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