Bread to the hungry, land to the tiller By Abebe Gellaw

January 27th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

Ethiopians have to mobilize once again around the issues that triggered the 1974 revolution

It is a proven fact that those who have been claiming to be leaders of Ethiopia’s quest for freedom, (more…)

Ethiopians have to mobilize once again around the issues that triggered the 1974 revolution

It is a proven fact that those who have been claiming to be leaders of Ethiopia’s quest for freedom, justice and dignity have failed time and again. In Ethiopia as well as in the Diaspora, the self-anointed leaders have only succeeded in being leaders without a cause for their little groups brandishing big names.

The only time we see the “leaders”, or rather the organisers of defeat, scoring points is not against the ruling ethnic junta, but in their destructive civil wars amongst themselves. It is, therefore, foolishness to expect a different result from the same people trying to reconcile endlessly, build fronts, coalitions and forums. As much as TPLF is rejected, Ethiopians need to hold the failed leaders accountable for destroying the hopes and dreams of Ethiopians for change.

The 2005 pro-democracy movement provides a good example of how petty pandering can destroy the aspiration and dreams of a hungry nation. The opportune moment for change was wasted when the “leaders” started dismantling and undermining each others. After lives were lost, limbs and arms were sacrificed, those, who were supposed to lead a nation to freedom, suddenly needed a super-nanny. Amidst the petty bickering and causeless brawls, every popular gain was lost and the hopes of Ethiopians for a better future were reduced to despairs and anger. Of course, reminiscing the past will not help anyone, but we need to draw lessons from the grave mistakes in order to finish the unfinished jobs.

Leaving aside the politics of self-destruction in the so-called pro-democracy camp, every group, be it political or apolitical, should adopt a minimal agenda to press for change in Ethiopia. At this time, the majority of Ethiopians have been saying enough is enough. They are saying enough to corruption, abject poverty, land grab, starvation, discrimination, injustice, inequality and daylight robbery in the name of taxes like VAT that poor people cannot afford to pay for buying a loaf of bread. They are saying enough to the corruption of Meles Zenawi, his wife and their cronies, who are ruthlessly oppressing and sucking the blood of the poor people of Ethiopia.

In the opposition camp, as everyone wants to be a leader, some political groups have even adopted a rotating four-day presidency so that every one of them can become president fo the sake of nursing their sick ego. The minimal agenda should not be focused on who should lead and follow, which is the main reason why the disoriented “opposition leadership” is broken beyond repair. Leadership is not an ego trip. It is rather a call for public service and self-sacrifice.

If at all these failed leaders still aspire to remain relevant, they should unify themselves and the people around an anti-poverty and anti-corruption movement. The majority of Ethiopians are hungry. Eating a decent breakfast has been a luxury. Eggs, chicken, meat, fish, bread, butter…have become luxury items that the poor cannot afford to smell. So why is it that the so-called opposition leaders do not mobilize the people to fight for their dignity and fundamental rights? Some of the leaders are obsessed with regime change without a revolution. They may wait for centuries but that fantasy won’t come true without a serious fight and resistance against tyranny.

During the 1974 revolution, there were two important issues that have unified the nation against the monarchy. Land and food to the hungry were the unifying issues. After four decades, land is not the property of the tiller but the private property of the TPLF junta that has been busy selling land to the rich and foreigners, who are setting up slave-era plantations across Ethiopia. TPF merchants are also showing off their amazing wealth as economic prosperity. They are kicking out poor peasant farmers from their land and turn the natives into their slaves with no guarantee for livelihood to themselves their family.

It is unfortunate to see that some of the opposition groups are so much focused on winning elections that are designed to bring the same result. Thousands of elections may be held in Ethiopia under Meles. We all know the result. Nobody should run in “elections” without free choice to prove a predictable result. TPLF, along with its puppets, take it all. So where is the strategy? Where is the vision for change?

In our country Ethiopia, people are suffering. The majority are not better than those buried with some sort of dignity. Should Ethiopians wait for an election victory for opposition leaders or should they struggle for their basic rights and dignity? This is a fundamental question that needs to be addressed if change is to come and tyranny to be buried once and for all.
The new revolution should be for dignity. People who cannot afford to eat descent meals are only condemned to see their masters get sick from gluttony while they are starving to death. The masses cannot prove the meaning of their suffering. It is due to this fundamental fact that land to the tiller and bread to the hungry should once again become the unifying cause for Ethiopians. These issues transcend the ethnic divisions and political pandering that has undermined our progress and the efforts to bring a better Ethiopia.

John F. Kennedy once said: “I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, human liberty as the source of national action, the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas.” Ethiopians have surrendered their dignity and liberty to unruly and ruthless tyrants and a government of thieves for thieves. It is a God-given right to protest against injustice. It is a constitutional right to speak out and call for dignity and liberty. Ethiopians should not wait for permission from authorities to exercise their inalienable rights. They have to claim their God-given right to live in dignity and freedom.

There are some people who are admirably praying for change day in and day out. Some are devout Christians, some are pious Muslims. But it should be pointed out that even the Almighty will not bring change only through prayers. HE helps only those who aspire and work hard to realise their dreams and end their suffering. So religious unity is also essential to claim their God-given dignity, freedom and an end to injustice and dictatorship.

We should also accept the fact that protests in far away countries will have little impact unless Ethiopians back home start to rise up to defend their dignity. We can march in Washington DC, London or Brussels but we cannot and will not bring about the urgent changes that are needed to end tyranny in Ethiopia. Those kinds of protests from abroad are necessary but should only be seen as backups. An opposition leader said recently that Ethiopians were pinning their hopes on the struggle of their fellow citizens in the Diaspora. But the defeatist sentiment is only indicative of the total bankruptcy of those who were supposed to lead the struggle of the Ethiopian people for change.

Ethiopians have to draw courage from the fresh wind of change that has started in Tunisia. It has now spread to Algeria and Egypt. There are so many tyrants in many parts of Africa that are being propped up by Western aid. These reviled tyrants like Meles must go. History provides sufficient testimony to the fact that tyrants are cowards. They cannot stand the unified voice of their subjects suffering under their boots. By disrupting corruption, people can seriously undermine and dry the source power for the few.

Let the incoherent activities end. Let the petty bickering stop. And let Ethiopians unite against poverty, hunger, corruption, injustice, discrimination, humiliation…in their own country. Let the new march start afresh. Bread to the hungry, land to the tiller…,death to corruption and tyranny…

  1. Observer
    | #1


    I could not right it any better. Regarding the leaders, I have an article which I wrote three years ago. I will email it to you see if you will post it.

  2. Samuel
    | #2

    I am 100% with you. Divisive issues can only be handled by the eletorate when they have free choice. We will never get democratic change under the TPLF or any other until we rise abovce those issues and fight for a common cause. We also need leaders here who are not aligned to any particular organization. That is the difficult part. I agree that the people have been ready for quite a long time, but scared about the aftermath of popular uprising. We need leaders who can assure the general public that divisive issues must be settled by participatory democracy and not through blackmail.

  3. melkamu
    | #3

    This is the ultimate truth and the truth that most so called politicians never admit. When one doesn’t admit self incapability the going will continue in darkness. We are in political darkness: some have been in leadership of their political groups for about 40 years, others for 20+ years. These people never question their own inability but always pointing fingers at others…

    I believe that the new generation has an immensely different way of thinking, has a far reached vision and determination to bring about change. The problem is as soon as a new leader from the new generation shows up the whole bunch of the incapacitated old gang starts to ridicule and create every type of trap against the new blood not to move an inch forward. The old gang wants us remain in the dark.

    I have never seen in any political history where group leaders stay for ever, never feel ashamed of themselves for their perpetual malfunction.

    Thank you Abebe for well expressed views. But believe me the political situation in our country never changes till we see the new generation of politicians rise in unison and reject the obsolete toothless life time political leaders in the opposition.

  4. Gash Polisu
    | #4


    good job!! the good for nothing leaders should listen. there is no way that we will ecort another dectator-in-the-making to Menelik Palace on our shoulders.

    i think the G7 leaders are doing a wonderful job. my frustration is with the rest zombies like EPRP, who have nothing to offer but insult Dr.Berhanu…day in and day out.


    articlun lenem lakilign…

  5. Balcha Gebeyhu
    | #5

    Amen & Insha Allah to your comment a fellow Ethiopian. Let us spread the Jasmine & Nile Revolution to reach to the source of the Nile. Meles & company are not that powerful nor less corrupt to Egypt’s dictator. Mele’s strenth, if at all, comes from complete monopoly (a single ethnic clan) of the top military generals and key security personnel. However, as history has taught us that these types of control has no relevance to mass revolt. In the end these cadres will be the first ones to run away with their traveling bags full of cash before Meles & Azeb make it out of Arat Kilo.

    Fellow Ethiopians we should end our petty squabble and get back to the basic unifying factors…Land to the tiller, food for every child, jobs & future for our youth, respect for our young ladies and shelter to the elderly etc.

    God & Allah Bless Ethiopia and give our citizens the courage to say Enough to the TPLF thieves & the eprdf criminals!

  6. aha!
    | #6

    The Diaspora politics, particulaly in USA is is in diarray by not rallying aound the goals for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians and the strategies to achieve those goals. These goals and the stategies to achieve these goals conducted overtly or covertly will take the format of South Africa against the Afrikaners, who created the Appatheid system of Adminstration and denying the silent majority of economic and political freedom and liberty of individuals in their own country with an added discrimination. The situation is analogous to Ethiopia where you have built into the constitution ethnic federalism and secessionism as the root cause to the political problem and as a precursor of separate development as in the case of Bantustan regions, where ethnic dictatorship rather than mere dictatorship prevails no matter who comes to power underethnic agenda, be it Medrek (Tigrai-harena/fdd/fdre, unless the parties carry a national agenda catering to Ethiopian nationalism and national interests first and formost, much like the the South Africans carried African Nationalism as their core agenda, which later incorporated minory foreign nationals.

    The revolution in Ethiopia is nowhere similar to those countries mentioned by our intellectuals in USA. The Diaspora elites are pigeon holed into three major political models: the multi-layer, heirachical of TPLF/eprdf with the teletafi parties, the Medrek/fdd/fdre, a mirror image of TPLF/eprdf regime, and the KAEUP, EDP and others, and a non-participating in the election along the same national agenda with KAEUP is EPRP and others.

    Therefore, unless a national convention is called and party leaders sign a by law to unite on the goals towards the unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians, in the way business entities form and integrate veritical and horizontally, against the negative forces of disintegration, Ethiopian Nationalism, Ethiopian National interests will diminish and its language culture will be undermined much further.

  7. Observer
    | #7

    @Gash Polisu

    Would you please elaborate on your clame that the good job the G7′s dummies have done? By now I expect them to have about 500 Tanks. How many do they have?

  8. Samuel
    | #8


    We have known you and where you stand for quite a long time. I hope you must have understood by now that your exclusionary tactic so far behind the banner of Ethiopian unity and territorial integrity has not taken you anywhere nor will it take any where. The gist of Abebe Gelaw’s article is repudiation of those kind of political maneuvering and calling for a common goal that unites the people rather your narrow “language culture”. Many Ethiopians are moving in that direction.

  9. aha!
    | #9

    Samuel stop advocating for somebody else, who are capable of responding to my comment. The author undestands that in the same page with his line of thinkinking, except he is disappointed with the political leaders not being able to rally the public in the same the student movement of a marxist revolution, one leaning towards the oppression of nations and nationalities, TPLF, EPLF and their entouages, and EPRP and the Dergue, which he actually did not spell out were unitedto protest againist His Imperial Majesity Haileselassie’s regime over land reform, the famine and inflation, which culminated in the overthrow of the Monarchy, which has conceeded to rule as constitutional Monarchy with parliamentary democracy, which could have maintained the unity and territorial integrity and sovereignity of Ethiopia. The Dergue regime could not be blamed for having not tried to maintain those goals as the case was with the war with Somalia to the South and TPLF and EPLF to the North, except that it was overwhelmed by the marxist socialistic movements leaning towards the oppression of nations and nationalities which ended up in an Appatheid System of Government, which supports economic and political stranglehold by TPLF and TPLF affiliated enteprises. What are at stake in Ethiopia are economic, and political freedom, liberty and private ownership of land of the individual anywhere in Ethiopia, not become a plantation worker/slave or live underserfdom for TPLF/eprdf regime, which follows Marxist ideology of the Dergue regime and an Appartheid system of adminstration and strategies to stifle economic and political freedom and liberty of the individuals, while uholding ethnic rights, ethnic federalism and secessionism built-in in the constitution as an entitlement to the the teletafi parties and loyalist opposition parties.

  10. Drama
    | #10


  11. Melaku
    | #11


    How many tanks did you give or did you help G7 to have? You have such a big mouth and it is the do nothing but talk large people like you who are holding us back.

    I like Abebe and eagerly read what ever he writes. In politcs, the timing of doing things is equally good as doing the things. I think this time Abebe’s analysis is untimely is distracting. This is the time we all work on encouraging the Jasmine revolution to sail backwards on the Nile and engulf Ethiopia. This is the oppoutunity that must be ceased. Pointing fingers is not the topic of day. What he said is true, but this is not the time that truth must be told. Today, we must encourage the people of Ethiopia to stand like the people of Tunisia and Egypt

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