Latest News in Ethiopia (July 8)

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Some children arrived in the United States believing they were only visiting.

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“Children for Families: An Ethnography of Illegal Intercountry Adoption From Ethiopia,” an article by Daniel Hailu, Ph.D., in Adoption Quarterly, provides a stunningly clear road map of how illegal adoptions have occurred in Ethiopia. His research corroborates many anecdotal experiences, discusses the impact of Ethiopian sociocultural views, and offers suggestions for reform.

The issue of illegal adoptions from Ethiopia has been simmering for years. I don’t think anyone has statistics on how many adoptions have been legal or illegal. Families have shared stories on Facebook. Adult adoptees have learned, after search and reunion, that their adoptive parents were not told the truth about why adoption was needed. Birth/first families were deceived or coerced into placing their children in an orphanage. Blame can be focused on many people: adoption agencies, police officers, brokers, government workers, adoptive families, first/birth families, and almost anyone involved with adoption and fees.

Adoptions from Ethiopia have declined dramatically in recent years. In May of this year, the Ethiopian government suspended adoptions, though it appears that children who were in the legal custody of their adoptive parents have been allowed to leave Ethiopia. I posted recently about the upcoming sentencing hearing of three International Adoption Guides’ officials, who have pled guilty to charges involving fraud and corruption in Ethiopia. A frequent source of debate on Facebook among adoptive families is whose adoption was fraudulent, whose adoption agency was checked out thoroughly, whose adoption was “clean.” Some prospective and new adoptive families discount the stories of families who have discovered lies and deceits in their children’s adoptions.

Dr. Hailu’s article describes how illegal and unethical adoptions occur. He interviewed 54 “informants,” people intimately engaged in adoptions in Ethiopia. He writes:

“At the root of illegal adoption are fabricated documentation and false testimonies that establish the legal basis for the subsequent adoption processes. Informants reported that these bases could not be established without the support and protection of local authorities, including some police officers.
An orphanage involved in illegal adoption perceived four major advantages in involving local authorities, as summarized by an informant:

First, local authorities facilitate identification of brokers from within the local community where orphanages have no other trusted link.

Second, officials in clandestine support brokers in recruiting children: The authorities identify children for potential adoption and also coax parents and guardians into giving their children away for adoption.

Third, the official expedites issuance of a letter of testimony that the orphanage needs from the kebele (neighborhood or ward) administration or the social court in order to take the case to the First Instance Court.

Fourth, the officials buffer the orphanage from any allegations that may be posed by any higher authority against recruiting an ineligible child.”

No one disputes, I hope, the role that money has played and continues to play in adoption. Between 1999 and 2016, some 15,300 Ethiopian children arrived in the U.S. Using a fee of $30,000 per adoption, some $459 million went from the U.S. to Ethiopian adoptions. Granted, not all of it went to Ethiopia. Still. Millions of dollars poured into Ethiopia from adoptive families, not just to the adoption agencies, but also to the orphanages, and to others working in the network to secure children for adoption.

Here is one matter-of-fact and chilling quote:

“The following description of a country representative of an adoption agency regarding the relationship between adoption agencies and orphanages is shared by several other informants in the industry:

‘Take my case as an example. I have entered adoption agreement worth millions. Neither UNICEF nor any government subsidizes me. Rather I get the money from adopting families. They expect me to give them babies. My boss expects babies. So, I expect the babies from the orphanages to whom I agreed to give part of the millions. It is a clean supply and demand relationship that exists among adopting families, adoption agencies, and orphanages. Essentially, we are providing children for families rather than finding families for children without parental care.’ ”

And how would country representatives or brokers convince families to place their babies and children in the orphanages, and thus for adoption?
That method, according to Dr. Hailu’s article, is also matter-of-fact and chilling.

“Three techniques were identified that brokers applied to coax parents and guardians into voluntary relinquishment of parental rights. The first was to appeal to the natural wish of parents for the future well-being of their children.

An informant explained:

As a first strategy, “Brokers would convince parents/guardians that it was better for the child to grow under better care than suffer with them: They promise that the child would be sent to [a] good school, eat well, [and] wear nice clothes and would generally live comfortable life. The brokers also give them the false promise that they would get to see the child once in a while whether the child is adopted locally or internationally.”

These promises have generally proven false, of course. Many adoptive parents and adopted persons have encountered Ethiopian birth parents who beg them to find out about the children they lost to adoption and have never heard from, despite the “promises” they were given. One important resource is Beteseb Felega—Ethiopian Adoption Connection, which has reunited many adoptees with their Ethiopian parents. Whether the adoptive parents had made the promise or not, many Ethiopian parents were told there would be contact. I’ve heard of adoptive parents finding out that the Ethiopian parents hoped to know if their children were alive and well—and the adoptive parents refused to respond. I hope they can face their adopted children and tell them this someday, as the children will grow up and likely find out their truths.

The second strategy of brokers to acquire children is to draw the attention of parents or guardians to their poverty and entice them with a promise of economic gain that they would potentially accrue by giving their child away for eventual adoption.
Another informant explained:

“The broker calls the attention of guardians to the financial assistance and visits that some guardians who have previously given away their children may have obtained from adopting families. There may be many such stories known to the people that brokers use for their purpose. For example, adopt[ive] parents of a child had sent money to the biological parents in our area, who used it to open their own beauty salon. Some guardians have reported to have come to the orphanage for the purpose of giving their bank account number to the adopting family in anticipation of transfers.”

The issue of how, whether, and how much adoptive families contribute to the financial support of their children’s Ethiopian families is a hot button topic. Some people feel it encourages other Ethiopian families to place their children for adoption, hoping to get a financial return, a concern borne out by Dr. Hailu’s article. Other parents feel it is their ethical right and responsibility to send their child’s siblings to school, or to buy a goat, or to wire money on a regular basis. It’s complicated. There is no question there has been an impact, in any case. I hope there will be more studies done, by the Ethiopian government or by academics, on the financial contributions to birth/first families.

In the third strategy, the broker capitalizes on the socially constructed prestige that could be accrued out of having a child living abroad.

“A related enticement is the social prestige that can be derived out of forging familial linkage with a ferenji (i.e., a white person). Although guardians are the main targets, these coaxing rhetorics have a stronger influence on older siblings of the child being prepared for adoption, who consider this a special opportunity presented to their younger siblings. This is due to increasing globalization that is creating an image of opportunities and affluence that may be available in the freng hager (i.e., the country of white people).

Consequently, in addition to persuasion by brokers, siblings who are too old to be adopted put pressure on their parents to place their younger siblings in the hope that the above reported social and economic benefit may eventually trickle down to them as well.”

Many adoptive parents have been told their children were abandoned. Dr. Hailu’s informants describe how the abandonment is staged.

“Staged abandoning of a child takes the form of a play in the theater. The play is written and directed by the broker. He also casts the characters and assigns them roles. In this drama the parents/guardians are coaxed into leaving the child at a predetermined place and time that is out of public view.

Soon after the child is seemingly abandoned, an assigned person reports the case to a predetermined police officer. The police officer who is ready to take on his role goes to the site and takes the child to the police station where all necessary records are made. The police officer then takes the child to the temporary custody of the orphanage on whose behalf the broker has directed the drama. The case is then taken to the First Instance Court.

Abandoned children pose much less procedural and legal challenges for orphanages. To begin with, the strategy is, informants reported, generally applied with infants who had not yet developed verbal capacities lest the child leak information regarding his or her guardians or the staged abandoning.”

While there is much information in this article to process, some of which is familiar to many, some of which will be eye-opening and jaw-dropping, Dr. Hailu also offers some solutions.

A referral system could enable unparented children to benefit from NGO services, and hence avoid institutional care and intercountry adoption. Hailu writes that “In Ethiopia, there already exist thousands of NGOs that provide community-based services to children. For example, 275 NGOs that are operational in Addis Ababa in 2013 had implemented more than 291 child-focused projects investing Birr 703, 641, 865 (Hailu, 2013). But there is currently no referral system to connect the children in need to the services that could be provided.”

Dr. Hailu also writes that “Informants reported that the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, when making decisions based on the recommendations of its regional counterparts, generally does not undertake an independent investigation about the child’s social economic status. This is partly because it lacks the institutional capacity to travel to the child’s locality of origin to conduct the investigation, and partly because regional governments could construe the attempt at independent investigation by the federal government as interfering in their autonomy.”

I believe Dr. Hailu is suggesting here that independent investigations by MOWA, if feasible and done with transparency, could provide oversight and confirmation of accuracy of reports from the regional governments.

Changing sociocultural attitudes about adoption in Ethiopia could also, Dr. Hailu suggests, help to minimize illegal adoptions.

In testifying that a child is an orphan or abandoned, “witnesses see their false testimony as an act of benevolence, or even socially required action, to both the child and family. If they refuse to falsely testify, they could be regarded as miqegna (literally means one who does not wish the good of others), with potential negative social repercussions. Therefore, transforming the cultural and social-psychological allure within local communities is a critical strategy to minimizing illegal intercountry adoption.

This may involve preventive interventions of systematic and sustained public education regarding child rights, the adverse impacts of institutional care and intercountry adoption on children, and legal adoption processes. It also requires protective interventions of strict legal enforcement against participation in illegal intercountry adoption.”

In terms of the financial incentives inherent in international adoption, Dr. Hailu writes that “criminalizing direct adoption-related transactions between adoption agencies and orphanages” could be effective. “This will require setting up a centralized agency under a relevant ministry managed by a public/private partnership. The agency may be part of a national social welfare system that may be mandated to undertake individualized assessment of each unparented child and refer the child to various alternative care options including intercountry adoption.

As part of the welfare system, institutional care providers may be given subcontracts or grants by the centralized agency (and not by adoption agencies) to provide institutional foster care until a better placement is found for the child. Measures to ensure accountability and transparency in the operations of the agency need to be put in place in order to prevent officers of the agency from establishing corrupt relationships with adoption agencies and orphanages.”

There are many possible ways to curb or perhaps end fraud in adoptions from Ethiopia. They require diligence, funding, infrastructure, marketing, training, and sustainable capacity. I know many people and organizations argue that ending international adoptions is the only way to end the fraud and corruption. I know others who say that adoptions should continue only for children with special needs who cannot get appropriate (life-saving) care in Ethiopia. Others argue that adoptions, not life in abject poverty in an orphanage, would be best.

I’d argue that family preservation, orphan prevention, and in-country adoption are goals that everyone who cares about Ethiopian children should prioritize. I’ve written about the many ways to help children in Ethiopia: If Adoptions Decline, What Happens to the Children?

I hope Dr. Hailu’s article, which is available here (a paywall), will be widely read by anyone connected with Ethiopian adoptions, or who has an interest in child welfare. Although I was familiar with much of this information anecdotally, it is quite powerful to see it set in academic terms.

Ultimately, of course, it is Ethiopia’s decision to decide how to end fraud in Ethiopian adoptions, and how to make enact policies that best help children. I believe there are many in the adoption community who are watching the next steps carefully, and who are willing to help. I hope that, in addition to the usual government workers or international lawyers or lobbying groups, Ethiopian adoptees and birth/first families play a vibrant role in any discussions.

Asmara’s Catholic Cathedral, an example of the city’s Italian heritage Photograph: Ed Harris/Reuters

By Oliver Wainwright | TheGuardian

Standing as a startling collection of futuristic Italian architecture from the 1930s, perched on a desert mountaintop high above the Red Sea, the Eritrean capital of Asmara has been listed as a Unesco world heritage site.

Announced as one of a series of new “inscriptions”, which are expected to include German caves with ice-age art and the English Lake District, Asmara is the first modernist city in the world to be listed in its entirety.

First planned in the 1910s by the Italian architect-engineer Odoardo Cavagnari, Asmara was lavishly furnished with new buildings after Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, when the sleepy colonial town was transformed into Africa’s most modern metropolis. As the “little Rome” at the centre of Italy’s planned African empire, it became a playground for Italian architects to experiment.

“It has an unparalleled collection of buildings that show the variety of styles of the period,” said Edward Denison, a lecturer at UCL’s Bartlett School of Architecture, who has been working as an adviser to the Asmara Heritage Project, helping to put together the 1,300-page bid document, the result of two decades of research. “You get a sense that the architects were getting away with things here that they certainly wouldn’t have been able to do in Rome.”

From the daring cantilevered wings of the Fiat Tagliero service station, modelled on a soaring aeroplane, to the sumptuous surrounds of the Impero cinema, the city is full of buildings that combine Italian futurist motifs with local methods of construction.

Behind the sharp cubic facades stand walls of large laterite stone blocks, carefully rendered to look like modernist concrete constructions, finished in shades of ochre, brown, pale blue and green – much more colourful than their European counterparts.

Some buildings, such as the Orthodox cathedral, have a bold hybrid style, with African “monkey head” details of wooden dowels poking through the facade, originally used to to bind horizontal layers of wood together between the blocks of stone.

Elsewhere, there are handsome villas, stylish shops and heroic factory complexes, sampling from modernism’s broad palette, including novecento, rationalism and futurism, most of which remain in an unusually well-preserved state.

“While other countries like Libya and Somalia were understandably keen to trash their colonial heritage,” said Denison, “Eritrea was subject to a decade of British rule and 40 years of Ethiopian rule, so the process was more gradual.”

When independence finally came in the 1990s, a sudden rash of modern buildings made many realise the value of their colonial heritage.

A moratorium on building in the city was established in 2001, which is now planned to be lifted with the introduction of a new conservation management plan, updating the regulations for the first time since the 1930s.

The inscription of Asmara – along with historical centre of M’banza Kongo in Angola – goes some way to addressing the under-representation of Africa on the Unesco world heritage list. Of 814 cultural sites worldwide, only 48 are in the African continent, fewer than in Italy alone.

By Tesfaye Demmellash

I have in the past written about the mutual exclusions of patriotism and progressivism in the era of abyot in Ethiopia. That long era stretches from the time of the Student Movement through the blood thirsty tyranny of the Derg to the weird colonial-like dictatorship of Woyane “revolutionary democracy” over the last quarter century.

In that seemingly interminable zemen of revolution and its aftermath, professing progressive ideas and values while at the same time being an Ethiopian patriot has proven to be difficult. Indeed, a dynamic convergence of forward looking ideas and ye-ager fikir sentiments has been well-nigh impossible. But I believe such a fusion of our commitments to these, equally vital, elements of our national life is essential if Ethiopia is to thrive, not just survive.

If I am correct in this belief, a couple of related questions arise: how do we, as a nation, make the integration of patriotism and progressivism happen as it has never happened before? What are the conditions of its possibility at present? Or, how do we settle our intellectual and political accounts with the legacy of our “radical” progressive experience, whose continuing or residual effects are all around us today, largely in the form of divisive ethnopolitics? In this writing, I offer some critical thoughts seeking to contribute to the answers to these questions.

For the TPLF, the integration of forward looking ideas and ye-ager fikir remains anathema, something fundamentally at odds with the Front’s reason for being. Wedded from its inception to a retrograde, neo-feudal, regionalist, tribal political project, the TPLF has never had honest progressive intention for Ethiopia as one country. Quite the contrary. The integral transformation and development of the country has never been its motivation and goal. Nor have the Woyanes ever been patriotic in good faith, though they use “Ethiopia” cynically as a strategic subterfuge, as a political cover and resource for their project of the “liberation” of Tigray or the creation of “greater” Tigray.

The Revolution did produce many progressive patriots who sacrificed so much for the betterment of the lot of all Ethiopians regardless of ethnicity. But our culture of “teramaj” politica as a whole, including but not limited to that of the TPLF, has been inhospitable in thought and practice to the dynamic fusion of progressivism and patriotism under Ethiopian conditions. This is true, although the Woyane manifestation of the deeply problematic culture has been especially abhorrent. Admittedly, the nationally divisive partisan-tribal “revolutionary democracy” of the TPLF in particular has been the most perverse outcome or byproduct of the Ethiopian Revolution.

Still, long before the rise of the TPLF, championing universal ideas like freedom, democracy, and equality in the course of the Student Movement had already been marked by indifference, and often outright hostility, toward our national tradition. The mutual exclusion of sensuous Ethiopian experience rooted in history and culturally arid intellectual socialization based on abstract ideology has its origins in that seminal social movement. The rest, as we know painfully well, is disappointing revolutionary history, made mainly by the successive dictatorships of the Derg and the Woyanes. This persistent condition has created and perpetuated Ethiopia’s long national crisis over the last several decades.

We should be careful, however, not to regard the Ethiopian experience, specifically our struggle today for national redemption, as necessarily incongruent with progressive values and commitments as such. We should not equate progressivism as a whole with its perverse partisan features or defective ethnic variants. That would be a mistake, not only in conceptual thought or in principle but also in strategic and practical terms related to the present struggle for our national salvation.

For there are alternative ways of embracing forward looking ideas. They range from the least reflective, most formulaic and nationally rootless, “globalized” ideological constructs that have had wide currency within the Ethiopian revolutionary tradition, to historically better informed, more thoughtful and enlightened approaches that have greater accommodative democratic resonance with our national values and experience.

I see possibilities of a fruitful symbiosis today between a big, hopeful patriotic heart and a skeptical, questioning, progressive mind. I imagine a politically productive dynamic between our feelings and thoughts which will figure centrally in Ethiopia’s rise and renewal. I envision the heat of patriotic passion being productively harnessed and given sustainable form and direction by the light of cool, strategic, progressive reason.

It is departing from this hopeful vision that I present the following fifteen critical notes on patriotism, progressivism, and ethnopolitics in Ethiopia today. I offer the notes as a spur to further thought and discussion in the Ethiopian opposition to TPLF tyranny. They are also intended to help prepare the political ground in the country for broad-based national consensus on the direction and strategies of Ethiopian renewal.

1. Ethiopia/Ethiopiawinnet is not simply a repository of historic agerawi heritage and civilization but also a vital site of contemporary national growth and development. Having already undergone a revolution, it has the potential to evolve further and better, accommodating anew progressive change while enduring as the unique national entity that it is and has been for millennia.

Consequently, any Ethiopian patriot who wants to promote systemic political change in the country today and actively participate in such change must regard reconstructed progressivism as a crucial intellectual and political ally, a vital source of enlightened vision of national freedom and development.

What drives the contemporary Ethiopian movement for freedom and renewal is neither simply abstract political thought (centered on, say, “democracy,”) nor merely historical-cultural sources of nationality. Rather, it is an integral national experience which can absorb into itself new forward looking ideas and values. In the present Ethiopian struggle for change, there is significant conceptual and strategic innovation to be gained through a renewed convergence of patriotism and progressivism.

2. However, a dynamic coming together of these two strands of our shared national life has not been possible in the course of the Revolution and its aftermath to-date. This is so largely because, given as they have been to “radical” excesses of social and ethnic engineering, revolutionary leaders, parties, and regimes lacked the intellectual disposition and resources for thinking broadly through the tension between progressivism and patriotism. Instead, they professed “progressivism” in grossly one-sided, abstract, formulaic and dogmatic terms, doing so in effect, if not always in intent, outside and against the Ethiopian national experience.

Under these circumstances, promoters and practitioners of teramaj politica in the country could make neither the Ethiopian national tradition nor progressivism itself the ground and object of their critical thought. Putting their blind, unreflective faith in such modernist idols as “revolution,” “science,” “democracy,” and “national self-determination,” they not only excluded ideas from our historic national sensibility and experience but also severely restricted the free flow and development of forward looking thought in Ethiopian politics and society.

The resulting nationally nihilistic, depthless radicalism has had significant implications for the articulation of progressivism, patriotism, and ethnopolitics in the Ethiopian context, as I note in the following critical theses.

3. Progressive ideas have made themselves felt in our country largely as the simple negation or reverse of the sentiments and experience of Ethiopiawinnet. Practitioners of supposedly radical politics in the country generally tended to devalue Ethiopian nationhood as inauthentic or “fake” relative to the “nationality” of ethnic groups.

But, for all their “radicalism,” the ideas of the ultra-left in particular could not have been actually transformative of our national culture. This was because the ideas, such as they were, represented an approach to Ethiopian national culture that was grossly and summarily rejectionist, characterizing the culture as the sum of its limitations and problems, a “prison of nations,” nothing more or different.

Thus, an entire paradigm of leftist thought, whose offshoot TPLF/OLF ethnonationalist ideology is, imagined historic Ethiopia out of existence, telling us that real and valid national being lies only in articulated ideas of democracy and ethnonational “self-determination” or “liberation,” simply as a contemporary political project. In a boldfaced Orwellian reversal, an actually existent, though imperfect, nation-state is wished out of being while a merely aspirational ethnocentric “nationality” is declared to have real existence.

4. Ethiopian progressive thought has been entangled in a web of contradictions: it has generally privileged ideology over history, promoting the overriding authoritarian power of sectarian and tribal ideologues over everyone else; yet, it has been bereft of relatively autonomous ideational content. Instead, as “radical” progressives, we have often passed our inert dogmatism off as commitment to high-minded principle.

Ethiopian progressives sought to enlighten and move “the broad masses” through ideas, but they didn’t allow the ideas they professed to convey logos or knowledge in their own terms, i.e. beyond the limits of narrow, exclusively partisan sense and meaning. The ideal purpose of Ethiopian progressivism was to cast the light of reason on our politics, to advance freedom and democracy in Ethiopia; in actuality, however, progressivism itself became a force of darkness, a means of rationalization of partisan-tribal repression and dictatorship.

The upshot is that notions like “democracy,” “equality,” “national self-determination,” “constitution,” and “federalism” under the Derg and/or Woyane regimes have had no reference to anything that has meaningful conceptual content and institutional reality. They are normatively empty rhetorical conceits of dictatorship.

5. For a lot of patriotic Ethiopians, the historical and cultural sources of Ethiopiawinnet may loom larger than its contemporary ideas and validity, while for the nation’s many other citizens and some political entities Ethiopian nationality may be more significant as a contemporary civic and political achievement than as a structure of past events, deeds, accomplishments and cultural sources of identity.

However, neither aspect of our national tradition in and of itself adequately captures the meaning and realities of Ethiopian patriotism today. What is significant is not one or the other strand of our shared nationality taken singly, but the synergy produced by the fusion of both streams of Ethiopian national consciousness. History is not simply a record of our past achievements as a people; it is a vital constitutive part of contemporary Ethiopian national being and consciousness.

6. As a structure of historical events, facts, deeds, accomplishments, and patriotic narratives, Ethiopiawinnet has had its native critics and objectors like other national cultures and civilizations. Here, we should distinguish between two types of objectors.

Namely, on one side are patriotic and progressive Ethiopian dissidents of various ethnic backgrounds who have sought in good faith, though not effectively, to engage our national tradition, seeking to bring about its integral transformation and development. And, on the other, we have protagonists of more or less separatist identity politics that have willfully and “radically” alienated themselves from Ethiopian nationhood, which they have wanted to undo.

The latter (we may characterize them as ethnopolitical “others”) are bent on undermining our shared nationality or, failing that, only accept Ethiopiawinnet grudgingly as nothing more than a collection of tribal kilils. The TPLF, the current “ruling” party (if one can call it that), belongs in this category of extremist objectors that are resentful and hostile toward Ethiopian multiethnic national culture. So do unreconstructed separatist factions or remnants of the OLF.

This distinction has strategic implications for the resistance in terms of building national consensus and coalitions toward post-communist and post-tribal Ethiopian transformation. Broad-based agerawi agreement can be built among patriots and reconstructed progressives of diverse ethnicities who operate in good faith within the parameters of commonly shared Ethiopian nationality and citizenship even as they disagree on matters of politics and policy.

But it is impossible to accommodate within such consensus ethnonationalist elements obsessed with separatist identity politics. The alliance of patriotic-progressive resistance forces has no choice but to do battle with these “others” on various fields of engagement and by various means in the most critical and systematic way it can.

7. Love of country has its own challenges and drawbacks. Modes of patriotic concern and the ways in which patriotism is valued or approached differ with different parties, regimes, and interests. For example, the Woyanes have their own exclusively partisan sense of, and identification with, Ethiopia and Ethiopiawinnet. National sentiments and values can take liberal-democratic form or repressive-authoritarian shape. They can assume broadly trans-ethnic, civic mold or narrowly tribal pattern; and they can be expressed with honest or dishonest intention. Also, patriotism may be used by regimes and politicians to distract the attention of citizens from policy failures or limitations and internal problems.

Among individuals and groups motivated by honest nationalist intention, patriotism can be emotionally overcharged and at times impervious to reason and strategic intelligence. At a time today of challenging Ethiopian struggle for national survival against an enemy at once cunning and brutal, giving free rein to unthinking patriotic passion can be politically counterproductive, even if it seems psychologically compelling or satisfying.

This holds true, by the way, for ethnicism or identity politics too. Including, that is, current movements of some “activist” groups that overethnicize Amarannet even as they make good faith effort to protect the Amara people from brazen and insidious Woyane genocidal aggression.

That said, we should not forget that love of country is potentially a motive force of our struggle for national salvation, a source of uplifting energy, commitment, and action. If we shy away from reaffirming our national heritage and solidarity, doing so perhaps out of a misguided progressive conceit of “multiculturalism” or “political correctness,” we disable ourselves as a people and a nation. We lose our national élan. If we suppress or neutralize our patriotism, we lose the spirit, vitality and power of integral Ethiopiawinnet.

We thereby allow our shared nationality to be subjected to the nefarious machinations of hostile forces like the TPLF, Shabiya and their internal proxies and external allies or backers. We enable such forces to parasitize on Ethiopia, to hollow out from within her national life and spirit, to devalue her unique historical heritage, and to squander her material and cultural resources and strategic assets, all to the detriment of the interests of her citizens and distinct cultural communities.

8. In coming to terms with and valuing who or what we are as a historic nation, we carry within our national being and consciousness contemporary ideas and values of freedom, equality, political pluralism, democracy, and cultural diversity. Yet, as a nation, we move forward integrally, not divided along ethnic lines into so many exclusive, island-like “nationalities” or “peoples,” with insular territorial kilils or enclaves to match.

Such entities are unreal, lacking as they do actually free or autonomous social-political agency. They are only passed off as “facts on the ground.” The reality claimed for them is just that, a claim. As such, it is contestable and potentially open to discussion, negotiation and transformation.

9. There is little prospect of existing or emergent patriotic-progressive Ethiopian forces engaging unreconstructed partisans of separatist ethnic politics in principled dialogue and exchange of thoughts and views. One of the main reasons for this is that the “progressive” ideas such exclusive partisans formally profess cannot be opened for informed critical debate and discussion, since they are seized upon and deployed instrumentally as blunt ideological and rhetorical weapons in identity wars.
Universal, forward looking ideas professed under these circumstances have no function other than as mechanisms for projecting an imagined ethnocentric “nationality,” as devices for making aspirational claims of biherawi selfhood. In this way, broad-based ideas have been narrowed down to, or conflated with, exclusively sectarian assertions and constructs of identity politics.

For example, TPLF notions of “democracy” and “federalism” have no principled content or practical significance beyond the narrow, exclusive, authoritarian interpretation the Front gives them to suit its self-serving partisan and tribal purposes. Utterly meaningless and without value for Ethiopian politics, government and society generally, these notions constitute nothing but counterfeit ideological currency.

What this means is that, for TPLF partisans and other practitioners of identity politics, it is not the philosophical or historical contents of notions like “democracy” and “self-determination” that are important but the party or ethnic group which rhetorically and tactically “identifies” itself with such notions. Thus the overriding concern has been about who (or which group/tribe) expresses the idea of “democracy,” not what the idea itself signifies, either in principle and conceptual thought or in the Ethiopian national context.

Consequently, it has been hard to reason with such exclusively partisan ideological self-representations. How can an ethnic party or group that simply and immediately lays claim to the notion of “democracy” in framing its selfhood or in its self-identification be expected to let others question its view of that very notion? Wouldn’t that mean allowing its imagined “nationality” or “identity” to be questioned? Herein lie the underlying ideational and political limitations of ethnonationist “progressivism” in Ethiopia from the era of the Student Movement to the present.

Put differently, the problem has been that identity as politically imagined and wished for subjectivity or a construct of generic “revolutionary” ideology is confused with historically constituted social category, namely, with actual Ethiopian ethnic-cultural communities and their commonly shared as well as distinctive forms of self-identification. And the mix up of ideological and social categories has generally made the ideology at issue closed to enlightened debate, discussion, and reconstruction.

10. Dissociating ethnocentrism as a category or system of ideas (particularly the residual Leninist-Stalinist constructs of ethnic partisans and elites) from the felt and lived self-identifications of actual Ethiopian cultural communities is imperative both as a matter of principle and in the struggle to save and renew Ethiopia.

The nation’s diverse, yet intersecting and overlapping communities can be identified locally and nationally in various ways, including shared history, common socio-economic interests, and trans-ethnic popular culture and spiritual life. Making all these sources and forms of community self-hood in Ethiopia extensions and objects of exclusive partisan or state ethnicism is not only undemocratic but also a gross contravention of the relative autonomy of the nation’s regions and localities and of the communities that dwell in them.

The old and still residually operative habit of “revolutionary” thought and practice in Ethiopia has resulted in the overpoliticization of ethnicity or in the overethnicization of local and regional identity. This deeply flawed yet predominant pattern of identity work should be deconstructed through a new progressive-patriotic ethos marked by what I would call ethnoscepticism.

In coining the term “ethnoscepticism,” I have in mind the all-round questioning and critique of ethnocentrism. I value and embrace ethnic-cultural diversity as constitutive of the Ethiopian national experience. But I regard the tradition of identity politics characteristic of such parties as the TPLF and the OLF (or what is left of it) not only wrong in its substantive views and arguments but fundamentally misconceived in equating an exclusively partisan ethnopolitical ideology simply and straightaway with national life, with the form, substance, and horizon of nationhood as such. In this, it is deeply mistaken.

11. Part of the allure and absurdity of ethnocentrism in Ethiopia is thus its aspiration to maximize tribal identity out of all historical proportion, common sense, and socio-economic context or rationality. Its appeal, particularly to those engaged in exclusively partisan identity work aimed at creating petty tribal states, is related to the overpoliticization of ethnicity as separatist “nationality.”
The attractiveness of ethnonationalism is related to the conflation of aspirational identity constructed ideologically with the subjectivities of actually existing Ethiopian cultural communities. We see this (intended or unwitting) confusion in its most graphic form in the practically meaningless Stalinist dogma of “the rights of nations, nationalities, and peoples to self-determination up to and including secession.” This old and tired dogma has, for decades, made itself felt in Ethiopian politics through mind-numbing high rhetorical frequency, but it has never had the sense and feel of authenticity or reality.

Instead, the dogma signifies nothing but political fiction; the “rights” of which it speaks have always been unreal. Nor should we take the generic Leninist-Stalinist terms, “nations, nationalities, and peoples” at face value as social referents, as if they pick out or represent particular Ethiopian cultural communities in any descriptive or political sense. We know that the terms generally encode and rationalize single-party, authoritarian rule centered on ethnic identity, real and/or imagined.

It is worth stressing here that the overvaluation of ethnicity (as “nation”) in Ethiopia since the era of the Student Movement has not been an outcome simply of the identity work of tribal elites or partisans. Instead, it has more broadly been a mark of leftist political fashion in the country. The phenomenon is symptomatic of our troubled tradition of teramaj politica as a whole.

In effect, if not by design, the inordinate currency we have given in our progressive discourse to the ideological categories of “nations,” “nationalities,” and “peoples” can be said to represent within that discourse a conceptually inert formulaic “radicalism” aimed at delegitimizing trans-ethnic Ethiopian nationality. It signified a global, generic, fundamentalist progressivism divorced from historically informed and grounded Ethiopian political thought.

That said, we cannot deny that the tendency of old school “revolutionary” partisans of the TPLF and remnants of the OLF today to overvalue ethnicity politically has to do with wounded cultural pride, often reflecting a felt or perceived sense of being devalued or treated as inferior in one’s distinct culture and identity. Whether its sources and bases are historically real or mainly politically constructed, this feeling cannot be discounted.

12. Yet we should recognize that the sentiment is connected to the perception (by unreconstructed practitioners of identity politics) of Tigres and Oromos as passive victims in the formation of the modern Ethiopian state, which is simply and falsely equated with “Amhara expansion.” What is conveniently denied or overlooked in this overdrawn ethnocentric narrative of victimhood is the active participation of heroic figures from the Tigre and Oromo communities in the making of modern Ethiopia as well as the fact of the multi-ethnic heritage of great Ethiopian national leaders, particularly Emperor Menelik II.

The fundamental problem here is that identity issues and problems, and the solutions proposed for them, are dissociated from broader social-structural contexts of movement, contact, and interaction of communities. This is particularly true of Amharas and Oromos. The intersections, interpenetrations, and cultural exchanges of these two great communities are profoundly constitutive of historic and contemporary Ethiopia as a whole and of distinct regions and cultural identities within the country.

Contrary to these historical conditions of our shared nationality, supposedly revolutionary narratives of “self-determination” or “liberation” have constructed disparate island-like ethnic “selves” as focal points of partisan domination, identity work, and wished for tribal state formation. The TPLF has become master of ethnocraft in this sense, adept at engineering cultural identities in Ethiopia today, particularly targeting the Oromo and Amhara communities. The possible solidarity of these two intersecting Ethiopian communities constitutes a mortal danger to the partisan-tribal dictatorship of the Woyane party, and the Woyanes know it. And they will do everything they can to prevent its realization.

13. In this connection, Amara distinctness is worth noting in particular. Woyane Tigres dream of reducing Amaras to just one among many other tribal groups in the country; they have sought to force Amarannet and Ethiopiawinnet But, if there is a distinct Ethiopian cultural community whose national identity or nationalism cannot be defined simply by ethnicity, it is the Amara people.
We as a community certainly have a right to defend ourselves by all means necessary against existential threats the TPLF and its proxies pose, and we should not hesitate to exercise that right whenever and wherever the need arises. But the continued survival and flourishing of Amaras (and of other cultural communities in the country) has a lot to do with maintaining cultural distinctness while strengthening civic unity and political solidarity with others through Ethiopiawinnet. Ultimately, we rise or fall together as Ethiopians. In the long run, the salvation of the Amara people will be achieved not in isolation from, or on the margins of, the Ethiopian experience but as integral and central to that experience. Ethiopiawinnet is deeply constitutive of Amara maninnet.

Even as we defend ourselves as a distinct community from TPLF predatory tribal aggression, we rely on Ethiopiawinnet for building patriotic-progressive coalitions and for cultivating needed allies and supporters near and far in the resistance against Woyane tyranny. As a vital part of Ethiopian national life, Amaras everywhere in the country confront a vengeful, scheming tribal enemy that harbors ill will towards us. It oppresses us not only by means state power, but through a network of local, national, regional, and global partners and allies. In doing so, it uses a wide range of ways and means, including coercion, espionage, political pressure, programs and projects of economic “development,” cyber tools, media, and propaganda.

Against an enemy operating on such networked terrain, the Amara community cannot effectively engage even in self-defense by practicing identity tegadlo pure and simple, disregarding or ignoring its vital historic and contemporary ties with other Ethiopian communities. Instead, in struggling to neutralize, turn aside or unravel the TPLF network of domination, the Amara resistance should take full advantage of its broader Ethiopian heritage of standing up to enemies, foreign and domestic.

This means in part leveraging the values, resources and capabilities of Ethiopiawinnet existent in diverse communities and localities of the country. More broadly, it means building a strong coalition of patriotic and progressive forces linked to a countervailing network of regional and global sources of support.

But this cannot be done merely or primarily by practicing identity politics. The nation’s struggle against Woyane tyranny, at the center of which is the resistance of the Amara people, will require a renewed Ethiopian national vision, enlightened intellectual, political and moral leadership, a keen understanding of possibilities of trans-ethnic Ethiopian national consensus and solidarity, and strategic direction and resourcefulness.

14. TPLF ethnocentrism is caught in a net of paradoxes: generally, it is marked by a contradictory assertion of egalitarian ideals and dictatorial power. Its ethnic “federalism” represents an imposition of centralized state power by a small party, locally based in a minority ethnic community, over much larger Ethiopian cultural communities.

Under these conditions, “national self-determination” as an egalitarian value or ideal is neutralized by its treatment as an object of tactical maneuvers and manipulations by the Woyane power hierarchy. We see here the paradox of distinct Ethiopian local communities being subjected to dictatorial power in their supposed act of self-determination. We witness the rhetorical or formal promotion of cultural identity and difference facilitating the pre-emptive suppression of actual diversity and local self-government brought about by the homogenizing effects of TPLF state ethnicism.

Formally, the Woyane regime obsesses about, and gives excessive attention to, ideologically pre-cooked ethnic identity. Yet, whatever distinct cultural community (say, the Amara, Oromo, Tigre or Gurage) is addressed in this way gets little or no attention in its own, actual, self-identification. It has little or no agency either in its bona fide autonomy or in its historic and contemporary ties and intersections with other Ethiopian communities.

As such, the TPLF state is a squanderer of Ethiopian social capital and national power. In fostering tribal division, it undermines both the national solidarity and cultural diversity of the Ethiopian people, for there is really no meaningful diversity to speak of without robust national unity. In its self-serving instrumentalization of ethnic identities, the Woyane dictatorship is socially and nationally wasteful in a double sense. The regime not only hinders the country’s diverse communities from gaining true local self-government, but also severely limits their capacity to benefit fully from larger material and cultural values the Ethiopian national experience affords.

Moreover, officially sanctioned tribal fragmentation of the country has created a fertile ground for economic inefficiencies, corruption, and uneven development against the interests of all citizens and cultural communities in the country. And most outrageously, aging TPLF tyrants preside over the subjection particularly of Amhara communities in various parts of Ethiopia to destructive ethnic cleansing and genocide or the threat of genocide.

Consequently, the institutionalized tribalism of the Woyane regime should be clearly distinguished from the actual ethnic and cultural practices of real Ethiopian communities. The identity politics of TPLF dictatorship is not a part of us as citizens and local communities. It is not our lived experience as Amaras, Oromos, Tigres, Gurages, Afars, and so on.

On the contrary, it is imposed on us, making us all its objects and extensions. Woyane bureaucratic tribalism has its own colonially inspired divide-and-dominate rationale, interests, institutions, and practices. All of these elements and features of TPLF state ethnicism have taken shape and come into play against the multiethnic Ethiopian national experience. Insofar as Woyane political ethnicism has continued to be ideologically connected to the Stalinist legacy, it has been dictatorial. And, as such, it remains a major enemy of democracy in Ethiopia.

Under these circumstances, political institutions and practices of the Woyane regime such as federalism, constitution, parliament, elections, democracy, and development are not simply instruments the regime uses to pursue and protect its partisan-tribal interests. They are authoritarian tools the Woyanes use to undermine Ethiopian national culture, to negate fundamentally what Ethiopia means to its citizens and diverse local and cultural communities.

In this regard, an issue that is worth exploring but often suppressed or ignored in narratives and practices of identity politics in Ethiopia is this: what has been the role or function of external factors or influences, colonial and post-colonial, in the formation of “local” ethnic identities in Ethiopia? What has been the impact of global and regional forces on the inflated political currency of ethnicism in the country in more recent decades? Broad and involved, these questions deserve close, critical study and analysis. Here, it is enough to make a few concluding observations by way of a fifteenth, and last, set of critical notes.

15. Ethnic identities are commonly recognized by such relatively static or spontaneous markers as language, religion, cultural practice, physical appearance, and locality or place of dwelling. But, in a political-historical context, they are better understood dynamically as products of contacts and relations of native populations or localities with larger intervening forces. Forms of ethnicity or ethnicism can be seen as links in, and outcomes of, a long chain of local, national, regional, and global interactions, influences, and activities.

In this light, we can trace connections between, for example, the separatist identity politics of the OLF and the work of colonial and post-colonial era German missionaries and of other agents of European interests, notably, Baron Roman Prochazka of Austria, an anti-Ethiopia and anti-Amara Nazi figure who reportedly was the first to have spoken of the “self-determination of tribes in Abyssinia.” The dubious intentions of the seemingly OLF-supporting Shabiya dictatorship toward Ethiopia make up another major link in the chain.

We can further include here the connection between the Shabiya regime and Arab states’ goals in the Red Sea region and in the Horn of Africa, goals which have also generally contravened Ethiopian national interest. Western Marxist revolutionary ideology (specifically the Leninist-Stalinist dogma of “national self-determination”) also deserves mention as a significant link in the chain of locality-forming or identity-shaping external forces that have in more recent decades made themselves felt in Ethiopia.

This series of connections, which generally has tended to work at cross-purposes with Ethiopian national integration, thus represents more than the immediacies of OLF (or TPLF) partisans’ narratives of ethnic victimhood and related schemes of ethnocentric “national” self-definition and self-assertion. Instead, the links signify the overdetermination of OLF/TPLF ethnocentrism by various regional and global interests and influences. They point to a more complex and problematic political quality that has shaped the seemingly simple identity politics of both ethnic parties.

Not a brute empirical datum or a “reality on the ground” given naturally, then, “identity” or “locality” here is a political construct that has varying phenomenological character. That is to say, it can be variously perceived, defined, valued, and “realized” by competing or cooperating interests and forces. Different interests may have differing locality/identity-shaping purposes, programs, and capabilities. Varying projects of ethnocentrism, say, those of the TPLF and the OLF, may use varying tactics and techniques of valorization or “nationalization” of ethnicity.

Among the ways and means of identity work the Woyane regime in particular employs are: demographic tactics (depopulation and resettlement schemes, ethnic cleansing, and so on); cultural politics, for example, interventions in the internal affairs of the nation’s religious communities; economic policies and instruments (“development” projects); gross ethnic corruption in education and professional training; and similarly wholesale tribal favoritism in appointments to positions of power and in the staffing and use of the institutions of the “federal” state, namely, its fiscal, financial, bureaucratic, intelligence, police, and military agencies.

All these factors add up to an onerous task for the Ethiopian opposition to Woyane tyranny. They pose difficult challenges for the articulation of the form and direction of the Ethiopian patriotic-progressive resistance against TPLF dictatorship, which is at once insidious and blatantly oppressive. Gaining an enlightened strategic grasp as well as a practical understanding of the challenges involved is a critical first step in waging a successful struggle toward Ethiopian freedom and renewal.

Written by Ethiomedia,

SEATTLE - If you have missed ESFNA Festival 2017, you have missed what could have probably been one of the happiest moments in your life. ESFNA 2017 cultural and sports festival has attracted tens of thousands Ethiopians from around the world, and the success for the very well organized event is due to ESFNA leaders. They truly deserve our thanks. Seattle - Always the Best!

By The Nation

The House of Representatives Wednesday mandated its committee on Aviation to invite the Minister of Aviation, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Ethiopian Airlines to appear before and give reasons for the excessive delays in bringing back Nigerians stranded in Saudi Arabia.

The Green Chamber flayed the airline for the recent long delays and disrespectful behavior towards Nigerians and other nationals from Saudi Arabia to Nigeria by the Airlines and said flight delay compensation be paid to them according to global aviation rules.

The resolution of the House was sequel to the adoption of the prayers of a motion by Hon. Zakari Mohammed on complaints against Ethiopian Airlines.

The lawmaker while moving the motion noted that Ethiopian Airlines due to the backlog of delays have left Nigerians stranded in Jeddah for over one week with most running out of funds to survive.

He said the airline’s refusal to offer a reasonable explanation for the delay was worrisome, and also in violation of Article 2 of Ethiopian Airlines passenger commitment.

According to him, it made reservations for three persons to occupy one hotel room in overnight delays again, in violation of Article 11 of the Ethiopian Airlines passenger commitment published on their website.

He said passengers had to incur more expenses by making hotel reservations for themselves. due to the inconveniences caused by the airline,

Mohammed also said over one thousand Nigerians who were due to be back in the country on 27 June, 2017 were stranded in Jeddah for 4-5 days.

The House thereafter mandated its committee on Aviation to invite the Minister of Aviation, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Ethiopian Airlines to appear before and give reasons for the excessive delays.

The House also resolved that Ethiopian Airlines should apologize through two national dailies, to the affected passengers.

By Economist

DOWNLOADING a movie, legally or not, is prohibitively slow in Ethiopia, thanks to glacial internet speeds. Bootleg DVDs are everywhere, but even so it can be hard to find a reasonable-quality version of the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Only one cinema in Addis Ababa, the capital, screens foreign hits. Resourceful pirates spy an opportunity.

Last year yellow ATM-style kiosks began to spring up around Addis Ababa. The brainchild of three Ethiopian science graduates and their software company, Swift Media, the Chinese-built kiosks allow customers to transfer any of 6,000 pirated foreign movies or 500 music albums onto a USB stick they insert for as little as 10 cents per file. The kiosks are located in large malls in full view of authorities, who show no interest in shutting them down.

This is just one manifestation of a general disregard for foreign intellectual-property (IP) rights in Ethiopia. Swift Media is breaking no local laws by selling plundered foreign films. Ethiopia is not a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Indeed, it is the largest country that has not yet signed any of the big international treaties governing IP, according to Seble Baraki, a local lawyer. Foreign trademarks are infringed with impunity. Kaldi’s, the country’s biggest coffee chain, has a logo suspiciously similar to that of Starbucks. Intercontinental Hotels Group, a British-owned hotel company, is suing a large hotel in central Addis Ababa with the same name. In-N-Out Burger, an American fast-food franchise, has a popular equivalent in Ethiopia that the American firm only learned about when tourists complained to it about poor standards.

In an effort to shift attitudes the authorities burned half a million pirated CDs and DVDs in the centre of the capital in 2008. But the thieves are undeterred. Only a handful of records are released each year. In 2010 Ethiopia’s Audiovisual Producers Association, a film and music producers guild, stopped releasing albums for several months in protest over the Supreme Court’s decision to drop charges against a record-shop owner accused of copyright infringement.

In the hope of attracting more foreign investment the Ethiopian government has been trying to bring its IP laws into line with international standards. But Ms Baraki doubts that her country is about to change. Ethiopia is poor and has a desperate shortage of foreign currency. “How would we pay?” she asks.
Tegegnework Gettu, regional director of UNDP 

By Ethiomedia

An Ethiopian UNDP official faces corruption charges by employing the daughter of Ambassador Berhane Gebre Kristos, a key figure in the Ethiopian government, without any ‘competitive employment process.’

Tegegnework Gettu, the regional director of UNDP for Africa, hired Sallem Gebre Kristos in 2013 without any public notice nor without the presence of an opening for a job. Sallem has enjoyed successive promotions ever since, the report shows.

“Mr. Tegegnework Gettu, who has a very close relationship with. Mr.Gebre-Kristos, gave instruction to his staff to secure her recruitment,” the Inner City Report disclosed.

Ambassador Berhane, who was a very close confidante of the late tyrant Meles Zenawi, is widely seen as incompetent and corrupt like the rest of his peers in the inner circle of the ruling party in Ethiopia. Observers Ethiomedia talked to were not shocked but surprised that the individuals have been spreading corruption beyond Ethiopia and into the UN system.

Following is the full report by Inner City Press:

Berhane Gebre-Christos
“UNITED NATIONS, June 13 – While some claim there have been substantive changes in the UN Secretariat and UN Development Program, these are by no means clear. In 2014 and again in 2016 Inner City Press reported on UNDP, and now in 2017 staff there, fearing retaliation, have written: “Secretary General, UNDP staff do not believe that competency plays a role in the hiring process.

“Managers select their staff based on color, nationality, and nepotism, and not on educational qualifications or work experience. As you may already know, nearly $1,000,000 (USD) has been spent on the UNDP’s Structural Review process. In 2014, these funds were channeled to consultants and other activities, yet UNDP’s leadership never provided a cost benefit analysis.

“We feel duty-bound to inform you of this which require your immediate attention: 1. Ms. Sallem Berhane joined UNDP RBA in 2013 as an Individual Contract (IC) holder without ever participating in a competitive selection process. It must be noted that Ms. Berhane is the daughter of a very powerful Ethiopian Deputy Prim- Minister Berhane Gebre-Kristos. The Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa (RBA) Mr. Tegegnework Gettu, has a very close relationship with. Mr.Gebre-Kristos gave instruction to his staff to secure her recruitment. During Structural Review, it was necessary to move Ms. Berhane to BPPS, following her supervisor Mr. Pedro Conceicao. In late 2016, again with no competitive recruitment process, Ms. Berhane was moved from BPPS to HQ/EXO with the same IC contract status. Then, in 2017, she was offered P3 Fixed Term contract without due process, as no vacancy was advertised and none of the organizational recruitment processes were observed. Reasonably, for bringing this information to light, staff-members are afraid of retaliatory discrimination from the Associate Administrator. He has rendered a service to his Government Official (who has supported his career advancement) and treats inquiries with a lack of respect, often responding with the attitude of a bully.” What will Guterres do? His top two spokesman not only didn’t answer anyof Inner City Press’ formal questions on June 12 – they didn’t even provide the requested confirmation of receipt. This is today’s UN.

“Inner City Press in 2014 reported on then-head of the UN Department of General Assembly and Conference Management Tegegnework Gettu calling female critics “emotional,” here, whistleblowers afraid of Gallach-like retaliation tell Inner City Press that Gettu has continued his “shenanigans” at UNDP.

“Inner City Press has exclusively publishedinternal UNDP (“Atlas”) travel vouchers leaked to it by scared whistleblowers, reflecting among other things Gettu coincidentally putting in for $11,000 travel expenses.”

By Kebour Ghenna

Very soon, I will be celebrating my sixtieth birthday in Addis Ababa. My son was born in Addis Ababa. I was born in Addis Ababa. My father was born in Addis Ababa. My grandfather also!

Last week’s EPRDF arbitrary edict, offering Addis Ababa an absurd affirmative action model has come as a surprise and shock to me… I am sure to many others too. This decree reinforces further the attempt of the government to divide of Addis Ababians according to ethnic lines, and disenfranchises a huge number of residents.

It’s a foolish edict of injustice that is discriminatory and contrary to the fundamental principles of the Constitution.

Yes, EPRDF may have done this to address the grievance of Oromia, but why do it in a way that undermines and weakens the nation. Why chose to create new problems faster than solving old ones? No doubt the legitimate concerns of Oromia should be addressed through open dialogue and negotiation between all the antagonists, and not through some arbitrary edicts prescribed from, we don’t know where.

Only a democratic political system could create effective governance in Ethiopia and earn Oromos and other ethnic groups trust in the state. In today’s Ethiopia, for political reform to succeed, declaring the ‘right’ policies is not enough, creating an enabling environment that lead to the debate and implementation of that policy is no less important.

The monumental blunder of this edict will likely lead this peaceful city to unprecedented ethnic discord, division and conflict. At best, it will open the door for a whopping corruption. At worst it will start us down a costly, intellectually draining, dead-end path into a world of overwhelming unknowns. More important, it will waste time and influence that otherwise could be devoted to repairing the politics of the nation to which we are inevitably tied.

It’s plain sad to see politicians care only for themselves, as opposed to everyone’s interest. Yet even EPRDF can’t ignore reality forever! How can it proclaim such absurdities: ‘Oromo residents of the city shall be entitled to the right to self-determination’ or ‘Oromo residents shall be entitled to 25% of the city council, besides to their representation as residents of the city’ or ‘Afaan Oromo shall become “the working and official language” of Addis Ababa [Now, why not of Ethiopia?!!] along with Amharic’ … and many more similar incredible array of stipulations.

Why this trail of blunders? Is this the best EPRDF can come up with on the status of Addis Ababa?
Where are we heading with this?

Actually, I’m not sure if it’s incompetence… or sheer complacency. But frankly, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that EPRDF opted to damage the state to gain popular support and thus further strengthen its political power by dividing people along ethnic lines. What is new is that even the ordinary person is beginning to see the scam.

My point today is not to moralize, but to point out the practical implications of this decree on Addis Ababa. This policy will destroy the social cohesion that made the trade mark of the city; a city with no distinct ethnic enclave. It will wreck the existing community bonds and shared sentiments that are visible all across the city. More importantly, it will obstruct the assimilation of ethnics, and inhibit the creation of a closer bond between the people and the federal government.

Indeed, it’s necessary for the Federal government to negotiate with Oromia the status of Addis Ababa and its relations with neighboring woredas, but make no mistake the final outcome should be an independent and democratic city, with clear boundaries and with no favoritism to any ethnic group. A capital city for all! Period.

If we want an Addis Ababa that is democratic and prosperous, if we want Double A to become the beacon of Africa, for the sake of the nation, and the preservation of its polity.It’s high time to ensure the state government is for every citizen alike, otherwise the problems will ruin not just Addis Ababa, but also the entire nation.
The post Destroy Addis Ababa – Adios Ethiopia (By Kebour Ghenna) appeared first on Borkena Ethiopian News.


Ethiopia’s debt has reached a whooping $23 billion while export earnings is in downward spiral coupled with the increase in payments to loans.

In an article published in Addis Admas, a weekly local Amharic published in Addis Ababa, the writer Yohannes S. also indicates that the country’s payment to interest on loans is skyrocketing.

The country’s debt, which was 2.8 billion in 2008 has reached 23 billion this year. Payment to the country’s debt shot to 1.18 billion in 2017, compared to 89 million in 2008. The article says the country pays 400 million dollars a year towards its debt.

The writer said earnings from export trade has stagnate and remains the same since 2009 owing to the crisis in currency exchange, which in turn encourages contraband and other illegal businesses.

The writer says millions of dollars is being wasted and misappropriated in government mega projects such as sugar development and advises the regime to desist from engaging in business. The article recommends that government owned businesses be transferred to private investors.

The article also said the unfettered printing of Ethiopia’s currency notes has contributed immensely to the economic crises.