Response to Eleni Gebre-Medhin of Commodity Exchange. – Hankamo Gota

August 21st, 2009 Print Print Email Email

There is an old saying in Amharic and it goes ‘ke ahya yewale fes temero yemetal.’ That is what came to mind when I read your article on (more…)

There is an old saying in Amharic and it goes ‘ke ahya yewale fes temero yemetal.’ That is what came to mind when I read your article on You reduced our concern about democracy and the rule of law into ethnic based rant. The Woyane sickness is rubbing on you. In the land of Woyane all roads lead to tribal and ethnic allegiance.

You have been in the news the last year or so due to your involvement in establishing the so-called Ethiopian Commodity Exchange or ECX. A lot has been said about your educational background, your urbane style and relentless work on our behalf to improve the quality of life for our people.

Plenty of Ethiopians in the Diaspora have written well-researched articles on your plans and future dreams as it affects our country. The wonderful analysis by Professor Seid Hassan entitled ‘The dangerous hype behind the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange’ is a case in point. I don’t remember him dwelling on your ethnicity. Thus I was eager to see your response to the many questions raised by the public. I was delighted that our independent web sites were gracious enough to publish your submission.

Alas no such luck. I read it twice. I went over it for the third time. I left more confused and bewildered by your piece. We have this huge game changer concept as a commodity exchange in front of us crying for explanation but you choose to discuss your genealogy instead. Where exactly does a tribal affiliation affect ones ability to do a certain task? You were obviously born in Ethiopia from Ethiopian parents. You grew up in Ethiopia and speak any one of the Ethiopian languages including our official language Amharic. Why do you think anybody will question your Ethiopianness? Why would you dignify such query with an answer?

I believe you learnt well from Woyane playbook. Rule number five when in doubt change the subject. You cannot rationally explain your concept of a commodity exchange in a monopolistic environment thus you decided to play the ethnic card. You wanted to point out you are Amhara not Tigre for some obscure reason understood by you and your handlers. Didn’t they tell you we are against the system not individuals? Didn’t they tell you being a Woyane is a state of mind not ethnic allegiance? Havent you met Amhara,Oromo, Sidama, Adal or Somali Woyanes? What do you think Aba Dula is how about Addisu not to forget the junior Woyane shimels kemal.

There are eighty million of us. Each and every one of us have a very interesting story to tell about our journey in life. Some will be considered boring while some are colorful and fit enough for a Hollywood movie. Some are lucky to be born in a rich home with all that is necessary in life to thrive and succeed. While others are cursed by fate and circumstances and are unable to fulfill their potential in life. You were one of the lucky few.

What I would like you to discuss is the many troubling points raised by those outside that are able to question the concept of commodity exchange under the current political and economic climate existing in our country. Most of us are not interested in your lineage. We have matured enough to judge individuals by their actions instead of their social or economic background. Why are you attempting to change the subject of discussion to tribe and ethnicity instead of your actions and involvement in tandem with the illegal government against the interest of the Ethiopian people? Why did you dwell on your background and upbringing for over three quarters of your writing and relegate the central issue of your activity with the government to one paragraph?

The last paragraph is where you really speak of your philosophy and the reason d’etre of you actions now. The last paragraph is what we all like to discuss and get a clear idea if your concept of ‘Commodity Exchange’ as established will work in Ethiopia or not. Unfortunately you gave it a halfhearted cursory glance and generalities that are true under any circumstances. For example you said ‘Ethiopia is ours, to claim, to build and to restore.’ I have no quarrel with that, but I also know a few people who are involved in the destruction of Ethiopia like the TPLF folks you are associating with. You wrote ‘A market is above all a connection between humans, an exchange of goods and money that links two sides. The market is neutral as to who is on either side, it is the connection that counts. I have always found traders to be the most pragmatic people in the world.’ A very interesting statement but very shallow too if I might say so. A market does not exist in a vacuum. There is no such thing as a neutral market. As everything else in life there are rules and regulations. Who makes the rules and who enforces the rules is the central issue in the life of a nation. Thus the market here in the US where the will of the people is reflected in a representative system or in China where the Communist party is supreme, or in North Korea where a one man rule is the norm are as different as day and night.

Could you tell us about the coffee merchants and the ECX since you are very familiar with the issue? From what I understand the merchants refused to join the exchange. You appealed to the Prime Minister that threatened ‘cutting the hands’ of those who are refusing to submit to your authority. You took them to court accusing them of ‘hording’ whereas they were put in jail, their license revoked and their property confiscated. Is this the working of a neutral market? Is this the way of a just system that accuses, tries, finds guilty all in one session?

I will tell you what I think. I might be wrong but it is my honest opinion. I believe a commodity exchange cannot work in present day Ethiopia. In a country where there is no freedom of expression, where all land belongs to the government, where the party in power is the largest business enterprise in the country, where ethnicity is what matters instead of education and know how and corruption is the way of life how in the world does a capitalist concept like commodity exchange operate?

I am glad that our independent web sites published your article. It shows that they were willing to accord you respect whereas the government you are working with wastes millions of dollars in purchasing technology to block our web sites. There is no free flow of information in our country. There could not be free market in a closed society. There is no level playing field in a country where one party dominates the economic life of the people. This article will published in some of our independent web sites here in the west. You as a government official have the privilege of reading it on your virtual network set up for the ruling class. Ordinary Ethiopians cannot read this. The few that can, use proxy servers or NGO and international organization satellite links. Yours is probably a fast DSL or T1 connection while they have to wait for hours to download a simple word file. That is the reality of Ethiopia in a nutshell. Different rules for different people. We are not equal. Some are more equal than others. Please read Animal Farm by George Orwell it will give you a better understanding of reality in Ethiopia.

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