The upcoming Ethiopian uprising does not need Leaders By Teodros Kiros

February 17th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

A dentist from Aswan… traveled 600 miles to be at the antigovernment protest. ‘I was expecting to find the Wafd were the leaders, or the Brotherhood were the leaders,’ he said, speaking of two of Egypt’s best-known opposition movements.

But what he found was far better, he said. ‘There are no leaders at all.’ … The only real leaders seem to be the young people who have returned to the barricades, again and again, for days now. …‘We don’t need a leader,’ said one of them, Amira Magdy, 22. ‘This system is beautiful.’ …[and from others] ‘We want the young people to be the ones to form a negotiating committee.’ “ [Kareem Fahim and Mona El-Naggar, 3 Feb.]

So will the upcoming Ethiopian revolution. It too will be led without leaders. The leading is the organization, as the protestors will lead and be led. The leadership is the sharing of responsibilities and obligations, the duties and the visions. Every protestor plays a role in the unfolding of events. Protestors take turns in directing the movement. Doctors will attend to the sick; lawyers will safeguard rights and document the people’s lives; janitors will clean the streets; nurses will attend to the anguished; priests will pray to the Transcendent; musicians will heal the afflicted; children will charm parents; bloggers will galvanize support; historians will document the world event; writers will imagine.

In the people’s revolution, everyone is a leader and a follower. Sovereignty is concrete. It is expressed as lived power. The people learn for the first time they will learn leading and following, managing and obeying, directing and being directed.

The qualities of sovereignty are internalized through practice. The essential attributes of citizenship: obligation, responsibility, duty and order are learned directly by doing. These qualities are not imposed from high on as in monarchies and tyrannies. They emerged directly out of the living movement of action, the people’s action as they fight for their life and defend the lives
of others.

These political qualities are practices of the self as they mature on streets, the streets of living democracy.

The people become powerful by practicing power on the streets of living democracy. The people’s revolution is an arena of practice. The streets are the nerve centers, and the practices are the engines of cultural and political transformation.

At the people’s agora, the future of the revolution is organized slowly. There the people originate power and seek to organize it-patiently and decently.

I assure my readers that I am ready and willing to lead the peaceful uprising in Meskel square, blessed by the Transcendent; surrounded by the majestic mosques calling us to prayer; the grand churches encouraging and leading their followers to the great march by a great people; and the poetic people of the south and the artists of Gambela gracefully singing hymns of redemption.

I pledge to my people that it would be the crowning achievement of my life to fight for the Ethiopia I love from the depth of my veins.

What a sight this would be as the living activity of voiceless people gently inviting tyranny to participate in dialogue free of domination.

I am ready and willing to spearhead the peaceful march for radical democracy. Only the Woyanes deliberately question my commitment and contaminate my Ethiopianity. To me, Lalibela, Axum, Adwa, the art and poetry of the South, the religious and architectural contributions of the Muslims, are all symbols of Ethiopian/African greatness.

The millions of Muslims, Christians, Jews and others heroically asserting their rights will enchant me.

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

  1. Befuddled
    | #1

    This guy is too obsessed with revolution. Go to Meskel square and torch yourself to death. Then we will know if there will be a revolution you are craving for.

  2. Wegonoche
    | #2

    Dear Professor
    You confused me. Please see contradictions in your writing:

    1. ‘The Uprising in Ethiopia dose not need leaders’
    2.’…The only real leaders seem to be the young people…’;
    3.’…I assure my readers that I am ready and willing to lead the peaceful uprising in Meskel square…’
    4.’…I am ready and willing to spearhead the peaceful march for radical democracy…’

    Are you saying Egyptian revolution was not coordinated by a group (s)?
    Are you saying what we are witnessing in North Africa and Arab world were not organized by some form of organizations or groups?


  3. Ghion
    | #3

    You are hallucinating, bluffing from afar is one thing, being in real time and real world is another. Telling some ones story is as good as it can get for the internet tiger Diasporas

  4. sam
    | #4

    God speed and God willing! Ethiopia will be free from hate, misery, fear, suffering and the people will be united as one. The division created by hateful government will be removed. The “I” am “Amhara,Tigre, Oromo, Gumuz, Benshangul, Kayla, Woito etc… division will be replaced by One Ethiopia.”
    We have seen from our African brothers and sisters of Egypt and Tunisia, and how they show the world the power of the people revolution for Democratic reform.

  5. chu
    | #5

    Thank you professor as usual.

    Please ignore the negative comments. You know these people (the Hodams), they are in panick mode.

  6. teodros kiros
    | #6

    Dear Wognoche;

    You are right. There is a contradiction between no leaders and I am willing to lead it. This is resolvable, though. What I meant is there were no leaders but there were organizers, and that I willing be willing to be a spark for the organizing, but not a leader, unless, we choose to have leaders, who could organize the uprising.
    I hope this makes sense.

  7. Birhanu Demeke
    | #7

    How about the Fasil Castle and many other places of historical importance ?is it not your symbols of Ethiopian/African greatness.I am just trying to remind you in case you have either willingly or otherwise have forgotten it.

    Don’t worry about any one who consistently attempts to discourage you from voicing your thoughts about Ethiopia under TPLF,keep up the God work and let fellow intellectuals from Tigray do likewise.

    United We Stand!


  8. gagi
    | #8

    What the Ethiopian youth can do without necessarily a leader or leaders is seen during the Epiphany (Timeket) celebration last year and this year. I was lucky to be in Addis last month and to witness the energy, organization and dedication of the youth. In all the processions I have been to, I have seen the orderly ceremonies where priests and the Orthodoxc Chiritan believers being protected and respected by a group of youth. In fact such self-intiative and dedication for a religious cuase could easily tapped for or converted to other causes.

    In fact, in my evaluation it is lack of avenue to expresss one’s feelings youthful energies in Ethiopian society that is driving the yong towards such an act of vigilante and dedication to religious events. There could be other reasons too. But by and large it is the desire to commit for something; the hunger for upholding some social purpose. This could be a rare but invaluable recipe to ignite a movement fgor political change. Ultimately however, any movement needs leadership in the form of organization to keep the fruits and the ideals of the movement. The 1974 Ethiopian revolution was like the recent revolution in Egypt in some ways. There were protests all over the country involving several sections of the society. But in the end we all know how it was snatched by the military.

    Yes, decentralized movement works to shake the existing ethnocentric regime, but ultimately organized leadership is necessary.

  9. amoraw
    | #9

    The negative diaspora covett the Egyptian and Tuninien style upprisings unfold in Ethiopia. Very wishfull! It doesnot work in Ethiopia because what we have in Ethiopia is a regime that labours to bring a meaning full change in the lives of Ethiopians in all aspects. Ethiopia’s rainnasance is innevitable because we have a serious government that has proved sucessfull to mobilize all sections of Ethiopian society. In Egypt and Tunisia people rose against leaders who proved to be indiffrent to respond to the people’s demnad despite the existance of relatively better opprtunities.

  10. Zenawi Gotohell
    | #10

    Bring back Mengistu and the Derg! Long live socialism. No more neoliberalism and colonialist stooges. Down with Meles! At least Ethiopia had ASS-mara and wasn’t landlocked under Mengistu.

  11. Zenawi Gotohell
    | #11

    Why do you say that? “labours to bring a meaning full [sic] change in the lives of “. Yeah, sure they did when Meles fired on his own people. Remember that? “we have a serious government that has proved sucessfull [sic] to mobilize..” Yeah, serious about being experts in corruption and oppression and to keep Meles in power for life.

  12. Zenawi Gotohell
    | #12

    This is Meles’ prayers wishing good luck.

  13. Beduffled
    | #13

    Poor soul you are Befuddled

  14. Birhanu Demeke
    | #14

    To “Woyanewu Amoraw”

    You said that Your woyane regime is “a regime that labors to bring a meaning full change in the lives of Ethiopians in all aspects.Ethiopian renaissance is inevitable because we have a serious government that has proved successful to mobilize all sections of Ethiopian society.etc….”

    Are you going to deny the ever ending crimes which the TPLF has committed and continue committing against the Ethiopians as people and its treasonous acts against the territorial integrity of Ethiopia a country for the last two decades?well its obvious you will deny since its your and likes nature,however your TPLF shall not save itself from the wrath of the oppressed Ethiopians like the its counterpart regimes in north Africa and the middle east,its just a matter of time,and you must remember this time around the Ethiopian peoples uprising shall not be defeated like that of the 2005 because it shall bring the TPLF to its knee.

    So save your comment for your self as a sale out Ethiopian as you are because there is nothing you say or do that can stop the TPLF from the wrath of the oppressed Ethiopians including those in the military!

    Don’t you dare compare your so called Melese(Leges)Zenawi(Asres) with Mubarak who was patriotic Egyptian although he was corrupt and has abused his power.Who is Melese for Ethiopia?time will tell.


  15. Tsadkan
    | #15

    Agreed. All revolutions are essentially leaderless. Revolutions create their own leaders in the end. A leaderless revolution is so difficult to tyrannical government because in a leaderless revolution there is no one leader or group to destroy or bribe… That is why The gazmine revolution has been so successful thus far. The dictators had never seen this before. They had become accustomed to opposition political parties who could easily be infiltrated and dismantled. Now that people have taken things into their own hands. There is nothing dictators can do. No want to strike a deal with. It simply makes the nation ungovernable. All revolutions are Anarchistic when they begin.

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