By Gudu Kassa
Many have been attributing some of current problems due to gradual erosion of democracy in EPRDF such as the way it dealt with OLF, internal differences and the 2005 election. Some think that the system grew to be more dictatorial. But the problem goes beyond those events.
Current problem is a result of the “politics of difference”.
How did the problem start?
For me the problem root is one ignorant and arrogant revolutionary generation. They got the wrong end of the problem to think that the Ethiopia’s problem is Ethiopia’s identity. So they want to replace it with ethnic identities.
In fact they thought Ethiopia has to broken-down it to it’s constituent part for wilful association of the people to take place. Looking back nothing can be stupider than this.
Disassembling is about to start and their prayers is being answered. .
From the start, the 1970 Ethiopia’s student had a wrong perception of themselves and contempt for their history, colour and society. They could have been happier if there was a means to paint their face yellow to become Chinese.
They are the victims of what we call intellectual colonialism. They were given few torn-up pages from East and they took it as Holly Bible to develop extreme contempt to their identity.
In fact, they are a proof how little knowledge is dangerous. The generation with hatred filled mindset planted seeds of division and difference, which is about to reap very soon. They thought that politics of difference would improve their own social mobility by dividing the country and become the representative of their ethnic and tribal homeland rather than the greater Ethiopia.
The then revolutionary students are now in their mid 60s or early 70s. The biggest question is whether they would retire peacefully or are they to reap the fruits of what they sow?
Interestingly, Ate Hailselase’s officials were also above the age of 70 when they were rounded and executed by the then fire brand revolutionary generation?
How did they got it wrong?
This is my theory. The students of 1970 came from un-educated family and traditional society. There was no internet, TV, libraries and even access to radio. The funny thing is when they pass grade 8 and admitted at General Wingate boarding school in Addis Ababa, they regarded themselves as intellectuals of the country.
It was the age of innocence. Anyone who sprinkled his conversation with few English words was considered an educated man. (That is why even at age of 60 many of them barely express themselves in proper English). So this adulation and respect by the society got in to their heads to call themselves the cream of the society, the intellectuals, philosophers (Lehikans) etc.
Reading the red pamphlet of Mao or few torn-up pages from book of Stalin was good enough to fire their ambition of changing the world. In the mind’s of these semi-educated, semi-urban peasant boys, no intellectual debates appeal to them. They find comfort in a traditional gun to solve all problems.
Rather than being properly educated and enlightened they end up being dogmatic to kill their parents first and many patriots who fought Fascism as feudal and reactionaries. Then, of course, a little knowledge become even deadly when they kill each other on trivial differences.
As a final solution all declared armed struggle, “Fano Tesemara Ende Ho Chi Minh; Ende Che Guevara”. There was no intellectual debate but Killings become the final arbitration.
Some went in to the jungle declaring their enemy is their fellow countrymen, their neighbours and other ethnic groups to mobilise traditional peasants to have the long march to take power. This demented generation has no room for enlightenment and intellectual debate and everything has to be solved in shootout.
The most tragedy is what had been read in teenager years at General Wingate and Lab School where taken as the Ten Commandment. Those Stalin words were not to be questioned or tested against prevailing reality of Ethiopia and changing world.
Even in the age of internet and mass communication they are regurgitating the same Stalin’s words at the age of 65 and try to solve problems through the recommendation of Georgian Syncopate called of Joseph Stalin.
Slogan mongering and parroting still make them feel knowing it all intellectuals. They can’t stand debate since that expose their shallow view of the world.
Even at the age of 60 they have not read enough to critically analyse their half baked theories and change it. The lived in their ignorance and tragically they are to die as ignorant.
Planting hatred and reaping division
What is coming is that they going to have the test of their own medicine in the hands of another fire brand generation that they have created. The Feyessa Lillisa generation if going to get stronger and stronger as the old guards go the downhill.
The sad thing is, as Stalin prescribed, Ethiopia has to be divided along tribal lines, boarders were drawn, and flags were designed, and the new social engineering were commissioned to create a new generation that believed in absoluteness of ethnic identity. The leaders have not read enough and they couldn’t still understand identity is multiple and overlapping. Grouping people along linguistic divide were considered the final solution. Some like Tegede are multi-lingual with divided loyalty.
If the political leaders have respect for knowledge in their 60 years of their life, they could have understood a person has genetic identity, color identity, geographic identity, physical identity, linguistic identity, religious identity, regional identity, social identity, cultural identity, professional identity etc.
Celebrating their ignorance they went to take just linguistic identity to divide the society, where now overlapping identities is start becomes a source of conflict. A person could be Oromigna speaker and an Orthodox Christian and highlander to have an overlapping identity with a guy in Axum as he has many share identities with his linguistic group. A Tigrena speaking Muslim, lowlander may not have linguistic relationship but have many shared identities with Oromos or Aderes.
An Amhara, Oromo or Tigrean born and raised in Dire-Dewa has more in common with Somali than where their parents came from. Boys in Dere-Dewa have nothing in common with a person in Adwa or Debark. Identity is software not a genetic inheritance. It changes, with development, with exposure, with education.
There is no such an Oromo, Tigre or Amhara culture. The Oromo or Amhara culture 100 years ago is not the same as today. Even the language changes and only ignorant people anchor everything on intangible concept like identity. Who among the Welayeta politicians dress in Dorze Hyezo or who among the Tigrean politicians dress like Tigray. Both dress like an English gentleman with 3 piece suit and ties. In 30 years time the traditional cultural cloths will remain a ceremonial costume than functional cloth.
A person may also lowlander or highlander to share way of life. He or she could be a farmer or nomadic, urban or rural to have many overlapping identities and differences even with it’s own linguistic group. All these identities are shared with others.
But the revolutionary generation is anti-thesis to knowledge and reading. Few pages from Stalin books became a dogma to indoctrinate these half backed theories to the new generation.
Disregarding all these facts, the educational system was designed to create “us” and “them”. Even the Olympic Marathon silver medalist said they are “killing our people”, that is “his” people not “theirs”. Fiyisa Lelisa was born and raised under EPRDF in Ambo. He was educated under Qube and he was brainwashed that he is different from other by the TPLF. For a person born in Shewa this was unthinkable 25 years ago.
In the minds of the TPLF architects this ethincization was supposed to be a good thing since it will weaken the center, divide the people and make them easily governable by the new ruling class in to eternity. Subtly as we read on the pages of Tigrayonline it was believed that the “gallant” generation has restored Ate Yohannes kingdom to rule over the Amhara and Oromos.
Of course, it was also thought it easy to mobilized all against the Amharas, their first cousin with no different in identity except language. That was thought a clever idea to divide and rule but it end up being the dummies plan implemented in Ethiopia.
Now even the people they claim to love and represent are becoming the victims of this hate politics.
Now the gene is out the bottle and “us” was created in the last 30 years. Anyone one who is under age of 30 was educated by the TPLF ethnic ideology. These kids and young adults have the muscle of 25 years old, anger of marginalized people, and ambition of it’s predecessors. They are fully fit and ready to set the fire and burn everyone stands on their way to the new identity pride.
The old revolutionaries are no more a match to this generation and if it pushed can hung it’s predecessors, as the revolutionary generation did to their elder fathers and grand fathers.
For generation that regurgitated so much of dialectical materials, shouldn’t have been aware of the fact that old always get defeat by the new.
The fact is 70% of the Ethiopia population that are under the age of 30 are the product of Meles’s hate experiment. They are socially engineered youth to hate their non-ethnic members. They know nothing about Mengistu and Ate Haileselase but know EPRDF.
They know they are Oromos, Amharas, Afar, Somali who has nothing to do with the neighbours. Clashes on borders, clashes in school, in football field, clashes on trivial identity issue that is awaiting us. It is not on GTP2 we will spend our energy but on re-drawing boundaries.
Now they just wonder what the hell other ethnic group are doing in their country, including Tigreans.
They also know the new ruling class is predominantly made up of the new Tigrean oligarch reaping the line share of the benefit, fast tracked to take positions and resources, given huge tracks of virgin land displacing the local peasants, acting and behaving as the new royal families. For action of few Oligarch and politicians the people in Tigray are perceived to be benefiting, who are still suffering under bondage of poverty.
The recreated the Neftegna system. The new Neftegna call armed with guns and arrogance of the ruling class have taken the lands and resources of the south and Oromia. As a result this resentment had been bubbling while the ruling class keep it’s head in the cloud believing it’s own propaganda.
Now the new generation has to rise up to restore it’s identity and dignity of the group, draw its boundaries and become the new ruling class of their respective regions. They see no needs for nanny or leadership from outside.
The Universities and the schools will be opening in September and confrontation will start like a wild fire very soon. Now it is not one university to worry about but 33 of them. The awakening reality is it is impossible to subjugate more than 70% the population by minority group with limited resource. The Fiysessa generation have not seen war, red terror or anything to calculate the risk. They have no fear and they have the same over confidence like their predecessors.
The Generation Battle is drawn and here is Maths
The odds are against the incumbent statuesque for the following reasons.
1. The youth of Ethiopia educated and designed by TPLF is more than 70% of the population ( around 70 million). It is a proof that the system cannot even educate it’s own kids to make it it’s supporters. Like Ate Haileselase’s time it has failed to make the likes of Fiyessa their supporters and now it cannot subjugate them.
2. The two biggest ethnic groups youth, the Amhara and Oromo truly feel marginalized and oppressed by the minority ethnic group. Oromo and Amharas with combined population more than 65% and cannot easily intimidate.
3. TPLF had captured the OPDO and EPRM leaders in a battlefield to give them food and shelter to make them loyal servants. Now these guys are fat and detached to be considered part of the community. They are considered they have sold their dignity to their daily meal with no respect in their ethnic groups.
4. In fact, ethnic consciousness is so high and it is very difficult for an Oromo and Amharic soliders to shoot at it’s own ethnic group. The army is recruited as Tigran, Amhara, Oromo, Afar etc and not as Ethiopian. So it’s primarily loyalty with it’s tribal group and not to EPRDF or Ethiopia. Though the top leadership of the army and security is controlled by Tigreans the lower ranks would not take the order as it used to be in the name of some higher ideals. So the division is already showing and the removal of the Amhara president by the TPLF is a tip of the iceberg. Blood is becoming thicker than water and it is technically impossible to find someone to kill his own ethnic group wilingly. So the alternative is to send Tigrean speaking soldiers in to Welega or Gonder to administer the regions, which will make them a hate an easy target to end up in with big regrets.
5. There are no political parties in Ethiopia but as the regions become ungovernable there is no doubt that there will be more grounds for political parties to emerge and mobilise the public for armed struggle. No doubt there will be soon an Oromo or Amhara Meles to emerge and to lead.
6. The problem is now reduced to bit size to make sense even to un-educated peasants. No more ideological jargons or complication. The division is between “us” and “them”. It is easy to mobilize the peasant as TPLF did by talking about our country, our boarder, our flag, our resource, our farm land, our identity, our pride, our language, our people, our Finifine, our Tsegede etc.
7. The distinction between ethnic groups and political parties has been deliberately blurred reducing the need for parties. For example General Samora Yenus in recent speech have stated TPLF means Tigray and Tigray means TPLF. It may be he want to transfer the blame and incompetence of the party and billion birr corruption scum through Metec to the people of Tigray but the implication is the people see literal meaning.
8. Hence, 2009 is the year of conflict and pitch battle in university companies, on main roads to Addis Ababa, over the power and water pipes. It is the battle that the system cannot win unless it take a U turn to listen to the people and change it’s policies.
9. The Ethiopia parliament is controlled by OPDP with 178 seats and ANDM with 138 seats and TPLF with 38 seats. As more killing takes place in Oromia and Amhara, even the puppet parliament has to take side.
So the probability of the statuesque continuing is very low unless TPLF guys walk up and do the “U” turn that Meles perfected to succeed. He as Albanian MMLT and made a U turn to sit with Tony Blair and talk about the market Economy and become George Bushes man to fight terrorism. He was calling the Ethiopia is 100 years old but when he was kicked by Tigrean friends he celebrated the Ethiopian 2000 millennium. He adopted himself to the need of the day and I respect him for being a pragmatic leader than dogmatic.
What is the way out?
TPLF supporters learn from history.
Like Emperor Haileselase and Mengistu’s time there is a denial of the problem. The Emperor in his early days he had defeated Lij Iyasu, Ras Micheal the father of Iyasu with his 100,000 army at the battle of Segele, Ras Gugsa the husband of Prince Zewditu, Belay Zeleke’s rebellion, the Weyane rebellion, Mengistu Neway’s Coup d’état and many more attempts on his power and life. But he was 84 years old when Mengisu and the Ethiopia Student Movement took him and killed him. Even then the emperor taught it is a problem of some corrupt officials and lack of good governance and believed reforming the cabinet is going to save the system.
Mengistu too thought removing few of his friends, declaring a mixed economy and offering self administrating regions in Eritrea, Tigray, Afar and Ogden is going to answer the question of the public. But that came too late.
At the time the emperor initiate reform the 1970 students had passed the point of no return. Writing a constitutional monarchy and dismissing the minsters did’thelp.d By then the students were demand nothing but a radical change of the system. Even more, they were calling for arresting and killing the authorities of the time including those patriots who fought Fascism and restore our independence. .
Similarly, Mengistu was too late to start reform while the gates of Addis Ababa were cracking. Dictators never learn and even more they over estimate their power. The current rulers of the country can no more run, climb mountain or survive without 3 course of meals. They are not the people we know 25 years ago where they used to walk 50 Km in a day while having a bit of sugar in a bag.
Now TPLF failed to see the danger coming, like all ruling classes, the new ruling guys were living in a bubble they have created. They had shielded themselves from the reality of the people’s problem with tinted glass of Toyota V8 Land cursors.
The then short trouser liberation leaders who used to mix with the people, eat and sleep in peasant hut are no more interested in the people or will be welcomed again. They are the rulers and aristocrats of the people. They are old and victims of all health issues coming from over eating and comfort. Blood pressure, chloistrol, liver from over drinking, heart problem and they have no time to look to the people.
They made a mistake when they bought tinted glasses Toyotas 10 and 15 year to shield themselves from commoners. Even more their idiotic ideology of ethnicization of everything for the last 25 years has reached a point that they will reap the seeds they sow.
Now everywhere and in every region the ruling class is an outsider by the ideology they preached. Every good investment, every political talks, every comment is seen with dose of suspicion by others. They do not even look like the people they came from with their overweight body frame, 3 piece suite and designer glasses. No matter how good the solution and suggestion may be, if it comes from the ruling class, it is treated with fear and suspicion. So everything is accepted with polite smile but not with commitment for implementation.
The chain of command is taken over by opportunists who have no love and commitment to die for the cause. They are their because they want to sell the land, sell stamp, sell everything to make themselves get rich quick. They are like Mengistu’s cadres, who used to say “they shall fight till the last man and last gun” but line up in ten thousands to hand over the gun they collected. In fact the new 6 million EPRDF cadres will be quick to turn their guns on their masters to be accepted by the OLF and other respective ethnic groups.
The new Prime Minster of EPRDF has no original idea except trying to take order from his subordinate in the army and security forces. He had a chance to reform and make all Ethiopians feel equal. But he didnt
Now he will either depose by General Samora like Gedu Andargachew of the Amhara if he stops taking orders or will used to commit genocide against the youth and end-up in The Hague prison in this life and in Hell in his second life. The bible bible teaches one cannot serve two masters. He has no religious ethics to be a moral guide to the young generation or political acumen to navigate through the problems.
He wag his figures as if that he has power and order killing of young Ethiopians before he kneel down to pray. He is a perfect example of Mathew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other”. Killing a child created in the image of God and praying to God is like serving two masters.
Hailemariam and his puppet masters could have asked what could have happened if the 400 kids that was killed in Oromia were Tigreans, Of course, that would have been considered genocide and the hell would have been let lose. In the eyes of God all people are equal but in his eyes ethnio-centrics the life of Oromo is less worthy than a Tigrean.
So the system may not reform like it’s predecessors but let’s hope it does.
In the last days Ate Haileselase as well as Mengisu was listened and feared but ignored. That is where we are now. Under current social engineering, no-one out of one own ethnic groups is believed to have the best of intentions. That is the end of the system. No one now can be intimidated by talk of other ethnic groups. Talking about Derge Esepa or Amhara has no more value. The new generation which is 70% of the population are created by the system and they feel that they know their enemy..
I have presented the case why the system is about to reap what it sow for the last 25 years but it there is an escape rout for it. Yes, may be a one month to save itself from total humiliation. This window is before the schools start opening. The system must admit making mistake and give a genuine hope to the youth that things about to change and there will be a better future for all not for selected few.
The solution is to undo what it sow in the minds of the new generation, that everyone is equal under the skies of Ethiopia. It needs to come back to the root cause of ethnic division it spread and need to talk about unity of the country. It need to tell that the Tigray youth is the same as the Oromos, their ambition is the same as Amhara’s, Gurage’s and Afar’s. They want to live in a country where their democratic, human, legal and economic rights respected. They are all Ethiopians and there will not be anymore a master and slave relationship.
It need to say borders are not to create the Berlin Walls but to help self-administer and that can be changed whenever it convenient to self-administer. It need to say we draw ethnic boundaries to make administration better and we are not trying to bring back Feudalism and Zemene Mesafint where regional warlords claiming over land, territories and tributaries, not the people. The Feudal territorial claims advocated by the pages of Tigrayonline need to be cleared, If the people want to have self-administration they have the right to do, what ever the old feudal lords had claims.
Being instigator and go-between have worked so far but it has no room for cleaver attempt. When EPRDF guys have drinking the Blue label whisky at Sheraton the young generation has grown to be 30 years old and no 60 year old and overweight official can be smarter than 25 years new graduate. Feyessa an athlet has played the game safe and to make the biggest impact all over the world. So get over the stupid self-image that was created in the 1970 sophomore years. That we are special is no more true, The younger are the smarter,
All these can be done in one brotherhood umbrella of the Ethiopian nationalism. Now the ethnic identity has shown it’s teeth and it is only preaching the pan-Ethiopian agenda can give a breathing space to the regime to reform.
Mengistu could have abandoned Socialism when Gorbachov was letting it die. But ignorant Mengistu believing his own propaganda and failed to drop the dead donkey of socialism. When he walk up and try to answer some of the question of regional government and economic hardship with mixed economy, it was too late. My fear the regime may thinks it can solve it’s problem using bullets while preaching divide and rule. That will be too stupid to do. The new generation is going to win and take revenges. THis is not preaching bad omen but we might see many hanged by the poles if the conflict is escalated.
Time are short, this is not about saving the country, saving the political system but the leadership of EPRDF saving it’s self from vengeful generation. It is about saving the future of your kids, the money you have made, the business you have built. It is about saving yourself from hardship and suffering. Don;t end up like the emperor official with nothing to show,
The solution is to become a born again pan-Ethiopian activist and preach brotherhood, shared and equal future.
Like colonialism, if we take condescending view that we provided the bread and the roads so we will rule over you will no more work and the leaders have more to lose than the 70,000,000 million youth that is about to embark in rage and reckless actions.
Please listen, listen and take action before it is too late. You are about to set a fire on the whole country and burn yourself and the people you care about. No one will benefit from arrogance and ignorance. The youth has no stake and will not see the implication of taking action. You have the lion share and save yourself in a month time. The more you kill the harder it will become for people to back-off.
If you abandon your arrogance that we liberated you and work as equal with the other you can cool down the anger to create for democratic transition of power in the near future.
School and University opening need to be pushed to October while the government implement a swift measure to reform. Don’t have an illusion that Samora’s old guards cam save you. Most of you are at the end of your life and the new generation can get you in 2009 or in the near future to take revenges. They have the time to wait and act,
Please listen,think and change. Meles was a pragmatic when he flipped from Albania to Tony Blair and Gorge Bushes anti-terror alliance.
By Gudu Kassa