A reader’s comment regarding the recent exchange of articles between Dr. Messay and Ato Fekade.
It may be quite uncommon for a disciple to correct his rabbi. Both Fekade and Messay were professors while I was a student at the Addis Ababa University. But, having read their recent dialogue /outrage focused articles regarding the current Kinijit’s fiasco, I am compelled to present my simple points from a commoner’s perspective.
Messay: “What is less intelligible to me is the benefit expected from a reaction controlled by outrage.”
Mine: It (outrage) will help us move forward dumping and knocking off the undemocratic and dictatorial leadership, and supporting the progressive and democratic one.
Messay: “Does it (outrage) help advance the cause of unity and reconciliation even by one iota?” (Parenthesis supplied)
Mekbib Mammo: It rather helps us to unify our cause by purging us from all impurities. It unshackles us from the kind of a one man show political leadership that has entangled us for years to bask in the sunshine of collective leadership.
Messay: “Indeed, outrage expresses itself in one single and definitive way: it condemns one faction and entirely exonerates the other faction. In so doing, it forces Ethiopians to take side, thereby turning them into prosecutors even as their status as citizens and voters require them to be the judge by considering all sides.”
Fekade: “When something goes off limits normal communities often express outrage. I cannot understand why we don’t. In our case it is this complacency and our inability to call wrongs by their name that is killing and humiliating us……. Maybe we would have saved some lives had we shown some outrage when Mengistu massacred 60 people in one day the first time. I think we paid for our complacency.”
Mekbib Mammo: Dr. Messay, do you think showing outrage to the aforementioned act of Mengistu “condemns one faction (Mengistu’s) and entirely exonerates the other faction (the 60 massacred officials)”? Or by what standard is such an outrage “partisan”?
Messay: “If Hailu Shawl is as evil and dictatorial as he is portrayed now by many people, we are faced with the question of knowing how he was able to fool so many people for so long? I remember hearing many people and readings numerous articles praising his leadership and his contributions, first in transforming the All Amhara People’s Organization into the multi-ethnic All Ethiopia Unity Party, and then in working for the generation of a united and democratic organization such as the CUD.” (Emphasis supplied)
Mekbib Mammo: The trend that we had in Ethiopian politics was to support ANYONE who viciously hates or is ostensibly against the TPLF/EPRDF regime. To this end, in the past, we have supported Lidetu, Dr. Taye and Hailu Shawel to mention a few. In so doing we didn’t care much about what these guys’ vision or political agendas were. We just supported them for we’re “woyane haters”. But now, thanks to the new political thinking provided by Kinijits’ vibrant leaders, we have learned the difference between preaching democracy and living up to its standards. The difference between fighting for regime change and struggling for establishing democratic institutions. The difference between standing for individual right and the limits of political leaders. We were blind before, but now we see!! That is what happened NOW!
Messay: “Far from me to condemn one faction in favor of the other faction: I don’t have enough information to make any categorical judgment, . . . “
Mekbib Mammo: Having read this, I was not expecting you to make the following “categorical judgment” below.
Messay: “From Haile Shawl’s declarations and the complaints of his supporters one gets the clear idea that the main problem emanates from the fact that his party, although otherwise the core organization in the alliance both in terms of popular mobilization and material assets, was yet overshadowed by individuals representing far less important organizations. This core organization especially attributes the victory of the May 2005 election to its mobilization of rural population to the great dismay of the ruling party which had wrongly counted on peasant support to retain its absolute majority.”
Mekbib Mammo: Below is another “categorical judgment”.
Messay: “Imagine the frustration that can arouse when at the very time the leader is incapacitated, top CUD leaders decide to travel to the US where they are enthusiastically welcomed and cheered by the Ethiopian Diaspora and received by American Congress people as the representatives of the legitimate opposition. My question is: seeing the importance of the Ethiopian Diaspora and American involvement in Ethiopia, was it wise to come to the US without the legitimate President of the movement? Was there any urgency that justified the decision, all the more so as Hailu Shawl––I heard him on the radio––expressed his opposition to the trip? I am not raising this issue to exonerate Hailu, but to point out that the attribution of the split to power conflict is not without foundation.”
Mekbib Mammo: If you’re able to point out the above mentioned allegations which you may call them un”categorical judgments”, how come you’re not able to give ears to Wzt. Bertukan’s, Dr. Berhanu’s, Ato Gizachew’s and Ato Debebe’s speech and direct responses in town hall meetings, VOA Radio, DC based radio stations, several Ethiopian websites and ECADF (pal talk)? With all due respect professor, you are lagging behind several months regarding the Kinijit months’ old political saga. So you may need to “wake up and smell the coffee”.
Finally, the current Kinijit’s debacle has exposed the true colors of many Ethiopians who we used to summarily support and defend because we thought they’re freedom fighters and democratic. Most recently many have shown their true allegiance for the movement while others whom we have trusted a lot have either sided with “qoratu” leader or are in hibernation and kept silent. And as in the words of Dr. King, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”