Artist Debebe Eshetu And Ato Aschalew Ketema Inspire Seattle!
On January 12, 2008, in the cloudy Seattle afternoon, at Garfield Community Center, something incredible took place – the city and its inhabitants were inspired and motivated to intensify their struggle for justice, unity, and democracy. It is not every day that one gets a chance to hear, discuss and ask questions of an Ethiopian icon like Debebe Eshetu. Seattle was fortunate to also hear from and discuss with Ato Aschalew Ketema, member of Kinijit Executive Council.
The residents of Seattle flocked, in large numbers, to the Garfield Community Center braving the cold and rainy weather and ignoring their city’s football team- Seahawks playoff bid. to listen to Artist Debebe and Ato Aschalew. The event coordinators, the recently formed and democratically elected Seattle Northwest Kinijit Chapter (SNKC), only had three days to publicize this grand event. It was objectively determined that the meeting hall was over 80% full and the crowd was enthusiastic, vibrant, and actively participated in the discussion and Q&A session.
Artist Debebe gave a moving and inspirational speech by telling the gathering, we Ethiopians do not get ahead and build a country we desire without honesty, truth, and insulting one another. Debebe emphasized the need for honesty in everything we do, the need to be upfront, the need for forgiveness, and the need for unity and justice. Debebe told the Seattle Kinijit Supporters one does not need an education, a degree, or has to have any qualification to engage in insults, making outlandish remarks, or defame a person. The only thing one need to be a slanderer is being rude and inconsiderate. Artist Debebe demonstrated his skills of reading and understanding the feelings and moods of the crowd. Sometimes it is not the message, but it is the messenger that counts- Debebe delivered his message of hope, his message of unity, his message of justice and fairness, and his message of democracy in Ethiopia only in a way a seasoned and charismatic orator can deliver.
Ato Aschalew Ketema also stated facts, information, and gave hard evidence that the estranged Kinijit Chairman Ato Hailu Shawel secretly called and participated in a meeting to reinstate his former party, AEUP. Ato Aschalew did not just tell Seattle Kinijit supporters this fact, he did not just make a speech about this major diversion by Ato Hailu, he showed the crowd the irrefutable evidence, including but not limited to, meeting attendees names, meeting minutes, and written and signed resolutions and decisions by former AEUP members. Ato Aschalew’s presentation was full of facts, evidence and supported by his impeccable explanation that left many of the supporters amazed, and at the same time saddened by the sabotage to destroy Kinijit by Engineer Hailu and Co.
Then, something extraordinary took place in the same meeting hall. Something for history books and for storytelling, something that is moving, inspirational, and memorable. It is the Gasha for Ethiopia’s representative, Ato Sultan Alene, speech and call for unity. Sultan’s speech was short and to the point, but very well thought, reasoned, and articulated. The speech affirms the alliance and camaraderie of Gasha and its members in the struggle for democracy, peace, and unity. The crowd was touched and elated by this honest and heartfelt appeal and he received a standing ovation for several minutes from the crowd. Gasha for Ethiopia is a recently formed civic organization which has many members from the Tigray region. Among the members of Gasha, Abraha Belai, Executive Editor of Ethiomedia.com was also present and gave a very brief, powerful, and frank talk about the need for unity, determination, and coordination in order to move the struggle forward. Additionally, Abraha briefed the audience on Gasha’s formation, its objectives and major activities.
That is when Artist Debebe led the crowd into not only recognizing and thanking the Gasha members, but stood up and made a promise to work with the likes of Gasha and others to fight the Meles regime’s creations of intentional negative perceptions and misunderstandings between Kinijit and Tigrians. Artist Debebe said this is probably one of the greatest moments of his political life, the same can be said for many in the crowd. It was truly a defining moment in Diaspora Kinijit movement. The presence of the Gasha represenative at the event, the wonderful speech and the call by Gasha definitely created a bridge between Kinijit and Tigreans, despite the constant pressure, negative publicity, and toxic propaganda the Meles regime spews incessantly to widen the rift between Tigrayans and the different ethnic groups in Ethiopia.
The Seattle event was very successful despite the fact that the organizers only had two or three days, the playoff game, and the unusually rainy and cold weather to contend with. Artist Debebe and Ato Aschalew will be cherished forever in the minds of Seattle residents for the moving and inspirational messages along with the Gasha members. In sum, this event brought to Seattle and beyond hope, and optimism about the future of our country, and that of Kinijit. Upon the conclusion of the meeting that took over three hours of substantive discussions, then the guests and many Kinijit supporters joined Artist Debebe and Ato Aschalew for dinner and further discussion. The memorable event that will be embedded in the minds of those who were present for years to come.
The Seattle Kinijit Northwest Chapter thanks the guests and everybody who have repeatedly shown they can gather a large crowd in such short notice! Seattle is fortunate to host, discuss, hear and learn from an Ethiopian icon Artist Debeb Eshetu and Ato Aschalew Ketema. January 12, 2008, is a great day for Seattle and for the unity of Ethiopia, and it has set the tone of how Ethiopians, in the future, will collectively fight against injustice, dictatorship, and poverty in our
Note: This report was delayed due to the unfortunate tragedy the Kinijit family in Seattle suffered when four of our members and brothers were involved in a horrific car accident on Sunday. We wish them all a speedy recovery and we ask that all Kinijit supporters and Ethiopians keep them in their thoughts and prayers.