How come EPRDF finds itself in a continuous state of Clear and Present Danger nearly three decades after it had come to power?
By Samuel Estefanous
Tigrai Online, Feb. 20, 2018
When I was you younger…. I mean much younger, I’d read an aptly summarized critique of the state of political instability across the width and breadth of Africa. It was one of the darkest hours of the African Continent.
In those days the streets of Monrovia were literally clogged with the charred remains of human beings, the specter of the Rwandan genocide was fresh in our minds and haunting us every single blessed day, Nigeria was busy hanging its poet laureates, Eritrea and Ethiopia were engaged in a brutal senseless bloody war that claimed the lives of tens of thousands of cousins on both sides. While the rest of the world was riding the waves of unprecedented economic growth, the IMF prescription drug christened structural adjustment-SAP- was wreaking havoc with Africa’s economy. Fittingly, the popular music of the day scored for the tragedy was Femi Kuti’s Bang! Bang! Bang! A disgusting lecherous gutter din!
It was in the middle of this continental chaos that a sober mind wrote a simple yet tantalizing; indeed sobering essay under a title herein above in captioned. I remember the entire segment of the title reads something like- “When chaos is the order of the day, clamorous music is the deity’s chief instrument.”
These days we are witnessing what looks like to be a certain prelude to indulge in some deadly chaos of historical magnitude looming around the horizon. Unless we do something extraordinary to avert the eminent tragedy, the consequences are so dire and will become an ugly stain on our generation irrespective of our respective loyalty to this or that group. This monstrous tide of destruction is accompanied by the typical gutter din being echoed from all alleys. The level of noise pollution being emitted from the social media, the cable news networks and FM radios is deafening us. Disoriented home bred soccer pundits cum fans- not to mention clueless vocalists with zero trace of talent- are poisoning the air waves and are beating the hell out of each other over a phantom called soccer. Add to that the monotonous endless soliloquies of EPRDF’s cadres that never cease to irritate us in one way or another.
It is so unfortunate that we should find ourselves in the middle of this collective madness enmeshed in aberrations of all sorts where at the end of the day everybody stands to lose…
How did we end up here?
1-Appealing to the weak or strong link in human nature.
I am not going to lie about it. Ethnicity and Religion do have an eerie magnetism as well as unparalleled, unmatched albeit phenomenally blind appeal. It comes in different forms-both evil and benign.
Here is a simple example, every time I hear of a Westerner of Arab origin who had made a good name for himself, I got this weakness to go to ‘unnecessary’ great length to find out and establish if he or she is of Christian origin. In fact, the only time I was ‘disappointed’ was when I’d read written in bold letters that Steve Jobs was of an Arab- Muslim origin. Now this is a harmless sociological indulgence, ‘cos for a starter I am black African and secondly I hardly subscribe to any organized faith, yet if I were a Muslim from the heart of Africa and sold all my possessions to join the Levant monsters in Syria in their effort to dislodge all Christians from the Holy Land or if I tried to advance the causes the infamous LRA- that is evil writ large. This tendency has its roots in ignorance and a primitive sense of herd mentality that has escaped the wrath of evolution by natural selection.
Again if my heart is breaking in to million pieces on account of the woes that befell the Rohingyas and if I do my little bit of denouncing the Burmese military junta, I am being the best I know I am capable of. That is God’s little voice in my head clamoring to be heard. That is the little bit of the warm spirit of the ‘Salvator Mundi’ in my soul, that is the wee bit of the benevolence of the ‘Messenger of God’ in my soul. This comes with conscious effort, awareness and knowledge.
You see, that is basically and fundamentally the principal theme of the Interfaith Conference which had been conducted here in Addis a couple of days ago. On the other hand, there is that fear blinded monster lurking in our gut that tries to shut our rational inclinations and urge us to ‘cut and plunder’ left and right with eyes tight shut. As a matter of fact that was what Hitler had famously told his Generals-shut thy heart to pity and reason, gentlemen!
Looks like to me- in a mysterious way- God gives us the free will to pick our better choice. Are we going to let the mean spirited libelous war of attrition to render us incapable of cherishing our common heritage? Are we going to carelessly jettison the precious bonds that harmonize us beautifully and allow ourselves to be herded like cattle?
Or are we going to celebrate humanity in a warm spirit of brotherhood holding high the age old principles of liberté, égalité, fraternité and join hands in a collective, single minded effort to avoid what the opening preamble of the UN Charter describes as a common goal- to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind?
We, Ethiopians are in a historically unique position to sort out our better choices considering the fact that, we have had the raw courage to play the classical game of “Truth or Dare” in the context briefly summarized above.
2-Did EPRDF aim for the bull’s eye?
Recently TOL has featured an interesting article by Ghelawdious Araya, Ph.D. in which the author has narrated his effort to fight the demons of the sidekicks of growing ethnic consciousness, beginning from two decades ago. I’d mulled over the following for hours- he had written-
“The TGE policy of Kilil and self-determination is commendable, but the consequence of fragmentation as a result of new wave of ethnic political consciousness, and the inability of some minority nationalities to become economically and politically viable would ultimately preoccupy Ethiopians to otherwise unforeseen problem.”
You know why I perused the paragraph with care and deliberation? It’d made me reach back in to the recesses of my mind to remember similar fears echoed by strings of Bahru Zewde’s Pioneers of Change. Haleka Taye, Negaderas Bykedagn, Hiruy, Waldegiorgis etc had all singled out the ethnic diversity of Ethiopians as a ‘wreck waiting to happen’ and had made some good and some crude suggestions as to how to manage it as enlightenment was hitting the hitherto reclusive Kingdom of Ethiopia. Folks make me smile every time they try to depict a rosy picture of Ethiopia where ‘ethnicity’ never mattered. It has always mattered. Even our monks at Der Sultan were known to give it ugly prominence albeit being in so close proximity to the Holy Sepulcher.
As a matter of fact every successive regime in Ethiopia has tried to concoct a magic solution that could answer the question ‘once and for all time’. Incidentally, in hindsight, I think the Derge had done some good stuff in this regard.
As to EPRDF, say what you gotta say, but its raw courage to make a science out of a proven prejudice is in a way a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. I know- and with good reason, too- some folks say, race and religion should never be allowed to have an unmitigated field day anywhere on the face of mother earth. But considering the fact that at the time there were more than two dozen armed opposition groups organized to protect, advance and die for an exclusive ethnic cause, was EPRDF in a position to wax seal their demands and return the post unread?
Especially considering the fact that it’s very first manifesto ‘entices’ them to take to arms to liberate themselves from the ‘yoke’ of the collective identity presumably forced on them under successive regimes? I have always believed as the forces of EPRDF were advancing to the heart of the Nation, they must have had a sinking feeling in their guts on account of unwittingly and ironically becoming the sole custodians of the Unity and Territorial Integrity of the State of Ethiopia.
3-Clear and Present Danger-Implications
I keep asking myself, how come EPRDF finds itself in a continuous state of Clear and Present Danger nearly three decades after it had come to power? I hate to speculate on the real and actual reasons; just the same ‘something has gotta give’ as the ferenjis say. EPRDF used to have a neat track record of ‘managing crisis’ without revealing its weak spots but this time around it is kinda blankly staring back at us unable to make head or tail of the unfortunate incidents that has thrown us three decades back.
In a way it is a good thing the incumbent is ‘blankly staring back’ at us. It is a silent appeal for help. For the good of the Nation, we should all in good faith and un stingily give it all the help and guidance it needs.
Let all voices be heard. Is there any alternative middle course that binds us without forcing us to lose our identity? At one time in one of his inspiring moments, the late Premier had intimated that-ethnic (language) Federalism isn’t an ideal choice but under the circumstances it had become an only choice and that EPRDF couldn’t do otherwise. We cannot keep sealing up persistent ethnic questions the way past regimes did-let all voices be heard-he had noted. Perhaps it is time to heed that advice. May be it is high time we begin considering other choices in good earnest.
Indeed, FOR THE GOOD OF THE NATION, let us not hold back and act in utmost good faith, because there seems to be no charismatic benevolent strong man or government to screen our collective ‘gemena’. Let us act responsibly. The time to blindly denigrate and demonize is gone. Our fates are now in our own respective hands as my idol Dr. Ellen Gebremdhin had wrote on her Facebook timeline.