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Ethiopia: We’ve met the enemy and it is us



  09:18:49 pm, by admin   , 1658 words  
Categories: Ethiopia, Yilma Bekele

Ethiopia: We’ve met the enemy and it is us

Ethiopia: We’ve met the enemy and it is us

By Yilma Bekel

‘…. he was feared far beyond his might and respected far beyond his support, both which in the end proved meager. … would play one official off of another, promoting sons above their fathers, pitting the members of too-powerful families or clans or unions against one another for resources, splitting so many allies and creating so many feuds and petty rivalries that it was nearly impossible that any two ……. could come together to ask one another if there might be another way.’
Max Fisher, associate editor-The Atlantic.

Mr. Fisher’s description fits most successful dictators. Admit it you thought he was talking about ours, didn’t’ you? It is all right, no need to worry; he was actually talking about the late Colonel Gaddafi. The Leader got away with just doing that for over forty years. Libya lost a generation. That is what failed leaders do to a country. After they are gone they leave a mess behind.

The drawing above is by cartoonist Ali Ferzat of Syria. Mr. Assad and his associates did not look kindly at his work. According to Mr. Fisher “On August 25, the 60-year-old Syrian political cartoonist Ali Ferzat was driving home from his office in Damascus when a car with tinted windows blocked the road. Men dragged Ferzat from his car, stuffed him in a van, beat him severely and broke both his hands in what they called "a warning" and dumped him on the side of the road.” Mr. Assad and his goons would like to kill Mr. Ferzat, thereby digging their grave. That is the logic of dictators.

Mr. Ferzat drew the above cartoon after his hands healed. What is going on in Syria is insanity, and that is putting it mildly. President Assad has witnessed the demise of Ben Ali, Mubarak, Gaddafi and Saleh but he is following the path that leads to the same dead end street. Why do you think? He is not stupid, and I doubt he is insane. May be a little insane ok? He probably thinks things are different in Syria. May be he believes he is more cunning and smarter than those buffoons. No matter what, he cannot stop this runaway train. He has no choice. It is a do or die situation. He is a prisoner of his own doing and the Syrian people are prisoners of their tolerance of evil for so long.

We Ethiopians are familiar with that state of affairs. We have been prisoners for a long time. It is true we have not been lucky with the leaders we seem to attract. Misfits and delusional describes them better. It is a good enough explanation for the debacle in our homeland. My question is how come the same dysfunctional behavior is replicated away from home?

It is fair to ask if we are running our affairs any better where ever we have settled. If our claim is that we have been cursed with bad leaders can we show any evidence that we are capable of building a harmonious society with out the interference of those we hold responsible for our failure? I believe it is a legitimate question that begs for answers from each one of us. I am interested in an answer not an excuse. Excuse is for losers. My interest is in looking for an explanation so we can search for a solution to fix the problem not to go on a fishing expedition to avoid responsibility or share the blame.

Look around you. We are in the hundreds of thousands that have left their home to construct a new reality. There is no denying that we are good at survival no matter how dire the circumstances. From the Jungles of Uganda all the way to Southern Africa, from Beirut to the Gulf, From Tuscany Coast to the frigid waters of Scandinavia and the mighty Continent of North America we Ethiopians are thriving in our new environment. Any mother would be proud of us! Please don’t get a big head now there is more.

That speaks about our individual achievements. My profound question to you my Diaspora cousin is how come we shine as individuals but fail as a community? Can you answer that for me? If you don’t mind I said answer not make up an excuse that will remove ‘you’ from the equation and dump the sins onto others. That is not good enough. That is what is called avoidance. It is a little difficult to imagine how each one of you is a perfect saint while all those ‘others’ are the ones causing the problem. It does not work like that. Believe me it is not that way.

If we are going to share the glory I believe we should be willing to share the blame too. The problem with our country is that there are so many that take credit for the past while screwing the present. I don’t mean to belittle the many achievements of the few. I am looking at the bigger picture. Voltaire wrote ‘No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.’ You see what I mean. There wouldn’t be an avalanche without the individual snowflake.

Our anti social behavior is manifested in most aspects of our interactions. Be it Political, religious or simple Eder the slash and burn formula is our choice of resolving simple misunderstandings. Just check out your community if you are lucky or unlucky enough to live in a large size abesha population. There is a high possibility that the effort of individuals is spent in conflict and drama instead of cooperation and harmony. We are becoming very good in this use and discard philosophy. It used to be like that in the West before they became aware of the limitations of resources. Everything was manufactured to be used and thrown away.

You know how good we are at copying. Unfortunately we are not discriminating. Thus we picked up that concept and applied it to our country. Circumstances forced us to leave. Returning was not a safe option. That fact made the act of leaving something you love behind a normal situation. Now we have enhanced that to include organizations and associations. If we disagree we just create a small faction and leave. After spending so much time and resources in building a beautiful organization, Church etc. we have no qualms in leaving it behind hoping it would disintegrate and disappear. I have seen situations where the wreckers have no plans with what to replace it with. All available force goes into making sure nothing survives.

Why do you think that is so? I am not imaging this. I am sure we all love our country. We love each other. I know that because we seem to spend inordinate amount of time worrying about each other and our homeland. We have our own Churches and Mosques; we have our own restaurants, quick stores, coffee shops, our own on line community etc. For people that can’t live without each other we definitely exhibit a strange way to show our love and concern.

This formidable force commonly called the Diaspora is a paper tiger. The Diaspora is all bark no bite. In fact the Diaspora is such a negative and destructive force it needs to be overhauled. Such talk might offend you. You might be forced to get your guards up. That is the snowflake talking. It is like saying I see all this dysfunction around me but I am not responsible. Who me? I am the picture of love and tolerance. It is all those others that are the cause of all evil. Stop that now.

That is what Gaddafi said. Look what it got him. Denial is not a winning strategy. Self-reflection is what the situation demands. Admitting there is a problem is show of maturity. Holding oneself responsible and willing to change is one giant step forward. This total dysfunction is the sum total of the little things we do in our everyday interaction.

I believe we can start with respect for each other. Respect based not because of education, wealth or gosa but respect because we are each other’s keepers. There is no need to demonize others, no value in demeaning fellow country people, not a good idea searching for motive in every utterance and no winner in war. If we take care of the little things, the big things will fall into place.

This habit of screaming bloody murderer about the hapless Woyane is not taking us anywhere. The crimes of our tyrannical leaders will be the cause of their downfall. The Ethiopian people will take care of that. They are working on it everyday. It is us I worry about. If we are not capable of forming a harmonious society out here where we really do not have conflicting interest what makes you think we could succeed over there? Shouldn’t out here be the place where we learn this new concept of respect, tolerance, kindness and all other winning behavior?

That is the advantage of living in a free society. It gives individuals a choice. No one compels us to do this or that. We are free to choose. Thus when we split our Church, when we disrespect our leaders be it Community or Party we are making a choice. When we speak ill of each other and when we hurt each other with venomous language it is a choice we each make. When we invest in Woyane land, buy stolen property, turn our faces away when we see our people being abused we are making a choice. No need to look at your neighbor. You ladies and gentlemen have to answer for your own actions. What would it be soaring high like the eagle or scavenging like the vulture. The choice is yours but you must take full responsibility for it!


Comment from: PEACE [Visitor]

Mr. Bekele,

I have just one question. When you say “my cousins” in the Diaspora, who are you referring to?

02/01/12 @ 22:37
Comment from: kebede [Visitor]

Yilma, it is well said.I think that is our big problem for the last 3000 years and we become so backward.

02/02/12 @ 00:06
Comment from: OBSA [Visitor]

There is no argument on the need to overthrow thie dictatorial rule of Melles. But there is a big argument on the kind of government to be formed there after. Oromos and Amharas have totally divergent need on the aftermath of Melles. Amharas wanna to keep their old empire. But oromos have no empire to maintain. They want to form a new state. So how can we reconcile such divergent needs is the question.

02/02/12 @ 00:45
Comment from: Kaddis [Visitor]

The reason people are not interested is you are asking them to fix Ethiopian problem before they fix their own problem. They can’t do that. Help them to get education, healthcare, jobs and etc…where they live especaily in US - then they may spare some support to Ethiopia. Be geniune in your desire to know - don’t assume all Ethiopian’s problem is woyane. In fact Woyane is fixing so many problems of Ethiopia - tell me who supports the Ethiopians abroad? Don’t you think they need support? The problem is this takes work - which you and your types dont have in you except talk!!!

02/02/12 @ 01:10
Comment from: Agerwedad [Visitor]

Brilliantly written article that really led me to self reflection. You have touched a nerve Ato Yilma thank you for saying what really needed to be said. I choose to embrace individual responsibility and it will be the standard the standard I will use to criticize or commend and using that criteria Meles Still falls short.

02/02/12 @ 01:40
Comment from: [Member]

Nice writing.It is bizzare how we can’t get together as a community abroad or in the country, inspite of sharing so much in common we can’t get together to create harmonized society.

This fact always bothers me.We as a community must overhaul our mindset.

Blessings to Ethiopia !

02/02/12 @ 04:26
Comment from: Extraterrestrial [Member]

The concept of opposition in the Ethiopian Diasporas mind is not democratic, it is an old Communist ideology opposition concept still driving it in which opposition is enmity where one group can only live on the graveyard of the other. Diasporas politics is more dirty and more undemocratic than the dictatorship in Ethiopia.

First identify and disassociate yourself from politics of treading on the Ethiopian poor and national interest, dirty game: don’t demonize, don’t oppose Aid, don’t associate with Eritrea, don’t undermine developmental programs in the country, stop hate propaganda, stop lying the Ethiopian poor, stop using the “Weyane” card and the Tigray people, and play fair. When you don’t do that your integrity is in question and no body believes you.

02/02/12 @ 06:53
Comment from: Mehari [Visitor]

Well said Ato Yilma!

As you already mentioned the diaspora community of ours are almost everywhere in the world except on the moon. In every each country, mostly in the western democracy, we observe day to day how the free society is governing itself and address their political differences. Tolerance, respect, dialogue and patience for each other are among the obvious reasons they lead a healthy governments. Sometimes it seems we have learned nothing in wherever we are located and we seem to be there “physically” while our way of thinking is still bickering, hate, tribalism, emotional, ignorance and so on. Observe any article posted here! it is common to read any topic, but blame “woyane” or “meles” did this did that…

As you said, we are mostly good at having association in small scale and helping each other. Concerning our country and our vision of governance depends on a short sighted and mostly egoistic attitude. Hardly an Ethiopian agree for everlasting purpose. We are known for such behavior wherever we are. It is sad! God help me to become a good example and have a good fight to benefit others. Well written and a good advice. Thank you and God bless you and God bless Ethiopia!

02/02/12 @ 12:30
Comment from: [Member]

What a nicely written article. It is a timely analysis of the overall concern of our Ethiopia. We have to come to unity with one another and form anti-divisive alliance. Then and only then can we dismantle our motherland’s cancer. In the journey for better Ethiopia we may have to pass through compromise yet “unity” our almighty sword. Thank you ato Yilma for such genuinely written call for the greater Habesha.
This shall be our utmost agenda. wherever we are we should hasten the arrival of Democratic Ethiopia by crashing the current ruling strongman’s trcikery.
Meles with his stooges will and have tried at handful of devide-and-rule methods. He had used border dispute to divert attention. He had instigated enmity amongst religious groups. he had spied on us and yet his days are dwindling.
አቶ ይልማ የሳፍከው ትንታኔ የ ጊዜውን አንገብጋቢ ጥያቄ የተመለከተ ነው :: ህብረት በ አንድ ባህል ጥላ ስር አስተባብሮን የ አገራችንን ነቀርሳ መንጥቀን ማሰወገድ ሃላፊነታችን ነው :: መለስ ሰይጣናዊ ሰርቆ ለመሮጥ ላይ ሳለ አዳዲስ ማታለያ መንገዶችን እያሰላ ሊጠቀም ይጥራል :: የድንበር ጦርነት, የ ሃይማኖት ብጥብጥ, ብሎም የራሱን ለገንዘብ የተዋረዱትን ምልምሎች በመሃከላችን እየወረወረ ጆር ጠቢ እንዲሆኑ ያደርጋል ::
የ ጋዳፊ ጽዋ እንዲደርሰው የምናደርገው በ አንድነትና አነሰተኛ ቅራኔዎቻችንን ገለል በማድረግ በ ምናደርገው ትግል ብቻ ነው::

ሞት ለመለስ ቅጥረኞች::

02/02/12 @ 18:39
Comment from: TEDDY [Visitor]

Hey Extra (A very dediicated nickname to a Banda Invader ) as you said :The concept of TPLF bandits mind is not democratic, it is an old Communist ideology Stalinist concept still driving it in which opposition is enmity where one group can only live on the graveyard of the other. Agazis politics is more dirty and more undemocratic than the Derg dictatorship in Ethiopia.By the way who can trust traitors ,former shabyan Agents ,enemies of the country’s territorial integrity .when these evil bandas come on this website trying to teach us a lesson of Patriotism!!!!

02/02/12 @ 19:41
Comment from: Rev. Tegga Lendado [Visitor]
Rev. Tegga Lendado

Let us face the enemy now!

Probably we need to rediscover ourselves both individually and societally, even before we start talking about truth, peace, justice, reconciliation,…. sustainability,development,…. counter-corruption, transparency, integrity, respect, etc. Otherwise, it would be: wuha qida wuha meles! I think we need to focus on the cause rather than the symptom. Great article! God bless you, Sir!

02/02/12 @ 21:17
Comment from: selam [Visitor]

Is it any wonder why we are so divided, have become disrespectful, no wisdom? Remember, when we leave our country we come to different environment. In other words, nothing remains the same wherever we are. Even Ethiopia has changed now. Because we want the old status quo, we refuse to change. Such negative forces come to us in politics, economy, etc, we become emotional. What we were not prepared for is learning that things will change and what we need to do to cope with this change positive or negative and most of all, how we must still remain, not changing, our respect, wisdom for others however we should not be naive and indifferent such negative forces that comes towards us and we need to know how to tackle this while maintaining our humanity, wisdom, respect and so on

02/03/12 @ 02:28
Comment from: Shameful [Visitor]

Extra say….
“Do not associate with Eritrea"….
This is woyane in nature,

Be it The State of Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan… We the people of the Horn will always remain neibours, you like it or not.

There is no anything worse in our zone than the Woy!Ane administration nowadays:)
The trouble makers of the zone ofcouse, but do we have any right to tell - do not associate with woyane -? I believe not.

what Eritrea (The neighbor of Ethiopia ask from each and every Ethiopian FROM inside and diaspora is…)


As much as I myself fight for my own existence and my God-given right and space on earth, I respect you and your fight for your right too.

But what you need to learn on the first place is that all places supposed to be owned by the people originated from that specific space FIRST. Same should go to all your tribes too

Whatever history you have learned from your forefathers, my misconception with you Ethios is that you telling me that you own my land, imagine the now coloniser Karuturi to tell you after 10 years the same:)

It is unfair that you expect me to stand there and watch you to go as far to eradicate me from the face of earth, as you have tried for decades:):)

I cannot go longway to Oromo and claim my rights there or to Shewa or to Tgray, which is irrelevant.

When claiming your right from woyane I guess is the same phenomenon, you are asking for your rightious existence on your forefathers land, am I right?

Hence, we need to come into civilised conclusion that as far as I am not claiming AN INCH of your space, you RESPECT my rights too

After you respect ME and let me alone, then you can come and seek mutual cooperation for the sake of coexistence.

I guess same goes everywhere. Nowadays countries do join hands for mutual cooperation having full respect on eachother’s scope but they do not go to war inorder to ideologically unite and work together

See the difference?

As logic and simple as that!

Wish you all Ethiopians unity, peace and harmony.

Lets respect eachother and make the Horn of Africa bloomish.

02/04/12 @ 04:26
Comment from: Extraterrestrial [Member]

TEDDY [Visitor]

Do you know what the author is talking about, have you read it? From your comment I know you didn’t read the article, please read it. It is good to simply read and respond to the article than to comment on a comment. If you read articles and comment to the article itself showing your own independent reaction would have been great and also will save you from behaving like a bull in a china shop.

02/04/12 @ 09:20
Comment from: HaK [Visitor]

I am not being judgmental. I believe there are many successfully run community organizations. But, I have seen or heard people in the diaspora getting together and forming new community associations, nonprofit or political organizations, new churches or whatever. The majority would not last long and we see or hear they were dissolved or divided. The officers have become quarreled and even won’t talk to each other. When they talk they become so emotional and preconceives they were the victim. When I see this or hear such stories, the first thing that comes to mind is that – why? I always wonder why we are lacking collaboration, harmony and good will to work together in a sustainable way and bring about common positive results that benefit communities and our country at large.

I am not sure if it has something with a lack of self-awareness and unwillingness to civilize. We lack to take things so seriously (unless it is a personal matter) or to being proactive. We simply react by conditions and circumstances. We elect officers by seniority, friendship or whether he has a business, or whoever speaks eloquently. The majority of the officers running these organizations focus on the friendship, for the name or personal stuff earned other than the final positive outcome. So, it is hard to come to decisions. The meeting takes very long. Everyone thinks he is a friend of the other officer. It is hard to get honest opinion on the pretext that it might offend their new found friend. Before long, they completely forget the reason why the organization was launched or why they were elected in the first place. After all, they did not qualify for the job at all.

02/04/12 @ 17:11
Comment from: Belegne [Visitor]

I am glad now you know who is your enemy. Get him now. Go and get gun and shoot yourself. Make sure he never come back again.

I have always known your enemy is that damn empty thing which is stuck on top of your neck.

02/05/12 @ 04:11



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