’s ethnic policy. Wow is all I could say. He was brought out of the deep freeze to tell us what we already know? All this excitement to show that Madiba was not fond of the likes of the nameless warlord? I had no idea that we needed Madiba to tell us how awful Woyanes are. I am sorry ESAT that is yesterday’s news. The Ethiopian people have gone beyond that and if it was not for the network of terror cells Woyane has established on every street they would have dealt with the mafia outfit a long time ago.
What else, I am afraid nothing. Not that there could be anything more and no earthly reason to expect to be anything of value. So what is the idea of getting this has been individual to come out and disturb our peace, derail our freedom train and confuse the many young Ethiopians that have not yet made an intelligent determination on what has happened the last forty years.
May be I misunderstood. It is possible I am barking up the wrong tree. I always thought of ESAT as different. You know like a weapon of Democracy and freedom. The voice of the voiceless is what I tell people. ‘Ethiopia’s eyes and ears’ Is what is said of ESAT. Organ mal function is what my brain screamed. What happened here, and where is the disconnect? What trajectory are we heading? Are we going to be the voice of the least common denominator?
Some would try to argue about freedom of speech. Little knowledge is always dangerous. I am afraid that principle is not applicable here. I would not advocate silencing the fascist thug but at the same time I wouldn’t hand him my microphone to disperse his toxic, irrelevant and idiotic idea using my hard earned media. We welcomed ESAT to raise the level of conversation to a higher level. Diaspora Ethiopians that are by no choice of their own displaced from their mother land contribute to ESAT so it could help us inform each other, echo the cry of our people, organize to fight injustice and teach each other to love, respect and help create the future democratic Ethiopia.
Inviting the likes of yesterday abusers is not the way to go. Felling the hurt brought about by Mengistu and Meles is the first order of business. If we don’t feel each others pain we are likely to inflict pain on others. If barbaric acts by usurpers and warlords is not condemned and etched in our brain to avoid in the future aren’t we condemned to repeat history?
I was feeling sad and dejected when I came across more of the same waiting for me around the corner. It is no other than the Honorable Ato Bulcha Demeksa that made me rush to the pharmacy in search of valium or any drug that would numb my frayed nerve. In an interview on German Radio our elder father was peddling hate filled discourse on the relationship between different ethnic groups in our country. He even went to the extent of describing it as a colonial situation. A very interesting analysis when you consider our elder statesman was Minister during the time of the Emperor and a member of Parliament during Woyane rule.
You would think that age has a mellowing effect and being an elder, an experienced statesman, and a leader would make you choose your words carefully and foresee the consequences of loose speech. With all due respect I am forced to conclude the honorable gentleman made a major mistake. He gave fuel to some erratic, ego driven jihadists the perfect argument to peddle their nihilistic argument for fifteen minutes of fame.
The final straw that was trying to buckle my back was the interview with Tamrat Layne an idiot that always requires a crutch to stand up straight. Yesterday he was a Marxist that supposedly fought to get rid of military rule and build dictatorship of the proletariat. In fact he was so gung ho about it he went to the bush and raised a gun to build his new society. Upon wining he was crowned Prime Minister and sent out to disparage his own ethnic group and incite war against unarmed peasants. Needless to say when his usefulness was exhausted he made to confess to financial crimes and thrown in the dungeon.
This criminal whose hand is soiled by the blood of our family members is now living among us as a Christian preacher. Hi current crutch is no other than the holy Bible and I am afraid he is deeply immersed until the next phase of his transformation. Who knows tomorrow he might pick crack cocaine to lean on to support his weak underdeveloped brain. But no matter he was interviewed as a newsmaker to tell us on how to conduct our struggle against his former friends. It is not him I am worried about but my poor country and people that are jumping from one criminal to another to lead us on the road of failure.
Et tu ESAT, Et tu Bulcha is what is keeping me awake at night. May be I need new friends that would not play with my fragile ego and show a little bit of respect and empathy. As for Tamrat I await for his next interview and hopefully he would show up as a Drag Queen complete with makeup and that I promise would put my world right side up.
By Yilma Bekele
I hope you are sitting down while reading the story I am about to tell you. Unfortunately it is a true story and it couldn’t have happened anywhere but in good old Ethiopia. When it comes to laying down like a doormat and letting everyone walk all over us we Ethiopians wrote the manual. We cannot repeat this story to any outsider because they would look at us in a strange way and walk away not understanding this kind of convoluted humor. In fact most of us will deny it happened. Some of us would have to come up with some kind of explanation to make the story go down smooth to avoid getting choked with our shame.
As you all know the Saudis mostly but all the Middle Eastern Arabs have not been kind to us for quite a while. Three weeks ago the Saudis decided to tighten the collective noose around our neck by a notch. It was not pleasant. I mean due to the Internet and ubiquity of mobile technology the whole world witnessed their barbarity. For those that got killed, raped, beaten and humiliated may the creator have mercy on their soul.
It even angered the so called Diaspora or economic and political refugee from their motherland. The abuse of Ethiopians in the Middle East is common knowledge. The news of some little girl hanging herself, taking household detergent as poison, being driven out of her mind has become an everyday news. Normally we read the news then we shrug, swallow hard make that hissing sound and move on.
This time it was different. Instead of trickled down abuse they decided to do it wholesale style to us. Hunt them down and throw them in the desert was what the King declared. The security force and vigilantes were more than happy to comply.
Now the Ethiopian government was true to its nature of being the fire starter and the fire fighter at the same time. This game has been refined by the late nameless warlord that all the new guys have to do was go on auto pilot and let us do all the heavy lifting. Thus they activated their cadres to take us on a rampage and get the world to notice the crime. We complied beautifully. I am not saying we should not have protested but the heart of the matter lies protest against who and why and to what end. Woyane answered those questions for us.
If you look closely at all the rallying cry since the problem started you will notice all our ire was directed at ‘Saudis, Arabs, Muslims’ and other phantom enemies. The Ethiopian government unable to take care of its people willingly exports them to the Middle East, turn its face away when they are abused, closes Conciliates to deny them shelter and we curse the ‘Arabs’ for not being humane to the those with no place to go. One thing our cry did was help Woyane spin a new version of the sad story.
This is where Woyane excels- snatching victory out of defeat. Sure enough the Foreign Minister that seems to be void of diplomatic language using such memorable words such as ‘depressed, bugged etc.’ to explain tragic events that happened to his people was the lead sent out to calm us down. A blind leading the blind is what comes to mind.
However you sneer at it, it worked. Before you know it the international conscience we were able to wake up and take notice was what Woyane was anticipating. All of a sudden the urgency of the situation was magnified by Woyane. The numbers kept climbing from one day to another. The Foreign Minister on training set up what he called ‘command center’ to collect money in an orderly manner. The Saudi Government paid for the trip, the Red Cross facilitated the camp, the UN refugee organization poured money into the bucket and good old Woyane opened their pockets.
This is where I am going to tell you more of what happened. I ask you again if you are sitting down. You see the Saudis started flying around the clock bringing the Habesha home. So you would think people will be lined up to welcome the traumatized, abused and weak from being kept in a desert tent back to their mother land. One would hope it would be a joys day where families embrace their loved ones and thank their Gods for their safe return.
I am afraid none of that happened. The government did not want the people to be involved in this happy moment. Furthermore our dear old government came up with a brilliant scheme to make money of already beaten people. New regulations went into effect. Only two bags, two mobile phones, no electronic items and gold has to be weighed before entering the country. All excess amounts will be confiscated.
Thus the Saudis kicked our people from their country, they killed some, raped a few but in the end allowed them to gather their belongings and transported them home. The Ethiopian government waited with open hands and robbed them of their last shred of dignity as a welcome gesture.
I am glad some of our people were rescued from this hell on earth. I am happy we their brethren did not ignore their plight. No matter what a few tried to use this sad situation to line their pockets, show loyalty to their handlers, secretly betray their people and country most of us with good heart did what we have to do. What I am saying here is that it is not enough. A band aid solution is not the way to go. What we have done is postpone the problem for another day.
Our halfhearted gesture ultimately ends up hurting us. We are present at the start of the problem but we do not wait around to solve it. We raise the issue and someone else comes around and sticks a useless defanged solution that we have to go back and try to solve again. Let us see when the Emirates, or Lebanon or Kuwait gets tired of our people and starts the deportations are we going to go out and scream again? What would those that see us with our banner again think of us? Let alone foreigners even some of us are getting tired of this crap. Please read the attached and see the actions of the illegal minority regime in this time of sadness for our people. Let us pay attention to what Henry David Thoreau said ‘There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.’ Strike at the root, hit Woyane!
‘Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.’ Is what comes to mind when we see the behavior of the Ethiopian government and its response to the Ethiopian tragedy taking place in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Lies have been told to cover up previous lies that it has become a Public Relations War instead of unfolding human catastrophe. Catastrophe is a very loaded word but it explains what we know to have happened to our people in that closed kingdom. Thanks to todays technology of Internet and Mobile communications we are witnessing what could happen when cowards take charge. They could strip you of your humanity and throw you into a no man’s land between Saudi and Yemen like a piece of garbage.
We Ethiopians are beyond shock. All those that witnessed YouTube videos, digital photographs and interviews with the frightened and lost cannot but feel the agony of these young people. There are plenty of outsiders that are willing to stand with us against injustice. We need all the help we can get. A little part of the deal is that we have to start to do the job ourselves and then they would help us. It always works better that way.
Ethiopians in their hundreds of thousands travel out of the country to work. In the tens of thousands more leave thru the porous boarders and travel all over the world without papers. The last week we have been focusing on those in Saudi Arabia that found themselves stranded with no place to go. Refer to the link to read more http://www.tikuranbesa.com/the-kingdom-from-hell-and-ethiopians/ The Saudi Kingdom gave a seven month amnesty period for foreigners to get their paper in order or leave. November 3rd was the deadline. It is estimated that ‘nearly a million Bangladeshis, Indians, Filipinos, Nepalis, Pakistanis and Yemenis left before the end of amnesty period.
The Ethiopian Government knew of the Saudi decision to deport undocumented people and it is fully aware of the thousands of its citizens that migrate to the Middle East without paper. It chose to ignore the problem for seven months. The Ministry of Pimping that sends thousands of citizens like any export Item and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under Dr. Tedros Adhanom and all his Embassy and Conciliates decided to be quiet about it wishing it would go away.
The Saudi regime started rounding up undocumented workers November 4th and they had their first Ethiopian victim on November 5th. It became open season on hunting illegals’ by Saudi Security forces and vigilantes. (http://www.ethiopianreview.com/index/ )
The Diaspora that always keep one eye on Ethiopia started their protest movement right around this time. No Saudi Embassy was safe from our outrage. The Ethiopian people heard the bad news due to the relentless coverage by ESAT and our independent web sites. Initially the Ethiopian government tried to blame alarmist Diaspora for the bad news. But nothing could stay hidden in this day and age.
First they tried to ignore the impending disaster. Then they tried to find a scapegoat. Unable to deflect the news of the horrible situation they decided to use the good old trick of lying, disinformation and empty bravado to cover their impotence. Here in entirety is a speech given by the foreign Minister in front of some African meeting in Addis Abeba on November 18th three weeks into the tragedy.
“As you know from Saudi Arabia you know although it is not just deporting Ethiopians only but are deporting other citizens they call illegal and from Ethiopian side three were killed during the crackdown and not only that thousands are in camps we are trying to make it as smooth as possible because if Saudi Arabia says they are illegal we don’t mind they have homes to come to (applause) and we have already started the operation. Our command post is working and well and we have already received hundreds we are expecting tens of thousands and I would like to reassure you that we are ready to receive our fellow citizens home (applause) I had the last ten days because in family planning as we had been saying be careful girls and women I had heard straight from camps from women who are crying for help there is nothing moving than that. I am so saddened I am really depressed that is why I was not going to actually come here asking Dr. keste if he could excuse me because it is almost round the clock crisis management since this issue started but in the name of global solidarity even if we have to deport illegal we can do it smoothly because this is not a war situation it may be accepted when nations are at war to deport like this in a rapid fashion people could understand but not in peaceful situation we could have arranged it together to make the smooth transfer because as I said earlier we are ready to have our citizens so I am sorry to start with this it is something that has been bugging me for some time now ….. “
It is easy to see why things keep going wrong in our country. There is something missing in the picture. We are lacking some major ingredient that our country is made from. How did we survive as a nation state for hundreds of years? How exactly did our country stayed free while all around us were colonized by powerful European powers? It is not that we had a formidable military force or a well-developed economy. What we had was ‘that free leave me alone spirit’ and wise leaders surrounded by skilled diplomats. That is what we are missing today.
Emperor Tewodros committed suicide rather than be taken prisoner by the British force thereby denying them the reason to stay. Emperor Minilik played the English, French, Russians even Italians like a Masinko and won at Adwa. Emperor Haile Selassie spoke at the league of nations where he said those fateful words ‘’it is us today, it will be you tomorrow.’ Accompanied by PM Aklilu Haptewold and Foreign Minister Ketema Yifru His Majesty played a central role in establishing the Organization of Africa Unity and getting Addis Abeba to be the Headquarter. Those are our accomplishments of the last one hundred fifty years.
Who is filling those shoes today? It is obvious Dr. Tedros is not a diplomat or has not been given the training and skill set to be an effective diplomat. Those dis jointed statements cannot be made by a seasoned diplomat or by someone speaking on behalf of eighty million people.
The puppet Prime Minster was not allowed to acknowledge the crisis and was seen standing for a photo opportunity with Gulf Arabs while stretching his hands for alms in the middle of this affront to people and country. Some say the TPLF party was displaying the leadership potential of the Foreign Minister preparing him for promotion. Based on his performance it looks like they picked a good time to show his short comings. He got his position not due to his ability but solely due his ethnicity.
The Ethiopian government is used to telling all kinds of tall tales to its citizens due to its monopoly of the mass Media including Print, Television, Radio, Phone, Internet and a spy in every neighborhood. But when the crisis attracts international attention this kind of ‘deception’ or ‘evading the truth’ does not work. Dr. Tedros was sent out to put lipstick on a pig. He failed miserably.
How is the Diaspora handling this cowardly attack by the Arabs against a people that have not done them any harm except do their most menial and dangerous jobs? We went out in every city that has any number of Ethiopian exiles to protest this atrocity. It was headlined by our relentless media and discussed in every coffee shop.
It is definitely a good thing that thousands of miles from home that we still feel a strong affinity to people and country. The anger was genuine and the pain was deeply felt by all. We are a unique people that the love for our homeland seems to have been engrained in our DNA if that at all is possible. I went out on a protest in San Francisco with about five hundred of my people and felt genuinely invigorated.
I also noticed something unique during this protest which I have not come across before. The protest call was scheduled to happen on Monday and I received a text message with the pic of the post card on Saturday. I have heard that there was a tele conference called to organize a protest and I was surprised by the speed they were working. It was not that group. The Post card does not have a contact number or a web address. ‘Ethiopian Community and Cultural center in Oakland’ is mentioned as a sponsor but no one seems to know who they are. Some people were confused by the proximity of the name to the real ‘Ethiopian Center’ they know and are familiar with. I was also surprised by the sameness of all the post cards printed in North America. It is obvious it was designed by the same person or group. The use of shocking images, the color combination and the title are a giveaway.
What was most surprising was the sheer number of post cards and the speed they spread in the community. Every Ethiopian and Eritrean center including Orthodox Churches, Mosques and Evangelical Churches were covered. There is nothing like having frightened and blackmailed cadres to do your menial job.
Someone called for a protest and there was nothing to do but go out and give a hand. I was very curious. Slowly people started to show up. It is as if we were all told to bring the real Ethiopian flag with us. A few ladies were wearing it as a head scarf while some had it around their neck. The men were wearing it on their hats, as a T shirt while a few were carrying the mother of all Ethiopian Flags about twenty feet long. One hour into the event no one that claims responsibility has shown up but our number was increasing by the minute. Around 12 PM a few young people showed up with megaphone and we started congregating around the loud device.
The speech being given by the still unknown organizers was laying the ground for our slogans. The target was to be Saudi Arabia and our beef with them was regarding the treatment of our people. What was said repeatedly was since this is strictly about ‘human rights’ thus no ‘politics’ should be allowed to contaminate the atmosphere. Mentioning the role of the Ethiopian government was a cause to boo. At long last things were beginning to make sense. The haste in organizing this fake protest was becoming clearer by the minute.
Why would anyone want to circumvent this noble cause most of us went out to show solidarity with our people is a valid question? The majority that showed up were genuinely concerned about the condition of their people and with good Ethiopian heart they came out to express their deeply felt sadness. Unfortunately it is sad to see a very small number that were used to squander this golden opportunity that could have been used for greater good. Why? What would they benefit?
The answer is intertwined with the nature of the government in power and how they have managed to use greed as a weapon. Up until now Woyane has used its sympathizers to silently infiltrate and create chaos from within. The two favorite recipients of this were the Political Party support groups and our Church. It is sad to see our community being taken over or made a subsidiary of TPLF. This occasion was the crowning moment of all that work. Our people at home are faced with an overwhelming and cruel force that terrorizes their daily life and today some in the Diaspora are economic prisoners to be called upon to serve their master in times like this.
I was in complete awe watching the protest march from the side by the actions of the masterful operators at work. The way they played the crowed reminded me of Jimmy Hendricks on Guitar, Mulatu Astatke on keyboard, Shambel on Masinko, Tilahune, Teddy with Gigi as vocalists – they were that good.
What was achieved is a good question. As a diaspora activist I learnt never to discount the ingenuity of Woyane as an enemy. This fifth column (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifth_column ) they unveiled took a long time to build. All the registration for land, the requirement of personal documents including finger print was part of the process. Today every city and town has its own kebele rep just like in mother Ethiopia. For us it was a wake up moment and for Woyane it was a champagne time.
One thing for certain is that their action was a betrayal of our people and country. Our protests are not random noises but a thought of calculated acts to achieve a certain gain. Regarding our current problem in the Middle East our aim was:
• Stop the abuse immediately while we search for lasting solution.
• Organize some kind of entity to research and offer options.
• Work with the UN, Red Cross and other organizations to look for safe locations for the political refugees and resettle those who want to return to Ethiopia.
• Put pressure on the Ethiopian government to allow political freedom.
The interference by the Woyane regime and the Banda like work by our own friends, family and neighbors sabotaged all this important work. The problem is still with us. Despite the lie by the Ethiopian government there are still tens of thousands stranded in Saudi Arabia and dumped in Yemen. Those that called for this quick response are nowhere to be seen today. Their job is done, after all it was never about stopping the atrocity but it was all about shielding the regime. Check out the protest in your city and notice that there is no follow up work or any attempt to continue the work till the problem is solved. What the regime wanted was for us to go out and vent our displeasure on the Arabs and go home and that was the end of the matter.
Our work is still not done. We should go back and start from scratch and re organizes our response. We have learnt a lesson. Woyane has arrived in America in full force. The sleeper agents, the morally deficient characters they have recruited, the economically challenged cheap Hodams they have bought are not going to be a push over. Afraid to be unmasked they would try any means to saw dissent amongst us. It is time to recognize the shifting situation in our movement and act accordingly.
Our people still are not comfortable asking questions, digging deep and researching before making a decision. Our culture does not encourage curiosity and we abhor reading, learning and referring to experts. The last weak we saw all our weaknesses when we saw people following like cattle and afraid to even ask who is in charge here and who elected you to that position. We should never follow without asking by whom and for what. Like we shouldn’t sign a paper without reading it first we should never follow someone without knowing what the game plan is all about. It is time to fight back intelligently not emotionally.
“Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.”
― Dorothy Allison, Bastard Out of Carolina
By Yilma Bekele
Today it is said that there are over a quarter of a million Ethiopians in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The vast majority are young economic refugees working as maids, chauffeurs, and house servants. Women outnumber men and judging by the conditions in Ethiopia, it is safe to say most have less than eight grade education. Most arrive with an employment contract for a specified period of time while a few are undocumented refugees working menial jobs.
Saudi Arabia with a population of about 27 million relies on foreign national to run its economy. They comprise 80% of the labor force. In the last few months what has gotten the attention of the Kingdom are the hundreds of thousands of undocumented people that live in limbo. In order to solve this festering problem the Kingdom announced a seven month amnesty period asking individuals to qualify for legal status or leave the country.
Indians, Filipinos, Tamils and other nationals were seen camping around their embassies waiting for transportation to their homeland. Upon the expiration of the amnesty period the Saudi Government has been rounding up ‘illegal’ immigrants and holding them in ‘special centers’ while processing their papers.
In the process there have been clashes between the police and the immigrants resulting in the death of an Ethiopian and severe beatings of a few others. Today, thousands of Ethiopians, Somalis and Eritreans are held in detention centers waiting to be deported back to their respective homelands.
The callous way the Saudis treat those they identify as illegal is simply beyond the pale. Killing, beating and raping for such a simple offense is a reflection of a backward society riddled with its own human right problems.
We Ethiopians are saddened, shocked and at a loss on how to respond to such abuse of our people by a neighbor. The last few weeks the criminal act of the Saudi regime has been the center of conversation among those of us who have left our country but are lucky enough to live in places that has allowed us to live with dignity far from our motherland. The wanton violence against our people has angered us while making us once again feel helpless when being victimized.
We are showing our displeasure at the unprovoked violence against our people by marching in front of the Kingdom’s Embassy to shame the regime; we are collecting countless petitions to make our concerns clear to Saudi officials. All what we doing are commendable and the best way we know how to let the steam out. But there are a few things to keep in mind to really appreciate the situation that is confronting us.
One thing we have to understand is the nature of the Saudi government that is committing all this human rights abuse in broad day light. The question to ask would be should we expect anything different? How in the world does one expect justice from a country that keeps half its own citizens under servitude? Saudi Arabia a country named after an individual is a male dominated society where the woman is considered a piece of property. The immigrant is just another piece of inanimate object and no amount of thought or care goes to worry about such lowly creatures feeling or wellbeing.
I believe our righteous anger should also be aimed at the cause of such calamity not just at the symptom. A simple question should be why are those hundreds of thousands Ethiopians willing to go to a place that is hostile and unwelcoming is a good thing to ask. As an Ethiopian shouldn’t we be looking at the cause of the problem instead of the effect? Does shouting standing outside the Saudi Embassy a solution or would looking deeply at what caused the disease in the first place bring about a better and lasting cure?
I agree what is done to our people in the Middle East requires our unreserved condemnation and active participation in shaming the reactionary regime but I believe that should be the tip of the iceberg. The main culprit of such degradation of the people of Ethiopia is the dictatorial Tigrai ethnic based minority regime lording over us. Tackling that problem is the key to solving the current insult we are receiving.
The Saudi situation is I am afraid nothing to be so hot about at this late hour. The last twenty years in the Middle East from Lebanon to the Gulf our children have been committing suicide, forced to kill, being humiliated or driven insane. We are all aware of that. Our Woyane masters have been facilitating this crime knowing the dire circumstances they are sending these young children into. They have made exporting young girls to the Middle East or selling so called orphans to the west into a science. Again we are all aware of that.
Without being callous may I be allowed to say that what the Saudis are doing to our people is what the Woyane regime has been doing to us the last twenty years. We seem to be upset because they are foreigners but do you think it matters who pulls the trigger for the person being shot? Who do you think is doing all that atrocity to Semayawi Party and Andenet? Who do you think committed all that war crime in Ogaden, displaced people in Gambella, internally exiled the Amharas in their own land?
Wasn’t it only a year or so ago a young girl was forced to commit suicide in Beirut because the Embassy chased her out of the compound into the hands of her assailant? Aren’t we all aware of the young women that kill themselves by drinking cleaning detergents when unable to take any more of the abuse? Didn’t we see the crime committed by Gadhafi’s son wife that burned the face of our daughter or sister?
When do we learn to step up and take responsibility? When do we stop this lie and willful ignorance and always search for someone to blame? When do we learn to stop being selfish and care about those we left behind? When do we start looking deep inside our soul and admit our failings and resolve to make things right? This indignation and shouting and screaming will look foolish if tomorrow we go back and do what we have been doing all along. Turning our face not to see, investing in condominiums, belittling the efforts of those that fight for us and being used by Woyane to divide, disrupt our community even in our places of worship.
This unfortunate situation has given us the opportunity to unite and confront our common enemy. We can turn this bad situation into a positive learning experience and treat each other with dignity, worry about our people, think positive no matter what the little negative voice says in our ears and chart a new road. We can do that if we are serious and genuinely felt the plight of our people stuck in an alien place with no one to protect them. On the other hand if we are only galvanized by the picture we see but not by the slow death of our children in Ethiopia then my friend your cry is hollow, your concern is empty and you are doing more damage than good. I have but one simple question to ask-what exactly are you going to do to get rid of the disease called Woyane in order to stop the sickness that is killing our precious land? We shall overcome.
The last Ethiopian standing. By Yilma Bekele
That is exactly what I feel like now. Who died and left me with this burden is not clear to me but believe me I feel like I am all alone and it is up to me to carry the flag and sing the national anthem. This business of being an Ethiopian has never been easy but you would think with experience and practice I have gotten the hang of it. I am afraid I am hopeless in that department. I still feel the burden.
They say the environment shapes our behavior. I am not here to argue whether ‘nature’ or ‘nurture’ is the defining role in our development I will leave that to the scientists. Speaking for myself I believe the environment has played a big role in shaping who I am today. I am a transplanted Ethiopian who has been culturally shocked, mentally molded, philosophically tampered and forced to question realty on a daily basis. I have no idea how that central theme of being Ethiopian has managed to survive in all the thousands of ways my central core has been violently breached.
I have survived it all thanks to my family and that little town in Southern Ethiopia that imbued me with respect for elders, love for your neighbor and the beauty of leaving with different cultures in a mutually beneficial way. Those values are what differentiate the beast from the human. I believe that upbringing gave me an advantage when later on in life I found myself in circumstances that I have never thought I would find myself in. I have confronted moving to Addis from my small town, crossing an ocean to come to America, being the object of curiosity in small town in Oregon and coming to terms in growing old in the US with that wisdom I learnt while growing up that says ‘it is not really that bad just deal with it.’
As I said I have dealt with most things in a calm collected manner. The one thing that is really causing me pain and agony is this business of defending my country Ethiopia. It feels to me, mind you I might be mistaken, or a little touchy but it feels to me that every Hagos, Ketema, Kuma, Abdella, Betiso etc. is dumping on me for crimes I have no idea I committed.
Well you my Ethiopian reader, can I call you that without offending you, any way you must be thinking why the heck am I telling you all this in the middle of summer? It is because a few things happened the last few days and I felt they were directed at me. Not personally you know but since I feel I am the last one standing it felt personal in a roundabout way.
The big momentous event was my dear friend Jawar declaring he is Oromo first and his Ethiopianess was imposed on him. I have no problem with that. In fact I believe Jawar is Oromo, Ethiopian and American. He has got choices. Which one he puts primary is all up to him. I also don’t know if being an American was imposed on him or he voluntarily filled up a form and swore allegiance to the star spangled banner. With this speech he seems to dig the hole a little deeper. He was heard equating Ethiopian Oromo Moslems with those in Somalia and Djibouti claiming it to be one and the same struggle. I am afraid his next Al Jazeera appearance he is going to have to answer the question are you Muslim first or Oromo first. Good luck my friend.
The only thing I have problem is his assumption of the role of a spokesman ship for the Oromo people of Ethiopia. As far as I know he has never been elected to any office. He has never been sent as a delegate by any group in present day Ethiopia to speak for them. He has not articulated their demands in a coherent manner, written books about their glorious history, interpreted the nuances of their culture or educated the rest of us about the Oromo condition. In other words other than others declaring him an up and coming young intellectual and him playing that role to the hilt he has not bothered to study, interpret, add on the history and role of the Oromo people in what we call Ethiopia. Of course I stand to be corrected if someone could present me with a proof showing Obbo Jawar’s vast contribution to the knowledge base of Oromo history, Oromo culture and Oromo Psychology.
In the You tube video being distributed he is addressing a gathering of Oromo Muslims. I am assuming he was invited as an analyst regarding the Ethiopian Moslem confrontation with the dictatorial regime taking place in our country.
How did our political analyst approach the challenge is a good question to ask. All I could say is he did not respect the sensibilities of his audience. He was confrontational. He was dismissive, he was arrogant and he was an extremist of the highest order. That is the impression I got after watching this Duche like sermon. From what I understand the Ethiopian Moslem issue is regarding state interference in their religion. It is not about political power, it is not about demonizing the rest that don’t have the same belief. Then why is the speaker turning this peaceful issue of respect into one of violent confrontation? Our Ethiopian Moslem leaders have done a splendid job of making friends with all Ethiopians regardless of religion and gone the extra mile not to antagonize anyone and succeeded beyond expectations. The rest of Ethiopia has embraced their quest for fair treatment and stood side by side with them. Why is our young intellectual turning this simple request for respect into a jihad?
Is it possible our dear friend Jawar grew up in Woyane Ethiopia thus his understanding of our common history derives from that perspective. It looks like he never bothered to scratch below the surface and learn if there is more. What is education for if not to answer vital questions in a rational and measured manner? What is the point of learning if not to pinpoint problems and look for answers that would bring not only lasting solutions but harmony? Why would anyone boast about cutting peoples necks off because they follow a different god? Caught in the heat of the moment my young friend said that.
That was a week ago. Many people wrote their opinions about that. That is the beauty of democracy. It is all about the individual’s right to speak and write what he thinks and others to respond. We all learn from the diverse views and the give and take. Some we reject off hand, some gives us a pause and a some really say what we believe and we go ‘I am not alone.’ So that is what I was doing when I came across this audio by Ato Abdi Fite on Ze Habesha.com. It is presented in a rational manner but misses the point by a mile. It just does not seem to answer a very simple question that it itself asks. Who is us against them?
As far as I am concerned Ato Abdi Fite has locked himself into this small room and anybody outside is the enemy. Is that the way it is? What is the difference between the Oromo farmer, the Amhara peasant, the Tigrai laborer, the Adal pastoralist, the Ogaden herder, the Gambellan fisherman, the Dorze weaver etc.? Aren’t they all victims of the system? Isn’t this what the struggle is all about? Can one be free while the rest stay in bondage? Shouldn’t we all work together to liberate them all so they could grow and prosper?
Ato Abdi was repeating himself so much I thought we were on a never ending loop. Just because something is said many times over does not make it turn out to be a factual statement. It is just false hood but told in twenty minutes instead of two. The central theme in his audio essay is to accuse the rest of Ethiopians ignoring the plight of his Oromo people. Does he have a leg to stand on?
Not really. When in the sixties the Ethiopian students confronted the Imperial regime their number one slogan was ‘land to the tiller.’ They did not specify Amhara, Oromo, Sidama, Tigrai etc. land but their demand was all inclusive. When they went out and established EPRP and other anti-dictatorship associations they did not think in terms of ethnic affiliation but a nationwide movement. Today the Diaspora which Ato Abdi is addressing, I don’t see any ethnic based successful movement working to get rid of the ethnic based TPLF that is tormenting our country and people. We have one voice that abhors ethnic division, avoids ethnic/religion divide and concentrates in uniting the many to get rid of the few troublemaker woyanes.
It is true we popularize some of the victims of the TPLF but that is a political move. We are aware there are thousands of Eskinders, Reyots, Wubshets, Bekeles, Abubakers but we mention those victims as a symbol for the many. We don’t even ask what ethnic group they belong to nor do we care.
Instead of telling us where we failed him I wish he would tell us where he called on us and we ignored his cry. Instead of accusing us of not paying attention to the Oromo question I wish he would tell us what he did to popularize the Oromo issue. In today’s Ethiopia the system is the problem. The solution is to unite all the victims in a democratic and equal association to smash the system and build a new one that respects their aspiration to be free, to be seen as equal and form a lasting union. Being a polarizing figure like the road taken by Meles Zenawi is not the way to go. Uniting people to work for a common solution they could all live with is the Mandela way and it is much preferable and lasting.
What I find troubling about our two Oromo operatives is their failure to see the futility of the treatment they are prescribing to resolve the ethnic divide in our country. The medicine they are ranting about has been administered by the OLF for the last forty years. What exactly has it achieved other than give a false sense of cure while the disease is causing untold damage to our people? With wisdom born from experience the present day OLF is in the process of revising their failed policy and searching for ways of working with others like them that are feeling the brunt of TPLF fire. That is what leadership is about.
Our young intellectuals seem to be gung ho about opening old wounds and reviving past mistakes. What is also surprising is their suicidal drive to offend the one friend they always have on their corner. I am referring to the progressive forces in the Diaspora that are working hard to expose the TPLF regime. The Diaspora is the most important and natural ally of the oppressed people of Ethiopia. There is not one Diaspora organization that opposes the right of the Oromo people to determine their future without undue interference from outsiders. We feel the liberation of the Oromo is the liberation of the Amhara, the Gurage, the Tigrai and all Ethiopians.
Timing is very important in political struggle. Today our country seems to be entering a new stage with the death of the dictator. The political parties are making good progress in wiping out fear from their constituents. We have broken the regimes strangle on mass media thanks to ESAT. It is a shame the ranting and a childish tantrum of a few is taking our eyes away from the prize. All I can say is grow up, coming up with bizarre talk trying to garner attention lasts a few days but in the end you have to live with yourself. .
Proving them wrong – the Ethiopian way. By Yilma Bekele
They say all kinds of bad stuff about us. It is said so many times and so often some of us start to believe the lie. That is always the problem with being lied to. I am sure by now Woyanes are drunk with their own silly propaganda. The situation with us is that they used to own the means of communication and we were their potted plants waiting to be told, lectured and abused to no end. Thanks to ESAT that is not so anymore.
I have so many instances of this situation I just don’t know where to start. I believe 2005 is day one in recent Ethiopian history. From 1992 to 2005 were the golden years of Woyane where they could do nothing wrong. They could have declared black is white and no one would have challenged them. They held three elections before 2005 and trounced the so called opposition like a beach ball. The loyal opposition led by such luminaries as Dr. Beyene Petros were amenable in a fantastic manner and submitted without much fanfare.
It was the height of believing your own lie to hear the late dictator lament about the lack of a worthy opposition to challenge his TPLF mafia outfit. What is more our benefactor’s embassies were reporting that ‘there is no viable alternative to EPDRF.’ So our people lied low. You know how we operate. We flash that winning smile while in the back ground the brain is on overdrive to find a way out. That is what our people did in 2005.
In a closed door session with the foreigners Ato Meles was so sure of victory this is what he told them regarding his reason for allowing free discussion on his TV “That is why we were so generous in allocating airtime to the opposition. We wanted to give them a long enough rope for them to hang politically, by expressing their views in the ugliest form so that the people can see what they stand for…So as far as our rhetoric is concerned, we have said that they are the Interhamwe. Not because they will send the Tutsis back home, but the Tigrayans back home, normally on all fours.”
This is how much the TPLF was detached from reality. What did our people do? They annihilated the TPLF machine in every corner of our beautiful land. No worthy TPLF was left standing. Bereket Semon was knocked out, Aba Dulla was left for dead, Arkebe was humiliated and Meles Ashebari Zenawi was rendered mute. My best recollection is the letter to the editor to the Ethiopian Herald written by no other than the tyrant himself. Until today I believe that is the best insight into that murky criminal mind of the dear departed leader. I have a printed copy of that infamous letter hanging on my wall. In 2005 the Ethiopian people spoke loud and clear when given a chance. We proved them wrong in no uncertain ways.
Recently I read an editorial by the Ethiopian newspaper ‘The reporter’. Let me say first the Amharic version has a motto above the name and it says ‘Free press, Free thought and Free spirit.’ That motto is absent in the English version. I would think it would be easier to lie in a foreign language but I guess the Reporter thinks otherwise. They have no shame. Here is the title of the editorial ‘የኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብ ተቃዋሚዎችን እየታዘበ ነው’ According the ‘Fearless Reporter’ here in a nutshell is what the editor is preaching. The opposition claims the government is putting hurdles to keep them weak and the editor says they in good faith cannot claim the government has helped, supported or encouraged the opposition. But the Reporter opines we do not think the government is responsible for the weakness and the problems of the opposition.
In the Reporters opinion ‘the opposition lacks resolve strength and good will and is not ready to sacrifice otherwise they would have been stronger.’ We believe the opposition is responsible for their weakness. The Reporter goes on to say plenty of nasty stuff about the opposition none of it worth repeating. The Reporter that practices what is called ‘yellow journalism’ and is the unofficial mouthpiece of the TPLF is one of those weapons that insistently peddles hate, fear, hopelessness and attempts to kill the spirit of Ethiopianism. I also believe the English version is written by someone with a second grade education.
Who else in his right mind would blame the victims that cannot even rent a meeting hall, that do not have a newspaper, that are denied airtime and cannot even raise funds to operate for being weak? The Ethiopian opposition has paid and is paying a heavy price for freedom. They have been hounded from their homes, fired from their jobs, their children denied schooling some murdered and the jails are full of our brave and resolute comrades in arms. You can see the shameless Reporter that does not even have an iota of honor and that lacks the moral capacity to pass any form of judgment on those that operate under a ruthless and criminal regime using precious paper to spread ignorance.
Despite what is being done to them, despite the power of the state that belittles their efforts 24/7 on national TV, Radio and rags like the Reporter the Ethiopian opposition is alive and well. There are ups and downs in this long journey. Today the torch of freedom is burning bright. We got a few choices that are steeled in the struggle and are raising the banner of hope. Semayawi Party is the new kid on the block. They are redefining the agenda. Despite the Reporters lamentations, the TPLF’s unending threats of dire consequences and the fear mongering by the old guard on June 2nd the Ethiopians came out in droves to support their party. The young and old, men and women, Christian and Moslem regardless of ethnic affiliation all showed under the banner of freedom and democracy. They said it was impossible, cannot be done but we proved them all wrong.
The recent ESFNA’s 30th. Celebration in Maryland is another occasion where we rose up to the challenge. They say we are one combative people. The rumor is we love to fight with each other, we don’t care to unite and we are always badmouthing our own people. They claim there is nothing on earth that will bring us together and we are one selfish people. It is supposed to be common knowledge that Abeshas are envious, uncooperative and hopeless. They say it and we repeat after them. After a certain time we reach a point where we start believing it ourselves. So we thought.
It is lucky for us that those that try to put us down and demoralize us start to be swayed by their own propaganda. Our clueless bandas believed their lies and organized a tournament to compete with ESFNA. They rented the best stadium there is, they bribed youngster from all over America with free ticket and free lodgings, they brought plane load of the nouveau rich from home and waited for the party to begin. They really thought we would sell our soul for a fist full of dollars. They inadvertently gave us a stark choice. Money or country was on the table. The people spoke. You can always buy a few bandas like the Italians did but Ethiopia or death became the cry of the many. How many you asked? Over forty thousand and that was the capacity of the stadium. We might quarrel, we might have disagreements but when it comes to Ethiopia we are tight. How tight you ask? We don’t even allow a skinny Woyane to pass between us. We proved them wrong! Thank you ESFNA, thank you my brothers and sisters, I knew you will not let mother down. Prove them wrong is the battle cry. We shall overcome.
Keep your eyes on the prize. By Yilma Bekele
We are witnessing a flurry of news from the TPLF party that calls itself the Ethiopian government. Why is the Woyane party so busy and why is the party pushing its cadres to be super active is a good question. That is what piqued my interest and I was forced to look around to figure out what exactly is happening both in Ethiopia and the Diaspora community to make the illegal regime work overtime.
I did not have to look far to see why the government is acting very nervous. It looks like for a change the progressive forces are on the attack and the reactionary regime is on the defense. Believe me this is a rare occurrence and shows the realignment of forces in our country. I will try to explain why later on but let us look at what is causing this shift. A few weeks back the regime carried out its ‘ethnic cleansing’ activity in the Beneshangul Gumuz Kilil. It was not the first time the TPLF led regime has done this criminal act but what was different this time around was our collective indignation. We were able to carry out a sustained and well organized push back from around the world. The opposition in Ethiopia cooperated by boldly demanding action and tried to collect evidence from the affected areas.
First the hapless regime paraded its toy PM and made him give some half ass explanation and dumped the crimes on their Kilil dog. The fact that the previous ‘ethnic cleansing’ activity was carried out in the South Kilil where the PM originated from was not lost on us. This rehearsed mea culpa did not impress anyone. It was back to the drawing board for the regime. Next In the clueless regime tried to divert our attention by planting rumors about the death of that other tyrant in Zimbabwe. We did not bite. After the failure of that story they again tried to engage us by removing the monument dedicated to our Holy Father Abune Petros. Again we showed our unhappiness but did not take our eyes of the ‘ethnic cleansing’ crime. We were focused and relentless. We were just simply not crying but talking about taking the matter to the International Court of Justice and the UN.
After lots and lots of postponements and dragging the regime brought our political prisoners and decided to hand down their useless justice. We were supposed to drop all other activity and concentrate on Eskinder Nega and Andulalem’s miscarriage of justice. Something odd happened here. We did not follow the script. For the first time we were able to connect the dots and see the whole picture. The progressive forces decided to link ethnic cleansing, Abune Petros and our Political prisoners’ situation as one.
I was waiting for the next drama with heightened anticipation. What would they try now was a common question asked by students of Woyane theatre. Invading Somalia was out of the question since they have already learned their lesson. The demonization of Eritrea was becoming stale. Playing the ethnic card is what brought about the problem in the first place so that was a no go zone. What would the ‘great visionary’ leader do under the circumstances was in the mind of all TPLF cadres in leadership position. They dug deep, traveled back in their criminally ladened history and came up with ‘cannibalism’ as the way out.
So with great fanfare they went about arresting anything anybody they could find. The injustice Minister was hauled away. The guy with dark glasses that sat behind the tyrant in Parliament was arrested. The Revenue and Customs guys were escorted to their won prison with a few selected business people to add flavor to the drama.
I guess all this activity is supposed to impress us. A criminal arresting another criminal is meant to fill our soul with hope for the future. They are so clueless they don’t even know that the news is taken with such amusement that a soccer game between Buna and Giorgis garners more anticipation than their cheap drama. Why would anyone think that Melaku Fenta that spineless individual sitting under Gebrewhaid Giorgis is capable of making any decision let alone steal big? Like most sycophants that are serving as the face of their departments Melaku was just another mannequin for show while the TPLF boss under him runs the outfit. That game is played all over Ethiopia and in the Embassy’s outside. I bet you cannot find any worthwhile governmental body without a TPLF deputy in charge.
This new drama is meant to keep us guessing what in the world is going on inside the TPLF party. We are supposed to guess which faction is up and who is down. The disinformation campaign by Debretsion keeps manufacturing different versions of their supposedly internal turmoil and some of us love nothing more than being instant experts in the inner workings of the mafia group. To hear some of our people go on the minute details of the party is mind boggling and a testimonial to the hopelessness of a few of our family and friends. They might have their own differences but do you really think that will stop them from their common goal of staying in power no matter what? Do you for second think they will not close ranks when threatened? Then why in the world are you wasting time and energy whether Azeb is fighting with Berket and if Sebhat is is not in good terms with Seyoum? Now if they really want our attention the best way to do it will be arrest Azeb or Abay Woldu not Sebhat or Seyoum since they already are near death.
The biggest joke of all is the claim that Hailemariam Desalgne was cleaning house. Let us see the PM that was handpicked by the dead tyrant and schooled in the art of servitude to TPLF, the PM that does not have a power base, the same PM that cannot even pick the guards outside his office is exercising authority on TPLF officials? Who would swallow such Mamo Kilo bed time story is a good question. Yes there are a few especially here in the Diaspora that are trying to put some lipstick on this pig of a story.
Some opined ‘EPDRF supporters speaking out’ while others declared ‘EPDRF undergoing profound changes.’ Well, well let see us what is giving these Woyane coddlers new life? What is different today that was not there yesterday is a good question. I read their writings very closely and tried to see what they were basing their new found euphoria on. I wanted to know what arguments they were bringing to the table to see if there was any validity to their conclusions. I couldn’t find any. It is all wishful thinking, self fulfilling prophesy and confused theories that is trying hard to fit a square peg in a round hole. The ones that are trying to see light at the end of the tunnel are the same people that advised wait and see attitude when Woyane conquered our capital and were willing and ready to serve the criminal organization. Their last miscalculation caused twenty years of misery to our people and country and here they are again advising us the presence of a non entity called EPDRF that is supposed to usher a new era of peace and prosperity. Give it a rest gentlemen and do not waste our time with your unfounded optimism. Why peddle a worn out theory this late in the game?
I am emboldened by three factors that have been added to the equation of fighting injustice in our dear country. The first and very significant addition to our arsenal of fighting for freedom and democracy is no other than our beloved ESAT. It has given voice to the voice less and opened our eyes to the reality that is what is ailing us. ESAT is the main reason Woyane misinformation campaign is falling on deaf ears. ESAT is the main reason the cry of our people in Ethiopia is getting a hearing. No matter what no sane Ethiopian can ignore the voice of our people coming thru the airwaves loud and clear. The tenacity and diligent reporting by ESAT that refused to fall for Woyane diversion kept the ‘ethnic cleansing’ criminal act in focus and thwarted their attempt to derail us.
The second factor is the gallantry of our Moslem citizens that have against all odds persevered for over a year their quest for freedom and independence. The many attempts to divide and splinter them by the illegal Woyane regime has been repulsed and the Moslem community is still standing together with one voice and one aim of protecting their right to run their religion free of government interference. It is a lesson to the rest of us to keep our eyes on the prize and not to let our organizations be the play ground of Woyane operatives.
The third factor that is emerging from Ethiopia is the beautiful new voice of Semayawi Party that is clear, clean and void of any clutter of the past that has been hindering our forward movement. From what I can observe from afar Semayawi is not encumbered by our past failures, weighed down by unnecessary dogma and geared to act and try newer stuff. That is what the doctor ordered. Why use beige and gray to paint when you can use bright blue and bring warmth to the canvas. The call by Semayawi Party to dress in black and show the discontent of our people during African Unions 50th anniversary is a bold and timely call. That is all peaceful resistance is about. It is our duty to follow the advice of the Party and tell our family and friends to cooperate in showing their grief by dressing in black. Those of us that believe in peaceful resistance this is our chance to practice what we preach.
As times go by it is becoming clear that the regime is feeling the loss of the evil person in charge. For over thirty years the prince of darkness Meles Ashebari Zenawi has been the brain and body of the mafia outfit that has been masquerading as a political party. I am willing to give him the credit as the personification of Satan on earth. He has earned the title. His death has left the TPLF party void of someone to fill his shoes no matter how small it is. It is not the absence of idiots or sycophants that is lacking in their midst but they just seem to suffer from the mistrust the evil one has left them with. That deficiency coupled with the emergence of new and daring Ethiopians schooled in the art of confronting the regime head on is what is causing headaches to the downgraded TPLF.
Life is beautiful. Our new found unity and purposeful march to the future is a hard won victory. The fact that it is Woyane in disarray and we are becoming hip to their many attempts to distract us is testimonial to our ability to learn and apply the lesson. There are still many voices that are constantly trying to derail our movement but the fact that we have matured and are able to separate the chaff from the wheat is our new found strength. We are not there yet but with all those strong and tested groups and individuals joining our movement there is no reason to doubt we are bringing the dark days to an end and new bright sun will rise up over our mountains and valleys. A luta continua-the struggle continues.
Meles Zenawi when he was alive and his apostles today (“Melesistas”) keep playing us in the Diaspora like a cheap fiddle. They make us screech, shriek, scream and shout by simply showing their mugs in our cities. How do they do it? Every now and then, the Melesistas suit up a few of their bumbling and bungling zombies from central casting and unleash them into the Ethiopian Diaspora to “sell bonds” for the “Grand Meles Dam” to be built over the Blue Nile. Anytime these zombies show up to panhandle chump change from their supporters, a welcoming committee of defiant and patriotic Ethiopian activists show up to chase them out of town like campers at a national park chasing coyotes scrounging at the trash bin. For the past several weeks, Diaspora activists have been routing these imposters across European and American cities; but incredibly, these brazen con artists show up in the next city like snake oil salesmen at a carnival. That really piqued my curiosity. Why do these scammers show up in city after city knowing that they will be confronted and chased out by young patriotic Ethiopians? Are they really fundraising by “selling bonds” in the Diaspora or are they using “fundraising” as a cover for something altogether different? Ummm!!!
First, the irrefutable facts about the Meles Dam hogwash. As I demonstrated in my March 11 commentary, “Rumors of Water War on the Nile?”, the Meles Dam on the Blue Nile (Abay River) was the exquisite figment of Meles’ imagination, and now the phantasmic idol of worship for his discombobulated apostles. Anyone who bothers to study the facts of this so-called dam project will readily conclude that it is pie in the sky. It is “self-funded” because the multilateral lending institutions and private investors who normally bankroll such major infrastructure projects wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole standing a mile away. They have determined it is a white elephant. Egypt has also used its leverage to block funding sources. Egypt has contingency military plans to undam the dam if it ever comes on line.
The fact of the matter is that it is impossible for the bumbling regime in Ethiopia, which sustains itself through international panhandling, to raise the USD$6-10bn needed from the people of the second poorest country in the world. The regime does not even have sufficient foreign reserves to cover the cost of imports for three months. Its foreign debt exceeds USD$12bn; and despite windbagging about an 11 percent annual growth, the “fifth fastest growing economy in the world”, yada, yada, unemployment, inflation, mismanagement and corruption have put on life support an economy addicted to international handouts. The idea that nickels and dimes collected from Ethiopians in the country by staging “musical concerts, a lottery and an SMS campaign” and a buck or two from Diaspora Ethiopians could build such a project is simply nutty. Because the dam builders live in a fool’s paradise, they think Diaspora Ethiopians are all “fools and idiots” who will buy fantasy dam bonds. (Just as an aside, those who are buying Meles Dam junk bonds should first consider buying the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City.) Anyway, the Diaspora “bond sales” effort has been a total failure. The regime recently announced that it had collected $43,160 from its latest bond sales in San Diego, CA. Yeah! Right!
For domestic public relations purposes, the Melesistas’ strategic objective in pushing the Meles Dam hoax is to create patriotic fervor and galvanize the entire population around an object of national pride while deifying Meles and generating political support for themselves to prolong their lease on political power. The Meles Dam would at once be a hydrological temple to worship “Meles the Great Leader and Visionary” and a symbolic object of national unity that could rally massive support for the regime. The Melesistas have convinced themselves that by talking about the Meles Dam 24/7, 365 days, they can convince the people that the dam is actually under construction. They blather about building the “largest dam in Africa” and Ethiopia becoming a middle income country and a formidable regional economic power in just a few years. They talk about their “visionary leader” and how they will blindly follow his vision to the end of the rainbow where they will collect their pot of gold in the form of Meles Dam bonds. They march on chanting their mantra: “We will follow Meles’ vision without doubt or question.”
They must really think the people are “fools and idiots” (to borrow a phrase from Susan Rice) to be fooled by their silly dog and pony show and talk of pie in the sky. The Ethiopian people may not know about a “pie in the sky”, but they certainly know about the “cow they have in the sky whose milk they never see.” But careful analysis shows the Melesistas have pulled this one right out of Joseph Goebbel’s bag of tricks: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” Isn’t this exactly what the Melesistas are doing in Ethiopia now – repeat the dam lie, development lie and repress dissent and persecute journalist who tell the truth?
The Melesistas think they are so smart that they can hoodwink not only Ethiopians in the country but also those in the Diaspora. They put on a dam “bond selling” show to convince Diasporans that the Meles Dam is real and that it is the panacea to Ethiopia’s economic woes. “Buy dam bonds! Ethiopia will be rafting on a river of milk and honey once the Blue Nile is dammed.” But only a damned fool would believe that. According to the World Bank, Ethiopia’s “power sector alone would require $3.3 billion per year to develop” in the next decade. Currently, power tariffs are so underpriced that they range between “$0.04-0.08 per kilowatt-hour” and are “low by regional standards and recover only 46 percent of the costs of the utility.” For every dollar they spend supplying power, they lose 54 cents! In other words, these guys hawking the Meles Dam junk bonds and promising billions in profits are losing their shirts on the power they are selling right now! Why would anyone trust and buy dam bonds from those who can’t even make a damn profit from existing dams? Why would anyone buy dam junk bonds when the outlook for the energy sector in Ethiopia is so damn bleak? The Melesistas fantasize that they can pay off bondholders by selling power from the dam to the Sudan, Egypt and the Arabian peninsula. Why the hell would Egypt or the Sudan buy power from a dam that damns them by effectively reducing their water supply for agriculture and their own production of power?
The real aim of the Meles Dam is not the construction of a dam over the Blue Nile but to use the specter of the construction of a gargantuan dam on the Nile to inspire fear, loathing and dread of an imminent regional water war. Simply stated, the dam idea is an extortion scheme to scam the international community and downstream countries for more aid and loans as a price for continued regional stability, avoidance of conflict and maintenance of the status quo. Suffice it to say, one has to be a damned “fool and an idiot” to believe the Meles Dam will ever be built or buy Meles Dam junk bonds and expect a return. (Buying the Brooklyn Bridge is a much better investment.)
Shadowboxing Smoke and Mirrors
So, why do the Melsistas send zombies into the Diaspora on a fool’s errand? They know they will be shamed and disgraced and chased out of every American and European city like stray dogs at a bazaar. They know they will be lucky to squeeze a few hundred dollars at a Diaspora “bond selling” event. Do they do it because they are professional beggars and panhandlers?
There is a deceptively simple method to their madness. They send their zombies in the Diaspora to make us shadowbox smoke and mirrors. They are playing a simple but clever psychological game.
The Melesistas are getting hammered everyday by bad publicity. Hardly a day passes without some report by an international human rights, press or research organization documenting their monumental crimes against humanity. Just in the past few months, there have been numerous reports and press releases by Human Rights Watch, the Committee to Protect Journalists and a host of newspaper and television outlets, including Al Jazeera and CNN, on massive human rights violations, land grabs, ethnic cleansing, suppression of religious freedom and other issues in Ethiopia. Recently, the World Bank made public a 448-page corruption report on Ethiopia. A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. State Department released its annual Human Rights Report on Ethiopia documenting the regime’s “arbitrary killings, torture, beating, abuse, and mistreatment of detainees by security forces, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, arbitrary arrests and detentions, detention without charge and lengthy pretrial detention, illegal searches, “villagization” (pillagization) program, restrictions on freedom of assembly, association, and movement, interference in religious affairs…” This past week, they got clobbered in the international press for a kangaroo appellate court affirmance of the 18-year sentences of the internationally-acclaimed journalist Eskinder Nega and dynamic opposition leader Andualem Aragie.
The Melesistas have become international pariahs and desperately want to change the topic from Eskinder Nega, Reeyot Alemu, Woubshet Taye, Andualem Aragie…, corruption, ethnic cleansing, land giveaways, suppression of religious freedom and interference in religious affairs and critical human rights reports. They want to take control of the international public relations agenda. They want to shed off their international image as corrupt thugs who trample on human rights and steal elections. They want to reinvent themselves as anti-poverty warriors and statesmen of economic development. They want to be seen as the new “new breed of African leaders” toiling indefatigably to eradicate poverty and promote economic development and democracy.
In a Machiavellian maneuver, they have, to some extent, succeeded in getting Diaspora Ethiopians, particularly the activists, to promote their “dam development” agenda for them in America, Europe and elsewhere. Every time Diaspora activists confront the zombie junk bond dealers and brokers, they are seen talking (but saying nothing) about development, growth, infrastructure projects and how the Meles Dam will transform Ethiopia into an economic powerhouse. (They never mention the massive foreign debt, the USD$12bn that has left the country illegally since 2001, the massive youth unemployment, accelerating population growth, etc.). They always sheath their bloody hands in the glove of development talk. When activists protest and confront these zombies, they appear to be anti-development obstructionist agitators. That’s is the exquisite trick of the Melesistas. They want the world to see Diaspora Ethiopians as a bunch of rowdy, wild, disorderly, loudmouthed, raucous, uncivil and intolerant bunch who will not even allow civil discussions of “development”. They aim to create and nurture the image of a few combative “Diaspora extremists” and an overwhelming number of silent (as a church mouse) regime supporters who are afraid to come forward (or attend their “bond selling” events) and show their support for fear of attack by the “extremists.” In the mix are the hapless Diasporans who have to go back and forth to Ethiopia to secure their property and business interests. Those guys are toast; either they pay protection money (buy dam bonds) or get jacked up on some trumped up charge and lose their properties or worse.
The Melesistas’ strategy to counter bad publicity and capture the domestic and international public relations commanding heights is based on three principles: Distract, distract and distract some more. Distract Ethiopians inside the country from critical political, social and economic issues by bombarding them with inane development propaganda. State television (which is watched by virtually no one in the country) is filled with ceaseless barrages of nauseating and mind numbing amateur development propaganda. It is vintage police state propaganda aimed at convincing a largely illiterate population that famine is plenty, decline is development, poverty is wealth, dictatorship is democracy and the man who destroyed the country is its savior.
The second strategy is to distract Diaspora Ethiopians from vigorously pursuing an agenda that promotes democracy freedom and human rights. They unleash a few smooth-talking empty suits with empty heads and let them wander from one city to another in the U.S. and Europe just to get Ethiopian activists emotionally worked up about a fantasy dam and lose their focus on issues of human rights violations, abuse of political prisoners, ethnic cleansing, suppression of religious freedoms, and myriad economic problems. Some Diaspora activists react vigorously whenever they see these hapless empty suits at “bond selling” events believing they are confronting the master criminals. Therein lies the trick. The Melesistas are so clever that they have succeeded in making some of us believe that the puppets are actually the puppet masters. We need to be aware that the empty suits they send into the Diaspora to sell the dam bonds are just schmucks and buffoons who do what they are told; or “zombies” as the great African musician Fela Kuti would have called them (“Zombie go… zombie stop…zombie turn…zombie think…” ) They are bait and are offered as scapegoats to the Diaspora. By chasing the puppets out of town, some of us feel we have chased out the puppet masters. But the puppet masters laugh at us because our victory is the victory of the shadow boxer who knocked out the shadow.
The third strategy of the Melesistas is to distract donors and human rights organizations from criticizing them on their atrocious human rights record. They want to justify and convince them that the masses of ordinary Ethiopians are interested in the politics of the belly and not the politics of the ballot. Meles declared, “My view is that there is no direct relationship between economic growth and democracy historically or theoretically.” They want to convince donors and human rights organizations that the masses do not care about human rights or democracy; they are concerned only about filling their bellies. To them, the masses of poor, illiterate, hungry and sick Ethiopians are too dumb and too damn needy to appreciate “political democracy.”
Legacy of the great manipulator
Manipulation of the Diaspora is one of the chief legacies of Meles. Wikileaks cablegrams portray Meles as a slick, scheming, crafty and cunning hombre. He could have achieved greatness but undid himself because he was unable to tame his voracious appetite for extreme vindictiveness and revenge and could not bridle his bottomless capacity for maliciousness, viciousness and obduracy. Those who claim to know Meles say he knew his opposition better than the opposition knew itself. Distraction, diversion, misdirection, hoodwinking, chicanery, paralogy and sophistry were the hallmarks of Meles’ strategy. The cunning dictator was able to shroud his corrupt empire for two decades by pursuing a propaganda policy of mass distraction and by staging one farcical political theatre after another. As I have long maintained, Meles’ “attitude was that he can outwit, outthink, outsmart, outplay, outfox and outmaneuver boatloads of Ph.Ds., M.Ds., J.Ds. Ed.Ds or whatever alphabet soup of degrees exist out there any day of the week. He seemed to think that like the opposition leaders, Ethiopian intellectuals are dysfunctional, shiftless and inconsequential, and will never be able to pose a real challenge to his power.” In a rare moment of candor responding to a journalist’s question about Diaspora Ethiopians protesting his overseas visits, Meles confessed, “We may be at fault in some way. I am sorry. That maybe we didn’t communicate well enough to those Ethiopians living abroad what is happening, what we are doing here.” Meles’ apostles keep making the same mistake. Like shepherd, like sheep! Like Meles, like Melesistas!
Criminal violations in selling unregistered securities in the U.S.
There have been questions raised about the legality of the sale of Meles Dam bonds as “securities” in the U.S. Under federal and most state laws, a “security” is broadly defined and includes stocks, bonds, debt and equity securities, notes, investment contracts, etc. Unless exempted, all securities must be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and/or relevant state agencies prior to selling or offering for sale to the public. A security which does not have an effective registration statement on file with the SEC and/or the relevant state agency is considered an unregistered security. Buying or selling unregistered securities is a crime under federal and state laws. The SEC can prosecute issuers and sellers of unregistered securities under section 20(b) of the Securities Act of 1933 (which regulates original issuers) and seek injunctions if the Securities Act has been violated, or if a violation is imminent. Section 8A also allows the SEC to issue orders to issuers of unregistered securities to cease and desist and seek civil penalties under Section 20(d) if an issuer violated the Securities Act, an SEC rule, or a cease-and-desist order.
Like most states, California Corporations Code sections 25110-25118 set strict guidelines for any securities sold in that state. Any person or entity who willfully sells or transports unregistered securities through interstate commerce or buys such securities could face serious criminal liabilities under California Corporations Code section 25540, subd. (a) with penalties of incarceration for up to three years and a fine up to $1 million. California prosecutors, like their federal counterparts, could also seek injunctive relief and civil penalties.
There are a few limited exemptions to the registration requirement. One of them is an exemption “for certain foreign government securities brokers or dealers”. Pursuant to 17 CFR 401.9, “A government securities broker or dealer (excluding a branch or agency of a foreign bank) that is a non-U.S. resident shall be exempt from the provisions of sections 15C(a), (b), and (d) of the Act (15 U.S.C. 78o–5(a), (b) and (d)) and the regulations of this subchapter provided it complies with the provisions of 17 CFR 240.15a–6…” In other words, the bond “brokers and dealers” sent to the U.S. to sell the Meles Dam bonds must meet the multifarious requirements of federal securities law and other regulatory requirements including full disclosure, proof of maintenance of required books and records relating to the bond issues and written consent to service of process for any civil action arising from disputes in bond related transactions. It is highly unlikely that the “brokers and dealers” selling the Meles Dam bonds in the United States qualify under 17 CFR 240.15a–6 and 15 U.S.C. 78o–5(a).
Fight the Power, not the smoke and image in the mirror
Diaspora activists should keep their eyes on the prize, not on the smoke and mirrors of the Melesista Road Show, Carnival and Circus.
Ethiopian Americans are fortunate to live under a Constitution that guarantees our right to free expression and peaceful protest. As citizens, it is our moral duty to exercise our constitutional rights. We have recently seen Americans using their right to protest by launching the “Occupy” protest movement. Historically, the civil rights movement relied on sit-ins, sit downs, teach-ins, rallies and marches as a form of direct nonviolent action to bring about change. Nonviolent mass protests eventually led to passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which ended racial segregation, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which removed barriers to voting. The anti-war and free speech movements relied on non-violent protests to defend expressive freedoms and end the war in Vietnam. Nonviolent protests were also used in the anti-Apartheid movement in the U.S. resulting in boycotts, divestments in corporations and spurring legislative and diplomatic action which hastened the end of Apartheid.
The main point is that Diaspora Ethiopians should be laser-focused on the prize and make sure that democracy will in the end triumph over dictatorship in Ethiopia; human rights are vindicated and human rights abusers are held accountable and any government in Ethiopia shall fear the people and the people shall never fear their government. We should not be distracted by empty suits with empty heads lurking in and out of town to scrounge up chicken feed. We should not be angry at programmed zombies at “bond selling” events because they are just wretched flunkies and bootlickers, who given the opportunity will make a beeline to the immigration office to file for political asylum. We should not mistake the puppets for the puppet masters. We should not confuse shadow for reality.
We should be aware not only when we are being abused but also used. We should never let them make us do their dirty jobs because they can cleverly manipulate our psychological disposition to righteous indignation. We should never react because that allows them to take control of our emotions and reactions. We should always act and never react. Most importantly, we should engage in proactive activism instead of reactive activism. When we are proactive, we plan things out carefully and strategically. Nonviolent protest is a highly disciplined effort. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. taught, “In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action.” We should educate and train ourselves in the ways of nonviolent protest. When confronting the zombies, we should maintain a high degree of composure and display self-dignity in our expressions of defiance. At dam “bond selling ” events, protesters should adequately prepare pre-event publicity. Serious attention should given to the development of press kits and talking points. Press and law enforcement liaisons should be trained and designated. Well informed and articulate spokespersons should be selected to give press interviews. Adequate attention should be given to post-event follow up activities.
It is a great disservice to oneself and to our great cause to engage in nonviolent protest without reading and understanding Gene Sharp’s extraordinary work, “From Dictatorship to Democracy”available online for free. An Amharic translation of Gene Sharp’s book is also available online free of charge (here) for anyone to download or print. Ignorance cannot drive out ignorance, only knowledge can. We must educate ourselves in the ways of peaceful protest, or our efforts will produce few results. We are less likely to be manipulated if we keep ourselves informed and develop critical analysis skills that cut through the blather of our adversaries.
While those of us in the older generation (“Hippos”) wallow in self-pity and cynicism, it is inspiring to see young patriotic Diaspora Ethiopians (“Cheetahs”) using their right to peaceful protest to resist the zombies of tyranny. Just as the task of building a fantasy dam belongs to the Melesistas, the construction of the new Ethiopia is a task reserved for the young Cheetahs. It is painful to admit that we Hippos have not been much of a role model for the Cheetahs. We have unkindly criticized the Cheetahs for their lack of engagement, apathy and single-minded pursuit of flash and cash. We grumble that the Cheetah generation is the lost generation and there is no one to save Ethiopia (but it has been a long time since we Hippos looked into the mirror without smoke).
I am afraid there is little that Ethiopian Cheetahs could learn from Ethiopian Hippos. Perhaps Ethiopian Cheetahs can get inspiration from other Cheetahs. In the past 2 years, we have seen inexperienced youth using social media bring down dictators or force them to make radical changes in governance in North Africa and the Middle East. The key to their success was their ability to get in tune and on the same wavelength with each other, and to be able to speak the same beautiful language of peaceful change and protest. As always, I believe Ethiopian youth united — across ethnic, religious, linguistic, gender, and regional lines — can never be defeated!
“Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight.” Bob Marley
Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam teaches political science at California State University, San Bernardino and is a practicing defense lawyer.
Previous commentaries by the author are available at:
Amharic translations of recent commentaries by the author may be found at:
ESAT and messengers of peace in Jose, Ca. By Yilma Bekele
Tamagne was here. I wrote that and felt I have said enough. Well since you asked I guess I will tell you the rest of the story. I thought by now you would know If Tamagne was here something big and important regarding Ethiopia happened. You know Tamagne; he does not do things little. He does not think of neighborhood, not even a region Tamagne goes the whole nine yards and dreams of a nation. Tamagne does not fly to Atlanta or Houstinn from his base in DC, our Tamagne crosses a continent all the way to California to spend an evening with his people. I am afraid he is outgrowing even that. Now we see Tamagne in New Zealand or Norway. I don’t need a fortune teller to predict we might hear from Tamagne from outer space. I will just sigh and mumble he must have found a lost Habesha that just don’t know when to stop and settle.
He has developed a new habit too. He does not travel light no more. As if the one man army is not enough he is accompanied by some heavy guns all around him. I am not talking about a bazooka or tank. No Tamagne has found the ultimate weapon disarm his enemies. He is accompanied with the messengers of love, brotherhood and tolerance. How I envy Weizero Mamita and Grazmach Beyene because they have given us such a precious gift. May God bless them.
I am sorry about my sloppy writing but you can’t blame me. Right now I am levitating and I am afraid it will take a while to bring me down to earth. I am floating with joy, happiness and hope and it is all due to Tamagne and his associates. I also noticed most of the folks I spent the evening with were a little delirious and as the evening went on the love and peace was infectious with Ethiopians spontaneously clapping, laughing and hugging without abandon. I told you, you should have been there.
Messengers of peace and unity.
What were all these people doing on a beautiful Saturday afternoon is a good question? The only explanation I could give you is to say they are committed, they care and they just acted on it. Lots of people worked hard to make the event a success it was. They all have one thing in common, they were all Ethiopians. What brought them together is their love and concern for their homeland.
First were the organizers of the event. It took time and effort to find a good safe location. They have to arrange transportation and accommodation for their guests. Flyers and pamphlets have to be printed to advertise the event. The posters have to be distributed in the community, published on our Web sites and the tickets have to be sold door to door. Without them there is no event. Thank you my beautiful young friends. I am happy your effort was gladly embraced by your community.
Then there were our guests that have to travel far and close to spend a precious day with their people. They are all busy and successful people that are willing to share their views and stick their neck out for all of us to dissect and parse. They were chosen to sit on the podium because they have earned the respect of their community by their work and deeds and we all want to hear from them, meet them and share our views with them.
The most crucial element in this gathering are the guests. Their presence is what makes all that effort worthwhile. I always think it is beautiful to have plenty of people but even the attendance of a single individual to me is a success. We have to show respect and do what has to be done. Coming to an event is not easy. It requires planning commitment and energy. We have to juggle so many responsibilities in our daily life and spending a whole afternoon and evening attending an event is not an easy matter. There is work, family responsibility and other commitments to take into consideration, not to mention paying for the ticket, arranging transportation etc. etc.
All three actors in this important function have something in common that makes them special. They all love their country in a positive way. They value the importance of getting together and trying to find a common solution to make their ancient country a better place. They are not just talkers but doers that go the extra mile to make things happen. It is what is called a symbiotic relationship. One cannot survive without the other. One needs the other to grow and thrive.
Our guests made all of us proud. They said many important things and it is beyond this little presentation to do it justice. There were so many standing ovations, plenty of laughter and the evening went so fast our poor organizers were forced to rearrange their program to fit the occasion. The two young people assigned to lead the ceremony were consummate professionals that made it look so easy I even thought I could do that. Dressed in the splendor of our national colors they set the tone in a positive manner. The sound and video was perfect showing the organizers commitment to excellence.
Abatachen his Holiness Abune Melkesedek General Secretary of the Holy Synod-in Exile, Archbishop of Medhane Alem Cathedral in Oakland was sitting in the middle. That sight by itself was enough to make ones heart swell with pride and joy. He started the assembly with a prayer. I don’t know about you but I knew things were going to get better and better. How could anything go wrong when Abatachen gives his blessings?
I hope you don’t mind me paraphrase and put their speech in my own words. Abatachen spoke about the importance of faith and responsibility in our daily life. He gave us perspective regarding our ancient history and the crucial role religion has played in the making of our country. He thought us how respect for each other’s religion and tolerance of our differences has played an important role in forming the Ethiopia we know now. Then he looked at us and asked a crucial question. What makes us different from animals? He said we are born, we grow up we have family and we all die. He explained we humans are different because we determine road we travel. If you take an animal far from where he was born and give it the comfort he/she needs they will not leave but stay put. It will form a family take care of its offspring and die. But we humans are different. There should be more. We think about the future. What we leave behind for our offspring is a very important consideration of being a human. Life is not about a simple comfort for oneself and one’s family but thinking of the greater family is a crucial aspect of living a successful and whole life. Something to think about, what do you think?
My dear brother Sheik Imam Khalid is not a complicated person. He speaks clearly, forcefully and in sharp short sentences. He does not leave much for ambiguity. In this time of misinformation, propaganda and rumors it is a relief to listen to someone that does not beat around the bush and states his case in a clear manner. His love for his country and religion just oozes out of him. He laid to rest the fact that our Muslim brothers struggle is for the rights of their religious independence despite the many insane ideas being thrown around by the illegal regime in power. In simple words he wants the government to stop meddling in his religion. I loved the way he started his speech. His observation was regarding the duality of our personality. There is the family you, the work place you, the you that is routinely presented among friends and the Mosque or Church you. Why so many faces? That he said is the central problem. We have to resolve that issue within ourselves and come out clean. It is not complicated is it?
We also heard from our local Mosque religious leader and he spoke about the importance of working together, the culture of unity of purpose our people have developed thru out the years and that spirit that is still leading our struggle forward. Shamble was the person that gave color to the event. With his Masinko and beautiful voice he took us back and you can see the audience mesmerized with everyone going home in a mental trip. Thank you Shambel may be next year we will meet in Addis. As the Jewish saying goes “Lashanah haba’ah biy’rushalem’ I say to you ‘ ýememetaw amet biáddis abeba’
Our hosts had a surprise guest for us too. I told you they were firing with all eight cylinders. They brought us none other than the dragon slayer himself. My friend Abebe Gelaw in person. The assembly went wild. Who else to elevate our spirit and remind us of the importance of sticking out for our people when the time requires it. He defines the meaning of seize the time.
It was time for Tamagne to come to the podium. You can hear a pin drop. The anticipation was overwhelming. As I have said before Tamagne don’t have to do anything to paint smile and joy on our faces. He has this ability to channel our energy and magnify it back at us. Some shout, some clap the men whistle and the women ululate. Pandemonium in the house is what it felt like. The fire alarm was triggered by the noise, the earth shook and the security showed up in force. I am exaggerating a little aren’t I? Well I don’t have a video and this is the best I can do. You get my meaning.
I will not even try to tell you what Tamagne presented. I don’t really know for how long but whatever it was it was short. Time has a tendency to flee when he is on stage. His simplicity is what makes the situation complicated. He disarms you with the strength of his presentation. It is audio, video and god knows what else. My suggestion is do not at all challenge Tamagne, he carries this thumb drives full of facts and figures. For a person with a death sentence hanging around his neck he seems to be relaxed. If only Ato Meles has allowed him to present his defense when accused of being a terrorist I am sure the court would have thrown the dictator into Kality. Poor Meles he died knowing Tamagne has another date to clear his name in a real court of law. You know me I will be in that jury.
So what did we accomplish? A lot my friend. We showed we cared. We proved Abatachen right by working together to leave something behind for our country and children. We rose up to the occasion when called for. The idea of the gathering was to raise money so ESAT can continue the job of being the independent ‘eyes and ears’ of our people. From something like three hundred people we raised over thirty thousand dollars. The investment we made was not to realize profit. Our reward comes when ESAT uses the fund to do the job we have entrusted them with-faithfully and truthfully inform our people. I am absolutely sure they will do that with determination professionalism and purpose. If not we all are here to watch and speak out when both things go right or wrong.
As I said it was a festive afternoon and evening. It was nice to see Ethiopians gathered to show concern and love for country and each other. I said many good things about our guests. I put them up on a pedestal. It is not about hero worship or excessive adulation of individuals. To me it is all about giving credit where credit is due. The tone set by the late dictator was constant put down of our country, people and culture. He wanted to shine all by himself. That is not good. We have plenty of good things going for us. We are blessed with ancient culture that is built on love and tolerance as a foundation. We have lived for eons as a nation state due to that. To me our guests were building on that tradition. If we don’t put them up on a pedestal who would? If we don’t celebrate their accomplishments , if we don’t appreciate their sacrifice who then? None were paid to be there, no one made a penny of the event and no one was compelled to come. That is all commitment is about. May God and Allah bless them all and protect them and shield them from harm for they are our national treasure.
I am sure my cousin Fekreye will ask me “why do you make it so long’ I thought I should be faithful to such an important gathering of honorable people and it just kept coming out. Take your time and read it please, won’t you I worked hard on it.
By the way the next day Tamagne presided on another gathering in Seattle and you know folks of Seattle are a show off and they collected close to sixty thousand dollars. Seattle congratulations, we will meet again and we will be ready. We accept the challenge, we got work to do. Finally look at the picture below and see Tamagne at work-the power of love!
The selling of Ethiopia to the highest bidder. By Yilma Bekele
Actually that statement might not be true. We do know our country is being sold but we have no idea if the bidding has been open or closed. We have sold almost all of Gambella, we have leased half of Afar and Oromia has been parceled out bit by bit. Our Beer factories are under new owners, our gold mines belong to the fake Ethiopian sheik, Telephone is under the Chinese and our Airlines is looking for a suitor. Have we always looked for outsiders to own us?
Not really when you consider that we celebrated the victory at the battle of Adwa a few weeks back and that was the mother of all wars that made it clear this African country is not for sale. We might not have contributed much to the industrial revolution but we did manage to rely on our own ingenuity to follow along and do things our own way. You might not believe this but there was a time when Ethiopians actually used to be involved in making stuff from scratch. You think I am making things up don’t you? I don’t blame you because today you cannot even come up with one name that stands out as an Ethiopian entrepreneur, go getter or someone that shines like the north star based solely on his own sweat and blood.
The things that were accomplished by earlier Ethiopians are all around us but we don’t see them. All the things the current government brags about have their roots in the yester years they so much condemn and brush off. I don’t know where to start but here we go. Let us start with hospitals. Bella Haile Selassie (Bella), Leelt Tshay (armed Forces), Paulos, Haile Selassie Hospital (Yekati 12), Balcha, Ghandi, Tikur Anbessa, Ras Desta, Minilik etc. The vast majority of the doctors were Ethiopians, the hospitals were clean, well equipped and you don’t even have to take your own sheets and blankets.
How about Hotels? Ethiopia, Ghion, Wabi Shebele, Ras, Bekele Molla were the premier destinations. They were owned and operated by Ethiopians. When it comes to Ethiopian Airlines the Pilots were proud Ethiopians and the technicians were the envy of Africa. The Imperial government built the Airlines from scratch. Trans World Airlines (TWA) was a partner until we were able to train and staff our own and we did manage to do that.
If we talk about agriculture we did manage to establish the Sugar estates of Metehara and Wonji not to mention Setit Humera, the wheat and corn fields of Arsi, the fiber plants of Sidama and the cotton fields of Awash Valley are testimonial to our ingenuity. The sixties saw the emergence of the new educated Ethiopians that raised the bar of excellence.
The establishment of Africa Hall was how Africans showed respect to our Emperor and our old history when they choose Addis Abeba as the head quarter for the continent. The University at sadist Kilo was a gift to his people by the Emperor and it was a spectacular success. All the teachers were highly educated Ethiopians and the graduates were the pride of our country.
Why am I discussing such subject today? It is because two items reported by the media caught my eye a few days back. Both are an assault on our sovereignty and our ability to grow our own economy by Ethiopians for Ethiopians. Heineken a Dutch conglomerate is building the biggest brewery in Ethiopia and Guangdong Chuan Hui Group from China is given 41,000 Sq. meter of land to construct hotel and industrial complex. The way the story is being reported we should be jumping with joy. What could be better than those two benevolent multi nationals investing so much in our poor destitute country?
Is that how we should look at it? Is there another aspect to this story? In order to see the pros and con of the question posed In front of us it would have been nice if there has been a nationwide discussion to see if the plan makes sense when it comes to our homeland. That is how smart decisions are made. Open and vibrant nationwide discussion regarding such important issues that impact our national economy and our people’s well-being assures a better outcome.
That usually is not the case in our country. There are no checks and balances. There is no independent legislative body and the judiciary is a government tool. A single party the TPLF controls all and everything in the country. Our political leaders have no faith in the ability of the people to know what is good for them. That is why they approach their job as being a ‘baby sitter’ and are constantly fretting about what the people hear and read. Decisions are made by a few TPLF politburo members to be approved by the rubber stamp Parliament. Anyone that questions such a decision is branded as enemy of the people and dealt with.
Let us start with our beer story. You know beer is nothing but European Tella. It is bottled fancy and costs a little bit more. How long ago do you think we acquired the idea of brewing for a larger crowd? Eighty years ago my friend! St George brewery was started in 1922. Meta Abo Brewery was founded in 1963. Meta Abo was a partnership between government and private capital and started with a base capital of 2million Birr. The military junta nationalized both and the current TPLF Woyane regime inherited them with the rest of Ethiopia. What do you think these successive regimes did with our own old industry and land? Did they build on what was started? Did they reinvest the profit to make the enterprises bigger and better? Did they run our industries, enterprises and farms in a responsible and judicious manner?
Both St. George and Meta Abo are no more Ethiopian enterprises. BGI (an internationally acclaimed Brewing Company that operates in many countries.??) bought St George in 1998 for US 10 million ‘through foreign direct investment’(??) Meta Ambo was sold to Diego Industries-a British congalmorate for US 225 million. Heineken a Dutch multi-national acquired 18% of Bedele and Harar breweries for US 163 million in 2011. Raya Brewery an idea that has not materialized yet but promoted by Lt. General Tsadkan W.Tensai and investors such as Yemane (Jamaica) Kidane and other TPLF officials sold 25% interest to BGI for 650 million Br and invited Brewtech a German company as a partner.
As you can see the TPLF regime collected close to US 400 million from the sale of our home grown breweries. By all imagination that is chump change when you consider the ownership is lost and the profit for eternity belongs to the foreigners. Is this a good way to grow a national economy? Has it been done before or is this another of that failed ‘revolutionary democracy’ pipe dream?
BGI, Diego or Heineken are investing in our country to realize profit for their shareholders. What is our country getting out of this? The beer manufacturing business is a highly automated enterprise so it is not about job creation. Most if not all of the high paying managerial jobs will be occupied by the parent company. The malt, barley and other ingredients are imported and are considered a trade secret. We all know about creative accounting thus I am sure our country does not even benefit from the profit because the bookkeeping is rigged to minimize taxes.
Let us not even think of technology transfer since we cannot learn what we have already mastered. Remember we have been brewing beer since 1922. I will tell you what we got out of this unequal relationship. We as a people got royally screwed. The TPLF party officials got paid plenty for their pimping effort. The regime in its insatiable appetite for foreign currency bought a few months of respite to purchase oil, wheat, cooking oil etc. to postpone its inevitable collapse.
There are certain things we know how a growing economy with a nationalist government operates. We have seen how China, India, Malaysia, Brazil and other emerging economies handled their growth potential. They use what is known as subsidy to protect their infant industries from foreign predators. They allowed investment where technology transfer will bring benefit to their people but shielded their home grown industries from foreign competition.
Why do you think the TPLF bosses are interested in selling our sovereignty? I doubt it is because they are anti-Ethiopian even though the late evil PM used to suffer from inferiority complex when it comes to central highlanders. I believe it is because of their ‘get rich quick’ philosophy. They are in a hurry to accumulate before their Ponzi scheme comes crashing down. According to the UN billions of dollars are leaving our country. They are buying properties in the US and Europe, sending their children to expensive schools abroad and vacationing in exotic places with the money they steal from our country.
What are we the victims doing about this rape and pillage of our resources and the degradation of our national pride? I am afraid other than insistently talking there is nothing more most of us are doing about it. Why do you think that is so? I could think of a few things but ignorance comes to mind first and foremost. Our ignorance prevents us from connecting the dots and looking at the bigger picture. Our misplaced pride does not allow us to listen to others and learn to be able to formulate better solutions to our problems.
Today we have a population that is not familiar with its history. Sixty four percent (64%) of our people are under twenty five years old while twenty nine percent (29%) are under the age of 54 years. We have a toxic population on our hands. Those under twenty five grew up under the Woyane regime where being an Ethiopian is taken as a liability. While those under fifty four are the result of the Derge era of undermining religion, family, and stability. Ninety three (93%) of our population is a fertile ground for evil Woyane to plant shame, doubt and insecurity about being Ethiopian.
It is this population that is sitting on the side and cheering the selling of their country. For most people what bothers them is not what is lost but they spend endless energy to get a piece of the action. In Ethiopia stealing, lying, being part of a criminal enterprise is encouraged by the regime. When the recently dead Meles Zenawi said ‘even being a thief requires being smart’ he was giving a green light to his cadres and the population at large. The so called Diaspora is the number one enabler of the criminal Woyane machine. They use their new found riches to bribe Woyane so they could acquire stolen land to build their flimsy unsustainable condominiums and spend endless nights worrying if the next highest bidder will in turn take it away in broad day light.
This is exactly the reason we are having a problem forming a united front to get rid of this cancerous body in our midst. This is the reason even in exile we are unable to form a democratic, inclusive and worthy association that will benefit the many. The ninety three percent are in need of education in civic affairs and a dose of what it means to love your neighbor as you would love yourself.
May be it is the lords way of teaching us little humility and humbleness as he did with the children of Israel when he left them to wonder for forty years in the wilderness so they know what is in their heart. It is a choice we have-to be humble or perish due to pride.
By Yilma Bekele
This is Debretsion Ethiopian Orthodox Church in London England. The picture seems to have been taken on a cold winter day. It is such a beautiful church. Doesn’t it look so serene and peaceful? I am sure it is that most of the time. But according to this video it was nothing but serene a few weeks back. The best way to express the twenty one minute video is it felt like was watching a scene where the mental patients have taken over the asylum.
I agree it is totally depressing to see all classic Ethiopian behavior on display in a controlled environment. The location being a church gives it that special quality of raising the bar to show how low we have sunk. Such a brawl in some obscure hall, how ugly it is, normally is not worth a mention. I guess we get so consumed with the righteousness of our cause that we toss out all civilized behavior out of the window regardless of the place or the time.
The video is not intended to be a work of art. It is not fiction that jumped out of some ones imagination. This play does not have a director, a producer or a lead actor. This video is real unrehearsed presentation of Ethiopians and their social interaction. The setting adds to the drama of the moment. We thank the individual who had the patience to record reality in that hallow ground.
If you care to dig deep deeper into the story you will find out the reason to the madness you are subjected to watch but that is another story all by itself. Unfortunately having an excuse does not justify bad and shameful behavior. Wrong or right does matter but with this short presentation that we are left with all we can do is watch and marvel at the utter stupidity our situation at home and abroad. I am interested in parsing out what fate has presented us- a way to watch ourselves from afar. It is priceless.
As I said before the setting is Debretsion Church in London, England and all those present are immigrant Ethiopians. All come to Debretsion by their own free will. We assume they are followers of Christ AKA Christians. For Christians a church is a most hallowed place. It is God’s home. Christians go to church to pray, praise the lord and cleanse their soul of evil thought and bad feelings. We expect love, understanding, forgiveness and chartable acts to flourish in such a location. Is that too much to ask?
It looks like Debretsion is not such place. The fathers and mothers the sons and daughters of Debretsion are not one happy family. Obviously they got a problem. The twenty one minute video is a general example of how the unhappy group went about cooling tempers and looking for solution. It speaks plenty on how we go about resolving differences in a civilized manner. I think it is safe to conclude this gathering to be a microcosm of the bigger Ethiopian society both at home and in the Diaspora. We take pride in our dysfunctional behavior. Look at the combatants of Debretsion. They make us all proud.
After watching twenty one minutes of the meeting do you think there is a lesson to be learnt? I know it looks totally hopeless doesn’t it? How could all those adults act in such a lawless manner? How do they justify such shameless behavior in front of the young people? How do you think their kids are going to act in a social gathering when they have seen their parents foaming at the mouth inside a holy church? What kind of anger forces a sane human being to be so hating and threating with all sorts of nasty acts?
The last forty years have been a time of upheaval in our country. It has affected our culture in a profound manner. The last two dictators although lacking in the art of leadership were richly endowed with mental deficiency, mental illness and were given to delusion of grandeur. Our old culture has experienced disruption in a major way. We are the result of an aborted development.
The biography for Debretsion London church give nineteen seventy six as day one making it about thirty seven years in the making. It also says it is paid for. My first reaction is how fortunate they have such a united and generous community and are able to worship in such a beautiful church. I am sure some people worked hard thru the years to make it happen. Not all of us can put time, effort and money to achieve such goal. Because of the hard work of the few now they have a place of their own to enjoy and grow. They make their congregation and all of us in the Diaspora proud.
You would think the Board of governors and the clergy deserve a heartfelt thank you. You would think the members will strive to build on that success and plan bigger and better things to come. You would think even if there is a problem it will be dealt with in a careful manner so as not to destroy what has already been achieved.
That scenario works among civilized people. By civilized I don’t mean high rise buildings, airplanes, factories, highways and stuff. I mean people with culture and pride. People that don’t have to shout to be heard. People that know their place in history. People that have already lost so much by being displaced from their homeland that a little compassion and caring for each other in a strange land will be the norm.
We are unable to do that. Debretsion is just one example of the disfunctionality that has taken over our social interaction. Debretsion has been repeated in every Diaspora assembly no matter the cause we are trying to create a common ground. This sickness of demeaning each other, belittling our efforts, slandering those who work on our behalf and routinely dismissing any and all ideas has become something to be proud of.
Debretsion Church is an example of a confused and rudderless crowed easily whipped into frenzy by a few anti-social elements. Why do you think that is so? Yes I am asking you the reader why do you think a few can disturb the peace of the many? My simple answer is because we let them! We know something has gone wrong, we know things are not right but our first response is to sit quiet and watch. We seethe inside, our stomach turns, we are very much disgusted but we keep quiet. We don’t dare tell the rowdy ones they have gone too far, we are not familiar with the word NO!
I am also sure after the assembly and meeting we will find plenty that will show disgust and alarm with the noise makers. They will even become animated explaining how offended they felt. There is a saying in our country ‘jib kehede wusha chohe.’ That is the story of our existence.
I can see all this because our Church was a victim of the same ruffian type behavior. Those who felt change is necessary were too lazy to work within the system. They felt a short cut was acceptable since their position was such that ‘by any means necessary’ was an acceptable method. They packed the assembly, they registered new members and they brought their loud mouth to silence anybody that stood on their way. Winning was the only outcome acceptable to them and the price did not matter. Destroying the church to save the church seemed to be a good idea.
Out of the millions of options in front of us we seem to choose the one that hurt ourselves and those around us. We can leave an association if we don’t agree with the direction it is heading. We can relocate to a new neighborhood if we don’t like the location we are in. We can quit a job if it does not meet our monetary and social needs. One is free to change a church if the current one does not satisfy one’s spiritual need. We Ethiopians do not exit with grace. Most of us will wreak havoc on the association, burn our home, badmouth our employer and destroy our house of worship before we leave. We are not programed to accept a simple amicable divorce. In the end we all lose.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. How about a video in living color? This video is priceless. It says many things about us in the Diaspora. There is no reason to assume we are any different over there either. By over there I mean Áger Bet, Ethiopia. In fact we are a duplicate, warts and all.
It is definitely a surreal scene to watch some taking a video of this madness as if to preserve it for future reference while a few were sitting in silence seeming un affected by the chaos. I knew I was entering a new dimension when I saw the Metropolitan Police walking among the combatants. He was not asking for silence, not demanding attention or clearing the scene but quietly showing his presence but allowing the play to go forward.
So the question in front of us is- are we going to learn from this madness and change? Are we going to be responsible for our actions not to be led by the crazy and idiots among us? Are we going to judge matters on their merit or base our stand on ethnicity, marriage and friendship? Are we going to sit and listen to each other as adults or pace around like a wounded animal? Are we going to work thru the system we ourselves set up or improvise as needed and change the rules to suit an individual? Are we going to give respect to those that work hard to create something and give them credit or demean their efforts and slander their work?
I will give you an example you can try. The next assembly of Ethiopians you meet weather in a coffee shop, Lekso bet or Eder mention any of the organizations working on our behalf like Ginbot 7, Andenet, ESFNA and see the reaction. The first thing that comes out is a barrage of insults, demeaning language and put down. Most probably the individual has never attempted to know, read and find out the goals and plans of the organization. Has never contributed monetary and other help to help them achieve. It does not stop them from being rude. They are always willing to vent out insult and defamation no matter what. Our community needs help. God help Debretsion and God help our country. Now watch the video below and see Debretsion in all its splendor.
Violence and the Ethiopians. By Yilma Bekele
We always think of our people to be so loving that welcome a stranger into their homes and share what little they have. Our language is full of sayings about being a good host, a great neighbor and a kind human. Sharing what you have, helping those in need and putting others ahead play a central theme in all our folklores. At least that is what we try to believe and that is what we tell ourselves and each other every opportunity we get. What a kind and loving people we are is a common mantra.
Do you think that is a true picture of our country? I don’t know about you but I knew such Ethiopia in my life time. Here we go again, I did not say we were a perfect paradise but definitely we were not the Wild West either. But I know for sure we used to care for each other and we were a once proud nation.
Then where did all this violent act and talk of perpetual violence came from is a good question? It is a timely question too. Today violence both the act and the talk is permeating our society. The specter of violence is everywhere. Our country has become one big cesspool of violence and you can’t even escape it from any point on earth.
According to the World Health organization (WHO) violence is defined ‘as the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against a person, or group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.’
The dergue started the ball rolling with the class warfare crap. The TPLF took over with ethnic cleansing mantra. It looks like the last forty years have been a time of violence, threat of violence and absence of peace era. The Mengistu and Meles generation has been schooled in the exercise of violence as a normal day to day activity.
What got me look at these phenomena is the current behavior of our masters in Addis Abeba and their children here in the US. The Berket/Debretsion government is going out of its way to bully our Muslim citizens, intimidate our journalists and frighten our people. They are using the monopoly they exercise on our communication media to produce second rate movies, badly written essays and moronic broadcasts to confuse their captive audience.
War is waged on our Muslim brothers and sisters thru out the country. Their leaders have been incarcerated, their worship places have been desecrated and their religion has been equated with terror. The TPLF is trying to do to the Muslims what they have been doing to the Orthodox Christians the last twenty years. They were able to divide and set the Christians against each other. Bishops and priests have been beaten, exiled and insulted in broad day light. Due to lack of spine by the Christian followers the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia today has lost all its moral compass and made into a leaderless association no different than those ‘teletafis’ clustered around the mighty TPLF.
Not content on terrorizing our people at home it looks like TPLF has branched out to reach into the Diaspora community and practice its form of violence. For some of us it is not a new revelation. We have been pointing out the presence of TPLF agents amongst us for quite a while. Their activates in the various opposition party support groups we have been forming was visible and hard to miss. Their sabotage of our houses of worship is legendary. Their presence in our football organization took a valiant effort by some to unmask. No one escapes the sinister act of Woyane spies and saboteurs in any outfit that dares to organize as an Ethiopian entity. I don’t think I need to prove any of my assertions. I beg the reader to look around him/her in any city USA. I dare you to find a peaceful association untouched by Woyane virus wherever you reside.
Now their underground activity is made visible by no other than our dragon slayer, dictator buster, honor restorer and champion of freedom, my friend Abebe Gelaw. No need to elaborate more but our country and people are always grateful for the epic grand stand that was made in Washington DC on behalf of mother Ethiopia. Her children rejoiced while her enemies wept. It looks like they did not learn a lesson. They reverted back to form.
They are trying to do here in the US what they do to our people back home. They are trying to intimidate, bully and scare us from exercising our free will. A few months back an individual registered by the name of Guesh Abera on Facebook was investigated by the FBI for threatening Ato Abebe. His normal TPLF animal behavior was taken as a subject of concern by the FBI that sent agents to his work place to interview the individual and put him on alert. I am sure they felt it was better to nip this ugly idea in its bud rather than wait. Whether in jest or for real the issue is Goush threatened and the FBI investigated.
A few of our Woyane friends tried to make fun of the situation and ridicule the assertion. They went to the extent of accusing ESAT and our independent Web sites of misinformation. They tried to turn the story on its head and attempted to make the victim the aggressor. Awramba Times unmasked itself as nothing but a shameless Woyane sympathizer while some in the venerable Voice of America tried a clumsy investigative journalism that missed its mark.
Some organizations and a few people are so dense they are unable to see what is in front of them and change to avoid calamity. TPLF and its operatives are one such outfit. Despite the unmasking and public humiliation of Guesh Abera, guess who shows up to accept the medal of stupidity? None other than another ethnic hero by the name of Mulugeta Kahsay, a proud immigrant residing in Britain. This individual doing his job as assigned by TPLF was caught red handed attempting to intimidate and frighten Ato Abebe. He made repeated cals threatening not only Ato Abebe but his whole family both in the US and back in Ethiopia.
According to Wiki ‘A death threat is a threat, often made anonymously, by one person or a group of people to kill another person or groups of people. These threats are usually designed to intimidate victims in order to manipulate their behavior, thus a death threat is a form of coercion.’ Here in the US death threat is considered a criminal act. Mulugeta Khassay’s action is deplorable and will land him in jail if it was made in the US.
Why do you think these two individuals felt such behavior is both acceptable and something to be proud of? The simple answer is where they came from it is considered lawful and practiced with abandon. The TPLF Woyane regime uses violence and the threat of violence to silence its opponents and anybody it feels stands on its way. The late TPLF chieftain Meles Zenawi used to threaten cutting hands of the citizen routinely. Like father like son is the situation here. What is not surprising is the fact that so many Woyanes and their admirers cheered such behavior and they are not ashamed to check out the ‘Like’ button on Facebook. So much for peaceful coexistence, wouldn’t you say?
In a civilized setting such behavior back fires and results in exactly the opposite of what is intended. We are all appalled by such naked brutal attempt by the two individuals and their organization or are we all? This is a difficult question to answer. When we see how we Ethiopians relate to each other and how we try to resolve differences, the behavior of Goush and Mulugeta are not that much of an anomaly. The system set up by Woyane encourages such criminal mind set and illegal activity. In today’s Ethiopia breaking the law, getting ahead at the expense of fellow citizens is a celebrated act. Lying, cheating, bribing is not frowned upon and expected practice to finalize any and all transaction. It is so routine that it has become second nature to some of us.
It is not enough to condemn these two gangsters. What is needed is to see how low we have sunk as a people that such action was carried out amongst us. It is not enough to sneer at the workings of Woyane but to reflect on our society that has allowed such evil doers to prosper and grow. When we allow a few to disturb our associations, when we turn a blind eye to those that disrespect our religious leaders and create chaos in our church, when we let an insult and rogue behavior go unchallenged we end up reaping what we planted. As long as we allow ethnic based organization such as the TPLF set the agenda in our country these kind of abhorrent behavior and criminal acts will continue to be the norm. The fight against injustice starts with each one of us. We are grateful to those that have risen to get rid of the body cancer called TPLF from our land. Helping them is a duty to our mother land and to one self.
See Mulugeta Kahsay tie himself in knots:
By Yilma Bekele
Mr. Charles Krauthammer is an American syndicated columnist, political commentator and is considered a highly influential conservative voice. He is critical of President Obama’s policies and supports the election of Mr. Romney to be President. As a tradition if a candidate for the presidency does not have a thick resume when it comes to foreign policy issues they normally travel to friendly European countries to shake hands with the leaders for what is called a ‘photo opportunity’.
It is with this in mind that Mr. Romney flew over to Great Britain to rub shoulders with British Conservative Party leaders and attend the opening of the Summer Olympic Games. Unfortunately the trip did not go as intended. Mr. Romney got the British all pissed off by doubting their security plans and furthermore questioning if they were enthusiastic about the games being held there. It is fair to say all of Britain wanted nothing more than for Mr. Romney to pack and leave.
His ill manners in Britain were a source of unbearable anguish to his friends and supporters in the conservative camp. I very much enjoyed Mr. Krauthammer’s analysis of the unfortunate situation. He wrote “What Romney answered in that question, it’s unbelievable, it’s beyond human understanding, it’s incomprehensible. I’m out of adjectives,” Krauthammer said. ‘All Romney has to do is say nothing. It’s like a guy in the 100-meter dash. All he has to do is to finish, he doesn’t have to win. And instead, he tackles the guy in the lane next to him and ends up disqualified. I don’t get it.”
I brought this up because that is how his friends and supporters must have felt when they heard Ato Seye Abraha’s speech in Seattle a few days back. Fresh from his two years course at Harvard all Ato Seye got to do was utter a few smart sounding phrases and reintroduce himself into our politics. Just like Mr. Romney Ato Seye ended up putting his foot in his mouth. Mistakes like this occur not because the individuals are uninformed but rather they just happen to be clueless about their surroundings and lack common sense to fully understand what is expected of them to achieve the goal they set for themselves.
Mr. Romney goes to Britain and undermines his hosts and Ato Seye traveled to Seattle to insult the sensibilities of his fellow Ethiopian citizens in exile. Their action is what is called self inflicted wound. The fact that Ato Seye was invited by the same poor immigrants that left their homeland due to the policies put in place while he was part of the leadership is what makes the situation a little difficult to comprehend. I always say we Ethiopians are a marvel to watch and Seattle is the epicenter of that phenomenon. I do not know how to put it in English but in Amharic we say ‘teteketo asteki’.
At Seye is not an ordinary Ethiopian. He is one of the founders of the Tigrai Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) and was member of the Central Committee or Politburo of that infamous organization. Upon the defeat of the Derg and TPLF takeover of power Ato Seye has served his party as Defense Minister, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigrai (EFFORT) and Chairman of Ethiopian Airlines.
After the war between Shabia and Woyane in 19998-2000 Ato Seye was accused by his friend Meles Zenawi of leaning towards Bonapartism and extreme corruption. He was expelled from the TPLF, tried by Ato Meles’s kangaroo court and spent six years in prison. One can say he is lucky because normally in the TPLF dissent can cost you your life. It is also good to note that unlike other prisoners taken by TPLF he did not have to ask for pardon to get his freedom.
Upon his release Ato Seye formed Forum for Democratic Dialogue (FDD) with the aim of bringing opposition activists together. Around this time Judge Bertukan Mideksa Chairman of Andenet Party was again accused of fabricated charges by Ato Meles and taken to Kalit prison. In her absence Dr. Negasso Gidada another former member of EPRDPF assumed the Chairmanship. Ato Seye joined Andenet Party. Please note his admission to the party caused such an upheaval that a few of the founding members such as Professor Mesfin and Ato Debebe Eshetu including quite a few young activists were driven away from the party.
This was also the time Ato Meles and his TPLF Party were holding elections. This was also the main reason Chairman Bertukan was removed from the scene. Our beloved leader was held in solitary confinement and subjected to psychological abuse and inhuman treatment with the knowledge of Meles Zenawi and his security department.
Despite the fact that their Chairman was in jail for no crime other than being highly popular and a proven leader, despite the fact that the so called ‘Election Board’’ was still under the TPLF, despite the fact that foreign observers were put on short leash and despite the fact that plenty Ethiopians advocated boycotting this election charade Andenet choose to give Meles Zenawi a cover of legitimacy by showing up to be humiliated. While the TPLF was holding election circus Andenet candidates were in North America holding ‘Town Hall’ meetings with the Diaspora that cannot vote.
It was not long after the 99% Meles victory Ato Seye came to the US to go to school. For two years he stayed out of Ethiopian politics. He did not involve himself in Diaspora politics either. Seattle is the first instance we hear from Ato Seye. He was representing Medrek with fellow politician Dr. Merera Gudina.
As far as I am concerned the timing is a little difficult to comprehend. Our country is on the verge of change after over twenty years of TPLF dictatorship. The Woyane kingpin has died unexpectedly and his Party is moving heaven and earth to find a formula to continue the misrule. Why in the world would an Ethiopian opposition leader hold a meeting in faraway USA is a good question to ask? On the other hand it fits the pattern. When there is vital burning issue at home the leaders travel outside to hold discussion with the non stake holders. It is definitely not to explain the situation to us. We have more unfettered discussion in the Diaspora. We enjoy free press. We have more Radio and television service. Our Web sites are unblocked and independent. What in the world can they tell us that we don’t know?
Ato Seye’s short speech (http://www.awrambatimes.com/wp-content/uploads/SEEYE-SEATTLE-SPEECH.pdf) in Seattle was a little short on facts and completely void of vision and historical accuracy. It can also be said that Ato Seye has Chutzpah or Cojones or in simple English balls to show up among the Diaspora and read eulogy for the person that caused so much hurt and agony to our people. Dr. Merera as usual served as a sidekick the role he has played the last eight years or so.
I am hundred percent sure he(Seye) is aware of the fact that our people were ordered to line up in the rain and forced to show grief but choose to tell us it was a voluntary action why? He is knowledgeable of the workings of the Woyane system he helped set up that practiced the art of control and coercion starting in Tigrai, why is he pretending otherwise?
I am one hundred percent sure he did not chastise his American friends when they celebrated the death of Osama Bin Laden whereas we are lectured to be ashamed of showing pleasure at the death of the tyrant why is that? Don’t we feel pain? Don’t we grief for the many thousands that were killed by TPLF army and security?
I am really surprised by his lecture regarding our lack of ‘diplomatic skills’. He brought the example of Armenians in the US that play a strong and vital role lobbying to steer American foreign policy to help their homeland. He also thinks our vehement opposition to Ambassador Susan Rice’s speech at the dictator’s funeral to be misguided and false. I beg to disagree on both points.
The first analogy is way off mark. Armenians migrated to the US a long time ago. About three generations back. In fact about twenty years ago the Governor of California was of Armenian descent. Ethiopians are still on the first generation. The fact of the matter is we are the most successful and vibrant group among the new immigrants. Our New Year events are attended by Governors, Congressmen and Mayors all across America. We have managed to schedule hearings in the US Congress regarding our country and even managed to present a bill to help assure Human Rights in dear old Ethiopia. No new immigrant has scaled such heights. We got work to do but we have not been idle. I do not recall Ato Seye giving us a hand the last two years he has resided in the US.
As for Ambassador Rice she was wrong. She made mockery of our people’s quest for freedom and dignity. She insulted us. We will not trade our honor to curry favor from no one. We vented our frustrations. Sometimes it is necessary to stand for what we believe to be right and she has to be told in no uncertain words that heaping praise to a human right abuser, denier of democracy and murder of our family and friends is never acceptable.
The Seattle speech was geared to lay a conciliatory tone to a certain wing of TPLF and also advise the rest of us not to look back. I don’t care about the TPLF part but I do agree it is a good idea to move forward. There is also this little thing called history. We learn from the past so we avoid certain mistakes. South Africans have managed to do that. They just did not gloss over past mistakes but brought it up in the open and dealt with it. That is what ‘Truth and reconciliation’ is about. Air your dirty laundry for all to see and punish those that crossed the line and reform those that show remorse. Moving forward without doing that is like putting dirty cloth after a shower. The murder of Assefa Maru, the death of Professor Asrat the shooting of Shibre and others have to be laid to rest in a proper way.
I am not being uncharitable towards Ato Seye. As I said before he is not an ordinary Ethiopian. He was invited to Seattle because he is a political figure. He was one of the leaders of TPLF Party. He was present when Eritrea gained its independence a decision made behind closed doors, he was there when the current constitution was imposed on us, he facilitated the formation of Kilil Bantustans, he was aware that the so called EPDRF was nothing but a cover up for TPLF domination, he was the CEO of EFFORT which got its start by using the law to steal important businesses and properties that belonged to all Ethiopians to be controlled by a party and a family and today he is one of the leaders of the biggest and important legally recognized opposition party. This is the reason we should hold him to a higher standard.
Leadership is not an easy matter. That is why all the advanced democracies hold competition on a level playing field to pick the best among many. The leader can make or break the country. For every Nelson Mandela there is an Adolf Hitler. It is obvious we do not have the skills to choose a good leader. We haven’t had the experience. Our people have not yet chosen a leader thru the ballot. We must be among the very few in the world that have not enjoyed the luxury of deciding who the leader should be. Throughout our history leadership has been usurped by the strong and cunning.
Why is it so? Is it because we don’t question authority? Do we differ to other due to wealth, education, age or linage? Why are we so meek? When is this behavior going to stop? When are we going to stop being cheer leaders and start the real work of leading by example? The Diaspora has to stop serving as an ATM machine to those that use our kind heart to further their failed policies. The Diaspora has to stop being a door mat and learn how to say no. There is nothing wrong with that. Ato Seye has to stop treating us like imbeciles and go join his old party now his nemesis is gone. This idea of telling us there has been twenty years of peace and progress in Ethiopia should be laid to rest. This idea of lecturing us on how to mind our business sitting on top or the sideline is not acceptable. We got plenty of that what we are lacking is bold leadership that listens to our heart beat.
By Yilma Bekele
I am hoping this is the last discussion about our emotional response regarding the disappearance then death of Ato Meles Zenawi. As controversial and in your face individual he was alive his death has brought drama, division and ugliness to our life. The person is refusing to go away in silence and dignity. I am very much conflicted about his going away. First and foremost I want to make it clear that I am definitely not sad at all. It is not because I am inhuman or lack empathy. Far from that, I consider myself caring and always concerned about others.
When it comes to Meles Zenawi my blood turns ice cold. It is not because of any of his physical traits but rather it is all about his record as the Prime Minter of my motherland. How he used his office and the power it comes with it is how I judge the individual. By all accounts he was not a pleasant human being and for over twenty years he rode rough on our poor nation and seemed to enjoy the wanton destruction he visited on his people. When I think of him what I visualize in my head are memories that bring negativity, sadness and rage.
I remember his constant put down of anyone that dares to ask a question not to his liking, the display of that stupid smirk on his face knowing the individual dare not confront him or else. I will not forget his cold blooded response after murdering over two hundred fellow citizens because they marched in peace because he cheated. His non-challant response to a reporter regarding the health of Judge Bertukan Mideksa whom he threw in jail for no reason by joking she is fine except she might have gained a few kilos and the display of that same smirk on his face is etched in my brain forever. Meles Zenawi was a despicable human being, a mad person that should not be trusted with authority over a family let alone a nation.
The current cry fest sponsored by his fellow criminals even after his demise is what worries me. In Ethiopia they are using the power they accumulated the last twenty years to assert their authority. The citizen is at the mercy of the TPLF mafia. Land belongs to the government, the regime is the number one employer in the country and such essential items as flour, sugar, oil and others are regulated by the dreaded kebeles. The average Ethiopian is a prisoner in his own land. There should be no surprise if they cry when told, march when ordered and ask how high when instructed to jump. It is sad but true. The fact they are obeying the instructions of the TPLF cadres does not mean they agree or are convinced. No deep inside they are laughing and bidding for time. Our people are not stupid nor cowards but they are not into suicide either. They are like mount Zukala volcano, dormant but not extinct.
The Ethiopians in the Diaspora are a different matter. There are those from the regime’s ethnic group that will support the regime due to commonality of interest. Most have vested interest in the survival of the TPLF regime. Then there are those that have used their dollar power to buy stolen land, stolen property and are intricately connected to the ruling party. They are the ones that are easily coopted or blackmailed into obedience. A vast majority have their head in the sand and refuse to hear or see no evil. They wait for the most opportune time to see who will come ahead and join the parade. They are sometimes called the silent majority. Unfortunately their silence works against themselves and the loved ones they left behind.
It is the combination of the TPLF party sympathizers and their puppies they keep on a leash that are making noise regarding holding a cry fest in the Diaspora community. A few of them rent a hall or a community center get their video or picture taken to be beamed by Woyane media at home. The purpose is to show the Ethiopian people that their power and hold extends in the Diaspora community. It is another form of bullying. We saw that during their campaign to raise money in the so called dam on Abbay river. In the Ponzi scheme meeting held in our city over ninety five percent of the participants were from the ruling ethnic group. The cry fest is the same crap in a different guise.
The problem for us is this drama they concoct takes us away from the job at hand. It is vintage Woyane tactic to send us on a wild goose chase while they do their homework. If you notice they took a month to declare the tyrant dead. They used the month to call meetings of their party, the Kebeles and underlings to prepare the ground for country wide mourning. We used that time to speculate whether he is dead or alive, what hospital he is in, where his wife is spotted and discuss the many ramblings of Sebhat Nega. It was a useless digression.
We are at it again. The discussion is on the drama beamed by Woyane TV regarding who has been taken prisoner and made to cry or swear allegiance. We get worked over when we see Haile sobbing, Neway bending some other idiot in designer black silk cloth taken hostage and putting a show. We are programed to follow.
While we are wasting valuable time and energy on side issues Woyane’s are working in the background to shore up support and hold the structure from falling. Speculation is rife with Obama calling Hailemariam, Azeb snubbing Hailemariam, Sebhat under house arrest, Samora dying and Seyoum weak. I still have not seen any of our so called opposition calling for a country wide discussion where we should be heading and some kind of list of points we should be thinking about. Leadership is all about putting your preferences, your thoughts and your plans so the citizen can mull over the possibilities and make an informed decision. Always pointing out Woyane’s atrocities, wrong doings and Woyane’s plans is not a winning strategy.
The question facing our Woyane warriors is what comes next Monday. The drama is done and over and poor Meles is six foot under, what comes next. We just can’t continue with no one in charge. For the last two months Ethiopia and Somalia have been the only two countries operating without a known leadership in charge. We are on what is known as auto pilot. I don’t know if this is good and healthy. One thing is for sure it has not been tried before. In most previous situation the void is normally filled by regional warlords. Are we reverting to that?
Right now the foreign reserve has been depleted; commerce has been on hold for over a month and the two weeks mourning period has brought the poor economy to standstill. The noveau capitalists have been either hording dollars or transferring it outside the country.
How does the new regime afford buying fuel, buying wheat and oil and still pay all the millions borrowed by Meles? What happens to all the contracts signed by Meles selling different parts of the country? Do the new Kilil heads accept the one sided agreements dictated by the then strong TPLF or demand a new form of contract? Are the American and European enablers willing to allow more borrowing from IMF and World bank for a regime that does not show promise of staying stable? What kind of demands are they going to present now knowing they have a weak and divided central authority? Last time their solution caused us agony for twenty years are they going to screw us again?
Issues like this is what we should be discussing about instead of inner fighting and speculation regarding the health of dying Woyanes. We seem to fall into a trap set by the mafia group and waste time and money. We need to grow up and stick to issues that will help our country and people and mind our own business instead of being led astray by others that have their selfish needs.
It is time we bury Meles and his toxic ideas and move forward. It is time we decide the agenda instead of following one drawn by TPLF. It is time we completely ignore Woyane drama do what we got to do to define our issues and stick with the plan. My wish, my plan is that I do not mention you know who for ever and ever and completely wipe his face and memory from my brain. No need to dwell on a history that is only twenty years old while my country has over three thousand years of glory. He was a stain but a very tiny and insignificant one.
Abune Melketsedik will be honored by the Ethiopian Heritage Society in North America this weekend at the annual Ethiopian festival for his life time contribution for the betterment of Ethiopia.
By Yilma Bekele
I have the good fortune of residing in Oakland, California where His Holiness Abune Melketsedek, Secretary of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in exile and head of Mekane Selam Medhane Alem Cathedral resides. Writing about his Eminence is not easy. Most famous people are attracted to the limelight. Being the story is part of their psychological makeup. Their motto ‘It is all about me’ is what attracts people towards them. Politicians, actors, athletes are perfect examples of the self-centered among us. Here in the US even religious leaders are not immune from this disease of me first philosophy.
Our Orthodox Tewahedo experience is different. Pictures of our church leaders are not the main attraction. Their name is not written in big letters outside the church or lit in neon for all passers by to see. The emphasis is where it should be, mans relationship to his/her God. Our father dearly refereed to as Abatachen by all exemplifies that doctrine. His holiness is no more than a simple servant of God doing his work to serve his beloved Church and his dear country. There is nothing complicated about him. For such a giant of a person in the life of our Church and Country, for a person with decades of unsurpassed service to both he surprises us all by the simplicity in his interactions with all and his sunny disposition under all circumstances.
These values did not just happen. They are the result of his devotion and strong belief that has sustained him ever since he embarked on the road of serving God. He has traveled many happy and not so happy roads. He has reached the apex of his Tewahedo Church as well us being imprisoned like a common criminal. He has humbly advised Emperor Haile Selassie on spiritual matters, as well as the Deanship of Trinity Cathedral the largest Orthodox Church In Addis Abeba. He has also experienced the life of an exile, a common refugee in a place he never dreamt he would find himself. When you see Abatachen you will never read all the trials and tribulation he has gone thru. What you see is a kind smiling face always worried about the comfort and well being of others. When you meet him personally his eyes twinkle with all the love and his face brightens like the mid day sun to welcome you.
Our holy father has this ability to make you feel safe and comfortable around him. He speaks simply and clearly. He listens intensely and makes his points direct and easy to understand. As a young one he has fulfilled the requirements of his church as deacon, priest, and studied Zema, Quine among others. Abatachen was one of the first chosen to go abroad and study the modern workings of religion, philosophy and how the outside world functions. He received his degree in theology from Halky Greek Theological College in Istanbul, Turkey. He speaks Geez, Amharic, Greek, and English fluently and understands Tigregna, Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish and Italian. He has found the time to write several books both in Amharic and English on spiritual matters to help his people understand this ancient religion he is a leader of.
Upon exile from his beloved homeland he did not land into an established Church and a functioning congregation. He started from scratch and was able to build a home away from home for all his children. When he came to Oakland he found a congregation that was being tossed around from Greek Orthodox to Serbian Orthodox Churches with no place of its won. In 1993 at long last an old abandoned Catholic Church was acquired and the process of rebuilding started with earnest. The inside was filled with stray animals and discarded items while the outside has turned into a weed garden. Here is a story as told to me by my friend Asrat one of the founders of the church. Abatachen ordered ten brooms and gathered all the young people in the Church. When they got there Abatachen after blessing the place got the brooms to the side of the room while all eyes were looking to see what was going to happen. Most were assuming locals would be hired to do the cleaning while they supervise. To their surprise Abatachen picked one broom fore himself at which point everybody run towards him to take the broom away to stop him from such menial labor. To their surprise he handed them each their own individual broom and started to clean without wasting a second. How could anyone walk away from this act of leadership by example?
The fact that his room did not have adequate heating, even had broken glass in the window did not deter Abatachen from making the Church a place where all felt welcome and proud. It was a lesson in humility to see Abatachen prepare meals for the young deacons that have to go to adult school. Today Oakland Medhane Alem Tewahedo Cathedral is located in a modern building with a large Kitchen, meeting facility that also serves as a school for the young ones, office space and a parking lot. That is not all Abatachen helped increase the number of Churches in North America from five to over forty with the number of members estimated over fifty thousand. The modernizing influence he started in Ethiopia has continued in attracting and promoting a bigger role for women in church matters. There is no question his vision has resulted in strengthening the church beyond anyone’s expectations. If Oakland is a clue to that assertion it is easy to see the important and key role our mothers, sisters and daughters are playing in making the congregation strong and vibrant.
At the ripe age of ninety his Holiness has become a globetrotting ambassador traveling as far away as Australia and South Africa not counting all of North America his home base. Abatachen is both a peacemaker and a combatant. He was forced to flee his homeland because he would not accept wrong deeds no matter where they come from. Exile has not been easy. The illegal regime that has circumvented our Tewahedo Church at home is always waging a relentless war abroad too. Abatachen due to the central role he plays in keeping his flock together has been the target they would like to destroy. Our Holy father has dealt with this unequal struggle against a State with patience, wisdom from long experience and guidance from God and been able to steer his flock in the path of steadfastness, focused and unyielding to being bullied by cowards.
It is with deep satisfaction we witnessed the resolution by the Holy Synod in Exile standing on the side of our Moslem brethren in their bitter conflict with the dictatorial regime currently in power in Ethiopia. That is what love for country and religion is all about. Our two religions have lived side by side since time immemorial and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church’s firm stand on this matter is in the tradition of our ancient religion and its adherence to preserving peace and tranquility in our country. This act alone is proof that our Holy Father’s presence in North America at this critical time in our history our God is always looking after our ancient land, that he will not abandon his children where ever they might be scattered.
This year it is a proud and joyous moment in North America. His spiritual children are celebrating and honoring Abatachen at the annual Ethiopian Heritage Society celebration in Washington DC on July 27th. His Holiness is the guest of honor and what a deserving leader they picked. No one exemplifies lifetime dedication and service to country and people. Ethiopians in Oakland are blessed to have such a shepherd who has managed to keep his flock together in peace and love in this time of turbulence in our homeland and places of exile. We are proud that our people in North America are cognizant of his tireless work on behalf of his people and country and are paying due respect for decades of service. We all wish him a long life; we pray that our God allows him to return to his native land in peace and health. God be with Abatachen.
If you live in the DC Metro area please go to Ethiopian Heritage Society festival at George Town University, Harbin field Multi sports facility from July 27 to 29th. As we made our country proud during the recent ESFNA event in Dallas let us show our unity in diversity to all those that preach our demise. Our love for each other and our ancient land is what keeps us going when all else seem to fail.
By Yilma Bekele
The headlines screamed ‘Ethiopian court convicts 24 of terrorism charges’. As usual it was a misleading and incorrect statement. There is no such animal called Ethiopian court. There is a TPLF controlled judicial arrangement in Ethiopia. Prime Minster Meles and his politburo are the directors behind the scene of this farce. For the last twenty-one years they have been using the power of the state to marginalize, terrorize, demean and undermine the Ethiopian citizen. We are so used to their bullying the average Ethiopian does not even dwell on it. We make that peculiar noise with our lips you know that hissing sound and move on.
Our brothers Eskinder Nega, Andualem Arage, Wubshet Taye our sister Reyot Alemu and the others whose names are not publicized were convicted for exercising their right to speak and write freely. They only used their voice and their choice of weapon was the pen and paper. There was no evidence to show otherwise. Ato Eskinder has the audacity to speculate the chance of Arab Spring migrating to Ethiopia. Ato Andualem was simply trying to organize and recruit people to his legally recognized party. Reyot and Wubshet were doing their job as journalist and reporter. In any other country this is a normal and routine kind of job. But we are not like any other country or any other people. Our Ethiopia has always been different. Not only we got strange and bizarre leaders but we also have a different breed of people.
Yes we are different both inside Ethiopia and in the Diaspora. A vast majority of us have decided to accept shame as normal behavior and we even celebrate it loudly and wear it with pride. We victimize each other our country and people and we are the first ones to holler foul. It is done so much and so often it is becoming a little boring. I am afraid we have lost any semblance of respect for our selves and what is sad is others are losing respect for both victim and victimizer. They deserve each other is what comes to mind.
Asians have this philosophy referred to as Ying and Yang to describe how opposites are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world. Nothing is totally yin or totally yang. Female and male, dark and light, cold and hot, water and fire are manifestations of yin and yang. ‘Just as the state of yin is reached yang begins to grow. Yin contains seed of yang and vice versa. They constantly transform each other. The classics state ‘yin creates yang and yang activates yin’. I am afraid that philosophy is not true in our country. Our yin and yang are not in balance. The harmonious change envisioned in the philosophy has gone haywire when it comes to us. Too much of one is bound to weaken and consume the other. That is happening in our society. This phenomenon is so clearly manifested in the Ethiopian Diaspora community.
Let us start with our yearly soccer tournament. It is such a beautiful and positive activity that it has energized our community for the last twenty-five years or more. It should be our pride and a showcase of how much good we can do when we work together. Unfortunately it is also the other side of us where a few can use this positive energy for negative purpose. Those that have been leading the organization have been using the proceeds as cash cow and also as a vehicle to undermine our unity and sell our country to the highest bidder. We let them do that. We see, we hear but we choose to be silent. We have this notion that ignoring bad deed will make it go away.
Thus the Ethiopian Soccer Federation in North America (ESFNA) governing body at long last voted to start fresh and reform this rogue outfit. Of course those who are so used to working behind the scene in the dark were not willing to go silently. They were taken to a real court that ordered to cease and deceit from using the name of the organization and also answer a few question regarding finances and book keeping. What did they do? They went to their sugar daddy and applied for welfare. The same person that is fully integrated with that other rogue outfit called the TPLF supposedly gave them $2 million US to carry out their mission of dividing us and setting us against each other. They, like their father and mentor Meles Zenawi do not believe in self-imitative but run to the nearest welfare donor to get their funding. He sells our land, borrow in our name and steals in consort with his friends, sells our daughters to Middle East degenerates and ours squander their payment in renting stadium to entertain the rich and greedy. Money can buy you anything including entertainers that got their start from the Diaspora but now serve a new master to undermine their benefactors. Definitely Yin and yang are not in harmony or in balance.
If we look at our Church in exile it is something to be proud of. It is a place where our rich culture and ancient religion is celebrated like never before. It is a place where our fathers and mothers in exile find peace and happiness and every week and mentally transport themselves to that place they call home. It is a place where our children learn how social we are and how we respect and value our culture and country. It is such a beautiful feeling to see our children come in front of the congregation when they graduate from high school to be blessed by the priest and proudly inform us their choice of college. Then we have the troublemakers in every city and town. Their mission is to disrupt and divide us. There is no church spared from these prince’s of darkness that scheme behind the scene and attempt to take over the leadership. If that does not succeed they have no qualms in waging a relentless war to undermine and weaken and disparage all those that stand between them and their evil scheme. Our city is going thru such a painful process and it is sad to see families and friends in turmoil. Most of us allow them to do that by our silence and apathy. It is another instance yin and yangs are not in harmony.
A few days ago we had a fund raising activity for ESAT and also celebrate Ato Abebe’s heroic stand for his people and country by exposing the tyrant in front of his enablers and the whole world. There was no question a vast majority of our people was empowered by his action. There are most certainly over ten thousand Ethiopians in the Bay area where the event was held. Less than two hundred brave souls showed up to help raise fund to make ESAT a powerful force in the struggle against tyranny. A good amount was collected from those who came. We are happy and grateful. But I find it odd that out of all these country and freedom loving folks only a handful showed up. Why do you think it is so?
They all seem to harbor negative feelings against the TPLF regime. It is odd to meet some one that would speak favorably regarding the actions of the dictator or his polices. Every Starbucks and every coffee house is full of these talkers parsing the actions of the TPLF party. How come they don’t take the next logical step, which is to help bring this ugly regime to its knees? Why is there such a wide gulf between talk and action? Here is what President Obama said on his visit to the Holocaust Memorial in Washington a few months back speaking of the victims of nazi horror:
He said “Let us tell our children not only how they died, but also how they lived—as fathers and mothers, and sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters who loved hoped and dreamed just like us — we must tell our children about how this evil was allowed to happen – because so many people succumbed to their darkest instincts, and because so many others stood silent – We must tell our children. But more than that, we must teach them. Because remembrance without resolve is a hollow gesture. Awareness without action changes nothing. In this sense, “never again” is a challenge to us all—to pause and to look within.”
‘Awareness without action changes noting’ is the key phrase and that is what is escaping us. That is so many of us talk but are unable to move beyond that. We kid ourselves or we expect someone else to do the job for us. Is that why when Kinijit kicked Woyane’s ass so many people were pushing each other to get to the center of the action? We had a visitor to our church from Canada. Abune Michael of Calgary gave a memorable sermon a few Sundays back. What stuck in my mind was his saying ‘meswatenet yelelew emnet’ or belief without sacrifice I believe that is ying without yang.
Fear not all is not lost. We also have our Ethiopian Heritage Society of North America (EHSNA). They are celebrating their second anniversary from July 27-29 in Washington DC. Last years event with Judge Bertukan Mideksa was a huge success. This is one venue where our flag fly high our culture is celebrated with all its diversity and our history is told with all its glory. It is a family affair and our young ones and children are given the respect and attention they deserve. The March 2012 Adwa Victory celebration organized by EHSNA gave our ancestors gallant effort the highest honor reserved for such Herculean deed. We salute the organizers for shining a bright light on our accomplishments as people in this time of doom and gloom. This is one organization that is trying to bring balance between our yin and yang. We can see perfect harmony between the opposites.
Each one of us is faced with a choice. We can be carriers of change or we can follow the path of destruction. Change does not happen without effort. Those that are hell bent in bullying and dividing us are not going to leave voluntarily. No one willingly gives up his privileged position. It has never happened. They are unable or unwilling to see the freedom train coming at them at full speed. That is what happened to Mubarak, Gadaffi faithfully believed his people loved him and we see Assad for some reason thinking that he can save himself and his clan by killing all Syrians if necessary. Dictators are a rare breed of people. Meles honestly believes he can last a while longer. Locked in his palace surrounded by his yes men reading his own review and watching his one channel TV he is intoxicated by his own lies. Twenty-one years is a long time to be isolated from normal people. It is possible to create ones own make believe world.
How come we see Libya, Egypt, Yemen and now Syria and do not learn? How come we do not work a little harder to avoid such catastrophe? Why do we allow Eskinder, Andualem and all the other fellow Ethiopians pay the price on our behalf? How come we are unable to say no and show outrage at such act of injustice by a handful of people? Do you think Meles jailed our brothers and sister or do you think we allowed him to do such ugly deed due to our indifference and apathy? Is the blame on the dictator or on the vast majority that lets him gets away with this criminal act? I am sure we are all disgusted with this farce of jailing people for life because they spoke what the regime does not approve of. What is next, to go to prison accused of bad thought? Why not the dictator has no incentive not to follow that route. He knows we will take it silently. Didn’t we when Professor Asrat was denied medical treatment, when Asefa Maru was gunned down, when Judge Bertukan was jailed twice, when Gambella was sold, when our children are left to die in the jungles of Central Africa and their bodies scatted on the highways of Tanzania and the waters of Lake Malawi or Gulf of Aden? Yes no question about it we are responsible for the jailing of Eskinder and all the rest. Frankly I am bored and tired of shifting the blame.
Further reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ying_and_Yang
By Yilma Bekele
The Ethiopian government was peddling its ponzi scheme of selling bonds for the pie in the sky project named The Grand Renaissance Dam’ on the Abbay river here in the Bay Area. It was not as lavish as the event that took place in their embassy in Washington DC. That ‘event was graced by the presence of a high- level Ethiopian delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister and Chairman of the National Renaissance Council, Haile Mariam Desalegn’ according to Aiga. Since he has such a long title they have shortened to D/PM, FM to go along with his curtailed duty that only includes reading written notes, greeting visitors and presiding at Renaissance meetings.
Ours event was shall I say ‘graced’ by their Conciliate from Los Angles and a political science professor from Addis Abeba University. Considering I was marching in front their office in Los Angles just a week ago regarding their current attempt at destroying our cherished heritage of Waldeba monastery it was a little confusing to see his honor involved in building a dam. They invited all Ethiopians and I just couldn’t refuse. My curiosity overcame my rationality. I am glad I went, If the Ethiopian people are subjected to such farcical presentation day in day out I felt sitting for a two hours presentation was the least I can do to understand the daily stress of my people.
The first speaker that described herself as the Chairperson of the project in the Bay Area mentioned that her group has been active for less than three months. What knocked me off my seat was her declaration that in this short time they have been able to sell $138,000 US dollars worth of bonds. That is 2.4 million Bir. I was impressed. Then I turned around and all I could see was about twenty-five people in the room. I thought people who paid all that money will defiantly attend a meeting to see how their money was spent but for some reason they just did not bother to show up. Is it possible that they are just a figment of someone’s imagination?
Well with all things Woyane the imagination is always greater than the reality and this was an indication of better things to happen as the meeting progressed. One thing I notice about Woyane lectures is that they have this unhealthy fascination with power point presentation. It is futile attempts to sugar coat the lie and empty rhetoric by sharp looking graphs and larger than life pictures. Facts are glossed over while the listener is trying to figure out all the confusing information being displayed at a random fashion.
The Ambassador has the most difficult task of the two speakers. It is not easy being a snake oil salesman. The regular joke about us not being smart or dedicated enough to use the mighty Abbay was of course mentioned. We are supposed to thank the far-reaching leadership of Meles Zenawi to have come up with such a fantastic and brilliant idea of building a dam on Abbay. I am sure we will be told soon it came to him during his sleep showing us even in bed that sharp mind is still working. The Ambassador used a short documentary to show us the progress since the start of the project. Shall we say the presentation was a little lacking for a task that is projected to cost us billions?
The short video was made either to insult or mock anybody with an ounce of intelligence. There was one excavator and one dump truck and a few cement mixer trucks. Yes I said one lonely excavator. For a country with eighty million people where over half of the adult population is unemployed you would think human labor would be the preferred choice if one really wants to use the resources under his nose. Unfortunately that will require the enthusiastic participation of the nation in the project but when your government is unpopular and viewed with suspicion that is not an option. Plus it would require transporting people from one kilil to another and that is not allowed.
What we saw was may be fifty or so guys dressed in orange uniform. What was fascinating was to see the skinny flag of Salini the Italian construction company flying from a bowed tree pole. If you remember Salini was the same company that was in charge of Gibe II project where the tunnel collapsed exactly a month after inauguration. That was a no bid project and you can imagine where most of the money borrowed in then name of Ethiopia went. I thought this project was by us and for us and what the heck is Salini doing there? May be Salini is paying us for what Minilk did to his grand pa a while back. Lets us all remind our children to get back the money stolen with the modern day Askaris including interest as soon as we reclaim our land.
The official spoke at length about the many successful projects accomplished the last twenty years. That is well and good but twenty years is a long time and showing no progress would have been a little strange. The issue here is here is how much progress and under what circumstances. When you consider President Obama is fighting like hell for his reelection bid and he only had four years to correct a colossal economic melt down I would say twenty years is quite generous amount of time to do miracles. So our question to our rulers becomes what you got to show for twenty years of being in complete charge? Knocking down the old cannot be a perpetual excuse, at a certain point one has to stand on his own record. Unfortunately like a broken record our rulers never tire talking about yesterday to cover up today’s shortcoming.
I have to admit the professor gave a very intelligent presentation regarding the role water or river plays in international dealings between nations. He was very knowledgeable on the subject and his power point presentation was flawless. The problem reared its head when it comes to his conclusion. It is one thing to explain water intellectually but to bring it home and try to make it relate to woddase dam is a lit bit tricky, and it showed. He was left floundering unable to commit and say this project is what is needed and this regime can bring it to life. He cannot say that with conviction. As a political scientist he knows theory in one thing but implementation requires a whole host of other factors that have to be present to achieve success. The current organization that is operating in our country is not conducive to attain that goal and a first year college freshman can tell you that. It would be considered intellectual dishonesty to trust one of the most corrupt regimes to carry out such a colossal task.
You see scheming the surface no one is against building a dam, a highway or a factory. The truth of the matter is that most Ethiopians will give the shirt of their back if it will help our country. The problem lies with that qualifier ‘if’ it just leaves an uncertain feeling doesn’t it? That is the problem with our renaissance dam project. It is a very uncertain proposal that is difficult to explain and not easy to digest.
It is not easy because based on reality, as we have known it the last twenty years the people in power cannot be trusted to do anything that will bring honor or pride to our country. No one in his right mind will trust the folks in charge to be able to bring any project to a successful conclusion. If there is anything we can be sure of is that they will find a hundred different ways to screw us up. Here is the real Ethiopia in nutshell:
1) Social harmony: None. Our country is divided into Kilils and we are made to view each other with suspicion and hate. We are in fact deporting our own citizens within the country. Today the regime is attempting to create conflict among our old religions throughout the land. Both Christians and Moslems are resisting mightily but it is an uphill struggle.
2) Economy: Bankrupt. Inflation is double digits and unemployment is beyond imagination. Over eight million people are on food aid and famine is real. The government is in the process of leasing land to foreigners so they can grow crops for export. The economy is controlled by EFFORT a one ethnic based conglomerate.
3) War: Plenty. Since coming to power the TPLF regime has fought with Eritrea and sacrificed over eighty thousand lives. It has invaded Somalia and no one knows the sacrifice in human lives and money. Inside the country it has sent its solders to kill in Gambella, Ogaden, Hawasa, Gondar, Afar, etc.
4) Politics: Waging relentless disruption against opposition parties and groups is second nature to the regime. In the aftermath of the 2005 elections the regime murdered over two hundred eighty citizens, imprisoned all the opposition and hauled over forty thousand people to concentration camps. (We thank the heroic act of Judge Woldemariam and his associates in smuggling out the evidence) The Parliament is the playground of the Prime Minster.
5) Media: Government monopoly. Television. Radio, print media, Internet and telecommunications are all controlled by the regime. Independent voice is not allowed. Our friends Eskinder Nega, Reyot Alemu and Webeshet Taye among many others are today in prison because they spoke and wrote the truth.
There is no need to recount further atrocity the question becomes how could you trust such a ruthless bunch of sycophants to carry out a noble task as building a dam? One has to be plenty gullible or certified moron to go along with such Ponzi scheme. How could you hand your hard earned money where there is no accountability, no consultation or any outside independent audit?
This is what Ambassador Girma Birru, Special Envoy and Ambassador Extra-ordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the US and non-resident envoy to Mexico – another long title don’t you think? Any way here is how Aiga reported it ‘In his revealing statement the Ethiopian Special Envoy recounted the propitious political climate which is prevalent in present day Ethiopia that allows the free participation of the citizenry in matters ranging from the right to assembly, association, expression and faith up to and including the basic right to vote in elections that are held regularly @ the county, district, state and federal levels.’ Do you think he actually believes that? He must have said what was reported, the question becomes who is crazy them or us? You be the judge.
In our presentation here in Oakland both speakers were adamant in saying the renaissance dam site is sparsely populated and no one was moved or relocated. Isn’t it always surprising all their projects are so pure and picked for locations where no Ethiopian resides? But at the same time why do we come across a whole bunch of our citizens that have been made homeless when their land is leased to forsaken foreigners? Then why do we hear our brother Ato Ojulu from Gambella who has been forced from his ancestral land pleading from Kenya? Their lie seems never to stop.
In conclusion I would like to say something. It is true but a sad statement. The assembly in our city was a reflection of what is taking place in our country. It has to be pointed out because it has to be discussed openly and corrected in a timely manner. As I said there were less than thirty people present and over ninety percent were from one ethnic group. Pretending otherwise is not healthy. The question to ask is why? Why would only Tigreans show up to support the construction of a dam on Abbay? Abbay is far from Tigrai Kilil so why are they feeling this special affinity to this project? It is a valid question. I am sure we all have all seen this kind of weird and strange situation on every question raised in our homeland.
I will give my answer and it is definitely not the final statement on the issue. It is what I think right or wrong. My response is to help us openly analyze the dilemma faced by all of us and devise a healthy and lasting solution instead of whispering from behind and muddying the situation further. First of all this virus was brought upon us by no other than Meles Zenawi and his accomplices. It was in the late seventies while all were trying to form a united front and fight the Derg that his group insisted in this separate non-inclusive way of struggle. Their first causality was the brave patriotic EPRP that sacrificed beautiful children of Ethiopia in their prime. Meles Zenawi did as much damage as Mengistu Hailemariam when it comes to our educated and dedicated brothers and sisters that stood for real freedom and unity of our nation. We will never forget.
Since 1992 TPLF has inoculated our nation with this deadly virus more dangerous than HIV aids. They have set us up against each other. Our meeting is the result of this disease that even follows us into a free land. Tigreans have become hostages of this disease and the rest of us have allowed it to simmer while a few have bought into this crap. It is true a few Tigreans are riding this wave and accumulating wealth and riding rough on the rest of us. Meles and company are always pointing out our differences and making sure the few they have chosen are displayed. What is true in today’s Ethiopia is that all real power is in the hands of this ethnic group starting from the security, military, banking, commerce and key organizations. On the other hand the average Tigrai living in the rural areas of his kilil is as much the victim as rest of our own peasants. No matter how some put it the Tigrai Kilil is not the paradise it is portrayed to be. The TPLF tugs in charge are the same everywhere.
Do we buy into this negative scenario as painted by Meles and company or see it as the self-serving philosophy by a few friends and family to extend their evil rule over all of us? Has this kind of mind set ever shown to work or has it at certain point exploded on the makers and taken all into the abyss? Isn’t that what we see in history when we study totalitarian systems and their implosion from inside? Isn’t that what happened in Libya? Are we witnessing it in Syria with Assad and his Alawit tribe fighting for dear life from house to house? What do you think is going to happen in Syria once Assad and his little army are wiped away? Syria is not going anywhere but what kind of Syria would it be? Can they just forget the hate and animosity that has been cultivated and put their energy on building a new society? Or would it take a long time to wash away the negative energy, mistrust and hate that have been systematically planted in every Syrian brain?
When we see our Ethiopia these are the things we should contemplate instead of trying to out perform each other on the level of our hate. We should be very careful on how we view the situation and search deep into our heart and soul before we judge others due to their ethnic affiliation or religion. None of us choose where we are conceived. We should be judged on what kind of human being we have become. Sometimes in times of scarcity and fear buying into the evil design of a few we all go astray. The only thing that will bring us back to the right path is show of love and tolerances not more hate and further attempt at marginalizing. Remember both the perpetrator and victim are connected and the attempt should be to save both if possible without doing further damage.
I am sure all those that gathered in our meeting love Ethiopia. I am sure in their own way they all think they are doing the right thing. Unfortunately both sides cannot be right. The road taken by the current government has only shown that this sort of exclusive journey is not lasting nor will it bear good fruit. Our job is to patiently explain the futility of traveling on this dead end street and bring our people back to our fold. That is not done thru condemnation, name-calling or threat but show of love, understanding and showing by example. It is a shame educated and conscious Ethiopians have fallen pray to this narrow ethnic divide and some by cooperation a few by their silence have emboldened the sick and worthless students of TPLF garage and nihilist philosophy. I believe in every one of us our kind side outweighs the evil and bad and our challenge is to bring out the good and infect our people with this sweet medicine God has built into us. We pray for our country.
For further reading refer to:
Waldeba in my heart. By Yilma Bekele
Truth be told I was not aware of Waldeba Monastery until quite recently. Today I live Waldeba, I breathe Waldeba, and I believe Waldeba has taken over my soul. Mind you I am not protesting rather I am being thankful for this ancient place for bringing focus into my life. Waldeba has managed to gather all the scattered pieces of information residing in my brain and managed to sort them out in an orderly fashion and place them all in one location for easy access and safekeeping.
Even the name Waldeba evokes positive feelings and the story when told brings a sense of pride and dignity. Waldeba is the history of our ancient land, the perseverance of our ancient people and the uniqueness of our history all rolled in one. When I say Waldeba defines us all, I doubt anyone of you will disagree after I tell you about this remote location that is but a jewel of our glorious past. My friend Asrat always says ‘Egziabher saydeges aytalam’ this time I believe he is onto something. For it was no other than our Woyane bad doers that brought Waldeba into our consciousness. We are always grateful for this human bulls let loose in a China store.
Waldeba was in the mind and heart of millions of Ethiopians this last Monday. They prayed in Ethiopia in their own silent ways while their children marched World Wide to speak for them. We marched in Washington DC, we danced in the streets of New York, we sang in Los Angles, we celebrated in Toronto, we colored the streets of London green, yellow and red while we adorned South Africa with our indomitable spirit and we prayed in Melbourne Australia. We let the world know in no uncertain terms Waldeba is Ethiopia. The battle has just began!
Why are we so incensed about Waldeba is a valid and good question. Why does Waldeba matter is not an idle inquiry. When we ask about our past it helps us see the present in a better light and determines our response on how we answer questions about the future. That is why we fill detailed forms at the doctor’s office about our health and parents condition. Our past gives the caregiver clue about our future. That is why regimes redefine the past to construct a new reality. Please notice Meles Zenawi’s obsession regarding our ancient history and his trash talk every chance he gets. Waldeba is another stop in his quest to redefine our past. Destruction of Waldeba erases a critical building block of who we are and where we came from. He wants to redefine us in his own distorted image.
Waldeba is not another location. Waldba monastery is one of the oldest and holiest religious enclaves in Ethiopia. It was founded around 490 AD and is located in one of the most remote regions of north Ethiopia protected by the mighty Semen Mountain range. Waldeba is surrounded by four rivers Semo in the north Tekeze in the east Zewereg in the in the west and Zewa in the south. This modern assault by the TPLF regime is not the first on Waldeba or our church. It has withstood Yodit’s wrath around the 10th century two hundred seventy eight years after its founding. The forces of Ahmed Gragn attacked around 1531 and plundered churches and monasteries including Waldeba and Debre Libanos. Today’s incursion is a continuation of further attempt to undermine our heritage. It is but another test of our perseverance.
Waldeba’s contribution to our culture will take a whole encyclopedia to recite. It is part of our rich history in consort with our Tewahedo Church that produced such significant items as our alphabet, our calendar and a desirable place for scholars. It is a training ground for our priests and deacons and many Abunes have graduated from its sanctuary to serve their people. Waldeba is a cherished treasure for all Ethiopians regardless of religious affiliation.
Waldeba has been a protected enclave thru out history. No one has dared to take away from Waldeba that has been willed by God. Successive Ethiopian rulers has shown reverence for Waldeba and what it stands for and went out of their way to protect, enhance and cherish this holy site. Today the TPLF regime under Meles Zenawi is in the process of invading Waldeba. The excuse given is to grow sugarcane and establish a processing plant. They have moved heavy machinery to build a dam for irrigation and pave highways for transporting product and people.
As usual their plan of attack is for the Woyane regime to take the high road of development while defining the opposition as anti progress. Why would anyone in his right mind oppose such a noble cause of building industry and creating employment becomes the question asked by the average observer. They are expert at this sort of thing. They have orchestrated massacre of their own citizens at Hawzen in cold blood and video taped the atrocity for propaganda purpose. Interhawme was their charge in 2005 in their callous attempt to play with fire regardless of the consequences. The current drama of building a dam on Abbay is another attempt to stand for progress and portray the rest as nay Sayers.
Today they are using their monopoly on state media to confuse and misinform. They are trotting out one dead brain TPLF official one after another to explain why their war on our heritage is misunderstood. They are interviewing cadres dressed as monks, cadres pretending to be local citizens and hired engineers and thugs to give testimony on how the project is benign to the Waldeba and its environment. It looks like we are all hysterical and unreasonable while TPLF officials are defending their responsibility to govern.
TPLF always have a strange notion of how to govern. Their style seems to be they decide behind closed doors and we accept their version at face value. Asking question raising valid points for discussion is frowned upon. It is labeled the work of ‘neftegna, dergist, monarchist, counter revolutionary or useless Diaspora.’ We have seen all this before. We are familiar with TPLF motto of ‘my way or the highway.’ It has been the practice for over twenty years.
Erecting a sugar plantation on a holy site is wrong. Pushing it down the throats of local citizens is unacceptable. Undermining our heritage and disturbing the peace and tranquility of our monks is a crime by any standard of civilized behavior. Attacking the weak and humble monks and priests that work day and night praying for our country, our children and our safety is not the work of a responsible government but that of a coward and fascist tug using the power of the state for nefarious purpose.
Thus we drove down to Los Angles to make our views known to the world. We drove in peace to exercise our right to petition the government in power to cease and desist from this wrong policy of substituting heritage for money and power. It was a joyous trip on behalf of our fathers and mothers that are denied their god given right to live in peace. The enthusiasm of the young Ethiopians in exile still filled with love for their country and culture was intoxicating. Their boundless energy, determination and unsurpassed hope for the future was infectious to all around them. To see that our future is in good hands with my young friends is priceless. We sang and marched in peace, we carried our flag high and danced in the streets of Los Angles for all to see that Ethiopia is not alone that her children are awake and alert and her heritage is not something to trifle with.
Waldeba has faced danger before. It has existed for thousands of years. Waldeba will exist for thousands more, no question about that. Waldeba is Gods country. We the children of Waldeba were helping our own way with the little insignificant voice we can muster to help bring peace to this holy place. Those that attack or undermine Waldeba would have to answer to a higher authority. May God help them see the light, we have tried our best.
For further information please go to:
By Yilma Bekele
The Washington DC incident with Ato Meles is the talk of all Ethiopians in the Diaspora. I found out there is no reason for me to raise the issue, every one I met sooner or later will say something about it. I have made it a point to notice the different reaction both live and virtual on the Internet. It has been a fascinating week to say the least. Our varied response is what got me interested.
For those that are not familiar with the incident, here is a brief description. President Obama organized ‘food security symposium’ at the Regan center in Washington DC. The Ethiopian PM Meles was one of the guests arrayed to discuss the issue. During one of his responses Ato Abebe Gellaw, a reporter in the press box stood up and shouted slogans regarding the lack of human rights in his native land Ethiopia. The program was interrupted for a few minutes due to the incident.
My analysis is regarding how Ethiopians in the Diaspora viewed this situation. Due to the absence of free media in our homeland it is a little difficult but not impossible to gauge the reaction of the Ethiopian people. Based on what we observed outside it will not be unfair to extrapolate the impression to our people in general.
The incident was caught beautifully both on video and still photography. To state it is a dramatic confrontation is an understatement. It has everything one can think of for an unrehearsed play. It was loud, full of action and priceless expressions both from the victim and the conqueror. We were all captivated by this gift from God to help poor old Ethiopia recover a semblance of pride and respect.
The protagonist Ato Abebe Gellaw is a consummate professional. He is a very successful individual that has excelled in the field he choice to fulfill his life’s calling. He has been exiled from his homeland and currently resides in Washington DC. He in charge of the Ethiopian Satellite Television (www.esat.com) that has steadily been winning hearts and minds of Ethiopians both at home when available and in the Diaspora. It is a publicly funded enterprise that is mostly stocked by highly educated professionals most of whom are victims of arbitrary and capricious actions by the Meles regime.
The victim is Ato Meles Zenawi, a dictator from Ethiopia and currently holds the title of Prime Minster and Chairman of Tigrai Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF). He has led this rogue mafia outfit for the last forty years or so and is known to be a ruthless boss with out an ounce of empathy towards his comrades or followers. He basks in his show of arrogance and is known to enjoy berating and putting his people and country down. In other words he is a serial bully of the highest magnitude. He resides in a palace and is completely isolated from the people he has put himself in charge of. He travels in a convoy, all streets are cleared of any traffic when he ventures out and his security is visible even to the blind. It is possible to conclude he lives in constant fear.
The venue was Washington DC and the discussion was food and the lack of it in Africa. Ato Meles is one of the architects of this human disaster. Theoretically the Country Ethiopia has a capability to feed all of East Africa and more. It is blessed with good weather, plenty of rivers and vast virgin land that awaits human ingenuity. In real terms the country in underdeveloped with all land and resources controlled by the government under Ato Meles. Over 80% of the population is involved in subsistence agriculture. Education is very rudimentary and health care is non-existent. The average peasant owns a plot as big as a football field and uses farming implement that has been in existence since millennia. The vast majority of the population relies on less than 300 calories a day and is a recipient of food aid donated by the West.
This is the background to our story. During a question and answer period in the proceedings the Ethiopian reporter Ato Abebe Gellaw used the occasion to interrupt the Prime Minster and speak his mind regarding the personhood of the TPLF leader and his actions against the interest of the Ethiopian people. Ato Abebe spoke loud, his expression was intense and his delivery was flawless. The incident took exactly twenty-five seconds and there was no question all-present heard every word that was said. Ato Abebe was promptly removed by the secret service and handed over to the local police for questioning.
The Prime Minster was caught off guard. This has never happened to him. When he speaks in front of his kangaroo Parliament or organizes his press conference everything is choreographed and control is the key. You can hear a pin drop in his briefings. When he heard the first shout his face jerked to the left in the direction of the noise. His eyes bulged wide open. He turned back to the front and realized there is no possibility of help coming to rescue him. In his panic all he could do was look down and avoid any eye contact. He stayed down. The color left his face. His agony was visible in High Def. and can be heard in Dolby sound.
That was the situation in the gathering place. Ato Abebe was questioned by the police and released without much fanfare. There was no crime committed other than speaking out of order but under the circumstances it is considered ‘seizing the moment’ to advocate what one holds dear to his heart. ESAT and reporter Ato Sisay Agena were waiting out side to give their audience perspective on what happened. Over all the presentation was as expected the work of professionals doing what they do best, keeping their people informed.
The response by the Ethiopian community both inside and the Diaspora is both heartwarming and beyond expectations. In my limited survey I can proudly say the vast majority were pleased by Ato Abebe’s heroic and self less act and were pleasantly surprised by the reaction of Ato Meles. The individual has made his mark in belittling people and here he was seen without his clothes and it was a painful sight. You can’t help but cringe at his cowardice. He can dish it out but it is obvious he cannot take it. Some one said he looked ‘like a deer caught in a head light’ and I agree. He was at a loss and it showed. Without his gun-totting pose around him he was just another garden-variety bully that lacks spine.
Our people have all sorts of take on the incident. As I said the vast majority were empowered by Ato Abebe’s action. The direct translation from Amharic would run like “our heart was laced with butter.” It is meant to show the highest form of satisfaction. A few questioned the appropriateness of Ato Abebe’s action. They reasoned since he was invited as a reporter he should have stuck to asking questions instead of humiliating the tyrant. They claimed he debased his profession. A few called it ‘uncivilized’ behavior. In their opinion as a reporter he should be unbiased and not taken side.
For some of our people the situation was a little confusing. Our culture dictates that we speak softly and keep differences low key. We abhor washing dirty linen in public, and felt this exposition of the tyrant’s actions should be kept behind high walls. That is why some felt the embarrassment of Ato Meles as their own. A few felt pity. It is human to feel the pain of others. A very small minority as usual brought ethnicity into the picture, but it did not get traction.
The response from the TPLF supporters was as usual as far removed from reality as possible. Without question the best take on this incident is by none other than Mimi Sebehatu, a low level TPLF functionary peddling her ‘bed time for Bozo’ stories on her FM station in Addis. It is claimed this puppy ranted like never before calling Ato Abebe every name she can think of. She compared his actions to that of Italians jeering our Emperor at the League of Nations assembly in Rome. Yes she did that. Makes you wonder about her grasp of reality or her understanding of history. On the other hand when you think both are foreign subjects to our Woyane warriors her displaced analogy is understandable. We will laugh it off.
Cadre Mimi is the owner an FM station that she uses to attack the free media and signal consorted campaign against our reporters on behalf of her party. She peddles useless music and stuff to keep the youth docile and wastes a broadband on triviality instead of in the service of our people. Ato Abebe is the perfect candidate for her moronic editorial and pedestrian analysis of realty. The positive aspect of her stupid barking is that it confirmed the heroic deed of our hero to the Ethiopian people. The formula is ‘if it upsets’ the TPLF mafia it must be good for the rest of us! Thank you Cadre Mimi. May I suggest you hold another session and invite Bereket, Shimeles and Azeb? Please note Cadre Mimi has her US passport in her purse ready to bail out when the ship starts to sink.
Last but not least there is the response by the vast majority of the rest of us. I am assuming no response to be a form of response here. A lot were happy, exited, tickled and discussed it with anybody close by. That is right, this was the extent of their involvement. Case closed, another story please, another excitement is what they requested. In this era of a twenty-four hrs news cycle we are always waiting for something new, something different to happen. We get bored easy. We find hard work and sustained involvement is not our cup of tea. We have this tendency to leave a task unfinished. This is one instance this behavior manifested itself glaringly. We are not interested in formulating a plan to channel our response so we can build on this accomplishment by Ato Abebe. That is not part of our makeup.
Seattle is one place that is showing signs of positive vibrations. Seattle has always been the lion’s den and it is leading the way with our newfound activism. In Seattle they are working on holding a public meeting to bring all of us together and take activism to higher level. That is what is called taking advantage and transforming our movement into an all-inclusive mass based venture against tyranny. That is how we show appreciation to the wonderful work by Ato Abebe and reward his sacrifice in a meaningful manner. Talk is cheap. Temporary feel good is fleeting satisfaction. Consorted effort to do what is needed to continue the fight against tyranny is what the situation calls for.
We are also emboldened by the actions of our people in South Africa. It was to Johannesburg the little tyrant slinked into after his DC public flailing. That is what he has been doing the last twenty years. He always got a bag ready to attend meetings, conferences, symposiums any place where they will give him a chair and allow him talk trash. That is how he proves to the Ethiopian people how ‘important’ and ‘respected’ he is by rubbing shoulders with democratically elected leaders. Never mind his formula in Ethiopia is to earn their love by terrorizing them. Fear is what he peddles in Ethiopia. Anyway he had the nerve to show up in South Africa. Our fifty thousand strong exiles were ready for him. He was unceremoniously booted out of his speaking slot. He was declared ‘persona non grata.’ That is a fancy way of saying ‘you are not wanted’ in Latin. Go back to your gilded cage is the message Ethiopians are sending to the killer, abuser, and tyrant. Let us all resolve to make the little chat addicted tyrant ‘persona non grata’ on plane Earth. Amen!
By Yilma Bekele
I doubt there is an Ethiopian in the Diaspora not familiar with what happened last Friday. As they say the video has gone viral. The act has brought deep satisfaction to the psych of the oppressed and left the evildoers in disarray. Abebe took less than one minute to do what has been tried for over twenty years. His heroic act will be remembered in the history books like that other important event in the annals of our glorious past.
Of course I am talking about the daring act of none other Abraha Deboch, Moges Asgedom and Simeyon Adefres on February 19, 1937. The Fascist Italian Viceroy Rodolfo Graziani was set to celebrate the second anniversary of the occupation of our homeland and the birth of an Italian royal baby at Addis Abeba Palace now Addis Abeba University. That did not sit well with our freedom fighters.
Simeyon who has learned to drive befriended a soldier from the household of the patriot leader Dejazmach Fikre Mariam and was able to secure hand grenades. Abraha and Moges hurled their grenades at the Viceroy during the celebration but the balcony saved the Fascist pig. Their job was done. Honor was restored. The attempt on the Viceroy was followed by the massacre of the citizens of Addis from February 19-21. Their heroism was able to fill the hearts of their people with pride and joy and the number of the patriotic forces swelled until victory was achieved.
What my friend and brother Abebe Gelaw did was no less. It was a different time and place but the generous act on behalf of country and people is noted by all patriotic forces that stand against tyranny by a single individual. The setting was perfect and the delivery was laser guided. The event was a very shameful attempt to humiliate Ethiopia and its people. There was no other way of looking at this act of abdication of responsibility by the President of the US other than to bully our people into submission by affirming this unholy alliance that does not have lasting value to both our Nations. We pleaded, we warned and we tried to teach the administration the folly of this enabling act of a tyrant. It fell on deaf ears. We are aware of the fact Mr. Obama will not be seen with Ahmadinejed. He will not invite Assad for dinner. But he felt no qualms sitting with this criminal leader and place him on the same dais as elected heads of State. Our people and country were insulted. This election Ethiopian Americans should pay attention to this fact.
It was wrong. But our brother Abebe was there to set the record straight. Abebe used the art of ‘political heckling’ in its purest form. Citizens heckle out of anger and frustration. Heckling done right subverts the proceedings and knock the powerful and famous from their stride. In less than a minute Abebe accomplished all that and more. The lion roared and the mouse scurried away. There was no hole to hide no place to take shelter. The intense light showed the paper tiger from Arat kilo for what he is, underneath all that TPLF bravado there sits a little scared soul trying to get out. A bully met his match. The Prime Mister preys on the weak. In Washington DC the playing field was leveled in favor of the silenced and oppressed.
Since Friday all the talk has been about the patriotism, unselfish act and bravery of one individual. Yes it is true some people find the inner strength to rise up for the occasion. Somehow they dig deep inside their soul and come up with earth shaking feat that defies the law of nature and gravity. Do you think I am laying it on heavy? I very much doubt that. Can you think of any setting on that fateful Friday where the eyes of the planet were focused on? A meeting with the President of the US, the most powerful person in the world attended by the major News networks definitely counts as the premier event of the week. One individual put everything else aside and decided to be the voice of eighty million silenced souls. OH did he speak!!
Meles Zenawi is a dictator! Meles Zenawi is a dictator! Free Eskinder and all political prisoners! You are a dictator! You are committing crimes against humanity! You do not talk about food without freedom! We need freedom more than food! We need Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!
It was short, precise and to the point. It is all choice words that conveyed our hopes and wishes. The delivery was forceful and the face was that of an angry lion roaring. Where did Abebe get all that energy is a good question? He got it from us! At that moment eighty million souls converged in the body of my friend and he was transformed into human missile of untold force. I was there. You were there. We were all there. Then it came to me. The message was not really directed at President Obama or anyone else. The message was for his people. Abebe was showing us the power of the individual and the enabling act of taking personal responsibility for you fate.
That is why I compared it to Abraha, Moges and Simeyon. Their heroic act was not just about killing Graziani. Mussolini can always send another Viceroy. They were more focused in teaching us what can be accomplished when individuals set their focus and energy in search of freedom. The fact of the matter was it worked. The patriots were inundated by new recruits. The spirit of “Yes I can” became contagious. Apathy was replaced by action. Darkness was gone and the light shone high and bright. That is what I saw the last three days. Ethiopians walking tall. Ethiopians high Fiving each other. Ethiopians understanding the power of the individual to rise up for the occasion.
What was revealing from this incident was the reaction of two individual. The Prime Minster was left speech less. He was left with his mouth wide open and his brain on freeze mode. He entered uncharted territory and he was on a free fall. Abebe’s timing was perfect. The PM was replying about food. That by itself is a very cruel joke being played on our people by the hapless moderator. The question gave the impression the moderator was chosen for his looks and his talking head not his journalistic credentials. He is the kind who would ask the pilot of the Titanic on the procedure of glacier avoidance or Colonel Gadaffi on the art of confronting a hostile mob.
The PM who is celebrating over twenty years in power is the last person to be asked such question. His ill planned policy is the cause of recurring famine and disaster on our ancient land and people. In a sane setting he should be chided for failure of leadership. But in this Disney land environment we were witnessing he was pontificating how the agriculture system should be set to avoid food insecurity. Even the words they choose are not to expose but hide and play cute games at the expense of our people. They call it food insecurity, mal nutrition, calorie deficiency whereas to our people it is pure famine or the absence of food. Nothing more nothing less.
The PM locked side ways with a look of surprise. How could this happen is his first thought. Then he saw the Lion roaring. Relentless, focused, and imbued with the energy of eighty millions and this was one mighty Lion. The dictator looked down. The dictator shrank. The wrath of the oppressed, the spirit of Eskinder, Andualem, Reeyot and all those ghosts he left behind in his dungeon came screaming to haunt him right there on stage. Evil does not pay. The price of bad deeds is mental anguish.
The reaction of his bodyguard is another revealing moment in this high stake drama. He threatened violence against my brother. He responded the only way he knows. ‘We will kill you’ he uttered! What a weak statement. What an empty threat. What a solution to propose for the problem he found himself in. What would have been accomplished by the killing of my brother? They say you cannot teach an old dog a new trick. Killing is the only language the PM and his associates speak. That is the sort of people President Obama invited to his table. We are saddened by this act. We expected better from the son of Africa. We hoped for better things. What the white leaders have done for their brethren in Europe we thought a black president will bring us respite from this agony our continent finds itself in. Not today. We are on our own. Our destiny is in our won hands. It has always been, but the last few years we have shown the tendency to drop the ball. But when you think the future looks bleak the problems pile up and darkness attempts to engulf our soul there rises a beam of bright light like the star of Bethlehem that led the three wise men to where Jesus was born.
That is what we shall do. We shall follow the spirit of our young friend and take matters into our own hands. We will redouble our efforts to free our country and people by any means necessary. One does not make appointment to be free. We start now. We each vow in our homes, our work place wherever we are to start the day of defiance of the evil system starting now. It is the result of our collective effort that can usher the era of peace, democracy and freedom. We do not act due to hate. We do not act to hurt others. But we have God given right to protect ourselves, our family and our country and people from evil.
Live, I wanna live inspired
Die, I wanna die for something
Facing towards the heavens
I fell into pitch a black
I’m moments from landing and I’m shaking like a heart attack
Is there time, can I turn back
I’ve made mistakes in the past
Need a chance, can’t take it back
Wish I could set things right tonight
Live, I wanna live inspired
Die, I wanna die for something higher than myself
Live and die for anyone else
The more I live I see this life’s not about me
All I know spins out of control
Wonder what’s next for the heart and soul
Nothing I earned can save me now
Hear in what may be my final hour
Don’t want to leave this world, knowing I’ve lived in vain
No time for myself, so sorry, so ashamed
Don’t wanna livee this life, knowing I’ve barely tried
Chase down all my dreams that I’ve hid away on the inside
Live I wanna live on fire
Die, I wanna burn out brighter
Brighter than the Northern Lights
Wanna live to feel the daylight
The more I live
I see, this life is not about me
Note: Ethiopian Politics- Richard Pankhurst
Lyrics: Anberlin- Burn Out Brighter (Northern Lights) lyrics
By Yilma Bekele
Dear President Obama,
I am sure you do not have time to read my letter nonetheless it gives me a certain amount of release from the pain I am feeling and the little chance of this letter getting to you fills my soul with great amount of joy and hope. I am an Ethiopian immigrant currently living in California. I came to your country to go to college. I am always grateful to the American people in general and the citizens of the State of Oregon in particular that supported me in fulfilling my dream. Their graciousness in welcoming me and their generosity in helping me with financial aid to finish my education will stay in my heart forever.
Upon finishing my education I have become a productive member of society and hopefully contributed my share in making your nation a beacon of light for all of mankind. I have been blessed enough to get married to a beautiful person and raise a family. I am glad to claim I am the personification of the American dream come true. I am not writing you to ask a favor for myself but I want to tell you about the dire situation regarding the homeland I left behind a long time ago. I want to give you an idea about my country Ethiopia and the horror faced by my people in the year two thousand twelve as the rest of humanity thrives.
The source of this unbearable pain forced on my country is none other than the individual that shows up in every meeting the heads of the advanced industrialized countries attend to solve problems and plan the future. I am sure you have noticed him during picture sessions and dinner parties. He is the one who claims to represent Africa and is usually given the corner seat in the back to keep quiet and observe.
His name is Meles Zenawi and his title is chairman of TPLF party and Prime Minster of Ethiopia. He has been in power for the last twenty years. It is not that he was elected to that position since free democratic elections are not allowed but he has managed to organize sham election and rigged voting not once but five times in a row. I will tell you a few things to give you an idea of how he manages to do that.
1) Press: There is no free press in Ethiopia. There is only one local TV controlled by his party. The only radio-broadcasting unit is under his communications department. There are no independent newspapers in the country. The few that are allowed to exist are routinely harassed and their publishers and editors spend most of their time in his rubberstamp court. Today a few are in his dungeon accused of fabricated charges and plenty are forced out of the country. There is only one Internet provider and his outfit controls that. He uses Chinese technology to block any foreign TV or Radio broadcast and Internet sites. Your Voice of America broadcast is routinely jammed. Today there are more journalists and Independent Web sites outside the country than in our homeland. The Ethiopian people are kept in the dark by design.
2) Political Party and Civic organizations: The dictator does not allow real independent political parties. On paper there are over eighty political parties in the country, but they are all the creations of the dictator. The few that dare to organize independently are subjected to harassment, imprisonment and even murder. His claim that there are no worthy opposition parties is a cruel joke. In Ethiopia being an opposition party leader is a death wish. We have lost many worthy leaders in the last twenty years. Independent labor unions, civic organizations and non-government affiliated associations are not allowed. If they dare to organize they are brought under government control within a short time.
3) Administration: He has divided the country into what is known as Kilil. Kilil is a black version of Apartheid; the system the White South African set up to control black citizens. The individual appoints all Kilil administrators usually local lackeys for show purpose. His party and ethnic group controls the Army and Security service with all commanders’ hand picked from his ethnic group. Ninety nine percent of high-ranking military officials belong to the dictators ethnic group. The individual and his party inherited the dreaded Kebele system set up by the departing military dictatorship to control neighborhoods and enhanced its capability using modern means. Today the Kebele system is the eyes and ears of the TPLF party and is present in every household to terrorize and control.
4) Economy: All land belongs to the state. The Ethiopian people are sharecroppers. When he took power twenty years ago facilitated by your State Department he created a congramolate called EFFORT controlled by his ethnic group. All major confiscated business and property were given to EFFORT and today it is the premier corporation in the country involved in banking, transportation, manufacturing, import export and the hospitality business. EFFORT is bigger than Ethiopia. Unable to grow the economy, ill prepared to unleash the creative potential of his people the dictator is currently selling our fertile and virgin land to foreign investors. This is despite the billions of aid dollars given by your country and Western Europe and the billions more written off the book from the IMF and World Bank. His sole purpose is to stay in power by bullying and enrich his ethnic group, family and friends.
Dear Mr. President, you might think what a coward people we are to allow such and individual to do us so much harm and accept it with silence. That is not so. We were not always that docile. The simple explanation I can offer you is that he came on the scene at a very unfortunate time for us. The twenty years of military dictatorship has sapped our strength to fight back. We were caught at a time when in the name of socialism our people and country had gone thru a very traumatic process. Our moral compass was left in disarray. No one was willing to continue the self-inflicted agony we experienced. The current dictator also showed up carrying an olive branch that promised to form an all-inclusive government. Your State Department was the premier facilitator of such transfer of power from the Military to the new liberators.
Unfortunate for Ethiopia your country still is coddling and enabling the dictator. He is considered the front line in the fight against terrorism The Pentagon is pouring money and resources to train his army. He is given the green light to interfere in Somalia in the so-called war against terror. We pay the price. The US is not made safer with all the support given to the regime but the Ethiopian people are made insecure and hopeless. Today the Ethiopian people are migrating out of their homeland at an alarming rate. The young and able and the educated are leaving their country in search of a better tomorrow. Washington DC your capital is living proof of the flight of our people outwards.
We ask you to intervene and stop this human catastrophe. We believe it is the right thing to do. It is the moral thing to do. Ethiopian Americans were in the forefront of your campaign for the presidency. We were filled with hope that you will intercede and help our motherland enter the twenty first century with dignity. It has not happened. Your State Department never fails to record and publish the crimes of the Ethiopian regime. The annual report is a very alarming detailed testimony of the nature of the illegal regime and the crimes it commits against its own people. Thanks to Wikileaks we are made conscious of the terrorist acts of the security department’s involvement in setting up explosives on its own citizens and blaming the opposition. Your Ambassador was part of the cover up of this crime. It is wrong.
We would like to call your attention to the policy the US followed in the aftermath of the Second World War when it came to Europe. The US was instrumental in encouraging democratic forms of government. US aid was based on the rule of law. Sixty years later Europe enjoys the fruits of such progressive and forward-looking policy. We ask your administration follow the same principle when it comes to Africa. We deserve nothing less. We ask your administration stop coddling and enabling dictators, misfits and loathsome individuals from terrorizing their own people.
The Ethiopian people are faced with a sad dilemma. How could they fight back against a terrorist regime armed and supported by a big power like your country? It is not a fair fight by any stretch of imagination. They find it confusing that on one hand you preach democracy and human rights while on the other hand you furnish the weapons and facilitate loans from World Bank and the IMF to the their tormentor. Wouldn’t you say the US would have a lasting and worthy relationship with a strong and democratic Ethiopia rather than a country always on the verge of civil war and a pitiful hand stretched begging for food and medicine?
The Prime Minster is showing up at your dinner table next week. We all know he has nothing to contribute to such discussion. The country he has been leading for the last twenty years is beset with famine, double digit unemployment, runaway inflation and human misery in a large scale. He has no record to be proud of. He has no opposition to shame him. His presence at this gathering is unexplainable and undeserved. His single TV station and his sole Radio broadcast will present a different picture. They will use the occasion to bully the Ethiopian people. There is no other voice to set the record straight.
We wish you would UN invitee or dis invite him. We know that will not happen. On the other hand we ask you use the occasion to make it clear to him that your constituents are not happy with his actions. We wish that you explain to him US aid goes hand in hand with the existence of the rule of law and respect for human rights. The American people are blessed to have such a caring and honorable person as a leader. You lead a very honorable and generous nation that has stood with Ethiopia in its time of need. We ask you to step forward and do the right thing at this critical moment in our history. We ask you to think of the eighty million Ethiopians that are made to suffer because on man and his ethnic based party is enabled by your country and others to run amok and brutalize. History will not look kindly at such abdication of responsibility.
Dear Mr. President, we are aware of what happened to dictator Gaddafi. We are witnessing the unfolding human misery in Syria. That is what is waiting Ethiopia if the regime continues its maltreatment of its won citizens. That is what we are trying to avoid from happening in Ethiopia. You can help us.
Finally we are not asking you to fight our war. We are perfectly capable of doing the job ourselves. We are simply petitioning you not to stand with the dictator. Not to give him lethal aid and training to turn his fire on us. We know it is in your power to make a stop to this enabling activity. The children of Ezana, Tewodros, Yohanes, Minilik, Aba Jifar, Tona and many others are up to the task given the opportunity. We have taken care of our business for over three thousand years and there is no reason to think we will not rise up to the occasion now. Just give us a level playing field and Green Yellow and Red will fly high on our ancient mountains and fields.
P.S. We have a petition on line to be presented to your office along this letter. The Web address is as follows: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/obama-stop-monster-zenawi-invitation.html
By yilma Bekele
On November 11, 2011, Yenesew Gebre was driven to kill himself on behalf of all suffering Ethiopians. He killed himself out of love for his people and country. He made the ultimate sacrifice to wake us up so we can see what it means to be humiliated in your own home. Love can be expressed in so many different ways. Yenesew’s method was that of a teacher. That is what he was in real life. Yenesew was a shepherd and an example-setter to his people.
On March 24, 2012 Ethiopian Review reported about exiled Ethiopian physicians holding a meeting in Virginia, USA, to raise money to invest in a referral hospital in Ethiopia. A very laudable act you might say. They must love their country and people so much that even after being kicked out, exiled or driven off from their homeland they were willing to help. Isn’t that a sign of generosity and love? I agree. There is nothing like giving. Aren’t we such a blessed people to have caring individuals among us?
Wait a minute, let us not put the cart in front of the horse please. Everything has a context, otherwise it is meaningless. Our physicians ‘love’ for country has to be put in its context so we can really understand and appreciate their ‘selfless’ act. This is where the problem rears its head. They say the devil is in the details and it is nowhere true than in this instance. Our physician’s act is nothing more than a cheap trick to pad their bank account while looking selfless and honorable. Their act is that of a charlatan. They are trying to get advantage using deception. It is petty theft and nothing more than the act of a common criminal.
How sad coming from people of such high knowledge that have taken the oath to do good. Well they are Ethiopians aren’t they; the rules don’t work in the land of TPLF Ethiopia. Being a physician is a sign of high achievement. It requires sacrifice, dedication and plenty of work. It is an honorable profession. Doctors are held in high esteem and it is every mother’s dream for her baby. They teach you how to cure the sick in medical school. They make you a technician of the human body. The engineer build bridges, the architect designs house, the mechanic fixes engines, the chauffeur drives a car, the physician cures disease, the politician leads and the shoeshine cleans shoes. All are expert in their field. It is the contribution of each that makes a society work in harmony.
We put physicians on a pedestal. We ascribe a certain amount of higher intelligence to the doctor. That is more so in a backward society like ours. It is not healthy. We confuse education with common sense. One might be trained to be nuclear scientist but the possibility is there that the individual might be void of common sense or social grace. Those that have spent a major portion of their life pursuing a single goal can sometimes loose sight of the bigger picture.
When it comes to our learned compatriots we are dealing with two aspects of this myopic situation. There are some that are truly attracted to do good and help their people. At he same time there are those that will betray their people for thirty pieces. Isn’t that the situation we got here?
That is what I believe. In a country where one man surrounded with his ethnic group and lords it over eighty million others, in a place where one is judged by his blood line instead of his deeds, in a location where no none is allowed to speak or associate freely and in a land where the young and able are forced to leave due to lack of opportunity our esteemed doctors are collecting money to enable the evil doer.
None other than Ato Girma Birru — our Oromo Ambassador, called them into a meeting. I know it is rude to identify an individual by his ethnic affiliation, on the other hand, Ato Girma owes his position due to his ethnic identity. He was the token OPDO Minster in the TPLF cabinet and today he is the token representative in the US. Before his assignment to his new job he was Minster of Industry and Commerce in emerging democratic Ethiopia. Makes you wonder what he did all day doesn’t it? When you consider that he was a simple student like the rest of us before the arrival of TPLF and today he counts as one of the richest individuals in the country you know what he was busy at in his position. The well-dressed and manicured Ambassador is a picture of well-fed and modern Ethiopian.
Our physicians are the symptom of the disease afflicting our country. We focus on them because they are an easy target to identify. But this disease of discounting Ethiopia is nothing new. It has been going on for so long that it has become part of us. We all have become numb to being humiliated, trampled upon and discarded. No need to point our fingers at the greedy doctors when every house is a source of this virus of selfishness and greed. I do not mean to insult you my dear Ethiopian but isn’t time we reflect on our actions?
Tell me who buys stolen plots of land? Who flies Ethiopian Airlines? Who party’s in Addis among the starving? Who invests in hotels and brothels from Mekele to Moyale? Who turns a blind eye when the Anuaks are massacred in Gambella, the Amharas displaced from Benji Maji, the Oromos imprisoned in mass, the little girls sold into slavery in the Middle East? Don’t tell me you did not know. You knew but you choose to keep silent.
We choose to be upset because Hillary Clinton sat with the monster in Arat Kilo. We seethed with anger because the little dictator inserts himself in every international meeting, we blow our tops when Gambella is leased to grow rice, Professor Asrat was murdered, teacher Assefa Maru is gunned down, Kinijit is imprisoned and elections are stolen. It took all five minutes to cool as down. Our anger was not real. It did not come from deep. Surface anger is so pathetic don’t you think so?
Our esteemed physicians came to the west because they could not serve the people that paid for their training working under the existing regime. Unfortunately they forget why they were driven away. They are just showing us how self-centered and idiots they are. Doctors without borders are in Ogaden tending to the deliberately starved, they are in the rift valley helping the intentionally marginalized and our doctors were assembled in Virginia to serve the less than one percent. Shame is an understatement. When did we loose our moral compass is a valid question?
You know what it took me along time to push send after I wrote this piece. I was worried offending you. I felt like I am not a good ‘chewa’ Ethiopian, rude and confrontational is not our style. Then the picture of the displaced came to me. I saw the children from Benji Maji left to be homeless. I remembered my sister Alem Dechasa alone and helpless in Lebanon. I thought of my people in the jungles of Central Africa to be eaten by wild animals or drawn into harms way in other peoples’ conflict or imprisoned in Yemen and I said enough is enough. I have no reason to please no one.
I have bad news for you my people. Freedom cannot be outsourced. The Americans, the British nor the Norwegians are going to liberate you. Liberation comes from deep inside. It comes from being true to your self. It comes from caring for other as you care for yourself. How could you save others when you are sinking your self? As for our physicians that are deluding themselves about helping our people I have one message for them-kindly shove your PhD’s where the sun does not shine and take two aspirins for the pain. The physical pain will go away but the mental anguish caused by your betrayal will never leave you, ever.
As for me my friends, I am working overtime to bring this nightmare to an end. I support Ginbot 7, I am energized by the new OLF, I help ESAT and I am always there to expose Woyanne atrocities every chance I get. I teach people on the goings in my homeland. I write my Congress representative to remind them of the plight of my people and I will never rest until this cancer is wiped out from my body politic. Sometimes the going gets rough, the road seems impassable but no one promised me a jolly ride. The fact that some individuals or groups betray our trust is no reason to resign and go home. I just reengineer and thrust on because the liberation of my country and people cannot be dumped onto others. What about you are you just complaining insistently, blaming others or are you becoming part of the problem like our educated but reality challenged physicians? It is a choice you have to make.
By Yilma Bekele
The Syrian regime is killing its own people to save the country from terrorists (ashebariwoch). The world is watching and keeping score. Thanks to social media such as Twitter and Facebook we are all witnessing this display of total madness safely from our home. The missile attack on neighborhoods is televised in living color. The old Soviet tanks lined up outside towns are not defending the country from outsiders but rearing to rain death on their own people. It was only a few years back that such atrocity by dictators was not considered newsworthy. It is not because no one cared but rather because it was done behind closed borders. Things are different now. There is no place to hide.
The last year has been a very tumultuous year in our neighborhood. We have all witnessed the happenings in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria. All these countries have imploded from inside. There was no outside interference so to speak of. There was no scapegoat. If you look closely there is one theme that is common to all. The existence of what is called a ‘strong leader’; ‘dictator’ or ‘mad person in charge’ is what is true in every instance. Change was overdue but dictatorship and change are not compatible. Dictatorship cannot be overcome by evolutionary means. Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria are living examples of the validity of that statement.
I am sure the citizens of all those countries would have preferred a peaceful route to bring needed change. I am also sure they for many years, have tried to convince their respective Leaders to accommodate their demands. The upheaval is the result of the inability of the system to fulfill the aspiration of the people. When the needs of the citizen and the wishes of the dictator clash the country enters a very volatile state that can only be resolved by some sort of explosion.
There are controlled explosions and spontaneous explosion. The transition from the Derg to TPLF was a good example of controlled explosion. The transition from the Emperor to the Derg was a very haphazard, creeping and tiring kind of wimpy explosion. The last one standing won. The one with balls but no brains was victorious. Result speaks louder than words.
Syria is entering or has entered that stage. This is the last show and the curtains are coming down. There will be no repeat performance. We all know how it is going to end. By ‘we’ I mean the rest of the world except of course the Syrian ruling lass. All Dictators have a tendency for getting caught by surprise. For some the denial is so strong they don’t even have an escape plan. That is what Gaddafi’s aide said in an interview. The Leader never thought his ‘people’ would be able to gather their nerves and rise up against him. Didn’t he crush their will and personhood? The Idiot was surprised!
Our current object Syria is nothing but a continuation of Arab awakening or “Arab Spring” that originated in Tunisia. But it has its own unique features. In the scheme of Dictatorships in history, it gets a grade of D- at best. It looks like it will only last a single generation. It is nothing to write home about. I do not mean no disrespect or sneer at ours that is gasping to last even a half-life but that is the nature of the business. Africa is littered with wannabe dictators that have lasted less.
The Assad’s have managed to exist by all sorts of trickery and Ponzi scheme. This includes Clannish behavior, benefactor role, blackmail, extortion, assassination and every kind of criminal activity that buys them another day. Today the fabric that has been painstakingly woven is breaking apart. It has run its course and there is no new trick left to prop up the dying system. The Assad’s know it, their Alawit Clan is aware of it and the Syrian people are doing all that they could to hurry matters along.
What exactly is arrayed against the Assad clan is a good question. The main characters all are easy to spot. We are witnessing their cajoling for the best spot after the dust settles. And there are many actors in this farce. The Israelis want a weak Syria with Assad in charge. Their motto is decapitate but not kill. The Jordanians are not thrilled by another crazy regime on the other side of their border. Iraq has already caused a lot of dislocations. The Lebanese are as usual caught between a rock and a hard place. They are keeping a low profile. Turkey is delirious by the opportunity to be seen as an emerging neighborhood bully. Turkey is flexing its muscles.
Iran is depressed. This could not have come at a most unfortunate time. Iran is under siege and it its important ally is jumping from a plane without knowing if the parachute would work. The Mullahs in Quom are not happy and the Islamic Republic will do all that is necessary to prop up the dying regime. The US is walking a tight rope. Mr. Obama does not want anything to complicate matters in this election season. The Israeli Lobby is beating war drums. Mr. Obama has no intention of picking a fight with a powerful constituent no matter what the cause is.
Russia is posturing. Mr. Putin still possess a few not sea worthy submarines prone to accident and rusting nuke Silos and for some reason the West pretends he packs a punch. Clint East Wood would say “Go ahead Vladimir make my day.” Russia’s useless posturing is tolerated because it buys the West time to figure out the volatile situation inside Syria.
The Chinese are looking after number one here. They are thinking “if these foreign devils pass a resolution regarding interference in Syria what is to stop them doing the same when it comes to Tibet?” China is still smarting over being tricked into going along with the invasion of Libya. They have concluded this not to be the time to posture but send scouts to bid on infrastructure building that will definitely follow the mayhem.
Did you notice who I left for last? Yes, good old Syrian people. I am afraid they allowed this abuse by the Assad family and his minority Alawite Clan to go for so long they have become an after thought in the search for a solution to their problem. No one takes their protestations and defiance seriously. Outsiders are looking for a ‘solution’ to impose on them with little or no regard to what they want. It is exactly like what parents say to their child ‘eat your vegetables, it is good for you!’
We Ethiopians are looking closely at the situation in Syria. We have a lot in common. We are both victims of a mad leader and minority clan rule. We both live in a very dangerous neighborhood where others use our precarious existence to wage proxy wars. My interest in writing this paper is to show you what will be done to your country and people in the next few months. I hope you will not feign surprise or pretend you were in the dark. What you see in Syria will be what you will witness in Ethiopia. It won’t be exact but it will be close enough to act as a model. I promise to be the happiest person if I am proven wrong, but that would be flying against facts.
In a very simplistic term this is what we got in Syria. Assad is a second-generation dictator. His power base is the minority Alawite Clan. They consist 12% of the population and occupy all the upper echelons of the military. Security is in the hands of close family members. The economy is used to reward or punish the rest of the population including the majority Sunnis. All media is under the control of the State.
Syria has been in turmoil since March of 2011. The official figure is over seven thousand killed. The Syrian government has killed over seven thousand of its own citizens to stay in power. Bashir and his Alawite Clan are telling the rest of the Syrians either we rule or you all die. It is that simple. He owns a formidable army. Unlike in Egypt the Army is disciplined and controlled better from above. They do not hesitate to fire even into populated areas. Assad, his family and Clan today are feeling like cornered animals. Due to situation they created their escape route is narrowing as we read this. Under the circumstances the only thing to do is pray that the Syrian people put their differences aside and finish this varmint once and for all.
When we look at Syria in the mirror why do I get this feeling that we see Ethiopia. Look at the bright side. This gives us the opportunity to avoid disaster. If we share a common problem and if one of us self-destruct trying a solution I believe the second party should lean from the mistakes and adjust accordingly. That is where we come in. Observe and study all the wrong moves taken by the Dictators and circumvent it before it takes place. I know it is easy said than done. I agree it is not easy for Prime Minster Meles and his group. It is a little naïve to think they are doing this because they are evil or lack the expertise. The simple answer is it is because that is the only way they know how. But it is very easy for us to learn and adopt.
A far as Assad or Meles are concerned the last thirty years has only proved the effectiveness of their method. I said effectiveness not correct and sustainable. Since their inception the use of brute force has been the only way they have resolved any contradiction. The chances of teaching them the value of compromise and the lasting nature of give and take is not possible and utterly a waste of time. It is not going to happen. Gaddafi did not fall for that. Assad will not even consider such farce. The TPLF party is not into committing suicide.
We know they are not capable of learning. I was talking about us. I believe we are capable of learning from the tactics of Gaddafi, Saleh and Assad. Ato Meles is not going to invent a new reality. He is going to act exactly like his friends in a predictable manner. Killing and more killing is the only solution. The assume the more they kill the less we rise up against them. That always worked. Unfortunately once the population gets rid of its fears death is not a valid threat anymore. More killing only breeds more sacrifice and primal anger. Go ask Gaddafi he will tell you what that feels like.
There isn’t much the world can do for the Syrians. Send ‘coffins’ is what a Syrian said in the town of Homs. The Syrians are on their own. May be it will be a good idea to work on our collective responses when the time comes. We Ethiopians are going to find ourselves on our own pretty soon. Thus when you hear the agony of Homs think of Addis Abeba, when they mention Daraa you might as well cry for Dire Dawa when you read the shelling in Hama remember that is what is waiting Hawasa. You might say I exaggerate but really isn’t the same Meles that killed close to three hundred unarmed kids? Isn’t it Meles and company that used their EFFORT lorries to haul any body and everybody to Zuwai, Sendafa etc? Do you think I am being an alarmist?
We have an opportunity to find a way to work together and minimize the damage that is bound to occur when this unfortunate experience implodes on itself. Sergena meta berbere kentesu is not a winning strategy.
By Yilma Bekele
‘Prime Minster Meles Zenawi said on Wednesday Ethiopia could pardon politicians and journalists arrested under a 2009 anti-terrorism law.’ That news was reported widely including inside Ethiopia. Normally what we hear outside and what the people are told is two different things. This time the message was meant for the Ethiopian people. It reinforces the idea of the benevolent Land Lord.
What the Ethiopian minority based regime is doing is bullying it’s own people. According to Wiki ‘Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior manifested by the use of force or coercion to affect others, particularly when the behavior is habitual and involves an imbalance of power.’ Gadaffi was a serial bully so was Mubarak or Saleh. Meles Zenawi is a habitual bully. He uses lethal force as well as verbal aggression on a daily basis. His regime terrorizes our people both inside and outside the country.
No one speaks openly in the so-called developmental state of Ethiopia. Every body is spying on everybody else. It doesn’t have to be true but they all believe it is so. That is what matters. This is a form of mental terror. Those outside are not immune to this. In most meetings Pictures are shot from the back of the room careful not to alarm people. Most prefer ‘pen’ names or aliases when they write to hide their identity. That is true even on social media. It is not to belittle or make fun our behavior but it is true and it is so due to fear. Real or imagined is not important but it affects how we think and act. It affects our inner soul.
That is what a bully does to you. Bullies instill fear. Remember agriculture (peasant farming) is the vocation of 85% of the population and accounts for 45% of GDP. We are the product of a pre industrial society. It really don’t matter where one resides that trait is wired into our behavior. Sometimes in haste we seem to forget that. The truth is that we accept authority with out much fanfare due to old culture and ignorance. We accept the importance of hierarchy and the virtue of keeping quiet and suffering silently.
This drama of “pardon” is nothing more than another ponzi scheme to play with our fears. The current drama started with the ferenji reporters. The regime had a hot potato issue in its hands. The Swedish reporters were caught in the Ogaden during a firefight between the TPLF Army and ONLF freedom fighters. Once they were caught alive they were never in danger. They cannot be made to disappear. You just don’t go around killing white people like you do with Africans. The moment their capture became public their own government and every European Embassy made it clear that the Ethiopian Junta is responsible for every single hair on their body of their unwelcome guests.
The idea of using the reporters to bully the Ethiopian people seemed like a winning idea. It has its risk but one can only deal with the cards on the table. The regime decided to use the occasion to send its own message to the Ethiopian people. The ‘anti-terrorism law was a perfect vehicle to widen the net. Ethiopian Journalists and opposition leaders were bundled with the fernjis. The West was consumed by their own kind and did not pay that much attention to the natives. I am talking about the Western Governments here and their big Media. There were plenty of organizations and individuals protesting loudly regarding all prisoners in Ethiopia.
We are always thankful to Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Reporters without Boarders (RSF), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Doctors without Boarders (MSF), and plenty others that are friends of all those that suffer under all kinds of Dictators. Using the anti-terrorism Law the TPLF regime has arrested god knows how many Ethiopians. We have the names of all the prominent ones but to their friends and family all arrested are prominent and dear. We publicize the names of the ones we know but they speak for all the other thousands. Eskinder was picked up on his way to pick up his son from school, Andualem was arrested at his office, Reeyot, Wubshet and Zerihune were hauled away from their place of work. None were caught with any kind weapon other than their free will and their pen.
I keep Eskinder in my heart all the time. I have conflicting feelings about him. His stubbornness irritates me. His strength threatens my docility. I harbor a certain amount of anger towards him. That is the Ethiopian in me, blaming the victim. There aren’t many Eskinders on this planet. That is why we treasure them when they show up like the morning Sun, bright and warm. His determination against all odds fills all of us his brothers and sisters with so much strength while his jailers recoil with shame. Using the might of the State to bully one citizen is such an abuse of power and authority it makes the jailers look so small and uncivilized. He has been in jail since September 14. It has been over one hundred twenty days or over six months my brother has been kidnapped for no other crime other than wanting to be free to think, write and raise a family. His wife Serkalem and his miracle son Nafkot live in agony. We cannot imagine their sorrow. How do you miss someone you haven’t met but I miss him and wish him all the strength to live another day.
I can’t imagine solitary confinement. I assume the cycle of the days becomes meaningless. They use silence as a weapon. All their punishment is meant to hurt. It is designed to harm and injure. It is cruel mental torture. The brain plays games on you they say. Does he have a window in his cell or is he in a dungeon. Is it cold and wet? Keeping a ‘prisoner’ inside wells, caves or a dark dungeon is a common TPLF practice. Are they doing that to my brother? It is not my imagination. Their style of work is well documented. The testimony given by old party members that have defected is very alarming and scary. My friend Eskinder is on the other end of this sadistic system.
The regime used the their ferenji prisoners to talk to us. Bullying is the language of preference the minority-based regime employs to telegraph its likes and dislikes. Jailing our best and brightest is meant to teach the rest of us the futility of defiance. Meles and company used the ferenjis to show their subjects that they are not afraid. They can even jail a ferenji and impose their will is what they were telling us. Observe and behave is the message. It is a government gone rogue.
No words describe the satisfaction when we witness the plan boomerang. It backfired big time. It is not a game changer but it has managed to expose the workings of the Ethiopian Junta in power to a bigger audience. It counts a lot. We the vocal Diaspora, the talkers and non-doers are very happy of this outcome. We take complete credit for the debacle. The exposure of the regime’s method of waging war on the Ethiopian people has become a public relations nightmare to their public relations firm. They are attempting damage control. They are trying to put lipstick on a pig.
Ato Meles and his minority-based dictatorship are feeling the heat from their enablers. The spring of TPLF style ‘Pardon’ is upon us again. Kinijit Pardon Judge Bertukan pardons are in the history books. I have to refer to Pardonoligists to determine if Judge Bertukan’s pardon is given one or two credit. Our two guests are leaving us soon. They will be pardoned and let go in the next few weeks. The regime using its monopoly media will tell its subjects that the Swedes accepted responsibility and asked for forgiveness while showing remorse and they were deported. But the damage was done. Even the New York Times noticed. What we have been saying is sort of noticed by foreigners that matter. As I said it is a step forward but not a game changer.
Arab Spring’ has made a few things clear. The people themselves have to conquer their fear and demand their rights. There is no other formula or recipe. What we saw was when the people slowly realize their power there is nothing to stop them from snatching it away from the usurper. How it is snatched is a whole story by itself. Think of Mubarak, Gadaffi, Saleh and think of Ben Ali. Three selfish bastards with three different responses to the same demand. Go figure who today is able to pray facing Mecca.
What is clear is that we are contributing our share. Make no mistake about our role. No one will pay attention to Meles’s crimes if it was not for us in the outside. Our activates on the Internet and on Facebook is bearing fruits. ESAT is proving how balanced, informative and educational we could be given the chance. ESAT is 100% made in Ethiopia. The independent Web sites are flourishing. Arab Spring was all about using every available means to create one big family focused and willing to act as a bridge to tomorrow land. I am sure an opinion maker like Mr. Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times Googling us will see the kind of people we are. We are passionate but we are not haters. We are probing for a solution that is acceptable to the many. We celebrate diversity. Our Free Web sites reflect that. The Ethiopian regime cannot say that. They block ideas they do not agree with. They are afraid of airing an opinion different from theirs. They win by silencing not by the power of their argument. A dammed down population is easy too bully. They keep our people in the dark by design. That is why some of us shout and scream. Looks like we are getting heard.
What we do with this knowledge is something to think about. Surely we think about the prisoners of conscience that are paying for doing what was allowed in the regimes own constitution. Do we double our efforts so the Eskinders, the Andualems, the Reeyots the Zerhunes, the Wubshets will be free and enjoy life to its fullest? Do we dare to conquer fear and unite in a positive manner to do good? Do we allow the regime to bully us into submission or rise up in righteous indignation and say hell no! Our individual tiny contribution in consort with other minuscule offerings becomes a tsunami when put together. That is what we learnt from Egypt. Do not let the bully get away with his rude and crude method of dismissing us but make him pay attention and watch him flail to explain the unexplainable.
Listen to Communication Minster Bereket Semeon trip over his words trying to explain who and how in the world he thinks he is entitled to regulate what we write and say. Watch the Junta leader confess that he copied the Law from the West so it must be correct. It is pathetic and so void of commonsense it makes you wonder how they view us. When you see the Kangaroo Parliament laughing at his tasteless jokes and moronic explanations you can see it is the blind leading the blind and our current situation of jumping from one crisis to another makes perfect sense. Well Ato Meles if you are in the habit of copying how about copying the ‘Bill of Rights’ from the US Constitution. Sorry my mistake it looks like you have already copied a few things but my dear friend the devil is in the implementation.
There are a few fighting evil. We are not all docile. We are not all self centered. On the other hand it is true most of us are afraid. We try to cover that by being belligerent towards each other. Afraid of Meles and his killing machine we turn our ire against each other. That has to stop. It is not cute and it makes us so cheap and laughable. Being afraid to confront Meles and his people does not justify dumping ones anger against those that are resisting his crimes. Do you see yourself my friend? You lie down dead and blame those that fight back? Does that make sense? What are you going to do when the Ethiopian people rise up like Egyptians or Libyans or Syrians? Blame the victims and blame us for inciting? Some say why don’t you go back and fight? Really is that the best you can come up with? From where I sit most of us have three choices to make. We can help our people resist, we can sit on the side and pretend dead or join the TPLF as junior partners. Choose and act.
By Yilma Bekele
‘…. he was feared far beyond his might and respected far beyond his support, both which in the end proved meager. … would play one official off of another, promoting sons above their fathers, pitting the members of too-powerful families or clans or unions against one another for resources, splitting so many allies and creating so many feuds and petty rivalries that it was nearly impossible that any two ……. could come together to ask one another if there might be another way.’
Max Fisher, associate editor – The Atlantic.
Mr. Fisher’s description fits most successful dictators. Admit it you thought he was talking about ours, didn’t’ you? It is all right, no need to worry; he was actually talking about the late Colonel Gaddafi. The Leader got away with just doing that for over forty years. Libya lost a generation. That is what failed leaders do to a country. After they are gone they leave a mess behind.
The drawing above is by cartoonist Ali Ferzat of Syria. Mr. Assad and his associates did not look kindly at his work. According to Mr. Fisher “On August 25, the 60-year-old Syrian political cartoonist Ali Ferzat was driving home from his office in Damascus when a car with tinted windows blocked the road. Men dragged Ferzat from his car, stuffed him in a van, beat him severely and broke both his hands in what they called “a warning” and dumped him on the side of the road.” Mr. Assad and his goons would like to kill Mr. Ferzat, thereby digging their grave. That is the logic of dictators.
Mr. Ferzat drew the above cartoon after his hands healed. What is going on in Syria is insanity, and that is putting it mildly. President Assad has witnessed the demise of Ben Ali, Mubarak, Gaddafi and Saleh but he is following the path that leads to the same dead end street. Why do you think? He is not stupid, and I doubt he is insane. May be a little insane ok? He probably thinks things are different in Syria. May be he believes he is more cunning and smarter than those buffoons. No matter what, he cannot stop this runaway train. He has no choice. It is a do or die situation. He is a prisoner of his own doing and the Syrian people are prisoners of their tolerance of evil for so long.
We Ethiopians are familiar with that state of affairs. We have been prisoners for a long time. It is true we have not been lucky with the leaders we seem to attract. Misfits and delusional describes them better. It is a good enough explanation for the debacle in our homeland. My question is how come the same dysfunctional behavior is replicated away from home?
It is fair to ask if we are running our affairs any better where ever we have settled. If our claim is that we have been cursed with bad leaders can we show any evidence that we are capable of building a harmonious society with out the interference of those we hold responsible for our failure? I believe it is a legitimate question that begs for answers from each one of us. I am interested in an answer not an excuse. Excuse is for losers. My interest is in looking for an explanation so we can search for a solution to fix the problem not to go on a fishing expedition to avoid responsibility or share the blame.
Look around you. We are in the hundreds of thousands that have left their home to construct a new reality. There is no denying that we are good at survival no matter how dire the circumstances. From the Jungles of Uganda all the way to Southern Africa, from Beirut to the Gulf, From Tuscany Coast to the frigid waters of Scandinavia and the mighty Continent of North America we Ethiopians are thriving in our new environment. Any mother would be proud of us! Please don’t get a big head now there is more.
That speaks about our individual achievements. My profound question to you my Diaspora cousin is how come we shine as individuals but fail as a community? Can you answer that for me? If you don’t mind I said answer not make up an excuse that will remove ‘you’ from the equation and dump the sins onto others. That is not good enough. That is what is called avoidance. It is a little difficult to imagine how each one of you is a perfect saint while all those ‘others’ are the ones causing the problem. It does not work like that. Believe me it is not that way.
If we are going to share the glory I believe we should be willing to share the blame too. The problem with our country is that there are so many that take credit for the past while screwing the present. I don’t mean to belittle the many achievements of the few. I am looking at the bigger picture. Voltaire wrote ‘No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.’ You see what I mean. There wouldn’t be an avalanche without the individual snowflake.
Our anti social behavior is manifested in most aspects of our interactions. Be it Political, religious or simple Eder the slash and burn formula is our choice of resolving simple misunderstandings. Just check out your community if you are lucky or unlucky enough to live in a large size abesha population. There is a high possibility that the effort of individuals is spent in conflict and drama instead of cooperation and harmony. We are becoming very good in this use and discard philosophy. It used to be like that in the West before they became aware of the limitations of resources. Everything was manufactured to be used and thrown away.
You know how good we are at copying. Unfortunately we are not discriminating. Thus we picked up that concept and applied it to our country. Circumstances forced us to leave. Returning was not a safe option. That fact made the act of leaving something you love behind a normal situation. Now we have enhanced that to include organizations and associations. If we disagree we just create a small faction and leave. After spending so much time and resources in building a beautiful organization, Church etc. we have no qualms in leaving it behind hoping it would disintegrate and disappear. I have seen situations where the wreckers have no plans with what to replace it with. All available force goes into making sure nothing survives.
Why do you think that is so? I am not imaging this. I am sure we all love our country. We love each other. I know that because we seem to spend inordinate amount of time worrying about each other and our homeland. We have our own Churches and Mosques; we have our own restaurants, quick stores, coffee shops, our own on line community etc. For people that can’t live without each other we definitely exhibit a strange way to show our love and concern.
This formidable force commonly called the Diaspora is a paper tiger. The Diaspora is all bark no bite. In fact the Diaspora is such a negative and destructive force it needs to be overhauled. Such talk might offend you. You might be forced to get your guards up. That is the snowflake talking. It is like saying I see all this dysfunction around me but I am not responsible. Who me? I am the picture of love and tolerance. It is all those others that are the cause of all evil. Stop that now.
That is what Gaddafi said. Look what it got him. Denial is not a winning strategy. Self-reflection is what the situation demands. Admitting there is a problem is show of maturity. Holding oneself responsible and willing to change is one giant step forward. This total dysfunction is the sum total of the little things we do in our everyday interaction.
I believe we can start with respect for each other. Respect based not because of education, wealth or gosa but respect because we are each other’s keepers. There is no need to demonize others, no value in demeaning fellow country people, not a good idea searching for motive in every utterance and no winner in war. If we take care of the little things, the big things will fall into place.
This habit of screaming bloody murderer about the hapless Woyane is not taking us anywhere. The crimes of our tyrannical leaders will be the cause of their downfall. The Ethiopian people will take care of that. They are working on it everyday. It is us I worry about. If we are not capable of forming a harmonious society out here where we really do not have conflicting interest what makes you think we could succeed over there? Shouldn’t out here be the place where we learn this new concept of respect, tolerance, kindness and all other winning behavior?
That is the advantage of living in a free society. It gives individuals a choice. No one compels us to do this or that. We are free to choose. Thus when we split our Church, when we disrespect our leaders be it Community or Party we are making a choice. When we speak ill of each other and when we hurt each other with venomous language it is a choice we each make. When we invest in Woyane land, buy stolen property, turn our faces away when we see our people being abused we are making a choice. No need to look at your neighbor. You ladies and gentlemen have to answer for your own actions. What would it be soaring high like the eagle or scavenging like the vulture. The choice is yours but you must take full responsibility for it!
Alemayehu G. Mariam
In 1987 when Time Magazine featured a famine-stricken Ethiopian mother on its cover page, it failed to ask the most important question of all: What should Ethiopians do and not do to help themselves?
It is the privilege of those who give to pity those who receive. One of the great indignities of being a perennial object of charity and handouts is the perception by those lending a hand that handout recipients are not only moneyless and helpless but also hopeless and clueless about what they need to do to help themselves. Well-intentioned donors and benefactors often mistakenly assume that recipients of charity should “ask what the world can do for them, and not what they can do for themselves.” But history shows that all societies that have succeeded economically, socially and politically had to pull themselves up by their bootstraps with a little help from friends. Ethiopians are no exception; they must do all of the heavy lifting by themselves if they are to permanently cast off the burdens of poverty, famine, disease, dictatorship and corruption. What should Ethiopians do to save themselves?
Ten Things Ethiopians Can Do to Help Themselves 
It is all about humanity, community and civility, NOT ethnicity, nationality, sovereignty, animosity or disunity.
If Ethiopians have a chance of overcoming their enormous economic and political problems, they must first make fundamental choices. They can choose the politics of their common humanity and collectively build a harmonious civil community, or remain trapped in the dungeon of identity politics and become pawns in the ethnic chess game of uber-dictator Meles Zenawi. If Ethiopians affirm their common humanity, they will see that human rights abuses do not have an ethnic face, nor poverty a nationality. They will understand religion is not a weapon of animosity but a way to divinity. National disunity will never produce prosperity, but it will surely keep the people in perpetual poverty. Ethnicity and identity add diversity in a genuine democratic system. Under a dictatorship, they become powerful tools of dehumanization breeding fear, hatred and distrust among the people. Ethiopians must choose to climb up and steer the Ship of Ethiopia into the horizon or remain lost in their ethnic boats on a sea of tyranny, poverty and famine. That is why I believe Ethiopians need a new unifying civic ideology that transcends ethnicity, gender, nationality, religion, language and other classifications susceptible to insidious use. Ethiopians inside the country and in the Diaspora must build a civic culture based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the most translated document in the world. If the values of the UDHR are widely accepted and practiced, Ethiopia will be able to overcome poverty, famine and internal division and achieve prosperity and greatness within a generation.
Ethiopians must become a little bit utopian.
Ethiopia is today a dystopia– a society that writhes under a dictatorship that trashes human rights and decimates all opposition ruthlessly. Last year, Zenawi told two high level U.S. Government officials what he will do to his opposition: “We will crush them with our full force.” All Ethiopians, regardless of ethnicity, language, religion, class or region must be able to imagine an Ethiopia where no petty tyrant will ever have the power or even the audacity to say he will “crush” another fellow citizen, or has the ability to use “full force” against any person just because he can. Ethiopians must be able to dream of a future free of ethnic strife, famine and oppression; and strive to work together for a little utopia in Ethiopia where might is NOT right but the rule of law shields the defenseless poor and voiceless against the slings and arrows of the criminally rich and powerful. It is true that Utopians aspire for the perfect society, but Ethiopians should aspire and work collectively for a society in which human rights are respected, the voice of the people are heard and accepted (not stolen), those to whom power is entrusted perform their duties with transparency and are held accountable to the law and people.
Learn from the past, prepare for the future.
More often than not, many Ethiopians tend to dwell on the past than imagining an alternative future. The past is a great teacher; we must learn from past mistakes and do things better and differently. But the past can also be a mental prison. Zenawi always reminds us how we have been wicked to each other in the past and waxes eloquent on the alleged crimes, cruelty and inhumanity of long gone kings and princes. He never tires to tell us how this king, that aristocrat or soldier has been cruel and barbaric. He thinks he can make himself angelic by demonizing past leaders. Perhaps he does not see it, but when one points an index finger outwards, three fingers are pointing inwards. The moral lesson is that we need to find a way out of the mental prison of past grievances and liberate our minds with a new civic ideology to embrace a brave new democratic Ethiopia under the rule of law. As the old saying goes, “One can’t drive forward on the road of life if one is fixed looking in the rear view mirror.” So, we have to make another simple choice: Live in the past chewing on the cud of historical grievances or hold hands, learn from the past and put our collective shoulders to the grindstone and forge a new Ethiopia. If we fail to do that, those who cling to power will entrench and enrich themselves and laugh at the rest of us who remain trapped in the dungeons of our historical grievances.
No country or society ever got prosperity by begging or receiving alms.
No country or society ever got prosperity by begging or receiving alms. But recent evidence from Wikileaks cablegrams shows that Zenawi plans to bulldoze his way into economic development at an annual growth rate of 15 percent by panhandling the West. According to U.S. Assistant Secretary of Treasury Andy Baukol, the “Government of Ethiopia (GoE) has become more vocal about its need for sustained aid flows from the West and more recalcitrant about implementing any reforms or liberalization of key sectors such as banking and telecommunications.” A recent IMF report, which Zenawi wants kept hidden from public scrutiny, concluded that Ethiopia’s “macroeconomic performance has deteriorated markedly” because of loose monetary policy which has fueled stratospheric inflation and mindless government control and regulations which have undermined confidence in the private sector.
Foreign aid as a development vehicle has been thoroughly discredited. As Dambissa Moyo has argued, the “evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that aid to Africa has made the poor poorer, and the growth slower. The insidious aid culture has left African countries more debt-laden, more inflation-prone, more vulnerable to the vagaries of the currency markets and more unattractive to higher-quality investment.” Countries that have achieved rapid economic development have managed to create favorable politico-legal environments for business, industry and commerce, maintained low state debt and accumulated substantial fiscal reserves to meet emergency needs. The spirit of official mendicancy in Ethiopia must be replaced by a public spirit of unfettered entrepreneurship.
As long as Ethiopia remains under a dictatorship, there will always be famine, and not just of food.
Western aid bureaucrats like to sugarcoat the famine in Ethiopia in the politically correct bureaucratese of “extreme malnutrition”, “food crises”, “green drought” and so on. Interestingly, in a recent official blog and testimony before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Yamamoto and presently Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State acknowledged “famine [is] spreading across the Horn of Africa.” That should not come as a surprise as Yamamoto had long concluded that Ethiopia is trapped in a permanent and unbreakable cycle of famine and starvation. In a recently released Wikileaks cablegram,Yamamoto advised his superiors: “Ethiopia’s perennial emergency food dependence is, de facto, a permanent condition.” He outlined that the U.S. has three choices in light of the permanence of famine in the Ethiopian political economy: 1) “continue to provide massive food aid, which is unsustainable, in meeting Ethiopia’s permanent state of emergency food need each year,” 2) “provide significantly greater assistance for sustainable agricultural productivity”, or 3) “robustly to push for a shift in economic and agricultural policies (regarding land tenure, agricultural technologies and practices, agricultural inputs, etc.) to increase domestic agricultural productivity.” The bottom line is that as long as Ethiopia remains in the chokehold of the current dictatorship, there will always be a famine not only of food but also of democracy, human rights, rule of law, accountability, transparency and vision. Western donors must stop supporting oppression, corruption, persecution and repression in famine-stricken Ethiopia.
Plant and water the seeds of genuine multiparty democracy on the parched landscape of famine.
It is oft-repeated that “there has never been a famine in a functioning multi-party democracy” with a robust free press. In a competitive multi-party political process, there is a much higher degree of political and electoral accountability. A government that ignores or fails to prevent famine is surely destined to lose power. A free press will mobilize public opinion for official and civic action to deal with the problem. Multiparty democracy does not mean the six dozen ethno-tribal “parties” organized by the Zenawi dictatorship to serve as a Tower of Babel and facilitate its divide and rule strategy. It does mean the functioning of political organizations that compete for electoral support and have appeal across ethnic, linguistic, religious and regional lines. Ethiopia can learn a great lesson from Ghana in this regard in light of shared socio-economic and political experiences. Article 55 (4) of the Ghanaian Constitution expressly mandates political parties to have “national character”: “Every political party shall have a national character, and membership shall not be based on ethnic, religious, regional or other sectional divisions.” Any multiparty system to be established in Ethiopia must be guided by such constitutional language.
Ethiopia’s youth are the flowers of today and the seeds of hope tomorrow.
The old Ethiopian saying that the “youth are the flowers of today and the seeds of tomorrow” is true. They need to be carefully cultivated and grown. But the the data on these seeds of hope are discouraging. Forty six percent of Ethiopia’s 91 million population in 2011 is estimated to be under the age of 18. UNICEF estimates that malnutrition is responsible for more than half of all deaths among children under age five. An estimated 5 million children are orphans, a little less than one-fifths from AIDS. Urban youth unemployment is estimated at 70 per cent. The vast majority of Ethiopian adolescents live in rural areas. Some regions in the country have extremely high rates of early marriage. Frustrated and in despair of their future, many urban youths drop out of school and engage in risky behaviors including drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse, crime and delinquency. The ruling dictatorship’s youth, sports and culture agency concedes that youth issues have been long neglected: “In Ethiopia, because of the fact that proper attention has not been given to addressing youth issues and their organizations, therefore, mutual cooperation and networking among youth, family, society, other partners and government had hardly been created.” Much needs to be done to give Ethiopia’s youth hope in the future. Whatever is to be done to help the youth, the starting point must necessarily be a de-marginalization of youth through an explicit acknowledgement of their role in solving problems affecting them. They must be included in all decision-making concerning youth issues and consulted extensively in the policy planning and implementation stages. The bottom line is that without the youth, Ethiopia has no future. Those who ignore the youth should understand that hungry children grow to be angry children and a ticking demographic time bomb.
Empower Ethiopian women.
Birtukan Midekssa, Ethiopia’s foremost political prisoner until her release last year and first woman political party leader in Ethiopian history, enjoyed talking about an allegorical ‘future country of Ethiopia’ that would become an African oasis of democracy and a bastion of human rights and the rule of law in the continent. In Birtukan’s ‘future Ethiopia’ women and men would live not only as equals under the law, but also work together to create a progressive and compassionate society in which women are free from domestic violence and sexual exploitation, have access to adequate health and maternal care and are provided education to free them from culturally-enforced ignorance, submissiveness and subjugation. But if the situation of women in the ‘present country of Ethiopia’ is any indication, Birtukans “future country” is in deep trouble.
The 2000 US State Department Human Rights Country Report on Ethiopia described the status of women in appallingly disheartening terms: “The Constitution provides for the equality of women; however, these provisions often are not applied in practice… Discriminatory regulations in the civil code include recognizing the husband as the legal head of the family and designating him as the sole guardian of children over five years old. Domestic violence is not considered a serious justification under the law to obtain a divorce. Irrespective of the number of years the marriage has existed, the number of children raised and the joint property, the woman is entitled to only 3 months’ financial support should the relationship end.”
The 2010 US. State Department Human Rights Country Report on Ethiopia described the status of women in similar stark terms: “The constitution provides women the same rights and protections as men. Harmful Traditional Practices (HTPs) such as FGM (female genital mutilation), abduction, and rape are explicitly criminalized; however, enforcement of these laws lagged. Women and girls experienced gender-based violence daily, but it was underreported due to shame, fear, or a victim’s ignorance of legal protections. Domestic violence, including spousal abuse, was a pervasive social problem. The 2005 Demographic and Health Survey found that 81 percent of women believed a husband had a right to beat his wife. Sexual harassment was widespread [and] harassment-related laws were not enforced.”
The current dictatorship in Ethiopia manifested its latent misogyny not only by giving lip service to women’s issues but also by dehumanizing the symbol of women in Ethiopia, young Birtukan Midekssa. During her incarceration, the U.S. Government regarded Birtukan a political prisoner because she was imprisoned for her political beliefs as did all other major international human rights organizations. But Zenawi threw Birtukan straight into solitary confinement after arresting her on the streets, and boasted to the world: “There will never be an agreement with anybody to release Birtukan. Ever. Full stop. That’s a dead issue.” He later literally added insult to injury by mocking her that she was in “perfect condition” in solitary confinement and was eating and sitting around idly and likely to “have gained a few kilos”.
Ethiopian women need to be empowered in all spheres of life. But without young women leaders like Birtukan who can fight for Ethiopian democracy and human rights, and women’s rights, talk of improving the status of women in Ethiopia is a mockery of women.
Only Ethiopians can save themselves.
Ethiopians should know that the West and its billions in aid and loans will help but not save them from a famine of food and democracy. Ethiopians in the Diaspora can help by becoming the voice of Ethiopia’s voiceless. But only Ethiopians can save themselves from famine, poverty, dictatorship and division. Only they can solve their problems by creating common cause, building consensus and forging genuine brotherhood and sisterhood among themselves regardless of ethnicity or other factors. Only when they are able to forge unity of purpose and are irrevocably committed to democracy and the rule of law will they be able to cast off the boots of dictatorship from their necks. There is no need to look for answers to what troubles Ethiopia in Washington, D.C., London, Bonn or Beijing. The solution for Ethiopia’s problems is in Ethiopia.
Give hope. Always keep hope alive.
The old saying is true that “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.” When dictators swagger arrogantly to show the people that they are omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient, they are telling them they have no hope. Their message is the same as the one inscribed on the gates of Dante’s Inferno: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” But Ethiopians must never abandon hope. To abandon hope is to lose faith in Ethiopia’s children. When the dictators say, “Look how powerful we are. Give up!”, hope says “keep on keeping on. Tyrants for a time seem invincible but in the end, they always fall.” As Martin L. King said, “We are now experiencing the darkest hour which is just before the dawn of freedom and human dignity.” That is why it is important to keep hope alive in Ethiopia.
Tyrants always fall, but what happens the morning after?
Gandhi spoke an eternal truth: “There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall — think of it, ALWAYS.” In just the past few months, Ben Ali fell in Tunisia; Hosni Mubarak fell and is standing trial in Egypt. Moammar Gadhafi fell and is hiding out in a spider hole somewhere in southern Libya. Bashir Al-Assad is teetering as he continues to butcher Syrians who have kept up the pressure through acts of mass civil disobedience. He too will fall. The question is never, never whether tyrants fall. The question is always, always what happens after they fall!
 This commentary builds upon my set of ten reasons to questions posed by Time Magazine nearly a quarter of a century ago: “Why are Ethiopians starving again? and “What should the world do and not do” to help them?
Previous commentaries by the author are available at: www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/ and http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/
By Yilma Bekele
There are a lot of Ethiopians outside of their homeland. I have not seen a reliable statistics to tell us the real number, but there is no hiding from the fact that we have become a Nation that looks to outside to solve many of our pressing needs. Coffee, hides and lately cereals have been touted as the main export of our country since time immemorial. I have a feeling that is not correct anymore. Today human beings are the chief export of our country.
Like any commodity there are several ways people are exported. Coffee is exported raw or washed, classified into different grades or packaged various ways. It is the same with people. Some have higher education while a few are illiterate. The fortunate fly out while others walk or swim. Then there are those young so-called orphans sold out to the highest bidder.
Is the export of people good or bad? At first glance the natural reaction is to say there is nothing good about uprooting people from their natural habitat. It robs society of its precious resources. Missing the young and energetic is not a small matter to society. They are the future building blocks. There is also the problem of ‘brain drain’. Those that are blessed with that illusive and much wanted ‘fertile brain’ are always the first plucked by the rich West.
When it comes to our country export of people is a double-edged sword. It robs us of the services of our educated experts while at the same time the income they generate outside is returned back as remittances. The Diaspora has become the premier generator of wealth. Without remittances from the Diaspora our country would be more destitute if such thing is at all possible.
Why is the Diaspora so resourceful and so committed to helping its homeland is a good question? That is what I want to explore in this piece. That we are a special people is not an idle question. It is true and verifiable. Go to any big city all over the planet and you will see what I mean. There is an Ethiopian enclave wherever you go. We create a country inside a country. That is due to factors rooted in our history. We are suspicious of outsiders and it has been inoculated in us that we are the best. Whether true or not is not the issue. That we believe it is a fact is reflected in our behavior. We make sure we live in close proximity; we dine on Injera and wot day in and day out while pretending we can’t stand each other is part of our psychological makeup.
We are new at this game of outside migration. Before the fall of the Emperor the number of Ethiopians outside of their homeland was not significant at all. Higher education was the main reason for leaving the homeland. The vast majority returned home. The emergence of the Derg opened the floodgates. The TPLF minority junta made it into a business. It does not show any sign of slowing down. My question is it possible to make the Diaspora experience into a teachable experience?
I believe so. The Diaspora experience is a rich lesson that can be transferred into a positive asset to help our country and people. The vast majority leave their country empty handed with a one-way ticket out. It is definitely a frightening experience not knowing what lies ahead around the corner. Our lesson in independent living starts the first day away from home. By now it is clear that we are resourceful people and no amount of hurdle is a hindrance to the Abesha spirit residing in our DNA.
Do you ever wonder why we are so successful as immigrants but can qualify as a poster child for dysfunctional behavior when at home? I am not hating but it is difficult to escape that fact of life. We shine like a neon light as a Diaspora anywhere on planet Earth. No question about that.
The most crucial thing we learn is how to prioritize our needs. The first thing we secure is food and shelter. Be it a refugee center, a Red Cross-camp or the bare floor of a cousins apartment any place is acceptable until the next day. It usually takes a few days to get our orientation back and absorb knowledge from the early settlers. Then, we are up and running.
Our existence as the Diaspora is a varied as our Ethiopia. There is no profession we are not familiar with. It all depends on age, level of education, sex, and pure whim. One thing for sure is that we learn fast to be masters of our universe. As I said we choose many roads but we maintain certain things in common. We learn to value privacy. We learn fast that Independent living is not free. Some work, a few work and go to school while others concentrate on education. There is nothing like free choice.
We find out about budgeting and what it means to live within your means. The rent or mortgage has to be paid, utility cannot be skipped, insurance is a must and grocery is not an option. We learn how to plan to buy a house, a car or take a vacation. It is hard work but the reward is beyond imagination. There is nothing like standing on your own. We don’t stop there. The moment we feel secure we move heaven and earth to help each other. Brothers, sisters long lost relatives and even neighbors line up asking for a hand. Abeshas are generous people.
Do you see my problem here? How come the same resourceful people that roam the planet and succeed beyond expectations stink to high heaven in that real estate called Ethiopia? Is it possible those thousands of years of isolated living high up on our mountains have fortified our individualism? Do we function better alone rather than in-group setting? Is that why we are good at distance running but never succeed in soccer? Individually we excel whether in education, sports or business but put us in a venture that requires cooperation and working together and you know we are inviting trouble.
The life as a Diaspora is proof that we are up to the task when challenged and survival depends on ingenuity, clear-cut goals and personal rewards for job well done. That is what we can teach our people. As a Diaspora we have learned dreams and reality are two different animals. We deal with facts. Here are the lessons that I think we can share with our people.
· Life is about setting priority.
· We secure food and shelter first.
· We learn how to live within our means.
· We decide between education, work or both and don’t look back.
· We learn respect for others so they respect us back.
· We celebrate diversity and learn how to coexist with others.
· We learn not to shift responsibility or play the blame game.
· We discover how being an Ethiopian is a big deal and observe how much it is ingrained into us.
· We learn not to insult, demean or hate others.
· We learn the value of success and the meaning of sharing.
Don’t they all look so simple and easy? Apparently that is not the case. Our country is a perfect example of how to learn from negative experience. Don’t you wish our leaders had gone thru this growing process? They will learn to secure food and shelter first. They will not rent a house for five hundred dollars and install a thousand dollars security system. They will not buy an SUV while a little Toyota is what their budget allows. They will not marginalize a section of their population instead of inviting all to live under one big tent. They will learn how to save for a rainy day instead of scrambling to plug the leak as it pours. Most important of all they will learn not to look down at others because of some perceived inadequacy. They will learn to value and respect others not based their lineage, education, wealth or power but simply because they are human beings like us. When we start from that premise everything fits in place.
At a time when millions of our Somali brothers and sisters are facing hell on earth, millions of Ethiopians are surviving with less than one hundred calories a day don’t you think it is about time we reevaluate our current dysfunctional behavior? There is nothing wrong at reassessing our philosophy and outlook on life. It is never too late to change. We can start by being nice to each other, by listening to each other and looking at situations in a positive manner. This game of cultivating hate and magnifying differences is a dead end street. The lessons we are learning as a Diaspora has made us a better Ethiopian and decent human being. We never choose to settle away from our precious home but the experience has only enriched us and made us into a more tolerant and well-rounded person. Although we miss our home and people we have managed to contribute the lions share of helping our country.
Now if only those in charge will use the billions we send home to prioritize and spend the bounty in a meaningful manner. Now if only they will allocate resources to feed, shelter and educate our people in a rational manner. Now if only they spend our remittances on agriculture, technology and sustainable development. Now if only they will learn to respect us, bring us together and involve us in our affairs. The bottom line is we are not responsible for the behaviors of others but surely we can start by changing our selves and showing others how much cooperation is much superior than celebrating conflict. Remember Ezana, Tewodros, Abba Jifar, Tona, Ali Mirah, Worawo, Ginocho and other honorable ancestors are looking down at us, what do we tell them?
By Yilma Bekele
It was a beautiful weekend in Oakland. It was sunny, warm and clear blue skies. We celebrated Meskel like never before. Every year you see more young ones scurrying around between your legs and all over the place. It is a population explosion with the new arrivals and the newly born. As usual it was both serene and lavish. The folks of Medhanealem cathedral know how to give a feast fit for Ethiopians.
We are both proud and happy to have a caring church that knows its responsibility to people and country. To watch so many Ethiopians having fun and rejoicing in celebrating their heritage is heart warming. You can take the Ethiopian out of Ethiopia but you cannot take being Ethiopian out of him/her. The fact we were treated to such a holiday spirit is not an accident. Here in Oakland we have a little advantage. We are blessed to have a caring and humble father that has managed to keep has flock together and avoid the bad and terrible things that are happening all around us. Our church is under constant attack and church leaders like Abatachen have shown us how to be to be resilient. We might bend but we will never snap and break.
I am sure it took a lot of planning to organize such an event. Since there is the issue of setting fire (Demera) both the City and the fire department have to be notified. There were tents to be pitched, table and chairs to be set. There was food and water to be brought and special playing pen for the young ones to be set. Traffic control is always an issue and setting up the sound system takes knowledge. It all went well due to excellent planning by the Church Board and their helpers. A lot of Ethiopians went home happy.
It is such a joy to see Ethiopians coming together. United and working for the same purpose and goal. Priceless!
Another important event took place on the other side of this continent. The location was Uptown Manhattan and the name of the place is Columbia University. Here on Wednesday September 22nd. another set of Ethiopians defended our honor and hoisted our flag sky high for all to see with the lettering ‘Do not thread on me!’ embossed on good old green yellow and red. Our people chartered buses, drove in their private cars, took the train and flew to be present at this important event. They came as far away as Carolina, as close as Boston as next door as New Jersey or a tad far as Connecticut. They came to speak for the voiceless. They were a few hundred in real numbers but they were hundreds of thousands in spirit. They were not alone. All Ethiopia was with them. They showed the tyrant ferenji respect is not a substitute to our love and respect.
Columbia University got more than what it bargained for. The hired TPLF lobbyists and the Professors for ‘sale’ were exposed for what they are, tyrant coddlers! Columbia heard the cry of the Ethiopian people loud and clear. They were seen going around like a chicken with is head cut off. First they removed the crappy flattering autobiography, then their Professors rebelled and called foul, and were forced to move the venue to a lower setting and crowned their debacle by canceling President Bollinger’s appearance.
Ethiopians in the Diaspora worked together and waged a successful campaign to turn this unjust invitation into a teachable moment. Students and faculty of Columbia University were made aware of the plight of our people. We emailed, faxed, called and made a lot of noise. Our independent websites were relentless and our airwaves were filled with somber discussions. We were at our best. We did it not out of hate but out of love for our homeland.
I wrote an article regarding the individual’s visit. I gave the examples of Fascist Italy’s aggression of 1935 and Jimmy Carters blunder in the aftermath of the 2005 elections to lament on Ferenjis disrespect for our sensibilities. I mis-spoke. I apologize. Both examples are off target. When Italy invaded our motherland our people did not fold their hands and sit around waiting for the bombs to fall. No they marched north to confront the enemy. The fact that Italy possessed airplanes loaded with poison gas and heavy guns capable of doing great damage was not a deterrent to the sons and daughters of Tewodros, Menelik, Tona, Abajifar and Yohanes.
When our honorable guest lost the election in 2005 and decided to win by any means necessary our people did not throw their hands in the air and went back home. They rose up to confront a highly trained and lethal Agazi force of the Prime Minster and engaged the enemy in Merkato and around the nation. Merkato is our sacred ground. Our ‘ground zero.’ Let us just say we lacked the resolve to take the game to its natural conclusion. (Our Kenyan neighbors took note and called Mr. Kibabki’s bluff. Today, Kenya with a democratically drawn constitution will surpass our country in a short time and take the leadership position in African Affairs.) We lost over two hundred sons and daughters of Ethiopia. I did not mean to dishonor the memory of our brave people that stood up against all odds.
My rant against Columbia University is a misplaced anger and a feeble attempt to shift responsibility to others. The confrontation should have been against myself. Don’t you think it is about time we as a nation do some deep agonizing introspection? Self-examination is long over due. Columbia University, for whatever reason have decided to bestow such honor on an abuser of human right and that is their prerogative. It makes us sad and loose respect to an institution that is supposed to be a center of advanced learning and higher moral expectations. After everything has been said and done the problem is ours to solve or live with.
So the question that is keeping me awake at night is how come the people that go out of their way to keep our heritage intact even in exile are the same people that enable Woyane’s atrocity on our people. How come these sons and daughters of Ethiopia are helping a single ethnic based Junta that exiled them out of their homeland by investing their hard earned money in his ponzi scheme? How could you claim to love Ethiopia and give money to those that are destroying Ethiopia?
My question to my brethren and myself is how did we get here? At what point did our character get devalued like our useless currency the Bir? Despite the on going attempt to rewrite our history Ethiopia has existed for centuries as a Nation State. Believe me there aren’t that many countries that can claim that. Today in 2010 how come we have become the poster country for an example of a failed state? Is there a historian, a sociologist or political scientist that can pin point the date of our collective rush to disintegrate?
It has been forty years now since we started this down ward spiral. We have managed to pick a few nasty habits in this difficult journey we embarked upon. The sons and daughter of those proud and brave souls that defined Ethiopia have been bullied to submission at home or reduced to a bunch of destitute nomads roaming the planet in search of a peaceful corner to lie down and die in peace.
There are two psychological terms that come to mind when we think of the predicament we find our selves in. I am speaking about the concepts of ‘intervention’ and a term known as ‘the Stockholm syndrome.’ In part two this search for explanation I will put my two cents worth to elaborate our dysfunctional behavior that is feeding the monster we have created. In the mean time we thank both groups in Oakland and New York for keeping hope alive. Melkam Meskel sons and daughters of brave Abeshas.