Why is the emperor hiding our hunger? – By Abebe Gelaw
The politics of hunger has a long history in Ethiopia. For the last four decades, ruthless tyrants have been undermining any efforts to feed the hungry and break the fangs of famine once and for all. As a result of the inhuman interplay of ruthless politics and the struggle of our mindless rulers to enrich themselves and sustain their tyrannical rules at the expense of the sick and the dying multitude, hunger has wiped out millions of vulnerable souls in Ethiopia, which seems reminiscent of the most terrifying horror movies of all time. (more…)
The politics of hunger has a long history in Ethiopia. For the last four decades, ruthless tyrants have been undermining any efforts to feed the hungry and break the fangs of famine once and for all. As a result of the inhuman interplay of ruthless politics and the struggle of our mindless rulers to enrich themselves and sustain their tyrannical rules at the expense of the sick and the dying multitude, hunger has wiped out millions of vulnerable souls in Ethiopia, which seems reminiscent of the most terrifying horror movies of all time. This fact has been well recorded in the annals of history and will continue to be a dominant theme for generations to come. No wonder Ethiopia is still synonymous with hunger, famine, suffering and abject poverty.
|While ruthless rulers, most notably, Emperor Haile Selassie, Mengistu Haile Mariam and Meles Zenawi and their respective cohorts, who spent hundreds of millions of dollars on their personal security, a fleet luxury cars, finest perfumes, Armani suits, assortments of imported alcohol and food to stock in their opulent palaces as well as killing machines to destroy their perceived enemies, to say the least, millions of Ethiopians have died crying for food and water in a country which was once dubbed a “bread basket” and “water tower” of Africa.|
The ruthlessness of tyrants in times of great famine and suffering of biblical proportions has, on numerous occasions, created local and international uproars. One of the immediate causes that triggered the downfall of Emperor Haile Selassie was his wanton effort to hide the 1974 famine from the rest of the world lest his royal honour and dignity would be damaged. Over two hundred thousand children, the young and the elderly died famished in Northern Ethiopia. The upshot of the outrage was the downfall of the emperor who was deposed in the 1974 popular revolution. The slogans that echoed across the country at that time were: “Bread to the hungry! Land to the tiller! Ethiopia First!…”
The military junta, which hijacked the popular revolution, was quick to vow that no one would die with hunger in Ethiopia again. “Never…never, never again!” they declared. Unfortunately rulers have never kept their promises in Ethiopia. The revolution ushered in another cycle of untold suffering, famine, war, bloodbath and destruction. Over a million Ethiopians were decimated in the 1984-85 famine while the TPLF, EPLF were waging their destructive power struggle with the Derg.
Nothing has changed in Ethiopia in nearly four decades since the 1974 Ethiopian revolution. Hunger, pestilence, abject poverty and ruthless tyranny are still working in tandem making life unbearable to the greater majority of Ethiopians. But for the ruling elite, the selected few, the privileged minority, overfed rulers sucking the blood of the hunger-stricken people of Ethiopia, there is a lot of fun at luxurious resorts and hotels such as the exclusive Sheraton Addis, the Hilton and Ghion Hotel. They do not want to hear about hunger, famine or poverty while they revel in their endless parties and caravans.
A few days ago the Burmese-style tyrannical regime of Meles Zenawi issued a series of statements via the Ministry of [Mis] Information, Addisu Legese, the deputy “Prime Minister” and the so-called Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency lambasting the international media for exaggerating the hunger crisis in Ethiopia which has threatened the lives of millions of Ethiopians. “Though the irregular rainfall witnessed during the last Belg, small rain season, created temporal food shortage in some parts of the country, the government and farmers are striving to boost agricultural production during the remaining time of the current crop season,” according to the statement issued by the misinformation ministry.
The statement unashamedly claimed that “the government and the public have been striving to ensure the double-digit economic growth the nation registered during the last five consecutive years in order to extricate the country out of poverty.” Despite credible reports from UN agencies and international media outlets such as the BBC which have sent out their correspondents to report on the hunger crisis, Addis Legesse had the audacity to dismiss it as exaggeration on the part of “some institutions engaged in relief work that consider the decline in the number of the needy as a threat to their existence. They, therefore, have been suggesting to report inflated figures so as to get huge assistance,” he told the organ of the ruling elite, Walta Information Centre.
The reason why international media outlets have been targeted by the Meles regime is mainly because stories of hunger and famine ruin its multi-million dollars cranky public relations stunt led by two notorious London-based mavericks, Seyoum Bereded and Mulugeta Asrate Kassa. In the name of the year-long millennium celebrations that started last September, it is estimated that the regime has misspent nearly 300 million birr. At a time of drought and famine, the regime has spent millions of dollars throwing numerous extravagant parties at entertainment venues such as the luxurious Sheraton Addis, which is referred to by some as the Las Vegas of Africa. During the height of the millennium celebrations our rulers and their rich fans and business partners were entertained by such global hip hop and pop superstars as the Black Eyed Peas, Rihanna, Akon, Beyonce Knowles and rapper Ludacris at the $20 million dollars “millennium hall.” Meles Zenawi, who was seen dancing and jumping around with his wife and loyalists in a Champagne-fueled party on September 11, delivered his speech in a special bullet-proof box imported for the occasion as if his paranoia reached a stratospheric proportion.
Elizabeth Blunt of the BBC reported on the eve of the prodigal millennium extravaganza for the rich and the lords of poverty, who have stricken gold in the midst of abject poverty and famine, a project by a restaurateur to feed 2,000 destitute and hungry children did not get the go ahead from the rulers. In stead of feeding the hungry, they met at the Addis Ababa Hilton on August 2, 2007 to discuss how to clean the streets of the capital from beggars before the big party. According the weekly English Capital newspaper, high-ranking government officials, including ministers and commissioners, condemned beggary as shameful. The hypocrites, who have perfected the art of beggary and depend on foreign aid for their very survival and supply of per-diem in hard currency, declared war on those who have been condemned to suffer and die without the luxury of even being counted as human beings. Zenawi’s henchmen kept their words and rounded up helpless beggars and ferried them to concentration camps for committing no crime except being eye-soars at the millennium extravaganza, where high class foreign dignitaries and supporters of the tyrannical regime from abroad were also invited.
Despite the hunger and suffering of millions of Ethiopians across the nation, the so-called millennium celebration has continued according to plan. The TPLF ethnic junta has also been spending hundreds of million dollars on its wasteful military aggression in Somalia, which is creating more chaos, bloodshed and destruction in the stateless nation. TPLF’s meaningless military stand-off with its former ally and Godfather, Isayas Aferworki, is another testimony not only to the extravagant nature of the current the ruling Tigrian class, which behaves more like a colonial power than a responsible government, but also to the fact that its lacks common sense, duty to care, compassion and accountability. Though they have counted seventeen years in power and have outlived the military junta they defeated after a protracted war that has crippled the economy and caused bloodbath, they have changed nothing but their worn out military fatigue with Armani suits socked with the finest sorts of perfume that failed to disguise the crime, stink and filth. After all, they have ruthlessly been committing crimes against humanity with impunity for so long…their victims are countless, including those dying with hunger while Meles and his cohorts waltz at luxurious hotels and palaces.
Adding insult to injury, Meles Zenawi, who had once disparaged our national flag as a piece of rug, made Ethiopia landlocked and ceded Ethiopia’s Western frontier to the Sudan in a treacherous deal, is handing out the same flag with a meaningless blue star patched in the middle to the hunger-stricken people of Ethiopia as a token of the silly millennium celebration. According to Walta, preparations are underway to celebrate a preposterous “national flag day” on July 5th. Seyoum Mesin, TPLF’s Foreign Minister whose term seems to be never ending, told Walta that “Children and the youth should be brought up with love and respect to the country and the flag.” But he forgot the fact that action speaks louder than words, as the saying goes.
What is outrageous is the fact that this flag distribution hoax and deception costs 5 million birr to distribute 1 million flags across the nation. The money could have provided emergency food aid to thousands of families. Even more outrageous is the regime’s decision to increase its annual “defense” budget by $50,000,000. This is on top of the $350 million misspent yearly on weaponry, killing machines, tools of repression and TPLF’s crazy wars. One may not need to do any complex calculus to understand what Meles Zenawi is up to than witnessing such a flagrant crime of neglecting the hungry to die and suffer in millions while the elite is engaged in decadent corruption, repression, war mongering and partying.
One of the regions which has been said to be hard hit by the drought is Tigray, despite the absence of famine as the TPLF exercises a monopoly on food aid importing and distribution effectively commercializing it through EFFORT and its companies.
It is mind-boggling to see multi-billion birr projects being wasted in Tigray, for instance, that should have been invested in ensuring food security given the region’s vulnerability to drought and famine. The biggest shopping centre in the country boasting 1000 shopping unit is under construction in Mekele, a town with a population of 170,000, at an outlay of well over 400 million birr. We don’t need to quote no other credible sources that may be dismissed of being partisan than Assefa Taddelle, an engineer supervising a $220-million birr construction of a new stadium in Mekele. He told VOA Tigrigna reporter Girmay Gebru that “the new stadium under construction in Mekelle is set to seat 35,000 people and will host all African games.” Walta also informed us on June 6, that the newly established Mekelle town council endorsed more than 654.6 million birr for the execution of various glamorous projects. The projects includes modern abattoir, youth recreation and sports center. And yet the TPLF appeals for emergency food aid to feed the people of Tigray while it is engaged in too glamorous projects that are intended enhance its tattering image.
The Meles regime has been making every effort to project itself as a leading anti-terrorist force, agent of economic miracle, a torch bearer of democracy, equality and justice while it is doing quite the opposite. Despite the well coordinated hoax and spin foolishly and clumsily executed by Meles Zenawi, who was named Africa’s first Green Revolutionary by the Norwegian fertilizer merchant Yara Inc. just a few months after he unlished the 2005 crackdowns on his dissidents, the survival of millions of Ethiopians have been threatened once again by hunger not only in the remote parts of Ethiopia but also in the cities. Famine, as we know it today, is the worst failure of any state. There is drought in many parts of the world including the United States of America. But while the majority of countries affected by recurrent drought have accountable governments that would face persecution if their citizens die of hunger in mass, Ethiopia has no accountable government that protects and serves its people from dangers and disasters. The current ruler, who runs the country as his personal business, is more like an absolute monarch and by far worse than its predecessors.
The incumbent absolute monarch, Emperor Legesse Zenawi, should stop trying to hide Ethiopia’s hunger not only of food but also freedom. Sooner or later, Ethiopians will put an end to tyranny that has been the root cause famine and abject poverty. The emperor must accept the inevitable and the unpalatable truths! Tyrants always end up in the dustbin of history.