By Prof. Alemayehu G. Mariam
Author’s Note: There are two commentaries in this Memorandum.
The first is a “short” (at least that is what I call it) topical commentary on the recent activities of the leadership of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in Tigray region. The second is my usual memorandum to PM Abiy Ahmed commending him for his extraordinary work searching and rescuing Ethiopians from jails and prisons in various countries.
When PM Abiy Ahmed took office in early April, I pledged to look forward and hit only the positive tones as Ethiopia boldly strides out of the darkness of ethnic apartheid into what used to be the Land of Thirteen Months of Sunshine. Since PM Abiy took office, I had completely ignored the TPLF and consigned it to the trash bin of history, where for years I predicted it would end up.
In the very “brief” note below, I aim to offer some passing observations about the TPLF’s temper tantrums, shenanigans, mischief, buffoonery and monkey business trying to execute their Final Doomsday Plan to dismantle and completely wreck Ethiopia if they cannot have her only for themselves. Their Doomsday Plan is best expressed in the old Amharic saying about the donkey who said, “After I am gone, I do not care if grass ever grows again.”
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Special Topical Commentary
“TPLF, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.”
In my Aril 1, 2018 commentary, I wrote, “The genie is now out of the bottle. The TPLF magic spell is broken. The TPLF mold is broken. Ethiopia’s Cheetahs have beaten the TPLF wounded beast at his own game. Ethiopia’s Cheetahs can now see for themselves in broad daylight that the TPLF is a wounded beast with feet of clay.”
Let me speak truth to those who are throwing temper tantrums because they feel they can no longer enforce their will by killing, jailing, torturing innocent citizens and abusing their ill-gotten power and help break the ice for the chicken-hearted to stand up and tell it like it is!!
Alas! the wounded beast is in its final throes and striking back with a vengeance. Hell hath no fury like a TPLF kicked out of power!
The TPLF Doomsday Plan is in full swing.
The TPLF is announcing to the world by throwing temper tantrums that it is well underway trying to implement its decades-old dream of establishing the Republic of Tigray while at the same time completely destroying Ethiopia.
For the past couple of years, the principal leaders of the TPLF have been hinting and intimating that if they cannot rule Ethiopia with an iron fist and maintain their ethnic apartheid system forever, they will implement their Doomsday Plan of setting up the Republic of Tigray. Their guiding principle has been the same as the proverbial donkey who declared, “I do not care if the grass grows after I am gone.” In other words, apre moi le deluge. After me, the flood can come and wipe out everything.
The TPLF’s Doomsday Plan of setting up a Republic of Tigray has been known for years.
In 2011, Gebremedhin Araya, a former TPLF high ranking official, explained the TPLF’s vision and mission has always been to “liberate Tigray from Amhara colonialism and create a Tigray republic.” [To read the original handwritten TPLF Manifesto click here; for the online version click here].
As I have documented over the past two years, the message of “the TPLF shall forever rule Ethiopia with an iron fist or else” has been a bold theme repeated time and again in their public statements, speeches and written commentaries of its top leaders.
In September 2016, TPLF uber boss Abay Tsehai announced an impending imaginary genocide in Ethiopia similar to that of Rwanda. His message: To avoid a repeat of Rwanda in Ethiopia, set up the Republic of Tigray.
For the past two ears, the TPLF fought tooth and nail to keep and extend its state of emergency to maintain its mercenary military command post reign of terror in Ethiopia. The message: If the TPLF cannot impose its reign of terror and maintain its ethnic apartheid system, it will set up the Republic of Tigray.
In February 2018, TPLF uber boss Seyoum Mesfin called the people of Tigray to arms telling them: “Comrades, the glaring danger we are facing (today) is extremely, extremely alarming. Unless we are able to run, and run fast and defend (against the danger) before sundown, our survival is doubtful…” Last week, he accused PM Abiy of “dirtying” the government and waging a psychological war on the people of Tigray. The message: Run, run fast from the genociders and set up a clean Republic of Tigray.
In February 2018, TPLF general Tsadkan Gebretensae in an audaciously brazen move pitched a last ditch scam in the form of an “independent commission” to ensure the survival of TPLF, Inc., guarantee and preserve the T-TPLF’s ethnic apartheid system and forever solidify the political and economic domination of his political group in Ethiopia. The message: If there is no independent commission to prolong the TPLF in power, set up an independent Republic of Tigray.
Today, the TPLF is using its proxies to threaten and intimidate. “The people of Tigrai are capable of fighting and winning, time and history is our witness!” The message: The TPLF is preparing itself militarily to establish the Republic of Tigray.
Today, the TPLF is instigating ethnic violence and strife violence in certain parts of the country to bring down the government of PM Abiy. The message: If the TPLF cannot have Ethiopia as its concubine to do what it pleases, she must be destroyed once and for all by ethnic strife and fragmentation.
Today, the TPLF is propagandizing that implementation of the Ethio-Eritrean Border Commission “decision will create a huge rift among member parties. EPRDF might even split in two or more groups permanently and that would be a disaster for the party and the country.” The message: There can be no government in Ethiopia without a wholly owned, operated and managed TPLF government. The alternative is to set up the Republic of Tigray.
Today, the TPLF is using the pretext of the implementation of the binding arbitration decision of the Ethiopia Eritrean Border Commission (agreed to by none other their late “visionary leader” Meles Zenawi) to instigate sporadic demonstrators in two or three locations in Tigray. The message: The TPLF will use as the Border Commission decision as a pretext to set up the Republic of Tigray and defend its borders. (There has never been a public anti-government demonstration in Tigray in the last 27 years because the people of Tigray were never given the chance to speak and express themselves freely. Did the TPLF give the few demonstrators who showed up special public demonstration training?)
If all of the TPLF’s subterfuges are about creating their lifelong dream of the Republic of Tigray, I say don’t beat around the bush (as you literally did in the 1970s and 80s). Man up, stand up and say what’s on your mind.
But learn from the lessons of 1994. Be honest with the people of Tigray you are trying to manipulate and force into a choice they absolutely do not want. Ask yourselves one and only one question: Are those who separated from Ethiopia in 1994 better off today than they were before 1994?
The people of Tigray want to live in peace and harmony with the rest of their Ethiopian brothers and sisters. They do not want to separate from Ethiopia because Tigray is the bedrock foundation of Ethiopia. In my view, the people of Tigray are second to none in their patriotic fervor or pride in their Ethiopiawinet. History is my unimpeachable witness in support of my claim!
The fact of the matter is that the people of Tigray know the TPLF better than anybody else. They know the TPLF is trading and scare mongering in their name. They know they are being used as pawns by the TPLF to cling to power. Let the people of Tigray freely vote on whether they genuinely support the TPLF and see the results.
In any case, if the people of Tigray had been mistreated and abused over the past 27 years, who was in control of the “government” that did the abusing?
TPLF leaders, keep your Doomsday Plan to yourselves.
The poison of article 39 will not kill Ethiopia. It will kill only those who swallow it thinking it will kill Ethiopia.
The TPLF bosses think the bell is tolling for Ethiopia.
Hear, hear, TPLF! “Send not to know/For whom the bell tolls,/ It tolls for thee.
There is a better way, TPLF. Join the rest of your Ethiopian brothers and sisters, hold hands and walk on the two superhighways crisscrossing the African continent named Goodness and Forgiveness by Nelson Mandela.
The alternative is the Road to Perdition.
That is why you should “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it” and find yourselves on the one-way, no return Road to Perdition.
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Abiy Ahmed “911 Search and Rescue” prime minister
They are now calling Abiy Ahmed “Prime Minister Bolt”, after the fastest sprinter in the world Usain Bolt, for the mind-bending speed he is introducing change in Ethiopia.
I have no problems with “Prime Minister Bolt”. To me, he is “911 Search and Rescue” prime minister.
It’s like the lyrics to the theme song of the American comedy film of the mid-1980s Ghostbusters, in which the call and response line is: “If there’s something strange in your neighborhood/Who you gonna call? (ghostbusters). If there’s something weird/ And it don’t look good/Who you gonna call? (ghostbusters).
Well, if there are Ethiopian refugees wrongfully imprisoned in Egypt and suffering under the most inhumane conditions, who you gonna call? Abiy Ahmed!
If there are Ethiopian refugees wrongfully imprisoned in Saudi Arabia and suffering under the most inhumane conditions, who you gonna call? Abiy Ahmed!
If there are Ethiopian refugees wrongfully imprisoned in the Sudan and suffering under the most inhumane conditions, who you gonna call? Abiy Ahmed!
If there are Ethiopian refugees wrongfully imprisoned in Kenya and suffering under the most inhumane conditions, who you gonna call? Abiy Ahmed!
If there is an Ethiopian kid lying comatose in a hospital since 2006 and ignored by his government, who you gonna call? Abiy Ahmed!
If Ethiopians are wrongfully imprisoned, abused and tortured in their own country, who you gonna call. Abiy Ahmed!
Go down to Egyptland and let my people go
On June 11, 2018, Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed triumphantly returned to Ethiopia with dozens of Ethiopian refugees who had been imprisoned under the most inhumane conditions in Egypt (see video and translation of their interview statements below). To boot, he brought them back home in his official jet. They were all overflowing with gratitude for their deliverance from bondage in Egypt. One woman said, “I feel like I have been reborn.” One must have a heart of stone not to be moved by the testimonials of the rescued Ethiopians delivered from captivity in Egypt.
PM Abiy’s rescue of Ethiopian refugees in Egypt reminded me of my Letter to President Barack Obama in July 2015. In that letter, I asked Obama to deliver a one sentence message for me to the Pharaohs of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front: “LET MY PEOPLE GO.”
It was a special request I made inspired by a great old Negro spiritual I love, “Go Down Moses”. I hoped against hope thought Obama, just possibly, could be our “Ethiopian Moses” to lead us out of TPLF captivity and bondage in Ethiopia”.
I could not have been more wrong in my life, but ask I did:
Go down Obama way down in Ethiopia land
Tell old Pharaoh of the TPLF to let my people go
Oppressed so hard they could not stand
Let my people go.
Go down, Obama way down in Ethiopia land
Tell all the Pharaohs of the TPLF to let my people go
So Obama went down to Ethiopia land
And told the world old Pharaoh of the TPLF he has been “democratically elected”.
Obama did not deliver a message of hope and redemption to the people of Ethiopia suffering in bondage for 25 years. He delivered a message to them that insulted their intelligence, degraded their honor and affronted their dignity.
Obama said old Pharaoh of the TPLF, who claimed to have won 100 percent of the seats in parliament in 2015 and 99.6 percent in 2010 was democratically elected, righteous and good:
I don’t bite my tongue too much when it comes to these issues. We are opposed to any group that is promoting the violent overthrow of a government, including the government of Ethiopia, that has been democratically elected. It has been relatively recently in which the constitution that was formed and the elections put forward a democratically elected government.
Obama proved to be the best friend old Pharaoh of the TPLF ever had.
Barack Obama’s damned and outrageous lies crushed my spirit and tested my faith, but I did not lose hope. Obama’s lies steeled me to persevere and made me even more determined than ever to speak truth to old Pharaoh of the TPLF every single week, without missing a single week, with the message, “LET MY PEOPLE GO!”
Never in my wildest imagination did I believe there will come a man who will not only deliver my message to old Pharaoh of the TPLF but actually show old Pharaoh the highway and tell him, “Hit the road Jack TPLF. Don’t you come back no more, no more, no more…”
Abiy Ahmed is today triumphantly leading his people out of the desert of TPLF ethnic apartheid bondage into the lush valley of peace and reconciliation.
But Abiy Ahmed is also on an active global search and rescue mission to rescue his people from captivity where ever they are.
Abiy Ahmed went down to Saudi Arabia and told old Pharaoh of Saudi Arabia, “LET MY PEOPLE GO!” and secured the release of over a thousand Ethiopian refugees held in captivity in Saudi Arabia.
Abiy Ahmed went down to United Arab Emirates (UAE) and told old Pharaoh of the UAE, “LET MY PEOPLE GO!” and secured the release of all Ethiopian refugees held in captivity in the UAE.
Abiy Ahmed went down to the Sudan and told old Pharaoh of the Sudan, “LET MY PEOPLE GO!” and secured the release of 1400 Ethiopian refugees held in captivity in the Sudan.
Abiy Ahmed went down to Kenya land and told old Pharaoh of Kenya “LET MY PEOPLE GO!” and made arrangements for the exchange of prisoners.
During his visit, PM Abiy also delivered Egypt from its bondage of fear, loathing and trepidation that Ethiopia will “harm the Egyptian people” by irresponsibly controlling the flow of water from the Ethiopia Dam currently under construction over the Nile.
In response to President Sisi’s impassioned plea to “swear to God that Ethiopia will not hurt Egypt”, PM Abiy reassuringly declared, “My government and my people have no intention to harm the people of Egypt and the government of Egypt. We will work with the people of Egypt in any area.”
Bring them back, lead them back to Ethiopialand, Abiy Ahmed!
PM Abiy has become our “Moses” rescuing from prison, captivity and detention young Ethiopians who have been forced to become refugees under the wicked rule of old Pharaoh of the TPLF. For the hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians who left their homeland and became virtual slaves in the Middle East, Abiy Ahmed is their Moses. There is no doubt about it!
Here are statements of some of the Ethiopian refugees Abiy Ahmed rescued from captivity in Egypt.
Woman #1: A lot of things happened to us. They burned us with live electric wires. We were beaten. They put us on television and falsely accused us of being [bar] singers… They suddenly came and told us to get ready. We had no idea where we were going. We thought we were going to change to a different prison. That’s what they told us. Once we arrived here, they told us, “Your government came here [to Egypt] and is setting you free.” We were exceedingly happy. Truly, we suffered a lot. I feel like I am reborn again. May God honor him [PM Abiy] and give him a long life. I am very happy. But our people here are suffering. May God give him bounty. There’s nothing more I could ever say.
Man #1: In prison, I have no words to explain how badly we are treated. It was a time that was filled with extreme abuse and torture… Ethiopians can work in our country and also change ourselves specially we young people left our country push by various emotions indeed there may be many reasons for one to leave and become a refugee. But we can change and work in our country. We have the energy, the potential.
Woman #2: When we first entered prison, they burned us with live electric wire. They beat us 24 hours a day [all the time]. They did not even give us water, food or let us go to the toilet. They gave us nothing.
Man #2: We are very, very thankful. Just like a mother would gather and embrace her children, he [PM Abiy] came and rescued us and is taking us home. I am very thankful.
Man #3: We were sleeping and they came in the morning and banged on the door loudly. They shouted, “Get out! Get out!” Since they usually do inspections in the prison, we felt that must be it and quietly walked out. They told us take our stuff and get out. We couldn’t believe it since it was so sudden. We left our country because we wanted to change. But that didn’t work out for us and we ended up being arrested and thrown in jail.
Woman #3: All I want is to return to my country and peacefully raise my daughter. That’s all I want. I would never even think of going into Exile again.
When Ethiopian lives did NOT matter
For those who think what PM Abiy has done is no big deal, I want them to think back just a few years.
When a sadistic group of terrorists beheaded 30 young Ethiopians in Libya in April 2015, the TPLF regime initially refused to acknowledge the terrorist beheading victims were Ethiopians because they could not independently verify it. The TPLF regime remained in denial even though Reuters, Agence France Press, BBC, VOA, the N.Y. Times, the Washington Post all confirmed the victims were Ethiopians.
In November 2013, top TPLF leader Tedros Adhanom apologized to the Saudi government for the Saudi abuse of Ethiopian refugees and domestic workers. Adhanom told the press the deportation and killings of Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia “is something that has been bugging me for some time now.” He told the Saudi Ambassador, “Ethiopia would like to express its respect for the decision of the Saudi Authorities and the policy of deporting illegal migrants.”
When an Ethiopian child victimized by medical malpractice lay comatose since 2006, no official of the TPLF regime ever visited him or responded to the endless pleas for help by his parents. In May, the first thing Abiy Ahmed did when he went to Saudi Arabia was visit the child and immediately make arrangements with the Saudi government for financial compensation and bring him back to Ethiopia!
Under Abiy Ahmed’s leadership, all Ethiopian lives matter, inside or outside Ethiopia!
Why am proud of Abiy Ahmed and why we must all support him
In all of my adult life, which spans well over one-half century, I have never, ever been proud of an Ethiopian leader.
On the contrary, I have always been ashamed and mortified by those self-proclaimed, no accounting, know-nothing, good-for-nothing cutthroats, thieves and lowlifes pretending to be Ethiopia’s leaders.
Until now! Now, my leadership cup for Ethiopia, which has been bone dry for ages, “runneth over” with pride and joy with the young and dynamic Abiy Ahmed at the helm of the S.S. Ethiopia.
Who is Abiy Ahmed?
It depends on who you ask. There are many who say Abiy Ahmed is sent by Providence to Ethiopia to lead her out of her darkest hour on two roads called Goodness and Forgiveness to a city upon a hill called “New Ethiopia”.
Other say there is nothing special about him. Ethiopia is full of Abiy Ahmeds who shall soon rise up by the millions and raise Ethiopia from the grave of ethnic apartheid and make her the brightest star on the African continent.
There are legion who say Abiy Ahmed is a man with a mission. He is a freight train. Stay out of his way and watch him, in stunned silence, make the impossible possible.
To me, Abiy Ahmed is a “genuine leader who is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus,” as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., would have said.
I would argue that PM Abiy broke the old mold of hate, division, war and strife in Ethiopia and is now working fast and furiously to make a new mold of leadership made of an indestructible alloy of peace, reconciliation and love.
For the past ten weeks, PM Abiy has been toiling day and night, 24/7, trying to harmonize the “jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”
PM Abiy has been doing his level best to mold consensus out of discordant voices and seeking solutions to Ethiopia’s economic, social and political problems. He knows he cannot do it alone. So, he has invited everyone to participate and pitch in. “Ethiopia is large enough to accommodate and embrace all her children where ever they may be,” he says every chance he gets. He has invited all Ethiopians to return to their country and invest freely, participate politically freely and express themselves freely.
PM Abiy is building consensus on our shared common goal of equality, justice and freedom in our Ethiopiawinet. That is the alpha of Abiy Ahmed’s consensus agenda. The omega of his agenda is the construction of a shiny city upon a hill to be named the “Beloved New Ethiopia”.
PM Abiy’s strategy is simple and transparent. The Beloved New Ethiopia cannot be built without the good will and good faith participation of all Ethiopians. He has discarded the old zero sum political game where one side wins all the time and all other sides lose all the time. Abiy’s game plan is win-win for everyone to defeat the most formidable enemies of humanity waging war on Ethiopia — hate, division, greed, corruption, poverty, disease and illiteracy. So, his mission is get everyone thinking and acting like winners (not losers) and victors (not victims).
He is creating synergy in the Ethiopian body politics. He makes it crystal clear every day that we shall swim together and reach the safety of that city upon the hill called New Ethiopia or sink together in an ocean of civil war and despair.
Hardly a day passes by without people asking me, “What do you think is Abiy Ahmed’s grand plan to save Ethiopia? What is his important message to the people of Ethiopia? How can he solve problems accumulated over decades because we are running out of time?”
Only PM Abiy can answer these questions.
But as I interpret his speeches and public statements to myself, I hear him saying, “I have no easy fixes for Ethiopia’s decades-old problems. I do not have a magic wand to wave and make everything alright. Whatever needs to be done for Ethiopia, I can only do it with the help of every Ethiopian man, woman and child. I need your help. I ask for your help. We Ethiopians are all on the same boat – the S.S. Ethiopia. We shall swim or sink together. Have no fears and doubts: We will walk on the two roads named Goodness and Forgiveness and build our city upon the hill called ‘New Ethiopia’”
PM Abiy’s broader message to the people of Ethiopia in June 2018, in my view, is pretty much the same message Winston Churchill delivered to his people during Britain’s darkest hour in May 1940, which I paraphrase here:
I say to the people of Ethiopia, I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many months of struggle and suffering.
You ask, what is our policy? I say it is to wage peace and reconciliation in every neighborhood, hamlet, village, town, city and region of Ethiopia. We will wage peace and reconciliation with all our might and with all the strength God has given us. We will wage peace and reconciliation against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.
You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory through peace and reconciliation at all costs. Victory in spite of all terrors and the efforts to destroy our Ethiopiawnet and our unity as one people. Victory, however long and hard the road to peace and reconciliation may be, for without victory there is no survival of Ethiopia as one nation.
Let that be realized. No survival for the Ethiopian nation, no survival for all that the Ethiopian nation has stood for, no survival for the urge, the impulse of the ages, that Ethiopians shall move forward in peace and reconciliation toward his goal. I take up my task in buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men and women. I feel entitled at this juncture, at this time, to claim the aid of all and to say to all my Ethiopian brothers and sisters, “Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.”
I join PM Abiy wholeheartedly in saying to all Ethiopians,
Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength. Let us hold hands and walk on the two roads Mandela named for us, Goodness and Forgiveness. Let us march forward and build that city upon a hill at the intersection of the roads of Goodness and Forgiveness to be called “New Ethiopia”.
“Come then, Ethiopians, let us go forward together with our united strength.”