Shweyga Mullah the new face of Ethiopia. By Yilma Bekele

September 3rd, 2011 Print Print Email Email

It looks like we are all upset. All our independent Web sites are headlining the news. It is the main conversation among our people outside of the country. Mere language is not enough to describe our profound displeasure with the Libyan ruling class. Our anger knows no bounds.

What exactly is getting us so hot and boiling with righteous indignation? It is none other than the report by CNN regarding our daughter/sister Shweyga Mullah and her ordeal as part of the Gadhafi household. To begin with it is highly possible that Shweyga is not even her name. In the scheme of the unfolding story it is not even important but it is part of the story. How she got Libya is another breath taking tale all by itself. I assure you she just did not buy a plane ticket and flew into Tripoli. If she did she is an exception. Any way those two factors are not my focus here.

Our collective reaction is my interest in this horrific story. I am not surprised by the reaction of free people in the West. It is news to them. Stuff like this does not happen every day. I don’t mean to say there are no bad people in the US or Europe. I am sure incidents like this do occur everywhere. But I believe it will be fair to say they are isolated and very infrequent. Now when it comes to us Ethiopians why do I get this feeling that our anger is a feeble attempt to cover up our indifference to all the injustice that surrounds us?
I am not trying to belittle what happened to Shweyga. It is ugly and beyond my ability to understand the dark side of human nature. I am glad she survived her ordeal. Anti-Slavery International has set up a fundraising page on their Web site to help pay for her medical needs. The mental scar will take a long time to heal. Please go and give what you can. That is saving one human being. It is a beginning.

What I want to focus is the circumstances that made a young girl leave her village to be a maid thousands of miles away from home? She is one among the tens of thousands that roam the Middle East in search of a better life. Many stories have been told about their trials and tribulations in the hands of some that do not know the meaning of Human dignity or Human Rights.

Tezeta, Senait, Matente, Etsegenet are not just names. They are Ethiopian maids in Lebanon that committed suicide within a twelve days period in October of 2009. Tezeta jumped from a third floor, Senait from a balcony, Masente hung herself and Etsegenet jumped from the seventh floor. Those are our women. Our boys don’t fare any better. December 2008 twenty Ethiopians, January 2011 eighty, April 2011 sixteen, May 2011 forty Ethiopians drowning in the Gulf of Aden is just another boring story.

When asked about the situation in Tripoli this is how our rulers reacted. “The government of Ethiopia will make every necessary effort to bring the victim from Libya and get her due compensation for the damage,” Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Dina Mufti said on Thursday. You see what I mean. The horror is reduced to monetary compensation. No rage about how dare you do this to my citizen! No indignation and demand for justice! Pound for pound we must be the cheapest humans.

We are abandoned people. The government thinks of as cash cows to be abused at home or exported abroad for remittances. We have no place at home to turn to for justice. We have no Embassy or Consulate abroad that we call our own and turn to incase of emergency. We as a people are full of rage. The gist of the matter is in my humble opinion we are unable to direct this rage to construct a new reality that will ensure that there are no Shweyga in the future. In the end that is the only thing that matters.

Why do you think Ethiopians are the preferred maids in the Middle East? The answer is very painful. It is because we know how to suffer in silence. Our capacity for absorbing injustice and abuse is beyond comprehension. It is part of our culture. It is part of our up brining. The Gulf Arab knows that. We are afraid to challenge authority. Be it our own parents, a village chief or the Prime Minster we submit willingly. The most increadable aspect of this situation is that we think of it as a virtue. We keep quiet and justify it by saying silence is golden. We whisper but complain of not being heard.

Our government knows that too. Our leaders work very hard in stripping the little self-respect we might have every opportunity they get. They did not invent something new. They did not have to. They just used better knowledge to manage us. Every new technology is exploited to enhance our sense of paranoia and drive a wedge between us. Our ignorance is cultivated and fed back to us. I am not blaming others for our failure to stand up. I am blaming myself for going along with it. It is not what others are trying to do to me but rather it is all about what I am doing to myself.

We all have the capacity to do good or bad. For every Nelson Mandela within us there is also Adolf Hitler competing for attention. The seeds of good or evil are in us. The question becomes which of these seeds are each one of us going to water and cultivate. It is a choice we have to make. Shweyga is our face. Our girl is far away from home. She is afraid and confused. She is lost like us. Shweyga’s skin damage will be repaired by the Doctors. Even her mental scar will heal in time. But there are millions of Shweygas out there. Our indignation should be channeled to make sure there are no more. That requires a deeper look into our selves. If we want a lasting solution we have to look at the root cause of all this dark cloud hovering on our home land. As Henry Thoreau said “there are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”

  1. Tekle
    | #1

    Shiping Ethiopian women /like shiping cattle/ to the Arab world is one of the primary source of foreign currency for the Woyane regime. Woyane’s inability to bring about a dynamic economic growth resulted in the prevalence of abject poverty in every part of the nation. The inhuman nature of Woyane resulted in the application and use of all available and easy, quick ways of making revenue in foreign currency.

    In our part, poverty made us vulerable and we are compeled by Woyane to accept slavery. Remember that the master-slavery relationship began at home. We are treated by Woyane as sub-human, follow the commands of Woyane cadres, take us to jail any time they want, for any reason they say is against the ‘law’.

    Gadafi’s daughter acted in a way all slave owners act, slaves are but property of the master – can break it or make it. If you ask Gadafi’s daughter why she did this; she will tell you ‘what is wrong with treating my salve as I wish’. She never feels guilty or has remorse. The bottom line is that the brutality inflicted upon us stops once and for all only when we lebrate ourselves from the yoke of Woyane and bring about a political system that ultimately respects the universal rights of every citizen. Thank you Yilma.

  2. Anonymous
    | #2

    To my dear Ethiopian sister Shewarga Molla, please know that we are thinking and praying for you and your loving mother. When I read the message you sent to your mother, I couldn’t stop my tears. No one deserve the punishment the scumbags put you through. May God ease your pain and give you comfort and strength.
    With embarrassing and disheartening reports like this coming out from Libya, the only option for Ethiopians is to fight like the Libyans to free ourselves from one of the most Human Rights Abuser and looter tyrant Meles and his thugs.

  3. Dawi
    | #3

    My opinion on such analysis is as much as it is appealing it is a self defeating demagogue that brings only hopelessness for our present predicament.

    The historic experience shows that richer, more educated and more equal countries are more likely to be democratic, more likely to defend their citizens rights etc. That is a given. Countries that reach richer level of development and the necessary social maturity can liberate themselves from authoritarian systems as well.

    Given that we have all kinds of inequalities, social instability that require quick responses and more or less centralized decisions, and given that special crisis such as famine, citizens rights require immediate decisions a poor government such as ours can only do so much with its capacity. Until we reach a respectable level of development crying wolf on the existing dictatorship as if we or it can do any better job given in similar circumstances is playing a phony pretender.

    Under the conditions we are the economical development promoted by Meles dictatorships being similar to the Asian Tigers is the most rapid way to reach middle income in the shortest possible time. “Liberal Democracy” won’t cut it. Until we come up with a faster way of development criticizing every action of the Meles Dictatorship like the action it took on the crime committed by a dying Gadaffi family on Shweyga Mullah is a waste of time. We are better off spending time in helping break the “political impasse” to reach some common place for all of us to participate in working towards development.

  4. wizomezoo
    | #4

    Ethiopians,there is every indication that God’s hands will wipe out our common enemy from the surface of Ethiopia.Let’s keep the faith,let’s keep the fight against the enemy that is eating our children alive.

    The enemy hatched a plan many decades ago and invaded Ethiopia in 1991;no sooner than the enemy entered Ethiopia,the enemy scattered in the towns,in the villages,in the cities,and in the neighbourhoods and broke into homes and vandalized the lives of families.The enemy is generating huge profit on the selling of our sisters to the customers in the Middle East.Not bad for the bandits,but a great pain and loss for Ethiopians.Our common enemy answered compensation to our pain and suffering of our dear sisters.Knowing the enemy would not like to leave Ethiopia,it is only when we finish off the enemy that our sisters will be free from slavery.

    The wife of Gaddafi’s son,Alin Skaf directed the nanny into the bathroom and threw at her a barrage of insults and hit her with onion cutting-wood on the head and threw her into the bathtab and poured hot water allover the nanny’s body as called the nanny deragotory name,”Habesh,Habesh go home,go home!” Towards the end of the nightmare,Alin Skaf tied up the nanny and pinched off the nanny’s nose and twisted side ways until blood oozed out and dripping allover the nanny’s chest.Weak and tired,the nanny fell back on her head and hit the floor hard and became unconscious,but Alin Skaf screamed,screamed and yelled at the helpless nanny,and poured pecticides on both sides of the nanny and poured out one last rascist remarks,habesh,habesh,no food,no water,nobody wants you in Libya,and gave the nanny one last hard look and locked the nanny out to death and left Libya.We trust in God,there will be time when Alin Skaf stand for a trial;we hope so.

  5. Zimetegna
    | #5

    “Kal techekonu kal techegeru menor maan yitelal bageru” RIP Dibo.
    This song is for every Ethiopian who has left his country in search of freedom from the oppressive regime. In doing so, as brother Yilma stated, many of our people struggle to make ends meet, that’s, if they survive all kinds of misfortunes like that of our courageous Ethiopian sister. Zenawi is scared of the consequences this may lead to if he shakes up this damning cold-blooded treatment fearing it might back fire on his head. Thanks Yilma.

  6. sehay
    | #6


  7. true
    | #7


    It is not Gadaffi’s daughter but the in-law that did it. The daughter in-law who is from Lebanon, I am not surprised, the Lebanese are evil, that is where our women committed suciide because of abuse. Lebanese are evil, I hope they get ransacked by Israel again. That being said, I doubt Gadaafi is bad guy in terms of domestic workers nor his children as they make him out to be on media. However Libyans have mistreated Ethiopians in the past of course it is worse in Saudi, Dubai, etc.. All is to be blamed on Ethiopian government and our Ethiopians indifference to the plight of our women and men dying in Arab countries as well as in sea.

    As one Japanese told me, poor nations he doesn’t understand why poor nations people accept the abuse from their leader nor from anybody therefore it is their own fault they must sacrifice till death to bring integrity and freedom to themselves.

  8. true
    | #8

    Has anyone heard Shewayga (false name) her voice talking to her mother? Tears were going down on my face listening to her and her concern is for her mother.


    I hope you are this Weyane protecting Meles and now you are telling us not to shout. Shame on you.


    As I was saying in my previous comment, the Japanes really didn’t understand why we are victims. It is up to us to liberate ourselves by any means. Japan went through nuclear bomb and decided that to protect their population they worked hard to became innovators and creators that brought their country number 1 in economy. That is exactly why the West hates, the West hates victims which is the sign of weakness. It is already engraved in our minds we are the victims and we expect others to liberate us without our sacrifice. We can’t get free lunch sorry.
    Here we are blogging with anger we feel we are helping. I have yet to see one Ethiopian representing Ethiopia to talk on behalf of Shewayga. The diaspora is not even attempting to do that, this is the sign, we have no representatives, committees, cooordinators, organizers that stands for the interest of Ethipia in all aspects of Ethiopia. We are still on auto pilot mode. I guess we are expecting until such atrocities happen to us then we will wake up. We are all in fear and we are frozen because of our mind set that is perhaps fear of what will happen to our family in Ethioia, focusing on only enriching ourselves, etc. Such pride really stopped after Haile Selassie. We never saw oursleves as victims then and we refused to do that. Today Ethiopia is being pitied and it is a disgrace. TPLF came out of being victim and it only leads us based on what it knows and that is vicitimzing Ethiopians, empoverishing Ethiopians, it is numb and it can’t understand beyond that. This is its qualifications so it is up to us to get rid of such entitiy bent on leading by ignorance.

  9. Anonymous
    | #9

    Thank you brother Yelma for putting eloquently. Shewarga is the symbol of Ethiopians struggle under Woyanes in and outside of Ethiopia. The horrifying experience our Ethiopian women experiencing in Arab countries and in Ethiopia will continue for decades until the deadly woyane cancer is removed from its roots.
    I urge and beg Ethiopian lawyers around the world to get involved with Shewargea’s case. I am afraid if the money hungry laba woyanes who are selling Ethiopian women get involved in her case, they will take advantage of her and she will be victimized again or even killed for the money she probably gets compensated for her injuries and sufferings from the Libyan government. Please help our soft spoken and beautiful Ethiopian girl and let her see that we Ethiopians love and care for her well-being!

  10. Dawi
    | #10


    I have to assume Shweyga Mullah was probably a one time highly paid maid in the Middle East considering Libya’s standard of living and who she was working for.

    Other foreign maids and nurses worked for Qaddafi and family, the Ukrainian women nurses are case in point. And why is it a shame working for a living?

    Qaddafi is an equal opportunity employer. He considered himself African and discrimination can not be an issue with that family IMO. However, Shweyga was victimized by Gaddafi’s daughter in law’s whose life flashed before her eyes weeks before the revolutionaries ransacked her house and made her run for dear life.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Hannibal’s wife went nuts. Why are we going along with some “Anti-Slavery International” ? nonsense instead of analyzing what may have went on in that crumbling palace? It beats me.

    Yelma says, “..No indignation and demand for justice! Pound for pound we must be the cheapest humans.”

    And GOE should call for “Justice” to remind Libyan revolutionaries not to let Hannibal free? You must be out of your mind!

    The “pound for pound” must be a perception of Yelma of himself but not mine.

    We only know one side of the story and yes…….as [true] lamented……. tears were rolling down our face … that is a natural human feeling period. Nothing more.

  11. Sheger
    | #11

    Sham on this people man, that is so wrong. This shows how resist they are. May be not all of them but it is crazy.
    How many story’s like this we heard about the Arab world lady’s doing staff like this to their workers? There a cultural
    Differences and mis understandings but what tells them they can do that? They can fire them simply. Why torture them and kill them or lead them to to kill them selves? The Arab world is trying to make slaves in our country and treating us
    Like slaves in their country.

    This lady needs to go to court and pay for it. Why are we selling our land to the saudis when we are treated like this?

    We are open about globalization but not colonization and slavery. No thanks. We Ethiopians are proud people
    You will pay for it.

  12. menzaw
    | #12

    Brother Yilma I salute you for your expose’ you touched a very sensitive reality, the root cause of our people weakness that have been mostly over exploited by our own leaders to keep us locked within our-self, I want you to explore deeper my brother,on the flip side our legendary strength and the way how our leaders knew to use it in time, our population rise or fail depending how so called rulers fail or rise. “TEKETEL NEGUSSEHEN TEMELKET ALAMAHEN” The Blind submission our people continuously used by our ruthless dictators till today to our disadvantage.
    Look what is happening today in Ethiopia, the so called ruler who hate the Country Ethiopia from his own official declaration is allowed to stay in power for over 20 years.
    A few from his greatness exploits
    - He changed our Ethiopian flag, the symbol of all Africans struggle for Independence.
    - He rendered one of the oldest sovereignty country in the world Ethiopia land locked by his own unsolicited signature? Close to 100 million people in Ethiopia have no access to ocean thanks to Mr. Melesse or Legesse
    - When he officially associate one ethnic group within Ethiopia as GOLDEN people the rest became automatically as servant, his own word for Tigray. This never before in Ethiopia, I know those people do not enjoy that epithet except some phony ones.
    Our passiveness in regard to our leaders is boundless and became harmful to our existence and development as civilized nation that we have been once.

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