Please follow the link above and watch the YouTube video before reading this article.
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:
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.
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