By Yilma Bekele
No one likes a whiner. Why complain insistently when it is of no use. We used to be good at that. Whining was our domain. Did I just say ‘was’? Yes I did. It seems that we are coming out of our shell. The Arab Spring has arrived. The Diaspora is infected with a sense of optimism and hope. It is a very good feeling.
It is the convergence of three events that is making me delirious. To say they are a defining moment in the life of the Ethiopian Diaspora is not an exaggeration. We have made a great leap forward. Whining is so yesterday. Let us just say we are going where no Ethiopian has gone before.
We have made our share of mistakes. We have fallen plenty of time. We have scars to show for it. At long last we are showing signs of life. The giant is waking up. Our tenacity is paying off. We have come to realize there is nothing satisfying like doing the job your self. That little fact escaped us for a long time. A lot longer than some of us would care to remember. The important thing today is that we have arrived. Any mother would be proud of the new us.
What exactly I am gushing about is the founding of ESAT, the successful debut of The Ethiopian Heritage Festival and the just concluded public meeting organized by Alliance for Liberty, Equality and Justice in Ethiopia (ALEJE) in Arlington, VA. All three can be considered a giant step forward in our search for peace, democracy and the rule of law in our motherland.
Free Press is the first causality of a dictatorship. News is professionally filtered before it reaches the citizen. Unfiltered news is viewed as a threat. That is why the Meles regime spends millions to block ESAT, block independent Web sites, jam international newscasts in Ethiopian languages and kill, hound or exile journalists. All this expenditure to block the free flow of information while millions of our people starve. We used to complain and go around in circles seething with anger about this unjust situation. ESAT is our response. Meles, you can run but you can’t hide.
Since its inception ESAT has been battling the Woyane regime. Like they say ‘the strongest steel goes through the hottest fire’ ESAT is being tested. ESAT has shown resiliency. ESAT has been embraced by the children of Ethiopia. The just concluded fund raising campaign is testimonial of the love of the Diaspora that donated over three hundred thousand dollars to help ESAT. We will nurture ESAT until it penetrates the flimsy Woyane grass curtain.
Organizations that claim to serve the people should be open, transparent and the leaders democratically elected. Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America’s claim to be at the service of the Diaspora was glaringly brought into question during the ‘guest of honor’ selection process. ESFNA refused to listen the call of its supporters for transparency and accountability. We used to complain and threaten all kinds of calamities that will befall the mafia outfit. We used to boil over for a month or two and cool down to zero degrees until the next abuse. The Ethiopian Heritage Festival is our response. We created an organization that is open, transparent and keeper of our beautiful culture and the spirit of our brave ancestors.
The first Ethiopian Heritage Festival was a colossal success. It was a celebration of all things good about us. It was a place where our flag flew with the dignity it deserved. The setting was family friendly and the crowed was in a festive mood. The organizers should be complemented for such a lavish presentation that brought people together to celebrate our culture. Thank you for showing us good things can be done without ulterior motive. Love for people and country is reason enough and the reward is priceless. We thank the organizers for giving us a choice.
The ugliest malignant cancer introduced into our body politic by the Woyane regime is the concept of Kilil. It is presented as a righteous indignation of the downtrodden to right what was wrong. It is considered dangerous to even talk about it. It is a cancer cell mimicking to be normal. It has turned our country into a nation of strangers. Its effects even reverberate across the ocean.
Thus it was a breath of fresh air to see Dr. Berhanu Nega of Ginbot7 and Dr. Nuro Dedefo of OLF on the same stage discussing the future of our country. It was a direct contradiction of the concept of Kilil. It was an affirmation of the commonness of our struggle for freedom and Democracy. The twenty years of propaganda to divide us and set brothers and sisters against each other is laid to rest. What unites us is a million times more than our little differences. The symposium in Arlington, VA. was a milestone in our quest for justice.
If you notice the happenings in North Africa there are certain question that have come to the forefront. Why did things go smoothly in Tunisia and Egypt while hell broke loose in Libya and Syria? Among the many explanations presented there is one that seems to define the situation that is common to all. The magic word is the absence of ‘independent civic organizations’ under the two dictatorial regimes. We in Ethiopia are familiar with that mode of operation. That is what the TPLF regime did upon entering our capital city.
The Meles regime’s first order of business was the destruction of all independent organizations and associations. Today’s Ethiopia is marked by the complete absence of any outfit without the presence of TPLF boss at the helm or behind the scene manipulating their chosen manikin dressed up for show. Trade Unions, Chamber of commerce, Teachers Union, Women’s Organizations, Sports Federation and even Political Party are not safe from the Woyanes dirty finger. That is the reason Libya and Syria are on the brink of the abyss since there is no credible voice of the people inside the country.
That is exactly the reason I am full of hope with the emergence of genuine, homegrown response to Woyane atrocity. We are done crying. We are now creating our own robust response to force Woyane to do the crying. We are laying the foundations for sustainable and genuine associations by the people for the people. The seeds are planted, it is the responsibility of each one of us to nurture and grow our future building stones for a free and democratic Ethiopia.
Like it has been said many times ‘if you want it done right it is better if you do it yourself.’ Well it looks like we heeded that call. I believe the three examples are the road in the right direction. We learnt whining does not cut it. Now we are beginning to come with the answer instead of just the question. We have started with a good solid foundation. It is definitely a good beginning. It shows forward thinking, it shows determination and most of all it shows maturity. Our Ethiopian Spring is here. Despite the gloomy report regarding our starving brethren, our inflation whipped parents; we see light at the end of the tunnel. The new road we are traveling looks bright and hopeful.