We are all prisoners.
By Yilma Bekele
East Europe suffered under Soviet domination for over fifty years. While West Europe was marching forward East Europe was engulfed in darkness and hopelessness. The Arabs with all their vast population and abundant natural resources stumbled around for so long they were considered people of no consequences. The East Europeans emerged from their forced slavery and are now trying to rebuild a new reality. The Arabs are showing signs of life. From the shores of the Atlantic all the way to the Indian Ocean Arab awakening is the talk of the planet.
As usual Africa is acting dead. The 'Dark Continent' as they aptly named us is still in slumber mode. It still is the playground of the buffoon, the mentally unstable, the psychopath and the pure evil. The Mugabe’s, Museveni’s, Bashir’s, Zenawi’s, Afeweki’s are the faces of Africa. They have been around so long that it is difficult to remember what came before their rude appearance. We Ethiopians have contributed our fair share to this collective madness. We are not innocent bystanders but rather one of the stars of this tragic show. Nobody thought we would sink this low in such a short time. Here we are at the bottom of the barrel.
Do you want me to remind you of the times the name Ethiopia evoked pride and hope? Believe me it is true. Our country is so old and our people so wise that we even have a mention in the Bible. I know it is difficult to top that but I will humbly mention our earthly accomplishments too. The Axumite Kingdom is considered one of the four Great powers along with Persia, Rome and China around 4th century BC. We are the only country in Africa not to be colonized by the Europeans. We were equal founders in the establishment of the League of Nations the forerunner to the current United Nations. Our Emperor played a key role in establishing the Organization of Africa Unity with Addis Ababa as its Headquarters. There was a time when Emperor Haile Selassie hosted warring factions in our capital and he was listened to.
That is why I believe our ancient land will usher in the people’s uprising that is shaking our neighborhood into Black Africa. We are ripe and ready. We are overdue. I know it. Deep inside you know it too. The Ethiopian dictatorship understands the volatility of the situation. At this moment it is operating on crisis mode. The regime is experimenting with so many responses it is actually possible the right hand does not know what the left is doing. That is the problem with occupiers. They end up being strangers in their own country. They saw themselves differently. They felt they were entitled. They felt safe inside the false wall they built. Looks like the chicken are coming home to roost. How pathetic!
It is becoming obvious the situation in Ethiopia shows all the signs of readiness for upheaval. It has reached what in physics is known as ‘critical mass.’ In politics the current situation has all what is needed to force a new reality to take place. Be it positive or negative something is bound to happen and that is independent of any ones wish.
The famine/hunger/ food shortage whatever it is called is the main catalyst. The Ethiopian government does not have enough foreign currency to buy food for its people. The wrong polices of the last twenty years have not been able to solve this lingering problem. Due to the worsening situation in Somalia food donor’s attention is not focused on our country. The regime is in no position to admit famine has arrived. It will be suicidal. Unfortunately it cannot be hidden or ignored. The ferenjis are beginning to ring the alarm bells but very cautiously. They do not want to upset their ‘anti-terrorist’ partner. Like it or not hungry people soon turn to angry people. Mobs have been known to do strange things when outraged. It is critical we find a way to channel this raw anger into positive direction for the sake of all of us.
The second condition feeding our critical mass political situation is the general melt down of the economy. Officially inflationist 40.6% for what it is worth. You know the actual figure is close to double that. This New Year the price of basic goods and necessities was beyond even professional citizen’s standard. Cow/Bull was eleven thousand Bir, Sheep fifteen hundred, Chicken one hundred twenty five, Teff one thousand five hundred, red onion six Bir per kilo, garlic one hundred Bir per kilo, butter one hundred twenty five per kilo, berbere sixty per kilo and so forth. Most of our people are going to bed hungry. The children and the elderly suffer the most. Even those who have jobs cannot afford to feed their family.
The third ingredient is unemployment. There is no private sector so to speak of in Ethiopia. The government is the largest employer in the country. That is done for control. Realistically it is not a good or efficient economic model. When you consider the government is broke thus unable to meet the needs of a growing population it fair to say it is sitting on a time bomb. Idleness breeds’ anti-social behavior. The regime tried using drugs like Kat and televised sports to divert but it can only go so far.
The fourth factor is the dwindling remittances and Diaspora investment. Remittances have definitely shown dramatic decrease due to the international economic situation. The Middle East is in turmoil and the West is closing its doors to outsiders. The double digit ‘growth’ was not due to increase in economic production but due to remittances from the Diaspora and aid money from the ferenjis. It was an illusion built on sand. All those condominiums and shopping centers are colossal waste. When the artificially inflated real estate prices plummet the door is not wide enough for those that want to exit.
The fifth catalyst will be the situation in the North Africa, The Middle East, and the general mood of the Western enablers. The Arab Spring is known to all in Ethiopia. They are familiar with this type of situation. No matter how hard the regime tries to pretend there is nothing odd going on, the eyes and ears of our people are following the drama intently. Although our information system is carefully managed by the TPLF blanket they covered our country with, it is full of holes. News gets in. The Western enablers are confused. Their ‘smart’ intelligence system did not even see the Arab Spring train pulling into the station. Their banana republic puddles are falling one after another. Mubarak’s fall was spectacular. Now they are cautious showing any kind of fondness to the rest of their puppies. Swim or sink the dogs have entered uncharted waters. One or two will survive but most will be history. Meles is trying to avoid that fate. He is trying to cancel his reservation at Kaliti Presidential suite.
I kept the beast for last. I am delighted to say the nature of the TPLF regime is the absolute best carrier of the fissionable material for our critical mass to reach its tipping point and deliver a brand new reality to our beautiful homeland. What more can you ask when you are given a virus that carries its own destruction code embedded. Our precious regime is doing that as we speak. The madness started about two months ago and it is continuing at an accelerated pace. Meles and company have completely and absolutely arrived at the conclusion that no matter what change is coming. They are swimming against the tide.
We are lucky that it does not require a lot to create panic in the TPLF politburo. They have a tendency to lash out blindly and irrationally. They are so used to bullying that violence is their first response for any new situation. They started by imprisoning media figures. Awramba Times deputy editor Wubeshet Taye and Feteh Magazine Reeyot Alemu were arrested on vague charges and kept in isolation. Their next victims were political leaders. Bekele Gerba of OFDM and Olbana Lelisa of OPC and twenty-nine individuals were arrested for being suspected of belonging to Oromo Liberation Front.
The arrest of Ato Debebe Eshetu, Ato Andualem Arage Secretary of UDJ and reporter Eskender Nega is the latest in this high stake drama. All are accused of the usual crimes of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and belonging to terrorist organizations. As is customary they will be kept in isolation. Shimels Kemal will promise to produce evidence to prove their crime.
Why are Meles and company doing all this? I assure you it is not because it is fun. It is the only thing they know. They have been doing it for twenty years. Although both the domestic scene and the international situation are presenting a completely new reality the regime’s response seems unchanged. It is highly possible that they have decided there is no other palatable option left to them. That is the problem with criminal enterprises, they cannot cut and disappear, they carry too much baggage. I believe that is TPLF problem and we will set it aside.
If you notice closely they pick their victims carefully. TPLF goes for impact. They create big waves with big news. Ethiopia is one big TPLF prison. The ones we hear are about the big fish. For every Debebe, Andualem, Eskender, Bekele and Olbana there are hundred nameless incarcerated all over the country. This is the way they have been operating for twenty years. Remember Kinijit leaders, did you forget Teddy Afro or Judge Bertukan. They are all symbolic figures to send the message to the rest of us. It is in your face challenge. They are saying to us what are you going to do about it? The truth is it does not move their agenda one inch forward. Their empty bravado isolates them further and increases their paranoia.
We see hunger and we are sad. We see the hopelessness of our people and we grieve. We see the bravery of our neighbors in Egypt, Libya and Yemen and we see hope. When are we going to move from thinking to acting? When are we going to transform our apathy to a meaningful action? When are we going to stop crying for our mother and instead roll up our sleeves and smash the pain factory known as TPLF inc? Someone once said ‘acts of bravery don’t always take place in a battlefield.’ You don’t have to be in Ethiopia to fight TPLF injustice. We all did not go to South Africa to fight Apartheid. South Africans all did not pick up the gun to fight the unjust system. Those that wish freedom and justice fight from where ever they are.
We ask our people to take matter into their hands and smash the TPLF system wherever it rears its head in our precious land. TPLF headquarters, TPLF businesses, TPLF arms of coercion should be targeted and neutralized. All TPLF command and control centers should be made into battlefield. War has been declared on our people it is only fitting that we in turn make our country hell for those that want to impose their rotten, ethnic based rule on us. I am sure our people will turn fear into strength and show the few the power of the many. The time for tears is over. It is time to give a taste of their own medicine back to these ungrateful occupiers.
We hope to hear good news in the coming days and weeks. We hope to hear Meles squealing like a terrified pig from his hiding place under the palace. This is not idle talk or empty wish. It is going to happen because both the local and international situations are conducive to getting rid of tyrants. We each have a choice. We can sit at home or our favorite coffee houses and talk or we can rise up and complement the battle cry of our people. We can criticize those that are doing what they believe to be right or we can join the freedom train and make the battle quick and less painful.
The various Security personnel, Federal Police chiefs, Kebele leaders we want you to know that we are watching your every move. We are recording your every bad deed. We want you to know that Meles and family will try to finagle their way out of the mess they created but you will be left high and dry to fend for yourself. I was just following order has never been a good defense.