What is the Missing Link that Deter the Ethiopian Youth from Our Century’s Revolt? by Anteneh Shiferaw
A lot hangs in the balance now; Tunisia, Egypt, Libya for sure will never be the same here again – nor will the rest of the Middle East, for that matter, by in large, nor the rest of the world. However, an urgent question here is: what will be the role of the Ethiopian Youth in this remarkable history of the 21st century’s Revolt? If fact, this revolt came out of nowhere, but as a result of the struggle brewing for years in those countries.
The previous dictator, President Habib Bourguiba, in early 1980th had unequivocally adopted IMF’s economic policies and had results a serious of food shortages leading to mass protest many times in the decade. Sadly, the then strong Tunisia currency, Dinner, has been also devaluated to 20 times to meet IMF request, better to say ruling! The idea seems to be to create more jobs with cheap labour force, which this instead had excluded the University and College graduates from the work force nor able to have their own firm that could compute with the Investment that comes from the West.
Nonetheless, thanks to Mohamed Bouazizi, a former student who used to push his miserable living as a street vendor, had his fruit and vegetable cart confiscated by police for being selling without a permit doused himself in petrol and set himself on fire and galvanized the Tunisians youth for a just cause. Within an hour later his burned body posted on a social network, Facebook, attracts 15000 member sympathies. A defiant suicide that had started from rural city of Tunisia immediately gained momentum with the resistance mounted by Tunisians with all walks of life. Al Jazeera and others satellite TV networks played very crucial role to reach news across the world. Lawyers, cyber-activists, professionals, the General Trade Union Congress and unemployed were targeted, tear gassed, shot at by police.
However, all that police and security brutality had neither deterred any of them from their set Goals. “We are not afraid, we are not afraid, we are afraid only of God!” was a slogan chanted by the Tunisians whilst police use every means against them. This is indeed a remarkable phenomenon after the great struggles of the past old ages.
After many crackdown deployed to silence protesters had failed, Ben Ali promised to create 300, 000 jobs in the coming years which this had not helped him to stay in power either; instead as the Tunisian Opposition Leader said it they had intensified the resistance and respond to his announcement “GAME OVER” and forced him fled the country and end to the hated and corrupt 23 – years old ruling.
Similarly, the wave of the resistance transcended like a dessert storm/or bush fire across the dessert to Egypt. As the same dictators deployed the same tactics, Hosni Mubarak deployed the same old tactic against peaceful protesters. As Ben Ali replaced his long time four ministers and promised to create 300, 000 jobs, Mubarak had tried every possible means that could help him to stay in power, needless to mention all that!
Salem Ben Yahia, a former political prisoner in Tunisia told the Guardian: “We don’t want our revolution hijacked. We forced a dictator out the door, and now he’s come back in the window . . . Police have already shot at us and beaten us to stop us protesting, but we come back again like a tide.” This was actually wakeup message call to the demonstrators on the street of Cairo not to give up whatever the resistance to freedom is tough and costly!
Unlike Ethiopians who are left in the dark, Egyptians being the second widely social networks users in the continent, roughly around 6 million Facebook active account users, next to South Africa, had skilfully shared hot information to plan and take action when it was needed most.
What was surprising was that after information leaked out that President Barack Obama had called on Mr Hosni Mubarak not to run for re-election on the scheduled September 2011 election, Mubarak promised that he won’t seek any more re-election, but would stay in power till his term ends; this is in fact not short of claiming that he has to do the transitional process as he has been the ruler of Egypt for the last thirty years; according to him Egypt as a county, won’t able to stand together without him, like what TPLF leader Meles is saying us today!
In short, the current revolts in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere remind us what had Leon Trotsky famous speech during the 1917 Russian Revolution: “The most indubitable feature of a revolution is the direct interference of the masses in historical events. In ordinary times, the state – be it monarchical or democratic – elevates itself above the nation, and history is made by specialists in the line of business . . . But at those crucial moments when the old order becomes no longer endurable to the masses, they break over the barriers excluding them from the political arena . . . The history of a revolution is . . . first of all a history of the forcible entrance of the masses into the realm of rulership over their own destiny.”
Moreover, the struggle for freedom and democracy can’t and should not be left to those claiming political leader at the top. History showed that Vietnamese had first challenged the French aggression army which had been armed to its teeth and financed by USA, to contain the spread of Socialism in the region. Meaning, French was paying the blood while USA used to pay the money for the war. However, when France knew that its defeat was eminent by the Vietnamese peasant army, USA had drown itself into the Vietnam War. As a result of the new and energetic invading force, the fiasco of their so-called “Special War” the Vietnamese knew that the walk to freedom was tough and were using self-immolation as a means of mobilizing – - – like Mohamed Bouazizi of Tunisia set themselves in fire in a public place/market place/ – - – the citizens of Vietnam to fight the just fight to their death for the liberation their motherland, Vietnam.
In the 20th century and long before, Ethiopian resistance against all sort of colonialism was historical and remarkable; while the Vietnamese victory over aggression and North African revolt against their despotic and coward leader is certainly be always remembered as the most courageous rebellion and revolt for freedom and justice.
So, as I questioned above, what would be the role of the Ethiopian youth in such unfolding event of the century? The answer to this question obviously won’t be an easy one to a country that is traditional believing in the role of a leadership, be it strong or symbolic.
In fact, despite lack of national and international media coverage and sympathy, Ethiopian youth had many times tried their best, peacefully, and discarded/refused the rule of sectarian TPLF lead government. In this regard, had it not been TPLF refused to accept the verdict of the people, the 8th May 2005 peaceful demonstration and consequently the May 15th 2005 election result were ground breaking victory against the sectarian TPLF/its leader Meles Zenawi/ and to all evil ethnocentric organizations that set to divide our people and country, be it the TPLF’s satellite groups or in the opposition camp.
During the 2005 national election process and after the election, the Ethiopian Youth animated with patriotism and high national sprit – - – thinking that the then Kinijit be The Vanguard Political Party of the People – - – courageously resisted TPLF’s intimidation and killings, that tantamount to genocide.
Last but not least, when all the then Kinijit leaders were incarcerated in prison, for the crime TPLF had committed, the No Short of Ideas/Creativities Ethiopian Youth had had converted Haile G/Selassie’s Yearly Big Road Marathon and Ethiopian Epiphany Festivals into Big Road Demonstrations in the support of their leaders in prison and Kinijit!!
The Ethiopian Youth knew that Meles and all his tugs – - – including ethnic organizations in the opposition camp – - – had lost the mandate of ruling Ethiopia, which never have had anyway. So, what went wrong with the Ethiopian Youth that had transformed their anger to hopelessness and silence/carelessness while hopelessness transformed into self-immolation and anger turns to Revolt in the Middle East?
For me, this is the underlying/underpinning questions of which we have to answer first to find out what the Missing Link is that deters the Ethiopian Youth from North African style Revolt! So, let me put my assertion, why:
First, yes, we have heard that, the so-called “Soft Oppositions” have made their stand very clear that they don’t like any sort of Revolt in Ethiopia; instead they prefer the Creations of Democratic Institutions to North African Style Revolt, another historical shameful stand again! After 21 years of TPLF’s sectarian and coward rule they expect the Creation of Democratic Institutions from TPLF. Even yesterday, their acceptance of the 2010th Election Code of Conduct was Historical to their term of Fundamental Democratic Institution! That was why they bowed down to their knees to the TPLF leader. In other word, those soft-oppositions don’t like TPLF and its leader Meles Zenawi be humiliated and disgraced with what has been done to Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak. So, what the Ethiopian Youth Revolt with such soft-opposition, if not hidden tugs, who are doing the job of TPLF pacifism propaganda being thinking revolt might be eminent?
Second, long before the current Meddle East Revolt, i.e., in 2005 election, the Ethiopian Youth had put all effort, including scarifying his/her live, to create a Vanguard People’s Democratic and Secular Political Party called Kinijit. However, the so-called Kinijit leaders, in particular from the top, have had continuously betrayed the Ethiopian People by large and the Youth in Particular for the lack of: strong conviction for the just Ethiopia cause, firmness in the leadership role and unity of purpose. Although that was officially manifested during their North America tour it seems to me that they been agreed to disagree on the unity of purpose while they were in Kaliti prison. As a result, to make it very clear, The Ethiopian Youth don’t like to be behind such corrupt and with old mentality leader which doesn’t know what is urgent and important cause of the country?
Third, at the absence of Kinijit as a party, the only option left as a unifying force was UDJ and Birtukan. Soon, Birtukan’s popularity and recognition momentum increased nationwide as well as internationally, Birtukan became a scapegoat for her popularity and sent to another long time self-isolated prison to pre-empty the 2010 election. However, a bit before she was sent to prison, Birtukan had urged all UDJ leadership to stand with her during TPLF’s life threatening period against her; sadly, no one had stand with her except Prof Misfin and a few! To me, this was another betrayal made by UDJ party members against Birtukan! And later the in-fighting that had divided UDJ into two parts continues! Which this means is that the Ethiopian Youth and the people lost hope on such opposition!!
Nonetheless, after TPLF’s vote stealing job was well done during the 2010 election, as lesson learnt from its 2005 defeat, Birtukan was told and forced to sign off TPLF’s made paper work not to turn her face back again to Ethiopian Politics. This was another setback to the Ethiopian Youth who was expecting much more from Birtukan, seeking her to lead them in the peaceful tough fight against the mercenary TPLF leaders; and now this coupled with the news that Birtukan is going to be exiled to USA leaving behind her supporters make it unbearable for the Ethiopian Youth to mount the much needed Revolt against the coward TPLF leaders. If in fact, Birtukan’s expected departure to USA comes true, the Ethiopian Youth is going to miss her with regrate and anger!
It is a bare fact that it been so long since Ethiopia lacks honest and strong national leader who cares and committed to Ethiopia and its people. If there was an attempt to create any the failed 1960th coup wiped out them all. I’m very sorry to say this; however, all the political party leaders formed during this Ethiopian Political arena are none of them have the quality of a leadership. One of the qualities of a leadership is its ability and commitment to create a strong party leader, among the youth and the rank and file party members that could stand and replace the existing old one at peace time as well as at the worst case scenario. No one teach the rank and file party members determine the fate of the party and stand strong and challenge when the party leader threatens the existences of the party’s life, i.e., when the top party leaders dies (or betrayed the members) the party dies or betrayed too!!
So, to me, lack of trusted leadership who keeps intact all parts of the country together was the key fundamental reasons why the Ethiopian Youth’s anger transformed to hopelessness and silence/carelessness! In other word, what is the Missing Link within the Ethiopian Youth politics is lack of Honest and Strong Leadership that could act as a unifying force, full stop. Mind you, some evil ethnocentric organizations won’t stop attempting to create a state within Ethiopian State. That is their barbaric nature of the past as well as now at present in their mind!! TPLF and its leader is one of such evil ethnic organizations.
However, I do believe that one will come out of the Ethiopian Youth who can fill the leadership gape left void since the era of Abraha Deboch, Belay Zeleke, Alula Aba-Nega, Atse Minilik and Atse Tewodros. In most of the cases, it is in a given certain time and space, circumstances and conditions that a leadership came into being. What the Ethiopian people needs from a leader are: honesty, courageous and firmness in the just cause, unifying force who stands for the democratic unity of the Ethiopian people and uncompromising in the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country, Ethiopia.
If the Ethiopian Youth got this Missing Link I assure you that there is no dictator/sectarian that is so vulnerable and weak than TPLF. TPLF and all its tugs are now in the state of fear and confusion. It rules us not on its political strength but only on our weakness. This is what I always said let us see ourselves and wage war against our weakness. I don’t believe in the so-called exile political party that don’t justify its existence inside Ethiopia. So, what the diaspora urgently needed is a very strong mass movement solidarity that supports a mass movement inside Ethiopia. We shouldn’t expect any fruitful leadership from the old mentality and X-TPLF cadres and leaders; if any, let they support the new generation leadership. Waiting election every five year with no fundamental change is really a joke and not short of cheating our people; and TPLF can’t accept fundamental change as it is a suicidal act against itself. So, how somebody expects TPLF will accept defeat in the Ballot Box?
The Courageous North African Youth have showed us the way how to challenge the dictators and sectarians, like TPLF and Meles. In 2004, I was remembering that India had been expected to generate revenue of USA $87 – $90 billion out of outsourcing Software in 2007. Imagine that, the Indian Mathematician was given to try a sort of mathematical algorithm for the Y2K feared System failure solution; thanks to the American Software Engineers that had opened the door to the Indian Natural Science Academician started with a small homework. Now, with a short span of time India is going to compute with Microsoft itself. Ethiopia being the second populace state in Africa is the least of the last in the Modern Information Technology Services; Even less than the stateless Somalia! The reason is that TPLF fear Internet and Free Mass Media Networks. This is another TPLF’s crime that had left our people in the dark! A university student graduates without touching a computer keyboard, if not a university senior lecturer teaches without Computer Aid!! 80% of the Ethiopian Economy is already controlled by TPLF.
So, the Tunisian and Egyptian People have showed us that when the masses arise no Dictator and Sectarian like TPLF is safe!!!