Hama Tuma’s Misplaced Rant

Addisu Mela 

In an article titled “Can Idiots be Useful?” that appeared on the Debteraw website, Hama riles against those who condemn the recent killings at an Ogaden oilfield, and expounds at length whether it is correct to call these “idiots” useful. However, Hama misses the point. Although one may parse to the nth degree whether idiots are in general useful, that should not have preoccupied him given Hama’s life of involvement in Ethiopian politics. 

The bigger issue, and one Hama did partially answer is, what to make of the incident at the oilfield in Ogaden where according to many reports 65 Ethiopians and 9 Chinese lost their lives. His partial answer is in condemning the TPLF regime that certainly is at the root of the problem. But Hama must know that only takes him so far. Secessionist forces such as the ONLF predate the TPLF/EPRDF, and they may likely outlive the regime in power. Their demand for secession is unadulterated and still on their strategy. One of the main reasons Ethiopian democratic and progressive forces faulted the Alliance For Democracy, of which ONLF is a founding member, is its obfuscation and vagueness on the democratic unity of Ethiopia. Does the ONLF want the region it purports to fight for to be part of Ethiopia or not? The clear answer so far is that it does not. That is why many patriotic Ethiopians have been asking for explanations why Ethiopianist organizations like Kinijit did not bat an eyelash when they bedded with the secessionist forces. 

Hama‘s ignoring of this crucial problem in fact is symptomatic of the plague that has afflicted progressive politics in Ethiopia for the last 3 decades. Before TPLF and EPLF came to power, as they were maiming lives and blowing up infrastructure, the progressive forces in Ethiopia were often supporting their actions. They only saw that they were killing “Derg soldiers” and “Derg infrastructures”. Before they knew it, the secessionist forces turned their guns against the progressive forces, and now became the rulers of two nations. The chickens are coming home again to roost. The progressive force IS again caught in a bind – between the rock of secessionist forces and the hard place of TPLF dictatorship. What to do? 

Progressives individuals like Hama Tuma should avoid the temptation of being sidetracked by minor issues, such as whether idiots are useful or not, and rather focus on showing the struggling masses the way out. The way out is not wholesale endorsing of the killings, as that will not bring an iota of solution, and moreover as it also raises fundamental human rights issues of those civilians and non-combatants killed. According to Reuters, there were 37 Chinese and 120 Ethiopian employees stationed at the post. The Ethiopian Human Rights Council reportedly condemned the killings as violations of the rights to life of the dead. 

The TPLF regime might have thought it has quashed opposition to its dictatorial rule by massacring innocent demonstrators and by jailing thousands. No sooner had it committed its atrocity than other trouble spots mushroomed in the rest of the country: Even this year alone, the Afar kidnappings, its quagmire in Somalia, and now the massacre at the Ogaden oilfield. Ethiopian progressive forces should raise their collective voice to show the way out by re-emphasizing the urgency of a National Reconciliation Conference which, the regime has heretofore, ignored. The progressives have to work on a 2-way solution to force the regime’s hands: first, to establish an all-encompassing unity of opposition forces under a minimalist democratic platform, and second to engage the regime in a national negotiation to unburden it from the fetters that are shackling it into more atrocities and dictatorship. These are the questions of the day, and all efforts must be invested there. 

Debating whether idiots are useful pales in comparison and as it should be clear now is a misplaced rant.

Published in: on April 30, 2007 at 11:39 pm  Comments (31)  

Solomon Tekalegn

Published in: on April 30, 2007 at 9:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Wrong Linkage of the Millennium Celebration and Professor Hizkias Assefa’s Efforts of National Reconciliation

By Yilma Begashaw 

Professor Hizkias Assefa appears to be on an important mission to facilitate dialogue among Ethiopians in Ethiopia and in the Diaspora for achievement of a national reconciliation, for peace and prosperity. This small comment thus refers to the Saturday, 28th of April 2007 meeting in London.

As this initiative is a golden effort that every peace loving citizen has been waiting for, I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude to Professor Hizkias Assefa. In the mean time, I would like to express my concern that this golden initiative is hijacked by those whose interest is not the wider picture of bringing about a genuine national reconciliation but a temporal interest of celebrating the Millennium side by side with the Woyane Regime.

The Woyane regime is the only single group that blocked every chance of a national reconciliation. Please remember the following facts:

  • The Woyane regime consistently refused to attend important conferences for national reconciliation such as those known as Paris I and Paris II.
  • The opposition political parties that travelled to Ethiopia for the Hilton Conference on the national reconciliation were picked up from Bole Airport and were thrown into jail – remember to what has been happening to signatories such as Fitawrari Makonnen Dori, Aberra Yemaneab and others up to the present date.
  • The Woyane regime refused to accept useful discuss calls from the Coalition for Peace and Democracy (CUD) for a national reconciliation following the   2005 rigged national election. Instead of respecting those important calls, the regime flagrantly threw those peace loving leaders and members of the CUD into jail where they have been languishing for so long.
  • Instead of discussing with and respecting the human rights of the civic groups such as the members of the free press and the free Ethiopian Teachers’ Association, the brutal dictatorial regime chose to throw them into jails.
  • Despite calls from international donor agencies and the international human rights agencies, the Woyane regime did not show any willingness to get into a dialogue and national reconciliation conferences for democracy, peace and prosperity.

This regime does not have any moral capacity to invite the Diaspora to dance to the tune of the song of Ethiopian shame and humility especially for the following factors:

·        Its lack of willingness to participate in the national reconciliation briefly explained above,

·        Its wrong allegations of treason and genocide against innocent citizens and its refusal to release these prisoners of conscience;

·        Its assertion that Ethiopia is a colonial state of only a one hundred years of history.

My message is loud and clear:

  • Professor Hizkias Assefa shall continue with his good efforts to facilitate a national reconciliation for democracy and peace.
  • All the opposition political parties, the civic and faith groups  should learn from their past mistakes and strengthen unity to bring about democracy,  peace and prosperity.
  • Every concerned Ethiopian should avoid a temptation for petty personal interests and stop being the tools of the Woyane regime that seeks to fool the international communities by rallying many people, including the Diaspora, behind it in the pretentious celebration of the Millennium.
  • Let us all join hands to make the next Millennium a better place at least for the new generations. 
Published in: on April 29, 2007 at 10:34 pm  Comments (5)  

May 08 Viigil

Published in: on April 28, 2007 at 8:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

HOly Synodos annoucement (pdf in Amharic)

Published in: on April 28, 2007 at 8:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

CALL ME BY MY NAME: A small talk with Debteraw, IX

Wolde Tewolde alias Obo Arada Shawl, April 23, 2007

Why have you forsaken me?

The Military ruler of Ethiopia aka DERG used to classify its arch enemy EPRP into 4 categories, MEWAQ’REGNOTCH (in reference to the leadership); Qitr Nebse Gedayotch (in reference to MEDEGNOTCH aka EPRA); DISIPLEGNOTCH (in reference to the regular members) and JELEWOTCH (in reference to associate members). The history of EPRP cannot be complete without the full account of these categories, though.

But who knows or who is responsible for the dead, the living, and the lost and/or for those coming of age? On the one hand, to give due credit to EPLF, but mostly to the family structure of Eritrea, all are accounted for, while on the other hand, be it under the DERG or the current regime of EPRDF, few has the ability or the gut to search for the dead, the lost or the living. What a terrible dilemma we all are facing?

What about EPRP’s accountability for its members and supporters? Although I believe Debteraw is alive and well, we have to know what has happened or happening to his compatriots in the field of Struggle of ATM (referring to AAssimba: Past; Tselemt: Present; Mercato: future)? Where am I? Don’t abandon me! Call me by my name!

Two decades ago, Debteraw had sent me a message from Quara via a personal delegation advising me to return home in his own words “Home is always Home, no matter what.” On my part, I was projecting as to how to resettle Ethiopians or Eritreans in the Appalachian Mountains of America in contradiction to the government of Ethiopia which was resettling the Abyssinians into the lowlands of Ethiopia. My view was that all Amharas or Hamassiens alias known as ABYSSinans could not live in low lands. They can only live in the natural setting of room temperatures. Debteraw’s view concurs with me but it must be in Ethiopia. He is unappreciative to be neither immigrants nor emigrants. He loves the country of Gherhi (ADAM) and DInknesh (EVE). Debteraw said he will never exchange living outside Ethiopia for all Worldly WEALTH or POWER.

At the time, I was in Blacksburg, VA Tech University when he sent this important wisdom. A week ago, the world has seen what has happened in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA. Personally, I have failed to resettle either an émigré Eritrean or an émigré Ethiopian. Debteraw was right again. Call me by name! What is my name?

A decade ago, I have attended a funeral service for one of the DISIPLEGNA who was gunned down while working in a parking garage. He was new to America. He was in prison during the era of the DERG. He was also against the nationalists of Tigrai and Eritrea while in Ethiopia. Incidentally, he was from SEMEN ETHIOPIA.

About five years ago, I have also attended a funeral service for one of the MEWAQREGNA who committed suicide for unknown reasons. I am told his family members were glad for his passing away. He belonged to an Ethiopian aristocratic family. It was a kind of revenge for his involvement in EPRP. Incidentally, he was from MEHAL ETHIOPIA.

Last week, I have attended a funeral service for one of the MEDEGNA (rebel group).This time it was the service for the dead who became paralyzed for 11 years. Although a large number of people attended the funeral service and his corpse was placed in an expensive Casket, there was real sadness in the community. There was nobody who was related in blood. He was by himself. His only family was EPRP community. Full Stop.

Incidentally, he was from DEBUB Ethiopia. Surprisingly, all three services were conducted in the same funeral home, in Georgia Ave, NW, Washington, DC. I wonder whether EPRP owns the Funeral Home or could it be that we Ethiopians use the same place, product or service time and again. And I am wondering myself why I keep attending these services as I am not so keen in attending burials, weddings, or meetings. One thing, I like for sure is that I want to deal with the living, especially with the underdog. Why one might ask?

Let me briefly explain. The first was gunned down by an assailant, the 2nd was suicidal and the third was paralyzed for 11 years. EPRP was and is an immense and unparalleled political party, mainly as far as doing the right thing. Nevertheless, EPRP remains largely unappreciated by Ethiopians and Eritreans. Why because many negative comments and criticism have been launched for so long. But the fact of the matter is that there are very few negative figures in the entire history of EPRP. One should not forget that EPRP is a political party. Its personalities stand on Principle as opposed to Blood or Benefit (BPB).

EPRP will be the first legitimate Political Party rested on genuine popular support of the entire Ethiopian and Eritrean populace for it has brought public politics to a country where for thousand of years, politics had been confined to the kings and the aristocrat’s court intrigues and Politburo who fight behind the back of all Ethiopians.

EPRP has a clear vision and a strong sense of purpose. It is trying to attain freedom for Ethiopia, whose people had always lived in fear of the State. EPRP has achieved both goals, at least for its members and supporters. Yet EPRP made many mistakes. Some were inevitable; some probably could have been avoided. But it took responsibility for all that its members did in its name. EPRP yearned to make Ethiopia a better place. And so nobody in his right mind would be interested in destroying the mission and the institution of EPRP.

EPRP, from the outset wanted to establish a multi party system, a representative government, an independent media, and a sound judiciary system, all of which are still missing in both Eritrea and Ethiopia. For now, two countries and one system may be the answer.  Hellewe, Hellewe, Laba Sebertani is the current cry of all Ethiopians.

For comments or criticism:woldetewolde@yahoo.com

Published in: on April 28, 2007 at 7:14 pm  Comments (4)  

Hoya Hoye Poletika

Published in: on April 27, 2007 at 10:21 pm  Leave a Comment  



“Meanwhile, some in the Ethiopian “opposition” express sadness about the killing of 65 Woyanne soldiers by ONLF fighters in Ogaden. Useful idiots!”   ETHIOPIAN REVIEW WEB SITE/ April 27, 2007/ 

The word needs a definition before we can conclude if idiots can be categorized as useful. Idiot was originally a Greek word /in Latin it derives from idiota say some/ used to define those people in the city states who were overly concerned with their self interest and ignored the needs of the community. More like the Hodam reference made to certain puppets and hirelings of Meles Zenawi. Idiocy also was a result of sickness, of Down syndrome, of mental retardation though the use of the word is politically incorrect these days. In several American States (Iowa, Ohio, New Mexico, Arkansas, etc…) “idiots” have no right to vote. But how can they be termed useful? 

The irreverent Devil’s Dictionary defines idiot in another way: 

“A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling. The Idiot’s activity is not confined to any special field of thought or action, but “pervades and regulates the whole.” He has the last word in everything; his decision is unappealable. He sets the fashions and opinion of taste, dictates the limitations of speech and circumscribes conduct with a dead-line.”  

According to this definition the idiot appears to be another name for Meles Zenawi. Is Meles ever useful for anything worthwhile? Much as I would like to call the pest an idiot, I would rather be speechless than call him useful. In other words, the concept of “useful idiots” continues to intrigue and confuse. The above quote indicates that the web site takes those who shed tears for the army of Meles Zenawi as “useful idiots”. Useful for Meles? For the community? For their stomach? It is not clear but the whole notion of “useful idiots” opens a Pandora Box of sorts and forces us to look closely at those we had concluded earlier to be useless through and through. Did we forget what the Greeks said about fools: from fools and children, you will learn the truth? 

According to the original Greek definition of idiot, all those who are serving Meles Zenawi are idiots as they have ignored the interest of Ethiopia and are serving their stomachs. In the Politics of the Stomach, an art that is practiced with finesse in most of Africa, the stomach is all, the stomach has no communal feeling, and selfishness is the Emperor. Each stomach is all by itself, exercising self determination, unattached to others but unto itself, cutthroat competition the norm of the day, may the devil take the rest and the country to hell. Such idiots can be termed useful if only we define useful within the realm of negative example, like the Bush misadventure in Iraq can be termed useful if only as a lesson to the Bush puppet Meles not to invade Somalia. But idiots never learn. As the Ashanti proverb puts it: by the time the idiot has learned to play the game, the players have dispersed. The idiots of today could have learnt from the idiocy of their predecessors in the former regime but once again it should be said along with the proverb from Bihar, India, that the fool thinks of his belly only. 

In the quote that provoked this article the useful idiots are those who cry foul because the soldiers of the regime have been killed by self proclaimed “liberation movement” soldiers who are, in my view, another version of the useless idiot. The useless ones are those who hail the slaughter?  This is left unsaid. For some the killers are patriots, allies, freedom fighters, for others the opposite. For every sane Ethiopian who is unaffected by idiocy the Meles regime is an enemy of the country and her people. Its soldiers kill and maim and serve the tormentors of Ethiopia. Why then should one cry if these soldiers get what they had been doling out to other people? Only “idiots” can cry foul. But then, why are they deemed useful? Because they teach by their idiocy? If we go along with this line of argument are all those  who believed in the peaceful electoral process idiots since it was clear from the outset that the Meles gang would never respect the voice of the people? What do we say to those who proclaim even today we should prepare for the next election? First class, new Millennium idiocy? Not differentiating friend from foe is folly of the highest level, like, during the Soviet era, hijacking a plane from East Berlin to Moscow.   

In the Ethiopian context, the idiot tag is unavoidably going to stick especially to the so called doctors and professors whose overly concern with self interest has gone against the interest of the community and the country. Idiocy can wear intellectual garb too. A colourful doctoral “kaba” but coarse as poor man’s bernos. Ignorance is not always an involuntary misfortune. Quite a few of our strutting doctors and professors have prostrated themselves in front of the tyrant or the big power and betrayed the country–no need to name names. In their case, knowledge has turned sourly into ignorance and foolishness. In Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s classic, The Idiot, the hero Duke Myskin, is considered an idiot not out of lack of intellect but due to his honesty and kindness. As the Burmese say the kind hearted can become a slave. In our context, the idiots are so because they are mean and selfish and have sold their country for their insatiable stomach. Fools are of all sizes and of all capacities and a traitor, be he a professor or a PhD, can never be a patriot. But then again can such idiots ever be useful? 

In the precise context of the quote that led to this article the idiots are those who shed tears for the dead soldiers of the regime. What about the hundreds killed by the soldiers all over Ethiopia? The question goes back to where we stand and with whom we stand. Every single life is valuable for someone somewhere and every dead soldier has a parent, a family and friends but this is neither here nor there. Mengistu and Meles have or had parents that loved them. So what? The battle lines are drawn, the negarit has been beaten, the tirunba heard. The war is on and one needs to stand on one side of the divide. We cannot cry for the regime and also wail for the people. Straddling the wall like a political Humpty Dumpty is a no go dead end. As our ancestors said: one cannot climb two trees at the same time just because one has two legs. This or that is a political choice. Idiocy or knowledge. The land of the political idiot is a wasteland populated by fools, cowards and traitors. Experience teaches fools but do idiots ever learn? 

I for one think there are no useful idiots at all. Political idiots are totally and thoroughly useless and should be discarded  without any pity.  

Published in: on April 27, 2007 at 5:47 pm  Comments (51)  

The Woyane’s Military College

Published in: on April 24, 2007 at 10:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Commentary on Current Situations in Ethiopia and the surrounding areas

Published in: on April 24, 2007 at 8:29 pm  Leave a Comment