Response: Messay Kebede’s “Meles’s Shame and the Dead-End of Hatred” By Tecola W. Hagos
I have often stated to close friends and also in public forums (Conferences, the Internet) that my good friend Prof Messay Kebede is an insightful patriotic Ethiopian philosopher and a great scholar whom I admire and respect. It is also true that I have disagreed with some of his point of views in a number of instances. However, there are several more points that I whole heartedly agreed with Messay than points I disagreed with. This recent article [“Meles’s Shame and the Dead-End of Hatred”] is a case in point where I fully agree with Messay’s truly and profoundly educational essay. In brief paragraphs, Messay has articulated the core defect/reason why Meles Zenawi’s twenty-year effort/governance does not impress Ethiopians, to put it mildly. Meles Zenawi has serious psychological problem that he seems not to control at all: His anti-Ethiopianess sips through no matter what he does, and as a result Millions of Ethiopians question his patriotism and his divided loyalty despite the fact that he rattles his saber now and then against Eritrea, Somalia et cetera.
It is true that a person cannot truly free himself from traumas suffered in childhood except through prolonged therapy in the hands of professionals. Meles Zenawi is a very sick and psychologically damaged individual, who still relieves his childhood nightmares and as a result lash out often at individuals who are truly good and patriotic Ethiopians, such as Eskinder Nega, Andualem Arage. None of Meles Zenawi’s activities has any element of patriotism. For example, his silly defense of the landlocking of Ethiopia, his ceding Ethiopian territory to create an independent Eritrea, his handing over tens of thousands of squire kilometers of Ethiopian territory to the Sudan, Kenya, et cetera gets under the skin of most Ethiopians. If he is engaged in stupendous projects whether building huge dams or thousands of new roads and high-rise buildings, Meles’s motive is simply to free public fund, specially in foreign currency, for him to loot through dummy corporations such as those controlled by EFFORT. How can anyone understand the contradiction in Meles Zenawi’s land policy dispossessing and denying Ethiopians land ownership and at the same time leasing millions of hectares of fertile land to foreigners with lease terms as long as a Century? No less than six to twelve million Ethiopians are on permanent food aid by Western Nations for the last fifteen years. How can one reconcile all these contradictory Government policies and life circumstances of Meles Zenawi? Messay’e article will go a long way in explaining the state of mind of a peasant boy from a small town turned tyrant as an adult.
I wrote a number of articles lamenting Ethiopia under the leadership of Prime Minster Meles Zenawi. I predicted over fifteen years ago in my book the final and cataclysmic dissolution of the old TPLF and the dismissal of the veteran leaders of the TPLF from office and the dictatorship of Meles Zenawi as the only and all powerful leader. Now, in 2011 most veteran TPLF leaders were pushed out of power and most are all over the world as Ambassadors. I also conjectured that the motive was insatiable greed for power and money that resulted in such dissolution of the TPLF. My lamentation is not for the TPLF members who lost power, they deserve what was coming to them, but for Ethiopia the State and the People of Ethiopia, the nation of historic Ethiopians. [Read my 1995, 1999 books on the subject in addition to the series of articles I wrote since.]
The power struggle within the TPLF of the last decade was resolved without much bloodshed, with trickery and byzantine deception by Meles Zenawi and members of his inner group, such as Sebhat Nega (the die hard Eritrean independence supporter), Bereket Simon (the Eritrean implant) et cetera. Those who were out maneuvered were to a person crude and unsophisticated Tigrean nationalists, such as Alemseged, Seeye, et cetera who are still conflicted in between themselves. Aregawi Berhe suffered similar fate in 1983-85. The Pseudo-Eritreans are now in full control. It is not mere fantasy or personal antagonism that propels some opposition politicians in asserting that Afeworki/Eritreans are in control of Ethiopia. There is some truth to that assertion not in its ontology but as an aspect of interest-group formation and identification. One also must recall the ugly truth that the Tigryean nationalists were no less anti-Ethiopia than the members of Meles’s Group, but their motive was not the same as those of Meles Zenawi and members of his group.
What Meles Zenawi is doing is a display of raw power in order to gain more power in order to create a “North Korea” in Ethiopia. In trying to understand the barbarism of Meles Zenawi and his Government dealing with the Ethiopian people, I even wrote that Meles Zenawi’s short stature is to be blamed for his brutality. It is to be recalled I was beaten up with an avalanche of ad hominem articles and comments by Melesites (a new word for you). In Messay we have a far more profound explanation why Meles Zenawi acts the way he does than what we have in my clumsy psychoanalysis of sometime ago.
It is almost impossible for old dogs to learn new tricks. I know from several discussions we have had that Messay believes in “redemption” in that individuals can profoundly change their destructiveness. I, on the other hand, do not think that personal redemption has any place in our political lives if we want to bring about profound and long standing political and moral change in Ethiopia. Redemption of past misconduct may help the individual sinner to adjust under new circumstances and blend-fade into the new setup. Humility is one such manifest behavior by a sinner in the process of redemption, in not seeking power in such new setup. But society must have someone that is not stained to begin with and not a recycled-soul ever for its leadership. Messay suggests in his article that it be for all a serious and sober consideration to love Ethiopia. I whole-heartedly indorse such sentiment. Thank you Messay for writing such truthful, insightful, patriotic, and constructive essay.
Tecola W. Hagos
NB: Prof Messay, you have such beauty in your language; thus, it is most pleasurable in reading you. Could you indulge us by writing longer essays that we may savor your essays for their literary virtue in addition to their profound ideas. TH