Tenesa Teramed (Stand up and walk/stride) – By Robele Ababya

November 28th, 2008 Print Print Email Email

Here is one of my favorite quotes, this one from Shakespeare in Julius Caesar: (more…)

Here is one of my favorite quotes, this one from Shakespeare in Julius Caesar: “Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

Indeed the fault is in ourselves, fellow Ethiopians, that we are underlings to the brutal TPLF regime misruling our Motherland Ethiopia with brute force. This is only because we are not uniting fast enough, as a matter of urgency, in order to bridle the contemptuous violation of basic human rights, gross mismanagement of our national economy and betrayal of vital national interests perpetrated by thugs in the top secretive echelon of the regime who are nothing but imposters trading in the name of the brave people of Tigrai.

I was pondering whether I should post this piece of writing which I had prepared months earlier. As it were, there is time for everything as the old adage goes. The analysis by Professor Seid Hassan in his inspiring paper entitled “The link between ethno-centric minority rule and corruption – The case of Ethiopia” motivated me to reflect back to the early days in the aftermath of the Ethiopian revolution in 1974 which I characterize as all-inclusive in my capacity as participant in that patriotic call for change. So I am posting my piece this time.

Tenesa Teramed is the name of a patriotic song aired by Radio Voice of Ethiopia in July 1974 or thereabout. This all-inclusive song resonated throughout the country and lifted the spirit of all Ethiopians regardless of their gender, age, ethnic background or creed. Albeit for a short time, it set us on a course of enthusiastic desire for change without bloodshed. I wish to tell in the following paragraphs how I got to know about Tenesa Teramed on one of those of my lucky days that I will never forget.

Pure coincidence landed me at the cinema hall in the premises of the then famous Imperial Ethiopian Air Force at Debre Zeit. Final audition of the famous song was just about to begin at the time I entered the packed hall with my bets friend – a senior Air Force officer. The tape started playing; the song accompanied by awe-inspiring sweet background music filled the hall completely captivating the attention of the audience. At the end of the song, the crowed burst into cheers – in a vivid aura of togetherness and display of joy and determination to push for bloodless change. Ethiopia first was the chorus of the song.

The song was unanimously and enthusiastically approved with one brilliant amendment suggested by a highly respected officer of Oromo origin from Wollega Province. He commented that the song should reflect ownership thereof by all children of Ethiopia and not only by members of the Air Force. The amendment was accepted with deafening applause even before the officer could finish his comment. The phrase in the very last of the section of the song which red “says the Air Force” was substituted by the all-inclusive phrase “say your children”. I repeat that it was a brilliant amendment underlining the virtue of inclusiveness of all sectors of the Ethiopian society contrary to the evil policy of TPLF regime using ethnicity as its weapon to divide and misrule Ethiopia.

It was then decided to take the tape immediately to the Provisional Military Coordinating Committee later renamed Derg, The song was aired by Radio Voice of Ethiopia on the same evening of that unforgettable day.

The text of the song and the music were the work of young members of the amateur Music Club of the Air Force. The clarion call for change, by putting Ethiopia first, brought civilians and men in uniform of all ranks together on a band wagon for progress. Interestingly, there is nothing in the text of the song even remotely embracing a specified ideology.

The song is made up of six sections of four to five lines each separated by one line of repetitive chorus, “Ha Hoo Ethiopia Tikdem” sang twice. “Ethiopia Tikedem” means Ethiopia first; Ha and Hoo are the sounds of the first and second characters in the first row of the ancient and unique Ethiopian Alphabet.

I have the privilege and honor to provide the gist of the poem translated into English in prose for each section as follows – humbly apologizing to its authors and my readers for any loss in the force of the message due to translation:

First Section

Stand up and walk; strengthen your arm for the prosperity of your country and defense of fellow citizens. Let us say Alleluia! To the great tidings that Ethiopia is free at last from long years of imprisonment. Let us march ahead vowing to put Ethiopia first; so that the recipe in our brew for change will benefit the next generations.

Second Section

It is enough hereafter to say I for me; let us say we for us and work cooperatively. Progress loves hard work and abhors laziness; it (laziness) is of no benefit to our motherland.

Third Section

Let dams be built across our rivers for they have flown uselessly for thousands of years. Let minerals be mined for the benefit of our country and the people brace for hard work diligently.

Fourth Section

She (Ethiopia) was once seen as the Lady of Africa endowed with natural abundance; it is a contradiction that our motherland is now characterized as a land of hunger and famine, as if she was not once admired as breadbasket.

Fifth Section

Away with slumbering and let there be no more sleeping; let poverty and disease disappear from our motherland. Let it be told and publicly proclaimed; that unity is power and hope for progress.

Sixth Section

We detest any threat to our motherland; we do not want to see oppression of her citizens. We do not condone religious and ethnic bias; say your children Ethiopia Tikdem.

I was utterly shocked that airing of the famous song on Radio Voice of Ethiopia did not last long. It was stopped by none other than the coward dictator Mengistu Hailemariam on grounds that it was nationalistic in contradiction to Marxist-Leninist ideology adopted by his regime; it did not tally with the slogan: “Workers of the World Unite!” The irony of it all is that the coward had only cursory academic background to read and understand the works of Karl Marx and Lenin for no Amharic translation of their works were available at the time. What is common to all dictators is that they hide their ignorance under ‘I know-it-all’ attitude once they seize the helm of state power in the name of the people. In the dying moment of his regime Tenesa Teramed was reinstated but only to be played at official functions the Air Force at its premises. That was too little too late to appeal to the patriotism of the people which was ignored for 17 years.

Readers will kindly note that the TPLF is doing the very opposite to the all-inclusive rallying call for change aptly articulated by the song. Tenesa Teramed underlines unity in diversity; it advocates the virtue of hard work; it underscores the importance of building dams across our rivers for irrigation neglected without benefit for centuries; it expresses firm resolve to safeguard the territorial integrity of our Motherland, Ethiopia.

The call for fundamental change to the way we do things in our world is all-pervasive in our global village. The quest for freedom is invincibly irreversible. That wonderful man, President Simon Peres of Israel, said it so in much the same way to Steven Sucker of the BBC in his recent interview on Hard Talk.

The 85-year President answered in the affirmative to the question of the interviewer whether he would in his life time see the proposed two-state solution (Israel and Palestine living side by side as independent states) come into fruition in his life time. In a way, he challenged the interviewer why he as an old man could see those changes whereas the young interviewer is to some extent hesitant that the Israeli people do not share his views. The grand wise man said that the quest for those changes is in the minds of people undetectable by x-rays installed in the doors through which people pass.

I want to mention at this juncture that Professor Mesfin is much younger than the President of Israel. I hope he holds the same optimism as President Peres to see peaceful change of his dream come to pass in his beloved Motherland, Ethiopia, in his life time.

In the recent Doha debate the vote was 75% in favor of freedom of expression and involvement in politics as against the 25% who said that since the Qatari government provides free education, health services, rental subsidies citizens should curb their demand for democratic freedom. As Jesus Christ said, man does not live by bread alone. It is amazing that the “generational transformation” which ex-Vice President Albert Gore spoke about in reference to the landslide victory of President-elect Barrack Obama is popular everywhere.

So, there will be no place to hide for tyrants like Meles. They will be brought to justice for their heinous crimes; the sentences would be severe unless they seize the moment to show remorse to receive leniency in a fair trial in an independent court of law.

President-elect Obama seized the moment in a world so hungry for change. I am already encouraged by his utterance that the USA does not condone torture. This means to me that, unlike President Bush who reneged on his promises to severe the long series of alliances with despotic regimes, he will end those ties with dictators who torture and terrorize their people. The political scene dominated by the foreign policy of Secretary Rice and her rendition strategy that was perhaps a her reason to support the tyrant Meles will be wiped away by the tsunami of change.

But Lo and behold my fellow Ethiopians! No others can do for us more than what we can do for ourselves. Even heaven helps those who help themselves. The seasonal climate may be good for plowing, sowing or planting and eventually harvesting. The farmer who fails to do all of these cannot expect a harvest; he or she will hungry. Similarly, if we as Ethiopians fail to take advantage of the political climate conducive for change, then we would abandon our civic duty and responsibility thus rendering ourselves laughing stocks to the rest of the global community.

The Ethiopian people rallied to the call for bloodless change in 1974. They did so in the historic election of 15 May 2005. It is the elites including me who let the wonderful and cultured people down. I suggest that those of us who have not done so already to emulate Dr. Yacob Hailemariam in extending our sincere apology to the Ethiopian people like he openly did recently in the DC Metro Andinet Support forum. The ineffective diatribe rampant among the various opposition groups has to stop in order to concentrate on defeating the TPLF ruling regime feasting on divisive ethnic-centered politics.

It is time to stand up in unison and burst the cocoon in which Ethiopians are held as underlings by the brutal TPLF regime supported by its agazi armed forces.


  1. Kassa
    | #1

    Dear writer:
    I always read your articles with great interest. But that doesn’t mean I always agree with all your opinions.
    Would you please come up with an article which would reveal the causes of the fights (bickerings) among the the Ethiopian Educated politicians ….so we can understand their problems…excuse them…help them…wherever necesary…..?

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