Cry for ESAT not for the VOA: Stop the hypocrisy By Elon Samson

July 25th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

Almost all critical Ethiopian websites are crammed up with articles about the VOA saga. Reading some of the articles and reports on these websites, one can sense that the writers are filled with deep anger and frustration. I personally don’t understand the source of this deep anger and frustration. I sometimes ask whether we Ethiopians have lost our reasoning and driven by emotions and emotions alone. I never read one writer critically examining the cause of our anger and tried to show us a different perspective and a way out from this saga. The whole issue has become a cacophony.

I dare to state that our cacophony is worthless for the following reasons:

First VOA is not an Ethiopian radio. It is funded by the American government and has its own missions and objectives, which is to serve the interest of the American government. Therefore we shouldn’t be indignant if the VOA decides to do anything against the opposition or the government. We can’t control something we don’t own. The only right we have is either to boycott to listening VOA’s programs, or to encourage Ethiopians to refuse to give interviews to the station or, to encourage the VOA reporters to resign from their posts.

2 There is full of hypocrisy in the VOA protest. If we are really committed for free media, why do we criticize the wrongs of an institution we don’t own, while failing to establish one, or bolster up the existing ones? Look the number of websites we have! How many of us have funded them, how many of us have copied and sent their messages to people in Ethiopia. We have a number of regional radios in the Diaspora, how many of us have supported them financially to assist them to air their programs to Ethiopia. We had Adera radio closed for finance; we have Abebe Belew’s Addis Dimtse, staggering to survive. We have now the first satellite television in our history. How many of us have paid the $ 500 contribution? How many of us have contributed $10 per month? How many of us have condemned the jamming of ESAT and went to oppose the Chinese and other governments that assist the Ethiopian dictatorial regime or written protest letters? ESAT has captivated the minds of everyone in Ethiopia to the degree unparalleled in the Ethiopian media history. Our people at home have never lamented for the jamming of VOA as they did for ESAT. Let’s ask us ourselves, what have we done for ESAT? What have we done for other radios and websites? So why are we screaming for an institution that we don’t own and we have no share at all? What else is hypocrisy more than this?

3 VOA has never been a radio of freedom. It is a professional media exercising professionalism, but Ethiopia needs more than that. Ethiopia needs a media that envisages and propagates freedom and professional reporting. As a media of freedom it should advocate and call for freedom and democracy with vigour and tenacity; as a professional media it should make a balancing reporting. The media we need should make a balanced and truthful news and news analysis, at the same time advocating for freedom and democracy in the rest of its programs. VOA meets the first requirement, i.e. it is a source of good news, but not a force for change, freedom and democracy. To my understanding it is ESAT which combines the two essential ingredients that our country needs right away- being a media of freedom at the same time a media of profession. I don’t wonder if people cry for ESAT, but makes no sense for me to cry for VOA

  1. Anonymous
    | #1

    How about our tax money. Since VOA funded us we have every right to stand up against it.

  2. Debo
    | #2

    Who own’s ESAT? Is it really free?

  3. Tulu
    | #3

    Dear Elon Samson,
    The reason we are crying for VOA is simple and clear: we have already convinced that we can not own our own free media as long us our free mind is not there. So we better cry for VOA that can be protected by simple statement from Department of State, if desired. Our hypocrisy is not only our problem, i think, it is also the main problems of our friends that want to teach us what free media needs to flourish.

  4. Mehari
    | #4

    I can understand your frustration but your criticism of the protest is off mark. As some one up here said, we who are Ethio Americans have every right to demand VOA to do its job right. Besides, American interests and those of Ethiopians do not always diverge. As a people Americans do not have interests different than Ethiopians. They surely do not want to see dictators around.
    Your comparison of ESAT to VOA is also improper. If you look at the number of Ethiopians that listen to VOA broadcasts and compare them to those who watch the ESAT that is when it is not blocked, you will see that our energy spent on VOA is well spent. This however does not mean we should not fund, support or try to have our own media outlet. We should, by any means

  5. Anonymous
    | #5

    Regardless of who owns voa it is the top listnable radio in ethiopia. Why does VOA is a big agenda for woyane’s because they know its impact in bringing a difference.More than any other media broadcasting in Ethiopia Voa is great in raising burnning issues of our country.

    I see the above article as a conspiracy in dividing people’s thought on ESAT VS VOA. It is elementary and can not hold water.

  6. balcha
    | #6

    Regardless of who owns VOA, it is great and great thats why its the top listenable radio in ethiopia.

    I would like to sujjest to the writer of the above article that there are many more issues to write about ethiopia if he is realy concerned than conspiring on something which doesnt hold water.

  7. Jifar
    | #7

    I personally don’t care about TPLF TV or radio, Birhanu Nega’s ESAT and the VOA.

  8. Debo
    | #8

    My friend told me that VOA is now reporting like ETV, it it true? it is a Shame if it is.

    I also saw ESAT and can’t help but notice how it is all about weyane so i don’t know what they stand for. It will be great if we can have VOA back or creat somethink like VOA.

  9. Fikru
    | #9

    I do not agree with your analysis. We don’t have to own VOA to demand for freedom of censorship. Would we cry for absence of censorship for ETV, or Walta….because we are Ethiopians and thus part of the ownership?.

    I hate when ppl write stuff as if their idea is the one magic wand. that is how you presented your idea. you throw out the effort of those Ethiopians who took their time and effort to act (demonstrate). This is the type of behavior we need to work on. Our struggle with dictators should encompass every aspect of action. I would have loved if you had acknowledged the effort of demonstrators and then pushed your idea and concern for other broadcast stations.

    Have empathy and appreciation for your colleagues making the effort to make a change in our country.


  10. Ethiopian-American
    | #10

    I strongly disagree with the writer. He is confused on the facts. VOA is funded by the American people, including Ethiopian Americans. It is paid for by our tax-money. Of course we have the right to correct VOA. It is our radio station. We own it, not the Ethiopian government. VOA’s missions and objectives, which is to serve the interest of the American people, which includes Ethiopian Americans. Yes, indeed and therefore we Ethiopians in America should be indignant if the VOA decides to do anything against the rules. Yes, we can control Voice of America because it is ours. It belongs to us and it is our voice. Welcome to the 21st century! Protests are our right as American citizens.

  11. Anonymous
    | #11

    Elon there are a few things you missed. I agree with you at about 50% of what you are saying. Yes we should help ESAT, yes we should help other Ethiopian radio stations. But if you think about it VOA was founded on the principles of freedom of speach, be a voice for the voiceless, and also on the principle of exposing tyrany and injustice. If you look a few decades back and remember about Radio Free Europe, that was what VOA was doing. Why now move away from the core princ iples of its stablishment? Why even allow a government of another country who called VOA the voice of interhamwe allow to interfear in the works of VOA? Do you know what will be the next demand from the present regime? It will ask the US government

  12. Not shocked
    | #12

    I came to defeatist position that Ethiopians are not capable of existing as free and democratc people. A lot of people love attacking other ethiopians. Esat should have been supported

  13. Mulu Getaw
    | #13

    Nice proposal. How about if the VOA journalists resign? The problem is they won’t find any employer given by your admission Abebe Belew and ESAT are in the ropes. Good reasoning though Mr. Elon!

  14. Moges
    | #14

    VOA has established to broadcast US stands on differ issues mainly based on democracy and free society matter. However, VOA has been taking now day different approaches. One thing, I can understand main US policy towards to Africa or the world is free and democratic society. Through democratic and free society, US believe that there is long standing peace and development.
    Thus fur VOA has been accomplishing these facts by broadcasting unbiased reports. However, The US government has been taking different approaches to wards to VOA section. Ethiopian’s people have been derived to access unbiased media report for very long time, the only genuine media reports had been coming out was from VOA broadcasting program. Hop based on understanding these facts VOA would reinstate its credibility once more to Ethiopian people

  15. Selam
    | #15

    I wonder if we Ethiopians know what we want! Who has to own ESAT? so what if it is really owned by ginbot 7? My admiration for ginbot 7 is increasing day by day like many Ethiopians, because they are filling in what Ethiopians want! They don’t talk smack about other opposition organizations – they do what is needed for Ethiopia! ሌሎች ድርጅቶችም የመንደር ፖለቲካቸውን ትተው ለሃገር ይጠቅማል የሚሉትን በተግባር ማሳየት ካልጀመሩ እንደ ቀደምት ድርጅቶች የታሪክ ጠባሳ ሆነው ማለፋቸው አይቀሬ ነው:: ይልቁንስ እንደ ግንቦት 7 ያለ ድርጅት በአግባቡ ተደራጅቶ ለሃገሪቷ በጣም አስፈላጊ የሆኑ ስራዎችን ሲሰራ ማንቋሸሽና መሳደብ አቁማችሁ እናንተም በደንብ ተደርጁና የበኩላችኑን አስተዋጾ አድርጉ! የሌላውን ድርጅት ስራ ለደርጅቱ ተዉለት! ለምሳሌ ኢሳት – የሌላ ድርጅትን መልእክት አላስተላልፍም ብሏል? አልዘግብም ብሏል? ካለግንቦት 7 ድርጅት የለም ብሏል? ገለልተኛ የሚድያ ተቋምን እኛ ተደራጅተን ካላቋቋምነው ማን ያቋቁመዋል? ከሰማይ መላእክት ወርደው ገለልተኛ ዜና አይዘግቡም! ኢሳትን መርዳት የሁላችንም አላፊነት እንደመሂኑ መጠን ገለልተኝነቱንም ተግባሩን እያዩ መቆጣጠር የኛ ሃላፊነት ነው! የህዝብን ስራ የሚሰራ አንድን ተቋም መደገፍ የማንችሉ ዜጎች ከሆንን ነጻንት የሚገባን ነን ወይ ብሎ እራስን መጠየቅ ያሰፈልጋል:: እኔ ወጣት ነኝ ነገር ግን ከሰላሳ አምስት አመት በላይ እድሜ የሆኑ ኢትዮጵያውያን አብዛኛዎቹ ስራ ሊያሰራ የማይችል አስቸጋሪ ጸባይ እንዳላቸው በሚናገሩት እና በሚሰሩት መረዳት ችያለሁ:: ስለዚህ አመራሩን ለወጣቱ ተዉለት! ስራውንም ለወጣቱ ተዉለት! ኣርፋችሁ ቁጭ በሉ ወይም ቅንነት ካላችሁ የገንዘብ እና የሞራል እርዳታ ስጡ! የተደራጁ ሰዎችን መበጥበጥ አቁማችሁ እናንተም ተደራጁና ስራ ስሩ ወይም ድርጅቶችን ተቀላቀሉና በአግባቡ ስራ ስሩ!

    ኢትዮጵያ ለዘላለም ትኑር! በቆራጥ እና ታታሪ ልጆቿ በቅርቡ ነጻ ትወጣለች!

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