Genet Mersha’s bigotry is a photo negative of the late Kinijit’s Tigreanophobia

Dilwenberu Nega
March 25 2010

We surely seem to be living in a very perplexing time. Everyone describable as an “intellectual” among Ethiopian expatriates has been living in a state of chronic discontent with the existing order for the past 19 years. Worse of all, they have been churning out a stream of articles unbecoming of their widely acknowledged academic excellence. The immediately striking thing about their scripts is their negative, querulous attitude, their complete lack at all times of any constructive suggestion. In almost all cases, there is little in them except blind or irresponsible carping of Ethiopia’s leadership. No one denies the intelligentsia’s inherent right to criticise the status quo, but when that right is misused or abused, the public has the right to turn its back on them. Ethiopians from all walks of life talk still remember with deep bitterness how they were betrayed by a galaxy of Russophile and Francophile Ethiopian intellectuals of the Derg era. More recently, in the midst of that hurly-burly of Election 2005, the Ethiopian public, perhaps too prematurely, accorded ‘sainthood’ to the Doyen of Ethiopia’s intelligentsia and the Methuselah of contemporary Ethiopian politics Professor of Geography, Mesfin Wolde-Mariam. When the public realised that the Professor’s much acclaimed navigation skills had led them to unwarranted death and destruction, the public turned their back on Mesfin. Today the good old Professor is left to wallow in his sorrows. The lesson is loud and clear. Ethiopia’s elite cannot and must not take the people’s support for granted.

Out there, then, a galaxy away from the physical world where Ethiopians coexist peacefully by celebrating, and not suffocating, their ethnic, cultural and religious differences live a cluster of Ethiopian popinjays. These confused and confounded liberal democrats would leave no stone unturned to be conduit to interest groups whose declared aim and goal is the broadening of the horizons of liberal democracy in Africa. It surely must be a barmy idea, is it not, for Ethiopia to embrace liberal democracy which today is responsible for much of the turmoil in the global economy?

One of the luminaries of the Ethiopian cognoscenti in the Diaspora is Genet Mersha whose flighty and incendiary “Ethiopia – The People vs TPLF-Tigre, Addis Ababa Scale Up Defiance” ( is nothing more than a photo negative of the late Kinijit’s Tigreanophobia. Genet and men and women of her ilk never seem to suffer from a dearth of apocalyptic prescriptions for Ethiopia. According to their ‘reliable’ predictions, then, if Ethiopia escapes a cataclysmic ethnic inferno in June, then September would be the final. Folks, just how many Junes and Septembers have we encountered, only to discover that the revamped union of free and equal nations, nationalities and peoples has never been stronger?

It must, therefore, be an unfortunate state of affairs, is it not, to see our own brothers and sisters gripped by a diabolical sense of doom and gloom predictions for our motherland? Lobbying for the stoppage of aid to Ethiopia in the corridors of power the Britain, the European Union and the US State Department is one thing. But to try and cut a wedge between ethnic populations with intent to cause Ethiopia to turn into an ethnic bonfire is bigotry gone hay-wire. And that is precisely what Genet Meresha tried to do in her recent oxymoron-riddled article. It is when one finds oneself in the unfortunate position of reading Genet’s barmy ideas that one is tempted to ask oneself if the English novelist Evelyn Waugh was predicting the wayward behaviour of the Genet Mershas’ of planet earth when he made that inspiring comment: “The human mind is inspired enough when it comes to inventing horrors, it is when it tries to invent a heaven that it shows itself cloddish.” The fulcrum of Genet’s argument hinges on the ludicrous notion that not only has nothing changed in Ethiopia over the last 19 years, but nothing will ever change unless the will of the majority is torpedoed by foreign nudged takeover binge.

To give credence to her argument, Genet swings from making a racist slur against Tigreans to making unsubstantiated accusations on the continuing electoral process. Her perfervid anti-Tigreanism pushes her so hard that she just stopped short from equating Tigreans with the German Herrenvolk (‘master race’ or ‘aristocratic race’). The question of all questions would then have to be, why has she now opted to wear her ethnic hat? The answer is to be found in the prevailing conditions of Ethiopia as well as the hidden agenda of those factotums of foreign agents whose determination it is to impose their brand of tried and failed liberalism on Ethiopian society. The fact that Ethiopia has adopted a free range and an evolving democracy all on her own, as opposed to having it DHLed from London, Paris or Washington, has caused great envy amongst foreign NGOs who had wrongly concluded that Africans are not capable of giving birth to and parenting democracy without the guardianship of outlandish interest groups. Much to the chagrin of these self-righteous groups, Ethiopia, is witnessed making great headway in building democratic institutions in tandem with making significant inroads in slaying abject poverty. Such a positive portrayal of Ethiopia has, therefore, become a nightmare scenario for all those who wish Ethiopia to perpetually remain shorthand for famine and poverty.

Genet then goes on to brazenly cut a wedge between the people of Tigrai and TPLF, oblivious, of course, to the fact that come what may every Tigrean views the TPLF as the embodiment of their aspirations. Skirmishes and fall-outs are a common phenomenon in politics, but for Genet to view Siye Abreha’s expulsion from the TPLF as being an act against the will of Tigreans is frankly the line of thinking of someone in a rush to Addis Ababa’s Amanuel Hospital. Nothing, however, exhibits her total divorce from the objective reality in Ethiopia than her attempt to give pride of place to Medrek’s recent barnstorming in various parts of Tigrai. On the one hand she accuses the EPDRF Government for its iron-fisted policy towards Medrek, only to inform us in the very same sentence that large crowds were present at Medrek’s rally in Tigrai. This is oxymoron par excellence for you! How is it that EPDRF’s iron-fisted election process could possibly allow the gathering of thousands at Medrek’s rally? Here again, her reportage is peppered with unmitigated lies. The website Abugida has, fortunately, furnished netters with a number of photos of the meeting, and most damaging to Genet Mersha’s credibility, Siye Abreha’s unabridged speech has been made public at the same website. Not only are there not in the whole of the Regional State of Tigrai function halls with a capacity for the sort of numbers Genet claim to have attended the rally, what the pictures show are of audiences not exceeding than 300-400. Nowhere in his speech did Siye Abreha make any mention about “the real reasons for his expulsions from the TPLF.”

Genet then continues to overegg the done and dusted case of Arena’s Aregawi G. Yohannes, by intentionally implicating the ruling party to his death after a brawl in a pub. Her determinations to portray EPDRF as out of touch and as having no popular support in Ethiopia knows any metes and bounds. She is trying to pull wool over our eyes by demeaning EPDRF’s performance at the multi-party TV debates. The whole world knows that EPDRF outwitted the opposition parties by its analytical presentations and by making it clear to Ethiopians that voting for EPDRF is voting for sustainable development, durable peace evolving democracy. By contrast Ethiopia’s goulash opposition parties had badly failed to offer voters alternative programs. In less than 8 weeks, the people of Ethiopia will be giving their verdict on who should lead Ethiopia for the next 5years. If we had a reliable pollster in Ethiopia today, if not a tsunami a landslide would be the predictable outcome to the party that has set free Ethiopia from the grip of brutal dictatorship, and yet refuses to rest on past laurels alone, and is, instead, ploughing ahead with gusto to place Ethiopia in the league of middle income countries of the world.

The most laughable aspect of Genet’s script is when she tries to hoodwink us with her story that the month of March 2010 has proved to be a bad month for EPDRF, and when she tries to take the mike out of Meles Zenawi’s oratorical skills. Let’s examine each of her allegations separately. Was March really a bad month for EPDRF? In politics, like in all socio-economic interactions, bad is something that is relative. But the defining character of something going bad is if something fails to go according to plan. In this case, events in Ethiopia were going according to EPDRF’s plan whereby voters’ registration was completed with 29 million Ethiopians in March; the flaws and black holes in opposition parties’ manifesto gave EPDRF an edge over the rest in March and it was in March that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi basked in yet another round of rise-and-shine opportunity when he was asked to co-chair with Britain’s Gordon Brown the Climate Finance Group. It is true that the month also saw the allegation of aid money being siphoned off by the TPLF, but everyone has now come to understand that this was nothing more than the giving vent to pent-up feelings of anger and resentment by a former TPLF leader who, having been thrown out from TPLF, gave himself up to the Derg which was mowing down the people of Tigrai faster than the then famine.

Meles Zeanwi’s communication skills both in Amharic and English are acclaimed widely by even his harsh critics, yet here is our vain popinjay describing it as “guttery”; wholly unaware, of course, that her script itself is replete with billingsgate and guttersnipe dialect. The speech which prompted Genet to unleash her ferocious diatribe against the Prime Minister was Meles Zenawi’s “Sift the chaff from the wheat” speech at Mekele on the 35th Birthday of TPLF which, in point of fact, has its origin in the parables of Jesus Christ (Mathew 13:24).

So, as I hope you are able to see clearly, Genet Meresha has failed and failed miserably on all accounts to win hearts and minds. But by way of consolation, she is absolutely free to take her script like bread and circuses (things intended to keep people happy and to divert their attention from problems) for a toxic Diaspora that currently finds itself in the doldrums because everything that they had strived for be it arm locking Meles or buying their way to the Menelik palace has gone awry.