The Courage to Swallow the Bitter Truth: A Response and a Cure By Tecola W. Hagos
“Life is fired at us point blank.” [José Ortega y Gasset (1883 – 1955)]
The main purpose of my recent article “Men for All Seasons” (Part One and Part Two) was to help bring about the freedom of Eskinder Nega and Andualem Arage and all political prisoners and journalists. The second purpose was to register my disgust on the pardoning of some twenty high ranking convicted Derg Officials. I consider such pardon to be unjust and a violation of the rights of the victims and a permanent threat to the rest of us. Those Derg Officials, now pardoned, murdered and tortured countless innocent Ethiopians from 1974 to 1991 when they were in power. They showed no mercy or any humane consideration to any of their victims. Let me state again, especially to those Dergists hiding out in the West and in the rest of the World, that the blood that was socking Mengistu’s hands and the hands of the convicted Derg Officials, just released from prison, was not that of dogs, but of human beings—our own.
It is not without reason that I quoted the words of José Ortega y Gasset, for the words reflect the most fundamental aspect of my views whether it is in politics, in the arts, or in my personal life. What Ortega is telling us is that life is not something that one gets through negotiation or as a privilege. Being alive is an existential fact of “being.” My strong wording and emphatic and even emotive expressions in my articles reflect my anger at the existential fact that yesterday’s harmless country boy would grow to be a vicious tyrant with absolute power over some eighty million people and act with violence, impunity, and arrogance. I write with great vehemence because of the fact that we are morally neutered and frozen in fear, and that we do next to nothing when our people are dehumanized and our heroes thrown into prison, while murderers and torturers are freed from prisons. This is also a chance to channel our resistance and opposition in the right direction away from the distortions of old ideology and possible usurped power structure in the hands of political predators.
I also expressed my view that the present Ethiopian people, especially those of us in the Diaspora, are mostly ignorant of political processes and cowards in fighting for their fundamental rights. However, general statements have exceptions as a matter of simple understanding of logical discourse, and so do all of my assertions. May be I put my views too strongly in my zeal in expressing my anger seeing honorable and innocent people like Eskinder and Andualem and countless others being abused and imprisoned on ridiculous charges of terrorism; nevertheless, the fact remains we all need more commitment and courage to face Meles Zenawi and his violent Government than what we have shown so far. I also tried to correct distortions in our understanding of ethnic identity and demographic movements in Ethiopia. There is nothing derogatory in what I wrote. Facts are not insults. Mengistu Hailemariam is not an Amhara or Oromo, but a first generation Bantu Ethiopian from a Bantu family. One must not forget the 1984 OAU raving and ranting speech of Kenneth Kaunda (President of Zambia for twenty seven years), a Bantu himself, spewing his stupid assertion that Ethiopian political power finally was restored to the indigenous African leader, Mengistu Hailemariam, who had butchered a few years earlier the very man who was the initiator and molder of the OAU. Several Bantu Leaders from several African States were euphoric about Mengistu ethnic identity as one of them.
II. How Nations Dealt with Traitors and Mass Murderers
After the restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 in England, treasonous British citizens, such as simple soldiers, field commanders, Parliamentarians, appointed public servants of the Cromwell era were pardoned in mass by The Indemnity and Oblivion Act of 29 August 1660 except for the fifty nine Parliamentarians/Commissioners who voted and signed the death warrant for the execution of King Charles I. By the way, the charges against King Charles were two: a) that he led England into two unauthorized battles and as a result raised tax and thousands lost their lives, and b) that he tried to counter the new Parliamentary development. King Charles, to his great credit as a sovereign, refused to participate in Cromwell’s little theatrics. Cromwell and his Government did not murder or bring charges in mass against any other aristocrats or supporters of the Crown, unlike Mengistu and his Derg thugs who murdered Emperor Haile Selassie I and butchered former officials even those retired and some who were sick and in bed.
Cromwell and a number of the Commissioners had died by the time of the restoration of the Monarchy in 1660. Cromwell died of malaria and kidney illness in 1659, and he was given a State Funeral, and buried at Westminster Abby. At the restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, a year after the death of Oliver Cromwell, only half of the fifty nine Commissioners who voted and signed the death warrant in 1649 against King Charles I were still alive, of whom twenty nine were tried soon after the restoration at different times for treason and hanged and quartered. At least one was hunted down in Holland and was brought back to London and tried and hanged and quartered. Even those dead and buried were not spared, for example, Oliver Cromwell and four others were tried posthumously and convicted of treason. In 1961 the body of Oliver Cromwell was exhumed from its grave at Westminster, along with two others from elsewhere, and hanged and quartered. The head of Cromwell was spiked and hanged at Westminster Hall for about twenty five years until 1685. [See Antonia Fraser, Cromwell, The Lord Protector, New York NY: Knopf, 1973.] This is an example of over zealous pursuit of justice. Mind you in the 17th Century, the period Cromwell’s head was hanging for public view, England was the home of some of the most renowned philosophers and scientists in the World, such as Thomas Hobbes (1588- 1679), John Locke (1632-1704), Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695), Robert Boyle (1627-1691), Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727) et cetera.
We find similar situations of the pursuit of justice in our own time in different countries especially in the West. The Government of Israel has hunted down Nazi Military Commanders and officers who committed war crimes of the Holocaust and brought such criminals to justice. Adolf Eichmann is one such criminal we all have heard or read about. The United States Government after the 9/11 attack in New York, Arlington et cetera where over three thousand United States Citizens and other individuals from different nations died, went to war in order to punish such criminals. In pursuing to bring to justice those who harmed its citizens, the United States Government was overwhelmingly supported by its citizens. The Government immediately launched massive attack on those who harmed its citizens; it annihilated a Government in Afghanistan, hunted down Al-Qaida’s founder Bin Laden and killed him where he was hiding in Pakistan. The United States Government’s record of hunting down such terrorists is exemplary. Whether it is President Bush or President Obama, they did not just say let bygone be bygone and let murderers go free, but they made those criminals pay the ultimate price for their crimes.
In 1661 England, the punishment for treason and murder was severe, but necessary and vindicated those who promoted social responsibility. It brought a degree of closure to the violence committed against the established order. The Derg Members were not even tried for treason against the Imperial order, for the Imperial Government had ceased to exist. By contrast, in Ethiopia what we have is a very weak and abusive Government that is willing to forgive Derg Officials who committed no less crime than the Nazis did or the recent terrorists of 9/11 did, and yet let such criminals go free after serving a mere twenty years whereas justice would have demanded most of them to be hanged. Letting go free such convicted criminals, like the Derg Officials on some administrative ground of good behavior, regrets, apologies et cetera is not an advanced form of ethics or morality but a manifest weakness of a government that has no respect for human life or dignity.
Both in European countries and also in the United States crimes committed by military officers and/or civilian officials is a crime prosecuted in those countries; there are instances of deportations based on such findings of war crimes and crimes of atrocities against protected groups. Such legal prosecutions against war criminals and those who committed atrocities against innocent people is a mark of a just and strong society and state. It is only weak and degenerate societies that have no respect for human life that always resolve such issues the easy way out—letting go or pardoning vicious criminals, murderers and torturers of innocent people. The moral of all my presentations drawing from historical incidents in the treatment of mass murderers and those who committed treason is that the game is not over yet for justice for the tens of thousands murdered, tortured, and dehumanized Ethiopians..
As to the former Derg Members, especially Mengistu Hailemariam and his close associates that are taking refuge in foreign countries, I recommend that they be hunted down and either deported or taken care of wherever found. And I have witnessed in the last three weeks the shameless attack on my person by Dergists hiding in the United States, just because I criticized that unjust procedure and the individuals involved in such process. I am ashamed of Diaspora Ethiopian politicians, for none had expressed publicly their disagreement on the release of Derg Officials. At least, I have not come across one, as yet. Instead what I read is the ranting of incoherent apologists for the Derg’s barbarity changing the subject and focus of the enormity of real problems facing Ethiopia and diverting attention to the least important issue of ethnic identity or about the excellence of Tekletsadike Mekuria, or about my education or about what I do for a living, which are non-issues in the final scheme of things in light of the seriousness of the issues of the incarceration of decent human rights advocates while freeing brutal murderers and torturers.
My detractors even used ad hominem argument with fallacious allegations of facts that never was the case. Personal attacks that has nothing to do with the reality out there of pardoning murderous Derg Officials is an injustice that simply affirms the baseness and also the weakness of some Ethiopians in the Diaspora. Capital punishment is justified in some of the cases of the criminal Deg Members, for such just punishment establishes the parameter of law and order. If individuals are pardoned after few years of imprisonment for horrendous crimes of mass killings, what is there to deter others from doing the same in the future?
III. On Education and critical reading and thinking
In my view, education is not for making anyone this or that type of individual, but to help individuals a) develop critical mind, and b) acquire certain useful skills. If any one believes that attending Harvard or Oxford will create a moral person, such a person is a bigger fool than I imagined. Education may magnify and reinforce what is already ones moral content, but it is very unlikely or very remote that it will bring about fundamental transformations in the moral content of the individual. I tend to think morality and intimate fundamental human activities are of a primordial nature far closer to the instincts and emotions than to our reasons. It might even be a process by which the individual develops certain skills for manipulative subtlety of action and a willingness to negotiate and settle matters without having to resort to violence on the basis of some wild dichotomy of black-white dilemma. And over all, there is the invisible hand that guides all the anti-entropic side of the unfolding process of the cosmos. I really do not want to sound metaphysical, but this is the least I could say without sounding totally superfluous.
In our Ethiopian society, education has been instrumental in the establishment of an obnoxious hierarchical social stratum, mind you not of academic excellence or of productive research or of knowledge and wisdom leading to excellence in ones views and activities. It is tragic that knowledgeable individuals, whose source of deep understanding derived from experience and self-education through reading, attending public addresses of knowledgeable individuals are devalued and scorned even by idiotic bloggers. During the time of Emperor Haile Selassie, Ethiopians with degrees from Western institutions coming back home would be given places of honor over and above the great scholars products of Ethiopia’s traditional education system. And we still carry that obnoxious mentality to this day. I do not go around flaunting my credentials. My work speaks for itself. Education from any source has tremendous value. My emphasis on education is not confined to class room education and limited to a certain period of a person’s life. I am an advocate of life-time education through continuous reading, engagement in meaningful discourse with peers and attending conferences and presentations by experts and intellectuals. Education is an enriching process throughout a person’s life.
With the understanding that there are several courageous Ethiopians both here in the Diaspora and back home, who are the exception, fighting for our freedom and democracy, I focused on the value and role of education in our struggles. And such on going process of education could save us from misreading others or from making embarrassing mistakes. For example, I never wrote Meles’s Grandfather was a “bariya” of Dej Gebreselassie Bariya Gabre as claimed by my enthusiastic detractor Yohannes Temesgen, among his several insults and sanctimonious statements about me that he wrote. [I suspect that Yohannes’s piece was written by a committee, for it has several stylistic, thematic, syntactic et cetera mix-ups that shows the involvement of more than a single pen.] I quote from Yohannes, “In his last paragraph of the article he blatantly wrote that Col. Mengistu is 100 years Bantu who happens to claim the pure Ethiopiannes, and Meles’s Grandfather was from Gojjam and the traitor’s grandparent was Dej Gebreselaasie‘s slave (Barya).” It seems Yohannes has not read my statements carefully, for I wrote “Baria Gabre” as a proper name not as a common noun. In fact, Baria Gaber is the name of one of the great military leaders from Adowa, who was the close advisor of Emperor Tewodros II. He was with Emperor Tewodros to the very last. Also, I have never said Ethiopia is only 100 years old. To me it is the oldest nation on earth. As an aside, I find it quite amusing to read often articles by narrow ethnicists pointing out for the nth time that Kassa Mercha (later crowned as Emperor Yohannes IV), when he was a young junior leader in Adwa and Tembein that he helped the Napier expedition against Tewodros, without ever mentioning Tewodros’s fierce supporter and loyal warrior and commander of his vanguard, the Tigryan Dej Bariya Gabre Farus from Adowa.
Tekletsadik Mekuria is no doubt a pioneering scholar of great talent and abilities. I did not dispute that at all. My referring to him as “court appointed” historian was a figure of speech meant to convoy my criticism of the slanted writings of Ethiopian history by a number of historians, often without going to primary sources. I could easily point out hundreds of situations where deeper research or far more critical evaluation or more academic honesty was necessary, but absent in his work on Ethiopian history. However, that should not diminish his overall effort and great stamina to collect and sieve through stories from contending corners of Ethiopian power structure promoting their own particular often unique perspective of events of common interest to us all. It is in the same vain that I narrated several illustrious Ethiopian Emperors as my ancestors. It is not meant to be a blood-line family-tree at all, but drawn as an allegorical connectivity of our Agew/Beja national family now grown to over eighty millions strong.
There are several gaps not properly explained, such as who murdered Wosenseged the father of King Sahle Selassie? What was the role of Ras Seleshi’s ancestors in the murder of Wosenseged? Not much is written about the relationship between Wosenseged and his wife, the formidable Zenebework. Why was she so much against Sahle Selassie’s son Ras Darge and favored her grandson Sahle Mariam, who later become Emperor Menilik II? We know very little of the roles played by very many personalities in specific detail from that period. Tekletsadik at least once changed his story without explanations. In an earlier edition of his book on Emperor Yohannes, Tekletsadik had written how Emperor Yohannes blinded Teklegiorgis with hot needle after Yohannes won the battle and took power. Tekletsadik removed that graphic description from later editions of his books without any explanation.
I will indicate few of the more significant historical incidents that were glossed over or not even mentioned by Tekletsadik starting with the incident how Ras Mengesha Yohannes was allegedly tortured while he was in detention in Ankober and the rumor that he died of nightly terror where a boa constrictor would be placed in the same room and Mengesha with his hands tied would struggle not to be swallowed by the huge snake. Mengesha died in 1906. The rumored incident took place at a time when Mengesha was no more protected by Empress Titu since she was no longer in power. I do not think the torture had anything to do with Menilik, for he was deadly sick in the 1900s, and Mengesha had other enemies in Menilik’s Court even Tigryans. I would have liked to read some commentary disentangling and discounting such rumor or oral history.
Tekletsadik treated Menilik with obvious admiration and glossed over very many incidents that should have been carefully documented, such as the violence against opponents soon after Menilik’s restoration as King of Shoa. Menilik’s endless conspiracies with enemies of Ethiopia against Emperor Yohannes, Menilik’s insatiable sexual escapades that even threatened his Throne at times et cetera were hardly mentioned. As many historians have done, Tekletsadik simply followed suit and treated Gobena as just another Ras, a commander of a division of Menilik’s Ethiopian Army. Tekletsadik should have been far more attentive to the great exploits of how Gobena negotiated and often forced other Oromo leaders into the Ethiopian Empire, since he had much better access to information on Gobena than most historians. I may add here with great emphasis that Ethiopians as yet have to recognize the greatness of Gobena Dache, whom I consider as a visionary statesman and greatly credit him with the molding of modern Ethiopia no less than I have acknowledged the effort and accomplishment of Emperor Menilik II.
Another important item of Ethiopian history that was shrouded in mystery was how exactly Empress Zewditu died so suddenly and what was the role of Ras Imiru and Ras Kassa in that process of the takeover of the Crown by Haile Selassie. Even how the intriguing incident that brought Haile Selassie to power was glossed over; little is shown of the intrigue to oust Lij Iyassu from the Throne. More importantly, Tekletsadik did not elaborate on the decision of Emperor Haile Selassie’s flight to England by boat, abandoning his people, and how Lij Iyassu was murdered. None of those real historical incidents were exposed or discussed properly. I could bring out hundreds of intriguing questions that made up Ethiopian history that were not properly researched and presented. What I find mostly in Tekletsadik are orchestrated narrations that supported the legitimacy of Menilik and Haile Selassie as Emperors of Ethiopia. Nevertheless, with all his shortcomings, to a great extent, Tekletsadik Mekuria is one of the finest historians and authors that Ethiopia has produced, and that I fully recognize.
IV. Ethnicity and Political Power
I read all kinds of articles with exaggerated emphasis on unity and equality of Ethiopians. I am amazed how much distortions and misreading of principles could be expounded by compounding principles that need separate treatment. In order to avoid confusion it might be helpful to deal with the need for “unity” as a separate goal without mixing it up with concepts that are processes. Ethnicity is not new to Ethiopia; one can find ethnic influence in every nation on earth. Of course, in some nations it is overtly pursued with disastrous results and in others with subtlety and political adroitness. The worst perspective is to deny its existence completely. Ethiopia is no exception, for Ethiopia has dealt with ethnic based power struggle for centuries, but the goal was not to divide but to acquire power as the crowned sovereign over all of Ethiopia. Some leaders were very subtle in promoting their ethnic group and some were brutal about exclusions. Almost none of our historic Emperors functioned as outsiders and never consider other ethnic groups as enemies to be completely annihilated. At any rate, because of wide spread intermarriage of the ruling families across ethnic groups most of our past rulers were multi-ethnic in their genetic make up the exceptions being Mengistu Hailemariam and Gragn Mohammed who were from two different ethnic groups from the periphery of our Ethiopian society at the time of their ascendance to power.
Because of the fact of the Ethiopian Bantus’ lack of historically meaningful connections before the late Nineteenth Century with almost all of the indigenous Agew/Bejas that make up the Ethiopian population, the Bantu Ethiopians’ control of power in the Twentieth Century was a disaster and will continue to be a disaster as long as they are still as a group aspiring for political control of Ethiopia. Yes, when one is in power the individual’s self interest tend to override everything else. And we may argue that Mengistu’s barbarity and brutal murder of countless Ethiopians is not outside of the norm of any dictator hanging on to power. I disagree, for the dynamics of ethnic and family affiliation does soften such atrocities, but most importantly historical connections and continuity of shared values seemed to have controlling power on leaders that are legitimate who were until recently mostly Amharas, Tigrayans, Oromos—almost hundred percent Agew/Bejas. We must restore the political power structure to individuals that represent the majority of the people of Ethiopia. My personal preference is to establish a Constitutional Monarchy where parliamentary elections could be in place avoiding the risk of disintegration across ethnic enclaves especially as designated and firmed up by the 1995 Constitution of Meles Zenawi and his administrative misadventure of the last fifteen years. But this is not yet the end-game, and it is up to the people of Ethiopia to determine the type of Government they prefer and at the same time ensure the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ethiopia.
When I wrote about origin and ethnic and family lines of ancestry, I am writing at a certain measured level that we Ethiopians as well as the rest of mankind are living within direct clutches of habits and customs that are often camouflaged with superficial behavioral patterns. We all suffer from our insignificant fried-ego syndrome. I have seen friends going after each others throats on that score. Many individuals who are hiding out in the United States, after having participated directly or indirectly in the atrocities committed by Mengistu Hailemariam and his Derg Officials for seventeen years, and specially during the Red Terror of 1977 to 1980, would like to burn me alive because I insist that such murderous criminals should never be forgiven or pardoned, for such pretentious Crows now wearing Peacock feathers are still murderous criminals under all that gaudy feathers of fake morality and reconciliation fanfares.
V. On Poverty, Sexuality and Family in Poor Ethiopia
Notice that the word “poverty” has no corresponding single word that stands as its opposite; what it has is, in fact, expressive phrases where adjectives are used to convey the state of affair of well being. I do not like poverty or the state of being wealthy among squalor and depravity. I would prefer the “utopia” of Henry Moore, which is, of course, a nostalgic grasp for long gone childhood characterized by secure suckling at ones mother warm nurturing milk. In other word the contextual nature of wealth is far more desirable than the single spot focusing on the individual. Communism or socialism will not do, for the fact of unmanageable human nature that will not be properly self disciplined when in power. The only remedy is to promote individual freedom and liberty in the first place, and structure institutions to contend and contain the excesses of such liberty.
I understand the issues of human sexuality and family formations to be very sensitive subject matters in any society. If we leave such intimate human reality to the individual, we will not be any better than the animals that surround as, such as dogs, cats, horses, et cetera. Even when we look at the animal world that is close to the state of nature, we clearly can observe that sexual mating is not free for all, but that it is a regimented highly competitive affair that only very few at the top of the pecking order succeed in mating and leaving behind offspring of heightened genetic potentials. I am not discounting the fact of personal attractions and the role of aesthetics in the choices people make in the formations of life-partners. In examining such factors one can learn the complex interplay between genetics and civilization, and why the family and society are best equipped to regulate and control such individual interactions with social consequences.
Under a military occupation, can you imagine the type of horror societies would be faced with without the customary restraint and control of sexuality? Both Iraq and Afghanistan have established as part of their custom strict Islamic code of conduct as regards sexuality and marriage, a clear family based control. If it were not for such traditional control of sexuality both countries would have been turned into a brothel servicing the conquering armies of the West. We have observed/studied the impact on societies devastated by wars where there was temporary loss of control on the sexuality of the citizens in post Second World War Japan, the Philippines, Germany et cetera. Even in peaceful times loose sexuality and the liberalization of marriage and social control of marriage and divorce did result in very traumatized and degraded societies around the world. One must learn, for example, from the pre-Castor Cuba, especially from Havana City, how that city was turned into a huge brothel, gambling casino, and crime capital of the world once the society lost its control of its value system and Catholic morality. We must not undermine the role played by sexual morays, taboos, and constraints on eligibility to form a family that may look to us purely utilitarian, such as the payment of dowry, looking into family genealogy, et cetera. I have heard the sophomoric view, especially by young feminists claiming their sexual choices are their own business. Nothing can be further from the truth than such statements. Female sexuality more than that of male sexuality is the business of family and the community.
If there is no real challenge to the instinct driven sexuality and family formation, a society will simply become like Bonobo chimpanzee/monkey groups where aggression is transformed into sexual expression and engagement at a drop of a hat. “The species is best characterized as female-centered and egalitarian and as one that substitutes sex for aggression.” [See Frans de Waal, “Bonobo Sex and Society,” in Scientific American, March 1995, pp. 82-88) ] However, de Waal does not seem to think as I do in his interpretation of the Bonobo in human terms. I contend that in the human condition, aggressive impulses must be channeled into creative engagements, in building advanced civilizations, explorations, search for knowledge, above all, for all those who believe in God, a search for perfection and experiencing the absolute Good. I repeat myself here, for my earlier message should be heard again and again: “Unchecked loose sexuality seems to have resulted in population explosion because our Ethiopian society and families have lost their control to regulate instinctual responses of sex and the formation of families. The birthing of children simply as a random act without family-planning, without due consideration of the type of material outlay needed and the form of responsibility of parenthood required, would simply lead into serious problems.”
In an article I wrote over ten months ago titled “Forgiveness, reconciliation, and pardon: a challenge to a just society” (January 25, 2011), I emphasized that “forgiveness is hardly a political solution.” I elaborated on that theme further by writing that in a strong democratic society crimes are well defined in administrative traditions, in statutes and in case laws in advance. The legislative body in such a community is distinct from both the judiciary and the executive organs of the government. The judicial system is well developed, transparent, and independent of the executive. Prosecutors and investigators are well trained professionals with great moral integrity and abide by rules of procedures of the judicial system et cetera.
By contrast, in a society or community where the government structure is weak, such society or community tends to be despotic where the executive body has as its primary function to stay in power through illegal and undemocratic means. In such system of government, the individual citizen is subordinated to the interest of the state (the dictator) and the in-group. There is no consistent application of law if there is any law at all. Citizens are insecure, apprehensive of government representatives, and very fearful of their leaders. When I look back into the last twenty years in the life of Ethiopia, what I see is a wasteland of missed opportunities. With little wisdom and with some humility, Meles would have turned Ethiopia around into a great, prosperous, and just country. Here he is now at loggerheads with his own people because of his own convoluted ideas and inexcusable stupidity in formulating wrong public policies, reducing himself to defending convicted Derg criminals. What a Kafkaien tragedy!
I have never degraded anyone for his or her ethnic base, but only criticized how such a person manipulated a situation to promote a degenerating self-interest based on his or her ethnic background. The ethnic identity or type in itself is neither here or there as part of my thinking pattern. However, most of my critics never fail to attack me by putting me in a cage of their imaginative ethnic group they claim I belong to. The tragedy in this is the fact that such individuals from some tiny corner of Ethiopia dare define who the Ethiopian is worthy of respect. It is Mengistu whom my detractors ought to be questioning for his murders of tens of thousands of Ethiopians rather than preach to me about “unity,” a subject matter that I never challenged or undermined. As a matter of fact, the unity and integrity of Ethiopia is an unquestionable foundation of all of my essays.
Just for the record, I will state the following at the risk of offending my Ethiopian sisters, who are the most elegant in posture and exquisitely beautiful in facial structure, but that they have, in my view, a rival that may be equally elegant with facial beauty no less. I am talking about the Bantu women of Guinea and Darfur area whose bluish jet black velvety skin, full lips, and high check bones, I consider the most beautiful I have seen in Africa. My first encounter of such divinely beautiful women was looking at books of pictures of papyrus drawings from Pharonic Egypt. I consider “Black” as a great (none) color. The ancient Hindus saw “Black” color as the color of the supreme God Shiva and his mate the Goddess Kali, primordial matter the source of everything in the Universe. Even in modern cosmology (physics) the Big Bang was a colorless “black” affair. Thus, my criticism of Mengistu is not based on the color of his skin or facial details (nor anybody else’s either). It the characteristics of individuals and the historical contributions of groups in society in the long history of Ethiopia that maters to me the most.
Ethiopian Diaspora politicians in toto do reflect whatever the base Ethiopian society in general espouses and lives by, as dictated by cultural, social, and historical reality. I find all that reaction to my articles and essays predictable, for we Ethiopians at certain levels are unsophisticated simple peasants with simple predictable needs. As a general observation again, we seem to be very much driven by simple emotions, often emotions that are infantile. I suppose those infantile emotions are the sad results of arrested childhood development with all its pitfalls and dangerous outburst of long repressed anger that was not properly vented or channeled in creative activity in the process of growing up into adulthood. We are still striking back at our insufferably oppressive family members, teachers, bullies et cetera who had knowingly or unknowingly stunted our psychological development and maturity.
A couple of concerned individuals have commented wisely explaining their understanding of my recent essays trying to straighten the distortions made by others who write outrageous and insulting statements. And one individual has expressed concern that I should not be discouraged by some of the attacks on my person by comments from some hostile individuals who seem to be in a pack of attack dogs working for Mengistu Hailemariam and other terrorist groups. Even more so, I am not concerned about people with agenda that go around spewing venomous false statements against me, for they are already set in their corrupted paths. Instead, my concern is about individuals who neither read well nor critically evaluate what they read, but froth in the mouth in anger taking a couple of words from my essays out of context and ending up writing insulting statements against my person. I will not close my eyes to narrow ethnicity or to any folly. I can assure all concerned individuals about Ethiopia that nothing will stop me or will faze me out from standing up for justice and for the righteous, and if I go back on my promise, “let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.” But right now, let us focus on having Eskinder Nega and Andualem Arage and all political prisoners freed. Ω
Tecola W. Hagos,
October 28, 2011