A Comment on General Tsadkan and Professor Desta Asayehgn Reply
By Gudu Kassa
Tigrai Online, Ethiopian News, August 27, 2016
General Tadkan has written two articles which triggered discussions among the political active class as well as silent majority.
General Tadkan article attracted attention due to the timing and candidness of his proposal. It doesn’t matter who he was and who he is going to be but he has raised important points. That is the system is about to face it’s biggest challenge and it might let the country on fire while it collapse.
If this article was written about a year ago, many may have laughed as a doomsday prophet and no one would have given time and attention to engage with him. Prof Desta and many wrote not because the General proposal wrong but because everyone, including the ruling party recognise the danger ahead. So, there is no need to be scared by the General proposal or speculate on his motives.
Six months ago when the Oromia and Kemant protest start the government ignored the political messages and want to turn it in to an issue of lack of good governance. The military solution taken ends up in opening the roads to Addis Ababa but didn’t solve it. The students in Oromia continue to protest and through stone and the calm came when school and universities close. The problems were not addressed and as the school start in September the problem is going to escalate and may become a danger to the regime and maybe to the country. That is why there is a need for candid discussion to come-up with solution to avert the danger.
Why these problems arise?
Power corrupt; and absolute power corrupt absolutely. Everyone agrees EPRDF in the last 10 years have achieved absolute power and start to think like a ruling class. That is the problem.
TPLF we know used to walk among the people, live in the hut of peasants, live and listen to solve the problems. That is why TPLF was welcomed by the people in Tsegede for more than 40 years, 25 years ago in Wello, Semen Sewa, Welega, Harrar and Ogaden. Now as the power accumulate and opportunities gather around it began to see the people as it’s subject not as partners or masters. Like all ruling class it began to believe that it is ordained to rule. The Six million party members want to be feared than loved and using this fear factor began to rob and abuse low abiding citizen. Everyone who voiced his dissatisfaction was branded as anti-government and charged with anti-terrorist low. The government that released Legese Asfaw, Fisseha Desta etc began to hand over a life sentence on journalist like Eskender Nega for saying the Arab Spring might start in Ethiopia.
All these are the typical characteristics of governance when it began to see itself as a ruling class and the people place is to be ruled and not misbehave.
It began to import tinted glass Toyota Land Cruisers and hand over to the officials and cadres creating physical and psychological barriers with commoners and it ‘subjects.
Every official began to have 3 cars and three body guards to open the doors, do the wife shopping and take the kids to school and do the gardens.
The wealthy businessmen provide the blue label whiskies and the party and the enthronement continue like the emperor time at Sheraton. Of course the computation to build the biggest sky scarper began earnestly thinking that the subject have no power to question.
In fact government officials made the biggest mistake to chase absolute power and assume 100% control of the power.
It also used the educational system to indoctrinate the youth that are different along ethnic line, no reference to shared identities and shared destinies. In fact for 25 years the officials want to make the young generation angry that they were oppressed and they are the victim. Rather than creating an enlightened and confident generation hate was planted in the soles of young generation.
A generation that was told to be victimised are not fully grown. Anyone under the age of 30 was educated by the EPRDF ideology. These guys are now 70% of the population, with not job, hope, feeling inferior while looking at the luxury of their political leaders.
The new generation is around 70,000,000 and they feel discriminated and excluded. Whether it is real or imagined it makes no difference.
Now there are 25 million students in Ethiopia and close to 500,000 students in Universities who feel marginalized and looked down. These guys now see no hope and they do not care to set fire on the system.
Now as university and school open, the fire will burn faster. General Tadkan detaching himself from the ruling class 15 years ago had a chance to mix and work with ordinary people and were not seeing the people in tinted d glass 4x4.
He saw the danger coming and the power of the new generation against the older and old, overweight political aristocrats. He wants to show the danger coming but like Ate Haileselase ruling class no body want to listen.
This is not about Shabia, Egypt, OLF or Neftegna. This is uprising of highly ethicized young generation. Ethnic identity is a primarily identify due to the last 25 years indoctrination of 70 million kids knows only they are Oromo, Tigray, Amhara, Afar and Somali. No Ethiopia song to be played on OPDO controlled. The hats, T-Shirts, Scarf, weeding cloths, were made in the flag of regional Killels, and no Ethiopia is associated with the regions.
Now Burayu is their border, Tsegede is their land, Sebeta is their Badema. When these imaginary borders are violated it obvious that they have to rise up to defend their territory and identity like my feel about Badema, or my generation feel about Red sea, and Ogaden.
The identity politics has side effect and that is now here to burn everything that was built. The easy way out is to tone down division and preach a pan-Ethiopian identity and tell the young generation that we all are one people and boarders are created to make administration better not a Berlin wall.
Ethnic policy and division was meant to be a means to an end but now it became sacrosanct of EPRDF, something that cannot be talked about or criticised.
Like Mengistu, EPRDF is believing it's own propaganda and want to die by it. Look few Student Movement activist and MESON feed Mengistu Socialism and Communism as means but he beloved that is the alpha and omega of the world.
He believed in it and when Gorbachev, unlike Mengistu who can read, write and think realised it no more serving the interest of USSR to abandoned it, Mengistu became more Catholic than the pope to go to Moscow and make speech saying Gorbachove is reactionary (BeRaGe, Kelash). As we have read recently from classified document before his plane landed back in Addis the Russia Ambassador in Addis went to US embassy to tell the American that they give up and tell them they can do anything they like. USSR made it clear to the American Mengistu is no more their baby. If he had listened he could have been their Syria of today. As they say, the rest is history, Herman Cohen and Jimmy Carter took over to send him to Zimbabwe while Russia wasn’t interested to host him.
EPRDF once again repeating the mistake that Mengistu did. It is blaming everyone except it's sacrosanct ethnic and identity politics. Now the Oromo youth think their land is taken and resource robed, Tegede want an identity respected, Sidam has been asking to have their region separated from South to take Hawas with all it's implications, Konso identity committee has been asking for their region and 2 out of the 5 committee members were killed by Federal or regional authorises to make all the police, administrators and youth to fled to the jungle. Somali and Oromia had been fighting in boarders and Borena for long time and no solution has been provided. The Afar and Somali region has been fighting and the Somali have taken the entire Afar town on the right side of the road to port Djibouti, the towns like Adamitu, Gedamaiyu etc. The Federal Afar Minster and Melse have decided to be returned all these towns to Afar while Meles was still alive but now no one has a power to tell the Somali Leyu force to leave and return to old borders. The Tigraian speaking in Afar has been asking to return to Tigray region, Gedio and Gudge have been at each other throat and the Southern and Oromia officials cannot do anything except sprinkling water when clash start; the Anuak and Nuere tribes have been fighting and some still argue there was a coordinated genocide against Anuak.
So far it was suppressed through fear and bruit force. But the young generation wasn't strong enough to flex it's muscles. The old generation that grew up under one Ethiopia has passed away and it account less than 30% of the population. Now the feeling on being an Oromo, Amhara, Sidama, Afar and Tigray is burning in the heart of the young generation and they are not afraid to die for the motherland, border, land etc.
Twenty five years ago many including myself were arguing there is not an Amhara ethnic group. Thanks to EPRDF, sure it can be create who feel one for another, a collective psychology.
These are the dangers which we are shy away to talk loud. Tsadkan has seen the danger maybe he was an ordinary person like the rest of us who were not trying to create a tinted glass view of the masses. The danger is here and the way out is to sing the Ethiopian nationalism. Prof. Gelawdios Aray has written an article for starting a pan-Ethiopian agenda. That is the only thing that can dissolve the need to have boarders to fight for.
Guys, this is the reality of Ethiopia and denial is not going to help. Ate Haileselase was overthrown by students he had educated. He thought just educating was enough to make them his allies. No they didn't. A liberal education he prescribed created the revo generation. Now the TPLF education has created the Oromo identity, the Amhara identity and Konso identity etc. You cannot solve these questions with bullets. There want to be enough bullets and army to suppress it. This not the urban middle class uprising but a generation uprising to assert their ethnic pride by excluding the others.
General Tadkan has seen the danger coming because people are free to express their feeling to Tadkan than Samora. People surrounding the people in power tell them what the powerful people want to listen. No one dare to take the problem of TPLF to General Samora. So do not try to belittle what General Tadkan wrote. It is easy to be Azmare and sing to the powerful but that doesn't help the powerful rulers. Telling the truth to the power is difficult and it is that can help them see their short-coming and resolve the problems.
The solution is prescribed by Prof. Gelawios Aray on this forum. That is to tone down ethnic differences and talk about shared pan-Ethiopian agenda. Drop the dead ideology of ethnic identity to sing about shared destiny. Meles was pragmatist; he has changed from Albania Socialism and leader of MMLT to become a partner in with Gorge Bush and Tony Blair. I see him as pragmatic person to change his view and policy when it no more serves his goal. MMLT was formed through Congress but he didn't call a congress to kill it and engage in endless revolutionary debate with the fighters. The fighters were asking what happened to MMLT but he went on to creating a dynamic agenda to move them away from the question and potential issue of differences. That is called leadership. Now everyone is ready to fight over their boarders and identify. We either lead them to fight and die for their boarders or make it the boarder irrelevant by elevating them with shared pan-Ethiopian identity.
Hailemariam, Demeke and Debretion are not capable of coming with new idea like Meles. So look towards outside observers like General Tadkan to see the problem of the system about to crumble in a month or two when the University and School open. 25 millions school kids and 500,000 University students will not just seat in class. They will be out to throw stones and play with fire. Wise leadership will avoid crisis by listening to the generation and answering their concerns. Arrogant leadership trust its guns and bullets and fail down. To repeat myself, listen to independent and comforting voices, be agile to change and adopt. Don't become Chauvinistic, arrogant and believe in your invincible power. All ruling class fail not because they didn't do good things in their time but they believed they are ordained to rule. That is why I am supporting Gen. Tadkans suggestion and I share his fear and concern.
Meles saved TPLF from ending up being an eternal liberation front like the one in Latin America by ditching old thoughts and adopting a new idea which sometime happen to be the opposite. He was MMLT priest and he could have ended up like the Tamil Tiger and PKK of Kurdstan if he wants to die as MMLT. He made a U turn to be an ally to Neo-Liberals like George Bush government. This is called pragmatics not defeatist and Tsadkan as former leader can understand better.