Demystifying EPRDF’s source of power – By Mikael Deribe

February 19th, 2008 Print Print Email Email

Let me start by sharing with you a short tale that caught my attention.

Once upon a time, in a jungle where there is no law and order, lived seven hippos who have maintained their existence by protecting each other in unity and loyalty. Among them, there lived a hyena that makes a living by preying on individual deer with no strength to protect themselves. (more…)

Let me start by sharing with you a short tale that caught my attention.

Once upon a time, in a jungle where there is no law and order, lived seven hippos who have maintained their existence by protecting each other in unity and loyalty. Among them, there lived a hyena that makes a living by preying on individual deer with no strength to protect themselves. These weak and defenseless animals were not able to sustain their existence in that forest as the hyena finished them one by one over a period of time. So there came a time for the hyena to do the impossible and try to prey on the hippos that lived together and protect each other in unison. Every time the hyena came to attack, the hippos would make a circle exposing only their hard and sharp horns. The hyena would walk around them to see if there is a soft skin, perhaps a buttock he could sink his teeth in. There was none. As he sat there frustrated, starving and weak due to the lack of individual hippos he could eat, he realized that he needed to talk to the hippos. He said to them:

“I know you hippos hate me because I try to eat you all the time and I apologize for that. I hope you know that I am a hyena and I can eat all of you, but that is not my intention today. I have always wanted to eat that red hippo that looks delicious but weak. He is no good for you, but if you kick him out of your circle and give him to me I will never come here and bother you again!”

The hippos then were lured into sacrificing one of their own and forcefully kicked the red hippo out of their circle and gave him away to the hyena. They watched as their brother was killed, dismembered and eaten by the hyena. However, the hyena did not leave once he finished eating. He turned to the hippos that were still standing in circle and said:

“I am sorry my friends that you had to see me eat this skinny hippo, but that’s what was going to happen to every one of you if you did not give him up. I commend you for making the right decision; however, since that hippo was so skinny, I am not full. So I figured if I go away still hungry, I may be forced to come back for more. So give me that black one with the short horns and I will be all set.”

The hippos then gave away the black one and watched the hyena eat him. His stomach was full after he munched on the second hippo, so he thanked the hippos sincerely and left. However, at different times, the hyena gave reason after reason and managed to eat four of them in the circle. The three hippos that were still standing once tried to make a circle to protect themselves, but by eliminating four, the hyena had created a wide gap between them that he did not need any reason or excuse anymore; eventually, he was able to use force and eat them all.

Dear Ethiopians:

The reason I felt the need to share with you this interesting tale is to help us think and realize our source of power which ensures us entitlement to our basic rights, the land that we inherited from our forefathers who have sacrificed a lot to pass on to us.

My dear Ethiopians: there is a misconception of power within our society. The current regime has successfully tied power or leadership of the country with a privilege that comes with one’s ethnicity. For a long time, Amharic and Tigrigna speaking people of Ethiopia have been portrayed as elites who govern the country. In fact the current regime has successfully blamed the oppression and atrocities of the past regimes on Amharic speaking people in general. This illusion has brainwashed some Tigreans, who have been led to believe that Amharas are indeed the privileged enemies of all other Ethiopians.

Through their ethnic federalism, the few elites in EPRDF have convinced Ethiopians that the people of Tigray are now in power. Addressing a TPLF rally in Tigray, speaking in Tigrigna, Mr. Meles Zenawi told the gathering people:

“I am glad I was born among you gold people, and I am glad I was not born among your cousins.”

The “cousins” of the Tigrayans Mr.Zenawi was referring to are the rest of the Ethiopian people. Listening to Mr.Zenawi’s speech, naïve people at the rally may not have understood Mr.Zenawi’s witty way of psychologically shaping the mentally of the Tigrayan society, but it is a deliberate and successive attempt to systematically alienate the people of Tigray from the rest of Ethiopia. Once again Mr. Zenawi gave the Tigreans the illusion and preserved the reality of the misery of the majority of the Tigreans marred in squalor and poverty.

Listening to our voices, watching our movements and sensing our attitudes toward each other, I have been lead to believe that so many of us Ethiopians have fallen to the dirty tricks of the few elites within the TPLF/EPRDF clique. These few mob members have figured out a way to imprison us by our own actions by deliberately shaping our frame of mind. Recent events and reactions reflect that very few Ethiopians have understood EPRDF’s plot to transform us into a people who cannot live and work together for the betterment of our nation. They have given us the venom of ethnicity and moved unity faraway from our reach and beyond our horizon.

In her sincere speech to Ethiopians in Minnesota, the now Chairman of Kinijit, Ms. Birtukan Mideksa, told the gatherers that the people of Tigray may have listened to the regime’s misinformation that Kinijit is a party of the “Amharas” as there are few members of Tigrayans within Kinijit and that standing together for our nations should be considered before anything else. She also apologized for offensive things that were posted on the hijacked website of Kinijit ( as well as for the widely misinterpreted slogan of “we will send them back to where they came from” as Mr. Bedru Adem, put it.

People’s reaction to Ms. Birtukan’s speech manifested the uncompromising mentality instilled in us by our hateful political culture, manifested in the current regime’s maneuvers to survive on ethnic loyalty and the unconsciousness of many oppositionists in the peaceful struggle. The Diaspora mouthpiece of EPRDF, Aiga forum website, attempted to ridicule Birtukan’s speech by posting a picture of her with a phrase that read “Tigrayans wanted for Kinijit”. The few individuals involved in the destructive work of Engineer. Hailu Shawel, condemned Birtukan for her sincere appeal to Tigrayans to give a deaf ear to the regime’s propaganda and join Kinijit to work together. These so called comrades of peaceful struggle were also offended that an apology was made in “their” behalf and had the audacity to disapprove of the unifying speech that was a nightmare to Mr. Zenawi.

Another nightmare that EPRDF experienced was the formation of the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD). Despite Kinijit joined this alliance without a legal approval of the supreme council members of the party, and although the AFD has not put out a single visible work and is dysfunctional; even the virtual existence of the alliance between major political forces in Ethiopia has put the oppressive regime into a period of severe panic. Mr.Zenawi knows the potential of such an alliance and the mass support it would produce within Ethiopia due to its representation of the Ethiopian people and its prospect of becoming an alternate, ethical, and legal ally of the West. Therefore, the EPRDF government had to somehow falsely tie it with Eritrea and emphasize the differences between the political agendas of each organization in the alliance to a point where some members and supporters of each organization doubted or even denounced the alliance.

In my last article, the essence of a peaceful struggle is compromise, I wrote about another nightmare of the TPLF dominated regime; its former defense minister Mr. Seeye Abraha, whom the regime believes has the support of its base, Tigray. Speaking to Ethiopians in Boston, Mr. Seeye said that while he was in prison along with the leaders of Kinijit, the prison authorities were instructed to prevent any communication between him and any of the Kinijit’s leaders as if, in Mr. Seeye’s words “ a political virus is transmitted through a hand shake.” The regime is afraid that they will lose Tigrayans’ ethnic loyalty to Mr. Seeye who pleaded for unity among Ethiopians in his Washington DC speech. Back in Addis Ababa, Mr. Seeye is now being monitored 24 hours a day by EPRDF cadres, because Mr. Zenawi understands that Mr. Seeye can, not only dilute TPLF’s source of power, but also provide a discussion forum that could transform our relationship into one that appreciates coexistence.

Whenever there is a chance for us to discuss our concerns, as a people of one nation, the regime has been quick in scrambling it, and most of us, consciously or not, have assisted in widening the gap between us. I believe we need to foster the sincerity and modesty that Ms. Birtukan Mideksa showed in her speech in Minnesota and we must seek a forum that is inclusive and care-taking like the AFD.

The cruel illusionists in EPRDF are adept at twisting our minds and they will work relentlessly to discourage us from pursuing our noble cause of living together. Unless we refuse to allow them to make for us the boxes within which we think we will become the hippos in the tale; a society that lost its unity, thereby lose its existence.

  1. | #1

    Still your are sending your venom,nottired.What you are talking about, mixing sweat with venoum.The “dolittles” group are buried ones and for all. There is nothing to talke about.They accomplished their hidden mission and tried to distroy the unit of diaspora in America but failed to do so back in Ethiopia. They are crippled and cought by their evil agenda.They are a lost “patriots”.

  2. Tamiru
    | #2

    Wow Mr, Derie

    What a wonderfull article! Its so sweet,focused and HIT to our current problem,You hit the nail on the head Mr Deribe.Now what we need is to stand together and raise our voices like JARICO people.That time weyanes wall will crumble dowen.Thank you Micheal keep on writing !
    God bless Ethiopia

  3. Mussa Ghedi
    | #3

    Dear Mr Deribe,

    Your article seems to have a genuine concern for the people of Ethiopia. Well that is perhaps your right and responsibility to the not so fortunate 70/80 million tax payers who have afforded you and me the previlage of education.

    Nevertheless, I some how find it too hard to believe if you realy mean what you write.In the first place hippos do not have horns and the deer do not usually share the same ecosystem as the hyena. Though it might appear as a minor oversight, such errors convey a lot on the credibilty of your views. I hope you will recall the Amhara’s adage ‘bere wolede’ and I do not believe your analogy differ much from it. That makes it hard for people to take your article seriously as well.

    Allah Bless

  4. | #4


  5. Ethiopian
    | #5

    Meles is fooling all of us….who defended Madme?? Not him!!! Who gave it away? MELES and BEREKET!! Right??? Excellent article!! Lets not be fooled and come together under the unberlla of Ethiopiawinet!!! Good one Mr. Mikael!!

  6. Alemu
    | #6

    Yihe Meles yemibal sew behuala le-Tigray sewoch yimelesal malet ayichalim!! He will be the hayena who will eat us all if we allow him!! If these thugs who work in the name of Tigray people could not accomodate their own Siye, we cannot assume they will not massacre Ethiopians in Mekele if they stand for the unity of Ethiopians…only time will tell….well explained Ato Deribe!!

  7. Aha!
    | #7

    Association with Libration fronts will give the current regime the execuse to associate them, with terrosists, althoug they are fighting to scesede from Ethiopia as promised to the by TPLF constiution. The draft for the alliance is prepared in Eritrea, I presume, and these Libration fronts are located and monitored by the current regime in Eritrea. Hibret one of the large party did not join them. I believe EPRp did not join them. It looked that it is ill prepared document with the libration acting as a pseudo threat and current regime knows it, and only faction of Kinijit the supports it the Ms Birtukan faction. To say the least they did not even adopt Amharic as a mode of communication, but English, a forign language, and did not abandon their desire to relenquish their indoctrinated passion for scesionism, inculcated on them by EPLF and TPLF, to fight for a common goal. They will a say on the new constiution to be formulated by all parties involved and ratification of the new constitution by all Ethiopians.

    I cannot understand the analogy of the hippo, whether it reffers to current debacle created within Kinijit or the dysfuntional AFD prompting the Hyna to prey upon the factions.

    I did not agree to you interpretation/ understanding of Ms. Birtukans speech. As I understood there was an outrage by the Tigrayans themselves.”What sincerety and modesty are you talking about”. It was put to implicate Mr. Adem, who has been vindicated.

  8. Martha
    | #8


    If you don’t understand the analogy of the Hippos and hyena, just look at the picture above and think, but I know u do understand.

    AFD is the beginning of a forum that will evolve into a solution to our complexed problems, which will be the end for TPLF!!

    The sincerety of Ms.Birtukan was felt by Ethiopians from Tigray region as well as by others, maybe individuals like may want to play ‘dumb’ to confuse uninformed Ethiopians.
    Dilalogue between political forces will be the beginnig, compromise will be part of the game, and the solution to our problems will evolve…we understand that the forces in AFD will not have the same manifesto over night and that’s not focus, but they need to start somewhere to build an Ethiopia where they can co-exist with mutual respect to the people they claim to represent!!

  9. | #9

    As the essay writing, back bitting and bikkering goes on unabated in the diaspora elite,the Woyanne thugs are throwing a giant party to commemerate the birth of their organization 33 years ago. The CUD has collapsed under its own weight. Ogaden is bombarded to extinction and the Oromos are herded into concentration camps. Patriotic Ethiopians are hunted like wild animals and the lucky ones are escaping out of the country in droves. The Woyannes and their cronies life couldn’t be better.

  10. tegenu
    | #10

    AFD, No man, no individual, group, organization, and or party will cheat Ethiopians in the name of liberating Ethiopians. We are free. We will fight all kind of separatist movements individualy or in group. Woyane will go soon then the philosophy of MEGENTEl will be next. AFD, NEVER AGAIN! No one will be cheated again. We are vanguard for that. Die with your KIJET.Any ways it has been dead from its inception. If there is the remenant of its idea, we are ready even now to hit it good.

  11. Observer
    | #11

    Just out of curiosity at what point in Ethiopian history has the country been united? Would love to have some one enlighten me cause as far back as one travel the different regions with their perspective kings have fought for dominance. So how is that the country once stood valiantly together. History teaches us that Theodros tried to create a Unified Ethiopia by force but failed. Yohanis IV tried diplomacy and gave each king autonomy to rule over his dominion with allegiance to the Emperor. Both methods were not successful in creating a unified country. Minilik II about 100 years ago was the one that carved out our present day map by concurring the different kings. So Us Ethiopians have been trying to find a way to live with one another under one administration for a long time but only have managed to do so for a little over 100 years now. Life is about learning about one another and taking things in stride. Calling anyone names or assuming the worst with out detail analysis of history is only adding wood to fire. Our country needs its Diaspora to concentrate on bringing in resources to our country to better the lives of our brothers and sisters. You can have the best intentioned individuals running the country but if the country lacks the basic needs then even they will fail. However back to my original question of when in our history has Ethiopia stood as one nation with out conflict? Look forward to your responses.

    Thank You.

  12. Danni
    | #12

    Badme!!! Remember Badme?? The war!! We got back united before your boy Meles gave it away!! But the point is not whether we have been united before or not, it is whether we should unite to defend ourselves or not!! From whom attack we should protect ourselves? From foreign like we did against Eritrea and from inside like the genocidal government of EPRDF!! That’s the point!!

  13. | #13

    The history of Ethiopia is the history of conquest and domination. The ethnic cleansing and geocidal massacres inflicted by the ethno-centric Amhara and Tigryan ruling class on the peoples of the horn is hard to fathom. The current mayham is a continuation of the mode operanda of the ruling elite. The only salvation for the cursed empire is for all the nationalites to rise up againt the centuries old oppression and fight for their freedom and let the chips fall where ever they want

  14. Tamiru
    | #14

    Danni What a nice kick .You have knocked down Observer.

  15. Observer
    | #15

    I assume you are referring to the Badem the international counsel ruled in favor of Eritrea. I was under the impression that the current administration refused to hand over the town as such evoking the Eritrean government to expel the UN peace keepers from its side of the boarder. So please tell me more as I was un-aware of the hand over of Badema to Eritrea. I am very interested to know your source as well Danni.

  16. Observer
    | #16

    Oh and one more thing ‘Genocide is a word created to describe the systematic killing of all the people from a national, ethic, or religious group or an attempt to do this’. This term was created to honor the millions of Jews that were killed in Nazi Germany. Please I beg of you to let me know how you know of such atrocities as my Family will be in great danger. If this is a term you use to describe the events of post election I ask that you use the appropriate vocabulary to describe the sad events that followed the election. When you use such terms that are reserved for tragedies such as that we witness in Darfur the international community will look at you as just another fanatic that is unable to look at a situation objectively.

  17. Danni
    | #17

    Observer, after all, you do not observe much!! Because, genocide watch has documented an ethnic cleansing in the Gambella region which you might be familiar with! If not, google it! What motive would genocide watch have to actually accuse TPLF of committing these attrocities?? I will let u answer that!! But, whether it’s documented or not, ethnic cleansing was going on in the Ogaden region, which some journalists called the Hidden Darfur!! So Observer, here u have it…TPLF s indeed a genocidal government!!

  18. Observer
    | #18

    Well Danni,
    I took your advice and visited the and read the article titled “Genocide Watch: Gambella, Ethiopia Update 19 December 2006”. They discuss that the conflict and killing is done by what they call “Highlanders”. It also moves on to talk about land that is occupied by the Ethiopian government and Highlanders. The article as it was a bit un-clear but from what I gathered it seems they are warning of a conflict between two ethic groups in Gambela and not reporting Genocide. It is possible that I found the wrong article and I will continue to search and try and summarize what I find in the literature for you.

    In the case of Ogden, I am very surprised you are saying the government is committing genocide there. I have kept myself updated on that event and from the international news sources I have gathered the conflict was exacerbated when the rebel group attacked an oil exploration team in Ogden. Their number one ambition is to defect to Somalia and it is very surprising to see you side with a group that is fighting for independence. You accuse the current administration of trying to break up the country but you show support and sympathy towards a group that is willing to kill Ethiopians and International delegates.

    My dear friend, do not forget that not all Ethiopians have the same opinions of the current administration as you do. For a fact I have no trace of Tigre in me however I find what they have accomplished in the building of infrastructure and laying the foundation for stabilizing the economy commendable. So I ask you in your unity speech and movement how do you plan to include my kind in your plan, or am I to fall to the way side as my opinion does not matter. I fully supported Kinijit when it first burst into the scene. I did not want them to take full control of parliament but to learn of the system and share the power. In all of history from all over the world we learn of the small party that gets its foot hold and slowly grows. Unfortunately this was not to be the case and Kinijit refused to play a minor role for the good of the country.

    So Danni, I will spend my night reading on the atrocity you speak of and report to you what I find. I will leave you with this thought, Theodros is looked at by history as a great visionary but one that failed to see its fruit as his own trusted delegates betrayed him. Are we doomed to live in the admiration of the past as we constantly oppose all those who take power? Today you oppose TPLRF and tomorrow someone else will take your place and oppose the next party and then the next to a point where we are left to forever roam the abyss of one party rule. I long for the day when we have multiple party rule where supporters of either side defer only in ideology and not resort to calling the heads of state childish names.

  19. | #19

    Oh my..Observer is the exact replica of the Dedebit Mafia cadres. They are trained in disinformation and mininformation techinques to soothe the gulable Ethiopian diaspora elite. They are all over the place and it is very hard to figure them out as to where they are coming from.
    The propaganda machine is complex and employees paid to write journalists,NGOs,acadamics,lawyers and law makers and intellegece agencies. In fact the Woyannes are in a hiring spree of cyber warriors to facilitate the disinformation campain.

  20. Danni
    | #20

    Visite the Anuak Justice Council website, which is a non-profit and non-partisan foundation abd get the full report “highlander army” means government soldiers….that took place on December 13, 2003 the gambella massacre is one of the darkest days in Ethiopian history when gvernment soldiers tried to kill off an entre ethnic group and blame it on the conflicts between he nure and and the anuak….it is so immoral for you to commen them for theirexajurated “economic growth” when our people live in fear and severe poverty.

    You TPLF supporters talk about the economy when we talk about democracy, accountablility, human rights and the rule of law….diverting attention from what is the focus of debate is your habitual strategy.

    Ehiopians will seek the rule of law in their nation not only for this government but also for every government that is ELECTED abd is given he privillage to govern!! We do not seek regime change, we seek a change of system!!

    By the way, no one asked if you are Tigre or not and I believe you shouldn’t have to tell your ethnic background to expresss your view, but thanks to TPLF, which you support obviously, as the authr put it “” have given us the venome of ethnicity!!”.

  21. Danni
    | #21


    Maybe the google you use is outdated, so here I googled for you and here is the genocide watch report about the anuak massace:

    Playing dumb is also part of your game hay?

  22. | #22

    Oh yes..By now everbody knows the Woyanne hiring spree of cyber warriors .Their task is to facilitate the disinformation campain of the Dedebit Mafia. The Agaazi tribal council is cracking as we speak. The military wing is having hard time coping with the war raging in several fronts.The mounting dissatisfaction among army cadets is reaching a breaking point. The prisons are filled to capacity by suspected non tigrayan army and police officers.
    The time for reconning is fast approaching and no amount of propaganda will slown it down.
    The disinformation brigade is made up of paid to write journalists,NGOs,acadamics,lawyers,law makers,diplomats and even Eritrean traitors.

  23. Observer
    | #23

    Danni thanks for the link it was a very sad event not covered by the international media and it was an event I only heard whispers about. As the article states “There have been regular massacres of Anuak since 1980. Cultural Survival ( has reported on them in six excellent reports published in the Cultural Survival Quarterly beginning in 1981.” Which is even more shocking to hear. The article also continues and commendably recommends “If they are not arrested, they and their followers will know they can literally get away with mass murder. They will kill again, and the massacres could become full-scale genocide.” Mind you the careful reserve for the word of genocide. They call the killings a massacre and warn of genocide. The reason I bring this up is because you might be perceived as yelling wolf if you present such a case and miss quote the intention of the article. It is also very worrying to hear of their struggles lasting now 28 years and more should be done and this is a matter where we the citizens need to demand action from our government. The article also identifies 3 individuals as responsible so I am not sure if you meant to imply that it was done under the order of PM Meles.

    On the note that the government promotes positive PR, well I don’t doubt it. To be honest I don’t visit any website that is dedicated to reporting Ethiopian politics. This one venture was on the back of a recommendation by a friend and I promise to keep away and stick to neutral media sources.

    And on your note of Ethnicity, I go back to the original question I had for you. At what point in our history have the different ethnic groups lived in harmony? History books and teachers I have had point to never. Except for when we unite against a common enemy like you so eloquently pointed out. The reason I point this out is because I believe there is deeper problem that we need to address that goes beyond and head of stead.

    One last thing Danni, I commend you in your stands to prioritize justice and put the economy second. It is a difference of opinion and I highly respect that. Many arguments can be made as to which one is more important but at the end we should not need to prioritize and be able to get both from our leadership.

  24. Aha!
    | #24

    You can play your dummy analogy in the diaspora who are fleeing from one type of Hyena to another type of Hyena dressed in sheep’s clothes with no no negotiating power as a party or as Libration front, as than to serve as “teletafi” party. The Ethiopian masses know how to separate the chaff from the grain,given the freedom, which materiliazes through HR 2003 and the peacefull struggle. They are now gripped with terror.

    Now Ethiomedia Editor’s note is acting as sounding board to spread that fake analogy and serving another distraction to the peaceful struggle of the Ethiopian masses. Who does not know about what you are saying about the current regime, it is the analogy I questioning and the strategy, if there is any mentioned in your article that I am questioning. Do you remember what was said in in a televised discussion between following the path of constitutional monarchy or Socialistic revolution, those who believed that “gulicha bikeyayer wotu aytafitim”.

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