The forgotten Hailemedhin – revolutionary trait

It is quite visible that leading a “good or better life” is an ambition millions of young people the world over pursue religiously with consistent dedication up to a certain point.The questions as to what the measure of “good life/better life” and as to what constitutes “good life/better life” are certainly disputable on philosophical grounds.

For common sense it is a different story. High earning and social status in a society- which is partly a function of earning seem to be an important measures of good life.

For some “Good/better life” comes as a reward and recognition for diligence and years and years of honest handwork. For crook ones, “good life” is a reward for moral bankruptcy which may mean a virtue from their perspective, a reward for selling out what belongs to their country and society – whether material or spiritual or in some other form, a reward for betrayal of their society , a reward for opportunism, a reward for greed, a reward for cruelty and the list goes on.

Hailemedhin, co-pilot who hijacked Ethiopian Airlines Plane, attained what many perceive as good life while only pursuing his passion. A copilot with five years of experience at the age of 31 – with a fairly good earning and sort of luxuries life style by Ethiopian standard – based in his own country while flying across Meditranean, Indian and Atlantic is good even by the standards of living of prosperous countries. Perhaps it is a life style many aspire to have.

When co-pilot Hailemedhin hijacked Rome bound Ethiopian Airlines flight and diverted it to Switzerland in February of this year, many were perplexed as to why he could do that to his “good/better life.”Some ruled ,outright, that he is insane.

In fact, the story of insanity was radiated by media closely affiliated to Ethiopian government. Obviously, it was not informed opinion. The basis of judgement about his insanity was fundamentally related to common sense – that someone with “good life” would not trash it all only to end up in prison. Even “insightful” young Ethiopians with active presence in the cyber world as opinion leaders dared to label the co-pilots’ action as works of insanity.

others were worried,rightly, about possible economic repercussion of his act thinking that the hijack would affect the reputation of Ethiopian airlines.

Still others happen to reject his actions on grounds of safety of passengers which appeared to be less plausible, if at all, as the pilot was more cautious for the safety of the passangers.

Of all the reasonings, the tendency to relate Hailemedhin’s indifference for “better life” to an act of insanity was simply a reflection of ignorance. It certainly tells the story of how much we are shaped by a world view that capitalizes on material comfort. The question What if Hailemedhin did not find meaning and significance in the “good life” is overlooked.

And the theory that Hailemedhin is insane did not hold water. It was more damaging for the governing party that it had to drop it although it was used while pleading for Swiss government to extradite Hailemedhin to Ethiopia.

A little over a week ago, Swiss government made it clear that it will not extradite Hailemedhin and that Hailemedhin will be tried in Switzerland for criminal charges.

Note that Hailemedhin’s choice of country for asylum is informed and good one. Switzerland, a country with its reputation for participatory democratic system and with a tradition of respect for human rights, seem to have understood what the government of Ethiopia wanted to do to Hailemedhin if he was to be extradited.

The fact that Switzerland decided to try Hailemedhin with criminal charges means that Switzerland has proved that Hailemedhin is undoubtedly sane! cross it off.

That leaves us back with the question of why Hailemedhin did it in the first place? Answering that question would only be a work of imagination at this point it time. And imagining to answer the question without understanding the level of repression by the ruling party in Ethiopia makes little or no sense at all.

Hijacking a plane can not be a social rebellion. Incidents in Ethiopia after the hijack; peaceful protest by university students and the massacre by government, the custody of Zone9bloggers without charge, just to mention the notable ones in the media, are clear manifestations of the level of tyranny and repression.

I have a feeling that Hailemedhin took the opportunity which supposedly gave him “good life/better life” to single handedly resent the tyranny in Ethiopia- which is ethno-supremacists as a matter of fact. I also have a feeling that Hailemdhin’s act is a wake up call to members of my generation who will not hesitate or subtly handle a task to support tyranny if it is meant to bring them “opportunity for “good life/better life” at a personal level.

Understanding Hailemedhin’s deed for what it is requires only moderate transcendence in the way we view the world and how we are attached to it. It’s not mediocre; cadres might not get it. Would it amount to illusion to think that unsophisticated cadres who seem to believe that life is null without sordid gains from TPLF , and the different sophisticated cadres who seem to feature their work as a project of “liberation and freedom” and think that the way to save Ethiopia is by working with third party non-Ethiopian entity could pause to rethink what Hailededhin meant by “ruining his life and future”?

Hailemedhin is a revolutionary trait. It’s that kind of attitude that would nurture determination capable of saving Ethiopia. When thousands are condemned to poverty and total repression – aspiring “better life” is certainly mediocrity – if not worse. It does not liberate a country. It may not even liberate the individual at the end of the day. It is part of the reason why there is no change in Ethiopia. If there is no determination, change is illusion. It was meant for a call for a campaign of consciousness. I don’t think we get it right though. Because we seem to have already forgotten Hailemedhin as if he did not existed. I don’t know why we do that. In fact we have done that over and over with other Ethiopian hero’s too. And the meaning of hero is being redefined with thoughts from mediocre world view. Now the crooks can create hero out of nothing and make us forget the real ones. Too bad!

by Dimetros Birku follow on twitter @dimetros e-mail dbirku@hotmail.com

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