Have We no Sense of Outrage? – By Addissu Admas

The mere fact that 94% of Ethiopia’s population is governed by the leaders of 6% of the population is something that should befuddle anyone with a modicum of intelligence. I know that our intellectuals have explained to us why such a situation has come to be, and why it continues to exist after 26 long years. But they can’t seem to be able to explain away why the peoples of Ethiopia who are said to be outraged appear to be so paralyzed from taking the next obvious step: open raging rebellion to overthrow this minority government. I do not deny of course that the current regime as well as the previous one has put in place certain mechanisms, historical and otherwise, to frustrate any open rebellion.

To begin, the Derg regime has eroded the very core of Ethiopia’s nationalist ethos and mutual trust of the people by pitting citizens against one another. It created a culture of distrust, suspicion and cruelty through the Red Terror and beyond. This has prepared for the current regime an ideal terrain to do whatever it wanted and fancied. In other words, the Derg has left a frustrated, disunited and emasculated people whose desire for peace and tranquility at any cost and under any circumstance has left it even more disposed and vulnerable to further abuse and contempt by the current regime.

The main culprit for our lack of a sense of outrage at any event is without a doubt the EPRDF or more appropriately the TPLF. This party has governed the country inspired by one ancient principle: Divide and Rule. From the moment they stepped in the Capital and took hold of the mass media to this very day their message has been un-abashed and un-ambiguous: You are not one nation and should not behave like one. And so they went on an aggressive and ugly campaign to revive and exploit the dormant historical animosities that existed among the various nationalities and ethnicities of Ethiopia. To be sure these historical animus among the peoples of Ethiopia were not extraordinary, nor much less of a sinister origin. In other words they are not the result of genocide as in Ruanda or Armenia. They were rather of the garden variety one encounters in most nations where ethnic diversity exists. True there have been unhealthy, prejudiced, mean-spirited and even discriminatory practices. But nothing to warrant an outright war. If there was indeed outrage it was against an entrenched feudal system. And the Revolution arose precisely against it, and changed the course of our history.

The imperial regimes that preceded the Derg, and even the Derg itself has always tried to or at least tried to appear to be more inclusive, even though it never quite succeeded. But this current regime has been if anything very clear with its intention: It manifestly wanted discord, suspicion and non-cooperation to persist to assure itself permanent survival. And to a large extent it has succeeded. Ethiopians, especially her two major ethnic branches, which together exceed 70% of the entire population of the country, have continued to glower at each other over their trenches. As long as this situation endures, the governing regime is assured to rule for another generation. The Derg had the various liberation fronts wars to justify its continuance in power. The TPLF has to continue feeding the dangerous fire of ethnic animus to hold on to power. But are we to continue to be played by these unscrupulous purveyors of narrow tribalism? Or are we to oppose them as a united front? The choice is ours.

I know that the current generation living both overseas and at home is rather lulled by the apparent economic prosperity that this regime claims as its chief achievement. The educated youth had been the primary agent of change during the Revolution. The current youth on the other hand appears to be rather absorbed by economic ambition and short term gain. Opportunism has replaced outrage. Short term gain has taken center stage. Struggle for country and kin is simply a non-factor in the youth’s vision of the future. Yet if the young believe in true equality among all nations and ethnicities of Ethiopia, if true prosperity founded on the natural wealth of the country and not based on borrowed money and foreign capital is to emerge, if true inclusive democracy is to be founded on the ashes of the present regime, the involvement of Ethiopia’s youth is simply indispensable. The young have to choose whether they want to scrap the bottom of the barrel, “eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table”, or seat as masters of the table partaking of the banquet, it is a choice they only can make, and live with. I know from observing recent world events that a sense of hot outrage would have filled any youth of any nation on this planet, if it were forced to live in circumstances similar to ours. And yet we proceed as if what is going on in Ethiopia seems to happen in a neighboring universe.

Don’t rush to label me a “provocateur” and an instigator of a war I can’t partake in. Yes war should always be held as a last resort when all options fail. It should be held as a stick over the head of our oppressors, so that they know we are serious in our demands. In truth I am calling for a collective and unified political action of the entire peoples, nations and nationalities of Ethiopia (as this regime likes to parcel us) to unseat this profoundly unjust, repressive and arrogant regime. And to replace it with one that will become a beacon for generations to come. Remember that as long as we remain divided along ethnic and ideological lines we are simply extending the life of this parasitic regime. We have to set aside, at least until this regime’s demise, our differences and disagreements, and join our political and organizational capital to overthrow and replace this regime of Apartheid. We must do it or we are condemned to permanent subservience.

Source- Addissu Admas

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