New Ethiopia, old politics? Which square do you belong to?

By Gidoen Bahtemariam
March. 09 2011

Ethiopia as a nation has been around for thousands of years. This nation can be found in the many historical annals of the world. In these historical annals Ethiopia is described a nation of great economic and military power. Unfortunately this cannot be said about modern Ethiopia. In the past couple centuries Ethiopia has been plagued with countless tragedies. These tragedies have made Ethiopia one of the poorest countries in the world. On this article, I will try to dive into the complicated nature of Ethiopian politics. Most of us Ethiopians may not agree on one political theory, but by reading at the political discourse in the Diaspora, and political realities in Ethiopia, it is clear that Ethiopian political divide is elite verse the peasantry. Under EPRDF leadership, Ethiopia is trying to open a road to development, ethnic harmony, and political stability. On the other hand, western based Ethiopian elites are trying everything on their power to high jack the train of development that has been engineered by EPRDF?. The question is who is succeeding? Who will win at the end? Which square posses the true ideals of the people? EPRDF Mesqel square or Diaspora elite based dream, Mesqel square?

The origins of EPRDF Revolution
Why did we have EPRDF? What is the origin of EPRDF revolution? If you asked these questions to our Diaspora political gurus, they will dismiss your question with an arrogant reply. Our Diaspora political gurus such as Al Mariam and others will never take the time to understand the origins of EPRDF for good or worst. In order to understand the source of EPRDF revolution, we must remind our readers some of the tragedies that occurred in Tigre, and the rest of Ethiopia.

I ask readers, and those who are interested in history, what was life in Tigray like, and how did people live thirty five years ago? Unfortunately, I can provide some answers to those questions. I was born in one Tigrean village. Growing up as kid in Tigray can be called hell. People were dying from left to right. At times our parents looked up straight at our eyes, and told us they have nothing to provide for us. We the children looked at our parents sad eyes, and that was our dinner. Sometimes our neighbors were kind enough to share the small meal that they had. It was during this time TPLF the roots of EPRDF was born. People like me who were the children of the peasant saw the injustice that our society was enduring. When we reached college, most of us could not concentrate on study.

On my part as the vivid memory of my people suffering crossed my mind; I could not concentrate on study. Few years after I entered Addis Ababa University, I dropped out, and started searching for a solution for my people misery. I tried to start a none profit organization to organize food drive for Tigray and other things. As I started to meet other Tigrean students, I realized we both were suffering the same mental break down. We just could not study, while we knew our families were dying of hunger. Ladies and gentleman, this is how TPLF started. It started not because of shaebias clever design, it started because poverty was grinding Tigray. It started, because Tigray was left to die of hunger. A proud people were told that you must learn to live on eternal poverty and shame. Our diet became shame, and the outcome was uncontrollable anger and resentment. Those reasons convinced Tigrean people to chose death than accept shame and poverty for eternity. The intensity of our anger was the most lethal weapon against the Derge regime. Unfortunately the economic condition in Amhara, Oromia, Gurage, Somali, Afar, was not any different than Tigray. This meant, that been part of the great nation of Ethiopia had huge price. The price was death, poverty, and illiteracy. Those conditions created many rebel organizations that cumulated into the creation of EPRDF.

EPRDF is an organization that belong to the peasant
Without a doubt in my mind EPRDF was a peasant revolution that destroyed a system of government that believed in “united we starve”. Under united we starve, there were few elite children who were thriving in Addis Aeba. Those of us who came from the country side cannot focus on our study. Those who were born in Addis did not understand the true reality of Ethiopia. They believed the whole Ethiopia was as prosperous as Addis Ababa city. When we privately cried about our sisters who were starving to death, our Addis Ababa born Ethiopians were calling us traitors. When we want to yell for help loud so that we can be understood, nobody was willing to listen. EPRDF was created during those terrible times.

In 1991, the managers of “united we starve” were destroyed, and a new order was placed. The new order of the day says, “Ethiopia belongs for all Ethiopians regardless of their education, or region”. Since EPRDF is a peasant revolution, a conscious effort to improve the lot of the peasant has been implemented. Today’s peasant has a much different reality than he had decades ago. Today’s peasant is empowered to educate his children. Today’s peasant has access to clean water, electricity, and roads to the city. Today’s peasant is not kept in the dark. Today’s peasant has a cell phone, and can travel to the city too. Without a doubt these powers that the peasant has gained are due to EPRDF policy. For that reason, the peasant and EPRDF have a great bond.

Peasant and ERDF bond and democracy
Therefore, the road to a true form of democracy is been cultivated by EPRDF and the peasant. The peasant and ERPDF are working hard day and night to plant the seeds of political and economical development, which will enable Ethiopians to be proud of their nation. Forty years ago, Ethiopian provinces and ethnic groups were ashamed to be part of Ethiopia. The different provinces of Ethiopia, felt that Ethiopia had nothing to offer to them other than poverty and dictatorship. EPRDF and the peasant are trying to create an Ethiopia, where every citizen of the nation feels proud to be part of the Ethiopian family. As the road of peace, poverty, and literacy is paved, a strong democratic Ethiopia will blossom. For these reasons EPRDF has become the party of the majority, and the whines of the west are the party of the minority.

The Minority quest to portray EPRDF as a minority party
Contrary to the Diaspora democratic guru’s argument that EPRDF is a minority party, EPRDF in fact is the party of the majority. The Diaspora politicians and others could not swallow this fact. They know that without the backing of the peasant, they cannot win any election, weather it is monitored by the USA, Russia, China, Canada, or Europe or UFOS. The peasant population in Ethiopia does not trust Ethiopians who earned PHD and run to pursue better opportunities abroad. Ethiopian peasant does not have a common back ground with a PHD Ethiopian in the Diaspora. An Ethiopian democratic guru based in the western world does not really know what it feels like to be a peasant in Ethiopia. The Diaspora democratic gurus have a lot to learn about the true Ethiopian reality. The true reality is that the Diaspora democratic gurus will remain a minority party.

Diaspora idea of majority party
The Diaspora Democratic Party has time after time declared themselves the spokes person of the people of Ethiopia. They have told us they understand our present and past pain. The true is they don’t. They have no clue what Ethiopia is about. It is for this reason why they have not gained acceptance by the majority of Ethiopians. They scream day and night that EPRDF is a minority party because; its origins are in Tigray. A political party can have its origins in Timbuktu, if it is beneficial to the general population. For that reason, the Diaspora is a hateful organization, which tries’ to gain power by dividing Ethiopians along ethnic groups. In reality though, the Diaspora political organizations is an exclusive club of PHD Ethiopians, whose major headache forty years ago was choosing Europe or America for their PHD program. A group of people like than cannot have a common political view with a peasant Ethiopian, or the son of the peasant. This is the one of the biggest difference between an EPRDF supporting Ethiopian, and Diaspora democratic guru.

Nevertheless, the democratic guru does not give up about their dream to be perceived as the majority party. Since they lack vision, and policy, the Diaspora democratic gurus have tried to gain popular acceptance by singling out Tigreans. For a very long period of time, the Diaspora intellectuals have been waging subtle propaganda of hate against Tigreans. In their subtle hate message, they call EPRDF a minority government, other times; they say Tigreans are less nationalistic. And lately in their quest to form a Mesqel square they have invited Tigreans. Of course the initiation is not sincere. Nothing is sincere about them to start with. The invitation of Tigreans using an open letter is to portray the Tigrean people as the once blocking the road to Mesqel square. The Diaspora people have basically ignored the fact it is the majority of Ethiopians who will fiercely defend the values of EPRDF. For these reasons the Diaspora democratic gurus will remain a minority political party.

Connecting the dots
On this article I am dancing around with different topics. But my main point is that, there is a natural divide in the political landscape of Ethiopia. These political divide is natural, and it cannot be bridged. The Addis born elite can never embrace the ideology of equality for all. Their weakens is their arrogance. They are too arrogant to understand what Ethiopia is all about. For that reason, I like to call them the party of one song. This one song is” EPRDF is a dictator”. They do not have any other song. Even Diaspora Ethiopians are tired of this one song. They want to hear a different song. A song that is poetic, realistic, and grounded on reality. Ask your local Diaspora democratic guru, what is your idea of democracy? His answer is EPRDF party out of power? In other words, he does not tell you exactly how democracy works, or functions. For these reasons, EPRDF is known as the party of action and results. As you can see the Diaspora based political organizations lack clarity, honesty, and vision. EPRDF vision, purpose, and directions are clear. In this dynamic, a political dialogue between the Diaspora and EPRDF will not be possible. The struggle is class based, not ethnic based. If the Diaspora democratic gurus decide to dialogue with EPRDF they will be viewed as compromising the values of the elite. Therefore, their action will continue to be more extreme. For EPRDF this fight should not be difficult. The elitist values have no ground in today’s Ethiopia. Every Ethiopian in Ethiopia is a master of his destiny. He does not need the likes of Berhanu Nega telling him how to live his life.

Al Mariam and his friends are proclaiming that Ethiopia is in the emergency room. It could be pronounced dead unless the Ethiopian democratic guru takes over. What kind of fantasy world do these guys live in? The philosophy professor Messay Kebede in one of his writing has proclaimed that in order to bring democracy to Ethiopia, EPRDF has to be deposed through violent means. Would you expect that kind of teaching from a philosopher? After reading that, I was curious to see what kind of professor he was. I checked on rate my professor and as I expected the majority of the students who commented said, Messay Kebede teaches like a dictator. It is ironic though that Messay kebede an advocate of democracy is actually a dictator of his classroom. And now these intellectuals have said they found the magic they need to over throw EPRDF? Really? For the past twenty years no intellectual living abroad organized a computer drive to help poor Ethiopians in Ethiopia, and now they are trying to engineer a facebook revolution? Do you see how these people are disconnected from the Ethiopian reality? I hope nobody blames them, because they are just too lazy to study the Ethiopian reality. For that reason the Diaspora based democratic gurus preside over an empty dry square, not Mesqel square.

Concluding Remarks
EPRDF should continue to be the political party of vision and action. The democratic gurus have many intentions when they write their provocative articles. One objective is to gain support for their evil designs. The other reason is to radicalize EPRDF members and leaders, as to make them feel helpless for a united and prosperous Ethiopia. Keeping this in mind EPRDF members, leaders should continue with their optimism driven economic and political agenda. EPRDF should continue rolling on the train of development that is touching and affecting every village of Ethiopia. EPRDF should also understand that all Ethiopians living in Ethiopia are on her side as she embarks on this admirable goal. The only hindrance to EPRDF mission is the 4-isms, Alshababism, Sheabism, elitism, and whabism. EPRDF should extend its peaceful and gentle wings of brotherhood, sisterhood to all of the horn of Africa, and develop a network of peace and prosperity in the horn of Africa. If EPRDF ignores the 4-isms, Ethiopia will pay a heavy price. None of the 4-isms should be given an inch of victory weather it is in Ethiopia, or other parts of the horn of Africa.

EPRDF also has nothing positive to gain by trying to appease the western based political organizations. Instead of trying to educate these radical and selfish elements of the new Ethiopia, EPRDF is better off educating Ethiopians in Ethiopia, the true nature of the western based gurus. The western based democratic guru elitist ideology is visible on all their writing, radio, and TV programs. These will be the proof EPRDF needs to show to the people of Ethiopia.