Birtukan Mideksa: Ethiopia’s freedom supernova – By Abebe Gellaw

January 1st, 2010 Print Print Email Email

Throughout history, so many rulers have risen and fallen from the pinnacles of power. (more…)

Throughout history, so many rulers have risen and fallen from the pinnacles of power. Among a long list of rulers that have cruelly risen to eventually fall in the pits of history for causing unimaginable misery, bloodshed, destruction and massive displacement only within the last six decades, Meles and his predecessor easily join their peers like Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mobutu, Milosevic or Idi Amin.

It is rare to find leaders that offer themselves as sacrificial lambs in defiance of injustice and in defence of freedom. Our history has indeed been graced with leaders that have contributed so much flesh and blood to unify Ethiopia and fend off external invaders to preserve the independence and territorial integrity of this tragic country. Nonetheless, Ethiopian history had never been blessed with people like Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., Mandela or Aung San Suu Kyi until very recently.

Dictators like Meles undoubtedly believe that they are born to rule, brutalize, dictate, define and redefine the destiny of their victims. It defies logic how people who have mobilized so many good-intentioned children of peasants and fought extremely bloody and destructive wars in the name of equality and liberty have become freedom’s worst enemies. Contrary to what narcissists like Meles may believe, “Leaders are made, they are not born,” as Vince Lombardi once said. “They are made by hard effort, which is the price all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”

Birtukan Mideksa is the only leader known in the entire history of Ethiopia that has risen to defy tyranny without raising arms or advocating violence in a rare show of character and grace. In a poem she penned while languishing in Kaliti jail and read it aloud after her release, the visionary young lawyer openly broke bad news that the future does not belong to the dictator. Birtukan reminded him that the future belongs to our children who must live not like slaves in bondage but in liberty as free people. She defiantly offered her bosom for his bullets.

This is the kind of leader Ethiopians have been waiting for. She has never committed a crime. Unlike the woman beater dictator, who has condemned her to life imprisonment while he enjoys the lap of luxury in the imperial palace sucking the blood of poor Ethiopians, she has never been out to rob, kill or maim fellow citizens. In stead, she has conscientiously chosen to rise up against a regime drenched with blood and offered herself for the ultimate sacrifice so that her fellow citizens held hostage in their own country will eventually live as free people. She is a rare inspiration to millions who have been faced with mounting despair as almost all the false Mandelas have fallen one after another. At a time when some self-anointed leaders are calling Ethiopians to surrender and break asunder, she emerged as the real symbol of Ethiopia’s epic resistance against a regime whose ideologies seem to have been copied from the books of fascism and Apartheid.

Birtukan could have easily avoided her current predicament by simply succumbing to the threats of the dictators. She could have appeared on TV and fulfil the despot’s vain desire by heaping praise on him as the almighty, gracious, merciful, magnanimous and visionary ruler as he had expected her to do. She could have said that her inalienable rights and freedom were not God-given but derived from his fake pardon and forgiveness for the grave crimes that no one but he and his cronies have committed with arrogance and impunity. Defying his expectations and hurting his feelings, she preferred to suffer the consequences of telling the truth in stead of validating and dignifying a fake pardon, which never was without the crimes that she never committed.

Separated from her little daughter and elderly mother, the heroine freedom fighter has not only posed a challenge to the Ethiopian people, who have yet to unite to finish the rough march to freedom, but also to civilized nations who have preferred to turn blind eyes and collude to Byzantine tyranny in stead of living up to their true creeds.

As Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” King’s words still echoes from the jails of Ethiopia as leaders of the free world who have been preaching about liberty and making promises to support the struggle against tyranny anywhere in the world have preferred to befriend a brutal tyrant. They wine and dine with the dictator messing up our homeland. They say he is a strategic ally that helps to fight terrorism while they know full well that he is terrorizing and brutalizing the poor people of Ethiopia.

While we join others to celebrate Birtukan as person of the year, we should also recognize the fact that she is an exceptional woman who will go into history as the freedom supernova of our generation. Like a supernova, she is a rare phenomenon, an explosion of a star that emits vast amount of energy.

Ethiopians, in and outside of country, need to support this woman of extraordinary courage and leadership that has given hope at a time of despair, courage at a time of fear, unity at a time of divisive bickering and vision at a time of myopia that has brought down those who have failed to live up to their own promises. Our destructive politics, which is dominated by cynicism and self-mutilation, will certainly change when leaders clearly know what they stand for.

Those who have been consumed with self-destruction and bickering even within her party in stead of unifying against the rise of Stalinism and Apartheid in our homeland should remember a woman, who has chosen to suffer in harsh jails than kneeling down to despotism. They ought to remember her words: “Indeed, living behind bars is painful. I have felt pained, when hearing about the struggle of my fellow country men; for being forced to experience it all vicariously, for being near but far away from the terrain of the fight.” Her comrade-in-arms should take inspiration from her and set their differences aside to finish the rough march to freedom that they have chosen her to lead. If they fail to live up to their own sermons, history will harshly judge them.

Election without the woman who can be overwhelmingly elected to lead Ethiopia into a new era of deliverance and freedom is unacceptable, unfair and illegal. Let freedom be a rallying cry and the single most unifying cause against oppression, injustice, discrimination and exploitation.

The Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi once said: “It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.” Ethiopia’s Aung San Suu Kyi is fearless, courageous and unyielding.

Shackled in the dictator’s harsh and cold jail, Birtukan has challenged us all. “I am ready for sacrifice. How about you?” It is a question that will resonate throughout Ethiopia’s darkest seasons under tyranny. With humility, she has disarmed so many and have proven that a single woman can make a huge difference. Birtukan symbolizes the fact that tyranny and liberty are always irreconcilable.

Tyranny should not be obeyed. It should be defied and rejected. In the end, the tyrants who have been abusing the poor people of Ethiopia will be held accountable. History is a witness to this inevitable fact as freedom eventually prevails over dictatorship. Let all freedom loving Ethiopians draw resolve and energy from Birtukan Mideka, who is undoubtedly, Ethiopia’s freedom supernova that symbolizes our jailed aspiration for freedom and dignity in our own country. She is the one who has proven herself to be worthy of being called a leader as all the false prophets and Mandela’s have disappeared into oblivion.

Let freedom ring from coast to coast!

Happy New Year!

  1. Robele Ababya
    | #1

    This is a masterpiece by Abebe Gelaw – the well known principled and ardent supporter of icon Birtukan and Teddy Afro in effective ways.

  2. ደምስ
    | #2

    Birtukan has done her part, it is up to us to end this evil dictator from our country. The talking and standing on the side lane has to end.

    The privous dictator atleast cared for Ethiopia’s territory, the current dictator does not care our country split in to 7 or 15 parts. The fight for freedom is much harder than any time in the past. But it can be done.

    My prediction for this year and after we will have a big disappointment from the Obama administration.

    Any thing could happen, may be God has its own idea for Ethiopia.

  3. justice for all
    | #3

    Happy New Yea! I am hopeful that 2010 is going to bring us the end of the Monkey Face Butcher, Dictator Meles! In the mean time take time to enjoy this song:

    | #4

    Abebe’s historical analysis is full of errors and to some extent, with some merit. There is no comparision between Meles and his dean of gangesters in one hand and the Asia/European dectators in another.

    Meles is a man standing alone in history because he had betryed his country in exchange for power. Meles betryed every thing that is in the way of truth, democracy, justice and morality. He is above Hitler, Mussoloni, Stalin, Pol Pot, Molosovich or Idi Amin because those leaders of the past never kneel down for Western powers and used as a subservient but for their own wish to stay in power indefinately. None of them partitioned their home land and rewarded to a neighbouring country (Sudan) so that they will not harbor Melese’s opposition group. Meles singlhandedly allowed Eritrea to seceed and no one was allowed to vote on the fate of Eriteria. Meles is the one in Ethiopian history who sell Ethiopian lands of the Oromo regions to forign investors exploiting the natural fertility of the Oromo’s land and save his newly acquired capital with Al Amudi’s bank account so that he could easily mask the whereabout of the money in time of departure as Mengistu Haile Mariam.

    So, there is no may to compare Meles with the personalities mentioned above. He is a unique person with inferior nature but he may have been seen as a Messiah for Tigrians even to those who fool us as if they were true opponent against him including Seye Aberha, the born again Ethiopian after he dumped 300,000 national defense force. All in all, it is erroneous to compare Meles with those mentioned above.

  5. mateos
    | #5

    It’s healthy and humanistic way to be different but what happened in the horn of Africa and particularly Ethiopia is quite disgusting and shameful. Africa had produced so many shameful leaders and continue to do so; however, the little midget Bereket Simon boy surpasses them all. This little midget not only represents the shame and disfunctional leadersh of Africa but he also represents back to the feature where colonialism used all kind of means to divide and rule Africa; and I storngly believe some one offered him the book of ALL DEEDS OF EVIL and he is implementing them through out Ethiopia and the horn of Africa with help of his masters. Weyane and their mafia families must be eradicated from the face of Ethiopia!

  6. Mamo
    | #6

    Gonderew, Your argument is quite superficial and offered just for argument sake. It seems you never read the article boyond the 1st para. Unfortunately, there was no comparison here as you stated. Sorry you are off target.

  7. Leul
    | #7

    I like Abebe’s Article. But Gonderaw has a point too. None of the dictators are similar to Meles. He is a man with huge inferiory complex. As Gonderaw said no dictator in the world sold his country to others. No dictator bows and serves as slave like Legesse Zenawi. No dictator is lier as Legesse is. He even lies about his name. He was once legesse, then Melese. He calls himself Abebe too. Do you remember? What kind of creature is he?

    Thank you!

    | #8

    TO MAMO (Mamush!!)

    You assumed that I did’t read the full paragraph of Abebe’s small article but the introductory part alone. You were not monitoring my mind with remote control to ascertain whether your allegation is true or false. I read the entire article but has not found to be more than fantasy broadcast because praising Birtukan Medeksa more than what she deserve is not, and will not be persuasive to me since his hypothesis was not tested against reality. For this reason,I choose not to discuss Birtukan’s leadership (as Abebe does) because I did not see anything tangable that makes her better than the rest of her peer except her social standing as female and combatant against tyrany. But while her courage is appriciable to a certain degree, objectively, however, she should not be praised as Mesfin Woldemariam, the denier of the existance of Ethiopia’s second largest social fabric – the Amharas. As we knew during his prision time, Mesfin was excessively praised by Fekade Shewakena et. al. because he was preceived as a critical figure against WEYANE and called Melese’s group as “ARAWIT” (including the constitution). However, Mesfin reversed course and told the dispora that “WEYANE is not enemy of the people”. and before that, he told his supporter that being in jail and released is not a “MEDALIA” that he was proud of. Of course, one knows what prision means and medalia but his motive to undermine his supporters’ time and effort in getting the release of him and others is manifest of his stupidity (and undoubtedly, he was). See, praising one beyound what he/she deserve is dangerous. Had I want to tell my fellow Ethiopian, Abebe Gelaw, this was the underline fact but did not until I was provoked to do so by your comment. LET US WAIT AND SEE IF THERE IS SOMETHING THAT BIRTUKAN WILL TELL US STRANGE THINGS IF AND WHEN SHE WII BE RELEASED.

  9. Mamo
    | #9

    Gonderew, You make no sense at all. While you don’t have the courage and character of Birtukan, you vainly try to deprecate her worth. Well, she is in jail and you are somewhere safe eating your burger. You are a big headed cynic who deserve no attention. I won’t dignify your smallness with a diatribe in kind. Cynics like you used to say the same about Mandela. Good luck!

    | #10

    MAMO(Mamush!!) What is the courage and character you are witnessing about Birtukan?. I demand proof, just as I do in court, to propound tangable evidence proving her betterness than the rest of her peers. Do you have one? – please pass it through the clerk of the court to the JURY (the reader.) You see, under the evidentiary rule of the court, emotion is not a proof, and that is why people in our native homeland have a say “YEKETAFI ENBA BAKEL BAKEL YAKELAL” the fact of which you manifestly demonstrated in this case. You also alleged that while Birtukan is in jail, I live in a safe place and eating my burger. This statement also prove to me that you are a man who want to speak anything and everything as you please and, in deed, without proof. What unfortunate nature and personality!!. I and even my family, from child to adult, are with Birtukan and not by word but by deed. We offered cash and put an item on auction for Birtukan’s fund raising on January 26, 2009 (in one of New England States of America) that no one dare to do the same like us. Sound improbable?, you can verify the fact from Abugida’s program managers. ATO MAMO, decolonize your mind from assumption and false talk and engage yourself to the practical world. BUTTOM LINE: sOON OR LATER, Birtukan will be released but she is not nor will be Ethiopia’a Messiah as Abebe Gelaw would like us to believe.

  11. Tenaw
    | #11


    You do not have the moral authority to say something about Birtukan or Mesfin. They have paid the price for your salvation while you are eating your Humberger as Manmush said. Hodam!

    “Tangible reason bla bla bla!” Tangible reason is you yourself who do not even have the courage to reveal your real name.

    What you can do is just eat from the top and pass it through the bottom.

    Abebe Gallaw thank you for your article about the heroine of our time.

  12. Anonymous
    | #12

    weyane knowdays they gave birtukan a lot of credit. Becouse of her and her friendes they stay in power.Like while you make a hot tea you need to open the lead otherwise the hot water burn your face.

  13. ዱባለ
    | #13

    ወያኒ ለነቢርቱካን ማመስገን አለበት ምክኒአቱም ኢነሱ በመኖራችሀው በስልታን ይከትላለ. አልበለዚአ የደርግን እታ ፈንታ ያገናል

    | #14


    What do you know about morality and moral authority? Do you worship mesfin just as Fekade Shewakena?. My understanding (and others) is that man can not salvage man but in Christian tradition it is possible. Let alone Birtukan and Mesfin, your semi-deity, God, Jesus Christ will not salvage me as he is not God for us, the Jews including Ethiopian Jews . Mesfin Woldemariam was a false patriot as Jesus was a false prophet. Mesfin denied the very existance of ethnic Amhara and he is NOT one of the patriotic figure listed in our dictionary. You can worship him just as you worship the mere man, – Jesus.

  15. ማርታ
    | #15

    ጎንደሬው ብዙ ውጥ እረገጠ!አብጊዳ ከዚህ ያባረው!!!!

  16. Tenaw
    | #16


    I can see now where you are. People who do not have any fate or believe in the existence of superman, wants to punch anyone like Meles is doing. There is no need of blackmailing anyone.

    First I do not think Fekade stated in any place that he worships any human being? Do you have a reference for that? or are you fabricating charges like Berket Simon?

    Second Mesfin wolde mariam did not say the way you are saying. I was there when he said that. What he was trying to say was the Amhara speaking people never belived in the concept of “Gotegninet” He said that the Amargna speaking people do not tend to say “we Amharas; instead they tend to “ene Menze, ene laste, Gondare, Damote, Gojjame etc.

    You do not like him does not mean you can twist what he said for your advantage.

    Thank you!

    | #17


    Thank you both for your comment and the improvement you showed on your comment at this time.(compare your comment No. 11 and 16.)When you act (or made your dialogue) in a civilized manner, one is interested to engage in like manner. For this reason is why I am reponding to your comment no. 16 and not because I wanted to raise any issue on Bertukan or Mesfin. Howeve, because you brought Mesfin into the readers attention, I must state the following fact contrary to your assertion about his statement and his personality.

    Going back to the substantive issue on Mesfin, however, I can repeat that Mesfin Woldemariam not only denied the very existance of Ethnic Amharas but he himself also denied that he was AMHARA with the hope that he could win all Amharic speaking people whether they are Gurage, Oromo, or all other non-Amhara people as long as they speak Amharic in addition to their respective ethnic or native language.

    Mesfin said this not only in Ethiopia but all over Europe, America and everywhere even when he was confronted by indiginious ethnic Amharas including myself.

    In 1992-93, the issue was started as a debate between Meles Zenawi and Enderias Eshete in one hand and, Mekonnen Bishaw and Mesfin Woldemariam on the other. started in 1992-1993 ***** 1/. The title of the debate was “Do Amhara exist as a distinct ethnic group?”. The contestant’s position was as follows:

    MELES AND ENDERIAS:- claims that the Amhara are a nation with their territory and their culture as any other ethnicity in Ethiopia, and should take their prpoer place.

    MESFIN W/MARIAM AND MEKONNEN BISHAW: took a different but self contradicting position as to the existance and identity of ethnic Amharas. In particular, Mesfin hold that only the characteristics of URBAN elite who assimilated with other ethnic including Amharas are true ethnic group and are the beginning of a truly Ethiopian nation and must have the right to live anywhere in Ethiopia. Mesfin, however refuse to recognize the ethnically mixed URBAN amharas to be as an exclusive social fabric within the Ethiopian society as “Amhara” due to their assimilation with other ethnic group be it by marrage and other factors. In a nutshell, a Gonderite who marry an oromo has been assimilated since by mixing himself, according to Mesfin, Amhara was in a melting pot and, therefor,become no more Amhara as a distinct ethnic group. In other word, Mesfin concluded that “THERE IS NO ETHNIC AMHARA IN ETHIOPIA BUT PEOPLE WHO SPEAK AMARIGNA AS THEIR COMMON LANGUAGE”.

    MR.TENAW: You stated that you “where there” when Mesfin was allegedly speaking about “GOTEGNANET” as opposed to the question of “Amhara’s ethnic identity” and flatly denied that Mesfin ever denied about the identity of Amhara. WHERE WAS THAT PLACE that you attended his position statement???? Wherever that may be, here is how Mesfin, in the book that he himself authored in Amharic under the title “YEKEHEDET KULKULET”***/2 refute what you falsly attempted to make others believe as to Mesfin’s denial of the existance and identity of Amharas. In his own word Mesfin said:

    “Teyakew ketenesa ena kawezagebe 12 ametat yehone yemeselegnal. Bezyan geze Amara yemebal Gosa yelem Bemalete beselkena begazeta lefez tedaregealehu. Gudayun Mekeraker yemayechelu sewoch sedeb yekenachewal::
    ……..Lene Amara yemibal Gosa Ale Malet andu yekehedet zerf new”

    (SEE:- Chapter 11, Under the title “AMARA YEMEBAL GOSA ALE WEY??, PAGE 130, paragraph 1 and 2)(Sorry for not be able to type in “Amharic” but I will rephrase what he EXACTLY stated in his book as follows):

    It has been 12 years since the question was raised. During that time, many people made numerous fun or insult against me because at that time I SAID THAT THERE IS NO AMHARA GOSA. TO ME BELIEVING THE EXISTANCE OF AMHARA AS A GOSA IS ANOTHER DENIAL OF TRUTH”

    Here, Mesfin’s unequvical statement is referring to “GOSA” (“ethnic”, if not race)but the word you used to mask the truth “Gotegnaint” refer “place” not ethnicity. Conversly, Mesfin denied the very existance of AMHARA’s ethnic identity and his testimony is the fact I based my argument. In a nutshell, your memory as to what Mesfin said is not correct because you have stated contrary to what he said and WROTE in his book. What no one dispute is your belief because your belief is your’s only. I shall leave it here and let the readers can infer all plausable conclusion.

    ISSUE NO.2: – As to your claim of hating Mesfin:

    I do not hate Mesfin or any body in his person but his idea or bad deed. His character is the every day question to the many, and nowadays, they call him a different but disgraceful name.

    ISSUE NO. 3:- As to your allegation on faith and blackmailing:

    I do not believe that there are so-called “superman” who do supernatural things that exceed human imagination. Supernatural force or devine power is only belong to God himself. God has the power to give certain power to other semi-deiety figures – for a purpose. Satan has a power from God to deceive his enemies but he himself is not enemy of God because no one live by being enemy of the creator, sustainer and distroyer of the universe. In Judaic theology, Satan is an instrument of God just as Agazi Army is an instrument of Meles Zenawi. But Christians believe that Satan is an enemy of God. What a travesty !!. God also give devine power, if not power of deity to other persons both for good prophet to teach his people and sometimes to false prophets to test the Israelite just as he had tested Abrham to offer his son to sacrify. Among the good prophet in the eyes of the Lord, Moses, Zecharias, Jermiah, Odded, Nehimia, Eligha (Elias) Isaiah etc are few of the many. Among the unfortunate and false prophets in the eye of the Lord God are Yeshua Standa, Yeshua Pandara ( both of whom were killed by the Jewish Religious leader for sorcory 100 years before and 100 yeard After Jesus of Nazarth. Jesus was also called by the Romans and the Jews on two count of crime (1) for his attempt to overthrow the Roman Kings and (2)for not fulfiling Messianic mission and for teaching cotrary to the law of Torah. Christians claimed that Jesus is a Jewish Messiah but Jews criteria for Messia was not accomplished because:

    1)He was not son of David because no likage to the Davidic line as Jesus has no Human father(Number 24:17, Deutronomy 17:15 Number 1:18-44, 34:14 Leveticus 24:10)
    2)Return the dispersed Jews to Israel (Melchi 3:23-24, Jermiah 33:7 and Isaiah 27:12-13)
    3)Rebuild the Temple distroyed by the Romans (Ezek.37;26-28)
    4)Bring peace and end all wars (EZK.37:26-28 and Melci 4:3)
    5)Bring knowledge of God to the Whole world but Jesus said I come to the Jews only and yet HE was not accepted (Isaiah 11:9, 40:5, Jermiah 31:33)
    Jesus has not meet none of the above criteria but that was not the reason for his death. He was killed, however for claiming to be the son of God and introduce two other Gods (Holy Spirit and Himself) that the forefathers of the Israelite know NOT. Therefor, because ordered his disciples to teach against God’s law (Mathew 28:19) he was sentenced according the law which require such prophet as dectated in Deutronomy 13:2-6).


    **** 1/ The debate between Mesfin/Mekonnen vs. Meles/Endrias was recited here from Takele Tadesse’s “DO the Amhara exist as a DistincEthnic Group?” in:Marcus, New Trend in the Ethiopian Studies, paper of the 12th International conference of Ethiopian Studies, Vol. 2, 168 et seq.

    **** 2/ YEKEHEDET KULKULET (Amharic), by Mefin Woldemariam, page 130.
    (by the way, if you have not the book at your reach, I can fax you the relevant page of the book but you can either have your or friend’s fax number)

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