Defending the Indefensible, Yes we say Nay Mr. Assefa! ( Part 1) By Tibebe Samuel Ferenji

October 14th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

In mid 1994, when my father Samuel Ferenji, wrote and published a piece about the history of emperor Yohannes, the Honorable Mamo Wudneh responded by criticizing the historical accounts of my father. In his response, the Honorable Mamo Wudneh began by stating that it was considered unethical in Ethiopia’s Ministry of Information for one journalist to criticize the work of another journalist that he worked with; he indicated the pain sticking decision he made to publicly criticize my father’s article. The honorable Mamo Wudneh felt correcting the error made by a very dear friend to be far more important than risking disappointment with his friend. After reading the response that his honor Mamo Wudneh wrote, my father and I laughed about it. My father did not take the criticism personally and accepted the correction suggested by the Honorable Mamo Wudneh.

Today, I am contemplating the ethical aspect of what I am about to say publicly about a dear friend whom I respected a great deal until I read his current article on Aiga Forum. I am not concerned whether my friend is going to take this personally or not, whether he will be disappointed or not; rather, what I am concerned about and what I am contemplating about is whether the information I am about to divulge could be considered a “Kiss and Tell.” Although my intention is not to launch a personal attack, this piece cannot be written without attacking the person’s opportunist political stand. I have no personal issues with the individual; and I completely respect his right to switch his political allegiance. However, I detest his unprincipled political posturing, and his personal attack on opposition figures and human rights activists who stand for the truth and who are determined to expose the evil deeds of the regime in Ethiopia. It was extremely disappointing to read the most outrages and dishonest article from a person I greatly respected for so many years and defended fiercely as a person of integrity. At least now, I know, he has neither integrity nor loyalty to the basic human decency.

Reading Genenew Assefa’s piece titled “RANSAKING WIKILEAKS What you see is what you get!” posted on Aiga Forum, I was puzzled and outraged to understand what motivated Genenew to write such mean spirited and dishonest article. In fact, it was clear that Genenew used Weakileak as a pretext to debunk EPRDF’s ardent opponents and to undermine the struggle for social justice and democracy in Ethiopia. This coincides with the regime’s propaganda war directed at the Ethiopian Diaspora community and particularly those who have become the loud voices of the voiceless. I am certain that the regime cannot find a better “General” than Genenew Assefa in this particular war front.

Although I am aware that Genenew supported the EPRDF since the end of 1998, as far as I know, he never gave unconditional support to the regime until recently. I have known Genenew since the early 1990s, and often, we were able to see eye to eye as far as politics is concerned. I admired his principled political stand and his ability to see issues from different angles. In 1995, Genenew was the only Coalition of Ethiopian Democratic Forces (COEDF) official who took the position that the opposition should participate in the 1995 Ethiopian election when the White House deeply involved to persuade the opposition to take part in the 1995 national election. His position was that it was an opportunity for political organizations in Diaspora to get in the country, use the 1995 election as a stepping stone, and start a grass root movement to build their constituency in the country and prepare for the 2000 election because the 1995 election was too late to galvanize support in the country. This was also the position I took and tried to promote in my radio program as a producer and host of Washington based “Hibret radio”.

Genenew’s position was not liked by COEDF’s executive committee and the majority members. In a daring attempt to get his point across, not only to various political organizations leaders and members, but also to the general public, Genenew wrote and published a booklet titled “Thinking Out Loud”. Genenew was criticized for the position he took and looked at with suspicion and doubt. I appreciated his honesty, vision, courage and foresight. Genenew’s relation with COEDF leadership and members was strained and almost he became an outcaste.

After the ethio-Eritrean war, when most opposition political organizations took a political position not to support the regime in Ethiopia unless the Ethiopian government gave some political concessions, Genenew took an opposing political stand defying COEDF and other opposition political organizations. I also took similar position and made it clear that the Ethiopian government should be supported for the sake of territorial integrity of Ethiopia until the Eritrean invading force was dislodged from Ethiopia’s territories. Sadly, organizations like COEDF attempted to exploit the situation for their own political gains and failed to grasp the public sentiment and the importance of galvanizing support to defeat a common enemy. This was the same type of mistake made by the EPRP during the ethio-Somalian war. Since the end of 1998, Genenew has joined his family members in the EPRDF and has become a stanch defender of the regime regardless of what the regime does.

When I was in Ethiopia, in 2007, I had the opportunity to spend lots of time with Genenew. Although I don’t have direct evidence, I do believe, he had protected me from harm when I published my controversial newspaper in Addis Ababa. During my time with Genenew, I have learned more about him and the kind of person I thought he was than during his time in the US. This is a man who gave his time and know-how without any compensation for serious of development projects in Addis Ababa. He was unpaid special advisor to the then Mayor Arkebe Equbaye. I have no doubt that Genenew loves his country and has no ill will towards his country that he loves and gave up so much for. However, it begs the question why in the world would Genenew work against the interest of his country and his people, and most of all how could he defend the indefensible? Is his rivalry with his former comrades and former friends worth sacrificing his conscious and integrity? Only Genenew could answer these questions. One thing I know for sure is Genenew is not in it for the money and materialistic things. I know that Genenew was frustrated with the failure of the opposition and the personal attack he encountered from various corners. The campaign against him was ferocious and unforgiving. But, is that a reason to sacrifice once country for personal revenge? I don’t know his motives; what I know however is, his recent articles are clear that Genenew has sold his soul to the devil. He was dishonest, hypocritical, and he sounded like a hired gun of the regime than a concerned citizen or an intellectual defending a political position with sound principles.

I lost all the respect I had for my dear friend when he engaged in a personal attack against Professor Al Mariam; and his relentless campaign to undermine the opposition’s and human rights activists’ effort to pressure the regime to change its dangerous political discourse. Genenew used to be the voice of the voiceless. Now, he has become part of an instrument to crash dissent inside and outside of the country. In his current article, his personal attacks against the opposition figures are similar to that of the regime’s hired guns whose intention is to silence critical Diaspora activists through character assassinations. Although I have never met Professor Al Mariam, I admire and appreciate his advocacy for human rights and political freedom in Ethiopia as so many Ethiopians admire and appreciate him. There is no comparison to the personal and professional accomplishment of Professor Al-Mariam with Genenew. Genenew accomplished nothing personally and professionally. May be it is because he was unable to get recognition from the opposition for what he considered “personal achievement” that drove him to the edge and decided to switch political allegiance. I know that Mr. Meles Zenawi revises and corrects some of Genenew’s writings before it is published. I have no proof that the current article was reviewed by Mr. Meles; however, it is clear that Mr. Meles is speaking louder in Genenew’s article. May be for Genenew getting the approval of one of the most detested dictator and a sorry excuse for a human being is an achievement. After all, there were intellectuals who were seeking the attention and the approval of Adolph Hitler.

Do not misunderstand me please, Genenew has every right to disagree with the political position that Professor Al-Mariam and others took; however, his attempt to “intimidate” and get in mudslinging character assassination against the regime vocal opponents shows the low point that he has reached in defending the indefensible. Genenew’s attack on Professor Al-Mariam was personal, vindictive, uncalled for and an act of a coward. This is a man who is more than capable of debating on issues without resorting to personal attack and character assassination. His current article is full of rhetoric and defies common sense. If anything, it is Genenew who is clueless. May be Genenew should explain to the family members whose children are gun down by the regime security forces in a broad day light, how lawful that is. May be he should look at in the eyes of Assefa Maru’s widow and his children that the brutal action the government of Meles Zenawi took against Mr. Assefa Maru was lawful. What standard is Genenew using when he said the EPRDF is operating with in the law? Of course, even Hitler’s defenders have said that Hitler operated within the law. The law that Hitler operated under and now Mr. Meles is operating do not adhere to the universally accepted basic principle of governing laws.
How do you justify the murder of an innocent 16 years old kid who was killed at point blank as he return from school which the clueless prime minister, openly and publicly without an iota of evidence, declared that they young boy was a bank robber. Does this sound operating within the law? Genenew could enlighten us how lawful it was for the EPRDF to detain him and others in 1993 without any trail accusing them “as terrorists.” May be Genenew could tell Eskender Nega’s child how lawful it was for him to be born in a prison cell. Knowing Genenew, he is may be taking a great pride for “a great article” he posted. What he may be is not realizing is that there are lives at stake here. This is not some kind of game where he could show his former friends how great he is in debunking them. Genenew’s article is an indicative of how low and desperate the tactics that regime that Genenew work for has become. It is a desperate attempt by Genenew and the regime to degrade and undermine the Diaspora opposition which Genenew was a part of in his recent past. It is noteworthy, to remind Genenew that the Diaspora activists that he is demonizing now, lobbied, and protested for his release when he was arrested by the regime when he and his comrades were falsely accused of conducting an armed struggle against the regime. I am sure he knows the lobbying and the protest made a significant contribution for his release. I am sad to say that my dear friend has exposed himself to who he really is, and became someone who bite the hand that fed him. I was naïve and gullible to think and believe that he was a man of principle, integrity and will never succumb to any pressure and resort to “below the belt” tactic to silence those who criticize the regime to what it really is- a blood sucking brutal regime. It is equally sad to see the man who was a voice to the voiceless at one period of his life become the defender of a brutal regime that silence its critics by imprisoning and murdering them. May be Genenew should do a little “Thinking Out Loud” and a lot of soul searching why a bright man like him decided to become one of the world most brutal despots stooges and work under the supervision of Shimles Kemal, a man who can’t even breath without the approval of his bosses.

  1. A little too late
    | #1

    Once again for some unknown reasons, Mr. Ferenji, you have failed to mention TPLF on your article.
    Possibly the individual you are talking about is brainwashed and threatened. Or, one of many despicable human beings who have sold their souls to the Devil and chosen to work with the despicable dictator tyrant Meles and his TPLF thugs. Why now? Why did it take you this long to find out the purpose of this man and who he really is? What does this say about your judgments?
    The story of that sixteen year old victim you’ve mentioned is the stories of tens of thousands law abiding Ethiopians who have been tortured and gunned down by the brutal TPLF regime with no valid reason.

  2. astra
    | #2

    First, If your father is alive he should be the one who should discuss his disagreement with Mamo Wudeneh who is also alive. From your account the incident you mentioned happened over 50 years ago! Why raise this old and insignificant issue here?
    Second, were you not writing a while back that you were an Eritrean? Why are you now meddling in Ethiopian affairs?

  3. matewal
    | #3

    I have a question to ato samuel,i can’t say i know him (genenew)as well as you do but i have spent sometime with him and found out the above admiration of him are true ,he does it for the love of country.HAVING said that ato samuel i could say the same thing about you when it comes to working against your country in the name of democracy and civil right,your kind wants to destroy ETHIOPIA in order for you and your kind to rebuild it again as if your country has the riches that are needed to rebuild,so in this case ato genenew talks about working with the system in order to change what needs to be changed ,i do not see anything wrong with this,ROME WAS NOT BUILT OVERNIGHT so change your ways to help your country achieve what we all want.SO the question is are you willing to work within the system for change?

  4. ናፍቆት
    | #4

    Third may I add to the above comment #2,
    your article does not add much to the discussion except to say “I said this”. No new data, no new insight, no nothing … except words!

  5. Lucy in America
    | #5

    Tibebe samuel ferenej, you are very interesting human being like your father. Tamagn enate baluan tewoledalech yibalale ayidelem. You were one of those arab’s dogs who over turned the majorities decission and refused to accept Judge Birtukan midekessa as the honorable quest of ethiopia’s sport festival in north america. So shame. Ethiopia has never surrendered even for white powers , but you guys have surrendered for one lotter arab and became his slaves untill the greate ethiopians say no to all bloody criminals and garbages. So what are you talking about now?
    The rest of ethiopians have never expected any good thing from narrow minded and short sighted stupides. They should wait for the right time. untill that movement they can continue dancing day and night.

  6. Dr. Solomon
    | #6

    A Little too late:

    Before commenting, please read and pay attention to what Tibebe is saying. You are free to use TPLF or Woyane, but Tibebe has chosen to say EPRDF. Why don’t you focus on the substance and the issue at hand instead of immaterial issues. Read the article first before you comment. Tibebe made it clear that he does not know his motive. Regardless his motive, Ato Genenew has chosen to come after the opposition.

    @Astra:
    Really, this is the best you can come up with. Tibebe never said he is an Eritrean. May be you are angry because he repeatedly exposed Shabeiya. Everyone knows Tibebe was born in Eritrea. He made this clear years ago. May be you are the one who just started reading Tibebe’s articles. He has been advocating for the interest of Ethiopia for years. By the way, when he is talking about his father he is talking about the article written in 1994. HISAB MEMAR YASFELEGESH YEHONAL. Go back to school and learn addition and subtraction. The purpose of the anecdote is to show how difficult and painful it is to criticize in public someone you consider a friend. It shows character and loyalty, something you lack unfortunately.

    Thank you Tibe, I needed to hear a strong response to Genenew for a long time. I can’t wait to read the next part.

  7. Hilina Negassa
    | #7

    Hold on here!
    A Little Too Late and Astra!
    Why is this a personal thing about the writer?
    Do you like the article or not?
    Do you agree with the writer or not?
    Why are we not reading the article irrespective of who wrote it?
    I should not and am not expecting all of us to be on the same page here, as Genenew and Samuel are not. But the message I got from the article is wonderful and a great lesson.
    Yes, he introduced his article with a parallel that is appropriate and fitting. Don’t we all do that? Don’t we all quote from centuries of learning that our society left us?
    If we all had the same understanding at the same time, how beautiful! Least we forget, there is someone who got it before you or I did. So what Samuel wrote here should be viewed as it is and not when and how it should have been.
    I do not know you and that is irrelevant. I like your article.
    Thank you Samuel.

  8. Sam
    | #8

    Tibebe: Ethiopia is a breeding place of opportrunism right now. I do not know who Genenew was and is now. It does not matter. Tibebe do not over anguish, as you believed, because your old friend turned out to be without principle. I always believe the problem with Ethiopian opposition struggle is giving too much emphasis what a certain politician can do or cannot do, as if the whole nation future is at the hand of the said politician. That is not true. If Genenew turned out to be vindictive, not opportunist because you almost admitted he is not in terested in material things– that is an alluring factor for opportunism– because his old comrades tarnished his image, he must narrowed his political scope to begin with. Feel sorry for Genenew. If he is parroting the regime’s politics because he felt he would revenge his old comrades that way he really is a person to feel sorry about. Genenew is not the only one of this situation because there are many who marry politics with their personal feelings of others. It should not be that way. But it really is for some.

  9. matewal
    | #9

    DR,solomon why didn’t you respond on your own instead of waiting for this fool to write a response.YOU are so insecure that you want SOMEONE LS TO DO YOUR BATTEL .THAT IS WHY YOU WILL NEVER SEE YOUR DREAM COME TRUE.A FOOL FOR A DR, WHAT A jocker

  10. Zerayakob Yared
    | #10

    Any time i read any thing of this guy, that is the only time i miss that Eri-commentator by the name ‘General Wutchu’. He had the precise words for this ነጥብና ማለቅያ የለሽ የ’ሃረጎች ለቅሶ::

  11. astra
    | #11

    “Dr.Solomon” I should mention to you that Mammo Wudeneh is a historian specializing in Northern Ethiopia,and Samuel Ferenji is a nobody just like you and me. For your information Mammo has written over 50 books. He is the most prolific writer at present. Of course, Tibebe could have a layman’s opinion. He has,however,repeatedly said that he was born in Ethiopia (not Eritrea) and that he was deported to Eritrea with his mother by the Weyane and that he has happily accepted the nationality of his new country. What are you talking about. Read his articles.

  12. A little too late
    | #12

    Well, from here on, I’ve promised myself not to ever read your article again. I don’t even know why Abugida bother to post your articles. Sorry, but I just don’t believe and feel that the father and the son genuinely fight to free Ethiopia from the hands of Meles and TPLF thugs. That is my feeling and I am sticking to it.

  13. Birtu/can
    | #13

    Genenew Assefa’s articles are nothing but kat(chat) induced mumblings of a sell-out. It is hard to believe that this individual was a member of EPRP’s leadership. The man lost his marbles when he allowed himself to be brainwashed by Genet gudit, currently serving as woyane’s ambassador to India. In fact, his family will be remembered in Ethiopian history books as the most conniving, treasonous, low down boot-lickers of Meles Zenawi’s regime. His articles are written for the sole purpose of pleasing Meles Zenawi just as most of aiga forum columnists do. I am sure every article brings him six figures compensation from Meles to satisfy his kat cravings, and to wash down his “conscience” with whiskey at tinishua bet(bole road). This low down scam doesn’t have the morale capacity to blacken the good name of Al Mariam who has been a nightmare to woyane since their inception. This “keaferku ayemelesegne” stand of Genenew Assefa will get him nowhere. Meles will use him as he wishes knowing he’s got nothing going for him. He has no choice but defend woyane as long as Meles throws his left overs to him. In the end, he will die a broken man–a man who exchanged his self-respect for money. A man whose tombstone reads ” HERE LIES A TRAITOR”.

    FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS IN ETHIOPIA!!!!

  14. Petition
  15. N.Mola
    | #15

    Astra: It shows that you know nothing. You are very ignornat. The article has noting to do with Samuel Ferenji. For your information. Smauel Ferenji is the one who established the Ethiopian Television, he wrote three books, two in Amharic and one in English; You should also ask EThiopians who were refugges in Italy in 198os what Samuel Ferenji done for them; you should also ask Ethiopians in Germany, and Canada what Samuel done for the EThiopian refugees in thos countries before you open your mouth. I could tell you more, but, it will not matter to Morons like you. By the way as great as he is, Mr. Maom’s work is 97% translaotions. Nonetheless Mr. Mamo and Samuel FFerenji are people who contributed a great deal for Ethiopia. Since you are a weyane who is trying to discredit Tibebe you just mumble about things you knopw nothing about. Tibebe was borin in Eritrea and was never deported from Ethiopia to Eritrea. Get your facts straight. No one has ther right to choose his nationality. I know it is painful for yopu to see when your masters are exposed. Thje point of the article is, Mr. MORON, to stop the chracter assasination and to engage in civilized Debate. Tibebe’s only mistake is to assume you morons are interested on real issues concerning Ethiopia. You, and people like Genenw are in a mission to silence people like Tibebe and Al Mariam. By the way, Tibebe has written four books, and he knows what he is talking about. Since you don’t seem to be a book reader, you wouldn’t know who wrote what. All of you who are acting like you care about Ethiopia and attaemptimg to insult Tibebe are nothing but messengers of Woyane’s attack dog. Your comments has nothing to do with the article, you only intersted to insult defenders of Ethiopian interest. You should probably read carefully what Birtu/can has said. FREE ALL POLITICA PRISONERS. DEATH TO WOYANE and his Clicks. Thank you for posting Tibebe’s article Abugida.

  16. astra
    | #16

    N.Mola Like the fool you are your best defense is to call one a “Weyane” Samuel Ferenj was a simple newscaster. Established Ethiopian TV? My foot! where did you get this misinformation? I know him more than you think. He is a simple soul who did nobody any harm. Please don’t embarass him by all that. We his contemporaries know better

  17. Yohannes Muleta
    | #17

    Ato Genenew Assefa is one of those greedy souls who have sold themselves for the petty benefits from the ethnical fascist Meles Zenawi. He is simply the barking dog of the racist and fascist Meles Zenawi. In one of his dicussions with the high ranking TPLF cadres, Genenew was heard bashing the Amharas and trying to ridicule KINIJIT or what he referred to as the anti-Tigray Amhara collection. Genenew was trying to sound more anti-Amhara than the leaders of the TPLF or more catholic than the Pope as they say. All this drama of Genenew is to eat as musch as possible from the TPLF fascists and racists. Genenew and all who serves fascism and racism are persons who have lost their conscience and living to fill their bellies.

  18. Ethiopian
    | #18

    Guys, N Mola and Dr Solomon are pen names of Samuel Ferenj himself, therefore don’t be fooled.

  19. N.Mola
    | #19

    astra:: You must have graduated from the University of Distortion. You don’t need to be a contemprary of Smauel Ferenji to know he established the ETV. Even youngsters know. You have no brain, and claim to know things you don’t know. It is in the nature of the woyanes to revise and distort history. Let me refresh your memory: On the 30 year anniversary of the ETV, ETV posed a simple question to the general public: Who establsihed the ETV, the obvious answer was Samuel Ferenji. You should call your bosses at ETV and ask them, befor you continue to embarass yourself. BTW, Samuel Ferenji was also the First Ethiopian Television Dirctor, and he was a Special Journalist to his Emporrer Haileselassie. JIEB YEMAYAKUTE AGERE HEDO KURBET ANTEFU YILAL. You know nothing about the man. In any case, the issue is not Samuel Ferenji, but you guys are experst in deflecting issues and distorting facts. After all it was Genenew’s cousin Dawit Yohannes who said ” There is No Ethiopia, We will create Ethiopia from the Scrach.” You see betrayal runs in the family. Next time, get your facts straight.

  20. T. Samuel
    | #20

    My dear “pen named Ethiopian”, FYI, I don’t need to use a pen name or any other fictitious names. Unlike you, I am not a covert cyber warrior and do not operate under a mask. I would dare you to lift your mask and show your true color. The problem with you guys is that you focus on the messenger instead of the message. One of your short comings are your inability to grasp ideas and debate on its merit. Unfortunately, since you are short in facts, the only weapon you have is character assassination. Please don’t undermine the reader here. In any case, thank you for reading.
    TSF

  21. Abu Anja
    | #21

    In Genenew’s house hold of Wallo province every thing is for sale to the highest bidder. His sister Genet who was a Minister Edcuation not too long ago and his brother, Cesar who corked a champagne when TPLF entered Addis Ababa as a roaring lion to the distress and evident embarrasement of the real Ethiopians. Look also their cousin, Dawit Yohannes a head of TPLF paraliment and now the UN Ethiopian repersenative. I could go on but the whole point is these are people whose spirit is in their stomach.I do not know what monkey these family descended from but I am sure they are close to Hailu Shauel and Lidetue, who is doing a mail order PhD somwhere in Europe. Treachery is their trade pure and simple.

  22. N.Mola
    | #22

    are you for real Ethiopian? that is the nicest thing that any one ever said to me. I take that as a compliment. I hope the Dr. feels the same way. I had the pleasure of workimg under Samuel Ferenji. I know him well enough to defend him. Samuel Ferenji run ETV when real Ethiopian journalistss like Solomon Kifle, Luelseged Kumssa, Amsalgnet Yemer, Eleni Mekuria, Yonas Lemma, Solomon Tessema, and others worked there, I am proud to say I was their collegue and Samuel Ferenji made ETV a pleasent place to work. That was the day.

  23. astra
    | #23

    N.Mola – It is a totally fabricated fiction that you are writing. As they say “Yeayit misikirwa dimbit” You quote Weyane about Samuel? Hmm…He was at first a radio, then a TV newscaster-one among many Period! And most certainly not the best. Eat your heart out mr. No more false pretenses please.

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