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.

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