By Alemayehu G. Mariam
Celebrating the six-month anniversary of Abiy Ahmed’s service as prime minister
October 2, 2018 marks the six-month anniversary of the appointment of Abiy Ahmed as prime minister of Ethiopia.
Six months and one day ago, Ethiopia was on the brink of civil war.
On April 2, 2018, Abiy Ahmed literally came out of nowhere and saved Ethiopia.
I want to celebrate the six-month anniversary of H.E. Prime Minster Dr. Abiy Ahmed with a special song called “What a difference a day makes?”
What a difference a day made/Twenty-four little hours
Brought the sun and the flowers/ Where there used to be rain…/
Lord, what a difference a day makes/ There’s a rainbow before me
Skies above can’t be stormy/ Since that moment of bliss…/
What a difference a day made/And the difference is you/
What a difference 180 days have made in Ethiopia?
And the difference is Abiy Ahmed!
Abiy Ahmed our son, our brother, our uncle, our cousin, our friend.
He brought us the sun and flowers after 27 years of darkness and gloom.
He brought back the lost rainbow to our rainbow nation.
When the Forces of Darkness raised their swords and told him he is not strong enough to weather their storm, Abiy Ahmed told them, “I am the storm”.
When they did not believe him, he reassured them, “I am the calm in the eye of the storm.”
Today, the stormy skies over the Ethiopian rainbow nation have turned azure and we can see clearly over the horizon.
And what difference did Abiy Ahmed make in 180 days?
Abiy Ahmed made a difference not by changing Ethiopia but by changing the hearts and minds of Ethiopians.
Let me count the ways he has changed the lives of his people in such a short time:
Abiy Ahmed liberated our minds from the mental slavery of ethnic politics.
For 27 years, we lived through the darkness of an ethnic apartheid system. He came along and told us straight up, there is no Oromo Ethiopia, Amhara Ethiopia, Tigray Ethiopia… There is Ethiopiawinet. There is Medemer, or all Ethiopians working together to make Ethiopia a shining city upon a hill. He often reminds us, “When we are alive, we are Ethiopians. When we die (and turn to dust) we become the land that is Ethiopia.”
Abiy Ahmed not only talked peace, he also walked us on the path to peaceful change.
For 27 years, we were pushed and shoved on the road to perdition, to war, to massacres and destruction.
Abiy Ahmed proved to us that the old idea of “power comes out of the barrel of the gun” is outdated, antiquated and passé. “Killing to remain in or to grab power is the politics of losers,” he proclaimed. Real winner do not kill, they heal. We have only one country and the only way we can solve our problems peacefully is through dialogue without mouths, not through the barrel of an AK-47.
Abiy Ahmed made us feel proud to be Ethiopians.
For 27 years, Ethiopiawinet was a crime, a badge of blame and shame. We were forced to confess our tribal and ethnic affiliations just so we could never say, “We are Ethiopians when we are alive and become Ethiopia when we die.” They beat us up and put us down. They demonized, dehumanized, demoralized, ostracized and categorized us just because we wanted to be called Ethiopians. They turned us into the walking dead.
Today, Abiy Ahmed tells us to loudly proclaim, “When we are alive, we are Ethiopians. When we die (and turn to dust) we become the land that is Ethiopia.”
Today, we wear our Ethiopiawinet as a badge of fame, as a medallion of our pride in a country that had preserved its independence for over three thousand years.
Abiy Ahmed made us feel safe and secure.
For 27 years, we lived in a state of fear, terror and sleeplessness. We feared the midnight knock on the door and the swift street abduction at noon by faceless goons. We lived in an endless nightmare.
Today, Abiy Ahmed has set us free says free to dream and to achieve anything our heart desires for our country and ourselves because the sky is not the limit. We stand tall and walk in full confidence that our rights are secure because Abiy Ahmed is standing vigil for us around the clock.
Abiy Ahmed taught to love because it is the only way to live. Dying and hating isn’t much of a living.
For 27 years, we were taught to hate each other; to kill each other; to distrust each other; to scorn each other and to exact revenge and retribution on each other.
Hate is a very powerful force on our planet and is the source of untold misery, death and destruction. But hate is learned, although I have sometimes wondered if some people are born to hate or have made hate their religion. Mandela said, “People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
But Abiy Ahmed says love is not something we learn. It is in our DNA. It is the essence of being human and the ultimate proof of being alive. It exists in every cell of our body. All he is saying is let your love shine!
Abiy Ahmed taught us a powerful truth about true leadership and good governance for Ethiopia.
For 27 years, a gang of ignorant and arrogant fools thinking themselves wise and visionaries took us for a ride to the cleaners and left us penniless. They set up monkey courts to administer justice and instituted a police state they called “command post”.
Abiy Ahmed’s formula for good governance is simple: Ethiopia will rise up as a nation only when the power of love overcomes the love of power of those in power and those hungry and thirsty for power.
Abiy Ahmed taught us we cannot make progress unless we learn and practice to forgive and reconcile.
For 27 years, we were forced to believe that forgiveness and reconciliation is for the weak-kneed, faint-of-heart and the chicken-hearted. The strong and mighty never forgive. They crush and destroy those who oppose them. There are “us and them”. We must destroy them because they are our enemies.
Abiy Ahmed showed us there is a better way. We must not be driven by irrational fears to hate and make enemies of our countrymen and women. He subscribes to the old saying, “Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.” I also subscribe to another old saying, “Allow your enemies their space to hate, they will destroy themselves in the process.”
Abiy Ahmed reached out and touched everyone.
For 27 years, the Forces of Darkness hid from the people in their dungeons fabricating intrigues, scams, conspiracies and deadly games. Some of them would not even show their faces or be photographed knowing that one day they will be fugitives from justice.
Abiy Ahmed went into the countryside, the hamlets and towns to talk to the people. He listened to them and answered their questions. His answers are for the ages.
He scoured the Horn of Africa and the Middle East looking for our exiled brothers and sisters forgotten in the jails and prisons, found them and brought them home. He even travelled ten thousand miles to America to bring home the banished, the exiled, the defiant, the indefatigable and unconquerable. He even managed to bring home one native son who was presumed lost for 48 years.
For 27 years, the Forces of Darkness made a nation of 100 million voiceless and speechless. We could not even murmur. We were only allowed to cry.
In six months, Abiy Ahmed lifted every voice in our nation as our choirmaster leading us in harmony:
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.
We shall march on to victory with Abiy Ahmed!
For 27 years, we were forced to practice the politics of separation, fragmentation and segregation and live in kilils that are the human equivalent of apartheid South Africa’s “kraals” (enclosures for cattle or other livestock).
Abiy Ahmed showed us a new way to do our politics. He calls it Medemer. I wrote about it at length recently in an aptly titled commentary, “Medemer or Not Medemer, That is the Question for All Ethiopians!”
Medemer is our ultimate weapon: United we stand against the Forces of Darkness or divided we stumble and fall back into the darkness that covered us pole to pole for the past 27 years of tears.
Abiy Ahmed showed us how to win hearts and minds.
For 27 years, the Forces of Darkness broke our hearts and crushed our minds. They tried to create a society of stonehearted men and women in their own image. We long suffered unspeakable indignities under the thumbs of ignorant, arrogant and intolerant gangsters.
But Abiy Ahmed melted our hearts with his love, humility, gentleness, empathy, kindness and compassion. He visits the sick in the hospital, donates blood and rebuilds the crumbling mud houses of the poorest of the poor. He shows respect to the young and old, men and women, rich and poor alike.
He won our minds with his stunning eloquence, his breadth of knowledge, his impeccable logic and awesome strategic thinking. The words he speaks have the weight of gold. When Abiy Ahmed speaks, everybody listens!
Abiy Ahmed showed us the right way to deal with women. Respect. He knows first-hand that behind every great man, there is (are) a great woma(e)n. There would have been no Abiy Ahmed without his mother or Zinash Tayachew.
Abiy Ahmed showed us honesty is always the best policy.
For 27 years, we were smeared with lies, damned lies and statislies. I coined the word “liestruth” (lie is truth) to describe the deceit, deception, dishonesty, disinformation, distortion, evasion, fabrication, falsehood and fiction rolling off the assembly line at their Lie Factory.
Abiy Ahmed tells it like it is. He says what he means and means what he says. He tells us the truth whether we like it or not. There is no bull with Abiy Ahmed.
But the Forces of Darkness have a big problem: They can’t handle the truth Abiy Ahmed is laying on them. That simple truth is: GAME OVER!
So, they try to keep on playing their games of intrigue, conspiracy, death and destruction.
I almost forgot…
Abiy Ahmed has also done other things that have made a world of difference.
Let me count the ways Abiy Ahmed has made a difference in the Ethiopian political, social and economic landscape and the Horn of Africa.
Abiy Ahmed busted open the political space that had been welded shut over the past 27 years.
For the past 27 years, Ethiopia was famous for its closed political space and gross human rights violations.
Abiy Ahmed changed that in six months. He pleaded with opposition leaders in the country to freely organize for an internationally-monitored free and fair election in 2020. He invited opposition leaders abroad to return home and engage peacefully in the political process. He granted amnesty to those once deemed to be “terrorists”. He has laid the groundwork for true multiparty democracy. He emptied the prisons of political prisoners. He restored the people’s constitutional right to free expression, allowed opposition media to operate freely and even invited opposition media from the Diaspora to establish local offices.
The media today functions as a watchdog investigating and reporting on crimes and misconduct in public office. Access to the internet is available without control or censorship.
The people today enjoy their right to peaceful protest, to fly their own flags and carry their own symbols with impunity. But the Forces of Darkness tried to take advantage of this freedom by bankrolling thugs to cause death and destruction.
Abiy Ahmed told us the truth about the last 27 years. He said the terrorists were actually those in power committing torture and all forms of crimes against humanity. He has removed officials known to have engaged in gross human rights violations, corruption and abuse of power.
Abiy Ahmed has ensured the primacy of the rule of law.
For the past 27 years, we had ethnic minority rule masquerading as the rule of law.
Abiy Ahmed has established a professional justice department that will pursue legal accountability against anyone engaged in criminal activity.
But unlike the past 27 years, there will be no collective punishment or mass persecution.
Every person who commits a crime will be held to account.
Abiy Ahmed showed his supreme commitment to the rule of law and due process when he was asked about the status of the investigation of the suspects accused of trying to assassinate him. He meticulously respected their right to a fair trial and presumption of innocence. He did not say a single word that could be interpreted as damaging to the defense of these suspects.
For 27 years, innocent people accused of “terrorism” were held in detention for long periods, denied the right to counsel and tortured to confess and sentenced to long prison terms in monkey courts.
It takes a great man to hold his peace against those who attempted to kill him when presented an opportunity to damn them.
Abiy Ahmed has undertaken systematic reform of the police, security and military forces.
For the past 27 years, these forces had been privatized to serve the economic and political interests of one group.
Abiy Ahmed is working hard to completely professionalize the country’s forces to be in the service of the whole nation. The days of gross abuses of human rights, street abductions, arbitrary detentions, torture and criminality are gone.
Abiy Ahmed brought us and our neighbors peace and unity.
For 27 years, we were denied the right to say our peace, and war in the name of peace was imposed upon us at the barrel of the gun or through the dragnet of a “command post”. The Forces of Darkness waged a savage war on our neighbors in the name of Ethiopia.
Abiy Ahmed has made a world of difference in the Horn of Africa. He successfully implemented his “Medemer” strategy to transform the Horn of Africa and beyond.
Abiy Ahmed worked with H.E. President Isaias Afeworki to end hostilities that had lingered on for 20 years and considered a “lost” and “impossible” case. They reopened the border and families separated by war are now united in brotherly and sisterly peace.
The two leaders succeeded by following Nelson Mandela’s maxim: “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” Their partnership has wrapped the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea in a single garment of social, economic and political destiny.
I know Ethiopia and Eritrea will be one, one day at a time. That is what the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea want. It is up to the leaders to fulfill the dreams of their respective peoples.
Abiy Ahmed brought South Sudan’s power contenders to the peace table.
He went to Somalia and told the Somali people that their peace and stability is Ethiopia’s peace and stability. He promptly established international air service to Somalia.
Abiy Ahmed has become the messenger of peace in the Horn and beyond. Somalia, Eritrea and Djbouti are aboard the Abiy Ahmed Peace Train. He has even allayed the fears of Egypt worried about the construction of the dam over the Abay (Nile) River.
Abiy Ahmed has gone a long way to ensure the Horn region does not become the battleground in global and regional geopolitics. He is leading the peace initiative with the contending regional powers and others to peacefully engage in the Horn of Africa.
Some people have the Midas touch (golden touch). Abiy Ahmed has the Peace Touch. Everything he touches turns to peace.
Abiy Ahmed has stabilized the economy.
For the past 27 years, the Forces of Darkness looted the country’s treasury. They used the country’s banks as their back pockets. He has stabilized the foreign exchange crises and arranged a $3 billion package from the United Arab Emirates. He has persuaded the International Monetary Fund to provide a substantial loan to Ethiopia. He has established a commission to look into privatization of certain state-run institutions and liberalize the economy with the aim of improving services through market competition. He has welcomed foreign investments and promised a one-stop shop to avoid delays.
For the past 27 years, we suffered under a regime that made Ethiopia its playground and plaything. They trashed the constitution and ruled by their whims and fancy stealing billions from public projects with impunity.
Abiy Ahmed has set in motion an open, accountable and transparent government. Ministers will be evaluated by parliamentary committees. Government agencies and offices are required to publish information on their activities on their websites. He told his ministers point blank that if they can’t cut the mustard, they will have to pack up and ship out. There is no nepotism and no cronyism. Get the job done right, or hit the road Jack and don’t you come back no more.
Abiy Ahmed is forging ahead with Ethiopia’s Cheetahs (young people). He has cleaned out his party of what some people call “dead wood”. In his speeches, he emphasizes the time is for Ethiopia’s young people to carry the mantle and lead Ethiopia to her destined greatness. He is telling Hippos (older generation) like me that we have a place. We can stand by the side of our young people and help them with our skills, knowledge and resources.
Abiy Ahmed brought harmony and understanding among factions of the two religions in Ethiopia. He helped bring healing to the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church in the country and in the Diaspora. He also helped factions in the Islamic community come together and resolve their differences peacefully.
Abiy Ahmed is leading the construction crew to build the New Ethiopia upon the shining hill.
But he has a long and difficult road ahead of him.
He must first tear down the mud walls of the kilil-istans (ethnic homelands/ Bantustans) that have kept the people of Ethiopia corralled like cattle.
He has to purge the poison of ethnic hate from the body politic of Ethiopia.
He must build bridges to connect people that have been separated and segregated over the past 27 years.
But Abiy Ahmed is the only person who could do the job. That’s is a FACT!
He is the only man with the capability, integrity, morality, respectability, intentionality and personality to do it right.
Abiy Ahmed has done all these things and more in 180 days!
That leads me to ask an embarrassing question of myself.
Do we really deserve Abiy Ahmed?
I know I should not be asking this question, but I just have to even at the risk of offending some of my readers!
Do we really deserve Abiy Ahmed?
I mean shouldn’t he be the leader of the entire continent instead of just one country?
Shouldn’t he just take his place as Mandela’s successor and begin where Mandela left off?
Apparently, major international media think he has a greater destiny.
The Financial Times wrote Abiy Ahmed “may be the most popular politician in Africa” and calls him “Ethiopia’s Mandela”.
The New York Times says Abiy Ahmed is the “most closely watched leader in Africa.”
CNN has tried to explain “Why Ethiopians believe their new prime minister is a prophet.”
The Economist is trying to figure out why “Ethiopians are going wild for Abiy Ahmed.”
Al Jazeera wonders if Abiy Ahmed is the real thing: “Are Ethiopians blinded by Abiymania?”
Black Star News has declared, “Dr. Abiy Ahmed is a legitimate Nobel Peace Prize candidate.”
Herman Cohen, former U.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, tweeted: “For the first time in my professional life, I am nominating someone for the Nobel Peace Prize: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. If he brings multiparty democracy to #Ethiopia, the entire Horn of Africa will be transformed for the better.”
Abiy Ahmed has been prime minister of Ethiopia for only 180 days TODAY!
There is no African leader today who can hold a candle to Abiy Ahmed.
He is a breed apart. He is one of a kind, that one that comes once every century if a country is lucky.
That is why I believe Abiy Ahmed is the political leader of the greatest virtue Ethiopia has produced in living memory.
Last stop for the Forces of Darkness before they are consigned to the trash bin of history
The meeting in Hawassa in the next couple of days will be the last chance for the Forces of Darkness to make a last stand and try for a comeback to power.
The general party meeting of the EPRDF in Hawassa this week is the last chance the Forces of Darkness have to return to power. They have as much chance to return to power as a snow ball in hell.
It will be a do or die moment for them.
Of course, they know it is GAME OVER for them. But that does not mean anything to them. They are like the three-legged cat trying to bury turd on a marble floor. The cat will keep on trying mindlessly as will the Forces of Darkness.
I told them it was GAME OVER in exacting terms in my December 2015 commentary.
But the Forces of Darkness are like the damned who have eyes but cannot see, have ears but cannot hear, have noses, but cannot smell; have hands, but cannot feel and have clay feet and cannot walk.
The Forces of Darkness are doomed to the trash bin of history.
In my March 2015 commentary, I prophesied the end of the Forces of Darkness in exacting detail. I told them they will soon be vacuumed and deposited in the dust bin of history.
That moment has arrived!
The only question is whether they will go out with a bang or a whimper.
Their predicament reminds of T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Hollow Men”.
We are the hollow men/ We are the stuffed men
Leaning together/Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when/ We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
The eyes are not here/There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars/In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms…
This is the way the world ends/ This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang but a whimper.
So, will the end of the hollow men, stuffed men, the empty suits of the Forces of Darkness come with a bang or a whimper as the broken jaw of their lost kingdom vanishes into the fog of history?
Will they whisper their meaningless babble or talk sense?
Some say the Forces of Darkness will be on their best behavior in Hawassa because they know they have been licked. They will do anything to cut a deal on immunity.
If PM Abiy Ahmed could guarantee them immunity from prosecution for all of the crimes they have committed and let them slide on all of the billions they have stolen, they will anoint him as the Second Coming. But there a snowball’s chance in hell for that to happen.
Others say they will put the old Art. 39 bluster. They have been talking about going “their way” if they cannot get their way. Our way or the highway. Some would say, “Don’t let the door hit you on the backside.”
Based on the historical evidence, I expect the Forces of Darkness will do what they do best in Hawassa. They will attempt to:
Coordinate a terrorist attack to disrupt the party meeting.
Provoke a crisis in the proceedings by bringing as part of their delegation a criminal against humanity for whom an arrest warrant has been issued.
Pull tricks in the media to embarrass PM Abiy.
Undertake a media campaign to depict the party conference as rigged and unfair.
Create a scene on the debate floor to show to bring attention to themselves and show their constituents they are fighting for them.
Use procedural rules to delay, obstruct and distract and trivialize the proceedings.
Try to create a public image that the other three parties are ganging against them and they are objects of persecution.
Use every method of blackmail to force the other three parties to bend to their will.
Threaten, intimidate, buy off and otherwise coerce certain vulnerable members of the other parties to support them.
But here is my prophesy for the Forces of Darkness.
You gnash your teeth and bare your claws against a righteous leader.
Your wicked schemes and plots will fail completely.
Your day has come and like the grass that withers before the noonday sun, so you shall too.
Be forewarned not to draw your sword against Abiy Ahmed for it will bend and piece your own hearts.
Abiy Ahmed may stumble, but he will not fall, for there is an invisible power that upholds him with his hand.
We will refrain form anger and show you peace.
But as I have prophesied to you over the years, WE shall inherit the land and you shall inherit the wind.