WHAT IS WRONG WITH US? By Msmaku Asrat
The perceptive article by Ambassador Imru of a few days ago has prompted me to write this. I want to say that I have been thinking along similar lines for a long time now because I am increasingly frustrated by what I see and read. Occasionally such gems that lay bare the stark realities of our country appear, which replenishes my confidence. I also read recently a very important article by Yilma Kebede in Nazret.com. It relates his agony and frustration about Diaspora websites who had the mindless promotion of that nauseating regurgitation; verbal vomit; and self-righteousness of Mengistu Hailemariam, one of the most heinous mass murderers of the Twentieth Century. What were these websites thinking about when they posted his interview? Could they be serving as mouth-pieces of the Derg (as the TPLF/Weyane constantly reminds us) or could it be that they may be the die-hard Derg criminals who had fled to the Diaspora and have managed to be embedded in “opposition” politics? Probably the Weyane is correct. Otherwise what is wrong with us? How can the criminality of the Derg which killed over a million and was responsible for the flight of three million are so easily forgotten. A people who forget the past will forever be condemned in the future.
Recently an opposition journalist who has been in and out of TPLF prison penned an astonishing defense for the Derg criminals arguing that they should not have been imprisoned in the first place and sympathizing with the decision that their death penalty has been commuted to life imprisonment. This young person who may have been a toddler at the time of the Derg ignores their crimes against humanity probably because nothing has happened to him and his family during the time of the Derg and his selfish view is that ያልተነካ ግልግል ያውቃል or worse still it is a case of trying to appear to be reasonable and smart አወቅሽ አወቅሽ ሲሏት መጽሃፍ አጠበች I would like to direct him to the important article (in Amharic) by T.G.M, a prominent lawyer also based in Ethiopia ,who wrote about the crimes of the Derg and objected to their penalty being reduced, following an appeal by questionable religious leaders who have never complained about other crimes committed in their presence before. He argued that even if their sentence has been, albeit wrongly, commuted to life in prison, it means exactly that እድሜ ይፍታህ. (die in prison). There is news that TPLF is about to release the Derg criminals, if so that would be a sad day for Ethiopia. Mengistu may also return to Ethiopia with a pardon, who knows?
How could some amongst us in the Diaspora have the nerve to organize “a friendship conference” to bring together the Ethiopian and Eritrean people as though the people of the two countries have quarreled? Did they? When was that? Could these learned talking heads tell us about when that happened? Haven’t the Ethiopian people been ever graceful towards them to the last end? A number of such meetings have already been held in different venues, spearheaded by individuals, some of whom with checkered past histories. Have they consulted the Ethiopian or even the Eritrean people before conducting such a conference? Or are they working on behalf of Meles and Isayas, whose disagreement is only pro forma (for show), as both Tigrean dictators are fundamentally united in their undying opposition to non-Tigrean Ethiopians and above all to the Amara. Who is paying the piper to play their tune?
During Emperor Haile Selassie’s time there were TWO most pampered groups. One was the Hararis, those who come from Harar province, then known behind their back as “The Harare Mafia” (and who exploited their position from belonging to the birthplace of the Emperor) and who were dominating the upper echelons of the civil service and the military. The other group was the Eritreans. There was even a Ministry of Pen (i.e. the Emperor’s )directive ordering the Ethiopian Civil Service to give employment priority to Eritreans and that once they were employed they should never be fired. Can we forget the exalted status Eritreans enjoyed, in all fields, in Ethiopia under the full protection of the Emperor? Could we so easily forget how they kicked us in the tooth and left the “primitive Ethiopians” and went to their “Promised Land” and alas! ended up in what became the greatest prison of modern times – the totally isolated country of Eritrea. This country has no exports to speak of and relies mostly on the 2% poll tax remitted by Diaspora Eritreans, who sheepishly and unashamedly fund the tyrant. Meanwhile, Eritreans (most particularly Christian Eritreans) are now like the Somalis; or the Christian Lebanese or Christian Egyptians before them, are leaving their country in droves and have become, per capita, the largest refugee population in the World. Meanwhile, Meles has reversed his previous decision to deport them and has invited his Tigrean brothers back from Eritrea and assume their previous privilege. How can we be blinded about this fact? What is wrong with us? Who seriously thinks that there is a rift between the two cousins, Isayis and his vassal Meles, and their respective entourages? What do the thousands of Diaspora visitors see when they go back? Are the majority only sex tourists as is frequently assumed and had the existence of night owls while there? Do they only see roads and shoddy high rise buildings? What about the shortage of water and electricity. Do they know that Addis Ababa has been declaresd the dirtiest capital city in the world? Mainly because it virtually has no sewage system and that 73% of houses have no indoor toilet and that the majority of the city dwellers have no toilet facilities. Above all do they recognize how many people are starving in the city and how many die per day?
The Government of Emperor Hileselassie was overthrown due to the Wello famine. During the time of the Derg the famine expanded a thousand fold and close to a million died. Now there are 12 million suffering during the TPLF regime. Are we watching and responding. The current famine is found in Eritrea, Djibouti, Somaliland, Punt, Somalia and Kenya. The Eritrean tyrant says there is no drought or famine in his country. His vassal the Ethiopian Tyrant is launching all sorts of pet projects in order to divert attention from this most devastating and painful fact. Is his perennial concern only for Tigre and what about our Ogaden Ethiopians who are dying in the hundreds each day? Where is the sense of outrage by Diaspora Ethiopians?
Recently a person who is hailed as a “public intellectual” gave a speech in which he boldly declared that OLF represents the entire Oromo people. How did he arrive at that occlusion? What empirical evidence does he have? Is OLF his source? Has he heard about other Oromo political organization? What does the TPLF ascribed Oromo Kilil mean? Does he know that an estimated 50% of the people living in that area are not Oromos, or do not consider themselves as Oromos. Who decides what ethnicity one belongs? Is it by language? Or domicile? Or is by edict like what TPLF did? Ethnicity should be based in self –identification, if one wants to do so. Everyone has four grandparents and every one can choose the ethnicity of any of them, if they are different, or none of them. This is purely personal and NOT imposed by dictat. Individual right is the corner stone of democracy. We should not allow “ethnic entrepreneurs” to define us in order to promote their utterly selfish agenda. Has he heard that in 2005 TWENTY SIX MILLION EHTIOPIANS VOTED FOR ETHIOPIAWINET? Has he heard that three million Ethiopians held a public demonstration in Addis Ababa against the ethnic separation policy of the TPLF/Weyane (incidentally Amb. Imru was there and has raised this matter in his article) so peaceful has the demonstration been that not a twig from a tree was cut. So overwhelming was the solidarity of the people that poor taxi drivers were transporting people to Meskel Square for free, a bakery was handing our bread for free, etc. etc. Were all the inhabitants of Addis Ababa Amaras or were there Tigreans Oromos, Gurages. Wolayitas, etc as well? Were they only the youth but men and women of all ages who demonstrated? What happened in a space of six years? What type of ethnic enlightenment does he have today? Does his revelation come from the party he wants to promote or to secession elements he desires to embrace?
Another professor has come up with an astonishing proposal. He said that for 20 years nobody has been able to defeat the EPRDF (i.e.TPLF) In fact during the last election TPLF has received 99.6% of the vote. So the best option we have now is to join them. Of course he has gone through twists and turns to justify his argument, or make it appear academic. However, the simple remedy he proposes is similar to the adage that says“if you can’t beat them; join them”. Others are also coming out from the wood works. It is good they come out and say so now. And as it has been said in the past, ‘the horses are bridled, the swords are drawn’ it is time for combat.
Those who have no clear agenda always fall back on Emperor Menelik, their boogey man. The illustrious Menelik is said to be responsible for a litany of things that went wrong in Ethiopia. Either he did too little or too much, or too late, or not at all. Recently even Meles was lambasting Emperors Theodros and Menelik (this little mind conveniently forgot Yohannes) and accused them, of all things, for introducing Western modernization to Ethiopia! A few months ago I wrote an article Nations and Nation Builders explaining that Menelik was among the titans of his generation, who have been credited with building their nations (Bismarck, Garibaldi Simon de Bolívar, and others) Now Menelik is gone and he belongs to the ages. His position in history is secure forever, whatever the chatter of weak and inordinately jealous individuals say or do. What we have to deal with is with the here and now. It is said that if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen. Let us deal with the reality on the ground. Who speaks for the Ethiopian people? Obviously it must be the Ethiopian people living on the real estate in Ethiopia and not the talking heads and the wise guys in the Diaspora. Their citizenship has been taken away by confiscating their land. Ownership of land and property has always been the hallmark of Ethiopiawinet. They are muzzled now but they will be able to speak again drive the TPLF tribalists out and assert their freedom.
At this late stage one has to stand up and be counted. There is no place for vacillation, double talk or grand standing. Nor can we be sitting on both sides of a fence and wait for an opportunistic outcome. During the Russian Revolution one woman who has three grown up boys is immortalized by saying “Vladimir is with the Bolsheviks, Antonov is with White Russians and Georgio is in exile in France. If the Bolsheviks win I will be with Vladimir; if the White Russians win I will be with Antonov; if both sides lose I will go to exile to be with Georgio.”
Lastly we must be able to confront the ethnic supremacy of TPLF. They are operating with the motto “Tigreans above all else” That arch enemy of all non-Tigrean Ethiopians, the indefatigable and degenerate “Tigrean warrior”, Sibhat Negga, has repeatedly told us that the primary and sole mission of TPLF is to pillage the rest of Ethiopia for the benefit of Tigreans. “For this purpose” Sebhat said “we have established a supra enterprise called EFFORT. It is the property of the Tigrean people and its money will exclusively be used for the benefit of Tigreans” That is told from the horse’s mouth. There is no masking his brute and crude statement. Of course all the rest of us know or have known about EFFORT and the role it plays for the excusive benefit of the Tigrean people. EFFORT controls the commanding heights of the economy, and practically every Tigrean has benefitted by its largesse. Now some damn non-Tigrean fools would like to tell us that Tigre is equally deprived as Gamu Gofa, in fact even more so (mark this: the Tigreans themselves will not dare tell us that.) The old Tigrean chauvinist Sebhat even goes further. He says if non-Tigreans dare to attack our Tigrean brothers in Eritrea, we will beat them into a pulp “mark my words” he has said.
Hundreds of Tigrean millionaires have been created since the days when TPLF controlled state power. It has never happened in this fashion anywhere else in the world. It is a total pillage of the wealth of the Ethiopian people. Even their Tigrean ambassadors have millions in their banks on the day they assume their post. They are a conduit for the pillage of Ethiopia. Hundreds of Tigreans are sent all over the world with millions of dollars in order to open businesses. Where did their money come from? Did it grow on Mekele trees? The Tigrean oligarchy has separated themselves from other Ethiopians both at home and abroad. Those in the Diaspora have their own separate community centers, their own churches and are engaged in tribal social activities which are renown more for their primitive bravado excessive consumption than anything else. Those of us in the Diaspora are aware of this. Those in Ethiopia are suffering in silence under Tigrean robbery and tyranny. When are we going to feel the heat and the total humiliation?
In the end the corner stone of democracy is one person one vote. Consensus will and could be reached by the strength of the better argument. The era of dictators has to end in Ethiopia, like it is ending in the rest of the world. The idea of “the strength of the better argument” is the post modern adage and its practical results are immediate and wonderful. There is no tribal or Kilil mandate; there is no concoction of group rights which has perennially been exploited by weaklings’ hiding behind the tribal skirt. Each person is allowed and exposed to air his or opinion freely. In Ethiopia we had such could found in the ancient practice of አደባባይ culture and the concept of a free and full participation of the public to arrive at a consensus decision. Relying on the strength of the better argument leads to a higher state of consciousness and promotes deep understanding. Among people. It is high time that we retire the age old tradition of ይሉኝታ since it could easily be confused with excessive fear or used as pretext for sitting on the fence or on the sidelines.