In the name of Abay [Blue Nile] – to unite us or to enslave us? By Ephrem Madebo
As we walked across the intersection of Massachusetts Av and Church St . . . ababa….ababa “where is MIT” asked my anxious son who was visiting the Boston area for the first time. I replied – why don’t we first see Harvard and then go to MIT? He said: I want to see MIT first. We went back to our car and drove toward Harvard Bridge. For the most part, the genesis of this commentary was put together somewhere between Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT] in Cambridge, MA. So if you think or feel that I sounded professorial anywhere in the commentary, please don’t blame me ‘cause I may have been influenced by my new environment.
I’m sure most of us still remember the Conficker computer “worm” that caught cyber-security experts by surprise in November 2008. The worm infiltrated millions of computers around the globe; and for the first time ever, cyber-security elites of the world were forced to work together to find and defeat the bad guys who created the worm. Well, believe it or not, our country Ethiopia and its 85 million people have been infected by a human worm for the last 20 years. The worm that infected our country is so dangerous because it is part of us and one of us – and understands the fabric of our society.
Some of us have passively become a host for this worm that knows no limit what so ever, and some of us have been so selfish that we have become part of the worm. Yet some of us have been deceived by the worm and have become temporary outposts of the worm. This worm [aka TPLF] is a very mischievous worm that delivers its treacherous payload so cunningly and so revengefully with grudge. My fellow countrymen/women, If a computer worm unites security experts of different countries around the globe, then why can’t we stick together and fight the ‘worm’ that feeds on our blood? After all- aren’t we people of one nation? We must leave the past behind us and face our enemy together; otherwise, it is very difficult to fight an enemy that has outposts in our head.
Through the years, Ethiopians have repeatedly challenged Meles Zenawi’s regime, but his power has never been endangered like it was in March 2001, in May 2005, and this year during the North African revolution. In March 2001, when the TPLF party split into two, sneaky Meles saved his crown by gobbling strong men like Seiye Abraha and Gebru Asrat and took total control of the party. In 2005, he used US made Humvees and savage agazi forces to hang on power that he conclusively lost. In 2011, after he witnessed the ousting of two of his friends [Ben Ali & Hosni Mubarak], Zenawi changed his weapon of choice from outright carnage to psychological warfare. Especially, when he saw the revolutionary spirit of the Ethiopian youth and the determination of everyday people, Zenawi changed his strategy from killing us to duping us- at least temporarily.
In the span of just two months, Zenawi has touched three hot-button issues of national security that he and his party have been avoiding for the last twenty years. The timing and the substance of Zenawi’s message is nothing more than a brain washing technique aimed at influencing our value system, emotion, and behavior. He is using these thoroughly exhausted conning techniques to keep Ethiopia’s supreme power within his family and to reinforce public attitudes and behaviors favorable to the long term objective of the TPLF party.
By the way, what is going on and what is this old dance with an old song? Is this an apology, or just a sympathy seeking change of tone? If this is an apology, it is long overdue and this is not the way to apologize . . . no way Jose! If it is a change of tone, it is too little and too insincere –We need to change the music, the dance, and of course the entire orchestra.
Meles Zenawi is a man who insulted the intelligence of the Ethiopian people as many times as the number of days he’s been in power. He is also a man who used the trust of the innocent to rally our nation behind his hidden agenda. The Ethio-Eritrean war in which Ethiopia pulled out a decisive military victory, but lost the political cause of the war is a good example. War is a phenomenon as old as the earth itself, and throughout history, countries have fought countless wars where victors imposed their economic and political will on losers. In Zenawi’s Ethiopia things are different. In the 1998-2000 war, Ethiopia won the war decisively, but thanks to the enemy within, Ethiopia was forced to negotiate in terms of the losing party. Today this same man who negotiated on the blood of seventy thousand Ethiopians has come with the same old tricks to divert public attention from a possible North African like revolution in Ethiopia. Here are some of his tricks:
December, 2010 (in an interview with Reuters)
“I am not worried that the Egyptians will suddenly invade Ethiopia,” “Nobody who has tried that has lived to tell the story. I don’t think the Egyptians will be any different and I think they know that”- Meles Zenawi To begin with, this is a response unprovoked and a warning uncalled-for. The warning was intended for three audiences: the Egyptian government, the international community and the Ethiopian people. Obviously, none of the intended audiences gave Zenawi more than a lip-service response. For the Ethiopian people Zenawi was playing the role of past heroes like Emperor Yohannis and Emperor Menlik, but the public questioned his intent and asked him – where is this new love coming from? Of course what Zenawi said about the bravery of the Ethiopian people is a long standing truth, but farsighted Ethiopians inside and outside Ethiopia were good enough to quickly identify that the truth told with bad intent damages the nation than all the lies put together.
February, 2011 (in an interview with the domestic press)
“We have to facilitate ways for Eritrean people to remove their dictatorial regime. We have no intention to jump into their country but we need to extend our influence there. If the Eritrean government tries to attack us, we will also respond.” – Meles Zenawi
Sometimes it is really difficult to call Meles Zenawi a healthy man because a person is as healthy as the number of lies he tells. When he came to power in 1991, Zenawi told us that the next generations of Ethiopians have to refer to the dictionary to know what war is. Forget the next generation; Zenawi’s own 23 years old daughter has read more books on the Ethio-Eritrean war than a dictionary. Just seven year after he promised the ‘Pax Romana’ of Ethiopia, he fought two very costly wars with Eritrea where close to 100k young life perished from both sides. The cause and the outcome of the Ethio-Eritrean war is one of the darkest moments in the history of proud Ethiopians who in history are known as non-aggressors, but yet are punishing warriors when provoked. Zenawi’s Ethiopia is the first country ancient or modern to resolutely win a war and lose everything what the war was all about. Imagine this is after sacrificing more than fifty thousand young Ethiopians- mind you; this is the same man that’s once again beating the drum for another war against Eritrea and Egypt. Can we afford a war? Why do we trust a traitor anyway?
March, 2011(in an interview with the press)
“We are planning to carry out a number of important projects, including a major project on the Nile” – Meles Zenawi For the last twenty years, truth and integrity have been under siege in Ethiopia, and as result, public confidence in PM Zenawi has steadily declined, as has the credibility of the entire TPLF party. Any Ethiopian that browsed the Growth and Transformation Plan document can easily notice that the “Millennium Dam” project that consumes close to $5 billion is conspicuously missing from such a huge “transformational” plan. In fact, the word “Nile” [aka Abay] is not mentioned in the entire document, and the word “Dam” is mentioned only once [in a parenthesized sub-topic] in the 85 page GTP document. This simply means that either the “scientific leadership” of the TPLF regime did not use the science of planning when it laid down the GTP, or none of those “accomplished scientists” from the Ethiopian IV League of “Dingay Mamrecha” had a clue on the significance of such a huge project nicknamed – Grand Renaissance Dam. This is what worries me; and as a matter of fact, I think every Ethiopian must be worried when just one man has the absolute power to switch on and off everything that concerns a nation of more than 80 million people.
The essence of what I am trying to say here has nothing to do with the Grand Renaissance Dam itself – my focus is not about what is in the dam or about the dam- my emphasis is about the timing of the dam and the hidden agenda behind the dam. It’s about the total failure of diplomacy that surrounds the dam. Yes, Ethiopia is a sovereign country and it can do whatever it wishes within its borders, but building a dam[on a river that touches the life of over 300 million people] just 45 km inside our boarder must not start with a derogatory diplomatic words. The regime in Addis Ababa should know better that building a dam on the Blue Nile River is as much political and diplomatic as it is economic. Besides, why is a regime that dismantled the Tana-Beles project and shipped all of its equipment to its home base of Tigray- now preaching about a another dam on the Blue Nile River? I’m sure the feasibly studies of the Renaissance project must have preceded the GTP- if so, why is a project so expensive, so large, and so complex, is not included in the well-publicized 5-years Growth and Transformation Plan? The answer is trivially simple – the recent hoopla of the “Grand Renaissance Dam” conceptualized and propagated by none other than Meles Zenawi is nothing but a pure “false flag” tactic.
By the way, how long did the engineering and the environmental study of the project take? Was the Benishangul-Gumuz sate involved in the process? Who are the experts involved in the study? The “Grand Renaissance Dam” project is a huge project that carries a significant amount of risk. Evidently, one of the ways to mitigate this huge risk is to involve seasoned outside experts in the implementation, engineering, and environmental study phases of the project. Has this been done? Where is the over 5 billion us dollar coming? No matter how much money the government squeezes from poor Ethiopians, let’s not fool ourselves – the project still needs at least more than four and half billion us dollar [assuming the project is completed within budget]. Where does this money come within the life span of the project which is 6 to 7 years? All these questions demand answer. This is not a project that can be decided in a single helicopter ride form Addis to Benishangul-Gumuz. We Ethiopians cannot and must not sit and say-“they know what they are doing and let’s leave it to them”. I swear to God- If these “Never mind” cases continue to crop up, they will have detrimental consequences on our country for many generations to come.
Fellow Ethiopians, our country is a plural society whose unity is threatened by inside and outside forces including its own leaders. Therefore, every Ethiopian understands that nation-building and unity is the first prerequisite. But, nation building and unity are infinitely meaningless if they come at the cost of freedom, democracy, and equality. To me, liberty and equality supersede everything including unity. When liberty, justice, and equality are absent nothing that exists fulfills my pursuit of happiness.
The current leaders of Ethiopia call themselves “developmental” state and do damage to the soul of the individual in the name of development. Should development take priority over freedom and human right of the individual? Well, this is a question of value and it gives rise to the following empirical question: Can a minority non-democratic and ethno-biased regime such as the TPLF achieve development goals with greater speed and effectiveness than a democratic government? My question for the “Yeah” Sayers is – how can the most hated divisive regime that has no public trust mobilize a nation and lead it to development?
The TPLF party and its ardent supporters [ such as Professor Andreas Eshete] have been misled by the view that authoritarian measures are necessary to maintain order and to bring about political, social, and economic modernization. This false view and Zenawi’s self-ordaining doctrine of single party system as the only means of accelerated economic development is totally bogus and is a doomed failure. In plural societies like Ethiopia, this type of regime is totally irrelevant.
In the last 20 years, Meles Zenawi and his gangs have made countless mistakes and they are still making mistake after mistake and after mistake. Yes, I do believe that one should never interrupt the enemy when it is making a mistake- but not when the enemy is a Zenawi type outlaw that has no regard for us and for our country. For twenty long years, Zenawi’s plan for Ethiopia was to divide its people; to loot its resources, and lay the foundation for the TPLF dynasty. Every time when our struggle gained momentum, Zenawi and his party diverted our attention from them to things like Bademe, Millennium Development Goal, Renaissance [ህዳሴ], war with Egypt, regime change in Eritrea, and Growth and Transformation Plan. When none of these conspiracy stories took our full attention, finally Zenawi and his bad men came in the name of Abay! Zenawi is a man who said Ethiopia does not need seaport, and we have already seen his handling of the 1998 -2000 senseless war with Eritrea. He is also known for selling our land and shrinking our boarder. There is much more to say about this remorseless man, but I hate thinking some of the things he said about our country let alone repeating them here. The Holy Bible says: Whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So why would one trust Zenawi anymore?
Meles is a man who goes sleepless to see a weak and a divided Ethiopia. So far he has divided us politically, and has weakened and subordinated the social and religious institutions of our country. In some cases Zenawi and his party have replaced our old social and religious institutions by new regimented institutions used to control the society. As a result, the Ethiopian people have been atomized unable to work together, to confide in each other, or even to do much of anything at their own initiative. People are too frightened to speak their hatred of the regime and are too terrified to share their hunger for freedom. All in all, some Ethiopians are too frightened to think seriously of public resistance. Instead, our fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters face suffering without purpose and a future without hope.
I believe it is our crucial obligation to enlighten our people that there should be time to never listen to any fear, and it is also our responsibility to help fellow Ethiopians break the fear barrier of the TPLF regime. We can do this if and only if we stand together, plan together, and execute our plan together. It is very important to let our people know that Zenawi’s force that seems insurmountable will be defeated and — the divide and rule politics, the abuse, the suffering, and the pain will disappear. The TPLF regime and the baggage it came with will vanish too. It is only our country that will remain when the shadow of the presence the worm that infected us has vanished. Therefore; we must come to our senses and stop throwing knife at each other’s throat. We must watch every move of the enemy than impeding the progress of our friends. Ethiopia is a shining star on the face of our existence, lets never allow Zenawi become an overcast between this shining star and us.
In the past, we’ve worked so hard against unity and we’ve been so indecisive. As a result, the past is still with us – the future is even worse if we sit and beg time and the gods do their magic. Fellow Ethiopians, the night may be as long as the road we’ve traversed, but trust me; the long awaited dawn will break and the new day will be all ours! Yes we are not on top of the mountain; but most definitely we are not deep in the valley either. I assure you with full confidence that we’ve started facing the right direction, therefore, all we must do is keep on walking. Yes, keep on walking!