Eskinder Nega’s non-violent resistance to Tyranny By Teodros Kiros

October 10th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

Serkalem Fassil, our Ethiopian hero, the beloved wife of Eskinder said it all. I could not say it better, except add a few reflections on her reflections. She writes:

I know for sure that one day the security men who stalked Eskinder round the clock will one day testify that Eskinder is innocent, that he has nothing to do with terrorism. Testimony or not, Eskinder is unstoppable from pursuing his goals. He attaches great values to human rights, democracy and justice.

As Prime Minister Meles Zenawi quit his university education to join a rebel group that helped him achieve his goals, so Eskinder will give up his personal comfort in order to achieve what he considers are lofty principles of humanity.

The only difference between him and the prime minister is while the prime minister joined an armed struggle to achieve his goals, Eskinder has chosen the path of nonviolence. (Ethiomedia, October 9, 2011).

Indeed the forces of tyranny have jailed the voice of Ethiopian resistance, a particularly courageous voice of youth. His resistance reminds me of Socrates’ resistance in the Apology, in which Socrates tried very hard to convince his accusers that he has done no wrong, except interrogate all those Athenians who professed to know that they do not know, and that knowledge begins with the humble admission that one does not know, but would like to know.

The historic Socrates was the voice of reason, who attempted to engage his accusers to enter into dialogue through the force of the forceless power of reason.

Similarly our Eskinder is our Ethiopian Socrates who refuse to abandon the use of his mighty pen and in series of brilliant columns sought to reason with the forces of tyranny, a tyranny that finally determined to arrest him in the name of “revolutionary democracy”, which is sadly neither democratic nor revolutionary.

The arrest of Eskinder, our hero, however need not deter us to change our non-violent uprising, nor should we be so frustrated to resort to violent armed struggle as the founders of revolutionary democracy did.

No. Ours is a future model of a non-violent resistance, which will resist tyranny through our mighty pens, principled tongues, and millions of Ethiopians who will one day the flood the streets, and shantytowns of the historic Ethiopia and assert their Ethiopianity.

This is a matter of time and we stay the course of non-violence as Serkalem wisely advises us.


Teodros Kiros
Professor of Philosophy and English (Liberal Arts)
Berklee College of Music

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