If you had concluded that the Diaspora had become a playground politics of chicken littles and vain popinjays, then you are in for a pleasant surprise.

By Dilwenberu Nega
Jan. 15 2009

One thing is undeniable. There was a time when a great section of the Ethiopian Diaspora was ‘abducted’ by a motley crew of chicken littles (doomsayers) and the vain popinjays (yeleylachew ebretegnotch) so much so that many were ‘vegetating’ in what psychologist regard as the Stockholm syndrome: a strange situation where hostages love their abusers. The answer to how on earth a handful of scholars and half-scholars succeeded in keeping a great majority of Ethiopian expatriates in Europe and America in hock to their flapdoodle anti-Ethiopia propaganda for unacceptably long period does not lie in rocket science, but in patterns of behaviour of the Ethiopian Diaspora.

One thing, too, is incontrovertible. Not every Ethiopian asylum seeker had left Ethiopia for political reasons, so when submitting one’s asylum application one had to feign a persecution of a sort otherwise their application will be denied. This state of affairs automatically places an Ethiopian asylum seeker at the mercy of these movers and shakers of hate politics whose sole aim is to use gullible Ethiopians abroad for the advancement of their egoistic machinations. Engineer Hailu Shawel’s recent observation of Diaspora politicians strikes a chord here: “To the vast majority of Ethiopians in the Diaspora, participation in politics is viewed as sweetening the rigours of their exiled lives.”

One thing, too, is incontestable. The Government’s pro-Diaspora policies coupled with improved programmes on ERTV have succeeded not only in wooing investors from the Diaspora, but it has emancipated a legion of Ethiopians from herd mentality which hitherto had kept them in bondage. By wearing proudly the ‘badge of reason’, as opposed to the ‘badge of hate,’ a growing number of Ethiopians have been sending a clear message to the avatars of hate politics: “We have claimed our inalienable right to be masters of our destiny by refusing to be the coolies for the destiny of others.”

That is why today one is able to feel the wind of change within the Ethiopian Diaspora blowing from Europe to America, from Africa to Australia. For instance, in 2007 the avatars of hate politics passed what laughingly became known as “The Shewakena Decree” (named after a vain popinjay, Fekade Shewakena) which ordered Ethiopians in the Homeland to stay indoors during the celebrations of the Ethiopian Millennium while Ethiopians Abroad were told not to head to Addis. Well, the Shewakena Decree, like the Al Mariam Decree, the Elias Kifle Decree and Wondimu Decree, to name but a few, proved to be like water behind a duck’s back.

Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin’s remark to visiting Ethiopian Diaspora who were in attendance at the special event organised by the Ethiopian Renaissance Association at Addis Ababa’s Millennium Hall, dealt a death blow to the wishes and aspirations of all who had been engaged in hoodwinking the Ethiopian Diaspora with an omelette of lies, speculations and fabrications. According to Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin, 19.000 Ethiopians have so far invested in projects worth 17 billion birr. What this indicates is that good-willed and patriotic Ethiopians had been turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the nonsensical warnings of not to head to Ethiopia by investing in Ethiopia at the rate of 1000 a year for the past nineteen consecutive years. While what has so far been achieved in engaging the Diaspora is commendable, the Government cannot afford to lie in past laurels alone. MoFA must be seen engineering ways and means whereby the Diaspora can effectively join in Ethiopia’s developmental gallop.

What had transpired at Addis Ababa’s Millennium Hall yesterday has made it evident beyond reasonable doubt that the cyber warriors and its vocal Diaspora must not be regarded as a microcosm of the Ethiopian Abroad.

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