Ethiopia: It is Much More Disappointing than Encouraging

March 23, 2019
Tegenaw Goshu

Let me from the outset make myself clear as far as the very purpose of my comment is concerned.

First, I have no any intention of provoking unnecessary and unproductive conversation on the article (s) of the Professor that made me not to remain silent or not to go without expressing my point of view. I absolutely have no personal or any other interest except believing that it is quite right to call a spade a spade whenever and wherever it is appropriate regardless of social, economic, academic (educational), professional, political status of persons or groupings.

I sincerely understand that it would be wrong for me to undermine the very professional and academic qualification of the writer of this article (the Professor). Neither it is right for me to have a judgment on his very personal behavior nor any other personal matter.

My very purpose is to express my critical point of view on not only his very uncritical or totally passive approach toward  Prime Minister Abyi Ahmed   that sounds going  too far to the extent of worshiping or creating  the politics of personal cult . To fall in love with anyone who does relatively good things with our critical and constructive way of political thinking and behavior is truly great and appropriate! But falling in love with a politician (s) uncritically and complacently is terribly inappropriate and unproductive. It could end up with foolishly declaring oneself a victor whereas the reality on the ground self-evidently tells the resurfacing of suffering from serious setback if not terrible failure.

I strongly argue this is what we are witnessing in our country as far as the very hard reality revealing itself on the ground is concerned. It is so ridiculous for those politicians (“agents of change”) to keep going with their voracious political rhetoric whereas extremely terrible things are happening   in several parts of the country including right at the very backyard of their palaces (the head of government/the PM Office and the head of state/the President’s Office.

Second, I genuinely and firmly believe that the very political culture and thinking of our intellectuals (though not all) who are emotionally or otherwise complacent toward the politicians (leaders) is one of the most notoriously stupid reasons for the very poor if not wrong public perception about the politicians (“agents of transition to a democratic system”). Those intellectuals who had no any critical argument or way of thinking toward the incumbent leaders more specifically the Prime Minister and few members of his team at the very beginning of the desirable movement for change have their own undesirable if not miserable contribution to what went terribly wrong before the change had to take off in a meaningful manner.

So, the very purpose of my comment is not to have unnecessary arguments and counter –arguments with the Professor and his uncritical admirers.  But it is to express my strong conviction that there is a compelling reason for genuinely concerned citizens not to remain shy of challenging (criticizing) uncritical, irrational, excessively subjective, arrogantly self-assertive and absurdly complacent political attitudes/ behaviors and practices.

Having said these couple of points about the very purpose of my comment, let me proceed to the points of view I want to express:

I am one of those fellow Ethiopians who do try to go through writings  (articles) written and forwarded by any ordinary compatriot and more   particularly by well-educated (highly educated) ones on any area of subject that matters a lot to our country. I do this because I sincerely and strongly believe that this is one of the ways through which we can gain knowledge (well-substantiated and organized information) that in its turn paves the way for mutual understanding by either avoiding or lessening the misunderstandings we may suffer from.

Needless to say, it is this kind of communication (interaction) that enables us to become beneficiaries of doing something practically desirable for the common good we do aspire.    It goes without saying that we are in a very serious situation that desperately begs for this kind of communication (interaction) of a real sense of sincerity and civility more than ever. I wonder whether we are learning a bitter lesson from the very general crisis we have gone though and still are going through. I wonder whether this generation is a generation of self-aware enough about the magnitude of general crisis (political, socio-economic, moral, spiritual (the very essence of inner soul). I wonder whether this generation is truly willing and ready to find feasible and reliable means to totally liberate itself from a political system of deception and hypocrisy still being orchestrated by political elites who are trying to continue the very divisive and mutually destructive political agenda and practice of ethno-centrism that has never been the wishes of the people.

When it comes to the article I am referring to, I was one of those compatriots who used to go through the relentlessly continuous and excessively long articles (writings) of Professor Alemayehu Gebremariam for the last several years. Though not as I used to be, I still try to glance over articles (writings) of the Professor believing that to stay away from doing so is not only undesirable but also wrong. It is wrong because staying away from or trying to avoid arguments on issues (serious challenges) whenever we feel it is difficult to us to deal with disqualifies not only our basic reasoning power but also the very essence of intellect and intellectuality we may claim to have.

It is from this very perspective that I read the article written by the Professor and forwarded (published) on ECADF (03/21/19 after unusually having a considerable time interval. It is titled “Remembering the Sharpeville (South Africa) and Meles Massacres (Ethiopia) in 2019”.

Well, going all the way back to not only recorded history but also to the extent of time immemorial in search of any inhumane action committed by those who wanted to rule over the society they belonged to is one of  the disciplines ( fields) that should be dealt with by intellectuals who are believed to have power of intellect.  It is not merely a matter of digging out what happened in the past and put it in the right context of history but it is also (most importantly) a matter of learning appropriate lessons and not to repeat what terribly went wrong .  What we desperately need at this extremely critical moment of our country is a critical, balanced, rational, all-around, farsighted, justice for all political way of engagement (participation). It must be noted here that intellectuals of various areas of profession have a very especial role in this regard.

Are we witnessing this kind of comprehensive and critical approach and participation in our country? It will be wrong to answer this question in a generalized and absolute terms of yes or no. But it is self-evidently   clear that the current situation in our country is characterized by a very weak if not failed participation of educated Ethiopians in general and those who belong to the highest level of intellect and intellectuality in particular.

What makes this very essence of knowledge and skill terribly not only clumsy but also deeply disappointing is when it is intended to praise (admire) the politicians we may fall in love with as blameless (cult figures). Articles (writings) by Professor A.G/Mariam about the incumbent leaders especially Prime Minister Abyi Ahmed are typical examples.   The clumsiness and absurdity of this kind of way of political thinking and behavior becomes horribly disappointing when it comes from intellectuals who are supposed to be as rational, critical, realistic, balanced, and sustainable solution -seeking as possible.

Any literate ordinary Ethiopian with a relatively critical and rational reasoning power can easily sense how the very topic of the article is framed in a very highly skewed way of thinking or state of mind.

It is true that the very inner circle of TPLF and those EPRDF politicians and cadres who felt losing their abusive political power cannot stay away from the disruptive behavior and action during this struggle for genuine freedom and justice.  I wholly agree that we cannot and should not undermine let alone disregard their very ugly if not deadly attempts until they would realize that the room and the window they are using are closed on their backs forever by the freedom and peace-loving people of Ethiopia.  

But it is terribly wrong if not miserably complacent not to have the moral and political courage to be critical of the very weaknesses of not taking timely and appropriate actions by Prime Minister Abyi Ahmed who is the leader of both the ruling party and the head of the government.

Needless to say, it is both morally and intellectually absurd not to show a sense of regret when those politicians (leaders) who we gave our unreserved admiration terribly failed to take timely and effective preventive actions to protect innocent citizens from the horrible consequences we are witnessing day in and day out.

It absolutely does not make sense not to directly, straight-forwardly and constructively criticize the very unjustifiable weaknesses of not taking timely and necessary actions to mitigate the suffering of hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens before it became incredibly unbearable day in and day out. Is this not an open secret that revealed itself months ago and getting worse, not better?

Is the Professor not aware of this tragic situation caused by the very ill-conceived and ill-advised politics of ethno-centrism which is being entertained by political groupings, mainly by the former OPDO and the current OPD of which the Prime Minister is the member of the top leadership?

The Professor redundantly and voraciously tries to lecture us about the wonderfully crafted and articulated political rhetoric of the Prime Minister. Yes, despite the fact that the Prime Minister has a problem of some sort of inconsistency and nativity of encountering the very complex and challenging political world, his political rhetoric is wonderfully and positively inspirational.

But all this good political oratory can make sense when and where it is tested by the very reality on the ground. If this is not what we are desperately looking for and want to carry on, we honestly have to take deep breath and come up with the right way of doing politics. Needless to say, the right way of doing politics especially for our intellectuals such as Professor A.G/Mariam is to help politicians (leaders) by delivering ideas and recommendations with a real and genuine sense of critique and encouragement, not uncritical and disingenuous political behavior that goes to the extent of creating a personal cult (worshiping).

 

Absurdly enough, what the Professor trying to justify is that the Prime Minister as well as the ruling circle and the government he leads cannot be hold responsible and accountable because it was and is the making of Meles’s Massacres of 2019. Doesn’t this sound not only politically skewed but also practically disingenuous?  I strongly argue that it is terribly skewed and politically misleading because if we try to make those politicians blameless figures whereas it is abundantly clear that they are not and cannot be, the solution we try to recommend will end up with being wrong if not disastrous.    It is totally a political stupidity and moral degradation not to hold the incumbent politicians (leaders) responsible and accountable   for all the horrible displacements/forced evictions, bulldozing of houses and exposing innocent citizens together with their families and many more miserable way of life (if it is life at all) .

I am sorry to say but I have to say that the article does not deserve any attention let alone initiating any reasonable and useful conversation. But I strongly argue that the way he presents himself and argues on the ongoing struggle for fundamental peoples’ democratic system in Ethiopia is horribly uncritical, terribly emotional, excessively redundant and voracious. The way he tries to characterize all individuals and groupings outside the very circle of the Prime Minister  is excessively arrogant as he sounds a person who foolishly convinces himself “I know all but others do not ” .  Well, it is the right thing to criticize those few who blindly complain as if there is nothing positively encouraging in the process of   the struggle for fundamental democratic system. But insulting all those who suffer from their own weaknesses or ineffectiveness as “blockheads” because they criticize the Prime Minister and his government does not make the Professor morally and politically superior at all. I am sure that the Professor knows what Socrates has to say, “what I know is that I do not know”.

If we are truly honest with ourselves, it is because we most of us (with the exception of very and very few) are “blockheads” as far as the very question of  why we could not go beyond making highly jargonized and redundant political rhetoric and theorization is concerned. 

Is this not this kind of political culture and attitude of ours that has enabled the ethno-centric dictatorial regime to stay in power for a quarter of a century?

Is it not true that intellectuals and others with various levels of education who were and are supposed to be at the very forefront of the political struggle for genuine freedom and justice?

Yes, although the degree of being “blockheads” differs, it is very difficult to find many among us who are blameless in this political context of ours except very and very few.

So, it is now better to say let’s unblock our own blockheads and move forward accordingly. I strongly argue and believe that in this endeavor of unblocking the blockheads has to start from our intellectuals who terribly suffer from avoidance of direct involvement and participation in the struggle for the realization a fundamental peoples’ democratic system in our country. Not the other way round.

 

As a strong believer of calling a spade a spade is necessary, telling a person directly and straightforwardly about his or her undesirable way of thinking and behaving is the right thing to do whenever and wherever it is necessary or reasonably applicable regardless of his or her academic or any other type of status.

I found this article as the concluding part of articles of the last about ten months devoted to “blameless politicians or agents of the change.” The Professor sounds frustrated as the result of his own behavior of falling in love with politicians especially with Prime Minister Abyi Ahmend unconditionally or uncritically from the very beginning.

As a well- educated person, he was supposed to behave and act objectively and critically instead of writing piles of “great cornicles of admiration of Prime Minister Abyi Ahmed (“ውዳሴ ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር አብይ አህመድ“) that was politically nonsensical as a matter of fact or reality in our country. Now, he is making things worse by not trying to hold the Prime Minister and his government responsible for what horribly went wrong and still is going wrong in many parts of the country.

Yes, if he (the Professor) is truly and heroically intellectual, he was supposed to be courageous enough to tell those politicians whom he has fallen in love with directly, straightforwardly and constructively that the way they behave and act is going in the wrong direction and it should be corrected before it would be too late. He was supposed to be critical of the very ugly political behavior of hypocrisy and conspiracy that are horribly stifling the very struggle for the realization of democratic society. Adding  salt to the wound, we are witnessing a very ugly if not dangerous political conspiracy to replace the hegemony TPLF/EPRDF with that of OPD/EPRDF together with extreme elements of ethno-centric political groupings and  the so-called activists .

Does the Professor really believe that the Prime Minister and team Lemma have no knowledge about the horrible consequences of ethno-centric political agenda and practice that are being carried out by the very members of their own high ranking members of the leadership and their cadres who continued controlling both the party and government structures all the way down to the smallest local governments (kebeles)?

Coming up with this kind of article which is characterized by kind of uncontrolled emotion and even anger is totally unproductive. I found it something that clearly shows the very undesirable mixture of frustration and unsuccessful self-assertion that will never be able to make either things in general or the specific way of doing politics better.   It makes things worse as it loses both political and moral courage to have rational, critical, realistic and productive engagement with all political actors (state and non-state) and help things move forward accordingly.

Yes, it is wrong to undermine his (the Professor’s) relentless effort to prepare and forward articles of truly informative about the ethno-centric dictatorial regime controlled by TPLF for many years.  However, following the assumption of political power by Dr Abyi Ahmend, he did not take time to create uncritical or passive type of attachment that has later developed into the very clumsy political attitude of “touch not Prime Minister Abyi Ahmend” and stay focused on blaming and condemning TPLF and undermining the role of political opposition parties. Doesn’t this sound so hasty and unproductive especially when it comes from our intellectuals who claim to be highly educated and experienced? It does sound!

I hate to say but I have to say that I did not read any substantive recommendation on the question of how we can find the way out (solution) in this article of defending the Prime minister.

It is deeply disappointing to witness our intellectuals such as the writer of this article who are still trying to tell the people that the “the PM is blameless; it is others who should be blamed for what is going wrong.” Terribly self-degrading!

True, all Ethiopians from individual to a group(s) level are responsible and they deserve the blame for what they did not do to make a big and meaningful change of ideas and practices. But there is no doubt that the PM and his party and government are at the very forefront of responsibility and accountability. They deserve unreserved blame not only for not acting quickly and effective to prevent the horrible things going on in the country, but also for turning their backs on the innocent   people of Ethiopia who accepted and praised them as their earthly saviors.

Is the professor telling the people that they (the people) have wrong perception about those politicians who shamefully and stupidly started playing the politics of hypocrisy, conspiracy and deception in the name of democratic reform?

If the Professor is saying that the people are stupid enough about the horrible failure of the PM and his inner circle that has caused deeply painful happenings almost in all parts of the country, he (the Professor) must be victim of not be willing and able to see outside the very box of the politicians he uncritically or unconditionally has fallen in love with. And that is not desirable at all as far as the very essence making a concerted effort in order to make a truly democratic system a reality is concerned.

Agree or disagree, it is these kinds of our approaches and behaviors that have made politicians excessively/ voraciously and unrealistically self-asserted. Accept it or not, these kinds of political attitudes and behaviors of ours have played a very significant role in the emergence and lingering of dreadful situations in many parts of the country.

I strongly argue and believe that though we are too late to save many lives we lost as the result of the political identity of ethno-centrism instigated by evil-minded individuals and political groupings, and to prevent the forced eviction of hundreds and thousands  of innocent citizens  due to the same political madness; we have to behave differently and act quickly in order to stop all this craziness of self –destruction and move in the right direction of establishing a truly democratic system.

To this end, intellectuals and all educated members of the society desperately need to get out of both their uncritical/passive way of supporting this or that political actor. And they have to liberate themselves from their political attitude of staying as spectators of political a game being played by others.

I am reasonably optimistic that we all together can change things not only for the better but also for the best!

1 COMMENT

  1. Shameful, using the old map of Ethiopia. Eritrea is a sovereign nation, and much more stable that Ethiopia currently is. Respect their internationally recognised statehood.

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