The Deadly Silence! By: Natnael F. Alemayehu

April 13th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

“When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.”

– Ethiopian Proverb

Silence is a venomous, traitorous, debilitating disease to which we Ethiopians have fallen. The battle for the sovereignty of a nation is between those who oppress free men and those who seek to set free those same men. In Ethiopia’s case, one side has been missing for years. Our recent history has been convenient for those who choose a weapon rather than those who seek knowledge, for those with the genuine knowledge and understanding of democratic process have been silent.

To be educated is to ask and question. It is to speak for the oppressed and the weak. It is not to side with the oppressor for momentary gain or selfish interests. Silence is deadly, like all internal disease; it eats you slowly, eventually leading to an emotionally dreadful and psychologically agonizing death. Silence mutes all your senses until you can no longer even think of the intellectual slavery to which you have become a victim. This is Ethiopia’s great plague, particularly amongst the educated and those who live outside the country: a plague of silence.

“Evil prevails when good men fail to act.”
– Edmund Burke

In times of great oppression, we must pick sides; indecision will only help the oppressors while silencing the victims. Ethiopia is not short of intellectuals, thinkers or patriots; our predicament is silence. We have chosen not to see the atrocities being committed against the poor and helpless of our nation by our own brothers and sisters. We have chosen not to listen to the call of our brother and sister farmers as multinational corporations, invited by our own government and in cooperation are evicting them from their ancestral homes. The minority of Ethiopians in power have been successful at destroying the sovereignty of this nation because the majority chooses to do nothing.

- Before we shout down the treacherous dealings of dictators …
- Prior to condemning the current regime for total failure…
- Ahead of the inevitable revolution…
- Prior to questioning other Ethiopians’ true grit and patriotism…
- Before going back to the over-debated history and indictment of our ancestors for their flaws…

We must first question ourselves and ask, “What have I done for my country lately?” The silence of those who are good and understand freedom is what has kept us oppressed and trapped in a downward social spiral. When a person’s birthright to be free is taken by the barrel of a gun, it is those who understand the injustice who must stand up and be heard. When an act of evil is done, against the will of the innocent and the sovereignty of the nation, we must not only question those who committed the crime but also those who did nothing and remained silent. They have chosen to put their individual wealth and greed above the lives of millions of homeless children and hungry majority of the nation. All this poverty exists despite the country’s wealth, a country we all call home. So, what have you done for your country lately?

“Do not hesitate or you will be left in between doing something, having something and being nothing”. Ethiopian Proverb
Our ancestors were brilliant, beyond our imagination. They defended what was theirs not for reasons of pride, but National identity. They understood the strength of a sovereign state and they defended her resources. They stood and fought for the country, not for a tribe, group or individual. Those who choose not to see the atrocities and travesties of our nation through foreign influence. I ask you to look no farther than or ancestors. Why didn’t they ever trust foreigners? Why is it they died defending the nation? They not only understood patriotism but also believed they were Ethiopia, with out sovereignty and national values a country cannot prosper or function as a state.

In their “sayings” our ancestors left us coded message of wisdom and understanding of life, community and Nation. Their understanding of state and the individual was far more advanced than that of Europeans. While Europe evolved and adapted with the time and affecting changes, we chose to stand still. All the saying of the past on the wisdom of silence, do not apply when silence becomes the venom to our agonizing downfall. Silence is harmful, when those who see the injustice continue to ignore, what they see and understand to be inhumane. More often than not the voices of the poor and oppressed do not make it in to the history books. History will not record your silence in history, but they will tell of the atrocities of those currently in power, while we watched.

“When money speaks, the truth is silent.”
– Russian Proverb
Freedom is expensive and painful. Taking into consideration the true future awaiting this country, my brothers and sisters, the time to take action is now. We must stop using Western models of development, as they are designed to benefit Western nations and corporations. When it comes to the West’s efforts in helping to develop Africa, words like “White Guilt” are used as a double standard to distract us from the atrocities and theft that continue to take place in Ethiopia and the continent.

The partnership of Ethiopian politicians and Western corporations is an international crime ring. Western politicians continue to preach, “Africa is not ready for democracy.” This quote is the mantra behind the looting of the continent for the benefit of the West. For capitalism and consumerism to benefit the West, they must rob the resources from the weak and innocent. Ethiopia is at the center of a global fight between the powerful and the powerless. We must not let this opportunity pass us by without leaving a mark on history and changing the course of our nation.

Democracy Is Taken, Not Given!
I say, “Freedom is taken, not given!” Change must resonate within each individual before the community, city, and nation can ignite to form a blazing resistance, capable of standing any opposition. Ethiopians must first be free before applying democracy to social and political structures. Regardless of background, education, profession, occupation, or gender, this is the time to be heard. Stand up! Be heard. Live with dignity.

“The sin by silence, when they should protest makes cowards of men.”
– Abraham Lincoln

Education is a tool to protect the innocent from the flaws of the past and to help them create an appropriate future. Have we become so selfish and self-indulgent that we have forgotten the good in our hearts and are willing to sell out our own brothers and sisters?

“Eat when the food is ready. Speak when the time is right.”
– Ethiopian Proverb

Sadly, we are heading towards the phase of governance that every oppressive government goes through: the people’s revolt. The sadness comes not from the act but from the innocent lives that must be lost and the destruction the nation must incur because a few individuals choose not to adapt and evolve with the changing world.

“Unless you call out, who will open the door?”
– Ethiopian Proverb

What is it we are leaving for the next generation, politically and socially? A centralized ethnic government with undemocratically elected bureaucrats who stole elections and traded political offices? The small minority of political and social elitists owned the country’s economy and wealth while looting the central bank. They saved their money overseas in the banks of the same institutions that they begged for handouts in the name of Ethiopia. We divided the nation into tribal states and then used ethnic tension as a tool of oppression and control. What is the legacy of this generation?

The central government—the perfect blend of totalitarian and socialist rule—loaned out fertile land to foreign entities, thereby loaning a big portion of the economy. The rulers sided with multilateral corporations for momentary gain and political protection.

A leader who was jack-of-all-trades, master of none. A man who knighted himself a man of the people, an expert on the need of the average person, while investing in Western organizations and selling out national interests for political gain.

The heartbreaking truth is MOST OF US STOOD AND WATCHED.

“The cruelest lies are told trough silence.”
- Robert L. Stevenson

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