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A retort to Mwaura Samora’s article ‘Kenya can’t, won’t be Ethiopia

By Berhane Kahsay
Tigrai Online, April 18, 2015

Kenyan woman mourns after the gunmen attacked Garissa University College
Uninformed Kenyan Journalist Mwaura Samora said Ethiopia succeeded preventing Nairobi type atrocities because Ethiopia is a one party state. We think it has to do with the superb high quality training or our security forces and the seamless coordinated working relationship of the Ethiopian public with the gallant Ethiopian security.

Early last week Aiga forum posted an article in relation to Al-Shebab’s violence in Kenya which was authored by Mr Mwaura Samora and appeared on the Nairobi based Standard Digital on 10th April. In his bizarre and amusing piece, the journalist evaluated Ethiopia and Kenya with regard to their dealings with Al-Shebab and came up with the most uproarious conclusion. Mr Samora audaciously stated that Ethiopia has succeed in preventing Nairobi type atrocities because the country happens to be a one party state, whereas Kenya’s failure has been attributed to the existence of a multi-party political system which he foolishly believes made her vulnerable to frequent terrorist attacks.

Furthermore, Mr Samora brazenly averred that Ethiopia practices a strict brand of Socialism and that the opposition are referred to as chauvinists, narrow nationalists, secessionists or enemies. The journalist went on to say that the government controls people’s daily lives; detains journalists without trail; arms Kebele members and allows them to control neighbourhood security, and that killochs are ruled by tribal councils. Mr Samora even resuscitated the 2005 general election to make the point that ‘tens of protesters were shot dead in the street of Addis Ababa.’ Kenyans are quite rightly questioning as to why Ethiopia has been successful in its struggle against the militants but not their country; Mr Samora has come up with these outrageous explanations to console and deflect his people from hurling their anger at their corrupt, ineffective and inept leaders. It was also clear from the article that his other mission was to stem the exodus of investors from Kenya to Ethiopia as a result of the chronic security problems by spreading wrong information about the Horn nation.           

Obviously, the Kenyan journalist has very limited knowledge about Ethiopia and what can be surmised from this is that he must have come into close contact with some disloyal extremist Diasporas ,politically motivated NGOs and ‘Freedom House’ who have been working in tandem to derail Ethiopia’s successful economic trajectory by spreading wrong information. Ethiopia operates a successful mixed economy which has precipitated decades long double-digit growth, and the suggestion that the country follows a centrally commanded socialist economy is simply a figment of Mr Samora’s imagination. It is quite true that key strategic industries such telecommunication, water, banking, power generation etc, which have been generating huge amount of revenues for the GTP are still under state control and will remain so for the foreseeable future. The other point that should be brought to the attention of the journalist is that, Ethiopia’s economy is benefiting a cross section of the populace whereas in Kenya the economy is dominated by the minority Indians who disgracefully look down on his fellow compatriots. 

Ethiopia’s vigilance and hard work have so far prevented Al-Shebab from committing atrocities in the metropolis and major cities and towns of the country. There are many factors that have made this possible and among them being the existence of modern internal and external security establishments who have succeeded in obtaining intelligence materials that have made it hard for Al-shebab to strike at the heart of the AU capital. Frustrating the terror group would not have been feasible without the full participation of Ethio-Somalis who have benefited immensely from the current federal system that was introduced in the early 90s. They now consider themselves as proud Ethiopians which was not the case during the previous repressive regimes that denied their rights and treated them with utter disdain. In 2013, the 8th Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ day was celebrated in Jigjiga which was not very far from Al-Shebab’s backyard but not a single incident was reported indicating how things have been made difficult for the terror group to commit violence in Ethiopia which has managed to severely damage and restrict the activities of the Islamist group more than its troubled neighbour, Kenya.        

Somalis born and brought up in Kenya are considered as second class citizens and the merciless Al-Shebab is tapping on the blatant discrimination that has enabled the terror organisation to recruit members from within and use them to perpetuate heinous crimes with impunity. It is pretty certain that the Kenyan intelligence services could not succeed in their fight against the militant Islamists without the full involvement of the Somali community. Kenya does not seem to have a strategy to combat terrorism and simply reacts to outrageous events such as the Garissa and Westgate shopping mall massacres. The politicians tend to be in the habit of taking measures on the hoof and these invariably tend to swell the ranks of Al-Shebab . An instance of this was the recent statement made by the Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto who threatened to close a refugee camp in Dadaab that hosts 350,000 refugees within three months. Ethiopia on the other hand treats the 245,346 mainland Somali refugees in its territory with utmost dignity thereby preventing Al-Shebab from using the various camps as its recruitment and hiding hubs.

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It is simply non-sense and simplistic for Mr Samora to suggest that Ethiopia’s success against the militant Islamists was as a result of its intolerant political system that prohibits differing opinions and controls people’s daily lives. Ethiopia has a nascent democracy but no one is claiming for one moment that abuses and injustices have not been committed in the country. But it is disingenuous for the journalist to classify Kenya as a matured democracy when it was only seven years ago that 1,200 people were hacked to death as result of the disputed elections that took place between Kibaki and Odinga. The current President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, is among the six high profile Kenyans accused of orchestrating the violence during the fateful election. Thanks to the likes Ethiopia, the International Criminal Court prosecutors have now withdrawn charges of crimes against humanity labelled against Uhuru Kenyatta. 

China was a victim of terrorism in October 2013 and August 2014 which resulted in the death of its citizens and it is utterly mind boggling for Mr Samora to suggest that only monolithic countries have been successful in their fight against terrorism. Ethiopia which he considers as undemocratic has also suffered at the hands of proscribed groups such as OLF and al-ittihad al-islami who were involved in planting bombs in public areas and assassination attempt of government officials. Ethiopia has learnt from these horrific experiences and seems to have avoided the Nairobi and Garissa type massacres.

Mr Samora ought to focus on his own country and stop looking elsewhere for an explanation to Kenya’s problems with the Islamist militant. We suggest a mission to Ethiopia by Kenyan government officials to acquire lessons on how to combat Al-Shebab, and to witness the treatment of Ethio-Somalis and refugees from mainland Somalia. It would also be a good opportunity for the Kenyan security personnels which he claimed are ‘money-driven willing to sell their motherland for less than thirty pieces of silver’ to come to Ethiopia that has become  the 4th largest economy in Sub-Sahara Africa in a short space of time and to experience first-hand the people’s independence , resilience and powerful patriotism. Not bad for a country that has been labelled as ‘authoritarian’ and ‘socialist’ by a worthless and ill-informed journalist desperately searching for a cure to the massacres perpetrated by the Al-Qaeda affiliated  Al-Shebab.  Thank God ‘Ethiopia can’t, won’t be Kenya.’

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