Dirty Politics 101 – Boycott Neway Debebe By Yared Ayicheh
Our political culture seems to only have a huge negative dimension to it. The advertisements to boycott Artist Neway Debebe’s New Years concert in Germany have disgusted and repulsed me entirely. I find it very upsetting to see negative and dirty political tactics dominate the Diaspora political activism. The reason for the boycott: some have suggested that the artist has complained about the opposition using his songs for campaigning during election 2010.
Here are some questions to ask before labeling Neway as a political opportunist: Does he not have property rights over his songs? Can he not object when his songs are used without his permission or consent? And if Neway is indeed pro EPRDF is that not his right to support which ever party he chooses? If we don’t agree that the artist has a right to do what is legal, then what is it that we are trying to achieve in Ethiopia’s politics? Are we trying to become more fascist, tyrant and doctorial like the EPRDF? Or is this not indicative that we are incapable of achieving what the EPRDF has not accomplished, which is the supremacy of the rule of law in Ethiopia?
The use of intimidation to induce political results is not new in Ethiopia. Coercion is the only political tactic that has dominated Ethiopia for many centuries. It is this same mentality that is behind the attacks on artists who are perceived to be pro-government, even though there is no evidence that these artists are political activists for the EPRDF.
In the 1970s, during the red terror campaign, many Ethiopians were arrested, tortured and murdered by the military junta based only on suspicions. And this same mob mentality is dominant today in the Diaspora political activism as well. Our dirty political culture has motivated or driven some to oppose anything and everything they think is related to the EPRDF dictatorship. The danger of blindly supporting or opposing any political party is that it makes the blind supporter or the blind opposition look like a fool, an intellectually bankrupt thug.
The other day I watched a video of protesters in Atlanta calling Ambassador Girma Biru “leba, leba, leba!” (‘leba’ means thief in Amharic.) I am not sure if the protestors knew why they were calling the ambassador “leba”, perhaps they were doing it out of frustration and anger. The frustration and anger is understandable, but when the frustration and anger drives us into insanity, we need to stop and ask our selves what our objective is. I am not suggesting being passive or cozy with the EPRDF, but we can put pressure with out coming across as idiots.
The more the Diaspora political activism looses its sanity, the less interested are people who want to see a constitutional democracy flourish in Ethiopia. When we become irrational and unfair, our image will be exactly that: irrational and unfair. And who wants to associate with that? Not me!
I do not live in Germany, but if I did, I would go to Neway’s New Year concert, and if I get the chance, may be even ask him if he supports the EPRDF and why he objected to the use of his songs by the opposition during the campaign for election 2010.
The writer may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org