DEMYSTIFICATION Questions to questions? By Imru Zelleke
I would like people to read my message carefully and studiously. I am not advocating any political ideology but for Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law to be the best system of governance for our country and for the future wellbeing of our people. However, I believe that sometimes we must call a spade a spade and that our thoughts and behaviors must be based on the truth and not on fabricated myths. “Yilugnita” is a nice and elegant social behavior to avoid embarrassments or for scape-goating on difficult issues. Unfortunately it dominates our social comportment and more than often obfuscates the evident realities of our lives.
First of all we must reckon that we the people and communities in the Diaspora are exerting an important influence on events at home. The more our numbers have increased the more our umbilical cord with our country of origin has been strengthened by travel, instant communications, huge remittances of funds, businesses, investments, educational and social connections, etc. Therefore, the impact of our ideas and actions on events at home are substantial. Hence, for good or bad we have an unavoidable responsibility for what happens in Ethiopia. The fact that we are out of the country does not exonerates us from our duty to our people at home, for nothing else than Humanitarian reasons. I believe that any action we espouse should be based on the true whishes of the Ethiopian people and not on facts assumed and exposed by sundry interest groups. There have been too many notions and conditions, if not right out fabricated lies, imposed on the people without their understanding and consent by self appointed elites. The proposition being that most people in Ethiopia are illiterate therefore stupid, we are educated we know better what is good for them.
· Were the people asked when their land and properties confiscated and they were made rootless vagrants at the mercy of gun toting hoodlums? No.
· Were the Ethiopian people asked when the country was land locked and lost its historic and legitimate access to the sea? No.
· Were the people of Ethiopia consulted about the separation of Eritrea? No
· The choices offered to the Eritrean was to choose between “slavery” and “Freedom”? Can you imagine anybody choosing “slavery” against “freedom” ? Has anyone in Ethiopia ever known an Eritrean slave? No.
· Where the people of Humera, Wolqait Tegede, Semen Wollo, and Afar consulted when they were integrated with Tigray? No.
· Where the people of Ethiopia consulted to be split in arbitrary ethnic groups? No.
· Have the Ethiopian people been consulted to choose their own ethnic enclave? No
· Have the people of Addis Ababa have been given the chance to choose their administrative status? No.
· Have the Oromos been given any choice when adopting the Latin alphabet? No.
They could have chosen Arabic, Hindi, Chinese instead of European colonialist letters.
· Didn’t the thousands of people who died and were maimed in defense of Ethiopia’s borders against the Shabia invasion come from all parts of the country as Ethiopians?
· Where the people in the border areas consulted before being sold out summarily to the Sudan? No.
· Were the people asked when millions of acres of fertile land were sold to foreigners? No
It is too long an effort to catalog all the misconceptions and misrepresentations of facts introduced in our social and political fabric in the past thirty or so years. They distort the realities in which we live, leading us to confusion and self degradation. I say let’s open our minds and face our problems openly without fear of retribution by anyone, or for personal gain. We have to rehabilitate our values and cultures and get rid of the demeaning foreign influences that have denigrated our existence and contaminated our noble traditions. When England bestowed to Emperor Haile Sellassie the Most Venerable Order of the Garter, it was not just for his person, but because he represented an ancient and noble nation, whose heroic history was reckoned by the whole world. This said, I don’t mean that we return to old bypassed habits that are no more practicable; but to fund our new vision on the basis of the good values that exists in our cultures and mores.
On The eve of the 2005 elections I had written the following reflections, more for my inner self than for others, and later over the post-election 2010, wondering about what has changed since that tragic episode. Quote:
March 18, 2005
From outside the rat race.
Now that a new page has opened in Ethiopian politics and a chance to change regime in our country looms over the horizon, a lot worms are coming out of the woodworks. Some old, some not so old and some new protagonists are appearing on the stage. Some we never heard from for the past three decades are crying loudly (in falsetto) their deep concern about the future, especially about who is going to be where, at the helm; obviously there are no other positions worthy of their talent. The new ‘vulture nobility’ that has kept itself hidden, for the good of the country, from the risky climate of our unflattering history, is perceiving a light at the end of the tunnel. A new day in which it can shine and glitter without much pain or cost seems to be imminent. As to the downtrodden people who paid dearly to bring the change, in the hope of seeing if not getting something better, some political commerce sprinkled with a little gold dust should suffice. After all they are stupid and deserving no more than what they get.
The political parties striving in the land better watch-out not to be stampeded by the new arrivistes. These last ones have ample unused energy and a lot of reserve fat. Now. What will the “vulture nobility” do when it comes to power? Exactly what the ‘guerilla nobility’ was doing, with a little more panache and smarter PR. Pray for Ethiopia.
July 18, 2010
Five years later and lot water having passed under the bridge, what happened and what is occurring in our beloved land and in the ever extending Diaspora community entails some new reflections. Probably not for the best but, but changes have happened. After the debacle of the 2005 election Meles & Co. had learned their lesson, and prepared themselves assiduously to win the next one at all costs. With threats, violence, bribes, graft, blackmail and all sorts of pressures exerted on the people by a well organized cadre and militia, and massive foreign support they won the 2010 election by 99.6 percent. Obviously these fantastic results have some draw back because nobody believes them to be true and exposes clearly the ridiculous charade that has been made as a fair and open election.
Obviously, this extraordinary feat was accomplished with a large participation of the Amhara, Oromo, and other ethnic’s “vulture nobility”, who seems to have increased and expanded substantially in the past five years, and is now a large faction of the regime’s power base. Thus, the power base of the regime has moved from the periphery to the center, and the opposition has been annihilated. “ Unquote
Now we are almost at the end of 2011, it is also time to ponder about what is facing us in the future. Do we have a credible national movement that embraces indiscriminately all Ethiopians? No yet. Yes, there are some active parties; unfortunately, they have put on auction the future sovereignty and integrity of the nation, with the hope that they can barter their own future; in unpredictable conditions that might be favorable or not for some horse trading.
First of all we must recognize that no political party or group can deny an Ethiopian his citizenship, it is his God given immutable birthright, and his individual rights are inviolable. Hence, our future political democratic set-up must be based unequivocally on the principle of one person one vote, in one sovereign Ethiopian nation. There seems also to be some dichotomy about the concept of Unity “Andinet” meaning the integrity and sovereignty of the nation on one hand and on the other unity or alliances between political factions. The shouldn’t be any confusion about that, once a democratic system of governance is established, people can organize themselves freely into political, civic, religious, business, cultural and sundry associations as to fit their needs. For instance in a free election those that claim to have the largest number of the population would have nothing to fear, because they will dominate the politics by the share number of their voting members. Therefore, political parties and groups must realize that any other formula based on concocted group rights of any kind is not acceptable to the vast majority of the people, and will inevitably lead to mayhem and bloodshed. There are more than eighty million Ethiopians who are not likely to accept the dictate of power seeking groups, whatever their promises and incantations. When I hear the many volatile speeches that are made in public meetings and the enthusiastic applause they receive, I wonder if the attendance has understood what has been said.
When the TPLF regime will depart, it will leave in its wake enormous political, social and economic problems that will need the good will and joint effort of the whole nation to solve and put the country back to normal conditions. Beside the huge disparity of income created by the monopolistic and kleptocratic rule of the TPLF regime, the ratio of poverty has expanded to include even the remaining fringe of middle class citizens. Moreover, a huge foreign presence has taken place in the form of aid, loans, investments, etc., that will impact the future development of the country. As the former head of the World Bank group in Ethiopia stated, the present development program that is implemented in the country is not sustainable, a sad prognosis for what comes next.
Let’s put our ears on the ground and listen to what the people of Ethiopia are saying. Ultimately they are the ones who pay with their blood and flesh the price of our misdeeds. That is why I say that we should opt for a genuine national democratic movement and not for some compromise that will engender more problems than solutions. As the saying goes “the Devil is in the details”, compromises are an essential elements of the political process. However, there are limits and parameters under which they can be made. We should be more discerning and judgmental in our quest for an outcome that will benefit all the people of Ethiopia and will secure their freedom and wellbeing.
I appeal to the great number of the people in the Diaspora, particularly to the many thousands of professionals, educators, business men and women, students representing the silent majority of the community to organize in civic associations, and take an active role in maintaining the integrity and sovereignty of Ethiopia and the establishment of genuine democratic system in the country. We are privileged to live in this Great Country, where we are free to express ourselves and do what we deem just and air for our people, without fear and apprehensions.
Ethiopia lezelalem tenur.
August 11, 2011