Open letter to the concerned body

From a concerned Ethiopian Christian

17 August 2008 

To the concerned body c/o info@debretsionlondon.org
St. Mary of Debre Tsion 
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church
London  

I attended church this morning as I do from time to time.  My attendance today is to celebrate the ‘mid-Felceta’ mass along with the wider refugee community in London .  In my view, the entire proceedings went quite satisfactorily including the teaching of a member of the church clergy.  On the final stage, Abune Melke Tsadike put himself forward to give ‘a complimentary teaching and additional messages’ that that were ill thought out and misconceived to say the list.

It appeared that Abune Melke Tsedike is a visitor or has stopped briefly in London on route to somewhere.  I have no prior personal acquaintance or knowledge about Abune Melke Tsadike.  However, I was seriously disappointed if not insulted and negatively affected by his demeaning treatment of the congregation and thereby demeaning himself as a wholly father in the Ethiopian Orthodox church.

1.      Abune Melke Tsadike seems to have quite an erroneous understanding of why there is a large Ethiopian Diaspora both in Western Europe and the United States .  He seems to have a complete misunderstanding of the situation. He repeatedly pointed out that we are all here because we like ‘the good life in Europe and Britain and enjoy the social benefits made available here’.  This is a very narrow and biased view of the reason why there is a large Ethiopian refugee community in Britain .  He has either been using biased sources for his information or he has been primed to repeat what he has been told by some misleading body.  It is an insult to our community at large and to the church congregation in particular to listen to a very confused and confusing message as we did this morning.  I would like to restate the obvious and what is common knowledge as a reason for Ethiopians fleeing their county- IT IS BECAUSE THERE IS NO RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, DEMOCRATIC AND POTITICAL RIGHTS IN ETHIOIA.  Rights violations were bad during the Imperial area, it got worst during the era of the military regime, and the same level and intensity of repression has continued during the current ethnic federalist regime. The suffering of our fellow Ethiopian nationals that suffered during and following the 2005 election is too fresh in our memory and is hard to forget.  Those are the current reasons for the exile of Ethiopians.  

2.      The Abune also believes that we are all here because of the free access to what he called ‘THE DECHASSA’.  He probably was saying that we are all here with a prior intention of benefiting from the British welfare state. This is an absolute false statement or a smear campaign against the Diaspora. Does he care to know that a large number of people ended up in Britain because that was the only option they had to save their lives?  Does he know that so many innocent lives have been wasted by consecutive regimes, including the Woyane regime that he lives and works under, and it to escape the killing machines of all these regimes that so many Ethiopians have ended up as refugees in Britain and elsewhere?

 3.      He also gave a very much condescending order to all in the congregation to pack and go back to Ethiopia .  Does it occur to him that Diaspora Ethiopians do not need his demeaning advice on nationalism and national interest?  Can it be explained to him that so many Ethiopians are in Europe and America not because they ‘forgot’ there national and citizenship obligation but it is because there is NO respect for human rights and law and order in the country.  Does he understand that the law and judicial machinery in our country is an accessory for those in power?  Does he understand that the law has been used as a beating stick to silence the opposition, the media and human rights activists? If he is prepared to meet me, I can explain this and other related matters I have raised if he is willing to listen to the voice of an Ethiopian refugee.  Does he really know what he is talking about?  Does he have the slightest idea to whom he is talking about?  Does he understand that the parents, worshipers of all kinds of social and educational background should not and can not be treated as 12 years old children?  Does it not flash in his mind that he can not be speaking to a congregation that he does not have a first hand knowledge about?  Should the church administration let loose such a naive and probably arrogant preacher on a congregation that has simply turned up for a Sunday service?  Alternatively, does his message have an ulterior motive?  Is the Abune is simply a carrier of a message, a work that he has to fulfil for his survival back in Ethiopia .  

4.      The examples that he sited in his ‘teaching’ are of bad taste.  One example is that of the story he was told by the old man.  He repeated a thoroughly wrong misinformation (that is if this was told to him in the first place) that anyone deciding to stay in Britain would get a flat to live in, spending money on demand, a free health service and a pension at 60.  He added that the hospitals in this country are as good as imperial palaces and was envious.  He must be very naive as he seems to have no idea of waiting times and bacteria/viral infections in hospitals.  It is shocking to listen to such naive and dumb pronouncements form a person in the stature of an Abune of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.  Has our church sunk to such low levels even on the higher echelons of the leadership?  We read about the malfunction of the church but I was given to understand that it has become all political and not as naive as the utterances of the Abune.

5.      At a later stage of his ‘teaching’ he spoke of famine, disease, hunger, etc. that prevails in Ethiopia .  He confirmed that the small rains (Ye belge zenam) have failed this year and conditions are getting very bad.  He then told the congregation to contribute to the famine, to the children’s home of 200 that he runs, to the monasteries, etc. This was all after he told the congregation to go to school and learn to make money and then go home with all the resources and knowledge they are able to amass.  It was a confused and confusing teaching/message that went on for an hour.   

 I would like the church leadership to know that my personal experience this morning was that of humiliation, abuse and insult.  I suggest that more serious consideration is given to the content of teachings by visiting preachers.

I did call at the office of the Sebeka Gubaye before I left the church to register my discontent but this was not possible and I decided to send this note.  There were another 2 people that visited the office for the same purpose.

Yours sincerely,

A concerned Ethiopian Christian

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Published in: on August 20, 2008 at 10:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

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