Ethiopians: Focusing On Result-Oriented Actions Than Before?

Ethiopians: Focusing On Result-Oriented Actions Than Before?

By T.Goshu

1.I find myself one day in a world where things are hurtful; a world where I am required to fight; a world where it is always a question of defeat or victory.” (Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Masks; English translation of 2008 by Richard Philcox).

These deeply powerful words of Fanon are loudly echoing in every corner and every aspect of life in our country, Ethiopia. Imagine fellow Ethiopians, this truly self-renunciation and deeply self-ward thought was sixty years ago, during the time of the struggle against colonialism and rampant racial discrimination.
Let’s take a moment of deep thought of our exemplary role in the struggle of decolonization, the place we had in an international arena, and of course the huge sacrifice we have paid in defending and preserving our territorial integrity and national sovereignty. Who made us to be greatly proud of this exemplary historical achievement? Is it not our forefathers and foremothers who have paid ultimate sacrifices? Absolutely it is! As Fanon declares about his self-less commitment for the sake of freedom and justice, our forefathers and foremothers have patriotically and heroically registered glorious achievements because they have dealt with “the question of defeat or victory” in such a way that no generation would accept defeat over victory. Never! Fellow Ethiopians, is it not incredibly great to be the heirs of generations that enabled us to be what we are (proud Ethiopians) by paying priceless sacrifices? Absolutely it is! However, one very worrisome question is still begging for genuine and critically self-searching answer. The question is: why we have terribly failed to make a homeland (Ethiopia) we inherited from those selflessly patriotic and heroic generations a place to live with peace, freedom, justice, morality, hunger-free, equal opportunity and shared prosperity? Why and how we found ourselves being a generation of entertaining the political rhetoric of inaction, if not counter-action? I am mentioning counter-action to refer to those fellow Ethiopians who are still victims of a cynically counter-productive political game. To make it straight -forwardly clear, those compatriots who stupidly try to mess with the struggle to get rid of TPLF/EPRDF with all means and pave the way for the desired destiny must be engaged critically and rationally.

The very challenge we do face particularly under the incumbent ethno-centric ruling circle is uniquely dangerous because it is not a matter of political conflicts and struggles of one political force against the other as we normally know. It is neither exaggeration nor mere political frustration to say that for us it would be nonsensically wrong not to realistically and genuinely admit that if we continue the political game of going nowhere as we did for a quarter of a century, there is no any plausible reason to claim that we are the sons and daughters of our patriotic forefathers and foremothers. Yes, it is gravely painful not to make our country which is built on incredibly huge and priceless sacrifice and handed down from generation to generation a place to live with freedom, justice, equal opportunity, and the golden principle of unity within diversity. I strongly believe that although there would be a long and very challenging way to go, the very encouraging steps being taken by remarkably courageous sons and daughters of Ethiopia, particularly those who have interpreted their words into actions based on the very realistic and practical assessment they undertook and the very rational and decisive decision they made.

Let’s take a moment of deep thought and try to find any convincing reason or justification why and how we as a people miserably failed to turn the lessons we had learned in an incredibly hard way into the components of the driving forces of making a difference. Was not the seventeen years of ruthless military rule more than enough not to go back not only to the same but the worst experience than ever? What is extremely disturbing is our painfully senseless failure not to learn from the political tragedy of the 2005 elections. Agree or disagree, the way those compatriots who organized themselves under Arbegnoch Ginbot 7 have looked at the political reality of our country critically and rationally, and have made their strategy of fighting for freedom loud and clear. I want to strongly believe that the very determination of moving toward the direction that is engineered based on the very hard and bitter experience of the last two decades will enable us to shorten the very painful dehumanization we are experiencing in this 21st century. And I have a reasonable impression that we are now in a situation where the very strategy (inclusive method of struggle) of those who currently put themselves at the very front line of the struggle becomes dominantly realistic and credibly effective.
I wish the strategy of peaceful struggle and change could be realistically achievable. Sadly enough, the ruthless ruling circle has destroyed all relatively credible and popular dissenting political forces and declared a hundred percent “victory” and continued to making sure that all avenues of dissenting views and political entities were entirely and tightly closed or blocked. I do not know how and why the “leaders” of a good for nothing political groupings such as Shengo when they recently told us that they passed a “historic resolution” of shifting to the strategy of “peaceful struggle”. They know very well that those heroic Ethiopians who have chosen inclusive means of struggle have proved what they have said, putting themselves in the forefront of the battle for freedom. May I ask those “heroes/heroines” of peaceful struggle in the diaspora to show us how they either lead or revitalize the peaceful repeatedly and terribly crushed by a brutal machines of the ruling circle?

Another good for nothing political grouping is the so –called National Transitional Council. As if its highly confusing mission and objective (from the perspective of the political reality of Ethiopia) was not enough, now we hearing and reading from its news and statements that it is going to transfer itself to “government in exile.” It is so disgraceful to see this kind of nonsensical political entertainment at this very critical moment in time.

No doubt, it is mainly the incumbent ruling elites who have taken us the situation even worse than our history of the Era of Princes (Zemene Mesafint of the 19th century). The politics of then was not internal political power struggle based on ethnic politics, encourage ethnic hatred as a means to an end. Where we are now, in this 21st century is under the reign of an ethno-centric tyranny that encourages, manipulates and exploits ethnic division and hatred as its main instrument for staying in power. How do we feel it? Doesn’t it feel severely painful to watch our national interest and pride unprecedentedly degraded, if not being pushed to the verge of losing the fiber that still holds us together? Aren’t we at a very turning point of a political system that should pave the way for not sliding back to the same vicious cycle but a political and socio-economic life that should be run by the will and interests of the people , not the will and interests of politicians ? I strongly believe it is!

But, I strongly argue that those who are comfortable with playing politics as usual such as the groupings I mentioned above desperately need to critically look into themselves and be serious and genuine parts of doing serious business, shortening the untold sufferings of the people. I hope they would do so.
I would argue that not to critically and genuinely question ourselves as individual citizens, opposition political parties, civic or any other interest and pressure groupings , and even as religious institutions how far and how much we discharged our responsibilities and doing things differently is extremely worrisome . Is there any person with his or her right conscience who could argue that we have done and we are doing well? I wish the answer could be positive that could be substantiated, and rationally justifiable for responding affirmatively ‘yes we’re okay’. Unfortunately enough, this self-searching and self-challenging question is still begging for doing politics in such a way that it could change things on the ground. Needless to say, the change in the state of mind toward our political culture is as essential as our political performance on the ground. It is from this perspective that the declaration of Fanon sounds powerfully relevant to our situation where we found ourselves in after more than six decades, of the time Fanon.

Let me underline here that the points of view I want express in this piece of writing is not to unfairly underestimate what some political opposition forces , civic groupings, genuinely concerned individuals, and the people of Ethiopia in general have made for the last two decades and more interestingly during and after the 2005 tragic elections . Despite the fact that weaknesses and failures of our own have contributed to the general crisis (political, socio-economic, moral/ethical, cultural and now drought and hunger) we face, it would be terribly unfair not to give to those efforts made by genuinely concerned Ethiopians due recognition and appreciation they deserve .

It is from this perspective that we should be engaging in the struggle for freedom and justice which is moving forward dynamically (productively active) thanks to those truly heroic and patriotic sons and daughters of mother Ethiopia who put themselves at the very front line of the fight for freedom. Yes, I am referring to Arbegnoch – Ginbot 7 for Unity and Democracy Movement (Arbegnoch Ginbot 7) and Tigray People’s Democratic Movement (TPDM), and most inspiringly the newly formed coalition, the United Movement for the Salvation of Ethiopia through Democracy (UMSED). I strongly want to believe that it is the very selfless devotion of those freedom fighters that is becoming the central force of our struggle to shorten the unprecedented dehumanization we have come across for decades.

We cannot afford not to be parts of critical role players in this fight for freedom being led by truly heroic freedom fighters of our time. I want to believe that the way millions of Ethiopians both within and abroad have come to the very timely, realistic/rational and remarkable determination to devote all their necessary resources they could afford at this very decisive period of the struggle to make their dream ( of freedom, justice, equality , peace and prosperity) a reality.

It goes without saying that undertaking a genuine and critical self-evaluation on what we accomplished, and taking a well-thought and well-planned and well-directed step is quite essential than ever. And I want to believe that Ethiopians both within and in the diaspora are getting this very clear and loud message of this critical moment. I also want to believe that as I mentioned above, we are currently lucky enough witnessing the emergence and strengthening of an organizational aspect of the struggle for freedom and justice (Arbeghoch Ginbot 7).

Here is what Frantz Fanon has to say about the reason for staying resilient enough if freedom and justice should prevail and get matured as an indispensable value of a society; “I find myself, me, a man, in a world where the other hardens endlessly.” He tells us how he would deal with the world he found himself when he declares; “In the world I am heading for, I am creating myself.

Yes, the innocent people of Ethiopia find themselves in a very horrifying situation where the tyrannical ethno-centric ruling elites are endlessly hardening their hearts and minds, never showing sign of coming back to a very common sense of humanity. Except those who are directly or indirectly beneficiaries of the evil-driven political game, Ethiopians are convinced that in order to make the very future of their world (their country) a place of living with freedom and justice, they are “creating themselves” in such a way that they could and should seize this critical moment of the struggle being led by the truly heroic/heroine sons and daughters of Ethiopia I mention earlier.

2. Now, let me proceed to reflecting some points of view on why I have an impression that Ethiopians are convinced that as the struggle for freedom and justice is taking a reasonably dynamic move, there is a critical need to focus much more on big issues and targeted actions through concerted efforts than ever.
2.1. Following the national election of May of this year which ended up with making the very values of democracy hundred percent upside down, it is not difficult to draw a strong sense of explicit mutual understanding among the majority of Ethiopians that doing politics as usual is terribly failed. I other words, the political game we have gone through the last two decades needs to critically and urgently be looked into and be used as a very serious lesson in making the ongoing struggle fruitfully historical in terms of creating a democratic and law-abiding political system . Yes, I am referring to the need to draw a serious lesson from what went terribly wrong in order to make the ongoing struggle being led by heroic and patriotic sons and daughters of Ethiopia who put themselves in the front line of the battle for freedom and justice.

  • Look at seriously the strong and straight-forward messages being unfolded and communicated via leaflets orPatriotic Ginbot7 messages being unfolded and communicated via leaflets writings on significantly noticeable walls of buildings in large urban centers. I am well aware that there may be fellow Ethiopians who genuinely (not cynically) do not seem taking those powerful messages seriously that emanate from nowhere, but from the people who have experienced and are experiencing the unprecedented national disgrace and socio-political nightmare than ever. What I want to say to those fellow Ethiopians is that those powerful messages are not falling on the ears of those who knowingly or unknowingly tuned to politics as usual, but on ears and minds of millions of Ethiopians who genuinely and rationally are willing and able to take the struggle to a qualitatively different stage, the end of ethnic –based tyranny and the beginning of a political system built and run by the very consent of the people. It would politically be stupid enough to underestimate the very messages of those who put themselves in the very front line and devoted to pay an ultimate sacrifice (life) by leaving all their decent, if not very well-to-do lives and their families they love most behind. It would be either naivety or complete arrogance to undermine the responses of the people to those clear and loud messages from their sisters and brothers who are ready to give the most they have (their lives) for the sake seeing this generation and the generation to come living in freedom, peace and shared prosperity.

  • Look at how the people of Gondar, particularly the young ones who deeply worried about the future of their country, and of course their own destiny as they have been the very direct victims of the politics of ethnic -tension and hatred of TPLF. They have gone to the degree of confronting the Amhara National Democratic Movement, one of the mere speaking tool of TPLF with a very clear and straight-forward words of disapproval. We are listening to those amazingly courageous Ethiopians telling those mere messengers of TPLF and their highly parasitic cadres that taking away their lands and making parts of Tigray region, and forcing them to change or lose their very identity is absolutely unacceptable. They are saying that adding this kind of action of destroying the very identity of the people to the horrible socio-political life is not something to be tolerated any more. It is truly inspiring to witness the determination of more and more young blood to join the fight for freedom and justice instead of fleeing the country and passing by the areas in which the preparation for operation for freedom is underway. And this dynamically progressive political reality is spreading out deep in to small and large urban centers.

  • Look at objectively and honestly what the very courageous young Ethiopians are doing in the southern part of our country, especially in Arbaminchi and Tepi. I agree with those reasonably argue that these movements need to be more refined in terms of making a strong cohesion with the strategy and all the workable operational activities at the national level . Yes, I agree with those genuinely concerned fellow Ethiopians who strongly argue that the people of Ethiopia cannot afford to entertain the politics of this or that region or this or that village, but Ethiopia. I am strongly optimistic that all movements in all parts of our country will effectively, timely and long- lastingly converge and make the dream of the Ethiopian people become a historic reality.

2.2. The way Ethiopian diaspora responding to the political reality especially after the election of May of this year is remarkably encouraging. I have a very strong impression that we look well cognizant of the hard reality we are facing, the total upside down of very fundamental values of democracy.

  • Look at what Ethiopians living in almost all parts of the world quickly and wisely have made admirably objective reset as far as their contribution to a very dynamic political situation we are facing is concerned. Have we recorded what the dominant political participation were for the last quarter of a century? Unless we want to remain victims of avoidance of things that we terribly failed, we were engaged in activities that were highly time, energy, and material consuming but with no significant effects. To mention a couple of specific examples: a) the peaceful demonstrations and protests at various government offices, international headquarters ,offices human rights organizations ,diplomatic missions including “ours”, offices of media organizations were our activities over dominated our political engagements; b) Issuing press releases and statements of positions whenever certain issues of concern arose; c) Making contacts with officials of governments and members of legislative bodies; d) holding town hall meetings with no any definite and practicable consequences, and e) the last but very stupid one is making ourselves comfortably proud of doing all these and other “great jobs” and even going to the extent of claiming for deserving the most possible credit .How about these days? I have to say that I do not want to draw a very simplistic judgement that what the recent trend of re-focusing our concerted efforts based on the political reality, especially after TPLF/EPRDF put the value democracy hundred percent upside down by destroying peaceful dissenters is strong enough. But, one thing is irrefutably true. And that is the wave of people’s movement will never be set back. The choice is ours; either accepting defeat then, defeat now and defeat tomorrow or victory and freedom forever.

2.3. Here is what Fanon has to say what intellectuality does mean in the real sense of its value; “… I believe that a man who takes a stand against this living death is in a way a revolutionary.” He is referring to two intellectuals, one whose existence does not give meaning to others (living- dead) and the other whose existence does give a profound meaning to a society he belongs to. I hate to say but I have to say that this typical reflects the very behaviors of the majority of Ethiopian intellectuals both within and abroad. I strongly believe that the very essence of education is to serve as an instrument to prevent, if not resolve a catastrophe that may be mad made or natural. Needless to say, what is happening in our country is a catastrophe mainly because of political (man-made) factor. I do not think this is something that requires any theoretical analysis. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that the very devastating situation in our country and its very cause (evil- driven politics) is out of the reach of millions of ordinary Ethiopians let alone those “intellectuals “who had opportunities to be what they are today at the expense of the Ethiopian people

  • Are we seeing any sign of changing the very disappointing behaviors of our “intellectuals” at this very critical moment? I do say that even if too late and too little, the recent initiative taken by very few intellectuals is truly encouraging. I am referring to those who have come together and organized themselves under Vision Ethiopia. I have tried to closely listen to what has been reflected at a couple of discussion forms /symposiums on the issue of how to contribute to the efforts of creating a genuine, rational, mutual, and sustainable understanding through which mutual benefits could prevail. What is very interesting about this move is the way it approaches and understands the political reality in our country, the need to bring about a political system that should first democratically responsible to the very will of the people. It is interesting, because it goes beyond merely responding to symptoms.

I listened to the interview ESAT held with three prominent intellectuals who are among those created Vision Ethiopia (Prof. Getachew Begashaw, Pof. Mesay Kebde and prof. Minga Negash). I found the way they tried to invite those who claim having concerns about the role of the Eritrean government in efforts of creating a healthy and productive mutual understanding that is critical in bringing about a real sense of rapprochement. Unfortunately enough, those who merely or unsubstantially decry “historical enemy” could not be courageous enough to make their points of view and concerns at this very critical moment of the struggle for freedom and justice. Believing that reasonable people are always quite ready to learn from their wrong way of doing things, those fellow Ethiopians who look victims of the rhetoric of “historical enemies” will do the same and contribute to the making of things better instead of worse. I would like to say that those intellectuals who have come up with the idea of creating forums not only for exchanging views and ideas but also producing well- researched analyses and recommendations such as Vision Ethiopia deserve due appreciation for the initiative they have taken and the efforts they are making. I want to remain reasonably optimistic that those who express their serious concern about the future of Ethiopia and that part of Africa around their informal and small circles would be courageous enough to join this very encouraging way of doing things.

2.4. As one of the main role of media is to help the people make decisions on matters that affect their way of life either positively or negatively based on a well-informed state of mind. True, information is power; and a well-informed society is a powerful resource for any desirable change in any way of life; be it political economy or socio –cultural. Sadly enough, when it comes to our case, we are one of the most left -behind peoples of the world in this 21st century of highly advancing information technology. And our ignorant and stupidly arrogant ruling elites are happy with this terribly embarrassing, if not dehumanizing situation because they know well that a well-informed society never tolerate the politics of savagery. We know what happened and what is happening to those journalists who did nothing wrong but tried to exercise their fundamental rights. We know how the people of Ethiopia are forced not have any other alternative media other than being inundated with a very outrageously nonsensical machine, the media controlled by the tyrannical ruling circle.

The point I want to raise here is to express my sincere recognition to the role being played by ESAT at this very critical moment, a moment that holds the dawn of freedom and justice. The self-initiating and self- mobilizing efforts by millions of freedom-loving Ethiopians both within and abroad to not only keep ESAT going but also making the most effective source of information at this point in time is one of the reasons to believe that we are pulling our resources toward pivotal areas of activities. I am rationally optimistic that we will keep independent media such as ESAT moving forward in a much more vigorous manner.

Let me conclude by saying that what I wanted to reflect in this piece of writing is not to “declare” that we have done and we are doing what we should. Not at all! What I have tried to say is that I have a reasonable impression that we are going in the right direction and there is no reason not to see a big difference to be made sooner, not later if we keep the direction we are heading and making our efforts we are making om much more concerted fashion. Agree or disagree, I sincerely believe that what we are witnessing things happening in different parts of our country are very strong signal of saying no more playing politics as usual. I have a strong sense of seeing things changed for good and all the horrifying experiences of the last quarter of a century being things of the past.