Ethiopian Spring in a Winter of Discontent?
By Alemayehu G. Mariam
No one predicted the Arab Spring when it exploded on December 18, 2010 sparking the Tunisian Revolution.
No one could have predicted a street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi would set himself on fire to protest harassment, abuse and humiliation by local municipal and police authorities and trigger a revolution to transform the Middle East and North Africa.
The Tunisian “Burning Man” burned Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Muammar Gadaffi in Libya and Ali Saleh in Yemen, among others.
No one predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union. On December 25, 1991, Mikail Gorbachev gave the world a Christmas present by announcing his resignation as president. Gorbachev pulled the plug effectively ending over seven decades of communist rule.
Yesterday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) posted an announcement entitled, “Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia.”
HRW reported, “Student protests are spreading throughout Ethiopia’s Oromia region… Social media is filled with images of bloodied protesters; there are credible reports of injuries and arrests in a number of towns; and local police have publicly acknowledged that three students have died so far.”
HRW crystallized the issue driving the ongoing student protests:
[T]he demonstrators are ostensibly protesting the expansion of Addis Ababa’s municipal boundary into the surrounding Oromia region, which protesters fear will displace Oromo farmers from their land. But these protests are about much more: Many Oromos have felt marginalized and discriminated against by successive Ethiopian governments and have often felt unable to voice their concerns over government policies.
The ruling Thugtatorship of the Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front (T-TPLF) “may think this strategy of silencing bad news is succeeding. But while the fear of threats and harassment means it is often months before victims and witnesses come forward to reveal what happened in their communities, they eventually do, and the truth will emerge.”
The question is not only whether the “truth will emerge”. The question is can the T-TPLF handle the truth?
What exactly is the truth?
The truth can be expressed in the form of questions that all can answer.
How long can the T-TPLF go on lording over 100 million people as though it owns and operates a land of slaves?
How long can the T-TPLF maintain Ethiopia as a slave plantation where they are the masters and everyone else serfs?
How long can the T-TPLF go on displacing farmers from their land and plunging them into abject poverty?
How long can the T-TPLF evicting homeowners from their homes, driving out business owners from their businesses and desecrate churches and mosques to line its bottomless pockets?
How long can T-TPLF go on selling vast acreages of ancestral lands of the people to the Chinese, to the Indians, to the Saudis, to the Turks and others for literally pennies?
How long can the T-TPLF go on massacring young people exercising their constitutional right of peaceful protest?
How long can the T-TPLF go on silencing the voices of 100 million Ethiopians?
How long can the T-TPLF keep its boots on the necks of 100 million Ethiopians?
I say, not long!
In December 2015, I cannot predict the exact time and date the T-TPLF will fall in Ethiopia.
But the handwriting of its fall is on the wall.
No one could have predicted the fall of the hand that rocked the T-TPLF cradle in August (?) 2012.
The T-TPLF cradle too will fall.
It is not a question of “if” the T-TPLF will fall.
It is a question only of when.
“When” is that that gnawing and needling question that keeps up patriotic Ethiopians thinking about the nightmare that could follow the long night’s journey out of T-TPLF rule. (“Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetop, When the wind blows, the cradle will rock, When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, And down will come baby, cradle and all.”)
There is a windstorm of popular discontent, anger and rage blowing in Ethiopia.
When will the T-TPLF bough break facing this windstorm?
I cannot say, but I can say the breaking point has now passed.
It is a simple question of when the bough will snap!
When the T-TPLF bough snaps, down will come the empire of corruption, the evil empire, cradle and all.
In December 2015, things seem to be moving like mysterious bright object streaking across the night sky. Easy to spot but hard to identify and grasp.
Last week, it was not only protesting students who were the object of T-TPLF’s violence and fury.
The Voice of America reported police loyal to the T-TPLF opened fire on prisoners trapped in a burning prison in the northern part of the country. (Click here to see the video.)
That reminds me of the Kality Massacre of November 2, 2005, when the late Meles Zenawi authorized his troops to open fire on inmates at that prison massacring and injuring hundreds of inmates. (For the list of the names of massacred prisoners, click here.)
In November 1983, Herbert E. Meyer, Vice Chairman of the U.S. National Intelligence Council, made prescient observations about the factors that were likely to lead to the collapse of the USSR that I believe have special relevance to Ethiopia in December 2015.
Meyer wrote a Memorandum in which he argued the USSR had “failed utterly to become a country,” with “not one major nationality group that is content with the present, Russian-controlled arrangement.”
He found it “hard to imagine how the world’s last empire can survive into the twenty-first century except under highly favorable conditions of economics and demographics — conditions that do not, and will not, exist.”
Meyer declared, “The Soviet economy is heading toward calamity.” He said the “Soviet Union is a demographic nightmare.”
Meyer concluded, “The Soviet leadership simply cannot make the changes necessary to either reverse these trends or cope with them.”
In December 2015, I make essentially the same argument for Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is heading toward a political calamity.
Ethiopia has failed utterly to become a country under the T-TPLF.
In Ethiopia today, there is not one major nationality group that is content with the present, T-TPLF-controlled “ethnic federalism” arrangement.
For more than a quarter century, the T-TPLF has used the creed of “ethnic federalism” and divisive ethnic politics to cement itself into power. The T-TPLF has masterfully employed a strategy of fear, loathing and hatred to set one group of Ethiopians against another to cling to power.
The fact of the matter is that T-TPLF’s “ethnic federalism” is an elaborate scam intended to feed the illusion of autonomy to those in Ethiopia with historical political grievances while the T-TPLF cashes out their land to foreign speculators.
The T-TPLF “missionaries” gave the historically marginalized people of Ethiopia their scripture of “ethnic federalism” and today those people have “ethnic federalism” and the T-TPLF their ancestral and. The perfect scam!
For the past quarter of a century, the T-TPLF has been playing an elaborate shell game of “ethnic federalism” playing one ethnic group against another, dividing the country into disarticulated regions and antagonizing one religion against another.
For the past quarter of a century, the T-TPLF has played a shell game of phony political parties. Calling itself “EPRDF”, the T-TPLF wolf-in-sheep’s (I did not say hyena) clothing has pretended to be the guardian of the Ethiopian people.
The T-TPLF’s shell game of appealing to ethnic loyalty and inspiring ethnic fear and loathing no longer holds sway.
The TRUTH is the T-TPLF is overwhelmingly rejected by every ethnic group in Ethiopia, bar none!
The shell game jig is up; and the T-TPLF knows it.
The people of Ethiopia, after a quarter of a century, are coming to the realization that the ethnic divisions created for them by the T-TPLF have made each one of them losers and the T-TPLF perennial winners.
The T-TPLF is finding it increasingly difficult to impose its absolute will without getting a push back.
Today the students and the young people are pushing back.
But they are the leak in the dike (dam). The T-TPLF thinks it can stop the leak by using its trigger-finger and massacring student protesters.
What the T-TPLF fails to realize (is in denial about) is that behind the trickling flow of student discontent is a massive lake of fire stoked by massive popular frustration, anger, rage and outrage, resentment and bitterness.
When the T-TPLF bough snaps, the cradle of ethnic federalism will fall and the T-TPLF will be swept away into the dustbin of history.
The taskmasters of the international poverty pimps tell us that Ethiopia is a democracy after the T-TPLF declared it had won 100 percent of the seats in “parliament” in May 2015.
Even Barack Obama joined the chorus in July 2015 to insult our intelligence. He said the T-TPLF’s 100 percent (one hundred) election victory in May 2015 was democratic. I told Barack Obama to tell the truth about Ethiopia. George W. Bush lied about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Barack Obama lied about the T-TPLF’s election of mass distraction.
Ethiopia is heading towards a social calamity.
The burning question today in Ethiopia is FAMINE. The U.N. says at least 15 million Ethiopians will face famine in the first half of 2016.
The T-TPLF has clamped down on local and international press reporting on the calamity; and in collusion with its international poverty pimps and loaners and donors, they make convenient excuses. They say there is no famine; and if there is they insist on calling it “food insecurity”, “malnutrition”, etc.
The new fashion is to blame some “guy” called “El Nino” for causing the famine.
Last week, the VOA interviewed farmers in the famine stricken areas and reported the following statement made by local farmers:
The people are scared of talking about the famine and their hardship. They [the T-TPLF] hide information about the famine. They don’t talk about it at all. A person who talks about the famine is considered a criminal on the same level as one who committed murder. It is a crime. They jail people [for talking about the famine]. They beat people. They threaten people. The people are hungry. They are really hungry. Large numbers of people have nothing to eat. 4-5 ears of corn cost 10 birr…
The T-TPLF and its international poverty pimps are orchestrating a propaganda campaign to hide the truth about the FAMINE; and as thy lie through their teeth, millions of Ethiopians lie dead.
The T-TPLF does not want to use the “F” word.
In August 2008, the late T-TPLF leader told Time Magazine, “Famine has wreaked havoc in Ethiopia for so long, it would be stupid not to be sensitive to the risk of such things occurring. But there has not been a famine on our watch — emergencies, but no famines… [only] pockets of severe malnutrition in some districts.”
The T-TPLF and its international poverty pimps seek to clothe the naked famine engulfing 15 million Ethiopians with such harmless sounding words and phrases as “food shortages, food deficits,
malnutrition, food insecurity, and reduced agricultural output due to El Nino drought” and so on.
The latest effort is to call the Ethiopian FAMINE a “nutrition disaster”. Yes, “nutrition disaster”.
In September 2015, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned, “without a robust response supported by the international community, there is a high probability of a significant food insecurity and nutrition disaster.”
How low can the international poverty pimps stoop to torture the English language to avoid saying the “F” word! What the hell is a “nutrition disaster” anyway?
I have heard of “natural disasters” involving earthquakes and tsunamis resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and injury and displacement of millions of people.
Is a “nutrition disaster” the equivalent of a natural disaster for people who have no food?
Back in the day, “nutrition disasters” used to be called F-A-M-I-N-E.
Only the BBC dared to call the famine, FAMINE.
Ethiopia is heading toward economic calamity
The Ethiopian economy is heading toward calamity despite the lies, damned lies and statislies of the World Bank, the IMF, the USAID and all of the European and other loaners and donors that the Ethiopian economy has grown by 11 percent (excuse me, the World Bank in its November 2014 report said 10.9 percent) over the past 10 years.
I know for a fact that the international poverty pimps are convinced all Ethiopians are dumber than a box of rocks.
Why else would they lie, as in L-I-E through their teeth, to convince Ethiopian and the world that the Ethiopian economy is the “fastest” growing or “among the fastest” growing in the world?
For the past five years, the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHDI) Multidimensional Poverty Index of poverty and human development has ranked Ethiopia is as the second poorest country on the planet for the past five years.
The World Bank in its report a couple of weeks ago praised Ethiopia’s “remarkable economic growth” which it claimed “was concentrated in services and agriculture”. The report claimed:
Agricultural output increases were driven by strong yield growth and increases in area cultivated.
The factors associated with agricultural production growth include extension services, remoteness and farmer’s education. Recent agricultural growth is largely explained by high government spending on extension services, roads, education as well as favourable price incentives.
The “agricultural output increases driven by strong yield growth and increases in area cultivated” have produced a Harvest of FAMINE in 2015.
The T-TPLF leaders believe they can maintain themselves in power in a baksheesh state (beggar state) panhandling America, the European Union and China.
The fact of the matter is that the T-TPLF is a regime that cannot stay in power one day more but for the charity it gets from the donors and loaners.
Dambissa Moyo, the noted African economist and author of Dead Aid reports that, “in Ethiopia a whopping 97 percent of the government’s budget derives from foreign aid.”
What more can be said about a regime that is on permanent life support and kept alive with a ventilator of aid and loans?
The bottom line on Ethiopia was clearly stated by Global Financial Integrity: “The people of Ethiopia are being bled dry. No matter how hard they try to fight their way out of absolute destitution and poverty, they will be swimming upstream against the current of illicit capital leakage.”
Ethiopia is headed toward demographic calamity.
T-TPLF leaders always bray about a fantasy 10.9 percent economic growth over the past decade. I use the word “bray” advisedly.
But what the T-TPLF leaders are loathe to talk about is a little big 3 percent that will ultimately determine the survivability of the Ethiopia people.
Ethiopia’s population growth has been spiraling upwards for decades.
In 1967, the population was 23.5 million.
It increased to 51 million in 1990 and by 2003, it had reached 68 million.
In 2008, that number increased to 80 million.
In 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated Ethiopia’s population at 91 million.
Since 1995, the average annual rate of population growth has remained at over 3 percent.
In 2011, U.S. Census Bureau made the frightening prediction that Ethiopia’s population by 2050 will more than triple to 278 million.
By 2025, ten years from now, the U.S. Census Bureau projects Ethiopia will have 131 million people.
Ethiopia cannot feed 99 million people today.
It could not feed 87 million in 2010.
It could not feed 78 million people in 2006.
It could not feed 40 million people in 1984.
It could not feed 32 million people in 1974.
Pray tell, how the hell is Ethiopia going to feed 131 million people in 2025?
Ethiopia is heading at warp speed in the direction of a “Malthusian catastrophe” (where disease, starvation, war, etc. will reduce the population to the level of food production) in the foreseeable future.
In September 2010, the late T-TPLF leader, Meles Zenawi, pompously declared, “We have devised a plan which will enable us to produce surplus and be able to feed ourselves by 2015 without the need for food aid.” He also said by 2015 extreme poverty in Ethiopia will be cut by 50 percent along with hunger (“severe malnutrition”) consistent with the U.N. Millennium Development Goals.
What a crock of s**t!
The T-TPLF has no plan or program to deal with the explosive population growth, a Biblical famine facing 15 million Ethiopians or good governance.
The T-TPLF is headed towards calamity.
The T-TPLF tries to legitimate itself through its own conquest narrative of alleged military prowess, fabricated economic success, façade of political stability, etc.
The T-TPLF and its international poverty pimp allies try to put a kinder and gentler face on the T-TPLF and try to hide its hideous face with statistical lies about economic growth.
The T-TPLF is ready to display its bottom capacity for violence and repression.
But it seems the young people are saying, “We ain’t gonna take it no more!”
Denial of the truth is the hallmark of all dictatorships. The T-TPLF is no exception.
If there are immutable truths about all dictatorships, it is that they are willfully deaf, blind and dumb.
They are willfully deaf to the cries and tears of the people.
They are blind to the suffering of the poor, the famine-stricken and the powerless.
They play dumb about taking the necessary actions to address and redress the suffering of the people.
They convince themselves the people love them.
They try to convince the world they hold power because and they received 100 percent of the votes of the people.
They are crazy. Like a fox, that is.
In February 2011, at the onset of the Libyan Revolution, Moamar Gadaffi trumpeted to the world, “They love me. All my people with me, they love me. They will die to protect me, my people.”
He called the rebels fighting to oust him from power “rats and cockroaches”. He believed it was his birthright to rule Libya as “king of kings” and remained in total denial of his own doom until the bitter end in a sewer tunnel. The man who had played God in Libya for 42 years died a wimpy thug.
In the end, in an ironic twist of fate, Gadaffi was served poetic justice. He was trapped like a sewer rat and smashed like a cockroach as he begged for mercy: “Don’t shoot me!”
Long before Saddam, the Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini pontificated, “With every beat of my heart, I give service to the Italian people. I feel that all Italians understand and love me.”
Idi Amin Dada, the butcher of Uganda was less sentimental: “The people should love their leader!”; and if they don’t he had his own tough love methods to get the job done.
Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire would often chuckle and tell foreign correspondents that not only do his people love him, they want him to stay in power because the “people need me.”
Mengistu Hailemariam, the bloodthirsty military tyrant, claimed to have ruled with an iron fist out of patriotic duty and love of country. No doubt Mengistu loved Ethiopia to death, and proved it for seventeen years by massacring tens of thousands of Ethiopians wantonly.
In May 2010, the African thug extraordinaire, the late Meles Zenawi, in a victory speech, said he won the election by 99.6 percent because the Ethiopian people love his party and implicitly himself as the party leader. He said the people “consider themselves and the EPRDF [Zenawi’s party] as two sides of a coin” and “nothing can ever shake their unwavering support for our organization.” He returned the love by congratulating them for their “high sense of judgment and fairness” and for “giv[ing] us the mandate through your votes.”
In the final analysis, the T-TPLF’s problem is the same as the problem of the proverbial tiger rider who is afraid to dismount because of what will happen. For 25 years, the T-TPLF had the Ethiopian tiger by the tail and are scared to let go.
Let go they must. Let go they will.
The tiger is getting sick and tired of being ridden. When the the T-TPLF is forced to dismount, it will be looking at the sparkling eyes, gleaming teeth and pointy nails of one big hungry tiger!
I want the T-TPLF to think about an eternal truth spoken by Gandhi: “I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it–always.”
The T-TPLF will not escape this eternal truth.
A post-T-TPLF Ethiopia
I make my observation without malice to the T-TPLF and in the spirit of charity, civility, amity, community and authenticity.
I speak the truth as I see it. As I live it. As I feel it. As I think it. As I understand it.
I claim to speak for Ethiopia’s voiceless, powerless and hopeless. Yes, I am self-appointed, but with a deep sense of humility and service.
There is a way out of the nightmare created by the T-TPLF in Ethiopia.
The T-TPLF will not take that way.
The T-TPLF leadership, like the defunct Soviet leadership, simply cannot make the changes necessary to either reverse the calamities or cope with them.
But there is a way out.
It is a way of dialogue; a way of patriotic fervor; a way of community concern; a way of spiritual awakening.
It is a way that leads to light or perpetual darkness.
So the question written for us on the mirror, and on the wall for the T-TPLF, its supporters and cronies is: “What is to be done when the T-TPLF falls?”
The answer for the T-TPLF is easy. They will go to the dustbin of history kicking, screaming and scratching.
For me, a post-TPLF Ethiopia presents Shakespearean questions:
To be or not to be united for a common destiny, that is the question.
To continue on the road to perdition paved by the T-TPLF and drive off the cliff into self-destruction, that is the other question.
I am no fan of the T-TPLF. (Alright, I admit this is an understatement like no other I have made.)
I believe the T-TPLF can save itself by saving the Ethiopia it destroyed to save itself.
To save itself, the T-TPLF must tear down the Wall of Hate it has erected throughout Ethiopia in the name of “ethnic federlalism”.
I say, T-TPLF, “Tear down the walls of hate before the walls of hate collapse on you.”
I say, T-TPLF “Read the handwriting on the Wall of Fear behind which your leaders, cronies and supporters live.”
I say, T-TPLF “Read the handwriting on the Kilil Walls you have built to corral Ethiopians like cattle by tribe , ethnicity, religion, region, language, class, etc.
I say, T-TPLF “Read the handwriting on the walls of your villas behind which you have barricaded and imprisoned yourselves from the rest of the people.
I say, T-TPLF “Read the handwriting the Great Wall of Hate you have erected for the last quarter of a century from north to south and from east to west.
I say to the T-TPLF leaders, “Tear down the walls of hate before the walls of hate collapse on you.”
Perhaps I can preach to the T-TPLF in Biblical lore.
The walls of Jericho were strong, fortified and impregnable. There was not a might army that could tear down the walls of Jericho.
But the people did not raise arms to tear down the wall of Jericho. They people marched silently around for six days, and on the seventh, they shouted. Down came the walls of Jericho.
The T-TPLF wall will not fall by force of arms. It has amassed the implements of war and destruction in great numbers. It will get a limitless supply of the implements of war and destruction from China, America, Europe or wherever as much as it needs.
The T-TPLF wall will fall when the people together as one shout out from north to south and east to west, “Enough of tyranny! Enough of abuse of power! Enough of corruption! Enough of human rights violation! Enogh is enough!”
The T-TPLF wall will fall when the people are sick and tired of being sick and tired of the T-TPLF.
The T-TPLF wall will fall because the T-TPLF has lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the Ethiopian people.
There is no enduring strength in military might. There is no military might on earth that can defeat or contain the rage and outrage of a people who have been subjected to a long train of abuses, daily indignities and mistreatment.
The real strength of a nation, the real power of a government lies in its capacity to govern the hearts and minds of the people.
The future of Ethiopia does not lie in the actions, inactions or reactions of the T-TPLF or its cronies.
The future of Ethiopia lies in the hearts and minds of the young people and their passion for their country and their people, their desire to improve themselves; their dedication to uplift their brothers and sisters not only from poverty but also from moral bankruptcy.
Having said all I have said, I say the T-TPLF can avoid calamity.
It can avoid calamity by ensuring equality, by promoting unity, by encouraging fraternity, by institutionalizing civility and by forswearing brutality, barbarity and depravity.
The T-TPLF can avoid calamity and win the hearts and minds of the people of Ethiopia by practicing justice, by teaching fairness, by showing courage to do the right thing, by engaging in accountability, by using creativity, instead of brutality, to solve problems and by showing empathy, generosity, humility, magnanimity, sincerity and authenticity.
But there little time left for the T-TPLF to win the hearts and minds of the young people of Ethiopia. (Pardon me for focusing on the young people who represent 70 percent of all Ethiopians alive today.)
Perhaps the T-TPLF will understand the message more clearly coming from another soulmate of theirs from a different era who inflicted so much suffering on humanity: “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”
To be continued…
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