A Candid Letter to Eskinder Nega
March. 07 2011
Having read your beautifully couched, but nonetheless desultory, “Open Letter to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi,” (Ethiomedia, 5th March 2011) I simply could not resist the temptation of writing an “A Candid Letter to you.” Nothing, of course, would have given me greater pleasure than to E-mail my letter to your favourite web-site, but if past experience with Ethiomedia is anything to go by, only articles high-lighting the decline and fall of Ethiopia are destined to pass The Editor’s stringent censorship. So do not be overly surprised if you see my letter appear on websites which never mix whatever opposition they may have of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s administration with their unconditional love to the Motherland.
I had been following your line of thinking from your now almost weekly contribution to the said website and like to give credit to your extraordinary ‘ability’ to juxtaposition Ethiopia alongside some Maghreb countries and Egypt. You might argue, of course, such is the stock-in-trade of yellow journalists. Responsible journalism, on the other hand, has everything to do with being fair and impartial. By the way tell me, if you will, Mr Know-it-all, do you consider yourself a journalist or a political activist? Like it or not, you cannot be both, for it runs against the grain of the very ethics of journalism from Addis Ababa Ethiopia to Alabama United States.
Do not get me wrong, I know that journalists are at liberty to take a political stand of their own, but where a gulf yawns is when – as you always do – their political stand torpedoes the ethos of responsible journalism. I am aware, too, of your Award Winning status, but please don’t allow this accolade to get into your head so much so that you end up concluding that you now have the licence to wear 2 hats: those of a journalist and a politician. You have to come to terms with the fact that you can’t have the cake and eat it.
Your open letter to the Prime Minister you, rather haphazardly, refer to the “message from the grass roots.” I never knew that you could use your accolade to make yourself an Ombudsman for Ethiopians. Or since when have you become an MP which is one other means of speaking on behalf of the people. It would then be an exercise in futility on your part if you claim to represent other than those grasping power-hungry hodgepodge groups of individuals who have “Regime change for breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner.” Who in his rightful mind would ask Eskinder Nega – the very journalist who heaps criticisms on the very Constitution which has bestowed on peoples, nations and nationalities freedom and liberties unheard of in the annals of Ethiopia – to represent their aspirations to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi?
That is what makes the gamut of your Open Letter a fairy tale story. On the other hand, however, unless and otherwise you were either not born or was somnambulating at the time when EPDRF started placing the building blocks of a democratic Ethiopia on the embers of the tyrannical rule of the Derg, you simply cannot afford not to give credit to Meles Zenawi-led EPDRF for salvaging our beloved Motherland from a former Yugoslavia-like disintegration. Why are you so allergic to celebrating our ethnic, religious and linguistic differences? Need we have to be like our pitiful neighbour and suffocate our differences in order to win you over?
Nothing is more pitiful than witness an Award Winning journalist and a highly ambitious one at that, to sink in to the league of veritable yellow journalists by bringing Meles’ better half, Azeb Mesfin, into the equation. Need I remind you that Azeb is a politician in her own right? While you and your gossip-mongering political bedfellows were sitting on your hands, not to say zombified, during Derg’s 17 Years of brutal tyranny, it was men and women Azeb’s mettle who had legged it to the Derg-free areas of northern Ethiopia to join the gallant EPDRF forces in order to emancipate Ethiopians from the iron-fisted rule of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam. The day you fail to appreciate this unalterable deed of our martyrs would be the day you turn ‘journalist’ Elias Kifle – a pathological liar.
Meles Zenawi is there by the will of the people and there he will remain to see through to fruition the raft of reforms lined up for the life time of this Parliament. Well, I or anybody else cannot stop you and your likes from indulging in a pipe-dream of trying to mug the will of the Ethiopian people as manifested during the 2010 National Elections. Having stated that, I do not make any attempt to brush aside the enormous socio-economic challenges facing the EPDRF government. I agree with you that inflation is hitting the worse off, but I would have thought that you were in far closer proximity than I to realise the various initiatives the Government continues to take in order to help consumers. Yes, there is corruption in Ethiopia – like there is corruption in UK’s House of Commons – but not only is corruption in Ethiopia not institutional, but friends and foes alike can vouchsafe for EPDRF’s the zero tolerance for the corrupt. You should never lose sight of the fact that EPDRF became the first party-in-power in Africa – if not in the world - to bring an incumbent prime minister and defence minister respectively before the law on corruption charges.
Last but certainly not least, I find your call for Meles to be nudged not by a principle, but rather by a despicable naked opportunism to please grasping power-hungry Diaspora.