The Great Refusal By Teodros Kiros

February 15th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

We refuse to be intimidated by the gestures of tyranny. We say yes to peaceful marches to change our people’s miserable condition, and we say no to those who are warning parents not to stage a collective national protest; we say no to the intimidation of our brilliant journalists.

Ours is a peaceful struggle guided by a Great Refusal, a refusal of bondage to poverty, slavery of the mind and the imprisonment of the soul inside a hungry body.

The Ethiopian soul refuses to be trapped inside an abused body. Our Great Refusal is simply a general strike against a Tyrannical/ Oligarchy, which refuses to let our people go, and the people say, we cannot tolerate this condition more.

Our soul refuses entrapment inside the body. The soul says, my life engine, my body, is not fed, sheltered and clothed. My body is broken. Fix my body. Feed it, clothe it, shelter it; otherwise, I am going to release myself, by flying out in the cold of the dawn and the oppressive darkness of the dusk.

Release me from bondage, cries the Ethiopian national soul. Muslims, Christians, young and old cry for justice. They speak in a single language, as the soul cries for freedom, for ease and for the health of the body and soul. This is the manifestation of the Great Refusal of reason, sprit and desire against oppression, pain and hopelessness.

I agree with George Katisiaficas that;

What is newsworthy now is that people power has been embraced by the Arab masses. Whether or not the protests in Cairo succeed, the emergence of a proactive population is the key to escaping the rut of absolute rule. The real question posed by protesters is not who is in power but the form of power itself. The ultimate goal of people power is the institutionalization
of popular forms of decision-making, which involves taking power from the elite and reconstituting it into grassroots forms.

This radical potential of the movement is precisely why the political elite of today’s curry to implement the appearance of change – not system transformation, but only the rotation of personalities at the apex of power. It matters little whether Mubarak or his Head of Intelligence Omar Suleiman runs the country.

The young activists in Cairo have made Mubarak’s ouster their starting point, but they know well that freedom does not simply mean replacing him with someone else. What they need is a wholly new form of justice, recovery of the people’s wealth that has been so scandalously appropriated by the rich, and the punishment of those responsible for decades of torture and dictatorship. And that’s to say nothing of the recent slaughter of dozens of unarmed citizens in the streets.

It remains unclear who will emerge victorious in Egypt, whether people protesting peacefully will hold sway and move society to a higher level of democratization.

My recent articles have deliberately been inspirational. My work on cultural transformation was interrupted because of the Tunisian and Egyptian world revolution; my future articles will be a blend of cultural transformation and analytics of planning our Ethiopian uprisings.

Teodros Kiros
Professor of Philosophy and English (Liberal Arts)
Berklee College of Music

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