Translate this Darkness by Waltenegus Dargie
I grew up not very far from the famous Adola Gold Mine. When I was in the 9th grade, I travelled to Adola as a member of the Geographical Society of our High School and visited the ins and outs of the gold mine. The people who received us explained to us the entire process of extracting and refining that precious metal and the art of selling it at the right time. After the visit, I fully realized what gold meant to the country. Needless to say, my affection to Adola place was indescribable.
Sadly, I grew up hearing, unceasingly, that this precious treasure had been continuously looted by the USSR through so many subtle and covert maneuvering (including the sending to Moscow for repair of some of the machines which secretly accumulated the precious metal in their most hideous parts). For more than a decade, I heard this viral claim with so much pain, both in its exaggerated and sober form, from very reliable sources (some of some Generals) as well as common village gossipers. Not unexpectedly, the government never tried to address this issue and to inform the public. We were left in utter darkness, to speculate and burn with anger and frustration.
Since the TPLF regime came to power, we have heard so many similar stories, the disappearance in broad daylight of precious assets such as tons of gold, mercury, coffee, and most recently, newly produced One-Birr coins, from the country, by domestic accomplices as well as foreign agents. In most cases, the government, in its most usual ostentation, left us in the dark, never refuting or confirming the occurrence.
Of course, TPLF’s secrecy is not limited to this. The public is entirely ignorant how multi-million dollar construction projects (roads, dams and palaces, to say the least) are given to foreign construction companies; why Indian and Saudi Arabian investors are given precious land for so little and under questionable terms; how much money is wasted for foreign lobbying firms and secrete services; etc. The public doesn’t know anything. It doesn’t decide; it doesn’t matter.
As I am writing this article, Reuters is reporting an organized multi-million Euro fraud by four Chines stewardesses (supposedly working for Lufthansa) and two additional collaborators (whose identity is not yet disclosed). Police in Frankfurt uncovered the organized crime after a customs officer stopped one of the stewardesses in early 2010 and found thousands of one and two euro coins in her bag. The incident sparked an investigation that has uncovered a forgery ring stretching to China, which smuggled coins that had been taken out of circulation into Germany from China (where they had been sent as scrap metal). The suspects then put the coins back together and exchanged them for a total of 6 million euros at the federal bank in Germany from 2007 to 2010.
This reminds me of the report by AddisNegerOnline (Reported by Ephrem Kassaa, March 14, 2011) regarding the attempt to smuggle out 50 barrels of Ethiopian One-Birr Coin. I was shocked when I read the news and fished the government news outlets for additional information. I was to be disappointed. There was no news on this, either to refute the claim or to confirm.
How long should we be kept in darkness? Obviously fraudulent attempts reproach the inefficiency and incompetency of those who are trusted to safeguard the dear treasures of the country. So I can understand the need to keep silence (otherwise, they would have been asked to step down). On the other hand, secrecy is being exercised at the expense of the generation; at the loss of so much. The Frankfurt incidence clearly shows the complexity of fraudulent webs and how long they can operate in clandestine. The public has every right to know what is going on in the country.