Need to thrash the enigma of national liberation – By Robele Ababya
“Let us at all times remember that all American citizens are brothers of a common country, and should dwell together in the bonds of fraternal feeling”. (more…)
“Let us at all times remember that all American citizens are brothers of a common country, and should dwell together in the bonds of fraternal feeling”.
The above quote is by Abraham Lincoln in 1860, which I thought would apply to any country afflicted with rancor rooted in myopic ethnicity – as in Ethiopia, Congo et al on the African continent.
The former Chief Justice of the United States, Earl Warren, once said in an interview with a reporter that voter apathy is detrimental to the strength of democracy. The Chief Justice is vindicated by the recent election in the United States where an unprecedented record number of 64% Americans voted the Obama/Baiden ticket into office by overwhelming electoral majority in sharp contrast to the razor-thin margin separating the two main contestants for the Presidency where a much smaller number of voters in 2004 gave rise to acrimonious bickering in the re-counting of votes in Florida.
It is therefore absolutely essential to believe and take it seriously that every citizen has civic duty to vote as well as responsibility not to leave their political leaders unchecked for the kind of rampant undemocratic excesses perpetrated by the TPLF regime. As it were politics is so important to leave it to the politicians.
Personally, I have never entertained a desire for a career in politics. My preferred profession was, is now, and will remain far removed from it. But there is an intense desire in me, as in millions of my fellow Ethiopians, to work and live in a peaceful environment overseen by a civilized government administration respectful of fundamental human rights and the rule of law. Above all I strongly believe in my mantra of decades that unity in diversity is strength – an indispensable guarantee for mutual respect and harmony in our mosaic culture of tolerance. That is why I am writing this article to argue that the stigma of liberation struggle baselessly theorized and aggressively propagated by the TPLF is a cancer in our society for which Ethiopians should find cure in earnest.
Our thorny problem is the ethnic-based politics used as a weapon by the TPLF regime for the purpose of staying in power by the old tactic of divide-and-rule. This was clear from the onset when the TPLF took control of Addis Ababa and began to unleash its divisive politics conceived and perfected during the thirty two years in its hideout.
Back in the early nineteen nineties, I met a TPLF cadre in exile who had openly disowned his party by exposing its hidden agenda which he said was destructive. Since I had been puzzled by the acronym TPLF for a long time, I asked the person to explain it to me in his capacity as a highly placed person in the political hierarchy of his Party. In doing so, I argued that all positions of political power in the Tigrai administrative region during the Imperial regime were overwhelmingly, if not all, held by Tigreans. I told him that land and property in Tigrai were owned by Tigreans. In the circumstances, I pointed out to him that liberation from outsiders does not arise. He told me that he disowned the TPLF knowing, albeit belatedly, that some key leaders at the highest echelon had a hidden agenda to disintegrate Ethiopia.
We then commented on the subdued and indifferent response of the citizens of Addis Ababa who saw the Agazi forces as invaders rather than ‘liberators, contrary to the expectation of Woyanne leaders of jubilant crowd out in the streets to welcome them. We both concluded that the Ethiopian people are wise and patient.
The TPLF leaders staged a celebration of their own at the Ghion Hotel to mark their “triumphant’ entry to Addis Ababa as ‘liberators’. From my abode in exile, I watched the typically Tigrean dances; the celebrants were holding their K-47 rifles up in the air in the act – drawing as well ululation from the ladies there present. The TPLF completely stole the show with no others in the fraternity of EPRDF to sing in their languages and dance to their music. The occasion was conspicuous by its exclusivity. In fact, even the OLF leadership was before long unceremoniously exiled after its forces were humiliatingly disarmed at a time when Isaias and Meles were close friends.
The first days of the TPLF misrule is characterized by onslaught on Emperor Menilik – the victor in the Battle of Adwa acclaimed as victory for all black people in the world. Then it was open contempt of the tri-color flag (green, yellow and red) Ethiopia flag denoting development, faith, and sacrifice in that order. Then it was giving Eritrea away leaving Ethiopia landlocked; appropriating farmland leaving peasants to toil in serfdom; stealing votes in broad daylight and throwing the victors to the congested infamous dungeon in Kaliti; executing peaceful demonstrators deliberately; invading Somalia without convincing reason. The list of TPLF atrocities is endless.
More than seventeen years on the acronym TPLF is very much prominent even when its proponents rule the entire Ethiopia with iron grip except Eritrea which Meles gave away by pleading with the UN to consummate the independence of the latter. The question is why still keep the acronym? Isn’t the liberation complete? Is it because the liberation would be in danger unless the rest of Ethiopia is weakened to the point that it would not pose a threat to Greater Tigrai envisioned by Meles? I leave the answers to these questions to my fellow Ethiopians.
Obama Victory Vs CUDP Victory
The quest for democracy, liberty and freedom is universal attribute of humankind. When the opportunity for change presented itself, people went to the voting booths in droves and stood for hours to cast their votes. We saw this happen in the historic election of 2005 and the US election of the 4th of November 2008. In our case the victors were sent to jail; in the case of Obama he was graciously congratulated by his opponent and later invited to the White House by the outgoing President. This is a monumental example of putting ones country first.
The leaders of CUDP did a marvelous job in the run up to the election of 2005. They won in the election and elevated our spirit albeit for a short time. They showed that peaceful struggle did work. They were thrown to jail for their sterling effort. We in the Diaspora struggled strenuously to secure their release. When that release came we thought that our struggle will gather momentum under their united leadership. Alas, that did not happen. The fracas among them was a setback to the triumph of democracy in our homeland. But we will never surrender; time is on our side
Global Obama obsession
There is no need to belabor the world euphoria for change. People in our global village have been long ready for change and waiting for a leader as articulate and genuine as President-elect Obama to emerge. Suffice it to say that his popularity was over 80% in Europe and close to this number in Africa, Asia and the troubled Middle East.
The Middle East being close to home and source of political upheaval in our beloved Motherland, Ethiopia, I watch democratic progress in this neighborly region. I recall having mentioned, in at least two of my previous articles, about the Doha Debate moderated by Tim Sebastian of the BBC. In those articles I wrote that the overwhelming majority of young Arabs and Israelis want to leave in harmony and peace. It would be useful to link with progressive forces in this region.
The following two recent debates I watched on the television are interesting:
• The motion for the debate held in October was that democracy in the Arab world has come to a halt. Those against the motion held the view that it is a living gradual process. The audience in the jam-packed auditorium voted 64% for the motion and 36% against the motion. The overwhelming majority thought democracy in the Arab world has halted. The blame was heaped on countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia in particular.
• The debate of 2 November 2008 was particularly. The debate was one of choice between McCain Foreign Policy and Obama Foreign Policy in the presidential contest. Those who supported the Obama Foreign Policy won by 87% – a whopping margin. Given that the audience in the jam-packed auditorium included citizens from Afghanistan and Iraq the vote showed how weary the people in these countries are of the atrocities of war.
Democracy, liberty and freedom are invariably the choice of the people; people pay the ultimate sacrifice to protect and preserve their choice. People at the grass roots level now know more than anytime in the history of the world that voter apathy weakens democracy, as Chief Justice Earl Warren cautioned.
Barrack Obama came at the right time and seized the moment. The fact that he was born of a white mother and an African mother is secondary to the burning issues at stake in the contemporary world. Like most of us he may love his mother more than his father. After all Africa is the origin of mankind and our Denkinesh (Lucy) is making appearances in museums across the United States to bring that archaeological evidence to the people of the United States. The crux of the matter is, as in the celebrated dream of Martin Luther King, that individuals will be judged not by the color of their skins but by the content of their character. The dream of Dr. King came to pass forty years later as confirmed by the landslide electoral verdict at the polls. This will perpetually stand as a fitting tribute to the freedom-loving and generous American people of all ethnic origins.
The historic event at the polls in the USA is a bad omen for Meles and thugs in his inner circle. Peoples of the world want democracy, liberty and freedom. The USA is very much on the way back on the saddle of global moral leadership to make that happen no matter how long it takes. Unlike President George Bush who failed in his pledge that America would end the long list of past alliances with dictators, the new leadership under Obama would sink the nail on the coffin of despotic rulers who terrorize their own people.
In a nutshell, the virtue of being judged by the content of ones character rather than ethnic origin will be the quintessential political and moral imperative of the 21st century.
I take pride that the Unity, Democracy and Justice Party is an all-inclusive national political entity resident on our home soil. I have no doubt that it had inherited the 8-point agenda of the former CUDP. The evidence is the presence of the legendary Professor Mesfin Woldemariam in the Council of UDJP.
The illustrious leaders of UDJP have demonstrated political insight, wisdom and unselfishness in choosing the charismatic intelligent young icon as the President of the Party. The youthful Judge has stolen the hearts of millions of Ethiopians and I believe that she is worthy of the trust of those millions.
Professor Mesfin ably and vividly articulated why we should break the long cycle of grabbing political power by force. The historic election of 2005 showed that the vicious cycle is breakable through peaceful election. As the Professor said, the ruling regime fears the people and the opposition fears its gun. This is true now as it was then when he said it. The temptation to break the cycle of violence is irresistible to for me as it is to millions of my fellow Ethiopians.
Finally, I would like to close this piece by stating the obvious – namely that the quest for change is moving fast. The ongoing worldwide economic crisis attests to the interdependence of humankind in a global village. The solution to the draconian problem requires consultation with a mindset for change irrespective of ideological and cultural differences among the peoples of the world.
There is a bright hope that peaceful struggle through united effort will succeed. The one and only one formidable obstacle on our way is the enigma of national liberation movement which should not have been an issue in the context of the political history of our ancient country. We need to thrash it without further delay. Let us borrow a leaf from the recent historic election in the USA to overcome ethnic, color and religious barriers and march on to victory in unison.
LONG LIVE UNITED ETHIOPIA IN DIVERSITY!!!