Africa's Youths United Can Never be Defeated
By Alemayehu G. Mariam
A specter is haunting Africa and the Middle East - the specter of an awesome army of youths on the move, in revolt, marching for freedom, chanting for democracy and dying for human rights and human dignity. Millions of youths are standing up and demanding dictators to stand down and leave town. They are fed up with despotism, totalitarianism, absolutism, authoritarianism, monarchism, fascism and terrorism. They are sick and tired of being told to wait and wait and wait as their future fades into nothingness. They are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Youths rose up like the morning sun to brighten the long dark night of dictatorship in Tunisia and Egypt. They dictated to the great dictators: "Mubarak, irhal (go away)." "Degage, Ben Ali!" (Get out, Ben Ali!). When Mubarak refused to budge like a bloodsucking tick on a milk cow, they brandished their shoes and cried out, "Mubarak, you are a shoe!" (a stinging insult in Arab culture). Mubarak finally got the point. He saw 85 million pairs of shoes pointed at his rear end. In a 30-second announcement, the House of Mubarak dissolved into the dust bin of history.
The Beautiful Egyptian Youth Revolution
What makes the Egyptian youth revolution so beautiful, wonderful, absorbing, hypnotizing and inspiring is that they did it with moral courage, steadfast determination and without resorting to violence even when violence was visited upon them by Mubarak's thugs. They did not fire a single shot, as Mubarak's thugs massacred 300 of their own and jailed several thousands more. Egypt's youths fought their battles in the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and elsewhere, but they won their war against dictatorship and for freedom, democracy and human rights in the hearts and minds of their people. How they went about winning their revolution is a testament to a people whose civilization is the cradle of human civilization. They transformed their oppression-seared nation into a molten steel of freedom-loving humanity: Muslims and Christians prayed together in Tahrir Square for the end of the dark days of dictatorship and the beginning of a new dawn of freedom. Civilians held the hands with soldiers who were sent out to shoot them. Religious revivalists locked arms with secularists, socialists and others to demand change. Rich and poor embraced each other in common cause. Young and old marched together day and night; and men and women of all ages raised their arms in defiance chanting, "Mubarak, irhal."
Victory of Courage Over Fear
For 30 years, Mubarak ruled with fear and an iron fist under a State of Emergency. He established a vast network of secret police, spies, informants and honor guards to make sure he stayed in power and his opposition decimated. Under an emergency law (Law No. 162 of 1958), Mubarak exercised unlimited powers. He banned any real opposition political activity and unapproved political organizations, prohibited street demonstrations, arrested critics and dissidents and clamped down on all he thought posed a threat to his rule. Mubarak had the power to imprison anyone for any reason, at any time and for any period of time without trial. Some he tried in kangaroo military courts and sentenced them to long prison terms. Mubarak held an estimated 20,000 persons under the emergency law and the number of political prisoners in Egypt is estimated at 30,000. Mubarak's brutal (secret) police are responsible for the disappearance, torture, rape and killing of thousands of pro-democracy campaigners and innocent people. A cable sent to Washington by the US ambassador to Cairo in 2009 revealed: "Torture and police brutality in Egypt are endemic and widespread. The police use brutal methods mostly against common criminals to extract confessions, but also against demonstrators, certain political prisoners and unfortunate bystanders." When Egyptian youth overcame their fears and stood up to the notorious secret police, spies, informants and bloodthirsty thugs, it was all over for Mubarak and his kleptocratic regime. In less than three weeks, Mubarak's empire of fear, terror and torture crumbled like an Egyptian ghorayebah cookie left out in the Sahara sun.
All Dictators End Up in the Dustbin of History
These must be days of worry and panic for African and Middle Eastern dictators. No doubt, some are in a state of total depression having sleepless nights and nightmares when they catch a wink. They brood over the questions: "What if IT (the "unspeakable") happens to me? What am I going to do? How many can I kill to suppress an uprising and get away with it? A thousand, ten thousand?"
African and Middle Eastern dictators who have abused their power must know that sooner or later their turn will come. When it does, they will have only three choices: justice before their national or international tribunals, the dustbin of history, or if they can make it to the airport fast enough to Dictators' "home away from home", Saudi Arabia (at least until their turn comes). There will be no place for them to run and hide. Let them learn from the fates of their brothers: Al Bashir of Sudan has an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court hanging over his head. Old Charley Taylor of Liberia is awaiting his verdict at the ICC. Hissien Habre of Chad will soon be moving into Taylor's cell at the ICC. A gang of Kenyan state ministers which instigated the violence following the 2007 presidential elections should be trading their designer suits for prison jumpsuits at the ICC in the not too distant future. Mengistu, Ben Ali, Mubarak, Al Bashir and others will be on the lam for a while and evade the long arm of justice. Justice may be delayed but it will always arrive as it did a couple of days for Pervez Musharraf who has warrant out for his arrest in connection with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
All dictators are doomed to an ignominious downfall. No African dictator has ever left office with dignity, honor, respect and the adulation of his people. They have all left office in shame, disgrace and infamy. History shows that dictators live out their last days like abandoned vicious dogs-- lonely, godforsaken and tormented. Such has been the destiny of Mobutu of Zaire, Bokassa of the Central African Republic, Idi Amin of Uganda, Barre of Somalia, El-Nimery of the Sudan, Saddam of Iraq, Pol Pot of Cambodia, Marcos of the Philippines, the Shah of Iran, Ceausescu of Romania, Pincohet of Chile, Somoza of Nicaragua, Hoxha of Albania, Suharto of Indonesia, Stroessner of Paraguay, Ne Win of Mynamar, Hitler, Stalin, Mussollini and all the rest. History testifies that these names will forever be synonymous with evil, cruelty, atrocity, depravity and inhumanity. It is ironic that Mubarak (which in Arabic means "blessed one") was born to live as the blessed one; but he will forever be remembered in Egyptian history as the "cursed one".
The Power of Nonviolence Resistance
As Gandhi said, "Strength does not come from physical capacity", nor does it come from guns, tanks and planes. "It comes from an indomitable will." Winston Churchill must have learned something from Gandhi when he said, "Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."
As odd as it seems, violence is the weapon of the weak. To shoot and kill and maim unarmed protesters in the streets is not a sign of strength, it is a sign of fear and cowardice. To jail wholesale opposition leaders, journalists, critics and dissidents is not a demonstration of control but the ultimate manifestation of lack of control. One speaks the language of violence because one cannot speak the language of reason. Violence is the language of the angry, the hateful, the vengeful, the ignorant and the fearful. Dictators speak to their victims in the language of violence because their raison d'etre (reason for existing) is to hate and spread hate. Their very soul stirs with hatred often damaged by childhood experiences and feelings of inferiority. Hitler and Stalin exhibited strong hatred towards Jews from childhood, and because they felt woefully inadequate, they did things to try and show everybody that they have power. Violence never resolves the issues that triggered the violence; and as Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." Dr. Martn Luther King explained it further: "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate..." To reciprocate in violence is to become one with the perpetrators of violence. "Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
But the nonviolent resistor is strong, very strong. S/he is willing to sit down and reason with the one brutalizing her/him. Gandhi, Martin King, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa, Rosa Parks and many others have proven to be stronger than those whose heartbeats stroked to the metronome of hate. Gandhi drove the British colonialists out of India without firing a single shot. They mocked him as the "little lawyer in a diaper." In the end, the British saluted the Indian flag and left. More recently, Eastern Europe shed its totalitarian burden through nonviolent resistance. Now we have seen it happen in Tunisia and Egypt.
But there are some who believe that nonviolent resistance will not work in the face of a morally depraved, conscienceless and barbaric adversary who will mow down in cold blood children, men and women. Others say nonviolence resistance takes too long to produce results. Such views have been articulated since the time of Gandhi, but the historical evidence refutes them. As we have recently seen in Tunisia and Egypt, two of the most brutal and entrenched dictatorships in the world unraveled in less than a month through nonviolent resistance.
As to a long-term nonviolent struggle, there are many instructive experiences. Let's take Poland as an example. In 1981, the Soviets put General Wojciech Jaruzelski in charge to crackdown on Solidarity, a non-communist controlled trade union established a year earlier. Jaruzelski immediately declared martial law and arrested thousands of Solidarity members, often in in the middle of the night, including union leader Lech Walesa. Jaruzelski flooded the streets of Warsaw, Gdansk and elsewhere in Poland with police who shot, beat and jailed strikers and protesters by the tens of thousands. By the beginning of 1982, the crackdown seemed successful and most of Solidarity top leaders were behind bars. But Jaruzelski's campaign of violence and repression did not end the nonviolent resistance in Poland. It only drove it underground. Where the jailed union leaders left off, others took over including priests, students, dissidents and journalists. Unable to meet in the streets, the people gathered in their churches, in the restaurants and bars, offices, schools and associations. A proliferation of underground institutions emerged including Solidarity Radio; hundreds of underground publications served as the medium of communication for the people. Solidarity leaders who had evaded arrest managed to generate huge international support. The U.S. and other countries imposed sanctions on Poland, which inflicted significant hardship on Jaruzelski's government. By 1988, Poland's economy was in shambles as prices for basic staples rose sharply and inflation soared. In August of that year, Jaruzelski was ready to negotiate with Solidarity and met Walesa. Following the "Polish Roundtable Talks", communism was doomed in Poland. In December 1990, Lech Walesa became the first popularly elected president of Poland. It took nearly a decade to complete the Polish nonviolent revolution. History shows that nonviolent change seems impossible to many until people act to bring it about. Who would have thought two months ago that two of the world's worst dictators would be toppled and consigned to the dust bin of history in a nonviolent struggle by youths?
The Wrath of Ethiopian Youth
In June 2010, I wrote:
The wretched conditions of Ethiopia's youth point to the fact that they are a ticking demographic time bomb. The evidence of youth frustration, discontent, disillusionment and discouragement by the protracted economic crisis, lack of economic opportunities and political repression is manifest, overwhelming and irrefutable. The yearning of youth for freedom and change is self-evident. The only question is whether the country's youth will seek change through increased militancy or by other peaceful means.
Youths always inspire each other. Ethiopia's youths seek the same things as their Tunisian and Egyptian counterparts: a livelihood, adequate food, decent housing and education and basic health care. They want free access to information - radio, newspaper, magazines, satellite and internet -- as they are absolutely and unconditionally guaranteed in their constitution. Above all, they want to live in a society that upholds the rule of law, protects human rights and respects the votes of the people. They do not want corruption, nepotism, cronyism, criminality and inhumanity. That is not too much to ask.
When the uprising took place in Tunisia and Egypt, it was not the "leaders" that led it. Youth power became the catalyzing force for a democratic revolution in both countries. Africa's dictators should understand that people do not rise up because it is in style or fashionable, but because their conditions of existence are subhuman, inhuman and intolerable. It is possible to stop the satellite transmissions, jam the radio broadcasts, shutter the newspapers, close the internet cafes, grab a young journalist and human rights advocate as he walks out of an internet café and interrogate, threaten, intimidate and terrorize him, but it is far more difficult to quiet the hungry stomachs, mend the broken hearts, heal the wounded spirits and calm the angry minds of the young people. Youths united in Ethiopia and elsewhere on the African continent can never be defeated.
Power to Africa's Youths!
Zenawi, irhal, Bashir, degage! Mugabe, irhal! Gbagbo, degage! Ghaddafi, irhal! African dictators, irhal!.... degage!
"Cowardice asks the question: is it safe? Expediency asks the question: is it political? Vanity asks the question: is it popular? But conscience asks the question: is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor political, nor popular - but one must take it simply because it is right." --Dr. Martin L. King
Ethiopia - Yes We Can! From Tahrir to Meskel Square
A Response to Yared Ayicheh and et al
By Tibebe Samuel Ferenji
The father of modern nonviolent movement Mahatma Gandhi said “I can not teach you violence, as I do not myself believe in it. I can only teach you not to bow your heads before any one even at the cost of your life.”
I was standing at the Red Light at the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue and University Boulevard at 11:05 AM, when I heard the news about the resignation of Egypt’s Mubarek. Few minutes before that, I was dissecting the piece written by Ato Yared Ayicheh and some of the comments written by the EPRDF supporters. I was replaying in my head Mr. Mubarek’s defiant and arrogant response to the people’s demand that he resign from his post ASAP. Then, I was thinking about the fate of Mr. Meles Zenawi. I was wondering if Mr. Zenawi is going to use this golden opportunity to rise to the occasion and leave a foot print in the political history of Ethiopia; or continue to be defiant and leave a finger print on his way to prison, or exit the country to live in exile to be hunted down like a common criminal. Then, the airwave was filled with the announcement of Mr. Mubarek’s resignation. I have no words to describe what I felt. I said to my self, Yes, today I am an Egyptian!
It is with the hope of similar result in Ethiopia that I am scribing this piece. In doing, so, I would like to point out some of the similarities between Mr. Mubarek and Mr. Zenawi. Mr. Mubarek ruled Egypt for 30 years with fake elections, just like Mr. Zenawi, except that Mr. Zenawi has been in power for 20 years. Mr. Mubarek imprisoned his opponent when the opponent won the election, the election was rigged and Mr. Mubarek continued to occupy his office illegitimately; Mr. Zenawi did the same thing. After decades of stagnant economy, Egypt Economy began to show growth particularly the last five years. Similarly, Ethiopia’s stagnant economy has been showing some growth the last five years. Mr. Mubarek used the Muslim Brotherhood and Muslim Extremists as Boogiemen to fend of criticisms for his continued State of Emergency rule, and human rights abuses. Similarly, Mr. Zenawi injected “Interahamwe” in Ethiopian politics to create his own Boogiemen and presented himself as a man who would fight terrorism in the Horn of Africa. He claimed that if he leaves office, Ethiopia would be destabilized. We heard the same claim from Mr. Mubarek. Both Mr. Mubarek and Mr. Zenawi introduced the concept of “Organic Democracy” to their respective countries. Both intentionally ignored the universal application of democratic principles.
There are several similarities that can be mentioned here; I think for now this will do. In addition to this similar characteristics, Ethiopia and Egypt share similar predicament. Both countries have high unemployment, hyper inflation, and the gap between those who haves and who have not is widening in alarming rate. Both Ethiopia and Egypt implemented State of Emergency; journalists are detained in violation of the respective countries’ constitutions; opposition political organizations operate under abusive circumstance. Both regimes enjoyed unshakable support from their Western allies despite the fact they continue to abuse the civil and human rights of their citizens.
The people of Ethiopia and Egypt expressed their displeasure with their regimes and demanded reform. They gave their vote to the regime’s opponents during the elections; but their voice was stolen repeatedly. Both people lived under brutal police states. They tried to make their voices heard. When they made loud noises, the security apparatus mercilessly abused them in attempt to silence them. Despite that fact, they continued to make silent noises. The regimes continued to be defiant, abusive, corrupt, and merciless. It is when a revolt erupted in Tunisia and the despot leader was thrown out from power he held for 23 years, the people of Egypt inspired and once again began making a loud noise to take over their government; and to take charge of their destiny. The people of Egypt nonviolent struggle was about to turn into violence when the regime hired thugs that resorted to violence to intimidate the public and crash the revolt. The people defended themselves but continued to be disciplined and demand the resignation of Mr. Mubarek. Despite the unwavering support of the West for Mr. Mubarek, the people of Egypt won this chapter of their struggle. Do not let the Westerners posturing and news release asking that Mr. Mubarek make orderly exit fool you. Deep in their heart, they wanted “a reliable ally” in Egypt. What they cared about was their interest. After all it is their guns and tanks that are used to silence the ordinary citizens. Now at least, it is an open secret that the “Western Democracies” interest is not similar to the interest of the ordinary people.
In his piece titled “The Case against Jasmine Revolution in Ethiopia“, Ato Yared tells us not revolt against a brutal regime in Ethiopia. Of course, he is entitled to his opinion, but, I beg to defer. Although Ato Yared’s intention is noble, what he has failed to understand is that the people from Tunisia to Jordan are revolting out of frustration and because their governments failed to listen to their voices. Up Rising is not a luxury, it is a result of frustration and a necessity for change. In case of Egypt, Mr. Mubarek had an ample opportunity to act in the best interest of his country and his people. Instead, he chose to look after his personal greedy interest. After all he did not become a Billionaire by acting in the best interest of his people. Some depots do not learn from other despots. They choose to scramble at the 11th hour to save their skin. Mr. Mubarek seem to be one of them. One of the smartest leaders in the Middle East in my opinion is king Abdullah of Jordan. King Abdullah began taking serious reform measures knowing that a revolution is knocking at his door.
Mr. Zenawi has similar opportunity today before it is too late. Failure to act would be disastrous to his regime and the country at large. Ato Yared argues that revolution may have an unintended consequences and cites the 1960s (1970s G.C) as an example. What he failed to realize is that the situation in 1970s is a lot different than 2011. Then, the world was divided in to two camps. Both the United States and the Soviet Union were more interested in putting stooges who promote their ideologies and their interests. Particularly we Africans were victims of a turf war between two “big elephants”. Today, that condition des not exist. More over, we have a more politically conscious society in Ethiopia than the one that existed in 1970s.
One of the major factors absent from Ato Yared’s piece is the role of the leftist elements in the 1970s revolution. The military regime was able to sustain its power because it was supported by leftist intellectuals particularly by MEISON and its allies until 1979. When the Military regime filled the power vacuum, we did not have organized political entities. Today the situation is different. There is no conducive atmosphere in Ethiopia today for any military junta to sustain its rule even if it takes power with some miracle.
Ato Yared raised two important questions in his piece: “Do Ethiopians need to change the Ethiopian government by popular uprising? Can Ethiopia afford to go through another ‘revolution’?” My answer to Ato Yared and others who support the regime is it depends. In principle, Ethiopians don’t need popular uprising to change “their government” as long as the government hears the people’s voice and reform. When I say reform, I am not talking about a cosmetic reform. The regime needs to be honest with itself and with the people. The whole world knows that there is no democratic governance in Ethiopia. Just like Mubarek, Mr. Zenawi has rigged the election. Mr. Zenawi could continue to lie to himself in believing that his party won the election. As Mr. Obama put it clearly last night, the fact that you hold an election does not mean you have democratic governance. If the regime is listening to the quite noises of the Ethiopian people and address the peoples concern, promote a national reconciliation, have an open dialogue with all concerned parties how to establish a democratic governance in Ethiopia, and transfer power to duly elected government in a free and fair election, then only then, the popular uprising will not be necessary.
However, just like Mr. Mubarek, if Mr. Meles continue to live in his delusional denial state of mind, be indifferent to the voices of the people, continue to be defiant to the suffering of the people, and continue to rule with the Iron fist under the State of Emergency, then the popular uprising is not only necessary, it is feasible. As we have witnessed, the popular uprising in Egypt was inspired by the revolution in Tunisia. Since such outside influence is a great factor in Egypt’s uprising, to the dismay of EPRDF’s ardent supporters, Ethiopians in Diaspora could play a crucial and significant role to inspire the uprising in Ethiopia.
To answer the second question, I would say Can Ethiopia afford not to revolt? If the regime fails to reform, the only option we have is a popular uprising. The people of Ethiopia cannot afford not to revolt at this juncture. This is the right time; this is the time where oppressed people from coast to coast are showing solidarity with one another. The world has opened its eyes and ears. We know that to the Westerners Mr. Zenawi is their “indispensable” ally; we Ethiopians know that is not so. Ato Yared tells us “the best alternative to popular uprising is reforming the toxic, uncompromising Ethiopian political culture.” However he failed to realize that the regime holds the key to lead in reforming the toxic political environment. It is not up to the people but up to the regime to change its toxic political discourse. As Gandhi asked, we are asking the people of Ethiopia not to bow to the threats of despots and their cronies. If the regime continue to ignore the people’s quite noises and fail to reform, then the best alternative for the regime change is nonviolent popular uprising, and nonviolent civil disobedience. Short of that, the choice would be between resorting to armed struggle and the continuation of a police state.
Those who support the regime and the regime have a golden opportunity to make history. They cannot any longer hide behind a fake election, Egypt had that. They cannot hide behind the illusion of stability; Egypt had that. They cannot hide behind the concept of “organic Democracy” Mr. Mubarek had tried that. Most importantly, they cannot hide behind the “Economic Growth” façade, Egypt had that. What is interesting in reading the comments of EPRDF supporters is their threats to those who advocate for the popular uprising in Ethiopia. They tell us that there will be blood shade in the streets of Ethiopia if Ethiopians revolt against the regime. If anything, they are confirming how brut the regime that they are supporting is. I have not read a single comment that shades light regarding the democratic governance and the existence of civil and democratic rights in Ethiopia. EPRDF apologists defend the regime by simply stating that “There is Economic Growth in Ethiopia.” May be we need to remind them that there is Economic growth in Egypt, in China, Saudi Arabia and other countries ruled by despots. They should know that Economic growth does not equate with political freedom and civil liberty.
Mr. Zenawi had fumbled the political football and the opportunity to be a great leader repeatedly. He has a chance to be remembered as the “Father of Democratic Ethiopia” if he has the courage to change course and bring all political factions for dialogue to promote national reconciliation. He has the opportunity to be Africa’s another Mandela. Failure to cease this opportunity however, only will lead to public discontent and eventually to public uprising. The ball is at Mr. Zenawi’s Court. Thus, it is up to Mr. Zenawi to have or not to have a revolution in Ethiopia. Some of Mr. Zenawi’s apologists have complained that we are using the word dictator to describe Mr. Zenawi. If they realy want its definition, I humbly refer them to Webster Dictionary.
I would like to conclude this piece by reiterating a slogan from Cairo’s Liberation Square that struck a cord with me:
We were Tunisians Yesterday, we are Egyptians today, and we will all be free tomorrow”. We all should congratulate the people of Egypt for their perseverance, discipline, devotion, dedication and determination. They started this revolution with the spirit of YES WE CAN! We Ethiopians should also begin our version of uprising with the Spirit of YES WE CAN!
God Bless the people of Egypt and Ethiopia!
Hosni Mubarak has resigned
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has resigned. The announcement came Friday from Vice-President Omar Suleiman who said that military forces will now take over.
Word of Mr. Mubarak's resignation drew thunderous cheers from thousands of anti-government protesters in Cairo's Tahrir (Liberation) Square, where it is now nighttime. Many chanted and waved the Egyptian flag.
Earlier Friday, news organizations quoted officials as saying Mr. Mubarak had left the capital and traveled to his residence in the Red Sea resort Sharm El-Sheikh. The U.S. White House responded, calling the move a "positive first step."
Hundreds of thousands of anti-government demonstrators spread out across Cairo and other Egyptian cities, Friday, after Mr. Mubarak refused their demands to resign immediately in a speech late Thursday.
Witnesses and a security official say at least one person has been killed and 20 injured in clashes between police and demonstrators in the northern Sinai town of al-Arish. About 1,000 protesters attacked a police station in the city.
Demonstrators also swarmed around the state radio and television building in Cairo and the presidential palace in the Cairo suburb of Heliopolis.
Anti-Mubarak demonstrators also massed at other locations, including Alexandria and outside of government buildings in Suez.
A military statement earlier Friday said the army will ensure that reforms proposed by Mr. Mubarak are carried out as planned, including the eventual lifting of 30-year-old emergency laws that enabled the government to keep tight control on Egyptian citizens. The statement also promised that the presidential election scheduled for September will be free and fair. The military urged protesters to return to their homes
The Case against Jasmine Revolution in Ethiopia
By Yared Ayicheh
Ethiopian Paltalk rooms have been discussing if Ethiopians should rise up against the Ethiopian government and overthrow it or not. Pro-government supporters respond by blindly denying the need for uprising, while the anti-government elements are salivating at this perceived opportunity.
It’s a fact that there are eerie similarities between Tunis, Cairo and Addis, such as corruption, rise of food prices, long term ‘serving’ leaders or dictators, and human rights abuses. The reality is Ethiopians have every reason for uprising more than the Tunisians or Egyptians have.
But the right question to me is this: Do Ethiopians need to change the Ethiopian government by popular uprising? Can Ethiopia afford to go through another ‘revolution’? My answer is a definite and absolute “no”, and here is why.
The nature of revolutions: Revolutions are extremely unpredictable, uncontrollable, and dynamic. That is exactly why the 1960s Ethiopian Revolution resulted in a military dictatorship instead of a democratically elected government. Revolutions also favor individuals with less intellectual, ethical and moral value – hence the slogan “Abiyot Lijochiwan Tibelalech”. It is these individuals that do the dirty work of revolutions and at the end they demand the lion’s share of the ‘victory’.
The root cause: Ethiopians have deep rooted, long lasting and generationally entrenched poverty, which is at the heart of the deplorable human condition in Ethiopia. Poverty breeds ignorance, intolerance, backwardness, injustice, unfairness, oppression, repression, hate, conflict, suspicion, paranoia etc … in other words, poverty defines a society and its individuals. Uprising will not remove poverty; uprising will only exacerbate poverty: a short look back at the economic hardship during Derg era is evidence for this point.
The alternative to uprising: The best alternative, not the perfect, but the best alternative to popular uprising is reforming the toxic, uncompromising Ethiopian political culture. That may sound like a simple task, it is not. It is a lesson our politicians have not learned even after the loss of hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian youth in the last 40 years of Ethiopia’s history. A fundamental problem of Ethiopia’s politics is the uncivilized and shortsighted culture of stubbornness. No one gets 100% of what they want out of life, let alone out of political discourse.
Compromise is the key to our country’s political stability, peace and continuity. Ethiopian politicians must, must, must focus on compromising. The ruling party must find a common ground to work with opposition political parties by lowering its ideological stubbornness. Otherwise we will end up with another popular uprising that will most likely be hijacked by thugs like Col Mengistu Hailemariam, who will kills us, torture us and destroy what is left of our dignity as people.
In a country as poor as Ethiopia, where 40% of the population lives in abysmal poverty1, it is not impossible to foment uprising. Revolutions are like weddings, while the challenges of the Ethiopian people are like marriages. Dear Ethiopian politicians, list your priorities, chose the top two, discard the rest, compromise and fight our real enemy, poverty. Focus on the marriage!
Yared Ayicheh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of nazret.com. The views are solely that of the author. Become a blogger of nazret.com, the #1 Rated Ethiopian Website according to Alexa. Contact us for details
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