Stand up against injustice- by Geletaw Zeleke

November 24th, 2010 Print Print Email Email

The time was Christmas Eve. I was riding in a mini-van taxi from Kotebe City in Addis Ababa across town to Mexico City to visit some friends for the holidays. I sat next to a man in his late 60’s who wore an old cap and had a long thin beard that he stroked while lost in thought. The familiar character sighed over and over and I wondered what could be weighing so heavily on his mind on such a festive evening.

I called out to him “Father”, as we customarily call elder men in Ethiopia. “Are you not okay?” I asked in our native Amharic. His reply took me aback when he shot out that nothing was okay in my generation. “What do you mean by my generation?” I asked. He sharply replied that as he would soon be taking his final rest he worried for my generation.

As we rode along our conversation grew slightly less personal. “My son, there are four people in my family, and my monthly wage is only 200 Birr.” This amount equaled 20 dollars in Addis Ababa at that time. “I had hoped to buy some meat from the butcher, but the meat was so expensive that I couldn’t afford it. Things are getting worse and worse.” After saying this he shook his head from left to right and then returned stroking his beard and staring off in the distance. His words left a greater impression on me as I glanced at the empty basket sitting on the floor by his feet.
Once he returned from his meditations he continued to tell me about how much he had struggled over the recent past decades. “My family and I used to be able to get by on my salary, we could even buy our own livestock, now I can’t even afford to buy a kilogram of meat from the butcher.” He continued to talk about the past and how what was supposed to be his golden age had been replaced instead with memories of what used to be. “My children haven’t been able to find jobs of their own but I do not blame them because the era is no good.” I just listened and reassured him that the majority of Ethiopians are experiencing life like this.
After an uncomfortable silence I shot him what I considered to be a question for discussion. “Well then, who do you think is responsible for this failure?” He stroked his beard once again and watching his face I could see broken emotion and deep despair on his eyes. He said, “ዐጼ ጎደሎ Atse Godolo.” It means the king or leader who lacks something of crucial importance. “Who is he?” I said half jokingly. I am not familiar with this King in Ethiopia’s history. He didn’t answer but instead raised his arm and asked the assistant driver to let him off. He sang out “Atse Godolo” over and over again as he got off the bus now holding his empty basket. I will never forget the way he hunched over as he went out of view. His song and his worries still echoing in my mind.
Since then I have often wonder what it is that now-a-days Ethiopian leaders lack. I have come to the conclusion that the most important quality for a leader is to have justice in their heart. A good leader can’t stand to see suffering. A good leader hates injustice and tries his hardest to bring just practices to life. The source for good leadership is having a good conscience.
As that wise old man calls them” ዐጼ ጎደሎ Atse Godolo “the current Ethiopian leaders have completely lost their passion for justice. Whether possessing knowledge of law, philosophy or political science or having expertise in economics or management nothing can replace the importance of having justice in the hearts and minds of good leaders. Knowledge without justice can be destructive. As we have seen in the past world leaders who have left scars of history had lost this important element of leadership.
If you ask current Ethiopian leaders they say it takes a long time to bring about democracy. This argument shows that these leaders do not have a thirst for justice. This is why we see such huge inequality in Ethiopia today. There is no justice at the heart of the Ethiopian ruling party; from the very beginning they have shaped their politics by ethnocentrism.
When we view the history of South Korea we see that they brought about a democracy in 20 years. The first free and fair direct Presidential Election took place in 1988, near the same age when the current Ethiopian government came to power. The current president Lee Myung Bak is the fifth democratically elected president. In Korean law one president can stay in power for only five years. The Korean example proves that mature democracy can be created in less than 20 years.
Nowadays the people of Korea are enjoying the fruits of democracy. Why not Ethiopia? In 20 years South Korea has built independent courts, independent police, free press and all the other functional democratic institutions that Ethiopia retards. In 20 years South Korea rivals countries which took hundreds of years to develop. Why not Ethiopia? I believe that the growth of democracy in South Korea is not the result of economic growth but instead the result of politicians having been committed to progressive change while preserving the justice in their hearts and minds.
When we view the history of China we see that they grew their economy without the hindrance of a Democracy. Economic growth is not a guarantee for democracy. While China is experiencing economic growth this growth does not have a significant impact on the appearance of a democracy. Today China has a thriving economy but they are not a democratic country.
When we talk about democracy we are talking about justice. In the real world democracy is the practical face of justice. To realize a democracy politicians should thrive on justice. When we look at the Ethiopian example justice is crippled and Ethiopia’s democracy is regressing as a result. TPLF/EPRDF has been in power for their 20 years, long enough of a time to bring about democracy. However, within this quarter of a century they have admittedly failed and instead injustice is more and more apparent as banally seen in the example of weakening democratic institutions and increased poverty, hatred, and desperation.
Nowadays, Ethiopia is experiencing unfair economic distribution, ethnocentric politics, inequality, ethnic tension, deprivation and poverty, loss of trust. These phenomenons are indicators of the absence of justice in TPLF/EPRDF leaders.
Injustice is a disease and it damages the entire social system that inevitably brings about the weakening of Nationalism and of course it can finally destroy the country. Therefore, Ethiopians should stand together putting their ideological differences aside to get rid of injustice and to rescue Ethiopia.

Geletaw Zeleke
geletawzeleke@gmail.com

  1. Professional criminals
    | #1

    John 10:10—“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…”

  2. Samuel
    | #2

    On my recent visit to Ethiopia I noticed one thing that I am still struggling to get off of my head after I came back to the USA. Our flight to Addis Ababa was at night in local time in Addis. Although I could sense some thing very troubling, I could not put my hand on very clearly. In few days I flew out to the north, stayed for few days and came back to Addis. We disembraked the aircraft and as we were going to take the shuttle to the terminal I looked at all the workers at the airport. I got closer to few of them. All wre speaking Tigrigna. With out exaggeration it appeared the airport seemed to be one in Tigray and not in Addis Ababa. I was taken back. I asked my wife to look at the faces of the workers. She was also noticing the same thing. I was perplexed that I kept our observation to ourselves. As I continued to notice the same thing all in Addis I wondered what is going on in the country. It is one thing for Woyane to rule the country, but it is an out right apartheid system when you see the Tigreans occupying the working force.
    I came back and visited friend of mine who had just been to Ethiopia. As we started conversation about our visits he recounted his experience, an identical observation that we both made. There is a very serious system that the Woyane regime is engaged in that the rest of Ethiopians have nto wake up to.

  3. weyguuud
    | #3

    We Ethiopians have been focusing on fighting eachother instead of fighting the injustice. The prime example is that how OLF and ONLF and mainstream Ethiopians are disconnected from eahtoher. The LFs are blessing for Weyane to divide the people that as a result these LFs are fighting only for their narrow ethnocentrism instead of fighting for the whole Ethiopia. The claim LFs say that past oppression happened therefore we don’t support other Ethiopians is pathetic because rather than blaming the leadership they blame the Ethiopian people that is why they are indirectly supporting Weyane to destroy Ethiopia. By that reasoning, Weyane is also claiming the same think but look where it got us and is helping only their Tigrayan and Eritrean groups, oppressing the rest of Ethiopians. We Ethiopians still say, it is not the Tigrayans fault but the leadership, we are still saying that because we are wise that we should not demonize the whole ethnicity because of the leadership. What is very unique in the current leadership compared to the past is that, the ethnocentrism is blatant that one can clearly see the development, support, absolute enrichment of Tigrayans on the back of the rest of Ethiopians. Let me see how LFs claim how the past has been worse than the current situation. For sure, we should then say all the Tigrayans are perpetuating the oppression of Ethiopians through the help of the leadership, evidence clearly shows how millions of Tigrayans are well off at the expense of the rest of Ethiopoians. Where as, this was not the case in the past leadership.

    So, all I can say is shame on LFs ignorance and narrow mindedness that is causing the pain of the rest of Ethiopians including their own people and shame on the mainstream Ethiopians who are not making effort of collaboration and reaching out the LFs to unite Ethiopia as a whole. Finally shame on both LFs and mainstream Ethiopians who have been sitting idle when all the destruction of Ethiopia is happeneing because they refuse to settle their differences and talk instead. In conclusion, this arrangement by LFs and mainstream Ethiopians has been great opportunity for Weyane regime.

  4. A. S.
    | #4

    TO SAMUEL
    I graduated from Addis Ababa Commercial College during the time when Meles ordered all Woyane soldiers to go to school at night and get a job at major govermental organizations. At that time Siya Abraha was serving as the minister of Defense plus the Chairman of the Board at the Ethiopian Airlines. After graduating from college I can say almost all of the graduates applied to get a job at Ethiopian Airlines, on the application form it asked us our Ethnicity We tried to leave it blank but we were told the application will not be considered without ETHNICITY Decalaration signature. So we went ahead and filled out our Ethnicities after that to our surprise eventhough we passed the writen test to get the job none of the non-Tigray applicants passed the interview as the interview was held by Weyane Tigray soldiers from Defence Minstry not Airline professionals. ,My their soul rest in peace Some of my fellow applicants took it very seriously and continued to fight this injustice in anyway possible . Weyane killed them for opposing the segregation.Some of these college graduates that could contribute a lot for Ethiopia are currently hiding and are suffering of hunger and destitution. some are still in the vicinity of Addis Abeba in Qorrah living with more than 85,000 people that are making their life on eating Garbages from the Damping site in Qorrah, it is very degrading and one could see it on You Tube. Weyane have degraded us to the level of Subhuman living on Garbages, we had no such condition either during the Emperor or Derg, therefore lets put our differences and fight and dismantel this Mafia Group and those Opportunists who are leaking the sandals of Weyane and Mohammed Ala Mouddi(The Saudi’s agent). The struggle will continue until segregation is abolished!!!

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