Who is the loser? ESFNA or Birtukan – By Mululu Desta
With all its backwardness and aristocratic arrogance there is flavor and sweet nuance to some of our highland jokes of yester years. The jokes actually are taken today as representing and of course reflecting the socio‐economic lives which the under‐trodden section of our society was subjected to vis‐à‐vis the landed‐gentry. I have one such joke. Since an idiom or figurative speech is bound to be unidiomatic and loses its subtlety in the course of translation, I may not be able to transmit all there is to it. Here now is the joke.
A peasant from the northern part of Ethiopia, ostensibly Gondar, was in Addis Ababa for a short visit. One day, after a couple of hours at a tejbet with a close cousin he felt nature’s urge but could not find a decent place to empty his bladder which was by then trying to find its way out. The proud Gonderine had to leave, unfasten his buttons, covered the secret part of his lower body and the balls with both hands and started to urinate towards the tejbet. Unexpectedly a middle‐aged man with a pronounced and hard‐felt accent when speaking Amharic comes and started to shout, “Be Haileselassie Amlak (God) – Even the river would stop flowing when hearing this name mentioned. Stop urinating here in the name of Haile Selassie’s God.”
The rustic Gonderine, with great desire to reason with the “shint shum” entreated to allow him to finish urinating and promised not to do so in the future.
“My brother! Please allow me to finish urinating for now. I promise not to do it again. I swear in the name of the 44 tablets of Gonder. Please my brother! I beg for consideration” entreated the man from Gonder, actually not stopping or even pausing urinating. The shint‐shum kept on saying his studied chorus “Behaileselassie Amlak you are not allowed to urinate here” emphatically and with distinct non‐Amhara accent. The Gonderine with his usual and characteristic sarcasm shot back “My brother! You are insisting that it is forbidden to urinate here. Do you mean to tell me that I should go to Gonder to urinate the tej I drank in Addis Ababa? I don’t think this is fair! My dear brother”. The shint shum all the more furious by continually being referred to as “brother, brother” could not suppress his wounded esteem and had to tell the Gonderine off saying “Why do you call me brother? I am not your brother!” The peasant who now felt despised for calling the “urban urchin” “brother” thought it wise to score a point by replying “Yes I have addressed you as brother not to appear haughty. I wanted to appear Addis Ababan. Otherwise I would like to ask you as to whom the loser is. You or the son of a Gendering who can trace his ancestry to King Susnios?”
There is a debate among some members of the Ethiopian editors notably Elias Kefle and those who share his point of view on one side and ESFNA, a north American soccer group, whose Lord Protector for life is the whisky drinking and globe‐trotting Arab businessman Mohammed Hussen Allamudin on the other hand. It all started at a meeting of the governing body of ESFNA. Some good natured Ethiopians who had lost nerves and other vital organs like pancreas, kidneys and intestines due to what has been transpiring in their homeland suggested that it would be proper for the Ethiopian
Heroine Birtukan could be invited at the next ESFNA annual sports meet. Political pandemonium has broken after Elias Kifle made the underground discussion to surface. Out of respect for the nincompoop as much as the intellectual, the knave as much as the brave, the stooge as much as sickly elements who have sought a haven at ESFNA and because you have to live with such people I would not characterize them as renegades. People are entitled to their opinions. Even then some ideas or stands could be as erroneous, harmful, and detrimental as to be in stark contrast to national interest.
It needs an Elias to call those in opposition to anything Ethiopian hooligans and hodams. It is not impolite or rude to call a spade a spade parse. In any event I hasten to ask the very question the man from Gonder so sarcastically posed for the shint‐shum of Addis Abba. Who is going to be the loser in the so‐called debate of inviting Birtukan to the annual sports meet in north America‐ Birtukan or ESFNA? Who is to gain? Who is going to be the loser, Birtukan or ESFNA. Its seems Pandora’s Box is now open.
Although there are quite a good number of Amharic broadcasts in the metropolitan DC, I have been rather cautious in my choice of the services as it were. I know as a democrat I have to respect differing views. But with respect to some of the views of three Amharic services which are simply extensions of Radio Addis Ababa, the propaganda organ of the fascistic regime (no exaggeration intended) I could no longer tolerate the lies, white lies, black lies and the Meles statistics and vile propaganda emanating from Arat Killo. Such propaganda cannot, shall not, will not be tolerated here in a democracy where fascistical broadcasts are punishable by law. These radio services are now charged with the task of fighting tooth and nail keeping Birtukan at bay and also bent on degrading her as a politician. Birtukan is not a politician. She is a statesman. She was not a political prisoner but a prisoner of conscience.
In any event these radio services are loud these days about Birtukan’s invitation. I have heard the argument that Birtukan is a political animal and should not be invited to the sports meet. The ignoramus urchin, in so saying failed to even realize that this is not Ethiopia, but the United States, where people cannot and should not be “discriminated against their “religions beliefs, sexual orientation, and political philosophy etc‐etc.” Barring Birtukan from attending the sports tournament on political lines is “Discrimination” of the worst type. Discrimination of the first waters.
Birtukan Midekssa is, yes and beyond any doubt an Ethiopian leader, not needing any recognition from anybody, least of all by hooligans, as Elias would characterize them. Unlike Elias I have respect for a handful of young men in the ESFNA. Prima‐facie the questions that should have been asked was “Is Birtukan herself willing to come over and attend the annual feast where the sheiks representatives and “galamiotas” have their day? I believe members of her party and all who hold her so high allow her to participate in an annual incident of low repute. How much money was stolen, embezzled and carried away from the Federations? Is there any accountability at ESFNA?
The ESFNA, which is the sole political property of Sheik Allamudin seems to be happy in launching a campaign against the battle tested heroine Ethiopians of future generations revere and look up to as an exemplary mother figure. Calling Birtukan a political animal, in figurative fashion was apparently the errand one would try to enforce. The announcer of a certain broadcast service was trying
to prove that Professor Asrat was once before invited not as a political figure but as a medical professional of repute. He was trying to paint Asrat as half politician and half a man of science. Do you agree to the invitation of half Asrat as he leaves his other half at home?
The few innocent people in the so‐called sports federation who nominated Birtukan as a guest of honor apparently have not up to now known as to who owns the federation. I sympathize with them that they are the right people in the wrong place. They are, unawares and through circumstances unknown to them landed in a hostile camp. At this point in Ethiopian history the owners of the country itself are Meles and Allamudin, who sooner or later will appear in the International Court of Justice for their role of and being accomplice to the massacre of thousands of our compatriots, the sell‐out of our national interests, looting our property etc. etc. This is the unfortunate harsh truth.
It is an historical irony that some loud mouthed and loose cannon members of the Federation are out to even condemn Birtukan as unacceptable even if nominated. I might ask who the loser is. There is no argument as Allamudin is a politician. He has been demonstrating that a million times. There is no denying the fact also that he is not an Ethiopian, although he pretends to be one. He is a Saudi citizen, travelling and holding a Saudi passport, working hand and glove with Meles to making that ancient country a Saudi Arabia vassal‐state, on the political scene competing for ownership of the country. What is the reason different for a non‐Ethiopian to be the spiritual head of an Ethiopian institution?
It is incumbent on us, thus fellow Ethiopians to realize that we have been fooled as always to believing that this so‐called sports federation is run by Ethiopians. No! Far from that. It is a Meles‐Alamudin political arm dominated by people very loyal to them. (I know there are also people loyal to Ethiopia.) It is high time that ESFAN be liberated.
It is not the invitation of Birtukan opposed by a few that is giving rise to my article but the very purpose and assignment given to the federation by the present enemies of my compatriots at home and abroad. How many times should we be duped to believing that pretentious people continue to play the petty role of dividing us? Are we going to Atlanta to honor Allamudin, the patron for life of ESFNA and the butcher of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi? It is time we take it up among ourselves as to how we should approach this problem. As far as Birtukan is concerned she is being honored in every home, small and big, in our villages and even in our hearts. We don’t want her to have any communion with the enemies of Ethiopia. Do I seem charged or enraged?
Alamuddi, the Lord Protector of ESFNA, who actually bought it for half a million dollars is presented by his loyal lieutenant Abinet G. Meskel, every time there is an annual meet. Alamuddi, would have been more than jubilant could he preside over all the tournaments. But since he cannot (especially after 9/11) set foot on American soil for being suspected of having a role, closeness or aiding the terrorists who brought untold misery to the United States. The famous book that came out after the infamous attack on the United States, “Saudi Arabia, Friend or Foe?” singles out our good Meles man (Mohammed) as a person of interest “speaking in a euphemistic manner. It is ironical that a man who by American law is not allowed here on suspicion of attachments with Al‐Qaida could be an owner, sponsor
or Lord Protector for life of an organization operating in the U.S.A. Although the Federation is bent on swearing that it is free from political organizations and political personalities has now turned into a political arm of the Allamuddi‐Meles regime. A close scrutiny is becoming all the more necessary.
On the surface the ESFNA has to some extent helped bring together many Ethiopians residing in the Diaspora. Let’s take this as a positive contribution. However, given the endless corruption that has become the norm and the rule, the petty politics that has accounted for the division in the society, one would recommend:
1) Cleanup the organization off all undesirable and corrupt members
2) Look into what the Alamuddi’s and accomplices are up to. The United States, which to most of us is a spiritual home, needs our conscious defense. We are obligated to keep watch of all the evils some people may cause hiding under such names that bear Ethiopia. Ethiopia, sacred name for all who love it should not be left for acts of hooliganism, rufiansim, gangsterism, racksteerism, etc.
3) In short ESFNA itself – before embarking on painting people on political and racial lines and mounting campaigns that should not have been characteristic of a sports organization must as a matter of urgency clean itself of all the vices of corruption and petty bickering attributed to it.
Finally I suggest that instead of closing down the organization it would be proper to chase out, in the fashion Jesus Christ drove out the money‐changers, swindlers and villains from the temple of God.