CALL ME BY NAME: A small talk with Debteraw, VI

Wolde Tewolde alias Obo Arada Shawl

March 23, 2007

So far, we have formed a glimpse of who Debteraw is, what he stands for and where he is currently roaming. I hope we have all agreed that Debteraw professional acronym is READ. That is he is a Revolutionary, an Educator, an Artist and a Democrat. I have attempted to describe him vis-à-vis with known personalities such as Mesfin W. Mariam (Geographer) and Makonnen Bishaw (Social scientist) with his Mokshe the “laureate” Tsegaye GM. and also with the Journalist, Mulugheta Lule who adopted his name.

Now it is time, Why and How he and his political Party, EPRP still persists despite all odds. It is time to debate with him about the future of
Ethiopia and Ethiopians?
However, before we do that, we have to grasp why Debteraw was involved in the Eway Revolution – a Revolution that took place both in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Debteraw used to tease me that Eritreans lack the poverty of philosophy while Ethiopians love the philosophy of poverty. Now the reverse seems to happen.

On the one hand, actually the Eritrean/Ethiopian individual does not differ in rank in this extreme manner. It is quite impossible to grade them in a mental hierarchy, which will be demonstrably and objectively correct. Consequently, for political and social purposes (even though they vary in social usefulness), Eritreans/Ethiopians should be treated as though all were equally capable of mental fulfillment, as having equal claims to the consideration of society and equal rights to express their will about the conduct of society, and in the end to determine their own policies and governments.

On the other hand, we must not fall into the mistakes of individualism and crude sort of democracy. Debteraw used to argue that the mass of individuals in a society, nurtured in unfavorable conditions, doomed to crippling activities and educated not for responsibility and integrity but for mechanical service and docility, may be quite unable to recognize what is readily best for them as individuals capable of mental development and quite incapable of judging public policy. Further Debteraw argued that we must recognize, that a policy based on the expressed demands of the majority of individuals may fail to satisfy the deeper needs of those individuals themselves.

This fact must not be made an excuse for authoritarianism on the part of the enlightened minority. We have today plenty of evidence of tyranny (Ethiopia and  Eritrea) to which this inevitably led us to. Instead, the enlightened minority must have worked by reasonable persuasion and the example of its own personal integrity and responsibility, till the masses recognize them as appropriate democratic leaders. Unfortunately it is always easier to gain recognition and power by deceitful and emotional propaganda, and to secure it by coercion. This style has to change Debteraw used to argue. Probably this line of discussion is the first main reason why I developed an appreciation for Debteraw’s work.

A second reason for our common cause, bond and experience (CCBE) lie in the other most golden question of How?

History has taught us that there were three methods of changing governments, of course, excluding the recent yellow or velvet revolution. They were, Coup D’etat, Insurrection and Guerrilla Encirclement. Debteraw and his party EPRP did not endorse the first two means of struggle. Instead they have chosen the Guerrilla encirclement type of change. It was anticipated to be a long and arduous struggle to get hold of a genuine revolution that would benefit all Ethiopians including Eritreans. A Guerrilla type of warfare similar to that of China but with a local  Ethiopiann” culture/nature which takes into account the following five tasks.  

  • To support a peasant who identify with the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea in spite of  (Race-Class-Religion)
  • To organize workers and peasants on Class basis (have and have not)
  • To teach young adult to be Readers, disciplined and responsible citizens
  • To arm those who know their class enemies and use their ammunition for defensive purposes only and
  • To educate Party members that the Party i.e. EPRP will always lead EPRA and not the other way round.

In other words, teaching by example similar to that of Paul and Peter was the hallmark of Debteraw and his colleagues. Inasmuch as Paul and Peter have shortcoming not only in their background but also in their way of approach to teaching, Debteraw and his comrades were short of perfection.

Despite Debteraw’s quest for satisfactory answers for the 5W questions, he and his followers were labeled in such a way as: –

·        Troublemaker instead of opinionated

·        Provocateur instead of talented

·        Polemicist instead of impossible

·        Opportunist instead of flawed and

·        Iconoclast instead of idiosyncratic

Although I am not a journalist in the true sense of it, I always follow the principles that apply to all journalists. Most of the time I tamper spinning around the five Ws of what, where, when, who and why. For our inquisitive minds and maybe for many other unknown perceptions, we may be liked and disliked at the same time. Here is how we reason out the Eway Revolution.

The What Question: A Revolution in Ethiopia changing a 16th  -18th centuries feudal      system to Democratic Party System.

The When Question: 1960 -? 

The Where Question: From Moyale to Karora and From Kurmuk to Assab

The Who Question: E Party of Vision and Mission

The Why Question: To catch up to the 21st Century

The How Question: By Combining Visual, Print and Internet.

At this juncture, let us see how Debteraw operated in his acronym of READ (Revolutionary, Educator, Artist and Democrat).

The Word:  Debteraw as an Artist”

To give credit to the devil, I am one of those who pursued education and learning in boarding schools. Haile Sellassie I was a reformer of a modern education. He was recognized as a champion for education for he was acting as a minister of education (1944-1966). Haile Sellassie I was also the chancellor of the University and all graduates used to receive their degrees directly from his hands.

But in reality, the Emperor was illiterate, a very bad role model for higher Education. According to Kapuscinski, in his book entitled the  “Emperor”, His Majesty was acting illiterate or unwilling to write or sign. Kapuscinski reiterates that the Emperor did not like reading and writing. This means that the King had enormous problem in running the modern government let alone the whole country. No wonder Debteraw wrote poems after poems regarding His Majesty’s abdication of power..

A bottleneck against creativity for positive change- a pretender Emperor- can only allow people like him to run the affairs of all Ethiopians.

Then came Essayas (head of EPLF) who is reported to read and listen with no written documentation. He has focused on learning and speaking many languages. It’s not known his love for the written word.

Later came a military man by the name of Menghistu (head of PMAC) who was not trained in anything except in explosives. He lived by his training in exploding the country in the name of Revolution –creating a massive havoc among true Revolutionaries. Menghistu’s skill of communication was through listening and a good part of talking.

Now Mellesse (head of EPRDF) survives with identity crisis on being a revolutionary and/or a democrat, an Eritrean or/and an Ethiopian. It is known that he prefers talking to reading despite his claim of having a lot of books instead of wealth.

Debu abhors illiteracy that is why he became Debteraw par excellence. Call me by my name, a decipherer of letters. But don’t take me wrong he does not demean illiterate only he dislikes illiteracy. 

  • Debteraw’s does not demean illiterate people
  • He does not praise educated merely for being educated.
  • He tells it as is – objectively. That is, he is vocal-speaking out loud what is in his mind regardless of political power, religious, education or any other status.

The Written Word:  “Debteraw As Educator”

Debteraw was a graduate of Education Department and true to his education and experience; he always propagates on Learning and Education. He did not advocate education per se. From the Student Movement days, the learned and the educated communicated via
Reading and Writing, discussed and argued like civilized societies should do. It is to be noted that Ethiopians and Eritreans have Geez alphabets ranking among two dozens countries who have alphabets of their own. As a result they agreed to disagree on the methods of struggle. Every thing they wrote has been documented. That is the advantage of the written word. The saying that Bekal Yale Yiresal Bezhuf Yale Yiweresal is very true to the core.

Each side of the Student Movements has created a coalition and has put its arguments into struggle and now into cyberspace. Let us see what those who were communicating with the written words have written: Kiflu Tadesse in his book, the Generation, writes

“Convinced that the student movement had exhausted it political potential and that the next phase of the struggle required a different organizational basis, hundreds of radicals went abroad.”

 Kiflu continued to write in the same page as “The absence of a tradition of political parties and the prevailing climate of repression, made many feel they had to organize abroad within a relatively peaceful environment.”(The Generation, Kiflu Tadesse: The departure of the Radicals p.71) 

It is a well-established fact that Debteraw and his followers never left Ethiopia. Those who left went back not through Bole but Bale. They have been following the ATM and HLC trails traveling in physical and mental capacities. Assimba-Tselemti-Mercato is the physical trail and Unity-Love-Choice is the mental trail a long march. And as they say, the rest is history.

Of equally important written document from the Haile Fida group asserted that

“There has never been a political party in Ethiopia, no sector of the society or any class or any mass organization was ever coordinated by a political party, never stopped work or forwarded petitions, or made demonstrations. The conclusion we draw from this is that the subjective condition is lagging behind”(Teglatchen, No. 4, 1973 quoted in the Generation p.79) 

The above statement was totally wrong especially when it relates to Eritrea.

The E Word  “Debteraw as a Revolutionary”

Currently, many coalitions have their own arguments and discussion into cyberspace. Is there a common issue for all of them apart from the HE & SHE pattern of debates? I think we can take lessons from the PM of Ethiopia and the President of Eritrea who fights over WE or ME concepts. Carl Von Clausewitz, a military theorist said: “war is a continuation of politics by other means”. In our case, mediation and arbitration do not seem to work but negotiation appears to be a continuation of struggle by other means.

Debteraw having planned and programmed for solving Ethiopia’s problems by a project named AAGMELAGO- a concept deep in languages, theory and applications, is outlined here for discussion purposes only. I shall attempt to explain what he has in mind.

The Project

AAGMELAGO: It is a road map from the  RED SEA (below sea level) to RAS DASHEN  (highest Mountain). Specifically, it is about Economy, History, Social, Cultural and Political Landscape. The nodes along this Road Map incorporate the Philosophy, the Religion and Living style of all Ethiopians.Since Ethiopia’s physical, political and religious Centers are vital concern to many who claim Interfaith or Pluralism, the significance of this AAGMELAGO concept should be carefully understood. Debteraw radical thinking is not radical per se but meant for the happiness of his people what he calls Ethiopians. As long as every individual is happy and healthy the way our forefather designed it to be, Debteraw’s pleasure will be infinitesimal.

Concurrently, Debteraw expressed the following opinion.

America has an interest in the BLUE NILE BASIN for control  Europe has an interest in Gondar Region for purposes of contact or revenge.

Asia (represented by China) has an interest in cheap Market. Arabs have an interest in the RED SEA CORRIDOR. Israel has an interest in the flow of the Abay River, ethnic languages and common history.Last but not least, Debteraw for all practical purposes wished to accommodate all of the above interests. The question is HOW? I will find out when he contacts me next time.

Concluding Remarks

The power of five in terms of pentagonal dimension seems complete. That is the interests of AAAEI should be incorporated and prioritized. Debteraw seems to have the answers to these complicated situational questions.  He can do it by the Power of God and E5.

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Published in: on March 27, 2007 at 8:37 pm  Comments (8)  

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Dear Woldetewolde ! Well done .I hope and wish to see Debteraw one day.


  2. Dear Woldetewolde

    Our hope of candle is to see Debteraw in a few days


  3. Dear Woldetewolde

    It amazing and also inspiring to read and listen as if Debtraw is sitting right across from me reminding WHY I joined EPRP in my fertile younger age after I evacuated from Zemcha. It has been over 30 yrs since. I felt again the same hope and vision for my beloved Ethiopia I had then for I often despaired due to my age and health. I would like to request if you write in Amharic and read it on Finote, millions of young people in Ethiopia will be listening and inspired as I was in my tender age.

  4. Who is Debetra?I think he is Tsagay G/Medhin from Tigray or eritrea

  5. Jegnam yeweldal botawa etiopia
    Debtraw yemiakle bemesmaw tesfa
    Ihapam aytegna yeteral serghna
    I wish I could wright Amharic versin(alpha bet)


  7. Looking for information and found it at this great siter

  8. i wish to know more about this hero.

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