By Yilma Bekele
Good news is always welcome. Then there is the extraordinarily good news that jars you from your slumber. And when the good news happens right around Christmas there is nothing one can do other than put more log in the fire place, take a generous helping of the twelve year old scotch light up a fat Cohibas and sit back with Cheshire cat smile imprinted on ones face. That is what I wanted to do yesterday if only I had a fireplace, aged scotch or a fat cigar. Not to worry I had the good news and it brought a wide smile.
The good news is the exit of Susan Rice from the idea of becoming the Secretary of State. Poor Susan she did not even get nominated but they dangled her name out there to be trashed and mangled. They found out she is toxic. It looks like contemplating Susan Rice as foreign policy maker brought queasiness and nausea to some king makers.
Susan’s demise woke me up. The last few weeks I was in ‘Ground hog day’ land. Have you watched the movie ‘Ground Hog Day’? That was what I felt like. In that story the main character finds himself repeating the same day again and again. That is our country Ethiopia in a nutshell. The same crap story told over and over again until we become numb to it.
In the movie Phil the main character comes to face with his shallow and indifferent existence and is compelled to make amends. He was able to break the loop of indifference, apathy and selfishness. You know what my ultimate fear is? As an Ethiopian, it is to think that we are unable to get out of this loser loop we are wallowing for the last few decades.
We pride ourselves as being the oldest Nation State in history. We are quick to point out that we were never colonized. Both are commendable feats. The issue facing us now is what has that got to do with today. Those past accomplishments though daring have no relevance to the situation we are in now. Where exactly are we at today? We are with all due respect technologically backward, quality of life at the bottom any human achievement, a very inadequate educational and health system, an oppressive and lawless political arrangement and the epicenter of famine and starvation.
No need to deny that, no need to cringe and totally useless not to face realty. Unless one comes face to face with one’s ailment solution cannot be found. The first step towards recovery is realizing we have a problem and it is the cause of the many difficulties faced by our country and people. The best approach to bring about change is to look at the specific problems our behavior is causing and tackle that. For example being a coward makes us bow to authority, lack of character makes us lie and cheat to each other, our problem with low self-esteem makes us indifferent to the plight of fellow countrymen, our selfish attitude works against our own self-interest in the long run and we play the blame game to distance ourselves from the problem at hand and avoid responsibility.
The last few months have been trying times extraordinaire. It was like we were caught in a vortex, meaning a whirling mass of nothingness coming at us from all sides. I am of course talking about the US presidential elections and my Ethiopian brethren’s behavior here in good old America. I am sure glad it is over. The unbridled enthusiasm of my fellow Ethiopians escapes any and all explanations. Some were consumed by it, a few were stressed out plenty were hating on the Republican Party while lost souls like myself were diving for cover. It was not easy. There was no place to hide.
It was an impossible mission trying to get a response why my friends were gung ho about Barrack Obamas reelection. To tell you the truth I had nothing against it. At the same time I did not find any reason to be frenzied or extremely emotional either. Of course I will vote for him if given the chance but I wouldn’t be twisted out of shape or lose any sleep regarding the outcome if different.
Please note here that I am speaking as an Ethiopian since choosing someone is based on purely selfish needs. What is he gona do for me is the only question the average person asks of a candidate unless of course one is altruistic and I am afraid that is not what most people are. Most Americans voted for candidate Obama because he promised to lower taxes for the middle class, bring immigration reform, set a dead line regarding the country’s involvement in Afghanistan, killed Osama and seemed to have a functional family. Mr. Romney’s constant foot in the mouth situation and show of absolute detachment from reality was a great help towards Mr. Obama’s reelection attempt.
The crucial question to an Ethiopian is of course what is he going to do for my country Ethiopia? That was what I wanted to be addressed when conversing with my Ethiopian-American family and friends. If their support is due to the fact that he is the son of Africa or he shows empathy towards the middle class I completely agree. My problem was when a few want to drag poor Ethiopia into the equation and claim his reelection will help our country. As they say the devil is in the details and here is one situation where the truth does not jive with reality.
Four years ago Mr. Obama appeared on the scene as the messenger of change. In all his speeches he made it clear that the US under his leadership will stand with the down trodden and the oppressed in a new kind of way. Upon being elected that was his message when he toured the Middle East and that was his message to his African family when he made a brief stopover in Ghana. We were overjoyed when he put dictators everywhere on notice that their days of horror is over. Here is a long excerpt from President Obama’s speech to Africans from Accra, Ghana in July of 2009.
“We must start from the simple premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans…..First, we must support strong and sustainable democratic governments……
As I said in Cairo, each nation gives life to democracy in its own way, and in line with its own traditions. But history offers a clear verdict: governments that respect the will of their own people are more prosperous, more stable, and more successful than governments that do not.
This is about more than holding elections – it’s also about what happens between them. Repression takes many forms, and too many nations are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty. No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves, or police can be bought off by drug traffickers. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the Port Authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, and now is the time for it to end…. But I can promise you this: America will be with you. As a partner. As a friend.”
Beautifully said don’t you think so? No one could have said it better. I distinctly remember the time and place when I read that speech, would it be too much to reveal that it gave me mental orgasm? If mere words can intoxicate this was it. I cried. At last, I said a friend in a place of power, my prayers have been answered.
I waited and waited and waited some more. I told myself may be next week, next month you think next year? Unfortunately what Mr. Obama says and what President Obama does is not the same thing. There is a dis-connect between words and deeds. “Barack Obama became a less ideological but more effective version of George W Bush,” said Professor Aaron Miller, a vice-president at the Woodrow Wilson Centre. How true.
Thus the coddling of dictators continued unabated, the use of drones to kill from afar got accelerated and the marginalization of Africa did not cease. My country Ethiopia became a pawn in America’s war with its enemies. My dictator was invited to sit alongside his masters, the enablers that choose not to see what he was doing to my country as long as he served their purpose.
President Obama’s State department never stopped detailing the crimes of the dictator against his people while President Obama’s Pentagon was generous in furnishing weapons, transportation and training to those who use it against the same people and commit the crimes to be recited by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the victims themselves. And most of all Mr. Obama’s rhetoric against dictators, deniers of freedom and human right abusers never stopped.
Thus when my Ethiopian American friends were moving heaven and earth to get their candidate reelected I wondered why? What would the other guy running for the office do different than what is being done to us now? If they are supporting the President as an American citizen I understand but why are they throwing the word Ethiopian in front of their designation. That is not fair. To show them that they actually do not matter the newly re-elected President threw Susan Rice at us as a thank you prize. Take that my Ethiopian-American constituent.
Wait a minute isn’t this the same Susan Rice that insulted Meles Zenawi’s victims as fools? Is it the Susan Rice that travelled all the way to Addis to vouch the humanity of the butcher and mad man? Yes the one and only Susan Rice that went to Harlem to preach at the war lord’s memorial. Of course there is more to her than that. During the second term of Bill Clinton’s Presidency our Susan Rice was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and how do you think she showed her love to Africa? It was by friending characters such as Rwanda’s Kagame, Uganda’s Museveni, Ethiopia’s Zenawi, and Congo’s Kabila. Could you think of any loathsome characters as these? The five dysfunctional sycophants are responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of Africans and Susan Rice shares the credit and blame.
Rumor had it Mr. Obama might nominate Susan Rice to be the next Secretary of State. Shall we say the response has been heartwarming to a marginalized Ethiopian? I have been sitting back and enjoying the dictator lover twist in the wind. Her recent problem started when Obama’s White House used her as a ‘fall guy’ for the Benghazi attack. She was paraded out with false intelligence to keep Mr. Obama out the headlines for the debacle during the election. Our intelligent and highly educated friend went on national TV distorting the truth and reality since making shit up is nothing new to her. I very much enjoy our ‘idiotic and foolish’ friend travelling from one Senator’s office to another with her tail between her legs begging for love. Watching her swatted like a pesky fly is as far as I am concerned a priceless sight.
The one thing I find curious is that when recounting her shortcomings no one seems to mention her love of dictators and mad Africans as worthwhile failing. They talk about her miserable performance at the UN, her Benghazi disinformation campaign and even her investment in the oil pipe line deal but nothing about her involvement in the Rwanda massacre, not a whisper regarding her friendship with the Ethiopian criminal PM and her love for African dictators. It shows you how much we matter.
So a few of my Ethiopian friends started a petition to let Mr. Obama know what they think of the lady. I mean she insulted our struggle for freedom, she mocked us and she did it all in public. It is like one of us calling Martin Luther king a fool or Malcolm X an idiot. How many Ethiopians do you think signed the petition? A minuscule amount did.
Why do you think that is so? You think it is due to that little sickness I mentioned earlier? The matter of low self-esteem, Cowardice, selfishness and ignorance all rolled in one? Thus we campaigned for Mr. Obama so he can look after our interest and when he acts against it we are afraid to say wait a minute that is not why we elected you! I don’t see labor unions, women’s organizations, Hispanic groups playing dead when their interest is threatened. What is it about us that is willing to make excuse when stepped on?
You see that same trait is displayed in our National politics. We are willing to dance with the criminals in powers as long as they throw a piece of land, cheap hotels and brothels to frequent when we visit home. When exactly did we become a nation of lemmings? Watch the YouTube video link at the end and you can see what I mean. Guess what there must be some kind of power that looks after us. The fact that every Christmas the giving to our nation and people never stops is one clue. Three years ago ESAT was established, a year ago OLF denounced the separate trail and joined the mother fold and this year the giving has been a little overwhelming. The sudden death of Dictator Meles Zenawi and the faux patriarch and now Susan Rice’s humiliation begs for an answer. Despite our cheap character and betrayal of our motherland those that harm or conspire to hurt good old Ethiopia live to regret their transgressions. It looks like harming our mother comes with ugly consequences.
By Yilma Bekele
Someone broke into our house. They forced the backdoor open and went through every square inch of the house. They turned our mattress over, pilfered through our drawers and left the closet in a mess. It was done in the middle of the day and it looks like they took their time. They stole laptops, I pod, tablet computer, flat screen TV’s and my wife’s gold jewelry.
We have lived in the same neighborhood for over twenty years now. Nothing like this has happened before. We felt safe and secure. We did not have a burglar alarm. There were no metal guards on our doors and windows. When we moved to the area most of our neighbors were elderly people enjoying their retirement. They were always outside sitting on their porch and remising and watching. It is true there were one or two houses where the young kids were dealing drugs but the presence of the grandfathers made their business low-key.
Burglary is an ugly and very personal crime. Most of the stuff they took is replaceable. What is disturbing and creepy is the fact that a stranger went thru your stuff. I just keep visualizing their ugly dirty hands in my drawer and all over my home. They stole expensive stuff like computers but what bothered me most was the loss of quarters I was saving for my son. They took the flat screen televisions and Google tablet but the loss of little gold crosses from my mom to my wife is what keeps me awake at night. The thought of a burglar never crossed my mind but now I am convinced burglars are the scums of the earth. I better not be called for a jury duty where the crime is burglary. Off with his/her head is what first comes to mind.
I was seething with anger regarding my home invasion when I read Ambassador Susan Rice eulogy at the funeral of you know who in my homeland. My depression was compounded. Et tu Susan? When Bush was the President Ambassador Rice opined on the Washington Post “We Saved Europeans. Why Not Africans?” regarding the administration’s refusal to use force in Darfur and her praise of President Clinton’s military intervention in Kosovo. Compare that to her statement at the funeral of an African tyrant. Our fearless Ambassador was very generous with her praises of the dictator and was nice enough to include the human side of him inquiring about her family. She went out of her way to heap accolades like a smitten teen ager and elevate the dictator to new heights. I have no problem with her ignorance but what got my goat was her statement “He [Meles] was tough, unsentimental and sometimes unyielding. And, of course, he had little patience for fools, or “idiots,” as he liked to call them” That to me is too personal. Shame on you Susan Rice! Those of us that fight injustice are not fools or idiots. My dear Ambassador it looks like you have things reversed.
Those that deny freedom to others, those that deny democracy, those that deny the rule of law are considered fools and idiots. On the other hand those that fight back to secure their God given right to live in peace and dignity are normally referred to as freedom fighters. As a black person that find yourself in such a high and powerful position representing your country I would have thought you would be the perfect candidate to identify with the cause of our people and be able to articulate our wishes and dreams better than your Wasp predecessors. Mrs. Ambassador it is a little disconcerting to think a poor immigrant like me is constantly fighting with rednecks and conservatives that judge you negatively based on the color of your skin and declare you unfit to represent America and here you are paying my favor by dancing with criminals and unsavory characters. Too bad you are not a student of MLK. Where did you miss the bus?
Anyway I gave your transgressions and insulting behavior some thought and was able to put things in perspective. I decided there is no reason I should spend an ounce of energy on what you think and say. I got bigger problems to solve. Thus I went back to my home burglary issue and viewed the two items and marveled at the linkage of the situation.
I did not leave my home open. Someone forced the door open. What I have done since then is install security doors and windows, install cameras and use cloud storage to back up my documents. It is impossible to stop a determined criminal the least I could do is make the bum work to earn his pay. It is said you know who your friends are in times of difficulty. I was humbled by two of my friends that gave me a lap top computer and a flat screen television to ease my pain. My friends Getachew and Dr. Tesfaye made me realize I am not alone. We are each other’s keeper.
When it came to my homeland the situation is a little different. The burglars did not have to break a door or climb thru a window. They just bought their way in to our precious country. They used collaborators to open the door and let them in. We left our door open. No need to blame the burglar for our being indifferent regarding our treasure. Ambassador Rice was praising an individual we allowed to dictate to us for over twenty years. I know some fought back. Plenty paid with their life. The use of ethnic loyalty was his calling card. I am also sure that his harsh and intrusive system have something to do with his longevity. No matter the reason, our door was left open, and our security was compromised.
The solution to safeguard a country is a little different than securing a home. Walls, cameras, border guards on the ground and drones in the sky are not a solution. The best full proof system is a population that is empowered to safeguard its own freedom. The citizen has to feel that they are in charge and they own their country. Those in charge have to understand that they serve by the will of the people. That is what is meant by ‘for the people by the people.’ As they are hired by the citizen they must know that the possibility of being fired for misconduct is real.
This kind of arrangement assures the leader entrusted with the key will not open the door and let strangers in to take advantage of a poor nation. Strangers will not try using underhanded means to get in and and act like king makers knowing it will be rejected. The recent death of the dictator is proof that our door was left wide open. The situation has favored the outsiders at the expense of the citizen. He was loved, respected, held in high esteem, considered a visionary and a person of extraordinary super natural gift. Unfortunately the sky high phrases are uttered by no other than those that enabled him to stay in power.
The issue is not Susan Rice, European Union or any outside party. We are that are the legitimate owners of this Nation called Ethiopia that allows misfits, megalomaniacs and unsavory individuals to hold the key to our door. We refuse to stand for fair play and justice. Recently when talking about an issue that tested the American people President Obama said ‘As Americans let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases lay down their lives for it. Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those, both civilian and military, who represent us around the globe.’ It is when we can say those words regarding our motherland that we can stand straight look each other in the eye and utter the words ‘I love Ethiopia.’ Anything else is hot air and bluster.
An Ethiopian with election envy. By Yilma Bekele
The US is getting ready for presidential elections. 2012 will be the 57th time elections have taken place. The first election was held in 1788 and there were five contestants and it was won by George Washington. Barack Obama is the 44th President. The Republican Party held its convention a week ago and the Democrats started their nomination process yesterday. The candidates are thinned down by the grueling primary campaign. The conventions are more or less a coronation event and come November one of the nominees wins and everybody goes home and wait for another four years. This routine has not changed for over 224 years. If the American citizen is so jaded about the event you can see why. It is nothing to write home about.
Non-American citizens are not allowed to participate in the process. It is unthinkable any government will try to influence the election in any covert manner. The American people determine their own future without help or interference from any outside body.
As you know our Prime Minster died a few months back and we have been operating without a leader for quite a while. Either the Ethiopian people are extremely low abiding or phenomenally docile because nothing has happened that is alarming under the circumstances of operating without central power. The PM was buried last Sunday, or at least a casket was laid to rest and still no decision has been made regarding a leader.
We in Ethiopia have not developed a system regarding how we would like to be governed. Until about forty years ago our regional warlords duked it out among themselves and the one standing at the end crowned himself or herself king, Queen or Emperor. Haile Selassie was the last Emperor. Colonel Mengistu was the next warlord disguised as head of the Military Junta or the Derge. He was in the process of legitimizing his rule by forming a party when he was overthrown by the TPLF guerrilla army.
The next chapter of our history is a little bit murky and sort of opaque. We have held four elections since the demise of Mengistu. All four have been won by the ruling TPLF party. As a matter of fact the 2005 election is the only one that will be considered partially free and fair. It was won by the opposition. Today that election is looked upon with nostalgia by the majority of our people.
In 2005 the recently departed PM miscalculated his and his party’s popularity big time. It is what happens when one is locked in a palace for too long and is surrounded by yes men and sycophants. The TPLF party learned a negative lesson from this debacle and the last election held in 2010 was a travesty of what election is all about. As they lost big time in 2005 they won the whole enchilada in 2010. We have a broken system with warlordism disguised as democracy.
This is why we are having this hiccup replacing the tyrant. He left a mess behind and cleaning it up is no small matter. There are so many rumors, theories and explanations’ twirling around the situation makes a Spanish novella look like a children’s bedtime story.
First and foremost to note in this tragic affair is that the Ethiopian people are not involved in this drama in any form or shape. We the people are ring side spectators waiting to be told the outcome of this three ring circus. We are keeping score.
Star of the show is no other than the Tigrayan people TPLF Party. It is rumored the party have different factions. The internal bickering is not expected to reach a boiling point. Others playing minor parts are the Amhara Party (ANDM), the Oromo Party (OPDO) and the Southern people’s Party (SEPDM). There are others like the Gambellan, Benishangel-Gumuz etc. but they are for all practical purposes as observers as the Ethiopian people. Everyone is organized under the umbrella known as the EPRDF.
The Executive Committee of EPRDF held its first meeting since the death of warlord numero uno and you would think their first agenda will be filling the void. No such luck in revolutionary Ethiopia. According to Woyane TV “The executive committee passed decision to strive towards success of the Growth and Transformation Plan and further strengthen efforts towards renaissance of the country.” As to the most important issue at hand the “The meeting passed decision to name chairperson and vice chairperson for the Front in its meeting to be held in mid September 2012. It called on the Ethiopian people to rally behind the Front in the efforts to reduce poverty and realize renaissance of the country.”
The only conclusion to reach after reading such a press release is that the EPRDF cannot agree regarding giving the position of PM to the person who was designated as the vice. Why do you think that is? Is it because the number one position has always been reserved to the TPLF Party? It looks like they have found themselves in a very difficult situation at the moment. Appointing a TPLF person would not be looked at kindly by all involved especially the foreign enablers. It is not that they have any objection to the TPLF but they are not willing to chance anything that would destabilize the current cozy situation they have gotten used to. Why rock the boat now must be what they are asking the ruling mafia.
It is said the EPRDF Executive Committee has thirty five members. Since the country is divided on the basis of ethnicity the EC is composed of representatives from four regions. What is peculiar about this situation is the number of participants in the EC. It is said that each Party sends eight people but how they arrived at this number is not clear. The Oromos’ constitute 34.5%, the Amaras’ 26.9% and the Tigrais’ 6.1% of the population. The disparity in representation does beg for an answer.
At the moment the situation the Vice/Acting Prime Minster finds himself is not enviable at all. It looks like he is going up a creek without a paddle. The military is in the hands of the TPLF Party. The Security service is beholden to the TPLF Party. The Media is under the control of the TPLF Party. Major industries such as banking, telecommunications etc. are under the TPLF Party. The Vice/Acting PM does not have a party he controls. He does not have a constituent to fall back on. Up a creek with no paddle seems to describe the situation.
Most of Ethiopians find themselves in a quandary. They want peace and stability. The problem is this situation of being governed by unelected individuals is getting a little too old to accept. The last time this happened it has taken us over twenty years to even replace one person. We find ourselves where we were in 1991. We were told to give the new government time, to be patient and not be so negative. I believe twenty one years is long enough to learn that those that assume power without the consent of the people are not in any position to let it go without hassle.
I started by reciting the news regarding the election in the US. It is clear to see that having a tradition of fair, open contest for the highest office in the land has resulted in the construction of a stable and prosperous country. Campaigns help the people to see what the candidates have in mind and how they intend to fulfill the wishes of the citizen. The elected leader is given a limited amount of time to show what he can accomplish. The citizen is given the power to remove him if he does not perform to expectations.
That is what we need in our ancient homeland. Our people are smart enough to know what is good for them. You do not need a PhD from Harvard to know your interest. This concept of discussing our business behind closed doors is not a winning strategy. Sooner or later it is bound to create problems and contradictions. A leader not answerable to the citizen is a recipe for disaster. A leader with no mandate from his people but beholden to a few with guns will in end harvest contempt and disrespect by all. We hope the EPRDF EC will quit deluding themselves into thinking fear will solve everything. We hope they will learn the lesson of what happened to the occupier of the office not long ago. Twenty one years behind barbed wire fence, with no love, no respect from those he was supposed to serve is not a life style to emulate. In the end we all lost. There was no winner in this game. Our country is still backward, our people are dispersed all over the planet and our future does not look bright if we continue this road of rule by force.
By Yilma Bekele
It has been two weeks now since our conversation has been revolving around the dictator. We know for sure he is not well but beyond that no one has come up with any credible explanation for his absence. Rumors, counter rumors, news updates, breaking news have become so ubiquitous Meles Ashebari Zenawi has taken over all the news. His illness has managed to show our psychological make up and our current level of interpreting the news and how we act on it.
As usual what we present in public and what we say in private are two aspects of our forever split personality. Privately we are filled with glee and can’t wait to show our unsurpassed pleasure at his demise while officially we are pictures of reserved behavior and civilized pleasantries. Our reporters did not fare any better. Their updates are based on rumors; unvetted news and personal wishes bundled as current information. We have plenty of work to do.
It is a shame that our media can’t even send someone to St. Luc University Hospital in Brussels and report the news. They might not be able to get his charts but I am sure it is possible to confirm he is there and is receiving medical care. I am also sure there are sympathetic Ethiopians, fellow refugees and well meaning Belgians who work there and that are willing and forthcoming with his condition anonymously. It is the job of the reporter to search and look under the stone to uncover news of interest. I am also sure with a little legwork it is possible to confirm the comings and goings of the dictator from Bole airport with all the details that make the story credible. This idea of using the ‘National inquirer’ method of reporting is not what we deserve.
The failure of our media has become the cause of this tsunami of mis information, dis information and Woyane lies that has made our understanding of the situation very shameful and ugly. It has added unnecessary aspect to the event and made us digress from the point at hand that is discussing the repercussions of the incapacitation or death of the dictator.
It is very disconcerting to see that we have become uninvolved spectators of our own story. Instead of the foreign media coming to us for explanation and analysis we the subjects are reduced to quoting AFP and Bloomberg to tell us about our own affair. I would have found it a lot better and interesting if our reporters paid attention to the people that would be affected by the unfolding event and given us different perspective from our own point of view. Plastering our websites with what some ferenji said sitting in his London, New York or Nairobi office does not make the news any credible. Interviewing people in Ethiopia, Washington DC, Cape Town or Beirut on how they feel about the news, how it will affect them and what their worries are is a better way of gauging the pulse of the public. As usual we validate ourselves by what others say about us.
As it stands now this unhealthy emphasis on the health or illness of an individual has managed to dominate the conversation instead of using the opportunity to blaze new trails and focus on what should be done to bring freedom and democracy to our suffering ancient land. That is where I want to gear this conversation since our ever-loving God has presented us with a good opportunity to bring a new dawn and a bright future to mother Ethiopia.
We have to stop reading the tealeaves or in our case the coffee cup and telling our people who is up, who is in or who is out. In the scheme of the on going situation it really don’t matter and this obsession with idiot personalities does not do our situation any good. What we got here is as follows. Meles Ashebari Zenawi is not well. What ailment he is suffering from is not really important. If we know whether he will make it or not will be good to know, but even that is not that important to the conversation we should be having. We know there are no rules of succession in cases like we are confronted with now. He was the person in charge and he determines who comes after him due to the fact that he controls the economy thru control of the Banks and Party affiliated businesses. He controls the military thru appointment of all high-ranking officials from his Tigreans ethnic group; He controls the Security, Federal Police and the Judiciary. He controls body politics by the creation of all the satellite ethnic parties and the Parliament. Control of all these vital organs of government enables him to control the civil service and bureaucracies thus achieving a total strangle hold on our country.
This is the situation in a nutshell. His incapacitation or sudden death leaves a big void. That is the void we should be discussing on how to fill so we avoid the situation that created the problem we find our selves in at the moment. Spending our time and energy on gossip, Mamo kilo stories and idiotic fantasies is not going to help. What are the forces that are arrayed in front of us to sabotage transforming our nation on the path of democracy and freedom? The one and only stumbling block facing us no other than the TPLF party. It is the only entity that will work overtime and pay any sacrifice to keep the status quo. The current arrangement of forces has been very kind to TPLF and the Tigrai ethnic group asscociated with it. Denying this fact is willful ignorance. This does not mean others have not benefited from the way things are today but the fact of the matter is that like little puppies they are satisfied by sniffing and picking up crumbs thrown their way. I doubt any one will claim to have sat on the same table as the TPLF and gotten a fair share of the Injera on the Meseob. Claiming otherwise is denial of reality.
Our job is to find a way to use the current confusion in the ruling junta and confronting them, intensifying contradiction among them and creating the conditions for inheritors of this broken system to think twice before embarking on costly repair of a rotten system that is currently on life support. This is not done thru talk or this current love affair of peaceful revolution. This fantasy has to be laid to rest. It is a smoke screen and utterly useless scenario advocated by none other than TPLF and the educated but ignorant among us. Talk unless transformed into action is nothing other than a complete waste of time. I am not even going to dignify such concept by giving a rational answer. You can keep talking but please leave me out of it.
‘Non violent resistance’ or ‘Peaceful resistance’ is one of those terms that is being bastardized by us brave Ethiopians. It has become the answer by those who are afraid to get their fingers dirty by actually doing something unpleasant as following talk with action. The truth of the matter is peaceful resistance by the oppressed does not mean their plea for freedom will not be answered by violence by the regime that feels threatened by any kind of change. That is how the situation in Syria started by ordinary people demanding a breathing room. The regime has not stopped the killing but at least now they are getting their own medicine back. I am sure all sane Syrians would prefer for the violence to stop but that is not going to happen. Assad and his Alawit tribesmen are not willing to share power and the people are not willing to be treated like second-class citizens in their own country. Check counter check is in play.
In Ethiopia the regime is in the process of trying to buy time to resolve the contradiction created by the dictator in deathbed. The system worked when one person was in charge but now they have to come to some kind of understanding to be able to keep their criminally gotten power and wealth. As is the case always thieves find themselves in a state of contradiction not during the robbery but during the sharing of the loot. It is important we stop being spectators in this drama but find a way to force ourselves on the stage so we can be part of the play. The Ethiopian people and all opposition have to dig deep into their resources and devise ways to sabotage this deal-making going on. You can call it anything you want whether non-violent resistance, civil disobedience, sabotage or anything as long as it is geared to create havoc on the current illegal structure that has been destabilizing the health and well being of our people. It can assume the South African way where they burned tires and apartheid dogs and closed the streets, the Libyan way of taking one village at a time, the Syrian way we saw today of vaporizing those that conspire together to kill their own people, the Egyptian way of convincing the Military to refuse illegal orders to shoot or the EPRP way of dealing with enemies of the people to set example to others waiting in line.
I can see the empty cry from well meaning people, the condemnation by pretentious friends and the crocodile tears by the peaceful resistance advocates. Please spare me your civilized ways. Some will say ‘hey, you are not over there so it is easy to advocate all this’ my response is where have you been the last twenty years when Woyane has been carrying out violence against our people. Where were you 2005 when Meles murdered all those young people and imprisoned over forty thousand of our citizens? I live in good old USA. The violence done against me is mental the violence done against my people is physical. Unless they decide to rise up and confront Woyane the violence will continue unabated. With or without Meles the TPLF violent rule will continue. Our people will live in misery and our children will die in the jungles of Africa, the seas of Arabia and our daughters will be slaves of unsympathetic and degenerate Arabs. Like the brave Egyptians, the resourceful Libyans the gallant Syrians our people have to find that ‘enough’ moment and take the struggle to a higher level. Pleading has not worked. Relying on ethnic identity has not born fruits. Silence is not the answer. Resolute confrontation of evil is the only way. Like the road charted by our Muslim brothers and sisters the only thing that evil is afraid of is unity and resolve.
Let us stop creating useless news and headlines that does not move our struggle forward. Let us not dwell on the machinations of the evil system and its inheritors but focus on our strength and our dreams for our future. Let us stop quoting every ferenji to tell us about ourselves but make our own news and our own analysis. Let us try to do the job ourselves instead of waiting or blaming those that have a completely different vision for our beautiful homeland. Who else can do the job better than us?
Alemayehu G. Mariam
“Bondage” is the state of being bound by or subjected to some external power or control. When people are bound by debt, they are in “debt bondage”. When they are held in involuntary servitude, they are in “bondage slavery”. Before much of Africa became “independent” in the 1960s, Africans were held under the yoke of “colonial bondage”. “International aid” addiction has transformed Africa’s colonial bondage into neo-colonial bondaid. Could it be reasonably argued that Africans are sinking deeper and deeper into a quicksand of “bondaid” (to coin a new word) in the second decade of 21st Century?
In 1989, Graham Hancock wrote the “Lords of Poverty” scrutinizing the international aid “industry” including U.N. agencies, USAID, the World Bank and the IMF. His withering criticism infuriated many in the “international aid bureaucracies”. But his incisive analysis could not be easily dismissed. His basic argument is that international aid “has financed the creation of monstrous projects that, at vast expense, have devastated the environment and ruined lives; it has supported and legitimised brutal tyrannies; it has facilitated the emergence of fantastical and Byzantine bureaucracies staffed by legions of self-serving hypocrites…” It is a “a waste of time and money” and harmful to poor recipient countries ($60 billion in 1989). “Aid is not bad because it is sometimes misused, corrupt, or crass; rather, it is inherently bad, bad to the bone, and utterly beyond reform…. It is possibly the most formidable obstacle to the productive endeavors of the poor. It is also a denial of their potential, and a patronising insult to their unique, unrecognised abilities.”
Hancock views “international aid” as an elaborate “game” in which “public money levied in taxes from the poor of the rich countries is transferred in the form of ‘foreign aid’ to the rich in the poor countries; the rich in the poor countries then hand it back for safe-keeping to the rich in the rich countries.” He debunks the myth that “international aid works” and “must not be stopped because the poor could not survive without it.” He argues that “if the statement that ‘aid works’ is true, then presumably the poor should be in a much better shape than they were before they first began to receive it half a century ago. If so, then aid’s job should by now be nearly over and it ought to be possible to begin a gradual withdrawal without hurting anyone.”
The message of Hancok’s analysis is that the lords of poverty make up an invisible army of faceless, nameless, heartless, thoughtless, merciless, gutless, clueless, conscienceless and feckless “international civil servants, development experts, consultants and assorted freeloaders” unleashed on Africa to perpetuate and sustain a culture of poverty and beggary. Hancock points out
… the ugly reality is that most poor people in most poor countries most of the time never receive or even make contact with aid in any tangible shape or form: whether is it present or absent, increased or decreased, are thus issues that are simply irrelevant to the ways in which they conduct their daily lives. After the multi-billion-dollar ‘financial flows’ involved have been shaken through the sieve of over-priced and irrelevant goods that must be bought in the donor countries, filtered again in the deep pockets of hundreds of thousands of foreign experts and aid agency staff, skimmed off by dishonest commission agents, and stolen by corrupt Ministers and Presidents, there is really very little left to go around. This little, furthermore, is then used thoughtlessly, or maliciously, or irresponsibly by those in power — who have no mandate from the poor, who do not consult with them and who are utterly indifferent to their fate. Small wonder, then, that the effects of aid are so often vicious and destructive for the most vulnerable members of human society.
A decade later in 2009, Dambissa Moyo, echoed similar views: “Aid is an unmitigated political, economic and humanitarian disaster…. Over the past 60 years at least $1 trillion of development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Yet real per-capita income today is lower than it was in the 1970s, and more than 50% of the population — over 350 million people — live on less than a dollar a day, a figure that has nearly doubled in two decades…”
Hancock indicts the international aid industry as unaccountable, smug, detached, self-aggrandizing and paternalistic:
… At every level in the structure of almost all our most important aid-giving organisations, we have installed a tribe of highly paid men and women who are irredeemably out of touch with the day-to-day realities of the … underdevelopment which they are supposed to be working to alleviate. The over-compensated aid bureaucrats demand — and get — a standard of living often far better than that which they could aspire to if they were working, for example, in industry or commerce in the home countries. At the same time, however, their achievements and performance are in no way subjected to the same exacting and competitive processes of evaluation that are considered normal in business. Precisely because their professional field is ‘humanitarianism’ rather than, say, ‘sales’, or ‘production’ or ‘engineering’, they are rarely required to demonstrate and validate their worth in quantitative, measurable ways. Surrounding themselves with the mystifying jargon of their trade, these lords of poverty are the druids of the modern era wielding enormous power that is accountable to no one…
BondAid: “Legitimizing Brutal Tyranny in Ethiopia”?
My reference to Hancock’s book above is not merely academic. I have been following reports on therecently announced $1.54 billion USAID assistance program in Ethiopia and studying other USAID reports on Ethiopia in light of Hancock’s arguments or hypotheses on the role of “international aid” in “legitimizing brutal tyrannies in Africa”. Is there an unhealthy bonding between dictators and donors?
Thomas Staal, the USAID Mission Director in Ethiopia, said the $1.5 billion assistance program “will transform our relationship with Ethiopia from one of assistance to one of economic and social cooperation, trade and investment.” In 2011-2012, “USAID assistance grants to Ethiopia will total USD 675 million” and support four specific priority objectives, including “education, health, agriculture and good governance”.
The fourth objective of “strengthen[ing] good governance practices for improved social accountability and conflict mitigation in programs in every sector” is the focal issue here. Could the $1.54 billion in USAID assistance serve to legitimize the brutal tyranny of Meles Zenawi and undermine the establishment of “good governance” in Ethiopia?
In an interview Stall gave before his reassignment to Bagdad, Iraq last week, he made the stunning admission that “with respect to political participation, we have not done a good job. Specifically, with respect to the election that took place two years ago, we have not done much to promote democracy. Customarily, USAID in various countries engages in election education with non-governmental organizations. It works to empower all political parties without preference. We support the local media to analyze elections and give information to the voters. But all these things are prohibited in [Ethiopia]. This is a hard situation that causes us to despair. We will try to talk to the government authorities…” (Frankly, one could get the “government authorities” to listen good and hard by practicing the old saying, “money talks and… walks.”)
In March 2012, USAID Ethiopia published a 72-page Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) (2011-2015) report entitled“Accelerating the Transformation Toward Prosperity”. The following excerpts from the CDCS report are offered below to the reader to undertake a preliminary evaluation of Hancock’s hypothesis on the relationship between “international aid” and the legitimization of tyranny, particularly in Ethiopia.
… After the shock of the relatively free elections in 2005, in which the EPRDF drastically overestimated its popularity, much democratic ground has been lost. Subsequently, the opposition groups were divided and crushed, and the size and control of the ruling party was increased immensely. Legislation was introduced to limit and control the space for civil society and media, and wide powers of arrest were included in the “anti-terrorist” legislation. In 2010 the ruling party “won” 99.6% of the Parliamentary seats… (p. 8.) Limited political space, crushed opposition, 99.6 per cent win of parliamentary seats in 2010, wide powers of arrest and still pouring in $1.5 billion in aid? $3.8 billion in total development assistance in 2009?
… In the areas of democracy, governance, and conflict resolution, USAID is already working well with the Ministry of Federal Affairs (MoFA) on conflict management, mitigation and reconciliation issues,… Now that the May 2010 elections are over, there is an apparent relaxation of political harassment, and a major opposition detainee has been released… (pp. 11-12.) Apparent relaxation of political harassment? A major opposition detainee released? Forgot the thousands of political prisoners, hundreds of journalists, dissidents and opposition leaders rotting in Zenawi’s dungeons? …
The strong donor consultation and coordination on the critical issues of democracy and governance has not always resulted in a willingness to take a strong, united stance against clear abuses of constitutional commitments, legislation, or democratic processes. The DAG [Development Assistance Group] includes the World Bank, UNDP, DFID, CIDA, UNICEF, EU, SIDA, Ireland and Germany among others… (p. 13.) No willingness to take strong, united stance against clear abuses of constitutional commitments because…?? Say what!?!
(In October 2010, I wrote a weekly commentary entitled, “Feed Them and Bleed Them” and observed, “Huddled together in DAG-istan, the poverty pimps have collectively resolved to continue to do their usual aid business in Ethiopia because “broad economic progress outweighs individual political freedoms”.)
… Largely as a result of USAID support, first state and local governments and finally national level institutions (particularly the Ministry of Federal Affairs) are abandoning inclinations to respond to local conflict primarily through security forces, and are increasingly developing and applying capacities to assist conflicted communities with local government support to negotiate and consolidate local peace agreements and ensure that their own administrative actions at a minimum “do no harm.” …On the practical side, the GOE is making progress through the gradual rolling out of its “good governance” trainings around the country…” (p. 55.) Excuse me, but is “good governance training” for brutish dictators the same as obedience training for vicious dogs?
… The donor community is torn between the competing objectives of engaging with and assisting Ethiopia as a high profile example of poverty and vulnerability to famine, and addressing the major challenges and constraints to democratic space, human rights abuses, and severe restrictions on civil society and constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of speech, association and access to information. The GOE does not make this any easier, waveringbetween seductive and sophisticated rhetoric on development and economic topics on the one hand, and political repression, state dominance over the economy, and outright downplaying of humanitarian emergencies on the other hand. Added to this double-edged sword is the GOEâ€Ÿs extreme sensitivity to any direct or even implied criticism, and its willingness to actively punish the criticizer, including members of the international community… (p. 53.) Ah! Beware the seductive and sophisticated rhetoric of the silver- tongued devil with an angelic voice, as Shakespeare might have cautioned.
… In the absence of competitive elections and other democratic processes, governance that is responsive to the aspirations and needs of its citizens and the knowledge and perspectives of stakeholders provides an important alternative release mechanism for political frustrations that have no other constructive outlet… Ethiopia’s new five year GTP [Growth and Transformation Plan] contains explicit commitments and targets to improve governance. However, traditions, capacities and resources to conceptualize and implement bottom-up accountability are lacking in a country where good governance was not a high priority during the imperial and communist periods and is only becoming a priority but constrained within the ideology of Revolutionary Democracy… (p. 58.) After 21 years of Zenawi’s iron-fisted rule, still blaming H.I.M. Haile Selassie and the Derg for the withering of democracy in Ethiopia? Give me a break!
…Understanding that faith in the efficiency and impartiality of the justice system is a key factor in the risk calculations that govern investment decisions by the private sector, individuals and donors,… Another concern is that politically favored businesses or sectors are able to leapfrog over methodical and inclusive planning processes and legally required contracting procedures. Expectations are more modest here, recognizing that the system itself is thoroughly under the control of the ruling party. The Mission will develop programs that promote the rule of law for sustainable development practices… (p. 59.) Modest expectations for justice and democracy because the system itself is thoroughly under the control of the ruling party! Heard that!
… USAID/Ethiopia recognizes that there is no policy space to conduct programs focused on competitive elections. Instead, the Mission will focus primarily on tackling the deeper issues of governance by aligning its focus with the achievement of the OE’s GTP sustainable development goals and commitments to improve accountable governance and conflict reduction… (p. 61.) So reward dictatorship with more money, mo’ money and mo’ money?
…With the increasing ‘land giveaways’ to private, foreign agricultural investors, policy efforts will be undertaken… to support land use planning and natural resource management thatavoids displacement of existing communities and helps ensure balanced development… (p. 19.) Increasing ‘land giveaways’ to private, foreign agricultural investors! Heard that!
Back to 2004: The Good Old Days of Telling It Like It Is!
In 2004, USAID issued its CDCS entitled “Breaking the Cycle of Food Crises: Famine Prevention in Ethiopia.” Andrew S. Natsios was the Administrator of USAID at the time. Here is an excerpt from that report:
… Ethiopia does not stand at this precipice of food insecurity and instability alone. And, it did not get there by itself. Ethiopia, its neighbors and its development partners have collectively failed to break the downward spiral of hunger, poverty and recurring food crises, which is a critical first step in improving the health and economic conditions of present and future generations of Ethiopians…. [S]uccessfully addressing this challenge will require Ethiopian leadership, commitment and the will to change.Evidence on Ethiopia’s performance is compelling and clear. The country has performed badly over the years, even relative to most other African countries, and to East Africa specifically. Gross per capita incomes are a fifth of the African average, declining about 40% between 1990 and 2000 ($160–$100), relative to a smaller decline of 13% for sub Saharan Africa. The poor performance of the economy is not due to drought, but results from the weak economic policies of the country over a sustained period—characterized by low rates of investment in economic growth and agriculture by both government and the commercial private sector, low levels of capacity, and low rates of agricultural and nonagricultural growth. In turn poor economic performance has led to worsening social standards, and created an increasingly fragile state that lacks the resiliency to manage through shocks (environmental, economic, political) that induce crises… (p. 5.)
In May 2012, Rajiv Shah, the current USAID Administrator moderated the G8 Food Security Summit in Washington, D.C. In his ingratiating introductory remarks to Zenawi, (grandiosely stroking Zenawi’s ego) and using the usual “mystifying jargon” of the international aid industry, Shah inquired:
… So many people have associated a mental image of hunger with Ethiopia and at the same time because of actions in the public sector maintaining strong public investment in agriculture you were able to protect millions of Ethiopians during the recent drought from needing food aid and food assistance. Could you speak to, even as we are launching a new food alliance, to engage the private sector, could you speak to some of the comments you have shared with us privately how important it is we live to our commitments to invest in public investment, in public institutions?
Meles was speechless!
Ethiopia has been the recipient of all kinds of aid from the U.S. over the decades. She has received “economic aid”, “development aid”, “military aid”, “technical aid”, “emergency aid”, “relief aid”, “humanitarian aid” and aid against AIDS. She has also received “BandAid” and “LiveAid” from others. Today, Ethiopians are afraid. They ask, “Is Ethiopia permanently trapped in “bondaid!?!” They pray for deliverance from the twin Lords of Tyranny and Poverty!
In all of Africa, USAID arguably has the largest aid program in Ethiopia. There are some who are skeptical about USAID’s claims of program effectiveness in Ethiopia. One can fairly judge the efficacy of USAID programs and the credibility of its asserted achievements in Ethiopia when the facts and data are made available for critical analysis and evaluation by intra-institutional authorities and other concerned communities. Unfortunately, facts and data appear to be the Achilles Heel of USAID/Ethiopia. This issue was made clear to USAID mission director Staal in 2010 by the Regional Inspector of the U.S. State Department Office of the Inspector General in his “Audit of USAID/Ethiopia’s Agricultural Sector Productivity Activities (Audit Report No. 4-6663-10-003-P (March 30, 2010)”. In that Report, the regional inspector informed Staal:
…The audit found the program is contributing to the achievement of market-led economic growth and the improved resilience of farmers, pastoralists, and other beneficiaries in Ethiopia. However, it is not possible to determine the extent of that contribution because of weaknesses in the mission’s performance management and reporting system. Specifically, while the mission used performance indicators and targets to track progress in several areas…, the results reported for the majority of those indicators were not comparable with the targets. Moreover, the audit was unable to determine whether the results reported in USAID/Ethiopia’s Performance Plan and Report were valid because mission staff could neither explain how the results were derived nor provide support for those reported results. In fact,when the audit team attempted to validate the reported results, it was unable to do so at either the mission or its implementing partners (pages 6-12)…
While some may rely on intuitive analysis and inferences from anecdotes to draw conclusions about USAID/Ethiopia, I much prefer evidence-based policy analysis. Hopefully, that body of evidence will be made readily available not only to dispel doubts, discredit rumors and enlighten critics of USAID/Ethiopia, but most importantly, to enhance and reinforce “the growing emphasis within USAID on transparency, accountability, and results.”
Amharic translations of recent commentaries by the author may be found at:
Previous commentaries by the author are available at:
By Yilma Bekele
I am always harking back to the pleasant years of our past. Believe me it not being nostalgic rather it is the lack of good news that makes me reach deep to salvage a little bit of dignity how ever fleeting that might be. One can also make an argument for the fact that my generation has lost the battle to continue on the tradition of leaving intact what was passed on to us. Actually what was expected was a little bit of enhancement but we seem to have managed to degrade and discount. Let us not talk about that today.
What made me despondent is reading about Huajian Shoe factory in Dukem. The story as told by China Post claims ‘Huajian, one of China’s biggest shoe manufacturers, plans to invest US$2 billion in Ethiopia to make shoes for export to Europe and North America.’ On the face of it the story looks perfectly normal and one could even find positive spin in its added value to our country and people. But that will be considered scheming the surface wouldn’t it? We have to put the story in its context to fully appreciate the ramifications as it relates to our future as a country.
Huajian is what got me started to ask why are the Chinese manufacturing shoes in Ethiopia. Have we always been a challenged people that we can’t even make our own shoes? Not so! Said my memory. There was a time we were one cleaver people that knew how to make stuff. For crying out loud, there is no need to be a student of history when it was only yesterday that we excelled in all sorts of enterprises right here in good old Ethiopia. Yes my dear Diaspora cousin we had a whole bunch of entrepreneurs that achieved as never before and galvanized a whole nation. Sad to say the military dictatorship under Mengistu was the beginning of the cause of the total eclipse of individual achievement and national pride.
Before Huajian there was Darmar shoe factory. Darmar shoes were prominently displayed on every shelf. Asko was a brand name from Asmara to Moyale. The cow was Abyssinian, the shoemaker was Abesha and the citizens of Ethiopia wore the product with pride. Azzo, Asko and Darmar were locally manufactured shoe wear. Nothing left our motherland. Capital was raised, invested and recycled right there. That is how you build an economy. That is how you grow capital.
That was shoes, now was there any other enterprise that are the hallmark Ethiopian ingenuity. How can we forget the Hotel business? I am not talking Sheraton here. I am into Ato Bekele Molla, the shining star of the hospitality business. His innovative Hotels from Addis to Arba Minch were the pride of travelers in the beautiful South. So clean, fresh and staffed by well-trained professionals defined the new concept of customer service. He was truly an innovative and inspiring giant of man. He was the definition of by Ethiopia for Ethiopians.
Ato Yenberber Mamo (Mamo Kacha) defined transportation. A self-made entrepreneur, his innovative style of free enterprise pushed all other to excel to catch up with him. His buses were clean, on time and affordable. The music blaring from the speakers on front were loud enough to wake up the dead and you know the bus was here miles before it reaches the little village. His enthusiastic business style gave birth to others such as Awraris, Mekonen Negash and a host of others that followed his footsteps.
Have you heard of Ato Molla Maru? That is another rags to riches Ethiopian saga. Ato Molla Maru was a proud owner of an Ethiopian Liquor factory. To see a made in Ethiopia Cognac, Ouzo etc. in a clean bottle adorned in Amharic labels was something to behold. He was an entrepreneur par excellence that rose from a humble beginning to running a modern factory.
Then there is my friends dad Ato Teka Egeno a business man of special caliber, self made visionary that will put any college educated MBA to shame. He was into coffee since he was a product of Keffa province and put our country on the map and was able to keep stride with big import export houses. Humble and smart is what comes to mind when I think of him.
All of the above giants I recited were imbued with that special God given smarts, common sense and talent that can not be learned but fostered by a sense of vision, love and driven to excel. Their accomplishment rubbed off on all those around them. Growing up I remember dreaming to emulate their accomplishments. Their success was like a beacon calling us to follow the path they were trail blazing. I believe my generation was filled with a sense of hope and can do attitude because they were showing us what is possible with hard work and perseverance.
They in turn gave birth to the new educated modern day giants that built up on their elders’ accomplishments. My role model were my two dear friends the Solomon’s that graduated from Alem Maya Agricultural College and made their marks in the Awash valley turning dust into cash. They were the pioneers that put theory into practice. They pushed the envelope to the limit and in so doing surprised them selves and their nation. A time will come when their story will be told and what an epic it would be.
My friends were visionaries born in a place and time that appreciated their drive to excel. They managed to secure land, were given credit to buy machinery their fuel supply was subsidized and their progress was celebrated. Success breeds success and at one point the sky was the limit to their hopes and dreams. Ato Solomon died a year ago. He died in exile away from his beloved Ethiopia. His funeral was another moment of revelation of how much our country had lost. Those assembled to pay their respect were people who should under favorable circumstances would have been the building blocks of the future Ethiopia. Today our achievers are building another land. Ethiopia’s lose has become Americas gain.
And darkness came. Our country entered a period of untold misery. The Derg’s style of change was not that of building on what works but it was based on finding the common lowest denominator. Why bring everything up when you can reduce all down. All that I mentioned above was smashed to pieces. The innovators and builders were all of a sudden declared enemy of the people and their success was seen as the cause of what is wrong with society. Spring was replaced by the darkness of winter.
Our fathers were emasculated and wilted. Our entrepreneurs and builders of the new society met a different fate. Some resigned to a life of no consequence. A few were killed. While others bid their time and got out to start anew. Ethiopia was a net loser however you look at it.
Huajian and the philosophy behind it is what brought all this lamentation. The TPLF mafia in power is the conduit of this degradation of self-reliance and celebration of individual achievement. According to tyrant Meles hard work is old fashioned while short cut and quick rich schemes are the wave of the future. There is a new culture being encouraged thru out the land and it achievement by corruption. It is not what you know but whom you know. In the land of Meles Zenawi can you think of an Ethiopian that has achieved by hard work and perseverance? I am sure you can name plenty that have emerged as multi-millionaires due to proximity to those in power or belonging to certain ethnic group. Those are the people our children look up to. A street hustler today a millionaire tomorrow is the new reality. It is void of value.
Dear reader let me ask you something. What makes the Ethiopian Nation different from the rest? They say there are over one hundred ninety six countries in the world, what is unique about us? One thing stands out and that is we have never been colonized! No one has occupied our country. We have never submitted. We might be poor, we might be backward in technological terms but we are not a push over. It is even said that when the British left after their excursion to Magdella they were asked to wash their boots least they take our soil with them! That is how much our forefathers disdained foreign intrusion. By fate or design that is what is woven in our DNA.
The Tewodroses, the Yohaneses, the Minilks, the Balchas aba Nefsos, the Abebe Argawis, the Sebaht Aregawi and Sebhat Shumes, the Taitu Bituls were examples of that proud achievement. The Bekele Mollas, the Mamo kachas, the Molla Marus, the Teka Egenos were a continuation of that self-reliant spirit. Born and raised in Ethiopia.
What we got today? Selling land, selling children and selling our soul. Thus instead of making our own shoes we invite shoe makers instead of building our own hotels we contract to multi nationals instead of brewing our own drinks we sell our homegrown to foreign entities instead of building our own houses out of sustainable bamboo and reeds we import cement and recycled metal to construct wasteful ugly boxes instead of growing our own food we lease our virgin and fertile land to grow that we can’t consume instead of educating our children to raise our knowledge we exile our youth to care for some one else’s child. Today the same foreigners that could not conquer our land by force are buying it using dollar and euros. Woyane takes that money and invests in the West and the rest of us cheer from the sidelines.
It was a revealing moment to see Sheik Al Amoudi boasting from the podium how all four star hotels in the Middle East serve fruits grown in Ethiopia and Meles Zenawi with his cadres assembled cheer with pride. That is how brain dead we have become. Today Meles Zenawi a person that has never worked for wages in his life, that has never balanced a bank account, that has never paid rent, that has never ever run a simple kiosk or taken order from a boss is put in charge of a national economy and the joke is on us. Theory is never a substitute for real life situation. Then again the same individual that got all that he knows from the books he reads is actually in the process of defining such concepts as ‘economic growth and democracy’! Of course his ferenji enablers are looking at all this with amusement. Unfortunate for us the individual actually is in the process of trying to prove this utterly simplistic thought in practice and our country is his laboratory.
What is proven by those that have surged ahead and are enjoying the fruits of success is you make your own shoes, you construct your own hotels with locally produced products you encourage individuals that show drive and you invest on your young ones so tomorrow they will build on what you have started. But all this does not come easy. You work for it. You nurture it. There is no short cut. That goes the same for attaining freedom, here again there is no short cut, there is no knight in shining armor nor can it be outsourced. They say if the shoe fits wear it. Would you rather wear Huajian or Darmar, it is your choice my friend.