By Alemayehu G. Mariam
Change does not need a few active players and many who watch from the sidelines. Change is a process that requires all of us to get into the field and make our contribution. Change is not the kind of game that spectators watch and cheer when there is a good result and criticize and complain when the result is not desirable.” PM. Abiy Ahmed, Speech(translation), June 23, 2018
Be optimistic and determined. Mandela would tell Ethiopia’s youth to be optimistic in creating their Beloved Ethiopian Community because Ethiopia’s best days are yet to come. (My advice to Ethiopia’s young people in my December 13, 2013 commentary.
እንደመር! አንቀነስ! እንባዛ! አንከፋፍል!
Speaking to Ethiopia’s intellectuals in the prophetic tradition
Author’s Note: I am the unabashed self-appointed Ethiopian Diaspora recruiter of force multipliers (ማባዣዎች) for Team Abiy Ahmed in Ethiopia.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his team are doing all of the heavy lifting to bring about positive and lasting change in Ethiopia today.
But PM Abiy and his team by themselves alone cannot manage the enormous economic crises facing the country, resolve the long-standing and intractable domestic and regional problems and effectively address the historic challenges of poverty, poor education and poor health services in Ethiopia today.
PM Abiy and his team need HELP! Now.
So, I have decided on my own — without any official or unofficial, direct or indirect, formal or informal instigation or encouragement of the PM Abiy Ahmed government — to mobilize, galvanize and energize the intellectual and professional energy in the Ethiopian Diaspora to count up (medemer) and stand up to help Ethiopia transition from dictatorship to democracy and ethnic subjugation to national unification, emancipation and salvation.
For years, I have been calling Ethiopia’s learned men and women, particularly in the Diaspora, to more actively and directly engage in the struggle for human rights and democracy in Ethiopia.
I regret to say my repeated calls have in the past fallen on deaf ears and amounted to nothing more than sound vibrations in the wilderness.
In this Memorandum, I call on Diaspora Ethiopian intellectuals and professionals in all fields once again to come together and help our young Prime Minister and his team as they toil day and night to peacefully transition Ethiopia from a dictatorship of ethno-cracy to multiparty democracy and from a kleptocracy to a government of accountability and transparency.
My call to action this time is very different.
It is an S.O.S. call for Ethiopia.
It is a call to save our souls from oppression of one group by another.
It is a call to save and free the soul of Ethiopia.
It is a call to stand up for Ethiopia. It is a call to get up, step out, stand up and be counted for Ethiopia.
I want to make it perfectly clear to Ethiopia’s best and brightest in the Diaspora that today we find ourselves at the station watching the Ethiopia Love Train revving up.
We have only moments to decide whether to come aboard or be left behind at the station. We have the choice of joining Team Abiy Ahmed and do something or spend the rest of our lives moaning and groaning about what could, would and should be done.
The time to stand up and be counted (medemer) and make a difference in the lives of one hundred million people is NOW!
“If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don’t do that, you are wasting your time on this earth.”
In my recent public statements, I have announced to our Ethiopian Diaspora intellectuals and professionals the MOMENT we have been waiting for (or trying to avoid, for some of us) has arrived.
It is the MOMENT that shall define each and every one of us as true courageous sons and daughters of Ethiopia or expose us as unconcerned and indifferent outsiders, foreigners and strangers.
It is the MOMENT when we decide to get aboard Abiy Ahmed’s Ethiopia Love Train or watch the train leave the station and leave us behind and to eventually be scooped up and dumped in the trash bin of history.
Our Ethiopia Love Train has a single one-way track leading to only one destination.
The end of the line for the Ethiopia Love Train is a shining city upon a hill called “The Beloved Ethiopia.”
You don’t need to bring any baggage for the ride. It is a free ride. Just bring along your tool kits and skills.
Scientists, bring your microscopes and telescopes. Physicians and health professionals bring your stethoscopes and thermometers. Engineers and architects bring your protractors. Lawyers bring your law books. Teachers, bring chalk and paper. Bankers and business professionals bring your spreadsheets. Authors and researchers, bring your publications. Artists, bring your paint brushes and musical instruments. All Ethiopian Diaspora intellectuals and professionals, bring the tools of your trade. We need all of you on the construction site of the “The Beloved Ethiopia”.
Ethiopia is bountifully blessed.
There is a place and a role for every Ethiopian who voluntarily or otherwise lives in the Diaspora.
You may say I am a dreamer for saying these things.
Yes, I am a Dreamer. A dreamer from way back when.
In July 2012, I told you I had only one dream: “Ethiopia at Peace”.
In July 2012, I also told you about our coming journey on the roads to Goodness and Forgiveness.
In July 2018, my dream has come true. We are finally walking on the roads of Goodness and Forgiveness with Abiy Ahmed following us.
So, I extend a warm invitation to all of my Diaspora Ethiopian intellectuals and professionals to join Team Abiy Ahmed and come aboard the Ethiopia Love Train in the lyrics of John Lennon:
Imagine all the people [of Ethiopia] living life in peace.
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
[There are one hundred million others like me].
I hope someday [very, very soon] you’ll join us, and [Ethiopia] will be as one.
My prophetic message of July 12, 2012 to Ethiopia’s intellectuals and professionals
I believe my message to the Ethiopian intelligentsia in 2012 rings more true today than it did then.
On July 15, 2012, I proclaimed the following message to Ethiopian intellectuals and professionals telling them of the fierce urgency of:
Now is the time to stand up and be counted!
The times they are a-changing. Ethiopian scholars can no longer stand on sidelines as spectators in these trying times. They cannot afford to be “summer soldiers, sunshine patriots” and fair-weathered fans of freedom, democracy and human rights, as Thomas Paine might have put it. They must be actively engaged in the struggle against tyranny now; and not prepare to struggle for power later. They must stand with the people now, and not stand by them later.
Ethiopian intellectuals need to organize themselves to bridge the information and knowledge gap and come up with fresh and creative ideas to help transition Ethiopia from dictatorship to democracy.
All scholars involved in the study of Ethiopia face the fierce urgency of now. They must renounce the vows of silence they have imposed upon themselves or has been imposed upon them by the self-appointed and self-righteous censors of democracy and come forward to help the people of Ethiopia transition from dictatorship to democracy.
Ethiopia today stands at the crossroads. The signs of change are plain to see…
… The best days of Ethiopia’s dictators are long gone. These are the desperate days of desperate dictators who are playing out their end game by resorting to desperate measures.
We see them stoking the flames of sectarianism. They are clamping down on all avenues of free expression. They are unleashing unspeakable violence to cling to power.
They are finally facing the music; they are now beginning to understand the true meaning of Gandhi’s message: “There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall – think of it, always.”
So, in the end game, the tyrants and murderers will pull out their trump card, their long-planned final solution: “Après moi le deluge (after me the flood)!” (or in the words of the proverbial donkey, “after me, no more grass”).
But they seem to forget that floods, fires and earthquakes do not discriminate; they consume and destroy everything in their path.
… But these are also hopeful days for the people. They can finally see a flickering light at the end of the long dark tunnel of tyranny. They can see a beacon of light pointing in the direction of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
The tables are turning in plain view. The people are losing their fear of the tyrants; and the tyrants are showing their fear of the people. They are worried sick of what the people might do. The people are also angry and hungry. Anger leads to bitterness, hatred and violence. Hunger destroys not only the body but also the soul. A hungry man is an angry man. That is what the tyrants fear as the last chapter of the end game is being written.
Ethiopian scholars and intellectuals must share their expertise and knowledge to overcome not only the tyranny of man but also the tyranny of hunger, disease, ignorance and poverty. Tyranny must be confronted on all fronts. It is up to the agricultural experts to make battle plans to defeat the tyranny of hunger and famine. Ethiopia’s educational scholars must rise to challenge the tyranny of a hopelessly decayed educational system. Diaspora Ethiopian physicians gather their forces to confront the tyranny of disease that afflicts our people? There are more Ethiopian physicians practicing in Chicago today than in all of Ethiopia. Shouldn’t Ethiopian economists, engineers, scientists, lawyers, historians, artists, researchers, etc., come forward and forge alliances to confront tyranny in all its manifestations?
Writing and speaking in their fields of expertise is only the beginning. I plead with members of the Ethiopian academic and scholarly community to also become public intellectuals. The internet has become the great equalizer not only between citizens and all powerful governments but also between the intelligentsia and “ignorigentsia” (the willfully ignorant or woefully uninformed).
In many ways, the internet has given free speech its ultimate expression. The learned scholars and academics and those spewing words of provocation, hatred and intolerance potentially have equal access to the hearts and minds of millions. But for all of the information and resources available on the internet, there is precious little that is relevant, enlightening and actionable.
— From my commentary “Ethiopia: Unfree to Speak or Write?” of July 15, 2012
In July 2018, we have met our defining moment.
In July 2018, Abiy Ahmed will come to America to meet, talk and challenge us.
The only unanswered question is whether we will define the moment by accepting Abiy Ahmed’s challenge, join his team and march forward as history bears witness.
Get up, stand up for your rights and join up Team Abiy Ahmed!
My fellow Diaspora Ethiopians in academia, science, engineering and technology, health services, business and other fields:
The fate of our country hangs in the twilight zone.
We are entering a new epoch unknown in our long and glorious history.
Our country hangs in the middle ground between the light of freedom and the long shadow of tyranny; between hope for the future and fear of the past; between the high road of love, forgiveness and reconciliation and the low road of hate, revenge and civil strife.
The Forces of the Light Side are furiously pulling Ethiopia towards the rising sun of freedom and democracy.
But the Forces of Darkness are fighting back with all their might to drag Ethiopia back to their Land of Darkness.
The Land of Darkness is the Ethiopia of the past 27 years.
Ethiopia has been the skunk of the world and the poster country for repression, torture, corruption, crimes against humanity, flagrant disregard for the rule of law, stolen elections and ethnic apartheid over the past 27 years.
Today, we are witnessing the beginning of the end of our long night’s journey into the darkness of tyranny.
We are beginning to see flickering rays of light of freedom and democracy in the Land of 13-Months of Sunshine.
It is by no means guaranteed we will make it out of the Land of Darkness into the Land of 13-Months of Sunshine.
For darkness does not give up what it clutches so easily.
The Forces of Darkness today are fighting tooth and nail to keep their Empire at all costs and by any means necessary.
We see what they do every day. We don’t know what they are doing at night.
They have not hesitated to set off a bomb in broad daylight in the middle of a peaceful rally killing two and grievously harming over 150 men, women and children.
They travel the countryside paying agent provocateurs to spark ethnic conflict and strife.
They have tried to create border conflict by pretending to be soldiers of neighboring countries and wearing their uniforms.
They are waging a scorched earth economic war to bring our country to its knees.
They are doing everything they can to damage in the infrastructure of our country.
They are toiling day and night to break the momentum of change.
They are hell-bent on derailing our train of love, forgiveness and reconciliation.
But where are Forces of the Light Side and what are they doing as the Forces of Darkness toil in their devil’s workshop?
The Forces of the Light Side are in the Land of Euphoria.
They are on cloud nine. They are besides themselves.
They are joyous smelling and tasting freedom: Free from arbitrary arrest and detention, torture. Free to speak and write. Free to organize and criticize. Free to be human beings with dignity.
I do not believe there is any person more joyous of what has happened in Ethiopia over the past 90 days or so than myself.
But my joy is tempered with concern.
I am afraid we are becoming a bit too overconfident and complacent.
I can see the Armies of Darkness on the move in the night.
I can see them plotting and conspiring 24/7 to snatch defeat from the jaws of our victory.
Only at own peril can we underestimate the power of the Forces of Darkness.
The price we have to pay for staying free is eternal vigilance over the Forces of Darkness and to stand united come hell or high water.
United we stand, divided we fall and become dinner to daylight hyenas!
We stand united when we COUNT UP (medemer), as PM Abiy likes to say.
For Ethiopia’s Diaspora intellectuals and professionals, COUNT UP (medemer) means become force multipliers.
There is no going back. Only forward.
The march of history is from tyranny to freedom; from oppression to liberty. Our march on the two roads Nelson Mandela named for us – Goodness and Forgiveness – is unstoppable.
Team Abiy Ahmed is leading us out of a long night’s journey of ethnic apartheid into the glorious sunlight of Ethiopiawinet.
What can Ethiopia’s best and brightest do in our exodus out of our long nightmare of captivity in ethnic apartheid and into the glorious sunlight of Ethiopiawinet?
Your silence and turning deaf ears of yesteryears will not do.
Your hesitation and “let’s-wait-and-see” attitude will not do.
Your outlook of “let-somebody-do-it” will not do.
There is only one question you need to ask yourselves.
What time is it?
I will give you the definitive answer.
It is time to stand up!
It is time to count up (medemer)!
It is time to ask, “If I don’t do it, who will?”
It is time to declare, “I do not ask what Abiy Ahmed and his team will do for Ethiopia. I ask what I can do for Ethiopia.”
It is time to join up Team Abiy Ahmed!
It is time to be Force Multipliers for Ethiopia and Team Abiy Ahmed!
What are force multipliers?
The idea of “force multiplier” or “force multiplication” has diverse applications. The basic idea is that a small but highly organized and capable group can dramatically increase the power of available forces. Simply stated, a well-organized, -trained, capable and committed small force of individuals can magnify the capacity of a large disorganized and fragmented force and produce successful results.
For the U.S. Department of Defense, a force multiplier is a “capability that, when added to and employed by a combat force, significantly increases the combat potential of that force and thus enhances the probability of successful mission accomplishment.”
But we see “force multipliers” in everyday situations, and machines and tools we use. A wheelbarrow is a force multiplier which can be used by one person to effortlessly carry a much larger load that would ordinarily take several people to carry.
Facebook, Twitter and other social media are force multipliers. A single person or a small group could send out messages through a global network of information sources to mobilize and energize thousands and even millions of people into action.
Gandhi’s ragtag group of followers who mounted a defiant march to the sea in protest of the British monopoly on salt in March 1930 were force multipliers for the Indian independence movement. They galvanized the entire Indian population.
Gandhi believed every individual satyagrahi (civil resister) is a force multiplier in nonviolent civil disobedience moving the great masses into action by serving as an example of defiance, resistance and sacrifice. Gandhi taught what mattered most in successful civil disobedience actions was not merely the quantity of people involved, but most importantly, the quality of people involved and their level of commitment.
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference was the single most important force multiplier for the American Civil Rights Movement. It was an organization started by 60 African American clergy and pastors in Atlanta on January 10, 1957. Its singular goal was the redeeming of “the soul of America” through nonviolent resistance. Under the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, the SCLC set fire to the conscience of America.
Let us not forget that the Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front became its own self-propelled force multiplier and lorded over 100 million people for 27 years by using nepotism, cronyism, ethnocentrism, antagonism and anti-Ethiopianism.
Psychological state of mind is also a force multiplier. Retired US General Colin Powell observed, “perpetual optimism is a force multiplier”. Losers have the mindset of losers. Winners have the mindset of victors. Attitude determines altitude. How high we rise depends on how high we think.
PM Abiy Ahmed is Ethiopia’s super force multiplier. We are witnessing everyday how his electrifying message of love, forgiveness and reconciliation is transformingd the hearts and minds of 100 million people.
When I ask Ethiopian intellectuals and professionals in all fields of human endeavor to become “force multipliers” for Team Abiy Ahmed, I am asking them to join Team Abiy Ahmed and dramatically increase the Team’s capabilities and resources and
1) ensure the transition that has begun and accelerated over the past 90 days will continue and increase at an increased momentum;
2) defend against any efforts to reverse the gains and changes brought about by Team Abiy Ahmed;
3) provide on a volunteer basis all possible technical capabilities to facilitate the Team’s work;
4) share in the heavy lifting in all areas of policy formulation and implementation;
5) apply all our skills, knowledge and resources to address the political, economic and social challenges facing Ethiopia today.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.”
There is now a life and death struggle between Team Abiy Ahmed and the Armies of Darkness.
Team Abiy Ahmed is young and struggling to build new structures and processes to transition Ethiopia into democracy. It has little money to do what needs to be done. The bank vaults are empty of cash and full of IOUs.
Yet, Team Abiy must fight against incredible odds for the soul of Ethiopia and win.
Team Abiy Ahmed is facing the mighty Armies of Darkness. They have unlimited amount of money because they have emptied the banks. They brag about their military might. They threaten and intimidate. But despite their wealth and military might, the Armies of Darkness are destined to lose because their weapons of hate, division and revenge is no match for our weapons of love, forgiveness and reconciliation.
We, Diaspora Ethiopian intellectuals and professionals, must be the tip of the spear for Team Abiy Ahmed faces the Armies of Darkness.
We must be in the frontlines volunteering to lead with new ideas to deal with old problems, new strategies to replace the failed ones of the past and new proposals for the future. We must volunteer and take the lead in drafting the blueprint for the New Ethiopia. We must take the lead in creating a new game plan, a win-win all-inclusive game plan for everyone.
That is how we can become force multipliers. A mighty band of Volunteer Force Multipliers for Ethiopia (VFME)
A small group of well-trained, committed and enlightened volunteer force can make the difference between victory and defeat in the ongoing battle against the Forces of Darkness, which, by the way, also includes our formidable age-old enemies of poverty, disease and ignorance.
I want all VFMEs to know that our struggle is not only in the field of policy but also for hearts and minds.
We must beware that the Forces of Darkness can win in more ways than one.
They can win by demoralizing the people. They can win by spreading their usual campaign of disinformation, deception and lies. They can win by sapping our confidence in PM Abiy and his reform efforts.
They can win by creating mass distractions and destruction.
We must be prepared to fight them, not alone, but by counting up (medemer). We must fight them for heart, mind and soul of every man, woman and child. We must fight to win against their evil ideology of ethnic division and hate with love, forgiveness and reconciliation in every hamlet, village, town, city, neighborhood and street.
The winning formula: “medemer” (join forces) and force multiplication
Karl Marx in his Theses on Feuerbach wrote, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.” We could substitute intellectuals and professionals for philosophers.
The role of Ethiopian intellectuals and professionals today is not to pontificate from the sidelines, moan and groan about why PM Abiy has not done something. The time now is for them to join Team Abiy Ahmed and keep their eyes on the prize, shoulders to the wheel, noses to the grindstone feet on the ground and GET SOMETHING DONE for the people of Ethiopia and change things for the better.
On June 23, 2018 millions of people showed up in Mesqel Square in the capital to affirm they are part of Team Abiy Ahmed.
On July 28-29, tens of thousands of Ethiopians in the United States will make a repeat performance.
In a recent speech, PM Abiy said, “Change does not need a few active players and many who watch from the sidelines. Change is a process that requires all of us to get into the field and make our contribution. Change is not the kind of game that spectators watch and cheer when there is a good result and criticize and complain when the result is not desirable.”
It is true that we can never bring fundamental change to Ethiopia by having a few active players. We must all join and do our part.
I say to you that Team Abiy Ahmed has nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat to build The Beloved Ethiopia.
I say to you that Team Abiy is leading the struggle that will take many months and years to build The Beloved Ethiopia.
We have to make a stand and be counted up for Team Abiy Ahmed.
The people of Ethiopia stood up and spoke. The voice of the people is the voice of God. (Vox populi, vox dei.) The people of Ethiopia overwhelmingly support Team Abiy Ahmed.
What is the policy of Team Abiy Ahmed?
The policy of Team Abiy Ahmed is to wage peace and reconciliation against a legacy of a monstrous tyranny unsurpassed in the catalogue of crimes against humanity.
What is the aim of Team Abiy Ahmed?
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.
Team Abiy Ahmed needs experts and knowledgeable people 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.
Let the truth be proclaimed. There shall be 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, without truth, forgiveness and reconciliation.
I say to all of my fellow Ethiopian intellectuals and professionals and all of my Ethiopian brothers and sisters, “Come then, let us join Team Abiy Ahmed and march forward together with our united strength.”
Let us COUNT UP (medemer).
Let us JOIN UP and become Volunteer Force Multipliers for Ethiopia.
Let us never forget that we stand on the shoulders of so many tens of thousands of young people who sacrificed their lives so that we have the chance to build The Beloved Ethiopia.
Let us honor their sacrifices and memory by becoming Volunteer Force Multipliers for Ethiopia.
Declaration Verifying Membership in Team Abiy Ahmed
In the next few days, I and my colleagues will make public a formal Declaration inviting all Ethiopian intellectuals and professionals to sign up and join Team Abiy Ahmed. We will also make it possible for all Ethiopians to publicly declare they too have joined Team Abiy Ahmed.
Signing up on this declaration will be different.
Each person who agrees to be listed as a signatory to the Declaration will be listed by name and profession for the whole world to see.
Each person who agrees to be listed as a signatory to the Declaration will be proclaiming to the world that they are joining Team Abiy Ahmed to provide volunteer service to help build The Beloved Ethiopia.
I shall present the prinited Declaration to PM Abiy during his visit to the United States. He needs to know who is standing with his team.
It makes perfect sense for the team leader to know who is on his team!
“Come then, let us join Team Abiy Ahmed and march forward together with our united strength.”
እንደመር! አንቀነስ! እንባዛ! አንከፋፍል!
ALL ABOARD THE ETHIOPIA LOVE TRAIN!
 Speaking in the “prophetic tradition” is not about predicting the future or religious divination. It is about speaking truth to power which emanates from moral conviction or divine inspiration or both. It is a tradition that goes back to Biblical days where certain men of courage and conviction spoke out against injustice, inequity and corruption in society. It is basically about being against governmental and societal wrongs and for human rights and individual liberties.