Dawit Wolde Giorgis: from a quisling to a quixotic patriot
By Dilwenberu Nega
July 01 2009
Dear Comrade Dawit
I read, and re-read, your hagiography which had graced many Ethiopian opposition sites despite the fact that many of them espouse a no-nonsense editorial policy on brokering a deal with the wayward leadership of the State of Eritrea. Indeed, “The way forward for Ethiopia and Eritrea” not only laid bare the quisling behaviour you were so enamoured with under Derg, but had portrayed a quixotic Comrade Dawit trading as the good will ambassador to Shabia. Ethiopians, both at home and abroad, need no one, let alone a Comrade Dawit who was one of the movers and shakers of Derg’s disastrous policy toward Eritrea, to lecture them on the way out of a problem the worsening of which its genesis in the actions had taken by the government you were so proud to serve. Anyway, you can still take comfort from the fact that the fraternity of what an Ethiopian with a penchant for lexicography called “Kakitocrats” (former kaki-uniformed apparatchiks of the Derg) have as a result of your ‘inspiring’ article bestowed upon you the appellation of “Our Moses” – a nomenclature once reserved to your one-time political adversary, Kassa Kebede. That the Dawit Wolde Giorgis who authored such a brilliant expose as “Red Tears” could have come up with such a lousy “The way forward” after such a long gestation period is something that beggars belief.
It is a “Way Forward” that would not have a leg to stand on in the court of Ethiopian public opinion. That is why it has become important to high-light the flaws inherent in “Gedle Dawit Wolde Giorgis” – The Hagiography of Dawit Wolde Giorgis.”
I find it the height of ignorance on your part to claim that the genesis of both EPLF and ELF was to be found in the reign of the Derg. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the period 1974-1991 did, indeed, witness the Eritrean situation jumping from the frying pan into the fire. But your take of ELF and EPLF under Haile Selassie is flawed. Let me refresh your mind then by pointing out that it was during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie that the two liberation fronts were successful in making their presence known to the world: successive hijackings of Ethiopian Airlines, the bombing of an open public meeting in Acordat under the Governorship of Abiy Abebe, and the assassinations of Major General Teshome Ergetu and two Senior Advisors of the then Governor General of Eritrea, Asrat Kassa. We are then treated to you washing your eye with salt as you make an earnest attempt at jet-hosing us with naked lies. Forgetful of the fact that you became First Secretary of WPE of Eritrea at a time when that ‘province’ witnessed the highest concentration of Ethiopia’s mechanized army as well as the bulk of the Ethiopian Air Force, you still insist your “mission was to pacify Eritrea.” My learned Comrade, we have been taught that time is a great healer, but we haven’t heard the virtue in time being a great liar.
I also find it inconceivable that a wiseacre like you can conclude that “the major cause of the rebellion was the oppression of the population by successive governments in Addis Ababa.” One can visualise the grin on the face of your new-found mentor, Isaias Afewerki, when he reads this part of your way forward. The reasons, my good old Comrade, are all too familiar. From the day both ELF and EPLF went to the bush respectively, the messages that they were churning out was loud and clear: “The Eritrean Question is a Colonial Question.” Secondly, governance under Haile Selassie I was definitely pro Eritrea. In fact Haile Selassie used more carrots than sticks to curry favour with Eritreans. You name it, Haile Selassie did it to Eritreans from giving away his granddaughter to the son of the Balabat of Asmara, Dejazmatch Haregot Abay, to making sure that Eritrea was the first beneficiary of direct foreign investment to Ethiopia, not to mention, of course the egregious slippery slope the nation went by taking away the port of Assab from the Governorate of Wollo and passing it over to the Governorate of Eritrea. Far from being oppressed like the rest of Ethiopia, Eritreans under Haile Selassie enjoyed preferential treatment which at one point prompted a patriot from Gondar, Beteweded Adane, to ask the sovereign: “Would it have been better for us to have been a Banda, in order for Your Majesty to treat Gondares on par with Eritreans?”
I take my hats off for your willingness to accept the independence of Eritrea as fait accompli which is a far cry away from some of the choleric Diaspora’s ludicrous “India is our frontier” rouble-rousing. Where I tend to differ, and differ robustly, is for your belief that anything good can come out from a deal with a Shabia that is oppressing the very people it crows of emancipating. For a start the timing of the publication of your way forward suggests that it is part of Shabia’s conspiracy to curry favour with anti-EPDRF opposition groups who have come to agree with Shabia’s ultimate aim of replacing EPDRF with puppets-on-a-string ready and willing to convert Ethiopia into a vassal state of Eritrea. That is why we have been treated to a political soap opera: Isaias Afeweri’s charm offensive interviews, the sight of Ethiopian ‘hyper patriots’ boot-leaking Isaias Afeweki and becoming the lap dogs of Shabia.
The people of Ethiopia have never viewed Eritreans as enemies and will never view them as enemies. Their antagonistic contradictions remain with Shabia. Look here, I have never been privy at any time before or now to the views of the EPDRF Government, but from what I could discern from the various policy and press statements that have been made public, one thing strikes me most. The Ethiopian Government’s current attitude seems to have “What/who is good for Eritrea” as its fulcrum. And believe you me this is a viable policy. Pure commonsense tells you, does it not, that an Eritrean leadership which has relegated its nation to a pariah status cannot possibly be of good intention to Ethiopia no matter who the Ethiopian leader is. As a regular visitor to Asmara and as one credited for facilitating Elias Kifle and Sileshi Abate’s interview with the very man who ordered that Eritreans should not tune in to Ethiopian music, and worse of all, who in the past had repeatedly referred to Ethiopians as “Hadgi” – asinine, you would know better than I that Eritreans have never had it so bad.
Today, Eritrea, under the cruel and ably dictatorial Isaias is very much on the cusp of withering away. To add fuel to the fire, with half of its citizens on the run from torture, imprisonment and death, Isaias has the nerve to conspire against stable Ethiopia where the green shoots of democracy are definitely in evidence and where – unlike Eritrea we feel all the more secured in celebrating and not suffocating our ethnic differences. That’s why since the 1998 Ethio-Eritrean war and more so since Eritrea’s mortifying defeat in 2000, aiding and abetting anti-Ethiopia forces, including international terrorists, had become Isaias’s favourite past time.
This – like it or not – is the stark reality on the ground. Therefore, any deal with wayward, not to say mentally challenged, Isaias Afewerki is a sure fire formula of turning Ethiopia into a vassal state of Eritrea. The best bet for the Government of Ethiopia, is to hold ground until the people of Eritrea get a sigh of relief.
This brings with it my best wishes in your new-found quest to know the God you had rejected during your hey days.