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Arrival of the Ethiopian Spring

By Yilma Bekele

No one likes a whiner. Why complain insistently when it is of no use. We used to be good at that. Whining was our domain. Did I just say ‘was’? Yes I did. It seems that we are coming out of our shell. The Arab Spring has arrived. The Diaspora is infected with a sense of optimism and hope. It is a very good feeling.

It is the {www:convergence} of three events that is making me delirious. To say they are a defining moment in the life of the Ethiopian Diaspora is not an exaggeration. We have made a great leap forward. Whining is so yesterday. Let us just say we are going where no Ethiopian has gone before.

We have made our share of mistakes. We have fallen plenty of time. We have scars to show for it. At long last we are showing signs of life. The giant is waking up. Our tenacity is paying off. We have come to realize there is nothing satisfying like doing the job your self. That little fact escaped us for a long time. A lot longer than some of us would care to remember. The important thing today is that we have arrived. Any mother would be proud of the new us.

What exactly I am gushing about is the founding of ESAT, the successful debut of The Ethiopian Heritage Festival and the just concluded public meeting organized by Alliance for Liberty, Equality and Justice in Ethiopia (ALEJE) in Arlington, VA. All three can be considered a giant step forward in our search for peace, democracy and the rule of law in our motherland.

Free Press is the first causality of a dictatorship. News is professionally filtered before it reaches the citizen. Unfiltered news is viewed as a threat. That is why the Meles regime spends millions to block ESAT, block independent Web sites, jam international newscasts in Ethiopian languages and kill, hound or exile journalists. All this expenditure to block the free flow of information while millions of our people starve. We used to complain and go around in circles seething with anger about this unjust situation. ESAT is our response. Meles, you can run but you can’t hide.

Since its inception ESAT has been battling the Woyane regime. Like they say ‘the strongest steel goes through the hottest fire’ ESAT is being tested. ESAT has shown {www:resiliency}. ESAT has been embraced by the children of Ethiopia. The just concluded fund raising campaign is testimonial of the love of the Diaspora that donated over three hundred thousand dollars to help ESAT. We will nurture ESAT until it penetrates the flimsy Woyane grass curtain.

Organizations that claim to serve the people should be open, transparent and the leaders democratically elected. Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America’s claim to be at the service of the Diaspora was glaringly brought into question during the ‘guest of honor’ selection process. ESFNA refused to listen the call of its supporters for transparency and accountability. We used to complain and threaten all kinds of calamities that will befall the mafia outfit. We used to boil over for a month or two and cool down to zero degrees until the next abuse. The Ethiopian Heritage Festival is our response. We created an organization that is open, transparent and keeper of our beautiful culture and the spirit of our brave ancestors.

The first Ethiopian Heritage Festival was a colossal success. It was a celebration of all things good about us. It was a place where our flag flew with the dignity it deserved. The setting was family friendly and the crowed was in a festive mood. The organizers should be complemented for such a lavish presentation that brought people together to celebrate our culture. Thank you for showing us good things can be done without {www:ulterior} motive. Love for people and country is reason enough and the reward is priceless. We thank the organizers for giving us a choice.

The ugliest malignant cancer introduced into our body politic by the Woyane regime is the concept of Kilil. It is presented as a righteous {www:indignation} of the downtrodden to right what was wrong. It is considered dangerous to even talk about it. It is a cancer cell mimicking to be normal. It has turned our country into a nation of strangers. Its effects even reverberate across the ocean.

Thus it was a breath of fresh air to see Dr. Berhanu Nega of Ginbot7 and Dr. Nuro Dedefo of OLF on the same stage discussing the future of our country. It was a direct contradiction of the concept of Kilil. It was an affirmation of the commonness of our struggle for freedom and Democracy. The twenty years of propaganda to divide us and set brothers and sisters against each other is laid to rest. What unites us is a million times more than our little differences. The symposium in Arlington, VA. was a milestone in our quest for justice.

If you notice the happenings in North Africa there are certain question that have come to the forefront. Why did things go smoothly in Tunisia and Egypt while hell broke loose in Libya and Syria? Among the many explanations presented there is one that seems to define the situation that is common to all. The magic word is the absence of ‘independent civic organizations’ under the two dictatorial regimes. We in Ethiopia are familiar with that mode of operation. That is what the TPLF regime did upon entering our capital city.

The Meles regime’s first order of business was the destruction of all independent organizations and associations. Today’s Ethiopia is marked by the complete absence of any outfit without the presence of TPLF boss at the helm or behind the scene manipulating their chosen manikin dressed up for show. Trade Unions, Chamber of commerce, Teachers Union, Women’s Organizations, Sports Federation and even Political Party are not safe from the Woyanes dirty finger. That is the reason Libya and Syria are on the brink of the abyss since there is no credible voice of the people inside the country.

That is exactly the reason I am full of hope with the emergence of genuine, homegrown response to Woyane atrocity. We are done crying. We are now creating our own robust response to force Woyane to do the crying. We are laying the foundations for sustainable and genuine associations by the people for the people. The seeds are planted, it is the responsibility of each one of us to nurture and grow our future building stones for a free and democratic Ethiopia.

Like it has been said many times ‘if you want it done right it is better if you do it yourself.’ Well it looks like we heeded that call. I believe the three examples are the road in the right direction. We learnt whining does not cut it. Now we are beginning to come with the answer instead of just the question. We have started with a good solid foundation. It is definitely a good beginning. It shows forward thinking, it shows determination and most of all it shows maturity. Our Ethiopian Spring is here. Despite the gloomy report regarding our starving brethren, our inflation whipped parents; we see light at the end of the tunnel. The new road we are traveling looks bright and hopeful.

8 thoughts on “Arrival of the Ethiopian Spring

  1. Well observed and superbly delivered piece.
    Instead of whining or glued to the past your looking forward thinking is full of optimism. I share your sentiment and God bless the three organizational sparks that lit up our once gloomy sky. My only wish is a piece like yours should be translated into as many major Ethiopian languages at least (Amharic-the official).Otherwise it will be a shimmering light in a huge barrel. Also the constant reference to so-called Arab spring Revolution is loaded with media catch-phraseology, uncharacteristic and has potential for creating unintended consequences although our love affair with Tahrin Square will endure for ever along with The 18 Days That Shook The World.
    Ethiopia is unique in all dimensions and will have its own brand of Revolution soon!!!

  2. Well said brother. Ethiopia needs about $200 milliion for our starved people and got $150 million from World bank (loan) but purchased 200 tanks with over $128 million dollars. You do the maths and see what the trade off is. Simple. human beings. life.

  3. My dear Yilma Bekele,

    The four seasons don’t always come on time. Farmers complain when the rainy season comes late. They still complain if it comes too early. Do you remember how many times the Israelites complained on their journeys to the Promised Land of Palestine? They were even ready to stone Moses and his brother Aaron unless they got what they wanted: they complained Pharaoh was going to overcome them, catch them, and take them back to Egypt. God destroyed Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea. They complained for water. God gave them water out of a rock. They complained for food. God gave them manna from heaven. They complained they were tired of eating manna every day. They wanted meat. God gave them thousands of quail, and the Israelites ate meat for several days.

    We Ethiopians, as human beings, never stop complaining: we complained Emperor Haile Selassie was a bad king. God gave us the Derg. We complained the Derg was bad. God gave us Mengistu Haile Mariam. We complained Mengistu Haile Mariam was bad. God gave us Meles Seitanawi (Zenawi). We complain Meles Seitanawi is bad, and do you think God will give us another person better than Meles Seitanawi? If we want God to give us a better ruler, we must stop complaining to God; instead, we must continue praying to God; then we can get what we wanted.

    My question to you is what makes you hopeful this time that the diaspora people are ready more than ever to act together to bring the Woyanne regime to an end? Is it the OLF’s and the Ginbot 7’s town hall meeting in DC? Or is it the speeches by Dr. Huru Dedefo, Dr. Birhanu Nega, and Dr. Getachew Begashaw that make you think the Ethiopian Spring is here at the corner? I will say the Ethiopian Spring is not yet here as far as the Oromo Liberation Front has a hidden agenda of its own to declare Oromia as an independent state. Moses prayed to God to let him cross the Jordan River and see the Promised Land but God told him that he and those who complained too much would never cross the Jordan River and see the Promised Land. Moses died and those who complained too much were perished in the desert and never saw the Promised Land. Only their children and some from the older generation entered the Promise Land.

    I am afraid the same thing may happen to some of us: we may never see Ethiopia again, especially those of us who are old and who are still complaining every day and night instead of working hard how to end the Meles oppressive regime.

    I don’t see “the new us.” What I see is the old us. We can show hundreds of symposium and conduct very colorful and rich Heritage Festivals every year. We can invite the best speakers to our town hall meeting, but our Ethiopian Spring will not yet be here; it will be somewhere in the air, and ESAT will never bother to bring the Ethiopian Spring closer to us. We are all victims of the Woyanne regime and the West. Until we take our symposium, our Ethiopian Heritage Festival and ESAT out of Washington to the wilderness somewhere between Southern Sudan and Metema and build there our head quarter, train our soldiers, and infiltrate the Woyanne army, we will never achieve our goal to defeat Woyanne by sitting here in Washington or London.

  4. We don’t need an “Ethiopian Spring”.

    Ethiopian have done enough sacrifice.

    What we need the kind of reconciliation Messay Kebede suggested. Let us utilize both the government and the opposition know how to change the country.

    Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) will be left in place.
    Ambitious plan but why not?

    Developmental State like S. Korea and Singapore will be supported by all.

    Meles should invite Messay to help him in forming such an elite group so that the GTP succeeds with the help of the majority Diaspora Ethiopians.

  5. Whatever positive out come, is good for the morale. And God knows we need hope and encouragement. But hey guys. Come to reality. ESAT or meetings in America wouldn’t help much to get rid of the woyane regime,at least not at this stage. Go to Ethiopia and see for yourselves. No one watches ESAT even when it is not jammed. How many people can afford to have a satellaite dish to watch tv let alone the double antenna needed to watch ESAT. In the rare occasions I saw ESATs programme,nothing much to galvanize and exicite people to go out and rise thier hands against the woyené. No nothing.True, people are fed-up of the Meles regime, they will tell you about their frustration and they acknowledge freely that they want to see a change. I am sure if the much needed igniter(whatever it is) happens to light the flame of revolution,they will come out in the streets of Addis;No doubt about that. But do you really think that will happen just because some positive signes are seen in Arllington or anywhere in the US? Give me a break. We need much more than that. Stop talking and get the necessary funds to start an armed struggle. Get the money to help people to sustain themselves and their family if a national stike to paralayse the woyane rigime is called. Help the taxi drivers and so many others who tried but were forced to go back to work because they couldn’t affored not to work more than a few days. You have the dollars; Help people back home to rise and fight using any means. Stop your bla bla out peaceful change. It will never happen with woyane. They will never give up power without a struggel. unless you are expecting them to give their place on a golden plate for the opposition,be realistic and get ready to fight; Wake up guys. That is the only way out.

  6. It will never happen in a million years. Dream on.

    #Wami, you are quiet right. We had enough of violence and conflicts. Those who abdicate to entice conflict in our country, they are pathetic mourns. We can no call them intellectuals and they are illiterate in any sense.

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