Can the Ethiopian change his skin or leopard its spots? By Yilma Bekele
Is Meles Zenawi dead or alive has become the burning question of the day. It is sad even in death or near death the tyrant does not get any respect. You would think after dominating the Ethiopian scene for over twenty years the individual is entitled to some love. I am afraid all he has harvested in this short life is a lot of hate and loathing. He lived a violent life and his current condition whatever it is has turned up to be more violent than most of us dreamt of. Tumor in the brain is not a simple matter. Blood cancer is terminal. Chemotherapy treatment is a painful process. He came suddenly into our life and he is leaving us before sundown afraid of what the night might bring. It would have been better if he was made to answer for his crimes. That would have brought closure. As usual the coward is trying to slip away without accountability. Good riddance!
It is a sad ending and we all feel the pain. The situation creates all kinds of conflict in each of us. No one relishes pain and suffering on a fellow human being. But Meles Zenawi is not an ordinary human being. I have been reading all kinds of obituaries written both by foreigners and fellow Ethiopians the last few days. The analysis written by our foreign experts verges on the border of incoherence, are mostly disjointed and full of what I consider to be a sloppy cocktail of cultural bigotries.
The article by The Atlantic magazine and the attempt by AFP to do analysis are both poorly researched shameful works that will never be presented regarding events in any European country. It is Africa and all westerners are considered experts. What is surprising in both instances is their constant use of the term ‘intellectual, technocrat, sharp witted’ to explain Meles. If you notice no one calls Mr. Obama an intellectual or explain any of the Western leaders by the number of degrees they hold. In fact leaders like Mr. Obama or David Cameron go out of their way to present themselves as ordinary citizens. African leaders on the other hand are judged by the diplomas they hold and the size of their library rather than their work in the service of their people. It seems to shout ‘see he has a degree from one of our Universities thus he is not just another African savage, but an educated baboon’
The best Obituary is written on Aiga by someone named Aesop. Of course after the customary lauding of Meles as an intellectual, voracious reader etc. Aesop wrote the following: “Some of the “past leaders” managed to identify “some” problems but failed in action. But most have failed to even identify the problem and waited until the problem (or natural causes) consume them. Haile Selassie knew what the youth wanted and what the military was conspiring upon. However, he failed to reform- hence, was toppled. Tewodros identified “backwardness” but failed in action. Mengistu’s failures were in both fronts-a schizophrenic “little Tewodros” who left for Zimbabwe when reality hit on May 1991.” See what I mean, they have to knock all others down to lift their midget. I have no idea why he is not judged by his own deeds with out making those who came before him bad and unworthy?
This is the beginning of Woyane style of revision of history. Good try but that won’t happen. This time all his victims are present and accounted for. Today we write our own history. Twenty-one years ago most of Ethiopia was not aware of Meles Zenawi. We knew more about his mentor Isaiyas Afewerki. Meles and his TPLF group were a footnote. An after thought in the separatist war that has been going on forever in the northern part of our country. The emergence of the ill prepared junta leader Shaleka Mengistu created an opportune moment for the northern warriors to flourish. The demise of the Soviet Union, enabler of the Derg assured even for Meles to shine.
With the help of the US Woyane marched into Addis victorious. Some could consider that day the start of the degradation of our motherland. Woyane did not come to build but to destroy, not to plant the seeds of love and harmony but ready to harvest hate and animosity. During the dark days of living in caves and tunnels Meles and company were not dreaming of building a prosperous Ethiopia upon victory but rather were burning the midnight oil designing maps of separation and drawing flags of a different kind. For over twenty years they have been implementing the destruction of the country that nurtured them.
Meles Zenawi and his Woyane accomplices are responsible for the death and destruction of over one hundred thousand Ethiopians. I did not weave that figure from thin air or imagined it to hate on a dying or dead person but my assertion can be proved without much digging. In fact I believe I erred on the conservative side. The figure is much, much higher. I did not include those dead during the war with the Derg. I believe that was a legitimate form of uprising against a ruthless regime. I hold Meles and his Woyane friends responsible on what they did after they assumed power. Gambella, Hawasa and the Ogaden are the places we are aware of where Meles sent his Agazi forces to massacre citizens that were only asking for their god given right to live free. I am not going to argue the numbers but I believe the death of one Ethiopian is one too many. A sane and responsible government does not resort to using lethal force to silence its critics. Our Somali citizens in Ogaden have paid and are paying a heavy price for no other reason other than Meles’s desire to curry favor with the US.
The unnecessary war with Eritrea brought about by the behind the scene dealings between the two mad leaders has resulted in the death of over eighty thousand Ethiopians and Eritreans. Meles Zenawi and his Woyane party were not even respectful of the death of our solders to give them a decent burial nor gave recognition for their sacrifices. They were left to be eaten by wild animals and rot in the mountain and valleys of the Semen plateau. In early 2001, a concerned Ethiopian woman asked Meles as to the whereabouts of her son who did not return from his war with Eritrea. Irritated by the tone of her question, he said: “Lady, if your son does not return in 6 months time, then you’ll have your answer!”
We are not even told how many of our people died in the desert of Somalia fighting a phantom army conjured up by the US and Meles Zenawi. In addition to the death of our young people our country harvested hate and animosity with our brothers across the border for generations to come and money that could have been used to build schools, hospitals and infrastructure was wasted by Meles and his Woyane enablers.
I am not even going to mention what the mad criminal did when he lost the election in 2005. The whole world was a witness to that naked use of force to murder, intimidate and bully eighty million people to submission. Meles Zenawi was not a good human being. He was curse on our country and people. Building shoddy roads using borrowed money that we have to pay, building useless condominiums that look good on the outside but liable to deteriorate before the year is up using hard earned Diaspora money is not a sustainable economic development to crow about. Meles Zenawi spends more money on his personal security than all budget allocated to two of his Kilils.
The title of this article came from the Holy Bible. It goes “can the Ethiopian change his skin or the Leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.” Jeremiah 13:27
It struck me as the best lesson to describe our current situation. So the prince of evil is on his way to receive the ultimate judgment. Who do you think is scrambling to inherit the crown? It is no other than the same Woyane thugs that have been part of the criminal empire as lieutenants or enablers. It should be obvious that they are going to continue the process of marginalizing, bullying, exiling and killing of those that do not see eye to eye with them.
Again I am not just making this up. Why you doubt me in the first place is not clear to me but I will give you evidence. The tyrant has not been seen or heard the last four weeks and nothing has changed in the land of the Habeshas. The rubber stamp Parliament was called into session and dutifully approved what was explained to them as the budget. The Moslems cry for justice was answered by jailing of their leaders and harsh beating of all those that dared not to disperse when told do so. The one and only independent newspaper Feteh’s edition dealing with matters not approved by the Communication department was confiscated. It looks like things are going to stay the same. This is what is known as ‘meet the new boss same as the old boss’ situation.
I believe it as about time we stop this game of good Woyane and bad Woyane, Woyane with an ounce of Eritrean blood and pure Woyane nonsense. We have to stop this insane discussion of the Constitution and the rules of succession of the mafia outfit. It is imperative that we define exactly what we want and stick to our demands until all are addressed. Compromise on certain principled issues is not the way to achieve success. Key issues are not open to negotiation and give and take. There is nothing wrong with standing firm on issues that are vital for survival and are the foundation stone for building a strong, free and democratic society. This half baked idea of accepting a piece of the pie has not taken us anywhere except see our country sink lower and lower in any index that measures human achievement. What exactly do we want? I am glad you asked.
First thing that is key and vital is a Constitution that is drawn by all Ethiopians and that reflects our dream and wishes for a united, strong and prosperous Ethiopia. A house without a solid foundation how pretty it looks is not a viable structure. A foundation with cracks, fissures and sub-par concrete mix or recycled metal will not be able to carry the weight of the building for long. The current Constitution was drawn by the dictator and his friends to serve the needs of the TPLF Party and his ethnic group. It has been revised time and again to serve particular situations that arose during his reign. Case in point is the amendment during his tiff with Ato Seye Abreha, his paranoia of Ginbot 7 that brought us terrorism and his attempt to outlaw the free press with the communication amendment.
The demise of the current Constitution is not a negotiable item. The new Constitution to be drawn after a lengthy discussion in the absence of coercion and open transparent debate will go along way to correct the many imperfection built in to Meles’s evil scheme. True Federalism that respects our diversity without creating a Chinese wall between us will put the concept of Kilil on the right path. As the concept of Apartheid as conceived by the White South African was smashed by Nelson Mandela our new document will place Kilil in the trash bin of history.
Again learning from the experience of South Africa under Mandela that prohibited establishment of political parties based on ethnicity, we in Ethiopia will put this toxic idea to rest once and for all. The TPLF party that has been one of the most evil organizations that has caused so much misery to all Ethiopians including the Tigrai people will not be allowed to ever raise its head in our ancient land. As the Germans got rid of the Nazi Party, as the South Africans marginalized the National Party so would Ethiopians will the TPLF out of existence. Doing away with Kilil and ethnic based parties is non-negotiable item.
I believe the opposition has to clearly present its wishes for the future Ethiopia to be built on the ashes of the current rotten system. There is no room for equivocation, sophistry and dead end short cuts. There is no room for generalized statements and debate on peripheral issues. Any opposition worthy of its organization has to tell the current legitimate wanna bees that are trying to build a new structure on the old, cracked foundation in no uncertain terms that the fate of Mubarak, Gadaffi, Ben Ali awaits them around the corner. No one predicted Meles would be faced with terminal illness at the young age of fifty-seven. No one can predict what the Ethiopian people will do when their anger boils over. No amount of arms, sharp shooters on every corner, spies in every household will contain the wrath of the people when they declare ‘Beka’ ‘Gaye’ ‘Bass’ ‘Yiakel’!