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

  1. Anonymous
    | #1

    Amazing why does your commentary seem perfecttly transferable to the Jamaica. Well written piece Mr. Alemayehu.

  2. Gigi
    | #2

    I believe this whole article is correct about every thing. We need to be free to be able to any thing unless it is like
    Planing a wedding in the middle of a battle filed. You I think their was a reason why Traditional Ethiopia marries
    Their children in a very young age, you know why? Not some thing I know for sure but I think they didn’t have peace
    In the country to do any thing apropiret so they had to find some way to keep it going. They have lived a war life sinc
    We can remember getting attacked by out side and inside enemy’s all the time, they don’t know if a war brakes today
    Or tomorrow. Most of the things that we think some time bizarre about some of past history I think is a resalt of what the people where dealing with. And of cours not all of our rulers and style of rules where in the best of peoples interest.

    Fudalizem and the Durg and all kinds of wars has left Ethiopia With empty mind and stomach, with out adding the TPLF rul and it’s doings and what it is still trying to do. So I am not as surprised as you are peoples shuttering. Think about
    How many wars people had to go though to defend the nation even though now Meles and Co owns it at least for the moment. It shouldent be so hard to understand to understand peoples silens and the shocking reality.

    Thanks for this amazing, truth telling, inlighting article.

    We must know and believe we can Change it. Respect of the low and freedom and human wrights must be respected
    As what is constituted for the country by the people and for the people. The hungry should not go hungry, the sick should not sick, the poor should not go poor the sad should not go sad, the naked should not go naked the deff should not go deff the blind should not go blind the thiristy should not go thirsty the u educated should not uneducated
    The egnorant should not go egnorant…….when we know we can a difference.

    Long live Ethiopia!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Mengesha
    | #3

    I love it. May God open our eyes. “Faith without action is dead”.

  4. Zerayakob Yared
    | #4

    የጀርመን መንግስት በዛሬው እለት አምስት የግብፅ ዲፕሎማቶችን የማይፈለጉ በማለት ከአገርዋ አባረረች::

    ይሄ የማባረር ተግባር,ዲፕሎማቶች ነን በማለት ከቤት ቤት ሲክለበለቡ የሚውልቱንና የሰው ኑሮን ለማጨናገፍ የባልካን mercenary’ንም ጭምር ከመቅጠር ወደ ውሃላ የማይሉትን የባንሆፍ አውደልዳይ, መንፈሳቸው የተሸማቀቀው አሸማቃቂዎች ማሌሊታውያን ካድሬዎች እስከነ ሆዳም ተባባሪዎቻቸው ጭምር የሚቀምሱበት ቀን ሩቅ እንደማይሆን እንጠብቃለን:: በተለይ በተለይም የፍራንክፈርቶቹ የባንሆፍ ገንዘብ አጥቁዋሪ “የቁንሰላ” ጥርቃሞ ሁላን !!

  5. Negaasa
    | #5

    We demand for smaller states in Ethiopia. Amhara, Somle or Oromia are to big for govenance, administration and development. Shoa can administer itself as one state. The sma for Begemidir, Wollo, Wellega, Arsi etc. For your information the formation of Shoa social democratic party and Movment for freedom and development for Wellega are examples that people want to develop their local area rather than thinking huge are which people from the east donot share anything with the west. As the chairman for Movement for Wellega said, the people of welllega donot share any common interest with the east and south Oromo. Therefore they want to stay as Wellege and develop their local area as Wellega for Wellege under the country Ethiopia. The deputy foreign relation for Shoa social democratic party said once Shoa is for the Shoas. No one decide about Shoa except the SHoaes. Even the Oromos in other part of Oromia can’t say anything about Shoa. It is not theirs. But he said as Ethiopians all belongs to all Ethiopians. Anyways the time is now for the formation of smaller states in Ethiopia.

  6. Ethio
    | #6

    It is very interesting subjcet and good information that could inform something very important situation in Ethiopia. We will fight and fight until we make the country in right direaction.

  7. Geta
    | #7

    The issue of Ethiopia are not one person or two person home work because as long as we call ourself Ethiopians,so we must do something for Ethiopia. Change is not coming by not particpating in anykind of movement.We are living in 21 century therefore we must think like that. As we know from history Ethiopia never never give up to make different in systme.The leader of Ethiopia most of them really they care about themself, so the queation is how can we as people change is reigme behaviore. Let’s make difference

  8. Hilina Regasa
    | #8

    Thank you Nathnael,it is a message for us in its time if we have an ear to hear. After now on ward we need to strategise how we shall proceed because no need of any explanation than what we have talked before and yours seems that the very good conclusion.

    But I would like to give suggestion for our brother Negaasa. In politics or leadership there is a word called “long term and short term strategy”. Basically I am not againest with your comment on every body needs to have right to manage his area. Even there is a saying in our country that “if all of us taking care of our surroundings how could the teif could come in to our property”. This is exactly what the writer says nothing else. The rest will be seen in our strategy otherwise at this stage our short term assignment is not regional or provential governance designing that will be seen accordingly. Of course which is already exist and might need some amendment we do not need to diminish what is there and start from the scratch rather we need to learn from the past and build on top of what we have as a brave educators.

  9. love
    | #9

    Very good piece! The first time that someone had written about such inaction amongst Ethiopians. I think we have to wait to be inspired, such as Egypt, Tunisia, etc to make a change. As usual, we always act because someoneles has done it. What does this tell us, this means it didn’t come from our heart but it came because some other country inspired us. Although I support our action that is just starting now such as BEKA, it is because we were inspired by the Arab world. Guess what, some else such as our enemies are going to take advantage of our recent action by extremist muslims, TPLF, extremists such as the evangelists, Shaebia, Egypt itself, OLF and ONLF. Although we Ethiopians are now just standing up for the right reason, I am afraid we may not succed due to Western countries brainwashed by Meles and TPLF will not allow regime change because our model is based on Arab countries that could threaten Ethiopia as Ethiopia is mostly christian. Meles and TPLF although they don’t really care about what happens to Ethiopians, they will pretend to say to the West, Ethiopia can’t follow the protest as in Egypt and Tunisia. In addition, as TPLF and EPLF back in the 80s took advantage because every one was anti Mengistu, the Shaebias, Egypt, ONLF and OLF will take advantage as well of our movement. So, just like Western countries, Meles and TPLF and those mentioned above have learned the shock doctrine, take advantage when the people are having movement and the country is in turmoil. So, we have to know how to play this tactic. That being said, the positive side of this is that, this movement through our own heart and mind within our own creativity, should continue to eventually to topple the TPLF governement. Egypt and Tunisia did it because they have the same values, bakcgrounds and beliefs. Not all size fits all. We will have a huge difficulties if we are trying to do it as the two countries do. My issue is, let us not bark because someonelse has barked, like our fathers and forefathers did it and won the war against Italy’s colonization, this flame has to come within us.

    Some thought on “silence”. Our silence has very much been our part of life since the 80s and so. As our society is running out of our country because of oppression, we have learned the capitalist way of life in the West, although working hard and earning a living is noble, captialism has made us selfish, pro materialistic rather than growing with wisdom meaning the importance of our social value, caring should be vital. As we give up what our values were in our origin country and embrace capitalism, we also abandoned our society and people and gave our people to fall under opressive regime. It is true, our migration, most is not our doing but it was imposed upon us in search for better life. We must also not forget our society instead the other issue why we are silent is because of “fear” has been our best friend because we let our inaction for the true value of our society take over us and today we have become helpless therefore silence is the only way to let us escape. I hear a lot of people pretending to hide their feeling either in disinterest or fear who say, “I don’t like politicis”, “I don’t support any party”, “I am not a support of…” such words are an escape to make themselves not responsible, or fear masked under being neutral or for their own selfish reasons.

    In general, I am so glad after such a long “silence” someone has started this topic that we Ethiopians should really be tackling.

    The other issue why we are in silence that is weakening Ethiopia is the issue of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Since the separation of Eritrea, believe it or not, Eritrea is getting more popular in positive way than Eritrea. Eritreans are doing a great job of making their nation known in a positive way both in action and marketing. Whereas, we Ethiopians, the majority mainstream Ethiopians who have strong relationships still with Ethiopia are afraid of discussing or promoting Ethiopia in the West in order not to offend our fellow Eritreans whereas Eritreans have no fear of discussing Ethiopia as a colonialist. We bury our head in shame as if it was true and we fail to explain the world who we are. We are living only through the ghosts of Haile Selassie, Minilik, Abebe Bikilia, etc..

    As in the case of Eritrea, we have also fallen victim of the OLF. Ethiopians have stopped acting in fear of being called chauvanist, neftegna , etc (TPLFs loves this that is how it divides Ethiopians)We are losing who we are not to act, to remain neutral, in fear because of fear of being called the Amara types. By the way, I have no one drop of Amara blood in me when I say this. I would like to say this also, this is not endorsing any past or present regimes of their bad deeds when I talk about the opposing of calling names such as Neftegna, etc. I hope you recognize what I said when I said above past or present “regimes”, I am not talking about the “people”, it is the regimes that is playing the divide and rule one ethnic against the other, one ethnic favoring its own, etc. so, calling names and generalizing every Oromo, Amara, Tigray and weakening Ethiopia so that they don’t unite is a tactic being played by TPLF, OLF and Shaebia. Boy, they are succeeding alright by failing ourselves to explain what is really right and what is really wrong and defending our nation against this tactic. It is really working better for the liberation fronts. It is time we rise up and unite against such enemies. Of course we must learn from the past present regimes not to perpetuate such attitude of pro ethnicity, insults from whom ever it is and oppression just because our leaders wants us to divide, to favor, to prejudice, etc.

    I hope this discussion what the author wrote and what I wrote is expanded further.

    Long live our Ethiopia with every ethnicity at equal terms.

  10. love
    | #10

    Correction from above….

    “Whereas, we Ethiopians, the majority mainstream Ethiopians who have strong relationships still with Ethiopia are afraid of discussing or promoting Ethiopia in the West in order not to offend our fellow Eritreans whereas Eritreans have no fear of discussing Ethiopia as a colonialist. We bury our head in shame as if it was true and we fail to explain the world who we are.”

    “Whereas, we Ethiopians, the majority mainstream Ethiopians who have strong relationships still with ERITREANS are afraid of discussing or promoting Ethiopia in the West in order not to offend our fellow Eritreans whereas Eritreans have no fear of discussing Ethiopia as a colonialist. We bury our head in shame as if it was true and we fail to explain the world who we are.

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