Let us look forward happily to the new year with confidence in our hearts and resolve in our minds. Let us learn from the lessons of the past year and apply them even more magnificently in the new. Those great lesson are mass civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance to T-TPLF black apartheid rule.
Let us make history in 2010! Let’s make sure the T-TPLF (Thugtatorship of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (T-TPLF) the ash heap of history.
Every year, for the past several years, I have issued a New Year’s message to my Ethiopian readers and all Ethiopians throughout the world. It is a special and unique privilege and honor I have earned through nearly 12 years of relentless and uninterrupted weekly advocacy (occasionally multiple times a week) in defense of human rights, good governance, democracy and the rule of law in Ethiopia.
As I look back, I prefer to think of 2009 in Dickension terms.
2009 “was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”
Of course, Charles Dickens was telling “A Tale of Two Cities” set against the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror and life in exile in England.
I am talking about the tale of One Ethiopia with two futures and the 26-year long T-TPLF’s Reign of Terror. I am talking about a future without the T-TPLF in Ethiopia and a future of Ethiopia basking in democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
2009 was the best of times. A time of civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance. The people of Ethiopia, particularly the young people, stood up in nonviolent resistance to the T-TPLF and said, “Enough of black apartheid dictatorship. We demand democracy, human rights and the rule of law, NOW!”
2009 was the worst of times. Thousands of innocent political prisoners remained in the torture dungeons of the T-TPLF. So many of them to list by name. The T-TPLF massacred, maimed and jailed thousands of innocent Ethiopians and today holds captive at gun point 100 million people. I remember Eskinder Nega, Andualem Aragie, Merara Gudina, Bekele Gerba, Woubshet Taye, Andargachew Tsgie, Kalid Mohammed Ahmed, Darsema Sori Banqash, Demeke Zewdu… and the hundreds of thousands of political prisoners in Ethiopia.
2009 was a year of wisdom. Ethiopians came to understand the undeniable truth that united we stand, divided we fall, for the wily tricks of the T-TPLF. I say, all for ONE Ethiopia and ONE Ethiopia for all.
2009 was the year of foolishness for the T-TPLF. The T-TPLF foolishly thought they could suppress the Ethiopian people’s struggle against black apartheid oppression by issuing a state of emergency edict. They merely covered with sand the slowly burning fuse attached to the T-TPLF powder keg. The contemptible and arrogant T-TPLF tried to do a con job on the people by promising to rename the country’s capital “Finfine” while stealing in broad daylight the lands of struggling farmers. The wise people did not fall for the T-TPLF’s foolish tricks.
2009 was the epoch of belief. The people of Ethiopia came to believe in their hearts and minds that the black apartheid regime of the T-TPLF gotta go; go away and come back never; go to hell, hell, hell!
2009 was the epoch of incredulity. The people of Ethiopia found the incredibly powerful weapon of nonviolent resistance and mass civil disobedience to fight the black apartheid regime of the T-TPLF. In one year, they brought the T-TPLF down on its knees with nothing more than a defiant, “Hell, No! T-TPLF black apartheid rule gotta go!”
2009 was the season of light. The people of Ethiopia were able to see bright sunlight at the end of the long and dark tunnel built by the T-TPLF over the past 26 years.
2009 was a season of darkness. Darkness personified in a great (D)EVIL called T-TPLF. In 2009, Ethiopians learned “darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Exorcism is assured in 2010.
2009 was the winter of despair. It was “the winter of our discontent, made glorious spring and summer by Ethiopia’s young people.” In 2009, “… all the [tyrannical] clouds that low’r’d upon our [Ethiopian nation] house/ In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.”
2009 shall go down in history as the beginning of the end of the “House of the T-TPLF” which handmade “miserable Ethiopia”.
A victorious and glorious 2010 awaits!
Happy Victorious Ethiopian New Year, Teddy Afro…
Before I address my New Year message to my readers and all Ethiopians, I want to wish Teddy (Afro) Kassahun and his family a special Victorious Happy Ethiopian New Year (2010).
As I have asserted on previous occasions, I believe it is unquestioned that I am Teddy’s #1 fan anywhere, any place. I have threatened to arm wrestle anyone who dares to challenge me for the #1 spot.
Teddy is not just a musical genius. To me, he is the philosopher of Ethiopiawinet.
Simply stated, Ethiopiawinet is a rallying point for all Ethiopians “to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn”; and to believe — to believe without hesitation or evasion — that all Ethiopians are bound by a single golden yarn of destiny and that the best days of Ethiopia are yet to come.
Teddy recently lamented, “We used to be a model for Africa but, because of our government, our country is divided. This younger generation is in a dilemma about their history. I feel a responsibility to teach them about the good things from their history. They should be proud of their achievements.”
Have no fear Teddy!
Take comfort in Kwame Nkrumah’s elegant verse, “Ethiopia shall rise.” “Ethiopia, land of the wise. Africa’s hope and destiny.”
Have faith, Teddy, that we shall come together and rise up as ONE people from the ashes of the T-TPLF.
The T-TPLF last week prohibited the launching of Teddy’s global music-chart topping album in Ethiopia. No reasons were given. No Ethiopian musical artist has ever been officially prevented from launching an album, except Teddy.
Teddy’s response was not bitter or angry. On his Facebook page, he merely expressed his disappointment over the unprecedented action taken against him and wished everyone a “new year filled with peace and love and above all a year in which all of Ethiopia’s children will be seen with equality and justice.”
What Teddy has done with his album “Ethiopia” is simply indescribable in words.
With a single album filled with love of country, love of people and love of the truth, he taught the T-TPLF haters that “Love conquers all.”
Teddy’s message in his “Ethiopia” album to me personally and to tens of millions of Ethiopians is simply this: “Love of Ethiopia conquers ethnic hate and division. Love creates unity in diversity where there is division and discord. Love of humanity overcomes allegiance to ethnicity and nationality.”
But it does not matter what a gang of ignorant thugs allow or do not allow? Teddy’s “Ethiopia” album topped the Billboard World Albums chart for weeks. Few, if any, African musicians have ever been able to do that.
The T-TPLF, as cunningly evil as they are, simply missed the point.
Teddy actually launched his “Ethiopia” album in the hearts and minds of all Ethiopians the day he released it in early May 2017. His title cut, “Ethiopia” has been viewed on YouTube 8,140,873 times as of this writing. Millions of copies of his alums have been sold worldwide. It is on all of the major digital music services including Spotify. Sales of such magnitude for an album released by an American artist would have made the super-platinum class. But the T-TPLF got boatloads of stolen money, they just ain’t go no class!
I believe the Ethiopia launch of the album was merely to show respect and appreciation to the Ethiopian public that has given unflinching support to Teddy over the years.
What the T-TPLF bosses do not understand or are in willfull denial is the fact that every time they take such stupid actions against Teddy, they magnify his popularity and fame.
But to quote the memorable words of Forrest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does.”
There are two unstoppable forces in the world: the power of love and the power of mass civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance. The T-TPLF’s guns, tanks and planes are completely powerless against these forces.
in 2010, I say to Teddy, in the lyrics of Pete Seeger and Lee Hays, and in the heavenly voice of Sam Cooke, keep on hammering, ringing and singing out love throughout Ethiopia-land:
If I had a hammer/…/ If I had a bell…/ If I had a song…/
I’d sing it in the morning/ I’d sing it in the evening/All over this land
I’d sing out danger/ I’d sing out a warning/I’d sing love between/
My brothers and my sisters ah-aaah/All over this land…
Look, I got a hammer/ and I got a bell
and I got a song to sing/all over this land
it’s the hammer of justice/a bell of freedom yeah
it’s a song about love/between my brothers and my sisters
all over this land…
Brother Teddy, sang it!!
“Ethiopia.” I got a song to sing, ” ETHIOPIA“.
Even if I pass [die] away
My motherland [Ethiopia]
She [remains] is my honor
Indeed, [she is] my [mother] country.
Teddy, sing out the danger of ethnic division.
Sing out a warning of the consequences of ethnic hatred and sectarianism.
Sing your songs of Ethiopian unity, nationality and humanity.
Ring the bell of freedom from T-TPLF oppression.
Teddy, never, never stop singing about the love between your Ethiopian brothers and sisters… all over Ethiopia-land!
Let’s practice inclusion in 2010
To all of my readers throughout the world, my message is simple. In 2010, practice inclusion.
Let’s think in terms of “WE” and “Us” instead of “They” and “Them”.
In 1963, Martin Luther King in his “I have a dream” speech taught us the value and power of “WE” when he expressed his boundless hope and faith in the future:
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
MLK’s last words in the speech were, “Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s opening sentence in the Social Contract declares, “Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself the master of others, and still remains a greater slave than they.”
Nowhere is Rousseau’s maxim true than in today’s Ethiopia under the boots of the T-TPLF, who believe themselves to be the Masters of all Ethiopians.
But Ethiopians must break and cast away the iron chains put on them by the T-TPLF for the past 26 years. There is only one, and only one way, that can be done.
We must first and foremost change the way we think.
We must replace the operating software put into our minds by the diabolical T-TPLF. That software is coded to make us believe we are not 9 separate people, 9 separate regions, 9 kililistans.
But We are ONE people bound by a golden garment of divine destiny. We rise or fall as ONE. Our unity is our strength. Our division is the T-TPLF’s strength. We Ethiopians must stand together as ONE against the T-TPLF.
As I explained almost a year ago in a metaphor of the ten fingers, the word “We” has an irresistible power.
There are five fingers on each hand. As long as the five fingers on each hand are stretched separately from each other, they are pretty ineffective to the point of being useless.
But if the ten fingers on both hands are pulled together in a clenched fist, they become a formidable weapon of good or evil.
Five fingers grappling a pencil, holding a paint brush or tapping a keyboard produce great art, science, literature and music.
Five fingers together make a handshake and create peace.
Ten fingers working together till the land, build roads and bridges, do surgery and heal the sick.
With ten fingers we can lift up our downtrodden brothers and sisters.
With ten fingers, We can guide an iron bird and fly to where the limit is not the sky. With ten fingers, We can build a nation.
With ten fingers, WE embrace each other as brothers, sisters, friends and compatriots.
With ten fingers we can also do great evil. Torture the innocent in prisons and clean out a nation’s treasury.
But if a single finger is missing from each hand, a lot of the power in the hand is lost.
If a second finger is missing, all of the power in the hand is gone.
Ethiopia today has been rendered a country of 9 separate fingers (kililis or kililisitans, apartheid-style Bantustans). The T-TPLF wants to keep Ethiopia divided and weak just like the minority white apartheid leaders tried to do in South Africa with their Bantustans, and failed!
We must totally and completely reject the T-TPLF’s kililistans and the bankrupt ideology of “ethnic federalism” that sustains the kililistans.
Over the past 26 years, the T-TPLF has sought to create not only a physical kililistan where Ethiopians are divided and separated by region, ethnicity, language, etc., but also a psychological kililistan where Ethiopians are forced at gunpoint to confess their loyalty to tribal and ethnic identity. That is exactly what the minority white apartheid regime in South Africa did. (See my October 2016 commentary, “T-TPLF Reign of Terror”.
Suffice it to say that the T-TPLF, just like the white minority apartheid South African regime, maintains a psychological Bantustan by creating an ethnic identification “passbook” system which told every citizens that s/he is not Ethiopian but a member of some ethnic group. (See the documentary evidence in my October 2016 commentary referenced above.)
But Ethiopians must never fall for the T-TPLF’s physical and psychological apartheid game, and must reject it totally and completely.
The only way to defeat the T-TPLF is by embracing the Ethiopiawinet way of life. The alternative to Ethiopiawinet is T-TPLF black apartheid subjugation.
My simple message of Ethiopiawinet is this: We become strong and invincible when We are able to “work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”
“WE” is the most inclusive word in any language. “WE” signifies unity of purpose and destiny. “WE” signifies COMM-UNITY (a group of people living together and working for a common purpose). That comm-unity is really about YOU-NITY (you and I working in unity for a common purpose). That You-nity is about our HUMINITY (unity in our humanity and community) and national unity (as in “WE” are building a nation of diverse communities).
Ultimately, the word “We” means “We” are inextricably bound together in bonds of freedom, dignity, justice, equality.
“WE” stand as ONE against T-TPLF tyranny, corruption and abuse of power.
“We” stand as ONE for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, equality and justice in Ethiopia.
When we stand together as ONE, the T-TPLF shall fall like dominoes and scatter like chaff before the wind.
Who are “WE”?
“WE” are Oromo, Amhara, Tigre, Gurage, Somali, Sidama, Wolayita, Hadiya, Afar, Anuak…
WE” are the “ten fingers” of Ethiopia. Alas! One finger was severed, chopped away by the T-TPLF.
When “WE” have acted as ONE people we have always been victorious. Colonial and fascist Italy learned that hard lesson twice.
The historical lesson is simple and manifest: What is good for the fascist Italian aggressor is good for the T-TPLF!
We must reject those on all sides who sow discord and division and preach the gospel of division.
We must follow those who preach the gospel of Ethiopian unity and the harmony and peace of all Ethiopians.
My message for the 2010 Ethiopian New Year (Ethiopian Calendar [E.C.]) is a prophesy, “Victory is at hand!”
We must come together in a nonviolent mass movement together as ONE.
We have all seen the result of a united nonviolent action in 2009. The T-TPLF was brought down to its knees when it faced the most powerful force on earth: A strong, united nonviolent resistance to its dictatorial rule.
When I say, “victory is at hand!”, I am not talking about a military victory secured by conquest of territory and destruction of human life. I am not talking about vanquishing the “enemy”. As I wrote in my 2008 commentary, we have met the enemy, and it is us.
I still believe firmly what I wrote in 2008, “There is a future for Ethiopia that is beyond enemies and foes. It is a future that we can all shape, mold, create and build for ourselves and generations to come. It is a future free of fear, violence, hatred and religious and ethnic bigotry. It is a future firmly founded on the consent of the people, the rule of law and vibrant democratic institutions.”
I am talking about a victory at hand that is far greater than any victory obtained by force of arms or violence.
I am talking about a decisive victory in the 26-year battle for the hearts and minds of the Ethiopian people.
In my 2009 Ethiopian New Year message, I concluded with the words of Frederick Douglas, the great American anti-slavery campaigner and abolitionist.
This year, I conclude my message with a few words of Mao Tse-tung’s concluding speech at the Seventh National Congress of the Communist Party of China on June 11, 1945. Mao used an ancient Chinese fable to electrify the Chinese people and to urge them never to stop trying, to keep on keeping on and to march onward to victory against feudal oppression and imperial aggression.
We should fire the whole people with the conviction that China belongs not to the reactionaries but to the Chinese people. There is an ancient Chinese fable called ‘The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains’. It tells of an old man who lived in northern China long, long ago and was known as the Foolish Old Man of North Mountain. His house faced south and beyond his doorway stood the two great peaks, Taihang and Wangwu, obstructing the way. He called his sons, and hoe in hand they began to dig up these mountains with great determination.
Another graybeard, known as the Wise Old Man, saw them and said derisively, “How silly of you to do this! It is quite impossible for you few to dig up those two huge mountains.”
The Foolish Old Man replied, “When I die, my sons will carry on; when they die, there will be my grandsons, and then their sons and grandsons, and so on to infinity. High as they are, the mountains cannot grow any higher and with every bit we dig, they will be that much lower. Why can’t we clear them away?”
Having refuted the Wise Old Man’s wrong view, he went on digging every day, unshaken in his conviction.
God was moved by this, and he sent down two angels, who carried the mountains away on their backs.
Today, two big mountains lie like a dead weight on the Chinese people. One is imperialism, the other is feudalism.
The Chinese Communist Party has long made up its mind to dig them up. We must persevere and work unceasingly, and we, too, will touch God’s heart.
Our God is none other than the masses of the Chinese people.
If they stand up and dig together with us, why can’t these two mountains be cleared away?
(Mao, roll over in your grave now that China has become a neocolonial power in Africa!)
As in the Chinese fable, Ethiopians have made up their minds about the two mountains obstructing their view of Ethiopia’s future: The Thugtatorship of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front and black apartheid kililism.
The T-TPLF says it is quite impossible for Ethiopians to dig up those two huge mountains. Then, what cannot be dug up must be buried in the ash heap of history.
If We stand up as ONE, and dig together as ONE, why can’t these two mountains be cleared away from the face of Ethiopia forever?
That is why We should fire the whole people in a nonviolent mass movement with the conviction that Ethiopia belongs not to the T-TPLF and its handful of cronies and collaborators but to the Ethiopian people.
Love conquers all. Ethiopiawinet is another name for love.
A Victorious Happy Ethiopian New Year (2010) to all Ethiopians!!!
Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam teaches political science at California State University, San Bernardino. His teaching areas include American constitutional law, civil rights law, judicial process, American and California state governments, and African politics. He has published two volumes on American constitutional law, including American Constitutional Law: Structures and Process (1994) and American Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties and Civil Rights (1998). He is the Senior Editor of the International Journal of Ethiopian Studies, a leading scholarly journal on Ethiopia. For the last several years, Prof. Mariam has written weekly web commentaries on Ethiopian human rights and African issues that are widely read online. He blogged on the Huffington post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/ and later on open.salon until that blogsite shut down in March 2015.