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Ethiopia - Again? Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired
By Fekade Shewakena
Yep, there you go again. The pictures of your shame and, for all practical purposes, your national identity, are running everywhere again. The terrifying pictures that show emaciated and famished children are popping up on our television screens and now thanks to the new media - the internet, more people are watching the pictures and reading heart wrenching stories of people trekking the land in search of food carrying their dying children. Indications are that what we see is only the tip of the iceberg and only severe conditions and accessible cases are exploding on the media. God is the only one who has access to places like the Ogaden region, where government collective punishment, ban on international aid agencies such as the Red Cross, and the failure of the belg rains, have created a perfect storm for mass death. I hate imagining what it may look like there. See for example, this and this and this and this and this and this video for some latest devastating reports on big international media among many others.
The number of people going without food for days at a time and severe conditions of hunger come from all corners of the country, rural and urban, including Addis Ababa, where the majority of the city dwellers, we are finding out, are living under grueling starvation. Meles Zenawi’s government wants to make it look like that this is occurring in some “pockets” of the country, in a language quite reminiscent of the preceding governments. The TPLF and its cadres are angrily complaining that a report by international aid agencies that six million children are under severe malnutrition is exaggerated and think it is only 75,000 children and they are debating as if the number is static. But look at this to see how they lie through their teeth. Only last week TPLF officials said that there are 4.5 million people who need emergency food aid. From the governments own demographic statistics alone, we all know that children constitute the majority of the population. Now, make a conservative estimate that only half of the 4.5 million are children. You do the math. I am sure any nerd can see that no less than 2 million children are under severe malnutrition, and the number for all we know is rising. They can’t even lie sensibly. I don’t know how they differentiate the exaggerated from the unexaggerated. It appears that these sick TPLF politicians have a tolerable size of misery in their minds any way. If skeletal children are showing up around Shashemene and Arsi, in one of the most productive and wettest parts of the country, it is not hard to imagine what it would look like in the more arid areas where rainfall fluctuation is more recurrent. May be at this time people are not dying in mass and this may not be technically called famine, but it is not hard to imagine the magnitude of the suffering and the kind of hellhole most Ethiopians currently find themselves in.
The TPLF government blames everything and everybody but itself for the disaster created by its own misguided economic policies, their failure to strategically plan, their screwed up economic thinking, their criminal negligence and misplaced priorities. The same old debunked crap is being recycled to explain this shame again. The officials and their patronizing donors are still using the tired lie that “drought”, the failure of the seasonal rains, caused this tragedy. They use the words “drought” “dirq” in place of famine and huger, often interchangeably and in one sentence to help them conceal the hard truth. The fact that drought on one hand, and hunger and famine on the other, have no structural linkage has been an established knowledge now. For those of you who still get eluded, you can validate this by looking around the world where you will see countries that are hit harder by drought, or even are complete deserts, or even less resource fortunate than Ethiopia, but have no starving children popping up on your TV and computer screens. Drought is a source of misery, famine and hunger are rampant only in corrupt countries, those that live under dictatorships and intense internal conflicts and an unwilling to solve it.
The complaint for the suffering of our children and our people should be directed at all of us as a people and not against nature. Please get used to this notion that drought is not the natural cause of famine or hunger. Stop fooling yourselves. None of you are going to stop drought and make the rain fall. Rest assured that this problem is going to get worse as global climate trends show, but you can stop hunger and famine if you do the right thing - rise up against the real causes. Please stop dreaming that you can solve it by throwing a couple of dollars at it and it will get away. Many of us did that during the past famine cycles. I made the same noise five years and half ago (read it here). I am agonizing that I am going to do the same for this cycle again knowing full well that I will have to do the same during the next one. Those of you, who think you can fundraise your way through this tragedy, make sure to prepare to do the same for the next one.
In its excuse making craft, the TPLF has now added one more excuse -the global rise in food and oil prices. But they don’t tell you why this phenomenon chooses only Ethiopia for attack and picks our children for exhibition. In one of his regular lectures to those pathetic human beings sitting in his rubberstamp parliament, Meles Zenawi literally said that the current food crisis in Ethiopia is due to the fact that other people around the world have started eating more. According to his pervert logic the progress of other people is our doom, and for us to eat more, other people must eat less. Some of Meles’s people who think they are a little more clever are also using the word “malnutrition” in place of this acute hunger, as if to mean the problem is lack of balanced nutrition and make the problem look less severe. See for example, one TPLF pinhead trying to make this point here. This pitiful human being also has the temerity to blame Western journalists who spread the news to facilitate his beggary and people like me living in Diaspora who agonize in pain over this gruesome pictures instead of blaming his tribal chiefs who preside over the disaster. In his one page essay, this pinhead used the word “malnutrition” five times and fully avoided the real descriptive terms.
But ask these fair questions even if it means bearing the name callings by these apologists. Since they cannot argue the facts, they will resort to calling you extremist, hater, genocidal etc. But these are must ask questions. What happened to the double digit and near double digit economic growth statistics and the associated bragging that was being dished out over the last several years by Meles Zenawi and his cadres? Can’t we even pass a single seasonal failure of rainfall without seeing terrifying pictures of children with straw like hands and legs on televisions and the internet around the world? Or is it that we were being given the usual Meles Zenawi Tenquay economics and political crap? What has come off of our being the star aid recipient country in Sub-Sahara Africa and one of the most important destinations of Western aid in the world? What happens to nearly 25 billion dollars of aid pumped in the country over the past decade and half and the not so small amount of hard currency pumped in as remittance from a large Diaspora? What was that institution of beggary, the Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency (DPPA), doing before the pictures of the skeletons of the unfortunate kids exploded on our faces? Weren’t some TPLFites making a mockery of bread lines in Asmara a few weeks back? We all know Eritrea receives virtually no aid from the lords of poverty. Why is it that I don’t see skeletal children from there? Why is it that even less resource fortunate African countries than Ethiopia, and hit hard by the same drought and global food price rises, do not produce these kinds of agonizing pictures? I have seen pictures of hungry people from Zimbabwe and we all know the country lives under intense sanctions. Why is it that I don’t see skeletal pictures coming from there on Ethiopia’s level? The last time I checked the volume of water in Ethiopia is more than what we find in most of African countries and many more around the world. Who chose Ethiopia for this exhibition, the angry Gods? The only reason, in my view, that may make God angry, if he gets angry at all, must be the abuse of the gift he gave Ethiopia, our failure to solve our problems by holding the real culprits for our disaster accountable. I feel a pity for the people who are praying and bothering God for more rains. It is the wrong question to ask of Him. He made us the Water Tower of Eastern Africa, and gave us resources more than our fair share. What else are we bothering Him for? I am afraid we can end up angering Him for a completely different reason.
The answers to the questions I raised above are pure and simple in my view. In the famous expression of the 1992 Bill Clinton presidential campaign, it is the governance and the economic policy stupid. And it is our allowing our beautiful country to continue to be ruled by these misguided, selfish, ruthless tribal barons who shortchanged our needs for their selfish end of clinging to power. It is because of TPLF’s policies and misguided priorities that alienated the millions of us from freely participation in solving the problem. It is Meles Zenawi’s bone headed thinking that government instead of free, creative and imaginative citizens can develop a country of complex problems and needs. It is the corrupt tribal and exclusionary politics where government positions of technical decision making are given to ignorant and mediocre political cadres whose only merit is their servitude to Meles Zenawi. It is the condescending attitude of the TPLF tribal barons towards the capability and long accumulated knowledge of the Ethiopian people to handle their problems – the very problems the solutions of which the people know more than anybody. It is the hubris and “I know what you need” attitude of the TPLF officials, their conviction that knowledge comes along with authority. It is the amazing self delusion that leads Meles to think he is a professor of theoretical economics and development model builder and the failure of his followers to differentiate between a tiraz neteq street smart and a wise man. It is the prevailing thinking in TPLF officialdom that the best custodian of agricultural land is the government and not the people. It is the tragic land degradation and environmental deterioration, the cultivation of even 60 degree slopes that sane governments often legally prohibit from cultivation assign for vegetation cover. It is because of a government which does not even obey its own laws and punishes dissent and alternative thinking sometimes by shooting you on the head. It is the instigation of one ethnic group against another as a means of security of power. It is the discrepancy between the rhetoric and practice on the equality of nations and nationalities within the country. The only substantive equality I see now is that the TPLF has successfully spread hunger and famine to places that have not had it before, Oromia and the Southern regions. This was unthinkable two decades ago. Now the Oromo and the people of the southern half are equal to the people of the northern half. Yeh, now they can understand how to watch a starving child dying on their hands. If we have a government engaged in meeting the needs of its people, as the TPLF pretends it does, what rational do you see in spending billions for the invasion of poor failed Somalia that has done nothing against us and killing children and women in Mogadishu and have the bodies your soldiers dragged on the streets. What poor country that is unable to feed its children does engage in such bankrupting adventure? For what, for heaven’s sakes? You know the answer. It is not to benefit Ethiopia. They did this to secure their stranglehold on power at whatever cost, including hunger and famine. It is interesting to note that the TPLF has just increased its military budget by $50 million, most of which will definitely go to kill dissenting Ethiopians, ourselves, in the same week that it launched its large scale beggary for international aid.
Look at the misuse of public resources and money begged and borrowed in the name of the people for spending in areas that are not a priority. Tell me why the public banks are lending money for the building of expensive high rise executive buildings that are mushrooming in Addis Ababa – What was it that people in Ethiopia say of such cases? “Qit gelbo kinibnib?” Tell me why the parents of these dying children have to subsidize the gas expanses of the Al Amoudi’s of Addis Ababa. Why do we need empty buildings around the country called Universities when the number of children dying of famine is more than the number that go to college? How about some micro-dams on some small rivers for irrigation and fill the empty tummies first? At least one education expert told me that these so called universities are good and expensive empty buildings without professors and more than 90% staffed with undergraduates that, with the exception of a few, nobody in his right mind would accredit as higher learning institutions. The brightest students that graduate from the better institutions are not even working in Ethiopia anyway. About 50% of the staff teaching in my department at AAU is here in the United States. There are entire batches of medical students from AAU medical faculty working in hospitals near where I live. Do you know for the price of some of these buildings, so called Universities, and a small fraction of the aid money we receive that we can build dams on some of the river basins, harvest rainwater, and cultivate three harvests a year, and get rid of extreme hunger and famine in a short order and once and for all?
Folks if you think I am putting all the blame at the foot of the government you are wrong.
Look yourselves in the mirror. Every one of us who call ourselves Ethiopians carries this shame and disgrace. You can be anything, rich, educated, well fed and living the most comfortable Ethiopian of any citizen of any rich country of Ethiopian origin. You may pretend that you have conquered odds and made it. Please know that you are a shame and a disgrace for letting this humanly solvable tragedy continue unabated in the 21st century. If it was other people, and history including some of our own past, is of full of examples of this, they would have learnt from one disaster or two, deliberate over the problem, unite as one single whole and gotten rid of such a rotten system of governance that perpetuates this shame by any means necessary. Folks, it is foolish to think that this problem will go away on its own. It won’t. The only choice we have is rising up in unity against this crime against humanity. Stop this silly politics of chewing one another, the lazy bickering and get off your duffs and do the most sensible thing. Fight. Get up and have yourselves counted. Claim your dignity as a human being. Demand your legitimate right to be freely involved in the search for the solution. Democracy is the only solution. It is not a luxury. It the only tool. How can you not get sick and tired of this disgrace, ehhhhhhhhhhh.
Stop crying for Ethiopia and adapt one kid. It does not cost a lot. Shedding fake tears and being overly cocerned about human rights as well as democratic governance wont put food in the mouth of desperate children. If you are truly concerned about ethiopia, help one soul and you have done your dues.
One person can make a change.
What I am sick and Tired of is the so called intellectual people like you who talks but do nothing practical to help their country.
Thank you for your words of wisdom. I agree with most of the things you have said in your article. One fundamental thing that i do not agree with is when you say we have to fight. Fight against what? who? Haven’t we had enough wars and fightings?
Is it not possible for us Ethiopians to work and improve o what we have built so far? How about forgive and reconcile? How about accept once weakness and shortcomings? How about being realistic about our country?
We have a lot of issues that we have to work on and improve and some pracitices need to be erased from our culture. We have to focus in us and not only on the government.
Whenever there is a bad news, i see lots of comments attacking the government? How about us as Ethiopians? We wish our Emeye Ethiopia to shine but what are we doing for her betterment?
Government has responsibilities towards its people. People should be responsible towards the government. These two elements should work together like our two hands! You can only clap with two hands! What i see is, a culture of sit back and critisize the existing government and expect things to work in the country?
We seem to love miracles!
Our life style, our culture our eating habits etc…. need to be looked at. Let us help the government with the little that we know from other cultures and make a difference.
Mr.shewa, Stop playing your dirty politics on my people’s back. I decided to send my stimulus money. My fellow ethiopian brothers and sisters, please do the same. Thanks.
Well said and good. BUT stop the blame game and lets us you Ato Fekade and ALL of us do something rather than attempting to solve this crises at the stroke of the pen for the sake of scoring political point.
YES, it is shame on ALL of us. However, let Ato Fekade take the lead and fire fight the immediate problem and let us plan strategically how this can be sustained.
I very much hope Ato Fekade’s patriotism will be meaningful and he will take the initiative on his personal capacity and do his utmost to save the lives of our own people.
I await for any meaningful suggestion and I am more than willing to contribute my share whether it is in a monetary terms or otherwise.
Kindest regards, Zena
Fekade I am 100% with you, thanks.
TPLF has failed to govern Ethiopia even though the leaders became one of the richest in Africa. As per their policy annual evaluation “Gimgema” they are failed each year the last 17 years. Look the details below on my assessment:
Defence: Failed Eritrea and Sudan -2
Agriculture: 17 years begging -10
Health: No built hospital or increase capacity -5
Justices: Kangaroo court -6
Democracy: One parity domination / eradicate opposition -10
Political stability: Tribal politics / not stable -9
Employment: Based on tribe rather than merit/ high unemployment -9
Utility/ Consumption: Regular electric and water shortage -6
Education: Disaster / no academic freedom and quality -2
Economic freedom: No yet free market / mixed Albanian ideology -4
Citizen welfare: No equal right / no reliable police force -2
Inflation: Very high -1
Free media: Full government control -5
GNP: Mainly depended on donated food -6
Co-existence with neighbours: Somalia/ Sudan on verge of to create another problem -7
Road Construction: Mainly on capital city 3
Sewerage systems: Very bad / no plan -5
Rural development: Nothing -2
Taxation: Not fare / based on bribe and ethnic -6
The above evaluation is made by my own. You can do the same for yourself.
TPLF know it any one failed cannot hold office and they should go. They are embarrassment not only for Ethiopians; they are the weakest link for the whole Africa.
Now we cannot give them anymore chance. We should raise our opposition and developed strategy to fight them by all means.
I believe our discussion should be on their removal rather than wasting our time repeating what we all know they are incapable and bad for Ethiopia.
Me too I am sick of sick and taired sick
You said it all loud and clear. But it fell on deaf ear. I give the lik to you superb article in the year 2002. People here did not allow me post such comment a day or so ago. So much about freedom and democracy.
i feel bad childern and older people are punshed with this bad stravation, lets stund up to our people do something to save their life,,,,,, god bring pless in our people,
This is a great read …. i didnt miss a single line. Thank you Fekade Shewakena… you nailed it Great article ones again.
We do not need good writer but action taker and who can commit to pay the price and bring about tangeble change to the people. I beleive everybody is tired of reading a very long jurgan writings.
with all due respect mr. shewakena it appears here you are contradicting yourself you said.
“Why is it that even less resource fortunate African countries than Ethiopia, and hit hard by the same drought and global food price rises, do not produce these kinds of agonizing pictures? I have seen pictures of hungry people from Zimbabwe and we all know the country lives under intense sanctions. Why is it that I don’t see skeletal pictures coming from there on Ethiopia’s level? The last time I checked the volume of water in Ethiopia is more than what we find in most of African countries and many more around the world.”
AND YOU ANSWERED YOUR QUESTION BY SAYING
“The answers to the questions I raised above are pure and simple in my view. In the famous expression of the 1992 Bill Clinton
presidential campaign, it is the governance and the economic policy stupid”
do you see the contradiction. if dictatorship and bad governace were the root cause of famine then there will be famine all over the place, right, even according to your example there is no famine in zimbambwe and eritrea both dictator and bad government.
therefore your prescription for ethiopia seems to be selective, self serving hence wrong according to your own explanation.
in my opinion not withstanding good goverance and democracy play major role in economic developlment, the main reason we have famine in ethiopia is because the country with 80 million people has a very poor infrastracture even by africa standard. we have plenty of agricultural land but less than 1% is irrigated. the roads are not to speak of considering the population. the power capacity is abysmal even for a poor country. these are the main problem why we get hit the most when ever some thing goes bad and believe me it will still be a challenge who ever is ruling the country. in fact, if it doesnt upset you relatively speaking, now we see some improvement on the road and dams for power generation and irrigation.
Dear nubien and Zena,
You two blithe fools, there are no lasting tactical solutions to this problem, only strategic. And the government is the only one that has access to strategic solutions. You and me can’t build dams on some river just because we don’t want to blame the government. Adopting a child or two is a tactical solution, as is organizing a fundraising event such as Band Aid. Think big; don’t think woyanne.
He didn’t say it’s only the governance stupid. He said “it is the governance and the economic policy stupid.” You seem to jump on the part that helps your poor logic but ignore the part that doesn’t. Can a bad government have a good economic policy? You bet! Look at China. So woyanne is not only a very bad government but also habitually practices voodoo economics.
Building Universities or roads are all good for Woyane because there are millions if not billions to syphon to their privat account abroad or to their conglomorate (EFFORT) group of companies established with money stolen from Ethiopians and the Ethiopian Government.
Starvation is good first and foremost the starving are not Tigreans secondly aid food will be transported by Woyane trucks and it means good business.
It is very unfortunate those hodams claiming to represent the starving are silent and busy accumulating wealth while Meles and co are doing what they planned from the very beginning. To free Tigrians from Poverty and to build Tigrai which will claim its independence like Kosovo and the Americans or British will not hesitate to recognize it to achieve their goal of dismantelling Ethiopia like Yugoslavia.
To all Ethiopians lets work hard and help our people.
To the opposition parties who work hand in hand with the regime of shabia, death for you!because you blakmailed our decmocracy destroy our country. You dimwit you have no idea what you put Ethiopia into when you work with shabians. I would rather die in hunger than to work with shabians.
To EPRDF and its supporters, stopp singing about destroying derg for 17 years. You just win a bunch of militia who are forced to go to national service. That is it. Period. And they are EThiopians. They are not italians or any forginers troops. Just let it go. Now work on the problem at hand. You dont want to expect the 4 million to dance with you just because they die in hunger. Imagine if you use the money for your victory to feed the people. Look derg and learn. They sang for 17 years that they won the feudal system. They told us how the King cellebrate his birth day while the people in the countryside died in hunger. And now you came and told us how derg cellebrate its victory to power in millions of birr while people died in hanger. And now you cellebrate how you come to power the whole may month while people starved to death. You arogant, dont compare yourself with the King or derg. Our aim is not to live better than in the king or the derg time. Our aim is to live upto our people and country potetial.
To all oppostion parties who has nothing to do with shabians help our people and goverment in showing the right way with out vionence and arm struggel. P E A C E F U L LY.
WALTA and ENA, Go to hell. I have never hide my disgust towards you. People like you creat dictator like Mengistu and Isayas.
Lets work hand in hand and help our people. Lets give hand to our people. Lets organize ourselves and send all what we can to our people.
mitomedhin : I do agree with ur comment, if u come to pal talk where there is ethiopian poltics ppl will call u weyane with such comment. but i can’t agree more than what u have said. like 2 pac said : we need to chnage the way we eat, the way we think and the way we treat eachother. that should be the 1st step to tackle this terrible hunger we been having.
Name calling and personal attacks, crocodile tears and ready made solutions, are these supposedly what characterizes ethiopians. My solution is simple. Help one soul and sleep with good conscious.
Sable rattling and being a constant complainer wont do anything to put food in the bellies our needy.
abesha,you can give all lame excuses of the world for your woyane misadministrations,however the fact of the mater is that we are talking about Shashemene area, the bread basket of ethiopia, where major national highway criscross left and right and planty of fertile land and regular seasnal rainfall.As long as woyane is around this famin won’t be the last
What is apparent is that while you are cntemplating a strategic move, people are suffering.
While trying to implement your five year strategic plan, your fellow citizens are perishing.
All of this because of the unwillingness of taking personal responsibilty.
As an excuse for spending few dollars a month, challenger and the likes hide behind hugh rhetorics such as strategic vs tactical.
Tell this to the starving kid that you are withholding your help because you are waiting for a feasable strategical plan. Now who is fooling who?
He didn’t say it’s only the governance stupid. He said “it is the governance and the economic policy stupid."”
ok smart ass are you saying the nations he used as example, zimbabwe and eritrea, have a good economic policy.
by the way china is a communist and a dictatorship where most lands are owned or controlled by the state. but any way, what chinas economic policy you think is ethiopia is lacking as a policy. it will help if you politely point them.
Fekade and Zebra you wrote the truth and what needs to be done.
Hell is the only thing that matches Woyanes rule and I agree that we have to get involved in fighting to oust Woyane once and for all.
We can’t sit idle selfish not to sacrifice our lives while our millions and millions of people perish for lack of food. It is a shame this government in this century creating misery just to satisfy its voracious appetite for its tribal power.
The Woyane goon is walking backward with the government made starvation when the rest of the world is talking about vacation, sophisticated lifestyle, healthcare, saving and so on for their people.
These people are blood thirsty dummies, hungry for power ignorant and illiterate people who do not care nor have the knowledge to lead the country. They are only consumed with their own miserable life stories and “progress” of how they become the riches through their guns.
They can’t even comprehend what the country needs much less solving problems.
It is true that there is alarming and devastated hunger reappeared in Ethiopian. But do not forget one thing. You also have your own contribution in weakening the regime not to be able to handle the problem by its own. You are not the part of solution neither the man of solution, but attacking every aspect of government endeavor and solution. So please you are not better than EPRDF’s cadre when it comes to serve political motives. You always bark for your personal political benefit. How we fast do you think we forgot your saying do not use EAL, Do not go for millennium and so on? You have bad reputation in Ethiopia politics regardless the incumbent change.
At least in order to renovate your reputation, it would be wise writing an article in how we can stand together to solve the problem our children facing in. Let us unite when it comes to national problem. Let us not only unite for political agenda .
stop crying and whining coward. how long can a 5% minority rule. overthrow the cowards. ARM STRUGGLE IS THE ONLY WAY OUT
It is true that there is alarming and devastated hunger reappeared in Ethiopian. But do not forget one thing. You also have your own contribution in weakening the regime not to be able to handle the problem by its own. You are not the part of solution neither the man of solution, but attacking every aspect of government endeavor and solution. So please you are not better than EPRDF’s cadre when it comes to serve political motives. You always bark for your personal political benefit. How we fast do you think we forgot your saying do not use EAL, Do not go for millennium and so on? You have bad reputation in Ethiopia politics regardless the incumbent change.”
wow neutral very good point.
I read your article Mr.Fekade.It is interesting.But it looks one sided-just good govermance can bring change and feed every Ethiopian. I do not agree.Our problem is the sum of so many things.Drought,population growth,corruption,flood,luck of scholars,emmigration,luck of finance(the major one),IT(w/ch makes as to hate the third world) and add some more by your self.So, to think the key for everything is TPLF,do not seem logical to me.
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