ESFNA: The Judge Invitation Choked the Sheikh By LJD
For years, the Ethiopian Sport Federation in North America (ESFNA) has been telling the Diaspora that the money it has been receiving from Sheikh Al Amoudi, the accomplice of tyrant Meles Zenawi, has no strings attached. However, the Sheikh recent act that initiating a legal action to repossess the $240k donation he gave to the ESFNA has made it absolutely clear that the blood money he has been giving to the federation has been eclipsed in his political mission.
After Mohammed Bouazizi burned himself to death in December 2010, Tunisia’s status quo was shuttered, and Bin Ali was forced to flee. Following the nomination of Judge Birtukan Mideksa for the ESFNA Guest of Honor in October 2010, the Sheikh is choked, and he is forced to choke off his iron grip on the ESFNA. Drawing a parallel between Tunisia’s revolution and the ESFNA’s ordeal might seem extraneous, but the point I am trying making is both situations took one incident to trigger events.
I like to take this opportunity to tip my hat to those board members of the ESFNA who persistently guarding the federation; especially to the board members of the Abebe Bikila Sports Club of Los Angeles for the courage and the wisdom they demonstrated when they nominated Judge Birtukan for Guest of Honor. Because without the rift the Judge nomination caused among the Diaspora, the shortcomings of the federation and the Sheikh motives for sponsoring the federation could not have been revealed.
Most think the woe the Diaspora has been experiencing since the ESFNA Executive Committee reversed the vote against in favor of Judge Birtukan’s invitation is worthy of its outcomes because it led into:
1. Uniting the Diaspora during the struggle to restore the ESFNA board of directors’ vote approving the Judge invitation.
2. Sparking off the Diaspora to spontaneously and methodically engage in the affairs of the ESFNA which led into uncovering so many things, including lack of effectiveness, transparency, and accountability in the management of the federation.
3. Rejecting the old ways of running the ESFNA. And encouraging the federation fans to speak loudly against the status quo of their organization.
4. Creating ground for those who got fed up by the incompetency of the ESFNA to deliver a competitor of the federation, the Ethiopian Heritage Society of North America.
5. Exposing the Sheikh drive for sponsoring the ESFNA, and forcing him to lift the yoke he placed on the shoulders of the federation.
Though most of the shortcoming of the ESFNA are revealed, recommendations for improvement are provided, and the Sheikh may no longer able to use the money he snatches from the throats of the starving Ethiopian children to keep making the federation unproductive, the organization survival hangs on the resolve of its board members, including to change their culture, to be transparent, to reform, and to rebrand the federation. Not taking advantage of their present predicament to transform their organization to be ready to ably compete might amount to nailing the last nail on its coffin.
Before I finish, adding to what I pointed above, the ESFNA is in a perilous position, between the devil and the deep blue sea. For instance: First, the legal action the Sheikh initiated against the ESFNA indicates his attempt to make the federation pay his way out of the organization. Second, teamwork between the board of directors and the Executive Committee members is not there anymore; some board members make a joke about lack of teamwork among them by saying we are good only for eating together but not for working in concert. Third, thrust among the Executive Committee members is at its lowest level in the organization history. Forth, confidential email exchanges and correspondence among the nine executive committee members, including privileged and confidential attorney client communications are being leaked to the Ethiopia First website editor, a henchman of the EPRDF. The leaked documents can be found on www.ethiopiafirst.com. Fifth, most of the Executive Committee members are about to finish their term. At the end of the year, they will step down from their posts.
Those who have stake in the federation must beware of a fact that nearly all outgoing members of an organization do not pay due attention about developing issues of their organization especially when they are about to leave during a turmoil as the one the ESFNA is engulfed by. So, you all must question whether the legal case regarding the $240k the Sheikh is trying to reclaim is handled by those who firmly guard your self-interest.
The writer who is responsible for this article can be reached at LJDemissie@yahoo.com