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Homeless at home

By Yilma Bekele

That is not the worst that has happened to my beloved cousin but that is good enough point to start this tragic {www:saga}. I know you are the perfect people I can share this sad story with. I can picture you my dear Ethiopian cousins, upon reading the headline you will bow your head a little, tilt it to the left suck on your lips and make that peculiar hissing sound. Knowing that to be the extent of your sorrow and rage I am both touched and grateful.

My cousin is in deep shock. His once big and vibrant household has dwindled to a few young ones with no place to go. The once bigger than life, articulate, graceful head of the family now walks with his head down avoiding eye contact. His wife the most beautiful, generous, vibrant lady God has created has become a sickly woman that spends her days crying and praying. Their children left a long time ago.

Where the children went is another story to be told all by it self. I am not going to burden you with more sad tales. Let us just say no one left that Home in what is considered the proper way…..something like getting married, buying his or her own house or higher education. No, they all left in a hurry. No one was given a proper sendoff. They were dispersed into the four corners of the world. They have become what is known as the ‘Diaspora’ to use a modern phrase to describe those that left out of despair, been pushed out, nudged, escaped or encouraged to ‘leave’ while still alive.

Well because I write from America you are probably thinking that my cousin’s tragedy is a local event. You might think he probably got into drugs, became an alcoholic, was addicted to gambling or he was the victim of the economy or pure random bad luck. I don’t blame you. That does happen. I have seen many lives being ruined like that. I am afraid that is not the situation here.

My cousin became homeless in his own country. He was not a drug user, an alcoholic or a gambler nor did he lose his job. Did I tell you my cousin is a medical doctor? Yes, he is a highly educated, caring and productive member of society if that means anything these days.

He came from a good family. His grand father accompanied Emperor Minilk to the battle of Maichew in Northern Ethiopia. His father, my uncle never got tired of telling us the bravery of our ancestors. When ever we complained his response was to bring out the story of his father marching north walking bare feet, shield and spear as weapon and no food ration but resolved to defend what is his. We used to look at each other and snicker. Upon his return, King Minilk awarded him land to build on. Great uncle settled down and my cousin, the new homeless is his first child. He was the pride of the family. He never disappointed the clan. He lived up to expectations.

He acquired scholarship to a foreign land and returned back educated, handsome and a credit to his country. You should have seen the pride in my uncle’s and his mothers face when they saw their son wearing his clean snow-white jacket with a stethoscope hanging around his neck. They died happy. Their job was done.

My cousin inherited the house he was born in and started a family of his own. I am blessed with two nephews that I keep in touch with sporadically. They are the ones that left their home in the middle of the night. One traveled north to Sudan and now lives in Europe. The girl was accompanied south to Kenya and now lives in New Zealand. That sounds far. That was the day their mother died. Not physical death, but such agony that could only be understood by those that have children of their own.

My cousin and his wife settled to a life of getting old in an empty house. Migrating was not their style. They just wanted to die quietly in their own home. Well, they were resigned to it until now.

They are going to be homeless. The Ethiopian government is going to displace them from their home. The UNHCR will refer to them as “Internally Displaced Persons.” According to the UN the definition consists of two elements. 1) Coercive or otherwise involuntary character of movement 2) Such movement takes place within national borders. They fit both descriptions.

Even during the wholesale Nationalization without compensation crimes of the Mengistu era their house was spared. It was their castle. Their own liberated free zone. The Meles regime first demanded over $20,000 Bir to upgrade the Title and blueprint. They were forced to borrow to pay this arbitrary figure. There was no place to appeal. That was a few years back.

Today, as you read this my poor cousin was presented a bill for $350,000.00 Bir the price of the new lease. Ato Meles and his politburo have decided that amount to be the price of the land his house is sitting on. They have given him the choice to pay it or vacate. How these two retired elders will be able to come up with such outrageous amount of money apparently is not their concern.

The Mayor of Addis Corporal Kuma Demeksa and State Minster Mokria Haile were sent out to explain this new concept of leasing your own freaking property. The two TPLF errand boys have been trying to convince the people of Addis how this new Government sanctioned robbery is good for them. They have been wrecking their brains to convince the public to show enthusiasm while being raped by the TPLF mafia.

What gives the Government the authority to confiscate private property at will is a good question. The simple answer is it is legal. The laws of the land states so. Mengistu started the ball rolling when he was converted to Socialism and made taking what is not yours seem so natural. Ato Meles built on that foundation and added his TPLF’s Home grown enhancements. Callous regard for fellow human is the corner stone. He foresaw the possibility and made sure that the Judiciary he created would not one day mess with his plans. That is why the law prohibited the judiciary from looking into land issues. One can go to court to complain regarding the compensation amount but the Court does not have the authority to rule regarding ownership of land. The Law is clear on that. All land belongs to the Ethiopian Government. The TPLF Party runs the Government. Ato Meles is the de facto owner of the TPLF Party. You can fight all you want on what is on top but the bottom belongs to Ato Meles and his people. You Sir/Madam is subject to evection without notice. There is no appeal process, what Meles and his Party say is the law. No need to split hair, this is a fact.

Hold a minute, how about the Parliament you might ask? That has been taken care of. Kinijit almost rocked this important leg of ‘Revolutionary Democracy’ in 2005. Today it is working like a well-oiled machine. In fact it is ready to handle most situations without overt supervision. Ato Meles is in control of the Judiciary, the parliament and the Executive. He is three rolled in one!

The new Proclamation Land Lease Law 721/2004 is what gives Meles and TPLF Politburo the deeds to all land in Addis Ababa. How it came to be Law is a beautiful story all by itself showing us the workings of a Revolutionary Democracy up close. The Ethiopian Parliament returned from summer break and the President of the country gave a lavish dinner to members to welcome them from their vacation. While the exotic food was being served and liquor flowing like the Nile TPLF cadres were seen distributing the new proposal regarding land. The members were urged to study the brief.

They studied it overnight and the following day’s session of Parliament passed the Law with minimum fanfare. The people of Addis Abeba including my cousin were made home less by Parliamentarians that have not recovered from their hangover. Fifteen hours is the time it took our esteemed Parliamentarians to decide on such an important matter. That is Ethiopia in a nutshell.

I have been trying to come up with rational reasons why Ato Meles will risk getting the population angry at his Party. He has no choice. Running a criminal organization like the Ethiopian Government is a very expensive venture. Everybody has a handout. Most survive by corruption. The party needs money like a drug addict needs his fix.

We just have a very short memory. If you look back you will find so many instances where the search for more money has shown us the dark side of TPLF. To site a few: 1) switching lead and gold in the national Bank. 2) The disappearance of Coffee 3) the sale of part of Gondar to Sudan 3) the ‘Orphan’ adoption scam that generates millions 4) the maid trade to the Middle East 5) Lease of fertile and virgin land to foreigners. So on.

Regarding the new proclamation about Addis and other cities, according to Ato Israel Tesfaye a bureau chief in the Ministry of land Development and Administration the TPLF regime is free to give the land as gift, hold a lottery, ask for bids and lease the land they way it sees fit. You see my poor cousin’s land is in a desirable neighborhood. It became a curse.

The people of Addis were not consulted. The so-called ‘independent’ Kilils or Bantustans were not part of this discussion. The errand boys no matter how hard they tried they could not make the medicine go down easy. No one can explain how your own government can make you homeless in your own land. It is sort of surreal when you are told the house you father inherited from his father and you inherited from him is still not paid for. In fact today in fast growing Ethiopia you cannot afford your own house.

The regime got a few buyers in mind. The first in line is the dear Diaspora. They are the gullible that will pay real cash for stolen property. The local cannot afford any of that. Out of eighty million Ethiopians Seventy million cannot afford this insanity. Be it greed, ignorance or low self esteem those that left the country to make their life better are now destroying the life of those that stayed behind.

The abuse has become so much and frequent that we are completely desensitized to all kinds of atrocities. We feed the monster but we complain about it. We buy stolen property but when he sells it to the highest bidder we complain. Instead of building and strengthening our Associations and Civic Organizations, Churches, Mosques we break them apart and complain about the lack of unity. We make decisions based on Zer and Gosa, marriage, kinship, friendship and other trivia exposing our lack of convictions and stiff spine and we still complain and deny our role in this tragedy.

Hey the view that the sun revolves around the earth is just an alternative theory, right? You can add that selling land, selling people and selling country will bring peace and prosperity to that.

23 thoughts on “Homeless at home

  1. What a tragic story! You have articulated it well, dear Yilma. One little correction, though- Menelik didn’t go to the Battle of Maichew. Haile Selassie did. Menelik II fought at the Battle of Adwa. You see what I mean?

  2. Why do you think they are doing this?

    Do you really think they can do this by themselves? No! They are being adviced by outsiders, it is neoliberalism so that the rich foreingers: Arabs or West can take over. Their advisers are Arabs and the West that benefits them not the Ethiopian people. Add to that, Shaebia’s involvement. That is why the TPLF people are starting to leave by taking masses of millions of dollars, that is why we see the former TPLF have now become ambassadors outside. It is all planned. Worse things are coming…

  3. This tragic story,unfortunatly,is not one. It has been repeated ten thousand times over in the name of developement for the last ten years. Now,the snake is rising his head to sruck all of you. The diaspora,who shamelessly went after the land grabbed from poor urban dwellers shall not escape from the judgement of history. Those who bought land greedly will one day return it back to the rightful owners. What is sad is, living in “civilized ” countries where property right and other basic rights are respected,how come the same people could go back home and participate in buying stolen property? Where is our moral value we inherited from our fathers? What is the lesson we learned from the freedom fighters like Patriot arbegnoch, Student movement and many others who fought for the well being of their people? When are going to stop being on eachother throats and rise against this regime? I dream to see that day,when each one of us will contribute to bring down this tyrant Meles and his cronie.

  4. Hello Elias Kifle the GREAT (Keep it up!),

    Yilma, you are right, Woyane made us homelss. The TPLF beggars must leave without ifs and buts.

    The TPLF-Manifesto (google for it) is a must read for all genuine Ethiopians to understand the real behaviour of Meles and his TPLF-gang of beggars. You will see that Woyane has fought for Tigrayans and not for the rest. That is the fact and anything else on the contrary is simply not true. These people are unpredictable, they will destroy our Ethiopia. They are by nature a sort of evil creatures who suffer from inferiority complex.
    In the name of federalism, Woyane has divided the people of Ethiopia along ethnic lines. They sowed enmity between our people and took big portions of fertile “Amhara-land” and incrporated it in the so called “Tigray region”. Acording to the logic of TPLF, they want at last to create their own country. Believe me, Woyane is working day and night towards this goal. This nonsense must be stopped once and for all.
    As such, if Woyane shoots the first shot in the direction of Shaebia, then that will be our big chance to get rid of those beggars. Amhara and Oroma, as united as we were and still are, must abandon to serve in their military and fight Woyane from inside. Or we must use our military capability and plan a coup d’etat. Another option is that Meles be removed as soon as possible (does not matter how) and then the TPLF will go automatically to a civil war within itself (Adwa, Aksum, Agame etc.). This is not a dream, it is true because TPLF is a patch work group of corrupts.
    Dear Ethiopians, Ethiopia has never lost its dignity like today because her children are not doing enough to save her. It is a real shame. There is famine in Ethiopia today.
    Nevertheless, one thing makes me happy and it is the recent news which we heard that most Oromos have abandoned to fight for liberation from the rest of Ethiopia. There is a saying in German which says something like “hope is the last to die”. And in deed thanks to GOD, this shows that we still have hope, for there is a light at the end of the dark Ethiopian tunnel.

    A Peaceful Ethiopia will prevail.

  5. Dear Ato Yilma,

    I am saddened by this story. I think it would be good if you gave us the name of your cousin in the event that someone decides to start a fund raiser.

  6. Dear Yilma

    I have a similar story to tell. I came from a large family and most of us live outside of Ethiopia; my mom passed away several years ago but my father is still in Addis and lives at our house which he built during the time of the king. He worked day and night to build our home without borrowing a cent. And now the Woyanes are asking him to pay 450 thousand birr to lease the land. If he cannot come up with the money, he was told that he will be compensated for the structure on the land (the estimate is 125 thousand birr). My fathered learned that people are lining up to pay the government upwards of 7 million birr for the land. I called him the other day to tell him that we will try to borrow the amount the Woyanes are asking (450 thousand birr) but I could not talk to him because he was totally overwhelmed by the course of events. Right now, I am worried for his sanity and I do not know what to do. . I just told him that we will come up with fund to calm him down and give him some hope, but I have no idea how to come up with that kind of money. My other siblings are just getting by and they do not have that kind of cash to spare. I am told that thousands of people in Addis and elsewhere are facing similar situations and people are really angry. My father had two smaller income generating rental properties and that was confiscated during the time of the Dergue. Our house was the only property that was left for him and he was told to pack-up and leave. Where to? I don’t know. Even under the Italian occupation of our country, a total theft of once property was unheard of. I am just trying very hard to understand why these banda Woyanes are doing these to us.

    But as you have mentioned in your piece, the banda Woyanes are not doing this alone. There are band Ethiopians ready to dole out any amount of money the banda Woyanes are asking for. About two months ago, the banda Woyanes got rid of the parents of my friend from their house and sold their property for 11 million birr. The compensation for the parents of my friend? 500 thousnad birr. The place I call my home, my country is turning into a nightmare in front of my eyes. I believe time is calling for Ethiopian spring. Even though I have too many family responsibilities, I am ready to be a part of the coming revolution. The banda Woyanes need to be uprooted through a revolution.


  7. Woyane kills all one by one. We were silent when he killed Professor Asrat and the killing continues to this day. Woyane knocks at every door sooner or later. If SEYE stood for truth and justice when he was in power instead of looting/killing and collaborating with Meles, Ethiopia and Ethiopians should have been in a better situation by now. Let us try to understand he suffering of the others and not waite unitl we are directly affected. Say no to woyane state terrorism and even supporters of woyane should open their eyes and ears. The sooner the better. All strong dictators succumbed when the people rise in unison and Meles who is known for his cowardice will be the first to hide in a “KEBERO GUDGUAD” or flee if he is given the chance and the supporters are the ones who are going to stay behind with the Ethiopian people. Mengistu did not take Legesse Asfaw or Mengistu Gememchu when he fled, please wake up.

  8. We have been joking for the last 20 years and it is a price we are paying. TPLF told us very early that their main aim is to disintegrate Ethiopia and build greater Tigrai but we were fighting an opposition instead of fighting woyane.
    If we unite and get rid of the looters and killers we can save not only our property but the millions who are languishing under woyane state terrorism. The move taken by G7 and OLF should be enouraged and speeded up to shorten woyane reign of terror and the suffering of our people.
    Always think of our heroes who are languishing under fascistic woyane torture chamber. Stop philosphysing, unite and get rid of the looters and killers.

  9. Blogs have pluses, minuses and nothingess at times. This is a KEY PROVOCATIVE ISSUE; unfortunately, it would roll down like any other news and fed from memory. It won’t even be around as TOP STORY as the mostly rushd Diaspora surfs for current news.

    1. The good news is at least MORE CASE HISTORIES are being revealed on this forum. The more the better, and if this same group forms some networking, forms some asoociation in a way that enables such housing victims back home to form a strong union, it would be a good step.

    2. The regime might be getting away with 100% their own ethnic military authority, but such financial transaction, its audit etc needs to be available for public record.

  10. Ato Yilma,

    My hats off! You have articlated the greed and opportunist roles played by the heartless Diaspora. We are our own worst enemies when it comes to taking part in Woyane schmes. One cannot imagine anyone in Diaspora has no family member affected by the Tigrian Mafia and mercenaries. Yet we play into the hands of those who confiscate the dwellings of family members, sell off our land to foreigners, ship our young girls into slavery in the Middle East, wrongly convict and incarcerate those who dare to speak against corruption, nepotism, and exclusion of non-Tigrians from all aspects of lucrative businesses.

    In one of his vulgar and irresposibble utterance after the 1997 election debacle Meles said that henceforth he would make the opposition think about where its next meal came from. Read, “I will make you starve.” This is what is happening as we speak. There is a total war against Ethiopia and Ethiopianism for the last 20 years. For many greedy folks in Diaspora the Woyane strategy of creating various schemes to rob and plunder the meager resources of not only the nation but also the hard earned money of folks in exile should be obvious. Time and again we fail to see the trap and ploy of an ethnocentric regime. Recently a close friend shared this with me. “For those in the know, the very ascent to power of an ethnocetric, flagrantly anti-Ethiopian, and patently venal outfit called Woyane, did spel a national disaster of collossal proportion.” He further stated, “Surely, nobody has any right to forgive someone on behalf of another. The thousands of innocent Ethiopians whose lives have been confiscated and the many millions who have become refugees in their own country, would certainly plea for justic, not revenge.”

    I am sorry about your cousin’s dilemma. We all should be mindful that unlawful act committed agaisnt one is crime committed on all of us. It is morally unacceptable for those of us in Diaspora to see and participate in dehumanization of Ethiopians at home by those who lost their humanity.

    Never trust these Woyane mercenaries!

  11. A very sad story it happen to many innocent Ethiopians “neo liberalism” it’s all about money. look in America if there is war gas price go up if there is no war gas price still go up the greed level is outreageous. I wish all the best to your cousin!!!!!!

  12. This goon is doing exactly what his current day financier China is doing. This is just the beginning, his first course so to say. It is being done outside the city on a large scale. Thousands of our brothers and sisters from Gambela have suffered the same fate. Don’t get me wrong that I am standing against development. City municipalities can take a piece of real estate for development. But here in a democratic system such steps must go through the legislative process and owners are amicably compensated. The court can stop a city dead in its tracks if the decision is illegal. But the goon, his concubine and their cohorts are so intoxicated with their lucrative robberies that they don’t feel it at all. Their attitude is this: ‘The rulers before us had done this already and it is our turn to do the same. We have the US State Department in our packet; China and India have become our thieves-in-arms; Al-Shabaab is our pawn-shop; Al-Qaeda is our bail-bond and nothing is going to happen to us. We are here to stay and if a word comes out of any one’s mouth complaining about this or any other thing we are doing, they are going to end up with bloody noses and in dreaded dungeons’. This goon has let his heart swollen so big on such destructive bravado that one of these days he is going to blow himself up. He wants violence to irrupt in the country so he can justify his actions. I commend the opposition groups for not falling into his trap. Our people have gone through so much violence and carnage during the last 4 decades and have become much more intelligent in reading such wicked minds as him or Al-Shabaab or Al-Qaeda for that matter. May The Almighty’s Rage Be Upon This Goon From Adwa!!!

  13. Somw diasporas did not want to buy Abbay river dam bonds as the government been trying to convince them to do so. Now the government designed a strategy that is needed to raise funding to build the dam . The government is geting necessary money to build Abbay dam from the locals . Most diasporas will pay the bill for $350,000.00 Birr the price of the new lease for their close families. That way the government will get the required money to build the Abbay river dam .

  14. Mr. Writer:

    Don’t you get it?. TPLF is taking your family hostage and asking you or their diaspora kids ransom money?. You have got to pay the ransom and redeem them!.

    BTW, if Emperor Menilik’s generosity to your grandfather by way of giving him handsomely the land (somebody’s land of course) for the compensation of the ‘service’ he rendered to him [the emperor] was okay and commendable, why is it a crime (questionable) if Emperor Meles do the same thing for his servants?. Basically they are both doing the same thing at two different times.

    If you were genuinely concerned for justice and fairness, you would have mentioned what has been happening to so many farmers in and around Addis Ababa who were dispossessed of their ancestral farm lands and forced to be homeless.

    Your criticism of the ‘hodam’ diaspora who buy poor people’s land is commendable,though. You know this fact reminded me my own grand father. My grand dad used to be a well known patriot, may god bless his soul. While he was fighting the then fascist army of Italy, he used to sell his land to buy himself ammunition. you know who buys the land my grand pa sells? They are fellow country men (the bandas) who he fight along with their fascist master. Life was so good for the Bandas then, they acquire lands from my grand pa. But my grand pa knew at his heart what his priority was. He was confident that he was going to defeat the bandas and fascists. Defeat?, yes he did!

    Anonymous replies:

    Can you document that Menilik did that? I see, living in the past and distracting people from the current issue. The past happened, so we will repeat the same thing is the slogan?

    anonymous replies:

    Here the English translation of the Songs posted before:

    Lost is standing on Entoto
    To look down the meadow below;

    Lost is taking the cattle to Finfinne
    To water at the mineral spring;

    Lost is gathering on Daalattii hill
    For Gullallee congress (Gada assembly);

    Lost is crossing over to Gafarsa
    To gather firewoods;

    Lost is grazing our calves
    In the Boombii field;

    The year the people came
    Even our cattle died;

    Since Meshesha came
    Lost is our dignity.

  15. Most diasporas including me let their brothers and sisters back home take all the properties that were left for them by their parents. Now the government wants us to pay for the houses we gave to our brothers because surely our brothers cannot afford to do so . I told my family members noway we will pay this outrageous demand. I personally rather go back there and pick up my gorade and defend the house than pay . If the worst comes I will burn it down before the Woyane gets a hand on my family’s house . I told my brother ANGETUN KILAW if anybody tries to evict you from the house of our father and mother. If you lost burn it down. The government is after the land so the house I am entitled to burn down even legally.

  16. Ok, any diaspora or foreigners that buy a house or property in Ethiopia is a fool. Since the land belongs to the government, and since the government can take it any time they wish, why buy a house or property at all? Whether you own a property or a house in Ethiopia, you are merely borrowing it, till the government wants it back. Only fools part with their money!

    This legal provision was designed by fools, for other fools. So do not despair my friend, just make a huge banner or ad tell all would be damn investor, they are being scammed. See with a little legal knowledge all rest easy.

  17. Hello:

    Yes, of course. Read the whole article, you will find the answer therein. On the other note: it is a public secrete that this things happened. Read the following song for example:

    Inxoxxoo dhaabbatanii
    Caffee gadi ilaaluun hafe;

    Finifinne loon geessani
    Hora obaasuun hafe;

    Tulluu Daalattii irraatti
    Yaa’iin Gullallee hafe;

    Gafarsattii dabranii
    Qoraan cabsachuun hafe;

    Hurufa Boombii irraatti
    Jabbiilee yaasuun hafe;

    Bara jarri dhufani
    Loon keenyas hindhumani;

    Edda Mashashaan dhufee
    Birmadummaanis hafe.

  18. Well……..We have a Constitution that guides to lead a people and a country. Our government dont understand the constitution. So to cover their stupidity they lead the people Irrationally or BeDemNefs. The solution is…. Somebody who understands and implements the Constitution has to come to power. We have to be heroes. Reflection of Ones opinion to an article that address burning societal issue doesnt help to solve the problem. Ones heroism action does. Let the country lover writers be a hero in their writing. Let the country lover men(women) be hero in preserving ones beloved country’s Dignity.

  19. china china china that is where the tyrants are getting their ideas recently. Weyanes do not think, they just kill for the last 20 years. When the idea from west is no longer working for them now, they moved to east.

  20. Yilma,
    I know your cousin very well I don’t think his family knows him like I do. No disrespect intended but he has been a gambling addict as long as I have known him. He had been going through money faster than a bullet.He has little to no knowledge of the concept of saving. I suggest you do some digging about him before anything.

  21. Is not the question the policy on land, that it exists and others have been in similar dilemma including cemetry plots and the rested demanded to be removed.

    Obviously the writer is some miles away from where his cousin’s problem took place, but by identifying a weakness ( if at all true and that gambling of such standard in Ethiopia by a medical doctor is believable ), could you not have discussed it with the writer first? Habeshas’ saying is, “one who knows more than the owner himself is an evil eye.” It is a common part of % of Ethiopians mentality to know more than the owner himself. In this case, more than his own family ( well?). Sometimes, the family thinks they know their member more than him self. The dragging world.

    The bottom line is a greater issue stands out beyond the character of this story.

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