Good Luck Kenya – Yilma Bekele

January 9th, 2008 Print Print Email Email

When we see the human tragedy unfolding in Kenya, we can’t help but take pride being an Ethiopian. (more…)

When we see the human tragedy unfolding in Kenya, we can’t help but take pride being an Ethiopian. We feel the pain of our African neighbors. The wanton destruction of human lives and property is a reminder to all of us how fragile States are. Being a member of the UN does not make a Nation State, nor having a flag or a boundary. Recognition by others does not mean a cohesive Nation State has been attained. All that means is that a ‘political and geopolitical entity’ has been established.

Becoming a Nation is a different ball game. It means the processes has gone beyond these outward colorful and feel good manifestations. It means the citizens confined within these boundaries share a common language, culture and values. We are talking about a tightly knit group of people here. Nation building is a long and arduous process. History tells us most of the African’ States came about in the mid eighty’s after the period referred to as ‘the scramble for Africa’ by the conquering European Nations. If you remember this was the time of the infamous ‘Wochale Treaty’ that recognized and left our Ethiopia alone. (Despite the reinterpretation by the Woyane regime) The Kaisers, Kings and other European potentates drew up arbitrary boundaries to suit their needs. Africa is still suffering from this unprecedented crime committed by Europe. Hence we find boarder wars, internal conflicts and recurring civil disturbance through out the continent. It is a never-ending nightmare.
2008 did not start good for our Kenyan neighbors. An election was scheduled. Campaigns were carried. Balloting was done. Well sort of. The real problem comes during the count. Africans do not seem to like simple arithmetic of two plus two is four. Those in power suffer from this strong urge to re invent the mathematical process. Thus starts the stuffing of ballots, the disappearing of ballot boxes and intimidation of poor observers.

Sounds familiar don’t it? You would think that by now they have the process into a science. But no, we are dealing with Africans here. Finesse is not their strong suit. Why bother with subtle means when you can ride rough on everybody and everything. True to form this wretched senile old man, supposedly the champion of democracy resorted to naked thievery like his neighbor to the north. It did not bode well for Kenya. The State is very fragile. It is an amalgamation of different ethnic groups, the result of ‘scramble for Africa’ period we talked about. It does not take much to send it into a tailspin fueled by simmering ethnic animosity, corruption and official indifference. The serene Kenya portrayed as an island of stability and good governance was no more. Kikuyu versus Luo all others against Kikuyu became a sad fact. Mob fueled ethnic cleansing has come to our corner of the world.

When we look back at the May 2005 ‘General Election in Ethiopia’ we see some similarities but glaring major differences too. Like in Kenya elections was called for, campaigns were held and finally balloting was carried out. Exactly like our neighbor when it came time to counting all hell broke loose. Vote rigging was the only option left for the government to win. The similarities between the two stop here. Kibaki sent his police armed with batons and water cannons to disperse the angry crowed. Meles on the other hand felt his infamous militia, ‘Agazi Force’ with their sharp shooters and US supplied Hummers was better at handling stone throwing youth.

Though corrupt Kenya enjoys a more stable and independent civil service, while seventeen years of the ‘Dergue’ and another seventeen years under the so-called EPDRF regime have left Ethiopia with a very weak and politicized bureaucracy. The Kibaki regime was hopeful of wining. On the other hand the Meles regime did not leave anything to chance. Starting with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minster and members of the Cabinet were busy advancing the Rwandan experience and warning all of the negative consequences of the regime losing. The ugly word ‘Interamahwe’ was introduced by the regime. If you remember ‘Interamahwe’ is the name of the extremist Hutu militia that carried out genocide against the Tutsi in 1994. From April to July of 1994 in a matter of 100 days over a million Tutsis were massacred while the world was watching with indifference. Our own leaders were predicting this most horrible crime happening in Ethiopia.

Why would the government predict such unpleasant scenario on its own population? Is it because it has already laid the foundation for such behavior to flourish? The first few items on the TPLF to do list upon coming to power included forcing the secession of Eritrea and rewriting of the constitution. Ethiopia was divided along ethnic lines. Teachers, Civil Servants, including the Police were forced to migrate to their places of ‘origin’. Schools were forced to teach in the local language without due preparation for material and qualified personnel. Local population was encouraged to carry out ‘ethnic cleansing’ (Arsi, Harar, Bali) on the so-called ‘neftegna’. This definitely is not ‘Nation Building’. On the contrary it is a perfect example of ‘divide and conquer’, normally carried out by an invading force.

Predictions of ‘Interamahwe’ were based on these preparations. Thus when those in the leadership utter such evil consequences it is not without merit. They know what they are talking about. It is like shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre. You can be certain people are going to be hurt scrambling for safety. It is considered a crime to do so. To shout ‘Interamahwe’ is no different. Unfortunate for some the Ethiopian people are full of surprises. Our Nation is very old. Our own Axumite Kingdom (Mengeste Axum) grew from a proto-state from around 4th. Century BC to a prominent trading Empire by the 1st Century AD. Axum enjoyed a strategic trade route between Africa, Arabia and India. Historians site Greek voyagers tale of the splendor of the Empire and the two important ports of Adulis (near Massawa) and Avalites (Assab) that were Africa’s gateway to Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Today’s Ethiopia is a continuation of this glorious history.

No matter the goading by the regime, Ethiopians refuse to rise up against each other. Even in our darkest hour we do not stoop down to such level. Our ‘Nation’ is for real, not something imposed from outside but a ‘tightly knit’ group of people formed a long, long time ago. Once in a while we are cruel to each other. At times we have been known go on a killing spree. But ‘Interamahwe’ is not our cup of tea. Those who predict such behavior do not know us well. We are backward technologically. We are behind in science. Our economy is in tatters. But we are one proud Nation. We wish Kenyans would realize the solution is not in hating your neighbor. That ‘ethnic’ cleansing is not the answer. Those in power do not have the welfare of the people or the country in their heart, but purely concerned in prolonging their stay in the ‘State House’ to steal and plunder. We hope the opposition will ‘trust’ the power of the people and continue to apply the pressure until Kibaki is forced into retirement. We are sure that false mediators like Jendayi Frazer only help prolong the sickness not cure the disease. If foreign powers were really concerned about the inequality that exists, the corruption that they finance they would have dropped Kibaki a long time ago. But again there is no point blaming others for ones own action. Only Kenyans can save Kenya.

As for us, we will continue plodding along in this backwardness and misery we seem to manufacture at will. The 2005 election have showed us that united we can forge a new beginning full of hope. The foundation has been laid. It is sort of shaky but we can build on it and make it sturdy. The regime is still operating like yesterday, trying to erase all hope and confidence. The good news is the ‘genie’ of this thirst for freedom and democracy is out of the bottle. You cannot put it back. Erasing a name does not make the idea and principle it stood for go away. It is just another foolish idea. What would they come up with next? May be change the name of the country?

  1. Kasu
    | #1

    I was expecting that you-Abugida-will post on your web site about Kenya,and I thank you for your effort to bring it to your audiace.However,I do not agree that Kenyan much different than Ethiopian.Because of their tolerance to other people,Kenya has been enjoying peace and stablelity for about a half century,so you can not say the people have no unity b/n their ethenic line.This Kenyan tolerance attrackted many immigrant from neignboring country come to Kenya to live.Kenya has been a gate way to Europe and America for Ethiopian immigrant.You should understimate that.And the other thing,you seems to ignored,when anything happen in our neignbors,there is a potential that can happen in Ethiopia.We have to take the problem in Kenya is our problem too.When it comes to Ethiopia,the rigime in Ethiopia did not change its police,so do not expect what happened in Kenya will not happen in Ethiopia.Our hope to prevent that kind violence in Ethiopia was undermined by our owen opposition leaders.

  2. | #2

    This is an excellent article. Thank you for posting it. I agree with everything.

  3. mengesha aboye
    | #3

    guess what i got nething to say abugida keep up the great work

  4. Robele Ababya
    | #4

    This is a brilliant article. The historic election of 2005 had proved beyond doubt that we Ethiopians are a united people. We must forge ahead to strenghten our Nation with that achievement as our baseline in modern history. Ethnic cleasing is unthinkable in Ethiopia despite the desperate wishes of Meles and Bereket to trigger it.
    Good luck to Kenya

  5. Mussa Ghedi
    | #5

    It is one good attempt to build self pride in ones’ patriotic stance. However, generally speaking,it is also important to remind oneself that no nation is immune to inter-ethnic clashes which some times could lead to genocide. This is not in any way restricted to Africa and Africans, it could happen any where in the globe when countries happen to be formed through amalgation of nations or nationalities. In my view, though traggic, what has happenned in Kenya could not be an exception.

    I am not interested to reiterate the woyane stand as far as Ethnic clensing is concerned. The TLF has being conducting ethnic clensing policy from its inception. Teachers, civil servants from other parts of the country were forced to leave Tigrai as TLF armed gorrillas gained comnfidence and strength in the region. The woyane has carried on to replicate that same policy since it accended to power.
    Mind you, any genuine and concerned Ethiopian should uphold due respect and rights of the different ethnic groups in the country. This should be manifested in fostering pride in own culture, religion, languages as well as equitablly sharing whatever wealth there is to shared. Groups such as the woyane will squize such genuine principle of equal rights and moald it to ‘narrow nationalism’. Narrow nationalism is the breeding ground for hatrade and if unchecked, could lead to what most of us hate to witness, human tragedy. Many Ethiopians have fallen victims to these both in our past history and current political situations. The present situation in the Somali state, the Anuak atrocity in the Gambella, the religious massacre in Kaffa Zone, the suppression in many parts of the Orrommo peoples and the likes of Bedeno atrocities are indications to the potential danger. The choice remains with the peoples of Ethiopia, fall victim to an unproductive propaganda and regret it after it is too late or retain their pride in tolerance, as did many of our forefathers, including one of the prominent Oroomoo Kegnazematch Kumssa who humiliated the Italian invaders by telling them that to try to divide Ethiopians based on Ethnic basis is like trying to separate the red and white seeds of a load of zergegna teff. It could be done but it would take a lot more time and effort which make it not worth the effort.

    Raising such issues and our country’s political situation, expressing views, inviting dialogue and listening to not only those try to uphold Ethiopianess but those that may not condon it and striving to achieve an even more cohisive stand and refraining from trying to win an arguement at all costs instead of seeking for solutions to solve our ever ending and complicated problems will help us to enrich our understanding of one another and to reach the most desired goal of beating our chronic poverty.

    I think we have to stop bleming colonialism all the time, in my view if those people can still influence our psycholoical make up; i.e. after three generations of ‘freedom’, it is not them we should blame burt our own intelegence and itegrity to manage our own affairs. When will Africans say we are mature adults we neither want to be patronised nor instructed to do this or that.

    Allah Bless

  6. Selam
    | #6

    “The ugly word ‘Interamahwe’ was introduced by the regime. Our own leaders were predicting this most horrible crime happening in Ethiopia.”

    These are so called leaders Ethiopia has today. But the God loving Ethiopian people didn’t, don’t and will not follow them the way they want to hurt each other. Not the people but the govt is committing crimes against humanity including ethnic cleansing started from Tigry.

    As far as the Kenya issue, it is deep rooted and complicated and long century old hostilities between Ethnic groups caused by the British colonizers.

    The kikyus and few others are known nationalists and they fought against British that led to the Kenyan Independency in the 1960s. But the opposition Ethnic group and few others were in the British side and they were fighting against the Kikuyu in a savage way. They killed each other throughout the time giving chances to the English to colonize them.
    After independency, the two groups didn’t reconcile and even didn’t talk openly about their past. It was just there in everyone’s mind waiting the time to be appeared in a revenge stile the way we saw in 1982(about 2000) Kenyans were massacred, 1992 and 1997 also happened the same thing between them.
    Therefore, Kenya never was a peaceful country mainly mentally and as well as physically, too. They were lived quietly like a burning volcano from inside while waiting the time and condition to burst. This is the reason why it is happening to them today.

    I’m also not very optimistic to their near future either. The same time I have to thank and be proud off the Ethiopian people for their fighting back the govt that is working day and night facilitating the Rwandan stile to be happened in the country as the Prime minister calling and wishing it.
    Ethiopians will never hurt those innocents but those the responsible and their supporters no matter which group they belong.

  7. mertolemarim
    | #7

    As an individual who have had traveled in Kenya extensively and who have close connection to the people, my heart feels with sorrow with the election result and the aftermath.

    Unfortunately, this is a case of “silicah kelekelo, kelekelo silicha”. For now the issue seems Kikuyu versus Luo, but experience should teach us that our leaders are motivated to get to power by greed: A combination of greed and tribal conflict” will only result in more blood shade. Unless these so called leaders come to their senses, the suffering of Kenyans will be like the people of Zimbabwe. Some of the Kenyans I met used to wonder why and how so many atrocities take place in Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda, just seeing the refugees from these neighboring countries in Kenya… Unless this situation is resolved soon, they will end up being part of the “refugee producing community” How sad!

    As for Ethiopians pride and “Interamahwe”, the level may differ, but we should not forget our recent history of the “Red and White Terrors: a black cloud in our history that will hover forever over our heads. That is the legacy of “Derege and the so called oppositions”. Someday, I hope that we will get a government by the people, for the people, but in the mean time, the “enkulelecho” of democracy will continue. When we think we got to it, irresponsible leaders like Mengistu and Meles are pulling the carpet from under out feet. But why blame them, we know that there is strength in numbers, but we seem to avoid using that and continue in fighting.

    As for Ethiopians being proud people, yes we have the habit of saying we are better and good, however, we need to let out the air from the balloon that inflate us with wrong pride. We need a lot of self-cleansing. May be we need to have the country exorcised! Tebele yasfelegnal yeyazenen sitan lemasedate!

    In the mean time, I pray for peace to prevail in the Horn of Africa!

  8. Kasu
    | #8

    I would like to comment on the comment that was writen by one of my brother or sister. The person commented that Kenyan ethenics have no tolerance to each other;however,Ethiopian ethinics live together for centurys in peace and harmony.There is saying in Amharic,”Goferiam woosha alle alle silut yimotal.”What I try to say is that for long time Ethiopian Ethenics lived together for long,but I don’t think its true right now whether you believe it or not.

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